When you can't live without bananas

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Friday, March 17, 2017

Links - 17th March 2017

Papua New Guinea: Rape and sexual assault is too common - "Sexual violence is so common in Papua New Guinea that rapists from ‘raskol’ gangs are happy to proudly pose for photos and boast about what they’ve done. The statistics are horrifying. Two thirds of women are subjected to some kind of physical or sexual violence. Doctors Without Borders have reported that in Papua New Guinea they are dealing with levels of gender violence normally experienced in war zones."

One third of asthmatics may not have the condition, study suggests - "One third of people with asthma may not actually have the condition either because it has got better, or they were wrongly diagnosed in the first place"

Japanese toilet industry agrees to standardize complex bidet controls - "The toilet manufacturers plan to implement the eight new pictogram on models released from this year onward, with a view to the system becoming an international standard. The icons in the image above mean (from left to right) raise the lid, raise the seat, large flush, small flush, rear spray, bidet, dry, and stop."

Adam Pacitti who spent last £500 on billboard begging for job spends first pay packet on another to say thanks - "He made headlines around the world after using his last £500 on a huge billboard advert begging employers to give him a job. And it appears the ploy paid off after 24-year-old Adam Pacitti landed a position with a top media firm. Delighted with his new employed status, Mr Pacitti has now used his first pay packet to fund another huge billboard in Shoreditch, London, reading: 'I spent my first wage packet on this billboard. Thank you for helping me'... The site was swamped by more than 1.5 million hits from around the globe and Mr Pacitti found himself at the centre of a social media storm."

Republicans, White Voters and Racial Polarization - The New York Times - "The Democrats haven’t just been passive players in the recent racial polarization of the parties: Rather, they’ve embraced and furthered the trend, as a necessary part of making their new presidential-level “coalition of the ascendant” work. Where the Clinton-era Democrats still tried to win working class whites outright, the Obama-era Democrats mostly just used scorched-earth campaigning to try to minimize the G.O.P.’s margin and/or keep these voters on the sidelines. Where the pre-Obama party still made room for immigration skeptics and coal-country populists, the Obama-era Democrats have pushed in policy directions calculated to alienate many of the swing voters who cast ballots for Byron Dorgan in the past, or Joe Manchin or Mark Pryor in the present. Where the pre-Obama party spoke the language of “safe, legal and rare” on abortion and basically set gun control aside as a losing issue, the Obama Democrats have mostly dropped the “rare” part and, post-Newtown, taken up the gun-control cause anew. And so on... Energizing “ascendant” constituencies while pushing working-class whites toward the Republicans has represented a form of “positive polarization” for the Democrats, since it’s left them with a presidential-level majority that they did not enjoy before. But like any successful gambit, it’s also created vulnerabilities"

Faking Cultural Literacy - NYTimes.com - "According to a recent survey by the American Press Institute, nearly six in 10 Americans acknowledge that they do nothing more than read news headlines — and I know this only because I skimmed a Washington Post headline about the survey. After we’ve skimmed, we share. Commenters frequently start their posts with TL;DR — short for Too Long; Didn’t Read — and then proceed to offer an opinion on the subject at hand anyway. As Tony Haile, the chief executive of the web traffic analytics company Chartbeat, recently put it, “We’ve found effectively no correlation between social shares and people actually reading.”

How to stop your period - The New York Times - "one of the reasons many women don’t try period suppression is that they’ve been conditioned to believe that a monthly period is a sign of good health... many women don’t realize that if they are using a hormonal form of birth control, their monthly period is already artificially induced by stopping the hormones for seven days a month. Other women worry that suppressing their period might lead to an unnatural buildup of the uterine lining. Dr. Erin Saleeby, the chairwoman of OB-GYN at Harbor-U.C.L.A. Medical Center, said that using continuous birth control prevents that from happening."

France Fears Becoming Too ‘Anglo-Saxon’ in Its Treatment of Minorities - The New York Times - "So what is it that makes the Anglo-Saxon model so scary to the French today? Emile Chabal, a professor of modern French history at the University of Edinburgh, traces it to France’s deeply held faith in a single, indivisible republic that makes no distinction among its citizens."
A good primer for those who see the French burka ban as racism

More of Kremlin’s Opponents Are Ending Up Dead - NYTimes.com - "“Outside of popular culture, there are no highly skilled hit men for hire,” Mark Galeotti, a professor at New York University and an authority on the Russian security services, said in an interview. “If it’s a skilled job, that means it’s a state asset.” Other countries, notably Israel and the United States, pursue targeted killings, but in a strict counterterrorism context. No other major power employs murder as systematically and ruthlessly as Russia does against those seen as betraying its interests abroad. Killings outside Russia were even given legal sanction by the nation’s Parliament in 2006."

Paying With Cash Hurts. That’s Also Why It Feels So Good. - NYTimes.com - "When people pay for items using cold, hard cash rather than by card or online, they feel more of a sting and therefore assign more value to the purchase"

How To Hide Who You Follow On Facebook

What Oxfam's misleading stat gets wrong about inequality - "if you use Oxfam’s methodology, my niece, with 50 cents in pocket money, has more wealth than the bottom 40% of the world’s population combined. As do I, and as do you, most likely, assuming your net worth is positive. You don’t need to find eight super-wealthy billionaires to arrive at a shocking wealth statistic; you can take just about anybody."

Oxfam statistics are both meaningless & misleading – Institute of Economic Affairs

You Pay, Computer Prays For You - "Information Age Prayer is a site that charges you a monthly fee to say prayers for you. A typical charge is $4.95 per month to say three prayers specified by you each day. "We use state of the art text to speech synthesizers to voice each prayer at a volume and speed equivalent to typical person praying," the company states. "Each prayer is voiced individually, with the name of the subscriber displayed on screen.""

The brain police: judging murder with an MRI - "To Judge Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi, sentencing her last June to life in prison, Sharma's electro-encephalogram left no doubt: the brain scan revealed "experiential knowledge" which proved that she had to be the killer"

Get Thai tourism back on track - "The airports in the German and Polish capitals are large, with international standard facilities - but so are those in the smaller cities. Here in Thailand, only Suvarnabhumi and Phuket airports match that standard, while in other cities, the airport is small and "provincial" in style. For convenience of travel within those cities, it is better to arrange your own transportation... Say Loei is promoted, but the only way to get there is by bus or pre-arranged transportation. If you go there by bus, the only way to get around the province is by private taxi or small bus. Having limited transport choices means limited opportunities for hosts to make money and for travellers to take in the real charms of the destination. Another thing that marks out European countries is that their domestic and foreign visitors tend to enjoy the same treatment. Fewer taxi drivers or restaurants are known to overcharge foreign tourists. The Thai tourism authority should realise that it is issues like these that must be addressed."
Europe FTW

Tonal languages require humidity - "The weather impacts not only upon our mood but also our voice. An international research team including scientists from the Max Planck Institutes for Psycholinguistics, Evolutionary Anthropology and Mathematics in the Sciences has analysed the influence of humidity on the evolution of languages. Their study has revealed that languages with a wide range of tone pitches are more prevalent in regions with high humidity levels. In contrast, languages with simpler tone pitches are mainly found in drier regions. This is explained by the fact that the vocal folds require a humid environment to produce the right tone."

The Real Reason Excite Turned Down Buying Google For $750,000 In 1999

Uncleftish Beholding - Wikipedia - "Uncleftish Beholding (1989) is a short text written by Poul Anderson. It is written using almost exclusively words of Germanic origin (Anglish), and was intended to illustrate what the English language might look like if it had not received its considerable number of loanwords from other languages, particularly Latin, Greek and French."

Jew-hating airline cancels flight rather than allow Israeli passengers - "Kuwait hates Jews so much that its national airline has ditched a popular and lucrative New York-to-London flight rather than allow Israelis on its planes, authorities said Thursday. Kuwait Airways killed the flight to spite American officials, who threatened to pull the airline’s permit to fly to the United States if they continued discriminating against Israeli passengers."

Democrats Have an Identity-Politics Problem - "there's great risk when a party becomes obsessed with identity over issues. It fuels racial polarization, where one's party label or positions on issues becomes synonymous with race or ethnicity. There's less coherent connection among their constituents' interests—beyond gender or the color of one's skin"

Singapore - "In Singapore, you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. You may wish to learn more about the following penalties for certain crimes in Singapore:
Possible imprisonment, caning or fines for sex crimes or sexually inappropriate behavior. Lewd, unwanted behavior, including inappropriate comments, messages, or photography,, toward women who find it offensive may result in fines and imprisonment (“Insulting the modesty of woman”). If there is unwanted physical contact of any kind involved (“Outrage of modesy”, molestation), the laws are gender neutral and punishments generally more severe."
What does it say that the US State Department finds this noteworthy?

What Is Causing the College Student Mental Health Crisis? - "college students are showing greater levels of stress, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and poor sleep patterns than any time in our nation’s history, and the current trend lines suggest that it will continue to get worse... There is much evidence that the current generation has both higher levels of assertiveness and confidence in some ways, but also are lacking in coping skills and empathy and demonstrate a sense of entitlement. There are many possible causes (see above), and it can easily be considered to be part of a self-fulfilling cycle. As therapists know, narcissists are often not “value added” to social systems. A generation of them is going to create serious mental health consequences"

Research shows high self-esteem is not always what it’s cracked up to be - ""There are many kinds of high self-esteem, and in this study we found that for those in which it is fragile and shallow it's no better than having low self-esteem," said Michael Kernis. "People with fragile high self-esteem compensate for their self-doubts by engaging in exaggerated tendencies to defend, protect and enhance their feelings of self-worth"... "Individuals with low self-esteem or fragile high self-esteem were more verbally defensive than individuals with secure high self-esteem. One reason for this is that potential threats are in fact more threatening to people with low or fragile high self-esteem than those with secure high self-esteem, and so they work harder to counteract them." On the other hand, individuals with secure high self-esteem appear to accept themselves "warts and all," and, feeling less threatened, they are less likely to be defensive by blaming others or providing excuses when they speak about past transgressions or threatening experiences. One reason the study's findings are important, Kernis said, is that it shows that greater verbal defensiveness relates to lower psychological well-being and life satisfaction."
Sounds like SJWs

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, The 12th Century Renaissance - "People like to think there's one factor. It's very attractive to think there's one factor, I mean it comes from belief in monotheism I think... very clever concept... of the Trinity, because if you have one god who is also three gods, it's much easier to explain your belief to societies that are pagan and are very very cautious of leaving behind the god for illness and the god for fertility...
'A shift in focus from God the Father, quite an austere figure, punishing punitive figure'
'Old Testament'...
'To a focus on the suffering Christ. And this came with quite a big theological debate that Anselm kicked off and Abelard took on quite importantly. That the question of why was Christ incarnated. Why do we have to kill Christ at all. And the traditional explanation had been that humanity had given over its rights to the Devil and that God had to trick the Devil into killing the one innocent human which would then redeem the rest of us, whereas Anselm said the Devil never had any rights. This is silly, because only Christ can pay the debt that we owe to God. But Abelard pointed out the problem in that. It works brilliantly but the problem in it is that it leaves us with quite as astonishing God, a god who cruelly, purposefully creates his own son and then has him slaughtered and Abelard said, and it didn't stick immediately but it became the most influential thing in the 12th century about the theology of Christ. Abelard said the only reason for this gesture, this dramatic outrageous gesture must be to demonstrate love, and it must be so that Christ can show us how much he loves us. And that introduction of the idea of love as central to theology then feeds into the idea of confession but also into affective piety, as we call it, the kind of piety which is emotionally driven...
Male monasteries are not devoid of women because there're lots of recluses. Every male monastery had a group of women living in the grounds to pray for the souls of the monks. Because if the monks pray for the souls of the laity, who is going to pray for the monks? The monks needed to buy in or make available a corner of their grounds for groups of 5 or 6 recluses"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Johannes Kepler - "He always felt that he didn't have the right body to be a pastor. As a pastor you're meant to be bulky and bearded and he's inherited his mother's body...
Kepler is a man of principle. He has endless opportunities to sell out. He could've become an Orthodox Lutheran, got a nice job in a university. He could've converted to Catholicism and been showered with rewards. He insists on holding to his lonely, isolated position unlike someone like Galileo who's prepared to sell out anytime you ask him to, almost. Kepler accepts the consequences of refusing to fit in"

YOLOCAUST - "Yolocaust is a project by Israeli satirist and author Shahak Shapira that explores our commemorative culture by combining selfies from the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin with footage from Nazi extermination camps. The selfies were found on Facebook, Instagram, Tinder and Grindr. Comments, hashtags and "Likes" that were posted with the selfies are also included."

Greek History = Athenian History

"The surviving material, particularly the literary sources, is vastly fuller for Athenian history than for that of any other Greek state. Nor is it only about the little city-states of the third rank that precise information is often entirely lacking; it is still impossible to compose even in outline a continuous history of so leading a state as Corinth. Thus is it inevitable that modern histories of (Ancient) Greece might with almost greater accuracy be described as histories of Athens. The fact that Athens was for virtually the whole period the intellectual leader of Greece and for a great part of it exercised a preponderating influence also in economic and artistic life, to a considerable extent redresses the balance; it makes the narrative which assigns one-half or even two-third of the space to Athens less out of perspective than a superficial observer might suppose." --- A History of the Greek World From 479 to 323 B.C. / Max Ludwig Wolfram Laistner

Monday, March 13, 2017

Links - 13th March 2017

Higher Minimum Wage May Have Losers - NYTimes.com - "when forced to pay more in wages, many employers were hiring more productive workers, so that the overall amount they spent on each job changed far less than the minimum-wage increase would have suggested. The more productive workers appeared to finish similar work more quickly... The results are broadly consistent with a 2013 study by the economists Daniel Aaronson, Eric French and Isaac Sorkin, showing that a sizable minimum-wage increase in New Jersey resulted in many lost jobs as numerous businesses closed, but an almost offsetting number of new jobs as other businesses opened, which the authors argue were more productive."

Meet the founder of the French jihad-busting Mothers’ Brigade – Women in the World in Association with The New York Times - "Remadna and her “moms’ army,” with more than 1,000 members and a core brigade of 15, are battling rising religious extremism at its source. “The problem for Muslims isn’t Islamophobia or stigmatization — it’s radicalization,” says Remadna, a free-thinking Muslim who carries the Koran in her handbag but also likes to celebrate Christmas... The Moms’ group cites the work of researchers like British criminologist Simon Cottee who has studied how religion can “transform petty criminals into terrorists” by offering them redemption and a theological rationale for violence against all “bad Muslims” or non-Muslim “kuffars.” “The idea that the secularly profane habits of jihadists and their emulators is evidence religion plays little or no role in radicalization just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny,” Cottee, Senior Lecturer in criminology at the University of Kent told Women in the World. Judge Marc Trevidic who investigated French terrorist cases for almost a decade has also highlighted the role of religion, raising the alert on burgeoning “Salafist hotbeds” — because “the cause of terrorism is radicalization”... Remadna’s lament is that French society has been cynically “imprisoning” young children of immigrant, Muslim origin in a dangerous victim mentality... “The liberal-left, to its shame, colludes in this, because, to use George Orwell’s terminology, it doesn’t want to “give ammunition to the enemy” — the far right — by exposing the crimes and injustices within Muslim communities... The Islam specialist has documented the growth of “Salafist enclaves” and “rupture” with French society, apparent in some Muslim-populated neighborhoods, exposing the ballot box-motivated left as complicit."

The Power of Three - NYTimes.com - "in ads, stump speeches and other messages understood to have manipulative intent, three claims will persuade, but four (or more) will trigger skepticism, and reverse an initially positive impression."

Your Surgeon Is Probably a Republican, Your Psychiatrist Probably a Democrat - The New York Times - "One explanation could be money. Doctors tend to earn very high salaries compared with average Americans, but the highest-paid doctors earn many times as much as those in the lower-paying specialties. The fields with higher average salaries tended to contain more doctors who were Republican, while the comparatively lower-paying fields were more popular among Democrats. That matches with national data... female physicians were more likely to be Democrats than their male peers, mirroring another trend in the larger American population"

Free Wi-Fi Kiosks Were to Aid New Yorkers. An Unsavory Side Has Spurred a Retreat. - NYTimes.com - "The Wi-Fi kiosks in New York were designed to replace phone booths and allow users to consult maps, maybe check the weather or charge their phones. But they have also attracted people who linger for hours, sometimes drinking and doing drugs and, at times, boldly watching pornography on the sidewalks... Users were expected to make short stops at the kiosks. But the sites quickly attracted homeless people and other idle users who took full advantage of the unlimited access to the internet to turn the kiosks into al fresco living rooms, watching movies and playing music for hours. “People are congregating around these Links to the point where they’re bringing furniture and building little encampments clustered around them,” said Barbara A. Blair, president of the Garment District Alliance, a business group in Manhattan. “It’s created this really unfortunate and actually deplorable condition”... She likened turning off the browsers to the decision during the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s to block pay phones from accepting calls. All along Amsterdam Avenue, she said, crack dealers were using pay phones as business offices."

Do You Care More About a Dog Than a Refugee? - NYTimes.com - "I wonder what would happen if Aleppo were full of golden retrievers, if we could see barrel bombs maiming helpless, innocent puppies. Would we still harden our hearts and “otherize” the victims? Would we still say “it’s an Arab problem; let the Arabs solve it”?"

North Korea Unveils Netflix-Like Service With Propaganda on Demand - The New York Times

A Cautionary Tale of ‘Stem Cell Tourism’ - NYTimes.com - "The surgeon gasped when he opened up his patient and saw what was in his spine. It was a huge mass, filling the entire part of the man’s lower spinal column. “The entire thing was filled with bloody tissue, and as I started to take pieces, it started to bleed,” said Dr. John Chi, the director of Neurosurgical Spine Cancer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “It was stuck to everything around it.” He added, “I had never seen anything like it.” Tests showed that the mass was made up of abnormal, primitive cells and that it was growing very aggressively. Then came the real shocker: The cells did not come from Jim Gass. They were someone else’s cells. Mr. Gass, it turned out, had had stem cell therapy at clinics in Mexico, China and Argentina, paying tens of thousands of dollars each time for injections in a desperate attempt to recover from a stroke he had in 2009. The total cost with travel was close to $300,000."

I ‘Went Back to China’ — and Felt More American Than Ever | Foreign Policy - "Being brought up in the United States meant my standards for racial equality were forged in a culture built around the dissent, dialogue, and disruption that the First Amendment vouchsafes. It was only after six years in Hong Kong that I began to understand why people leave their countries to come to the United States and why it’s so difficult to repatriate. You can’t unlearn what you’ve learned or unsee what you’ve seen. Neither could I unlearn the promises of equality that I’d repeated every time I took the Pledge of Allegiance."

‘Provoked’ driver runs over German couple kissing on zebra crossing, kills woman

HuffPo: 'Women to Blame' for New Year's Sex Attacks

Cologne Sexual Assault Victim Called a Racist and Harassed After Identifying Her Attackers

Suicide on Campus and the Pressure of Perfection - The New York Times - "In 2003, Duke jolted academe with a report describing how its female students felt pressure to be “effortlessly perfect”: smart, accomplished, fit, beautiful and popular, all without visible effort. At Stanford, it’s called the Duck Syndrome. A duck appears to glide calmly across the water, while beneath the surface it frantically, relentlessly paddles... William Alexander, director of Penn’s counseling and psychological services, has watched a shift in how some young adults cope with challenges. “A small setback used to mean disappointment, or having that feeling of needing to try harder next time,” he said. Now? “For some students, a mistake has incredible meaning”... social media is a huge contributor to the misperception among students that peers aren’t also struggling. When students remark during a counseling session that everyone else on campus looks happy, he tells them: “I walk around and think, ‘That one’s gone to the hospital. That person has an eating disorder. That student just went on antidepressants.’ As a therapist, I know that nobody is as happy or as grown-up as they seem on the outside.”... These cultural dynamics of perfectionism and overindulgence have now combined to create adolescents who are ultra-focused on success but don’t know how to fail... Penn researchers studying friendship have found that students’ best friends aren’t classmates or romantic partners, but parents."

The Fear of Having a Son - The New York Times - "“I wanted a girl mainly because I felt it was harder to be a boy in today’s society. If I have a boy I will embrace the challenge of raising a boy…who can learn the power of vulnerability even as male culture tries to make him see it as weakness. But, frankly, I hope that when I have a second child, it’ll be another girl.’” This was emblematic of a lot of the responses, which revealed that men felt more confident, or “better equipped,” co-parenting “a strong, confident daughter.” Ms. Martin says that her own husband was relieved to have daughters instead of sons. He says: “‘I haven’t felt like I fit into a lot of the social norms around masculinity…. I’m much more interested in the challenge of helping a girl or young woman transcend sexist conditions. It feels more possible and more important, in some ways”... this preference for girls might occur because adoptive parents “fear dysfunctional social behavior in adopted children and perceive girls as ‘less risky’ than boys in that respect.” Adoptive parents are even willing to pay an average of $16,000 more in finalization costs for a girl than a boy. Same-sex couples and single women showed an even greater proclivity for adopting girls. These preferences weren’t limited to adopting parents... Paradoxically, for some men, the third-wave feminism they embrace strong-arms them into muting the very sensitivity and empathy that opened their eyes to women’s plight.
Thanks, feminism

A Manhattan McDonald’s With Many Off-the-Menu Sales - The New York Times - "The Times Square of today often seems like a theme park, a blend of wax museums, flashy billboards and slow-walking, street-clogging tourists. But this nearby McDonald’s, on Eighth Avenue between 34th and 35th Streets, is a throwback to a seedier era in New York, a place where those same tourists sit amid drug addicts looking for a fix or nodding out at tables after taking methadone, or maybe something else."

Empty Nest? In Slovakia, It May Begin When the Child Is 35 - The New York Times - "Last year a United States Census study drew considerable attention when it revealed that 15 percent of adults 25 to 34 were living with their parents. And a recent Office of National Statistics study in Britain also inspired much hand-wringing when it revealed a similar figure. But that’s nothing. In Slovakia, 74 percent of adults 18 to 34 years old — regardless of employment or marital status — still live with their parents, European Commission statistics show... The conservative culture here and in other traditional nations not only encourages young people to stay under their parents’ protection until marriage, but also attaches no stigma in doing so."

Will the Left Survive the Millennials? - The New York Times - "my address maintained that fiction writers should be allowed to write fiction — thus should not let concerns about “cultural appropriation” constrain our creation of characters from different backgrounds than our own. I defended fiction as a vital vehicle for empathy. If we have permission to write only about our own personal experience, there is no fiction, but only memoir. Honestly, my thesis seemed so self-evident that I’d worried the speech would be bland. Nope — not in the topsy-turvy universe of identity politics. The festival immediately disavowed the address... social media went ballistic. Mainstream articles followed suit. I plan on printing out The New Republic’s “Lionel Shriver Shouldn’t Write About Minorities” and taping it above my desk as a chiding reminder. Viewing the world and the self through the prism of advantaged and disadvantaged groups, the identity-politics movement — in which behavior like huffing out of speeches and stirring up online mobs is par for the course — is an assertion of generational power. Among millennials and those coming of age behind them, the race is on to see who can be more righteous and aggrieved — who can replace the boring old civil rights generation with a spikier brand. When I was growing up in the ’60s and early ’70s, conservatives were the enforcers of conformity... As a lifelong Democratic voter, I’m dismayed by the radical left’s ever-growing list of dos and don’ts — by its impulse to control, to instill self-censorship as well as to promote real censorship, and to deploy sensitivity as an excuse to be brutally insensitive to any perceived enemy... In obsessing over micro-aggressions like the sin of uttering the commonplace Americanism “you guys” to mean “you all,” activists persecute fellow travelers who already care about equal rights... In an era of weaponized sensitivity, participation in public discourse is growing so perilous, so fraught with the danger of being caught out for using the wrong word or failing to uphold the latest orthodoxy in relation to disability, sexual orientation, economic class, race or ethnicity, that many are apt to bow out. Perhaps intimidating their elders into silence is the intention of the identity-politics cabal — and maybe my generation should retreat to our living rooms and let the young people tear one another apart over who seemed to imply that Asians are good at math. But do we really want every intellectual conversation to be scrupulously cleansed of any whiff of controversy? Will people, so worried about inadvertently giving offense, avoid those with different backgrounds altogether?... In my youth, liberals would defend the right of neo-Nazis to march down Main Street. I cannot imagine anyone on the left making that case today."

Taiwanese town builds a high heel shoe shaped church to attract female worshippers - "Zheng Rongfeng, spokesman of the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area, said there will be a total of 100 female-oriented features in the church, among which 71 have been finished. They include chairs for ‘lovers,’ maple leaves, biscuits and cakes - all ideal for romantic photographs."

Passenger takes turkey on flight as 'emotional support animal' - Telegraph - "In 2014 an American woman (pictured below) was forced to get off a plane after bringing a 70-pound pot-bellied pig on board for "emotional support""

Painting a Picture of the Early Republic - "With one or two notable exceptions, the Jedi we meet in Star Wars are full of themselves. They ignore the counsel of others (often with terrible consequences), and seem honestly to believe that they are at the center of the universe. When the chief Jedi record-keeper is asked in Attack of the Clones about a planet she has never heard of, she replies that if it's not in the Jedi archives, it doesn't exist. (The planet in question does exist, again, with terrible consequences.)... Palpatine believes that the political order must be manipulated to produce peace and stability. When he mutters, "There is no civility, there is only politics," we see that at heart, he's an esoteric Straussian... Their victory over the Empire doesn't liberate the galaxy--it turns the galaxy into Somalia writ large: dominated by local warlords who are answerable to no one."

Inside the world's first McDonald's Next - "in Hong Kong, 40 years after the chain first entered the territory, signs of change glimmer on the greasy fast food horizon. In December, McDonald's transformed one of its Hong Kong branches into the world's first McDonald's Next -- an evolved version of the brand that strives to be "modern and progressive.""

Nikola Tesla Wasn't God And Thomas Edison Wasn't The Devil - "Alas, The Oatmeal has fallen prey to Tesla idolatry, confusing his genius for godhood and of course, setting up the now all-too-common 'Edison as Tesla's arch-villain' narrative."

Sean Penn is a college freshman’s Che Guevara T-shirt personified - "Penn, who, in his own words, speaks little more Spanish than “hola” and “adiós,” shamelessly glamorizes one of the most ruthless criminals in modern Mexican history"

Abeer Dahiya's answer to To what extent does Chinese privilege exist in Singapore? - Quora - "Multiculturalism is a founding pillar of Singapore’s democracy, and ethnic minorities here are represented, as some in the States would say, in disproportionately high numbers at all levels of government:
1. Indians, and Tamils: Foreign Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Home Affairs and Law Minister, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, amongst many, many others. Tamil is an official language of Singapore and is seen on all government buildings, many heritage signs, all MRT and public transport signs, and all National Libraries.
2. Malay: Speaker of Parliament (a woman, Mrs. Halimah Yacob), Information and Muslim Affairs Minister, Environment and Water Use Minister. Malay is the original indigenous language of Singapore, and the official name of Singapore, the crest slogan, all national honours, gallantry medals, military squad instructions, as well as all government signs and Changi Airport signs are in Malay.
3. Eurasians: English is the preferred official language of Singapore, the de jure official language used in all court documents and official correspondence, and is the major component, along with Malay and Hokkien Chinese, of the de facto national vernacular creole, Singlish. Eurasians, while a tiny minority compared to the others listed above (about 0.4 per cent of the total population), are economically influential and are at the board of directors of many major local companies, including SingTel, and have historically been influential in establishing the nation’s most prestigious schools and colleges, including Raffles Institution, St. Joseph’s Institution, Tanglin Trust School, and Anglo-Chinese School."

Why We Don't Charge People For Everything

"Hypothetically, let's say they did what you suggest. Charged him for every thing under the sun. If he used condom throw on floor, also charge him for littering.

What happens? The possible sentence becomes huge. You want to throw the book at people, then they plead guilty for what? Might as well plead not guilty and then go to trial, try your luck.

He goes to trial. You've charged him for 101 things. YOU have to individually prove every single charge beyond a reasonable doubt. You charge him for 101 things, you have to call in several hundred witnesses, adduce enough evidence to fill a shipping container. You force his victims to take the stand, and you force them to be cross-examined by a defence attorney, you force them to relive traumatic moments in a public space.

At the end of the day, maybe of the 100 things you charged him for, the judge finds him guilty of maybe 10. The judge is pissed off that you have spent a solid year of nonstop trial-time. Attorneys' fees, court fees, etc approach millions of dollars.

In the mean time, innocent people in remand waiting to go to trial wait longer; guilty people maybe aren't charged because all the public prosecutors too busy working on this monster of a case.

And then the judge is pissed off at you for wasting his time and then gives a light sentence anyway. GG."

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Meaning of LOL

Things That Come Out of Your Mouth | Tell Me Something I Don't Know on Huffduffer

"'I looked at a corpus of over 44,000 text messages sent by young adults in New York City... [LOL] occcured in about 12% of the messages. So I went through and tagged those messages both for what they mean as well as what they do.

And I found that LOL occurs in messages of empathy, it occurs in messages of flirting, it occurs in messages of softening a request, and what all those things have in common is that the literal meaning does not match the purpose.

So the purpose of the message is for something other than what it exactly says. So to verify that idea, I went through the other messages and looked at places where the literal meaning does match the intended purpose.

So like when someone texts I love you or good morning or is exchanging information, things like that. And it never occurred there. There were no good morning lol or i love you lol, none of that.

So what I take away from that is that it means: reinterpret this message based on the context, because it doesn't mean what it says. And that's important because it's first time that we're seeing a pragmatic marker that's not a discourse marker in written English'...

'A pragmatic marker means that there is a part of language that's about conveying emotion, for conveying empathy, for looking into other places in the mind of the person that you're talking to.

We're not taught that that's grammar. We're taught that you mark the past tense, that you say a before a consonant and an before a vowel, but there's this whole other level of how we talk such as, very quickly, totally: she's totally gonna come.

It doesn't mean she is going to come in actuality. Totally means you and I both know that some people think she's not coming when in fact she is, that's what totally means. So lol has become one of those things'...

'What was the Victorian equivalent of LOL?'

'Oh, you see that's what I think is interesting is that I don't think there was one. I think that it's the rise of text messaging is creating this environment where we need to be able to express things that aren't literal on a written platform.

And the Victorian age we were writing letters and they were long form and they were very well structured, but we're not doing that anymore'"

Links - 12th March 2017

Here’s why we aren’t upset by TANGS’s International Women’s Day frying pans promotion - "If reaching out to women who are interested in cooking is deemed to be a problem by the likes of Marketing Interactive and AWARE, are these folks then saying that women who enjoy cooking and would be interested in a promotion like that are not the women International Women’s Day celebrates?... Here’s a fact for you: every woman is every bit of a woman as any woman you might have in your mind. A prostitute is a woman. A domestic helper is a woman. A policewoman is a woman. A woman who is attracted to other women is, you guessed it, still a woman... frying pans are just two of the items on the “menu”. The list consists, in fact, overwhelmingly of makeup and facial products, none of which we see anyone taking issue with. Now, why is that? Why aren’t they criticising TANGS for saying that “women must wear make-up” or “women must look after their complexion”?"
If they'd had a discount on dresses you could say that they were promoting stereotypes that women should wear dresses. If they had promoted pants you could have said they were trying to suggest real women wear pants. If vitamins had been on discount one might've criticised them for trying to suggest that women are hypchrondriacs. Basically if people (e.g. AWARE) want to get offended they will find something to get offended about

Commuting from Barcelona: a London worker who makes it pay - "It began as a joke. “I was renting at the time, getting very frustrated with London prices – the usual scenario,” explains Sam Cookney. “I said to a friend that I bet it would be cheaper if I actually lived in Barcelona and commuted every day.” He did the maths and the figures seemed to agree. In a 2013 blog post, he laid out the cost of the 930-mile commute, concluding that he would save €387 a month. So, earlier this year when Cookney found himself looking for a new flat, he decided to heed his own advice and head south... He estimates that when all is said and done, he’s saving a few hundred pounds each month. More importantly, he said, his quality of life has increased. “It’s probably been the best decision I’ve ever made,” he added. “The quality of life is just so much better in every respect – housing, transport, food. It’s just not really comparable to my previous London lifestyle”... he has noticed some familiar faces on the flights to London"

Church seeks legal injunction against protesting strippers - "Weary of strippers protesting and showing their naked breasts, a church pastor and his flock are suing them... the protesters have been threatening church members, blocking church entrances and exits, and violating the First Amendment right to religious freedom and the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which also applies to churches."

It’s okay to end a friendship over politics - "“I don’t want to have anything to do with someone who’d vote for Romney,” she explained, “I choose to take their support for Republicans as a personal attack on my right to control my body. Friendship can’t survive that”... the capacity to put friendship ahead of politics was largely a function of privilege. It’s almost axiomatic that the lower one’s personal investment in the outcome, the easier it is to banter civilly with one’s political opponents"
In the light of 2016, this article from 2014 is telling

Inflation targeting does not anchor inflation expectations: Evidence from firms in New Zealand - "In spite of a quarter century’s worth of central bank efforts to communicate inflation targets and shape public expectations, firms are no better than the general public in estimating inflation and often fail to incorporate recent inflation data into their business decisions... “Google searches confirm this paucity of interest [in monetary policy],” they write. “Online searches for macroeconomic variables like GDP, unemployment rate and inflation are consistently topped altogether by online searches for puppies.”"

A comic predicted Apple inventing Microsoft's Surface three years ago - "It's Apple's reality distortion field in full effect. Genius"

GE2015: Town council issues come to the fore again in final Workers’ Party rally - "The PAP seems uncomfortable with talking about happiness. Perhaps they are more comfortable with sadness, since we always see Mr Lim Swee Say and Mr Lim Boon Heng crying in public, ever so often"

Women Don't Mean Business? Gender Penalty in Board Appointments by Isabelle Solal, Kaisa Snellman - "Using data from two panel studies on U.S. firms and an online experiment, we examine investor reactions to increases in board diversity. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we find that appointing female directors has no impact on objective measures of performance, such as ROA, but does result in a systematic decrease in market value. Similarly, we find that companies that are committed to diversity more generally suffer a decline in value. We argue that the gender penalty in board appointments is not due to discrimination based on stereotype bias, but instead results from inferences investors make about the firm. The appointment of a female director is interpreted as a diversity measure, and as a result we find that it signals an underlying preference for social goals, to the detriment of shareholder value maximization. Observing this signal prompts some investors to sell their holdings, which in turn causes the firm’s market value to drop. This mechanism operates irrespective of the actual or perceived competence of the female appointee. We discuss the implications of our results for understanding gender inequality in leadership."

Kirsten Han - Vivian Balakrishnan said that the PAP does not have... - "Vivian Balakrishnan said that the PAP does not have a habit of backstabbing its mentors. Strange, because over the past couple of years I've met many members of the Old Left who remember how their movement - and their leader Lim Chin Siong who co-founded PAP - carried the party to prominence and victory, only to get detained without trial under Operation Coldstore. Loh Miaw Gong, for example, was detained by the colonial government under charges of subversion. Her defence lawyer was Lee Kuan Yew, who was making a name for himself by representing these activists. Years later, after winning an election - in which she beat three other candidates, including PAP - she was detained without trial again, this time by Lee Kuan Yew and for the same charges he had previously insisted were baseless."

Carbon dating suggests ‘world’s oldest’ Koran could be older than the Prophet Muhammad - "Small said that would lend credibility to the historical view that Muhammad and his followers collected text that was already in circulation to fit their own political and theological agenda, rather than receiving revelations from heaven. “This would radically alter the edifice of Islamic tradition and the history of the rise of Islam in late Near Eastern antiquity would have to be completely revised, somehow accounting for another book of scripture coming into existence 50 to 100 years before, and then also explaining how this was co-opted into what became the entity of Islam by around AD700,” Small said."

Japan raises the bar for weirdness, produces fan-made magazine devoted to male nipples

On Trigger Warnings | AAUP - "if such topics are associated with triggers, correctly or not, they are likely to be marginalized if not avoided altogether by faculty who fear complaints for offending or discomforting some of their students. Although all faculty are affected by potential charges of this kind, non-tenured and contingent faculty are particularly at risk. In this way the demand for trigger warnings creates a repressive, “chilly climate” for critical thinking in the classroom. Our concern extends to academic libraries, the repositories of content spanning all cultures and types of expression. We think the statement of the American Library Association regarding “labeling and rating systems” applies to trigger warnings. “Prejudicial labels are designed to restrict access, based on a value judgment that the content, language, or theme of the material, or the background or views of the creator(s) of the material, render it inappropriate or offensive for all or certain groups of users….When labeling is an attempt to prejudice attitudes, it is a censor’s tool.” Institutional requirements or even suggestions that faculty use trigger warnings interfere with faculty academic freedom in the choice of course materials and teaching methods... trigger warnings conflate exceptional individual experience of trauma with the anticipation of trauma for an entire group, and assume that individuals will respond negatively to certain content. A trigger warning might lead a student to simply not read an assignment or it might elicit a response from students they otherwise would not have had, focusing them on one aspect of a text and thus precluding other reactions. If, for example, The House of Mirth or Anna Karenina carried a warning about suicide, students might overlook the other questions about wealth, love, deception, and existential anxiety that are what those books are actually about. Trigger warnings thus run the risk of reducing complex literary, historical, sociological and political insights to a few negative characterizations. By calling attention to certain content in a given work, trigger warnings also signal an expected response to the content (e.g., dismay, distress, disapproval), and eliminate the element of surprise and spontaneity that can enrich the reading experience and provide critical insight.

Ashley Madison Code Shows More Women, and More Bots - "Ashley Madison’s army of fembots appears to have been a sophisticated, deliberate, and lucrative fraud. The code tells the story of a company trying to weave the illusion that women on the site are plentiful and eager. Whatever the total number of real, active female Ashley Madison users is, the company was clearly on a desperate quest to design legions of fake women to interact with the men on the site."

Rejected by condo management, SPP candidate gets creative - "she organised a picnic at Wilkinson Intermin Park. The Park's location was a strategic one as it was just a stone's throw away from many private estates. Through the picnic, she had the opportunity to meet many residents of private estates and along with the conversations, there was good food to go around too."

Rich People Exercise, Poor People Take Diet Pills - "An emerging body of research helps explain how the stress of poverty hampers the decision-making process. A study in Science last year found that poverty equates to a mental burden similar to losing 13 IQ points. Another study just published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that people who experienced economic uncertainty gave up on solving a difficult puzzle faster."

Are You Hearing This?Frank Lin’s research ties hearing loss to dementia, with big implications for public health: Unbundled, accessible audiology services and reimbursement for audiologic rehabilitation could be key, he says, to battling cognitive decline associated with hearing loss.

Europe Facing New Uncertainty in Terrorism Fight - NYTimes.com - "The most plausible scenario is some return to the situation prevailing in France in the mid-1990s after a series of Islamist attacks on trains and train stations. For a brief period, military personnel patrolled inside the trains and baggage was checked. Mr. Brisard noted that such patrols have, potentially, a much more dissuasive effect than the mere sight of armed soldiers in train stations."

'Chef' fools fine diners into enjoying inferior food - "a chef's personality in today's food and celebrity-obsessed world is as important as what they serve on the plate. The growing phenomenon of celebrity chefs -- and diners' apparently insatiable appetite for interacting with them -- means that the gastronomic experience can be authenticated and elevated as a result, even if dishes are inferior in ingredients and execution."

No Liquid Allowed in Carry On, Woman Drinks Entire Bottle of Cognac at Beijing Airport Security

How one German millennial chose to live on trains rather than pay rent - "Müller frequently travels late at night, although she tries to sleep at the apartments of relatives or friends"

Just how 'far right' are the Sweden Democrats? - "“Far-right is a strange label, often used not as an analytical but as a normative and negative way of characterizing many of the parties in Europe that are immigrant-unfriendly and often un-civic in rhetoric,” she said. “Aggressive nationalists would be a more adequate way of labeling many of them.”"

You Really Don’t Need To Work So Much - "Once upon a time, it was taken for granted that the wealthier classes enjoyed a life of leisure on the backs of the proletariat. Today it is people in skilled trades who can most find reasonable hours coupled with good pay; the American professional is among those subject to humiliation and driven like a beast of burden... in 2006, the top twenty per cent of earners were twice as likely to work more than fifty hours a week than the bottom twenty per cent, a reversal of historic conditions."

Medical community reflects on 'disgusting and scandalous' episodes in the operating room - "One person defended the doctors described in the essay who, in his view, were merely trying to defuse high-pressure situations by injecting some levity into the operating room. “The stress on these professionals is SO great that once in awhile, a little steam MUST be released in order to bring themselves and their teams back into some logical perspective,” wrote Robert J. Pegritz, who described himself as a medical/legal consultant. “The lay observer or medical student has no idea of the cumulative stress that can be present inside someone who daily cuts open living, breathing people.”"

Why are Chinese tourists so rude? A few insights | South China Morning Post - "Yong Chen, tourism researcher and post-doctoral fellow at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said most “bad” tourists don’t intend to be “bad” or “tourists”, they are just being themselves - they are being Chinese... Living in China, where the rule-of-law doesn’t exist, means everyone has to look out for their own interest. It also means people have little or no respect for laws... A poll by the Public Opinion Programme of the University of Hong Kong recently found that the number of Hongkongers holding negative feelings towards Beijing and mainland Chinese is up by about 40 per cent since November."
One claim is that those who travel are the nouveau riche and are not representative of PRCs as a whole. But I would trust the analysis of the tourism researcher over ad-hoc hypotheses

Schoolgirl 'fully radicalised' by Isis propaganda must be taken away from 'deceitful parents', judge rules - "The girl, who can only be referred to as “B”, has already attempted to travel to Syria to become a “jihadi bride”."

Student demands female composers on A-level music syllabus - "Given that female composers were not prominent in the western classical tradition (or others for that matter), there would be very few female composers that could be included"

The day I removed a toy dinosaur from a woman's vagina - "As student nurses, we pick one of our second-year placements and are advised to go into an area that interests us most. I chose to do a five-week stint in a sexual health clinic. Sexual health clinics are magical places where surprises spring from the walls. I once walked into work to find an aggressive looking – but lovely – nurse loudly spelling the word “gonorrhoea” down the phone while slurping white hot chocolate from a mug with the c-word on it. All before 7.30am."

A new app and blood test can predict suicide risk with startling accuracy, study says

The perilous plight of middle managers: Exploitation, domination and depression - The Washington Post - "middle managers were significantly more likely to suffer symptoms of depression and anxiety than their counterparts at the top or bottom of the workplace hierarchy."
"Managers" here includes executives

Secrets of longevity may lie in long-lived smokers, a ‘biologically distinct’ group with extraordinary gene variants - The Washington Post
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