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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Links - 30th May 2017 (2)

Tycoon Mauric Laboz's daughters contesting conditions of $20m inheritance - "Two sisters who cannot access their $20million inheritance until they are either married with children or turn 35, are taking their case to court... if she marries before 35, Marlena will get $500,000, but only if her husband signs a sworn statement that he will not touch the money. She will earn another $750,000 if she graduates 'from an accredited university' and writes '100 words or less describing what she intends to do with the funds'. Trustees overseeing the money and appointed by Laboz must approve the essay. Starting in 2020, each daughter will be guaranteed an annual payout of three times the income listed on their personal federal tax return"

Evil Clown hired for stalking, threats and a pie in the face - "Dominic Deville stalks young victims for a week, sending chilling texts, making prank phone calls and setting traps in letterboxes. He posts notes warning children they are being watched, telling them they will be attacked. But Deville is not an escaped lunatic or some demonic monster. He is a birthday treat, hired by mum and dad, and the ‘attack’ involves being splatted in the face with a cake."

Six Reasons Not To Engage With Scammers, No Matter What Your Facebook Friends Tell You - "Your data typically isn't getting stolen in one fell swoop: your identity profile is being put together piece by piece. Key bits of information about you may be stored, repackaged and sold from one scammer to the next. The fact that you answered the phone and were willing to engage? That's valuable to scammers who might try it again later - or sell your number to the highest bidder."

Why Gandhi Is Such An Asshole In Civilization - "In the original Civilization, it was because of a bug. Each leader in the game had an “aggression” rating, and Gandhi - to best reflect his real-world persona - was given the lowest score possible, a 1, so low that he’d rarely if ever go out of his way to declare war on someone. Only, there was a problem. When a player adopted democracy in Civilization, their aggression would be automatically reduced by 2. Code being code, if Gandhi went democratic his aggression wouldn’t go to -1, it looped back around to the ludicrously high figure of 255, making him as aggressive as a civilization could possibly be."

Ferguson protesters put a $5000 bounty on Darren Wilson; donated by an investor - "The so-called peaceful protesters, whose threats chased officer Darren Wilson into hiding, announced a bounty on his head Sunday."
Black Lives Matter!

University Of Chicago Activists Post List Of Men Who Have Shown 'Troubling Behavior' - "Students at the University of Chicago are circulating a list of men who have shown “troubling behavior towards romantic or sexual partners,” according to the group behind the effort."
Scarlet Letters are so fashionable

Premature celebration: Runner loses race after celebrating too early

The restaurant that banned kids under 7 just did its best weekend's trade in 14 years - "Three weeks ago chef Liam Flynn, owner of Flynn’s restaurant in Far North Queensland, had a run-in with a customer who told him to “f**k off” when he asked she take her crying two-year-old child outside until he calmed down. That evening, he decided to ban children under seven from the restaurant and posted the details on Facebook."

King's College London considers banning national anthem after student officer links it to 'far-Right nationalism' - "Mr Findon told the Telegraph that the issue is distracting from the “real issues” faced by students in the capital... Upon announcing his decision to run for the welfare and community position, Mr Abdullahi revealed that he was campaigning for “a union with liberation at the centre of everything it does”. He also said he wanted to “decolonise the curriculum”."

How a Gift from Schoolchildren Let the Soviets Spy on the U.S. for 7 Years

Malaysia AGC defends decision not to charge Perkasa chief for Bible-burning threat - "Malaysia’s Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) confirmed today (Oct 27) it has closed its books on Mr Ibrahim Ali’s case, saying it cannot prosecute the Perkasa president for threatening to torch bibles as he was only defending the sanctity of Islam and had not meant to incite anyone to religious frenzy."

Thousands rally in Malaysia to back Islamic penal code bill - "Tens of thousands of Malaysians rallied in the capital on Saturday to support the adoption of a strict Islamic penal code, a proposal religious minorities fear could infringe their rights."
How long can they be dismissed as a small, insignificant minority?

Popular fish oil study deeply flawed, new research says - "The 2014 study has found that Inuit do have similar rates of heart disease compared to non-Inuit populations, and that death rates due to stroke are "very high.""

Are Liberals or Conservatives More Anti-Vaccine? - "4 of the 5 most anti-vaccine states are solid blue. (If Illinois is included, 5 of the 6 most anti-vaccine states are solid blue.) Including Illinois, 8 of the 12 most anti-vaccine states voted for Obama... The two most pro-vaccine states are solid red, and 5 of the 8 most pro-vaccine states overwhelmingly voted for Romney."

Comparative data of childhood and adolescence molestation in heterosexual and homosexual persons. - "gay men and lesbian women reported a significantly higher rate of childhood molestation than did heterosexual men and women. Forty-six percent of the homosexual men in contrast to 7% of the heterosexual men reported homosexual molestation. Twenty-two percent of lesbian women in contrast to 1% of heterosexual women reported homosexual molestation. This research is apparently the first survey that has reported substantial homosexual molestation of girls"

Is Stereotype Threat Overcooked, Overstated, and Oversold? - "We selected 20 days scattered throughout the year and, what a shock, found that Tampa averaged about 40 degrees warmer than Anchorage. However, through the magic of ANCOVA, we can make that difference “statistically” disappear. We simply identified the temperatures in Tampa and Anchorage the day before, and now conducted an ANCOVA, “controlling for prior temperatures.” Figure 2A shows the huge 40 degree difference in actual temperature. Figure 2B shows how, controlling for prior temperatures, there is no difference in the temperature of Tampa and Anchorage. But of course there still is a difference. Saying “there are no differences, controlling for prior differences” is a silly, completely vacuous thing to say. It is like saying, “There is no difference, after we remove the difference.” For the first 10 years post publication of the original stereotype threat study, it was routinely sold as showing that “remove threat, and eliminate racial achievement differences”... What starts out as a critique of Sackett et al’s point buries the acknowledgement that Sackett et al were right! The critical acknowledgement is worth repeating: “…without this adjustment, they would be shown to perform still worse than Whites.” And yet, the claim “Steele & Aronson found that, remove threat, and Black=White test scores” appears over and over and over (see examples at end of this post)... Flore & Wicherts (2015) performed the only meta-analysis of which I am aware that has subjected stereotype threat findings to a whole family of skeptical tests, such as p-curves, funnel and forest plots, and tests for excess of significant results. The results are not pretty and show that the effects primarily appear in the underpowered, small scale studies, and either disappear or reverse altogether in the highly powered large scale studies. Uli Schimmack has also shown that stereotype threat studies are likely to have considerable difficulty replicating... Treating the right social disease (academic inequality) with a weak or ineffective “medicine” is as likely to be effective as treating pneumonia with aspirin. Overselling stereotype threat does a disservice to those whom the research is supposed to actually help. This is especially poignant when one considers “opportunity costs” – the millions in grant money spent on stereotype threat research that might have gone to other sorts of research left unfunded, and the journal space devoted to stereotype threat that might have gone to more solid research that might have made a greater contribution to basic understandings of human psychology and/or to academic interventions targeting phenomena likely to make larger differences, such as actually improving the quality of the education minority students receive."

Facebook was right to remove an advert featuring plus-sized model Tess Holliday - "Facebook says that it removed the post because the advert didn’t comply with its Health and Fitness Policy, which states: “Ads may not depict a state of health or body weight as being perfect or extremely undesirable (ex: you cannot use an image showing a person measuring his/her waist or an image focused solely on a person’s abs).” However, Cherchez la Femme appealed the ban on ‘body shaming’ grounds, leading Facebook ultimately to permit the advert and claim that the post had been mistakenly censored. Facebook was right to remove the advert. Body positivity is one thing, but promoting an unhealthy body size as healthy is different... There would be an uproar if a size zero model went live on air to saying that being underweight was okay. We cannot keep using the term ‘body shaming’ to excuse unhealthy bodies"

Chinese students in the US are using "inclusion" and "diversity" to oppose a Dalai Lama graduation speech - "Comments from Chinese students on Facebook were also couched in rhetoric commonly used to rally for inclusivity on campus. One simply read #ChineseStudentsMatter. Some argued that the invitation goes against “diversity” and “political correctness.” Others contended the university was acting hypocritically by inviting an “oppressive” figure like the Dalai Lama while fostering a climate of anti-racism and anti-sexism... None of professors Quartz contacted in the UCSD Chinese Studies program replied to requests for comments... Data suggests that Asian students have typically remained the least politically active of all student groups on US campuses. According to a survey by the University of California, Los Angeles of first-year students across nearly 200 universities, students who identify as “Asian” remain less likely to participate in protests compared to whites, blacks, and Latinos."
Interestingly Native Americans are even less likely to protest

I,Hypocrite - Posts - "Donald Trump Prefers His Steak Well Done, AKA The Worst Possible Way" - Huffington Post
"If You Judge People For How They Like Their Steak, You Might Be A Trump Supporter" - Huffington Post
"Why a presidential candidate's health isn't a voter's right to know" - CNN
"What we know about Donald Trump's health" - CNN

University Keeps Painting of Sexy Captain America Beheading President Trump, As Well It Should

America's First Queer Gym Removed Mirrors to Boost Inclusivity

Bucknell Uni Celebrates “Mirrorless Monday” To Combat Students’ Low Self-Esteem

Irish girl turned down for South Korea teaching job because of 'alcoholism nature of your kind' - ""I've been to SK three times (and NK once!) and I can confirm they have a similar drinking culture to Ireland. In fact when you get to know Korea you realise they are the Irish of Asia"... the variety of Irish accents can be detrimental to teachers coming from Ireland and said: "There's also definitely a pecking order when it comes to which English speaking country you come from as a teacher. "America/Canada is top and Ireland/South Africa/Scotland are probably tied for the bottom. The huge variety of Irish accents is pretty baffling to not only Koreans but anyone from outside of Ireland. "I've often had American friends comment on how different my accent is compared to their former Irish co-workers.""

How were the pyramids built? British engineer dubbed Indiana James stuns archaeologists with new theory - "Peter James said he believes ancient Egyptians formed the structures by piling up rubble on the inside and attaching bricks later. His shock claim challenges hundreds of years of accepted belief that the pyramids were built with giant blocks carried up huge ramps. The structural engineer reckons that would be impossible as the ramps would have had to have been at least a quarter of a mile long to get the right angle for the bricks to be taken to such great heights... "If that happened, there would still be signs that the ramps had been there, and there aren't any."

Is your gym regime making you bald? Experts in workout warning - "A recent study found over half of British men would rather have a full head of hair than a promotion or supermodel wife. Health experts have linked diet to hair health, as being deficient in certain nutrients can cause hair to thin... there has been a surge in men experiencing accelerated hair loss due to the use of powdered protein and the activity they participate in at the gym. Reportedly, certain ingredients in protein shakes increase testosterone and a chemical called DHT, which has been linked to hair loss... “Interestingly, the activity that men do in the gym can also potentially impact hair loss. While cardio will reduce the levels of DHT in the blood stream, excess weight lifting can increase testosterone levels and therefore accelerate hair loss""

Carleton University comes under heavy criticism after gym scale removed - ""Next it will be the mirrors. #bringbackthescale," wrote one Carleton student on Facebook, while another said online, "Are you for real, Carleton? What a sick joke." Details of the scale controversy were first reported in the university's student-run newspaper, The Charlatan, on Thursday. In more social media reaction, others wondered if the online article was satire. The paper quotes one student as saying, "Scales are very triggering" for people with eating disorders... Aaron Bens, a communication and media studies student at Carleton, wrote to CBC that he is "frustrated" by the university's decision, which he argues is "the next escalation of trigger culture." "We stand up for free speech and defend the books that offend certain people because of their merits. They can simply choose not to read them. This is the same thing. Those who are offended by the scale can simply choose not to use the scale," Bens wrote. "Certain athletes like boxers and rowers rely on those measurements, for them the [scale] is vital.""

Study: In Malaysia, religious controls tighter than in Saudi Arabia, Brunei

Malaysian gymnast gets brickbats for showing ‘aurat’, ‘vagina shape’ despite winning gold - "Malaysian gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi has received a slew of criticisms from Muslims who attacked her for showing her “aurat” and the “shape of her vagina” in a leotard despite winning a gold medal at the SEA Games...
Both Muslim women and men are prohibited in Islam from exposing their aurat, though criticisms are more often targeted against women."

Shrey Bhargava's Storm in a Teacup

So regarding this week's furore about Ah Boys To Men, I was asked just what I objected to in Shrey Bhargava's essay denouncing the audition where he was asked to speak like "a full blown Indian man":

1) He objected to speaking with a strong Indian accent.

Here we have a conflation between 2 concepts of "Indian": Indian Indians and Singaporean Indians.

Assuming the former: we don't have any indication that the casting director was asking him to portray a Singaporean Indian, The role might have been for an Indian Indian in NS (given Singapore's growing cosmopolitanism, the traditional CMIO model is increasingly invalid). Some fodder for this is that Maxi Lim, who starred in the 3 previous ABTM movies, pointed out that in none of them did the Indian actors speak with such accents.

Assuming the latter: as per Maxi Lim's post, assuming this character would have appeared in the final movie, it would've been the only movie of the 4 (to that point) in the series to have a Singaporean Indian speaking in such an accent. That's not much of a stereotype, is it?

Not to mention that Singaporean Indians do indeed have a specific way of speaking (Age as a factor in ethnic accent identification in Singapore, Imperfectives in Singapore's Indian community) so it's not like there is no basis for asking him to perform an "Indian" accent.

Plus, my friend was a Hokkien peng and said all his Indian enciks (army superiors, broadly speaking) spoke with such accents. From my experience in the army I can confirm that the Indian enciks do indeed have a certain way of speaking.

If in the quest for social engineering, we are so afraid of "stereotypes" that we refuse to allow them any representation at all, we create a surreal media landscape that bears little resemblance to reality and alienates consumers.

Another point of consideration is that he was just asked to do an accent. For all we know there wasn't supposed to be any such character at all and this was just to see what he was capable of (indeed that's what mm2 claims). You know, what auditions are for.

Also, the suggestion here is that it would've been less "offensive" if Shrey had been asked to imitate another accent in an exaggerated way.

Yet, if we say that it's okay to exaggerate "other people's" accents, that would be even more problematic. For example if he'd been asked to imitate an Arab accent (as he'd done in his own material before). Because then he could be seen as making fun of that other group.

2) Comedy is about exaggeration to get laughs. Jack Neo comedy is about crude exaggeration to get laughs.

Comedians regularly put on accents to get laughs and people are overwhelmingly okay with it; indeed a classic comedy principle is (or at least used to be) that you should be able to make fun of everything. So why can't accents feature in Jack Neo comedy?

Furthermore, Jack Neo movies in general aren't sophisticated and it has been noted that his "characters are usually 'Ah Bengs'... who live in the heartlands and are utterly obsessed with money, or with not having enough of it" (The Cultural Materialism of Singapore in Jack Neo's Cinema / Stephen Teo in World Film Locations: Singapore). Why then should we expect his Indian characters to be sophisticated?

So you can mock Jack Neo for being a talentless hack. But you can't mock him for being a racist talentless hack.

3) His sheer hypocrisy in doing accents himself

As clearly pointed out by Xiaxue, Shrey himself markets himself on his ability to do accents, and has done in the past the very accent he slammed the ABTM casting director for requesting. Indeed, he has done accents of many other groups in the past.

So if he marketed himself on the basis of being able to do accents, why slam the casting director for asking him to demonstrate his prowess? This is like a Chinese from China listing ping pong as one of his hobbies and then getting upset when asked how often he plays it (because "stereotypes").

This is the same reason we mock Republican politicians who condemn homosexuality but are found in public bathrooms doing funny things with other men.

Is it alright for a Singaporean Indian to imitate cliched Singaporean Indian accents?
Is it alright for a Singaporean Indian to imitate cliched Indian Indian accents?
Is it alright for a Singaporean Indian to imitate cliched Arab accents?

Asking these questions helps us move beyond the simplistic rhetoric of Chinese privilege/racism and minority victimisation in Singapore.

Someone: Found a way to stump local SJWs over castinggate- say this drama will make local Indians less castable in the future- Production houses will just look for less butthurt Malaysian Indians

Cheaper, work harder, less drama

Anyway after this drama all the minority actors with sjw leanings will probably get shadowbanned of casting producers do background checks

nowadays before I work with somebody on a project I Fb stalk them to get intel on their ideological leanings- superSJW with history of drama gets immediate axe

Addendum: This might be the best response:

Tushar Ismail - This post is in response to queries by Drayton and...

"One important thing to remember is that just because we don't find something funny it does not give us the right or authority to dictate to other people what they should find humorous...

Shrey and I are not your average Indians, or even average Singaporeans for that matter. We're both from schools with particularly recognisable cultures, that are not the norm for the average Singaporean from a public school. Shrey hails from a certain school regarded for it's academic excellence, and I from SJI. We both went on to JCs after, him a JC affiliated to his secondary school and I, ACJC. This already puts us in a cultural minority (around 20%) as compared to others. What this also means is that our exposure to the average Singaporean is spectacularly limited. There are whole sociocultural strata of Singaporeans that we, during our formative years, would never have been exposed to. I feel it's important for us to recognise that we, and others like us, come from very insulated parts of Singaporean society. We would have come into contact with people who hail from those strata during our time in NS - I served as a firefighter in the SCDF, and I assume Shrey served in the army. I have also been more exposed to the multitudes of those Singaporeans in my time as a drama coach for various schools. Now, different strata doesn't imply in any way that either is better or worse than another - simply that we exist and experience Singapore very differently. Or as the regressive left likes to say, "We need to check our privilege".

So, while Shrey and I are from a 20% of society, Neo's films are targeted at another percentage of that society. A percentage with which we don't often interact with. A percentage to whom a heavily-accented Indian with all the stereotypical attributes Shrey decries as caricatures are a reality. Yes, not all Indians in Singapore speak with an accent, but many do, in fact, a lot do. So when he calls them caricatures, and I know he doesn't mean any harm, but intent is immaterial, he is calling my students, my neighbours, and a fair few of the fine men I met during my NS as caricatures.

Jack Neo's reality and world-view are different from ours. He makes films from his perspective and for the majority of Singaporeans who share his perspective. As far as authenticity is concerned, Neo is being as authentic as he can be, to himself and to his audience. I don't think that Neo is a racist, nor do I think that his writing is racist - because a racial stereotype, while lazy, is not inherently racist. As a film-maker what he puts onscreen is a valid and legitimate point of view. It may not be my point of view, and it isn't, but we can't accuse him of being dishonest.

Taking offense because they laugh at a stereotypical Indian is cherry-picking. They also laugh at the various other stereotypes present - the beng, the siao-on sergeant etc. etc.

(Shrey's argument that these other characters also have a depth to them is flawed. Worrying because one hopes that as an actor he should be able to discern character development from plot. Neo's main characters are also stereotypes and have no depth whatsoever- however as main characters they have more screen and have more things happen to them over the unfolding of the plot, but this doesn't translate to them having more depth.)

All this brings me to the interpretation of the direction, "be more Indian."...

In fact, let's face it, Shrey and I, in our most authentic selves aren't even Indian enough, apart from our brown skin, to be recognised as Indian by other Indians. I'm no stranger to accusations of being less Indian by my fellow Indians. I'm even, apparently, unrecognisable as a Singaporean by many locals due to my accent. I'm asked on an almost daily basis whether I am local, and why I don't sound local if I was. This is a reality that those of us who have more Western accents have to face.

If Shrey is thinking about authentic representation of minorities on screen, then his most authentic self will not cut it. He will have to do an accent, he will have to adopt some mannerisms to be recognisable to the people he wishes to represent on screen. And in doing so, some people will find it funny. Perhaps an unfortunae side-effect in our attempts at authenticity.

However, if Shrey wants to portray an Indian that's closer to the kind of Indian he is, he must abandon this narrative of nuanced representation of minorities entirely, since he is simply representing himself and those like us.

What he has to admit is that a heavily-accented Indian, is more authentically Indian, than his desire for a non-accented nuanced approach.

Furthermore, I know of Chinese actors who have also been asked to tone down their "Ang Mo" accents and, "be more Chinese" to appeal to the general public since, in spite of their race, their accent made them seem, "foreign".

It wouldn't be a stretch to say that, "be more " is an easily understandable direction that can be interpreted without prejudice or outrage. Something that seems unlikelier now as outrage rises in value as a currency.

I empathise with Shrey's frustration. As a minority actor quality roles are few and far between. Actually, even as a consumer, quality entertainment is few and far between. But I have never thought that the media owe me representation. They don't. It's a business. They do what they have to to make money.

Will nuanced characters and stories make for better quality entertainment? Absolutely! But our media doesn't owe that to anyone of any race for any reason.

Individual film-makers like Neo, or Khoo, or Junfeng, or anyone else, don't owe it to anyone to be progressive or create art that furthers our cause. If it's our calling, then fine, we go out there and make art that reflects our perspectives and desires."

Links - 30th May 2017 (1)

In the midst of the Ah Boys to Men racial debate, new evidence has come to light.
First and foremost, I have newfound respect for Maxi Lim, one of the cast members of ABTM, who have spoken up on the issue. He wrote what is possibly the most formidable take down of Shrey and his blatant hypocrisy + racial shit-stirring. BAM! Shrey just got bitch slapped. In the post, he mentioned how Shrey has acted with a thick Indian accent before. The most beautiful last line says: "Lastly, if you are cast, I hope you stand on your beliefs and reject the role." - not to mention never ever act in another role involving accents/stereotyping again. You dug your grave now lie in it...
Shrey has openly marketed himself as an expert on accents on NUMEROUS occasions. He himself has mimicked many different accents, including the Indian one he so found so objectionable.
Shockingly, he even has a stand up comedy routine that is ENTIRELY based off mimicking accents and NOTHING ELSE. Don't say he is forced to do accents in shows because he gets no roles otherwise - NOBODY WROTE HIS STAND UP ROUTINE FOR HIM BUT HIMSELF.
In the standup, Shrey reduces many races to caricatures, and teaches the audience how to mimic both North and South Indians.
Fucking hypocrite of the year. Now it is 100% clear. You are not above stereotype humour - in fact, you seem to thrive solely on it.
I've also included Shrey acting as an Arab(?) in The Noose.
GUILTY CONSCIENCE DING DING DING. The video was on his Facebook page, and he QUICKLY DELETED it."

6 Crazy Chinese Versions of American Fast Food - "4. Dunkin Donuts Dry Pork and Seaweed Donut"

#DeleteUber is What Happens When Outrage Culture Erases Logic - "Uber drivers, many of whom are immigrants themselves, may now be negatively affected by the actions of a thoughtless mob, a group of people who desperately wanted the adrenaline rush that comes with public outrage."

Is Crime Genetic? Scientists Don’t Know Because They’re Afraid to Ask - "research has consistently revealed that parenting styles correlate with self-control development in children, and self-control in childhood predicts a variety of important outcomes, including criminal behavior... Most of the evidence about the causes of crime overlooks genetic transmission. Yet, some research has found that once you account for genetic influences on self-control, previously identified social transmission effects (read: parenting) on the child’s self-control become unstable. In other words, when you control for genetic transmission (the alternative explanation that most criminologists overlook), the effect of parenting on self-control diminishes or goes away entirely. Consider another type of parenting effect — one that shows up in the news frequently — spanking. Not long ago, we examined the relationship between spanking and behavioral problems in children. Once we controlled for genetic transmission, there was no spanking effect in the way that most scholars think about spanking effects. Put another way, our evidence did not support the conclusion that spanking causes behavioral problems in the sense that most psychologists would argue... A remarkable study in Sweden recently found that highly disadvantaged neighborhoods had more crime. Yet that neighborhood effect disappeared when risk factors concentrated within certain families were taken into account. Once again, social transmission effects weakened (and, in this case disappeared) when other factors like genetic transmission were controlled for... it seems that the word “gene” makes social scientists nauseated. Not long ago, in fact, the top journal in the field of criminology published an article calling for an end to twin studies. Let that resonate a moment. There was an actual call to remove a perfectly good research technique from the field, one that also happens to be exceedingly valuable when trying to rule out widespread problems like genetic confounding."

Conscious consumerism is a lie. Here is what you can really do to save the environment. - "Making series of small, ethical purchasing decisions while ignoring the structural incentives for companies’ unsustainable business models won’t change the world as quickly as we want. It just makes us feel better about ourselves. Case in point: A 2012 study compared footprints of “green” consumers who try to make eco-friendly choices to the footprints of regular consumers. And they found no meaningful difference between the two. The problem is that even though we want to make the right choices, it’s often too little, too late. For example, friends are always asking me where to take their old clothes so that they are either effectively recycled or make it into the hands of people who need them. My answer? It doesn’t matter where you take them: It will always end up in the exact same overloaded waste stream, which may or may not eventually dump it in Haiti... There’s also the issue of privilege. The sustainability movement has been charged with being elitist—and it most certainly is. You need a fair amount of disposable income to afford ethical and sustainable consumption options, the leisure time to research the purchasing decisions you make, the luxury to turn up your nose at 95% of what you’re offered, and, arguably, a post-graduate degree in chemistry to understand the true meaning behind ingredient labels... Globally, we’re projected to spend $9.32 billion in 2017 on green cleaning products. If we had directed even a third of that pot of money (the typical markup on green cleaning products) toward lobbying our governments to ban the toxic chemicals we’re so afraid of, we might have made a lot more progress by now."
Instead of "Be the change that you wish to see in the world" we have "Force everyone else to be as virtuous as you want"

How to Get Trump Voters to Support Refugees, Obamacare - "just 8 percent of the liberals in Willer and Feinberg’s study were able to craft an argument that would appeal to conservatives’ value of loyalty toward your own kind. (So something like, “Our fellow citizens of the United States of America deserve to stand alongside us ... We should lift our fellow citizens up, not bring them down.”) What’s worse, some of them picked an argument that directly contradicted what many conservatives value, with arguments like, “your religion should play no part in the laws of the United States”... [Liberals] who read an argument saying we should maintain high levels of military spending because it’s a poverty-fighting tool— “through the military, the disadvantaged can achieve equal standing”—were more likely to support a robust defense budget than those who read a paper on how the military “ensures the United States is the greatest nation in the world.”... Still, there’s one thing Feinberg said definitely won’t work. In the wake of the executive order, Feinberg said he saw lots of liberals lobbing ad-hominem attacks, such as “you're being un-American” or “you’re making the Statue of Liberty cry.” “People typically do not do well when attacked,” he said, “this could simply push them to be more staunch in their position.” If you can’t persuade your political foes, that is, you can at least try not to make the conflict worse."

FASCISTS ON CAMPUS: How The Academic Left Paved The Way For Anti-Free Speech Riots - "the academic left has built up a pseudointellectual bulwark around such fascism. They’ve told students that they deserve “safe spaces” – areas in which their ideas are not challenged in any way. They’ve forwarded the culture of “microaggressions,” which urges students to see any speech they find offensive as a form of “aggression” to be countered by other aggression... As a professor at Cal State LA posted on his door before my speech there last year, “The best response to micro-aggression is macro-aggression.” This line of thought encourages student evil. As Professor Roy Baumeister writes in Evil: Inside Human Violence and Cruelty, “Hypersensitive people who often think their pride is being assaulted are potentially dangerous. Even when a neutral observer would conclude that no serious provocation occurred, it is still important to recognize that, in the perpetrator’s own view, he or she was merely responding to an attack.” Colleges churn out these oversensitive people."
The line about macro-aggression comes from Professor Robert Weide at CSU-LA

The (lack of) science behind happiness and creativity - "creativity calls on persistence and problem-solving skills, not positivity. Computational scientist Anna Jordanous at Kent University and linguist Bill Keller of Sussex University in England dug through through over half century of study on the creative process in various fields, and isolated 14 components of creativity. Happiness wasn’t one of them... negative emotions are actually beneficial to the creative process."

A new study shows how Star Trek jokes and geek culture make women feel unwelcome in computer science - "Work from our lab shows that when high school girls see Star Trek posters and video games in a computer science classroom, they are less interested than boys in taking the course. When the classroom is devoid of décor, girls still opt out. It is only when an alternate image of computer science is presented by replacing geeky objects with art and nature posters that girls become as interested as boys."
If you don't fit the culture of a workplace, it's the workplace that needs to change - not you

Polar bears eating DOLPHINS and global warming may be to blame

Why I Left the Left- "Do you believe in free speech? Do you believe that people should be judged by their character, not their skin color? Do you believe in freedom of religion? If you believe these things, you’re probably not a progressive. You might think you’re a progressive. I used to think I was. My show, “The Rubin Report” was originally part of the progressive “The Young Turks” network... If you’re black, or female, or Muslim, or Hispanic or a member of any other minority group, you’re judged differently than the most evil of all things – a white, Christian male. The Regressive Left ranks minority groups in a pecking order to compete in a kind of Oppression Olympics. Gold medal goes to the most offended. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream that his children would be judged by their character and not their skin color was a liberal idea, but these days, it’s not a progressive ideal."

The student Left’s culture of intolerance is creating a new generation of conservatives - "The conservative philosopher Roger Scruton was in Paris during the 1968 riots and has said that it was whilst witnessing the uprising that he became a conservative. The violence at Berkeley mirrors the street protests in Paris from 1968. Privileged and excitable students living in one of the most blessed parts of the world went out and created havoc in order to overthrow an opponent that they refused to tolerate. The Parisians, at least, had a deeper political cause – but the Berkeley students carried out the ugliest form of protest. It is the form of protest that says “I don’t like that view, therefore you must not be allowed to express it” and it is causing a lot of students to have their own ‘Scruton moment’... There has been a spike in membership in conservative college clubs including Young Americans for Liberty, which boasts 804 chapters filled with 308,927 members... Analysis from market research firm, The Gild, shows that ‘Gen Z’ is the most conservative generation since 1945. The research reveals that ‘Gen Z’ Britons are more likely to favour conservative spending, dislike tattoos and body-piercings, and oppose marijuana legislation."
Actually I still don't know what 1968 was about

16 Angry and Hilarious Bad Parking Notes Left on Cars
The free condom is nice

Study: Democrats Moving Left Faster Than Republicans Moving Right - "it’s been a liberal talking point that Republican extremism is to blame for political polarization and gridlock. In the old days, the argument goes, Republicans were a moderate party, but over the past generation the GOP has been gradually taken over by its far-right wing... Now, a paper on polarization and inequality released in August by political scientists from Princeton, Georgetown, and the University of Oregon (and highlighted this week in a Washington Post article) provides some empirical evidence that Democratic Party’s leftward drift is more pronounced than the GOP’s rightward drift, at least at the state level. The study’s overall argument is that income inequality has increased political polarization at the state level since the 1990s. But the authors find that that this happens more by moving state Democratic parties to the left than by moving state Republican parties to the right. As the Democratic Party lost power at the state level over the past 15 years, it also effectively shed its moderate wing. Centrist Democrats have increasingly lost seats to Republicans, “resulting in a more liberal Democratic party” overall. The authors find that the ideological median of Republican legislators has shifted much less."

Note left on handicapped car calls mom, disabled child lazy - "A 10-year-old Colorado girl who was born with a rare genetic disease which leaves her bones weak and brittle is speaking out after finding a note calling her and her mother "lazy" and idiotic for parking in a handicapped spot... it begins with a friendly "GREETINGS!" It then twists into an arrogant scolding for parking in a spot which was declared as better deserving of others — despite them having a handicapped sign."

‘Men Working’ sign deemed sexist by Ohio college, demands work halt - "Sarah Belden pointed out that the sign was accurate. “There was no women in the crew working on the building, it was politically correct," she told WKEF."
It's not just elite colleges - this was a community college

Empathy Cards by Emily McDowell are greeting cards designed for cancer patients by a cancer survivor. - "I promise never to refer to your illness as a "journey". Unless someone takes you on a cruise."

How a Math Genius Hacked OkCupid to Find True Love - "A friend at Columbia recruited him into an offshoot of MIT’s famed professional blackjack team, and he spent the next few years bouncing between New York and Las Vegas, counting cards and earning up to $60,000 a year. The experience kindled his interest in applied math, ultimately inspiring him to earn a master’s and then a PhD in the field. “They were capable of using mathema­tics in lots of different situations,” he says. “They could see some new game—like Three Card Pai Gow Poker—then go home, write some code, and come up with a strategy to beat it."... He played with the dial and found a natural resting point where the 20,000 women clumped into seven statistically distinct clusters based on their questions and answers... One cluster was too young, two were too old, another was too Christian. But he lingered over a cluster dominated by women in their mid-twenties who looked like indie types, musicians and artists. This was the golden cluster. The haystack in which he’d find his needle. Somewhere within, he’d find true love. Actually, a neighboring cluster looked pretty cool too—slightly older women who held professional creative jobs, like editors and designers. He decided to go for both. He’d set up two profiles and optimize one for the A group and one for the B group... he noticed latent variables emerging. In the younger cluster, the women invariably had two or more tattoos and lived on the east side of Los Angeles. In the other, a disproportionate number owned midsize dogs that they adored... Then came the message from Christine Tien Wang, a 28-year-old artist and prison abolition activist. McKinlay had popped up in her search for 6-foot guys with blue eyes near UCLA, where she was pursuing her master’s in fine arts. They were a 91 percent match."

No, Research Has Not Established That You Inherited Your Intelligence From Your Mother - "The piece is bylined “Editorial Staff,” presumably because everyone was too embarrassed to put a real name on it... As the second source for the splashy “intelligence is inherited from the mother” claim, the Second Nexus Editorial Staff link us to…Cosmopolitan magazine. Oddly enough, in her brief summary, Cosmo writer Lauren Smith sources her material back to…Psychology Spot, touting it as citing “new research” when it emphatically does not. Then, at the bottom of the Cosmopolitan post, yet another source is linked: Good Housekeeping. A click on that just takes the reader to the same Lauren Smith-authored post featured on the Cosmo site. This tautological cross-referencing gets almost as tangled as the genetics of intelligence"

Monday, May 29, 2017

Links - 29th May 2017 (2)

Commentary: In a world first, Singapore’s highest court rules that parents deserve kids with their genes - "Society and individuals place great value on such biological relationships. Genetic affinity – rather than appearance – grounds a parent’s obligation to pay child support, for instance. And men who suspect their spouses of cheating on them often care deeply about whether their children are really theirs."

Uganda is worried about the number of Chinese men marrying their women

Princeton’s Ad-Blocking Superweapon May Put an End to the Ad-Blocking Arms Race - "The team used several computer vision techniques to detect ads the same way that a human would, which they call "perceptual ad blocking"... The rise of malvertising, invasive tracking and surveillance, and heavyweight scripts that can bog down browser performance mean that there is a strong case to be made for blocking ads (a recent study found that advertising and scripts slow down web pages by an average of 44 percent)... "The fundamental problem with online ads today is a misalignment of incentives—not just between users and advertisers, but between publishers and advertisers," Narayanan told me in an email. "We've consistently found that publishers are upset about rampant online tracking and the security problems with ads, but they don't have much control over ad tech. Changing this power imbalance is important if we want a long-term solution.""

Why mothers should expect less of themselves and more of their partner - "her life became easier: she was able to look at her time and her tasks, and work out what mattered to her and what could go by the wayside. Her lightbulb moment was the realisation that anything she couldn’t do could be dropped – and either Kojo or someone else in their extended family or community could pick up the balls that she had let go of, or the task could be neglected... One of the big lessons she learned was that when you drop a ball and your partner picks it up, you have to let him pick it up his way. So when Kojo took on collecting the dry cleaning, he got it delivered. (“Why had I never realised they delivered?” asks Tiffany.) When he took on the cooking, it was chicken casserole every night for a week... she was suffering from what she calls “home control disease”: while she scoffed at the idea that a woman’s place was in the home, she still focused obsessively on how it was run, how it was organised, and she still believed, deep down, that only her way of doing things would work... Among her strategies was transferring tactics learned in the office to home life: some women are good at transferring their home organisation skills to the workplace, but less good at doing it the other way round. She created a spreadsheet and put every family task she could think of into it: beside the tasks were three columns, headed “Tiffany”, “Kojo”, and “no one”. When Kojo saw the list he came up with some things Tiffany had forgotten to include, such as booking the family’s holidays, sorting out their tech needs and watering the garden – all tasks, he pointed out, that he did. It wasn’t that Kojo was doing nothing – although he could, and now does, do more – but he prioritised tasks that Tiffany hadn’t even realised needed doing, just as she had done with tasks she usually did herself."

Woman made PowerPoint to convince her crush to date her - "On slide four, she really delves into science, setting the page up with the subtitle, 'My boobs exhibit steady growth over time.' 'I performed two statistical analysis tests to prove my breasts will grown larger with time,' she writes beside before and after images as well as a graph that shows that she has grown from an A cup to a DD cup from 2013 to 2017."

'Snowflake' generation rely on teachers to bail them out - "Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham, said last night that some pupils know ‘if they’re not going to work, teacher are going to come in and boost them’. He said: ‘This is another sign of the snowflake generation, with young people becoming ever more dependent and sensitive and relying on others to look after them and do the work for them."

You Can Now Get StarCraft For Free

'Fat, Old, Ugly' Flight Attendants Lost the Discrimination Case Against Aeroflot Airlines - "A Moscow court has dismissed a lawsuit by Russian flight attendants who had sued Russia’s national airline, Aeroflot, for discrimination. The airline had imposed regulations governing stewardess’ weight, height and clothing sizes. Several Aeroflot flight attendants had stepped forward claiming that the company demoted them based on their body types and attractiveness... In response to the flight attendants’ lawsuit, Aeroflot referred to Russian labor law, which allows imposing strict work rules if they are necessitated by the line of work, or industry"

Obama thought Clinton's handling of email server was 'political malpractice': book

Muslims care more about halal food than halal income, deputy minister says - "On Monday, minister Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom had said that the authorities will not issue halal certification for non-alcoholic “beer” or any product that uses “haram”-related names like ham or bacon. According to state news agency Bernama, the minister in charge of Islamic affairs said the term “halal beer” went against the manual procedure for Malaysia’s halal certification."

How game theory improves dating apps - "American dating apps traditionally had a ratio of roughly 60% men to 40% women, “which doesn’t sound that extreme, but if you actually take into account activity level – guys are twice as active as women – the gender ratio becomes even more lopsided; in the active user base it’s more like 80:20.”... Bumble’s unique feature is that only women can make the first move (that is, send the first message). Of course, this greatly restricts activity for the men, but the restriction breaks the great coordination problem and solves the tragedy of the commons: since women are not being inundated with messages, the men they match have a real chance of a date. Even for the men, the benefits may well be worth the price. Bumble has several other features that strategically influence users’ behaviour in order to lead more users into real conversations. For example, after a match is made, women only have 24 hours to start chatting or else the match disappears. Any worries that responding too quickly will signal over-enthusiasm are allayed because it’s common knowledge that the app leaves no choice. Similarly, women don’t have to worry about how they’ll be perceived for initiating a conversation"

Christian governor loses Jakarta run-off: Pollsters - "Jakarta's Christian governor on Wednesday lost heavily to a Muslim former government minister in an election run-off, private polls indicated, after a divisive battle that has damaged Indonesia's reputation as a bastion of tolerant Islam.
Anies Baswedan, who was accused of pandering to hardliners to win votes, and his supporters cheered as news came through that surveys showed him winning by over 10 percentage points against Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who was fighting for his job while standing trial for blasphemy."
Will Turkey, Malaysia and Indonesia still be used of examples of moderate Islam that's compatible with democracy? Can Jakarta's election be dismissed like Aceh (one province) or the fault of rural ignoramuses?

Will Islam swing nail-biter election for Jakarta’s governor? | This Week In Asia | South China Morning Post - "If the outcome of the elections should prove that Islamist intervention into elections can drag down a governor with a 70 per cent approval rating, this would have significant repercussions for how Indonesian electoral politics work in the future... the president was forced to dial back comments he made suggesting religion and politics needed to be kept separate, after the top Muslim clerical council accused him of promoting “liberal values”."

Sask. ranchers stunned as beaver herds 150 cattle - Saskatoon - ""A Canadian beaver leading around a bunch of Canadian cattle just makes it even more funny"

The Real Beauty and the Beast - "It's a condition known as "hypertrichosis" or "Ambras Syndrome," but in the 1500s it would transform one man into a national sensation and iconic fairy-tale character. His name: Petrus Gonsalvus, more commonly known today as the hairy hero of Beauty and the Beast"

What if Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Had Swapped Genders? - "Salvatore says he and Guadalupe began the project assuming that the gender inversion would confirm what they’d each suspected watching the real-life debates: that Trump’s aggression—his tendency to interrupt and attack—would never be tolerated in a woman, and that Clinton’s competence and preparedness would seem even more convincing coming from a man. But the lessons about gender that emerged in rehearsal turned out to be much less tidy. What was Jonathan Gordon smiling about all the time? And didn’t he seem a little stiff, tethered to rehearsed statements at the podium, while Brenda King, plainspoken and confident, freely roamed the stage? Which one would audiences find more likeable?... Many were shocked to find that they couldn’t seem to find in Jonathan Gordon what they had admired in Hillary Clinton—or that Brenda King’s clever tactics seemed to shine in moments where they’d remembered Donald Trump flailing or lashing out... The simplicity of Trump’s message became easier for people to hear when it was coming from a woman—that was a theme. One person said, “I’m just so struck by how precise Trump’s technique is.” Another—a musical theater composer, actually—said that Trump created “hummable lyrics,” while Clinton talked a lot, and everything she was was true and factual, but there was no “hook” to it. Another theme was about not liking either candidate—you know, “I wouldn’t vote for either one.”"
People liked "Trump" even more as a female, and disliked "Clinton" even more as a male. Feminism meets reality

E-cigarettes around 95% less harmful than tobacco estimates landmark review - "An expert independent evidence review published today by Public Health England (PHE) concludes that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than tobacco and have the potential to help smokers quit smoking... e-cigarettes may be contributing to falling smoking rates among adults and young people"
Meanwhile, in Singapore...

How Uber Could End Up As Silicon Valley's Most Spectacular Crash - "The company is private, but some of its numbers have been leaked. Bloomberg reported that Uber lost $800 million in the third quarter of 2016. Some speculate Uber may have lost $3 billion last year"

Uber Is Doomed - "After a discombobulated 2016, in which Uber burned through more than $2 billion, amid findings that rider fares only cover roughly 40 percent of a ride, with the remainder subsidized by venture capitalists, it’s hard to imagine Kalanick could take the company public at its stunning current valuation of nearly $70 billion... Uber has maintained operating losses of $2 billion a year, surpassing any start-up in history, with a negative 143 percent profit margin... Horan found that Uber passengers fares only covered 41 percent of the actual trip cost, suggesting it charges far-too little for fares. Even public transit systems, long lambasted for being money-losing ventures, perform better: for instance, fare revenue for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which serves the nation’s capital, accounts for 47 percent of its operating costs... Amazon’s “worst losses were $1.4 billion in its fifth year of operations, but shrank rapidly thereafter, while Uber’s losses have been steadily growing and will be over $3 billion in its seventh year.” The problem with Uber, Horan argued, is that it doesn’t have a powerful economy of scale"

Deployed US Navy Has a Pregnancy Problem, and It’s Getting Worse - "A record 16 out of 100 Navy women are reassigned from ships to shore duty due to pregnancy, according to data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act... That number is up 2 percent from 2015, representing hundreds more who have to cut their deployments short, taxing both their unit’s manpower, military budgets and combat readiness. Further, such increases cast a shadow over the lofty gender integration goals set by former President Barack Obama... The evacuation of pregnant women is costly for the Navy. Jude Eden, a nationally known author about women in the military who served in 2004 as a Marine deployed to Iraq, said a single transfer can cost the Navy up to $30,000 for each woman trained for a specific task, then evacuated from an active duty ship and sent to land. That figure translates into $115 million in expenses for 2016 alone... “A pregnancy takes you out of action for about two years. And there’s no replacement,” said Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, a nonpartisan public policy organization. “So everybody else has to work all that harder,” adding that on small ships and on submarines, “you really have a potential crew disaster.”... The Obama administration understated the pregnancy problem throughout its eight years and even suppressed some data about the impact of its “gender-neutral” policies on the Navy... In May 2015, Admiral Michelle Howard announced a quota of 25 percent of women on all ships. “We’re going back and looking at the ships — all of them — and what percentage of women are on the ships. Over time, we’ll modernize them to make sure we get to about 25 percent on each ship,” she said."

Baby Aboard: The Navy Responds to High Rates of Unplanned Pregnancies Among Sailors - "Unintended pregnancies are even more common among women in the Navy than they are in the general population"

Everything changed in Hong Kong after 1997, actor Anthony Wong laments | South China Morning Post - "What do you think of the current state of the Hong Kong film industry?
At the moment, it is finished. When you say Hong Kong film industry, that means Hong Kong investment and Hong Kong people make it, Hong Kong actors, just like in the early 1990s. But now they have gone to the China market, so they have to censor the script, control the story, so more of the artists are from China... Before we had a lot of styles; kung fu, drama, comedy, we could say anything that we liked, mocking people. There was no limit. But now that’s gone... In Hong Kong movies, someone with very clear features and who is strong would be cast as the bad guy. But if you are short, fat and baby-faced, 40-something, then you will be a good guy."

This site is “taking the edge off rant mode” by making readers pass a quiz before commenting - "On some stories, potential commenters are now required to answer three basic multiple-choice questions about the article before they’re allowed to post a comment... The goal is to ensure that the commenters have actually read the story before they discuss it... Forcing users to take a little extra time to think about the comment they’re about to post also helps them think about tone"
What if this excludes minorities?

Why Were the 7,000 Antisemitic Incidents Under Obama Largely Ignored? - "The question is: Are we only offended by certain types of antisemitism and not others?"

Sexual orientation and personality. - "Self-ascribed masculinity-femininity (Self-M-F) and gender-related interests showed the largest heterosexual-homosexual differences (respective ds = .60 and 1.28 for men, and -1.28 and -1.46 for women) and the largest sex differences (respective ds = 2.83 and 2.65). Instrumentality and expressiveness showed much smaller heterosexual-homosexual and sex differences. Big Five traits showed a number of small-to-moderate heterosexual-homosexual and sex differences. Bisexual men were much more like gay men than like heterosexual men in their Self-M-F and gender-related interests, whereas bisexual women were intermediate between lesbian and heterosexual women. Homosexual participants were more variable on some gender-related traits than same-sex heterosexuals were. The gender inversion hypothesis-that gay men's traits tend to be somewhat feminized and that lesbians' traits tend to be somewhat masculinized-received considerable support"

Sustainable Shark Fishing

Nine Out of Ten Shark Scientists Agree: Sustainable Shark Fishing Is Fine | Hakai Magazine
Researchers worry extreme voices in the conservation community may be overshadowing an evidence-based approach.

A new survey of shark and ray researchers takes a bite out of the popular belief that shark fishing and the shark fin trade should be banned. As it turns out, a large majority of shark experts believe that sustainable fisheries are not only possible, they are actually preferable to protecting sharks with sanctuaries or outright bans on fishing.

The result may seem counterintuitive, acknowledges lead author David Shiffman, but the finding points to the fact that wildlife conservation is more nuanced than the general public tends to appreciate. While people may believe that all shark species are endangered, and that any form of shark fishing threatens to push populations to collapse, Shiffman says the best available science evidence does not support those ideas.

The survey also reflects a concern among scientists that more extreme voices in the conservation community may be overshadowing a more evidence-based approach to protection.

“One of our conclusions from this is that those in the research community and those in the advocacy community should talk to one another more,” Shiffman says.

Shiffman, a PhD candidate at the University of Miami studying shark ecology and conservation, got the idea for the survey after realizing that while conservationists have spent time learning about the attitudes and opinions of many stakeholders in the shark fishing debate—such as fishermen, conservationists, and people in the shark tourism industry—there was no real record of what shark experts think about the issue.

Shiffman distributed a voluntary online survey to members of the three largest professional shark and ray research societies. Of the 102 researchers who responded, 84 percent said sustainable shark fisheries are possible, and 90 percent felt that making fisheries sustainable—rather than pushing for fishing bans—should be the goal of conservation policies. Interestingly, the more scientific papers a scientist had published on shark fisheries, the more likely he or she was to say that sustainable shark fishing was possible.

In general, the scientists favor policies that protect specific species, rather than those that set regional limits on shark fishing. Out of 12 conservation policies considered, shark sanctuaries and bans on shark finning received the least support from the researchers.

Sonja Fordham, the president of Shark Advocates International, a nonprofit dedicated to advocating for science-based shark conservation policies, wasn’t surprised by the results. She says that most scientists are data-driven, and agrees that evidence shows managing fisheries is the best way to protect sharks. “There aren’t a whole lot of success stories out there,” she says, “but the ones that we have, the recovery was due to quotas, or species-specific prohibition.”

But, Fordham stresses that a range of factors, not just data, go into shaping fishing policy. Developing countries might lack the resources for intensive fisheries management, and find that an outright ban is a better alternative. And conservation groups focused on animal welfare may oppose shark finning because they believe that it is cruel, even if the data say it can be done sustainably.

“Scientists are not the only experts,” she says. “Just because you’re an expert in shark science, you’re not automatically an expert in policy.”


Harvesting sharks could be key to saving them : Nature News & Comment

"Many activists argue a total ban on shark fishing is the only solution to slow or halt the decline. But a 2016 study found the majority of shark researchers surveyed believe sustainable shark fisheries are possible and preferable to widespread bans. Many reported they knew of real-world examples of sustainable shark fisheries. But a global roundup of empirical data exploring which species are being fished sustainably was lacking.

New research, appearing in the February 6 issue of Current Biology, is filling that gap, and the findings bolster the idea that around the world, some sharks are being fished sustainably. Nicholas Dulvy, a marine conservation biologist at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, and shark ecologist Colin Simpfendorfer of James Cook University in Australia recently examined global stock assessments of 65 shark populations of 47 species. They found 39 of the populations, representing 33 different species, are fished sustainably—that is, they are harvested at levels that allow them to remain stable in size and not edge toward extinction. Although these 33 species account for only a small fraction of the world’s sharks, rays and their kin the chimeras (collectively referred to as sharks), which in total number more than 1,000, they are proof of concept that sustainable shark fishing is possible.

Cross-referencing stock assessments sourced from the scientific literature, government agencies, known experts and internet searches with other data sets including United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization catch statistics and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) threat categories, along with trade records, Dulvy and Simpfendorfer calculated the take of biologically sustainable sharks comprised 7 to 9 percent of global totals. But there are two components to sustainable fishing: the biological capability of the fish to withstand harvesting and the careful management of that harvesting by humans. The researchers found only 4 percent of global trade in sharks was directly sustainably managed...

Relatively low-productivity species could be sustainably fished. One example is the Pacific spiny dogfish (Squalus suckleyi), a type of small shark. In 2011 a fishing industry group in British Columbia obtained Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for this species, a process that validates for consumers the product was fished sustainably. It was the first such certification in the world awarded for a shark, explains Michael Renwick, executive director of the British Columbia Dogfish Hook and Line Industry Association who spearheaded this certification process...

Perhaps the most controversial finding from the new study is that shark fins, too, can be harvested sustainably. Shark fin is a delicacy in some Asian cultures. But the traditional way of harvesting the fins—in which the fins are hacked off of the live animal, which is then tossed back into the sea to suffocate or die from bleeding—has prompted public outcry. The uproar over this practice, called “finning,” has been a major driver for shark conservation. Against that backdrop, sustainable shark fin is an “unthinkable notion for many,” Dulvy and Simpfendorfer acknowledge. But their study suggests it is indeed possible. In fact, they found nearly 9 percent of fins on the market originate from sharks whose populations are being fished sustainably.

Obtaining shark fins need not involve finning at all, however. “There are absolutely ways to get fins into the fin trade without finning,” says David Shiffman of the University of Miami, who led the 2016 study that surveyed shark scientists’ attitudes toward shark fishing. He notes great strides in legislation that have reduced the number of sharks finned at sea in at least 17 countries.

Indeed, by definition, exploiting a resource sustainably requires whole animal use, Simpfendorfer explains. In the case of MSC-certified Atlantic dogfish, the heads become lobster and crab bait; back meat becomes British fish and chips; belly flaps are a German delicacy; liver supplies nutraceuticals; fins and tails headline east Asian soup; and leftovers become agricultural fertilizer, says Massachusetts-based attorney John Whiteside, Jr., who helped east coast U.S. dogfish fisheries achieve MSC status...

Another concern: legal shark fishing could hide illegal trade. But “illegal unsustainable shark fishing is happening regardless,” Shiffman notes. In his view it is better to have at least some sustainable, scientifically well-managed products in the marketplace. Without them, he says, “whatever fills the gap that we leave is going to be worse.”"


'Nearly all shark's fin sold here from sustainable source'

"Almost all shark's fin sold here is from sustainable sources, said the Marine and Land Products Association yesterday, following the release of a study on Thursday that found Singapore to be a top trader of the controversial delicacy.

The group represents companies in the fishing and marine industry, including about 10 involved in the shark's fin trade. This makes up about 70 per cent of the shark's fin industry here, said Mr Yio Jin Xian, a representative of the association.

He wrote in an e-mail to The Straits Times yesterday: "We constantly strive to provide sustainable products from countries with well-documented federal regulations on shark fishing... We are continuously seeking sustainable solutions in the seafood industry"...

Mr Yio said the association "strictly follows Cites regulations and international laws on endangered species". All shark's fin sold by members - which he estimates at about 90 per cent of what is sold here - is from sustainable sources, he added. The fins are from sharks processed in First World countries with fisheries that are regulated and have restrictions on the amount fished each year, he said.

"Those countries require the sharks to be fully used, so typically, the fins are shipped to Asian markets, and the rest is used in Western countries for dishes like fish and chips. Those fins are not processed on boats by fishermen who cut them off and throw the dead sharks back in the sea. It is the whole shark that's used, not the fins alone.""

The WWF claims that "There are no shark fisheries that have been independently certified sustainable", which is curious because in 2012 they found that "Marine Stewardship Council wild seafood sustainability certification remains best in class"

And as you will recall, the Marine Stewardship Council certifies sustainable shark's fin...

Links - 29th May 2017 (1)

Princeton protesters occupy president’s office, demand ‘racist’ Woodrow Wilson’s name be removed - The Washington Post - "it’s a movement that has also generated opposition — as at Dartmouth, where some students reported being frightened by protesters screaming and swearing at them about being racists last week, at Yale where a debate about free speech clashed with demands from students angry about the racial climate on campus, at Claremont McKenna College where some students said protests turned hostile, and in a few places such as the University of Missouri and Howard, with racist death threats... At Princeton, the protest came on the same day university officials announced that the leaders of the residential colleges would change their traditional names, effective immediately, from “master” to “head of the college.” Protesters at Yale have demanded a similar change, concerned that the term “master” has ugly connotations associated with slavery... “Though we are aware that the term ‘master’ has a long history of use in universities (indeed since medieval times), it seems to me by now to be anachronistic and unfortunate for the positions we hold,” Sandra Bermann, head of Whitman College, said in a statement. “We are glad to take on the designation as ‘head of the college’ that describes our role more aptly”... Princeton’s Black Justice League pushed harder. The group demanded that the name of Woodrow Wilson, the 28th U.S. president, a segregationist who some believe supported the ideas of the Ku Klux Klan, be removed from a residential college, from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy and International Affairs, and any other buildings — and that his mural be scrubbed from the dining hall. It demanded “cultural competency training” for all faculty and staff, including discussion of “the true role of freedom of speech and freedom of intellectual thought in a way that does not reinforce anti-Blackness and xenophobia.” The organizers demanded that classes on “marginalized peoples” be added to the university’s required courses"
Given that slavery itself is anachronistic, one wonders if the capitulation was necessary, and what will be next
Sadly they capitulated in part and renamed some stuff

Press me! The buttons that lie to you - "Some would call this a “placebo button”– a button which, objectively speaking, provides no control over a system, but which to the user at least is psychologically fulfilling to push. It turns out that there are plentiful examples of buttons which do nothing and indeed other technologies which are purposefully designed to deceive us. But here’s the really surprising thing. Many increasingly argue that we actually benefit from the illusion that we are in control of something – even when, from the observer’s point of view, we’re not... Skype phone calls today sometimes contain “fake static noise” because when users experience a completely noise free line, they are prone to thinking that the call has in fact dropped"

Indigenous fruits are going the way of the dodo - "Another common fruit not often seen in cities is the binjai, also known as white mango by some people. It has a brown skin and is usually sour. My wife uses it in sambal belacan or in tempoyak. The Hokkiens call it “bull’s testicles” from the appearance of the fruits, paired two to a stalk. Like the keranji and belinjau, the local buah salak (or snakeskin fruit) is also becoming as rare as our traditional kampung houses."

The (Not So) Newfound Alliance Between Feminism, Marxism, And Radical Islam - "What these feminists and Marxists haven’t done is think about the long game their behavior causes. This is typical because many of these acolytes of Marxism have only one concern: “taking down ‘the man.” They really do not care what the hell comes after, and this has terrible repercussions for the rest of society."

When Does 'Eating Clean' Become an Eating Disorder? - "One of the reasons Dr. Kratina believes orthorexia is rising in popularity is because of our fixation on health. "There is nothing wrong with eating local or being a vegetarian or vegan," she says. "I think a lot of those diets are inherently valuable. The problem is that we have moralized eating, weight, food, and exercise. Food has become presented—more and more—as the answer"... " I didn't look like an anorexic until I finally stopped getting my period. I was not not eating. I was just eating so healthfully and so restrictively that I was very sick.""

Does Islam fuel terrorism? - "when Osama bin Laden made a formal declaration of war against "the Jews and the Crusaders" in 1998, he cited this Quranic verse at the beginning of his declaration. Assertions, therefore, that Islamist terrorism has nothing to do with Islam are as nonsensical as claims that the Crusades had nothing to do with Christian beliefs about the sanctity of Jerusalem or that the exponential growth of Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands are not rooted in the beliefs of certain fundamentalist Jewish groups about the God-given rights of Jews to live in their God-given homeland.
Indeed, there is an explicitly religious civil war driven by terrorist groups such as ISIS, al Qaeda and Hezbollah unfolding in the Middle East in countries such as Iraq, Syria and Yemen that pits ultrafundamentalist Sunnis against ultrafundamentalist Shias. This war could well replicate the religious Thirty Years' War that tore apart 17th century Europe in both viciousness and length. Already hundreds of thousands have died in these conflicts... Salafism is an ultrafundmentalist branch of Islam that is particularly prevalent in Saudi Arabia. Salafism is intolerant of what its adherents consider to be Islamic deviancy such as Shia Islam, as well as of other religions such as Judaism or Christianity, and it offers scant roles for women outside the home. Salafism is not, however, a gateway to violence for the tens of millions of its peaceful adherents around the world. That said, while very few Salafists are terrorists, jihadist terrorists are almost invariably Salafists. A similar point could also be made about Christian fundamentalists in the United States: Very few kill abortion clinic doctors, but anyone who kills an abortion clinic doctor in the States is almost invariably a Christian fundamentalist."

Did the media ignore the Beirut bombings? Or did readers? - "The New York Times covered it. The Washington Post, in addition to running an Associated Press story on it, sent reporter Hugh Naylor to cover the blasts and then write a lengthy piece on their aftermath. The Economist had a thoughtful piece reflecting on the attack's significance. CNN, which rightly or wrongly has a reputation for least-common-denominator news judgment, aired one segment after another on the Beirut bombings. Even the Daily Mail, a British tabloid most known for its gossipy royals coverage, was on the story. And on and on... I was thus a bit surprised, over the past week, to see an outpouring of reader outrage. So what's driving people to scold media outlets for not covering an event they have in fact covered extensively?"

Women's hairstyle and men's behavior: A field experiment - "Little research has examined the effect of women's hairstyles on people's behavior. In a field study, male and female passersby, walking alone in the street, were observed while walking behind a female-confederate who dropped a glove and apparently was unaware of her loss. The confederate had long dark hair arranged in three different hairstyles: one with her hair falling naturally on her shoulders and her back, one with her hair tied in a ponytail, and one with her hair twisted in a bun. Results reported that the hairstyle had no effect on female passersby's helping behavior. However, it was found that the hairstyle influenced male passersby with men helping the confederate more readily when her hair fell naturally on her neck, shoulders and upper back."

Why Hackers Must Eject the SJWs - "It is clear that djangoconcardiff and the author of the Covenant (self-described transgender feminist Coraline Ada Ehmke) want to replace the “cult of meritocracy” with something else. And equally clear that what they want to replace it with is racial and sexual identity politics. Rosario tagged his Twitter report “Social Justice in action!” He knows who these people are: SJWs, “Social Justice Warriors”. And, unless you have been living under a rock, so do you. These are the people – the political and doctrinal tendency, united if in no other way by an elaborate shared jargon and a seething hatred of djangoconcardiff’s “white straight male”, who recently hounded Nobel laureate Tim Hunt out of his job with a fraudulent accusation of sexist remarks. I’m not going to analyze SJW ideology here except to point out, again, why the hacker culture must consider anyone who holds it an enemy. This is because we must be a cult of meritocracy. We must constantly demand merit – performance, intelligence, dedication, and technical excellence – of ourselves and each other. Now that the Internet – the hacker culture’s creation! – is everywhere, and civilization is increasingly software-dependent, we have a duty, the duty I wrote about in Holding Up The Sky. The invisible gears have to turn. The shared software infrastructure of civilization has to work, or economies will seize up and people will die. And for large sections of that infrastructure, it’s on us – us! – to keep it working. Because nobody else is going to step up."

School wants Muslim students separated from non-Muslims | Free Malaysia Today
Malaysia Boleh!

Chinese the most dishonest, Japanese and British the least, study finds | South China Morning Post - "Participants from China were found to be the least honest, with 70 per cent estimated to have lied about which side coins landed on, compared to 3.4 per cent of British participants, who emerged as the most honest in this test... Respondents in Japan were found to give the most honest answers to the quiz, followed by Britain, while those in Turkey were the least truthful, followed by China... Based on the results, the study’s lead author, Dr David Hugh-Jones, a senior lecturer in the university’s school of economics, noted that people’s honesty was related to the rate of economic growth of their countries, with those from poor countries less honest than those from rich ones. However, this relationship was stronger for economic growth that took place before 1950."
Another "stereotype" upheld

Aspartame – Truth vs Fiction – Science-Based Medicine - "If you believe everything you read on the internet, then is seems that a chemical found in thousands of products is causing an epidemic of severe neurological and systemic diseases, like multiple sclerosis and lupus. The FDA, the companies that make the product, and the “medical industrial complex” all know about the dangers of this chemical but are hiding the truth from the public in order to protect corporate profits and avoid the pesky paper work that would accompany the truth being revealed. The only glimmer of hope is a dedicated band of bloggers and anonymous e-mail chain letter authors who aren’t afraid to speak the truth. Armed with the latest anecdotal evidence, unverified speculation, and scientifically implausible claims, they have been tirelessly ranting about the evils of this chemical for years. Undeterred by the countless published studies manufactured by the food cartel that show this chemical is safe, they continue to protect the public by spreading baseless fear and hysteria... What evidence does she have for such a conspiracy? The argument from final consequences logical fallacy – big industry wouldn’t want it. It’s also not very plausible. Products get pulled from the market all the time when new evidence suggests they are not safe. Also, the final safety net for the consumer is legal liability. Class action law suits have bankrupted companies, even when the underlying claims were false. Imagine if they were true. Look how much the tobacco industry has had to fork over."

Church 'Bewildered' By Cinema Ban On Prayer Ad - "The clip was cleared by both the Cinema Advertising Authority and the British Board of Film Classification - but the UK's three largest cinema chains have refused to screen it, the Church said. The Church said Odeon, Cineworld and Vue - which control 80% of cinema screens around the country - have refused to show the ad because they believe it "carries the risk of upsetting, or offending, audiences"."
Yet people think that religious discrimination = Islamophobia and that the Church/Christians have too much power in the UK, or that the ruling upholding the ability for firms to prohibit the wearing of religious symbols is aimed at Muslims

MI5 report challenges views on terrorism in Britain - "The "mad and bad" theory to explain why people turn to terrorism does not stand up, with no more evidence of mental illness or pathological personality traits found among British terrorists than is found in the general population. British-based terrorists are as ethnically diverse as the UK Muslim population, with individuals from Pakistani, Middle Eastern and Caucasian backgrounds. MI5 says assumptions cannot be made about suspects based on skin colour, ethnic heritage or nationality... Far from being lone individuals with no ties, the majority of those over 30 have steady relationships, and most have children. MI5 says this challenges the idea that terrorists are young men driven by sexual frustration and lured to "martyrdom" by the promise of beautiful virgins waiting for them in paradise"

FYI, ISIS Once Freaked Out About Women Buying Cucumbers - "“They regarded the cucumber as male and tomato as female,” Sheikh Hameed al-Hayyes, a Sunni tribal leader, told the news agency. “Women were not allowed to buy cucumbers, only men.” Reuters and other analysts have suggested the cucumber rule was rooted in the extremists’ view that the nourishing vegetable is too sexually suggestive for women to safely handle."

College Students Claim Objective 'Truth' Is A Racist 'Myth' - "After outgoing Pomona College President David Oxtoby sent a school-wide email rebuking the actions of violent protesters attempting to shut down conservative journalist Heather Mac Donald's speech, three self-identified "Black students" triggered by the pro-First Amendment stance penned a letter to Oxtoby, condemning his words, and, yes, openly labeling "truth" a racist "myth.""

Dark Demands Of Claremont’s “Black Intellectuals” - "Note the hashtag, #BlackIntellectualsMatter. She repeated this ad hominem again. Black intellectuals. While calling everyone who disagrees racist or sexist, whatever other -ists and -isms are in vogue that hour, has long been a substitute for the brutal difficulty of thought, the effectiveness had long since worn thin. Once you’re labeled racist or misogynist, it loses its sting. As weapons go, name-calling isn’t very effective except to the person doing the calling, who believes they’ve scored a huge victory. Of course, this goes to one of the root problems, that they fail to grasp that their words are only meaningful to people who believe as they do. To others, it’s no different than screaming “your mother wears army boots.”"

What do international students think of American schools? - "U.S. schools, when compared to those of other countries, do not fully embrace inculcating knowledge as the high school’s primary institutional mission"
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