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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Links - 10th June 2017

What Comey described wasn’t obstruction of justice. Here’s why. - The Washington Post - "nothing that Comey said alters the fact that this claim remains fatally flawed in two critical respects: It overlooks both a requirement for corrupt intent and the principle of executive discretion... what would be a legitimate interference with an investigation? This brings us to executive discretion. Every day, in FBI and U.S. attorney’s offices throughout the nation, agents and prosecutors decide to close investigations and decline prosecutions. Many of these cases are viable, but these executive-branch officials judge that the equities weigh against continuing the investigation or filing an indictment... The FBI and Justice Department are not a separate branch of government. They are subordinate to the president. In fact, they do not exercise their own power; the Constitution vests all executive power in the president. Prosecutors and FBI agents are delegates. That means that when they exercise prosecutorial discretion, they are exercising the president’s power"

The end of men: Why feminists won’t accept that things are looking up for women. - "most of the resistance to the idea that men have ceased to be the dominant sex has come from women—not from working-class women, who seem to find what I’m describing painfully familiar, if not totally obvious, but from women in the college, professional class... The women who seemed to be reveling in Coontz’s insistence that reports of the end of men (and the rise of women) have been greatly exaggerated were by and large young and ambitious, and as far as I could tell hadn’t been held back all that much in their careers by “the patriarchy.” Many of them are in positions of influence, widely published and widely read; if they sniff out misogyny, I have no doubt they will gleefully skewer the responsible sexist in one of many available online outlets, and get results. These are exactly the types of woman I portray in the book as benefiting from the new age of female dominance. Why should they feel reassured to be told that men are still on top, that the old order had not been shaken?... This bean counting and monitoring—an outdated compulsion to keep your guard up, because sexism lurks everywhere—has found new life online, where feminist websites (including our own) and the Twitter police are always on the lookout for the next slight... As a form of blogging or tweeting, pointing fingers is endlessly satisfying. But as a form of political expression, it’s pretty hollow and out of tune with reality. This strain of feminism assumes an exquisite vulnerability, an image of women as “creatures too ‘tender’ for the abrasiveness of daily life... if the most obnoxious members of the patriarchy can be brought down by a few tweets, how powerful can they really be? In the early days of the feminist movement, every small victory was celebrated. There was exultation, liberation, a sense of joy at women’s progress that seems largely absent today. Somehow the mood of the movement has shifted into reverse: The closer women get to real power, the more they cling to the idea that they are powerless. To rejoice about feminist victories these days counts as betrayal... the study of inequality has an occupational hazard: After decades of looking for certain patterns, they may become all you can see"
Keywords: the closer feminists

Does tuition help or hinder? - "the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) study on 15-year-olds ranked Singapore first among 18 countries when it came to tuition. But the study found that those who had tuition did not do better in the Pisa test than those who did not. Another study by economists Euston Quah and Roland Cheo published a decade ago even concluded that too much private tuition could hurt performance. The study found that among students of the same ability, those who spent more time on tuition fared worse than those who had fewer hours. Then there are the opportunity costs. Tuition time can be better spent on sports and other activities that build skills such as leadership and teamwork, which may be more crucial for long-term success."

To-Do Lists Don’t Work - "increasing the number of choices we have — Single-ply or two-ply? Quilted or flat? Aloe-infused or extra soft? — actually increases our negative emotions [PDF] because our sense of opportunity cost increases. In complementary research, Iyengar has shown that our brains can only handle about seven options before we’re overwhelmed... When your list contains some tasks that are three minutes long and some that are 33 minutes, you’ll invariably focus on the shorter one for the psychological payoff and dopamine release that comes from crossing an item off your list. That means some of those tasks — proofreading the 135 pages of the new employee benefits handbook — will wait for a long, long time."

The Simpsons' secret formula: it's written by maths geeks - "This prank was planted into the episode by David S Cohen, who later changed his name to David X Cohen, in part to reflect his love of algebra"

Salman Rushdie fatwa turned into Iranian video game - "The Stressful Life of Salman Rushdie and Implementation of his Verdict is the title of the game being developed by the Islamic Association of Students, a government-sponsored organisation which announced this week it had completed initial phases of production."

Is common ground between atheism and belief possible? - "Top of the list was Karen Armstrong, since she has been the most prominent advocate of seeing religion as mythos not logos: roughly speaking, as about values and practices, not beliefs about what exists or has happened on earth or beyond. So not surprisingly she agreed with the first article, which asserts that creeds or factual assertions are at most secondary and often irrelevant to religion. She also agreed, with some reservations about the wording, with the second, that religious belief does not, and should not, require the belief that any supernatural events have occurred here on Earth, and the third, that religions are not crypto- or proto-sciences. Although she said that she was with me on "religious texts are the creation of the human intellect and imagination", she said "your wording is prohibitive", because it "would antagonise a lot of people. It is too bald and needs nuance. There needs to be some acknowledgement that the 'supernatural being' is only a symbol of transcendence – something that many religious people understand intuitively – even though they might not express it explicitly. That religious language is essentially symbolic – pointing beyond itself to what lies beyond speech and concepts". I have to say I can't see why my wording makes any of this problematic. Still, with caveats, Armstrong is basically with me... the rejection of the articles [by most] suggests that either most liberal religious commentators and leaders are inconsistent or incoherent; or that they ultimately do believe that when it comes to religion, creeds and factual assertions matter; belief that supernatural events have occurred here on Earth is required; religion can make quasi-scientific claims; and that human intellect and imagination are not enough to explain the existence of religious texts. If that is indeed the case then DiscoveredJoys is right that when it comes to belief: the middle ground is virtual deserted."

Is American atheism heading for a schism? - "The founders of Atheism+ say clearly that "divisiveness" is not their aim, but looking through the blogs and voluminous comments in the two weeks since A+ was mooted, trenches have been dug, beliefs stated, positions staked out and abuse thrown. A dissenting tweeter is "full of shit", while, according to one supporter, daring to disagree with Atheism+'s definition of progressive issues and not picking their side makes you an "asshole and a douchebag"."

40 Days of Dating: would you go out (and have sex) with an old friend? - "The 40 days came to an end on 28 April, but it was only in July that they started publishing the answers on their blog, 40 Days of Dating – capturing the attention of readers worldwide. Walsh and Goodman now have a combined Twitter fan base of more than 40,000, a Vimeo page with hundreds of thousands of views, and have signed up to Hollywood talent agency to handle the onslaught of film offers they've received for their story. So what is the magic that has made 40 Days become a viral hit? The main aspect that people appear to be attracted to is the "what if" scenario"

Have we literally broken the English language? - "It's happened. Literally the most misused word in the language has officially changed definition. Now as well as meaning "in a literal manner or sense; exactly: 'the driver took it literally when asked to go straight over the traffic circle'", various dictionaries have added its other more recent usage. As Google puts it, "literally" can be used "to acknowledge that something is not literally true but is used for emphasis or to express strong feeling"... "Literally" has been playfully abused since the time of Walter Scott"

'Eleven Jinping': Indian TV fires anchor over blooper

Canadian Inuit post 'sealfies' in protest over Ellen DeGeneres' Oscar-night selfie - "Canadian Inuit have embarked on a unique form of protest against the decision by host Ellen DeGeneres to highlight an anti seal-hunting charity on Oscars night... members of Canada's indigenous population have hit back with their own version, the "sealfie". Inuit have begun to post pictures of themselves dressed in sealskin clothing, Canoe.ca reported. The move aims to highlight the cultural and financial benefits of a practice they see as a sustainable, ethical choice."

Iran: threat of lashes or fine for walking the dog - "A group of Iranian MPs has proposed making it a criminal offence to keep dogs as pets or walk them in public, with offenders subject to 74 lashes or a fine... “Walking and playing with animals such as dogs and monkeys outdoors and in public places are harmful to the health and the peace of other people, especially kids and women, and are against our Islamic culture,” the bill says."

Well-off families create 'glass floor' to ensure children's success, says study - "Children from wealthier families but with less academic ability are 35% more likely to become high earners than their more gifted counterparts from poor families, according to findings from the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission"
You get equality when everyone is equally miserable

Research links cancer to fruit and vegetables - "Glasgow University researchers, led by Professor Kenneth McColl, have discovered a link between nitrates in fruit and vegetables and gullet cancer... it was unlikely that organic food would be any healthier, because it also contained substantial levels of nitrate, some of which came from natural fertilisers such as manure"

Argentinians react to report linking meat to cancer: 'I'd rather die than give it up'

Condom challenge: teens invent a new way to potentially maim themselves online - "As a rule, please do not put airtight seals over your mouth and nose, particularly when they are also filled with water. It is a Bad Idea."

What you see in this picture says more about you than the kangaroo - "It was a photograph that touched the world. An intimate portrait of a dying mother kangaroo being gently cradled by her mate, while with her last breath she reached out to caress her innocent baby. Yet, as it turns out, that is not what the photo shows at all. As an Australian expert swiftly pointed out, rather than protecting the female, the male appears to be trying to mate with her, holding her close to fend off any rivals. Indeed, his unwanted attentions may even have led to her death."

Baby Jesus statue in Canada turns heads with artist's 'shocking' restoration - "A handmade terracotta sculpture of baby Jesus’s head that was added to a broken statue outside a Catholic church in Canada has prompted amusement and disappointment, with some likening it to the now infamous attempt by a Spanish woman to restore a crumbling fresco of Jesus... The head sparked bemusement on social media, with some pointing out the striking resemblance between baby Jesus and Maggie Simpson"

32GB iPhone 7 significantly slower than more expensive versions, tests show - "some have much poorer 4G reception"

Spaniards’ lack of sleep isn’t a cultural thing – they’re in the wrong time zone - "It is no accident that the Spanish are sleeping an hour less. Spain is in the wrong time zone. Madrid is almost directly south of London, so it should be in the same time zone as the UK, yet for over 50 years the country has adhered to Central European Time. In 2013 a Spanish national commission looking at this issue revealed that Spaniards sleep 53 minutes less than the European average, and that this level of sleep loss raised absenteeism, stress, work-related accidents and failure at school... Spanish workers typically work 11-hour days, from 9am to 8pm. With dinner at 9pm and a couple of hours of TV, they tend not to get to bed before midnight. So it’s not surprising that the birth rate is plummeting"
Meanwhile, in Singapore...

Man's best friend, bacteria's worst enemy: dog sniffs out superbug in Canadian hospital - "The two-year-old English springer spaniel is believed to be the only canine hospital employee in the world trained to sniff out the notorious superbug Clostridium difficile, or C difficile."

Manslamming: are men more likely to bump into people? - "Breslaw bumped into people. She bumped into a lot of people. Mainly, though, she bumped into men. One might be inclined to believe that the lesson learned from all this is that you shouldn’t act like a douchebag when navigating a crowded city. But that would be reading too little into the experiment. No, says New York magazine, Breslaw’s experience is indicative of “the sidewalk MO of men who remain apparently oblivious to the personal space of those around them … a phenomenon that perhaps we could call manslamming.” Yes, perhaps we could call it that but, also, perhaps we shouldn’t. Not just because it is a ridiculous word, but because there are so many things wrong with the experiment that I feel inclined to slam my palm into my face. A feeling indicative of a phenomenon that, perhaps, we could call palmslamming. First there’s the fact that manslamming kinda smacks of, well, man-slamming. One of the challenges feminists face is having to constantly reiterate that, no, feminism has nothing to do with hating or belittling men. Feminism is about equal rights. And while this experiment was based on the valid and very important premise that male privilege manifests itself in even the most basic tenets of everyday life, it doesn’t follow that all the many microaggressions of city life are a direct result of that privilege. Ironically, having the time to turn “manslamming” into a phenomenon is itself a result of privilege; if it’s your main annoyance as a woman, then you’re doing pretty well. Then there’s the whole “science” part of the experiment... It is a social media science whose results are not measured in an increase in women’s rights, but in click-throughs, video views, and – the holy grail – being accepted into the Oxford English Dictionary. Experimental feminism follows a simple four-step procedure: 1) You come up with a hypothesis that will make a good headline; 2) test out that hypothesis under conditions that mean it will probably be proved right; 3) come up with a snappy neologism that describes said hypothesis; 4) write it up in a blogpost. Extra credits if you have a YouTube video. Somewhere, in an urban newsroom filled with millennials, someone is trying to come up with the next great feminist experiment. Here’s one for free: manstraining; the act of having to squint your eyes really hard to find an affront to your daily experience as a woman, despite so many bigger ones to battle."

An observation on the obsession with Trump

What strikes me the most about the state of the... - Michael Petraeus

"What strikes me the most about the state of the matters in the US is how the seemingly "progressive", "civilized", "educated" mainstream exaggerates baseless allegations and conveniently ignores facts.

Whether or not, and to what extent, Russia interfered in American elections - we don't know and so far there's no evidence that either Trump or his staff colluded with Russians in any way. Were the hacks on DNC carried out by the Russians? Most likely they were - but if there was no compromising information there, there would be no scandals. So to descend into boiling rage over someone exposing corrupt behavior of the Democratic party is a bit like killing the messenger or a crime witness.

Therefore, thus far, there is absolutely no proof that Trump did anything illegal - despite many months of FBI investigation.

At the same time we do know several things for sure:

1. We know that Attorney General Loretta Lynch communicated directly with Bill Clinton during the campaign.

2. We know that she pressed the FBI director to tone down the reports on the ongoing investigation into the email scandal.

3. We know that Hillary Clinton used a private server for official communications - including many classified messages.

4. We know that 31,000 emails have been deleted and until now there's no information on their contents or a chance of their recovery.

5. We also know the former FBI director admitted to leaking information from private meetings with the US president to the press, in the hope of triggering a special counsel to launch an investigation.

I don't even want to bring up the rather mysterious death of a DNC staffer shot dead in, as police claim, attempted robbery - and yet nothing was stolen from him. Imagine the swirl of allegations against Trump and Republican party if that happened on their side - but, as it is, all of this is dismissed as a bonkers right wing conspiracy theory not worthy of any attention by the mainstream media - who prefer to dissect the meaning of "covfefe" or try to figure out why Trump gets two scoops of ice cream with his cake.

Month after month Trump is getting roasted over every word and portrayed as a traitor colluding with America's arch enemy - even though there's not a tiny shred of evidence any such thing ever happened.

At the same time, Democratic party leveraged public officials to sway the elections their way, Hillary Clinton deletes thousands of emails and thinks it's OK, the FBI director admits to leaking stuff - and somehow all of this is less of a story than accusations which have no ground even after months of FBI investigations.

But the left displays this way of thinking in all areas, really. Claiming white supremacy and racist crimes are somehow a bigger threat than Islamic terrorism. That being slim is somehow oppressive towards the obese. That being wealthy and successful is a thing to be ashamed of and a sure sign of abuse of the poor.

Everything they advocate is a murder on common sense.

In the leftist world it's better to be fat than fit. It's better to be poor than rich. It's better to be "genderfluid" than heterosexual. It's better to remain a minority than assimilate into the society.

And you know what all of it is? It's another manifestation of the loser mentality which dictates that instead of putting in work to achieve something, you should seek to destroy the achievers.

Which is precisely why this ideology led to the worst disasters in human history, death of millions and crippling poverty of billions of people."

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Links - 8th June 2017 (2)

Billionaire George Soros has ties to more than 50 ‘partners’ of the Women’s March on Washington – Women in the World in Association with The New York Times – WITW - " The Guardian has touted the “Women’s March on Washington” as a “spontaneous” action for women’s rights. Another liberal media outlet, Vox, talks about the “huge, spontaneous groundswell” behind the march. On its website, organizers of the march are promoting their work as “a grassroots effort” with “independent” organizers... On the issues I care about as a Muslim, the “Women’s March,” unfortunately, has taken a stand on the side of partisan politics that has obfuscated the issues of Islamic extremism over the eight years of the Obama administration. “Women’s March” partners include the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has not only deflected on issues of Islamic extremism post-9/11, but opposes Muslim reforms that would allow women to be prayer leaders and pray in the front of mosques, without wearing headscarves as symbols of chastity. Partners also include the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which wrongly designated Maajid Nawaz, a Muslim reformer, an “anti-Muslim extremist” in a biased report released before the election. The SPLC confirmed to me that Soros funded its “anti-Muslim extremists” report targeting Nawaz. (Ironically, CAIR also opposes abortions, but its leader still has a key speaking role.)"

Averting France’s War of All Against All - WSJ - "Look at the Salafists (an estimated 15,000 among France’s five to seven million Muslims) whose radical-fundamentalist creed dominates many of the predominantly Muslim housing projects at the edges of cities such as Paris, Nice or Lyon. Their preachers call for a civil war, with all Muslims tasked to wipe out the miscreants down the street. At the same time, the right-wing extremists singled out by Mr. Calvar would be ideologically capable of shooting any Muslim. Here is despair on top of despair. But the response of most French politicians reflects opportunism, evasion and petty finger pointing... France hasn’t appeared this dysfunctional and politically riven since 1939"

Barbie sales fall by 15% after 'curvy' version introduced - "She was given a more ‘curvy’ figure for the first time in an effort to make her more realistic to young girls. But it seems Barbie’s image overhaul has failed to prove a hit – with sales tumbling by 15 per cent. Despite an initial rise when the change was introduced last year, US makers Mattel said revenues dipped in the first three months of the year to £574million... The new range, launched in January 2016 and introduced in the UK from March, also included a taller Barbie and a petite version. There are also seven skin tones and a range of hair styles... The latest gloomy figures represent the second consecutive quarter of falling revenues – and the biggest slide since 2009. Mattel was also forced to slash prices to sell stock that was unsold over the Christmas period."

Interview: This Male Student Was Expelled for Raping His Girlfriend Even Though She Said He Did Nothing Wrong - "the man in charge of investigating whether Neal had raped a woman—a woman who emphatically stated that Neal had not done so—first told Neal to open emails from his girlfriend, and later told him he could be disciplined for opening them... OCR's Title IX guidance is at the center of so much of the college war on due process. Universities are worried that they will lose federal funding if they do not obey the dictates of OCR, which requires the use of the preponderance of the evidence standard while discouraging cross-examination. This puts many accused students in a position where they are unable to prove their innocence, because they have been deprived of the means to do so."

No need for manned spaceflight, says astronomer royal Martin Rees - "Rees, professor of cosmology and astrophysics at Cambridge University, thinks sending people into space is a waste of money, given recent advances in unmanned space technology. He said European space scientists should focus on miniaturisation and robotics to remain competitive in a space sector dominated by Russia and the US. Rees, who is coming to the end of his five-year term as president of the Royal Society, made the comments during an interview for Cambridge Ideas – a series of videos, podcasts and slideshows from Cambridge University... Rees has long been an advocate of unmanned space exploration. In a BBC interview in 2008 he argued that routine shuttle launches and low-orbit flights didn't make headlines. "What actually makes the newspaper headlines are the marvellous pictures from the Hubble telescope and those of the surface of Mars and Jupiter and Titan, all obtained robotically," he said."
It is easy to get other people to pay for you to satisfy your romantic fetishes about manned spaceflight

Is this Chinese snack the next big Asian street food in the West? | South China Morning Post - "Western foodies have sunk their teeth into Vietnamese banh-mi and Hong Kong egg waffles, plus gobbled down bowl after bowl of Japanese ramen. But could the next Asian food trend to take the West by a storm be a humble Chinese breakfast favourite - the jianbing? Reuben Shorser, the co-founder of one of the first companies to bring the food to New York, Jianbing Company, certainly hopes so"

Muslim Who Threatened Christians in Facebook Live Charged As a Terrorist - "State Attorney General Marty Jackley made the announcement Friday, just days after Sioux Falls police said they would not press charges against Ehab Abdulmutta Jaber. "He had a lot of guns with him, but he wasn't breaking any laws," Sioux Falls police officer Sam Clemens told KDLT-TV after the incident... He pulled out several weapons and repeatedly told the camera "be scared" and "be terrified." He taunted believers in a speech laced with profanity. The conference, held on April 9, addressed the extreme dangers of Islamic teaching... He wore a shirt with a printed message that read "I am a Muslim," and indicated that he "conceal carried" a handgun... "With each brandishing of the five weapons, including two assault rifles, he would say 'be scared' or 'be terrified,' " Howse wrote in a Facebook post. "Ask yourself if a white 'Christian' did this at a Muslim conference would he be arrested or charged?""

Drexel Professor Who Called for ‘White Genocide’ Under Investigation After Donors and Students Flee - "“Numerous prospective students whom the university has admitted have written to the university stating that they will not attend,” Provost Blake wrote, noting that “at least two potential significant donors to the university have withheld previously promised donations.” In addition, due to Ciccariello’s inflammatory tweets have led to “the nearly unmanageable volume of venomous calls” received by the administration, according to Blake. The university even considered “turning off its phones” for a few days."

Mike Rowe - Posts - "This morning, for your consideration, I offer further proof that our country’s war on work continues to rage in all corners of polite society. Behold the latest assault from Nordstrom’s. The “Barracuda Straight Leg Jeans.”... Finally - a pair of jeans that look like they have been worn by someone with a dirty job…made for people who don't. And you can have your very own pair for just $425.00."

German Judge Acquits Turk of Rape Due to Cultural Difference - "A German judge has acquitted a Turkish man of rape, despite the fact that he forced a woman to have sex with him, and left her incapacitated. The judge argued that in "the mentality of the Turkish cultural circle," what the woman "had experienced as rape" might be considered merely "wild sex." The judge refused to convict the rapist, because "no intention is demonstrable."... the judge acquitted a rapist — whom the court had "no doubt" forced the victim to have sex with him — on the grounds that his culture might not have considered the sex — which left the girl unable to run for two weeks — to be rape."... According to the Märkische Allgemeine, "rape causes relatively few convictions before German courts." The paper cited a 2012 study showing that only 8.4 percent of men accused of rape were convicted."

Rachel Dolezal In South Africa - "she told local talk radio station 702 that she is “trans-black” which is a term that defies translation or comprehension... South Africans were left confused by her talk at the Joburg Theatre on Wednesday. Dolezal was asked many questions by attendees, who just did not seem convinced by her claims or theories... “She claimed that she had 'decolonised' her mind – although many in the crowd remained skeptical.” She certainly came here knowing what the big issues are and also has a grasp of the main buzzwords. Decolonising institutions and learning to decolonise the mind are projects of Black South African youth. Since the Fees Must Fall protests, this has been the language employed by Black youth, so that when Dolezal uses it, she is at once attempting to ingratiate herself and is also appropriating Black struggle in the South African context. It seems not to have worked, and people saw through it at once."

Rachel Dolezal: I was ‘too black’ for my husband - "Dolezal legally changed her name to Nkechi Amare Diallo, a West African way of saying "gift from the gods," to help with job searches but continues to use Dolezal for her public persona AP reports... Dolezal said in a release she wrote the book to "advance the conversation about race" and to set the record straight about her life. "I wish Americans understood that race is a social construct, even if we don't want it to be," she said in the release. "The system of racial classification is fiction, and we need to thoughtfully evaluate whether perpetuating it rigidly or allowing fluidity across the spectrum best supports human rights and social justice.""

Rachel Dolezal on brink of homelessness, living off food stamps - "she still believes she did nothing wrong... Dolezal eventually admitted she was “biologically born white to white parents” and compared herself to Caitlyn Jenner, claiming race is “not coded in your DNA.” The 39-year-old also lost her job as an adjunct instructor at Eastern Washington university because of the ordeal, and she hasn’t been able to get work since. The former professor and columnist told the Guardian she’s applied for more than 100 jobs, but not a single place will hire her. The only offers that have come her way have been for reality television and porn... When questioned about her race, Dolezal would just tell people that she was mixed, but she doesn’t feel as though she was lying. “The times I tried to explain more, I wasn’t understood more. Nobody wanted to hear, ‘I’m pan-African, pro-black, bisexual, an artist, mother and educator,’” she told the Guardian. “People would just be like, ‘Huh? What? What are you talking about?’"

Rachel Dolezal: ‘I’m not going to stoop and apologise and grovel’ - "When a local TV news crew arrived one afternoon to interview her, Dolezal thought they were there to talk about hate crimes. “Are you,” asked the reporter, “African American?” Like a cartoon, her features froze. “I don’t understand the question.” The reporter pressed, “Are your parents white?” Dolezal turned from the camera and fled... When it emerged that she had once sued a university for discriminating against her because she was white, Dolezal’s notoriety was complete. African American commentators called her a “blackface”, guilty of the worst extremes of cultural appropriation. She was “mentally ill”, and had cheated black people out of positions that were rightfully theirs. When Dolezal quoted the activist Dick Gregory to black talkshow host Loni Love – “White isn’t a race, it’s a state of mind” – the host exploded: “No, let me tell you something. I’m black. I can’t be you, I can’t reverse myself. That’s the difference.” Twitter span with comic memes, and still burns with comments along the lines of: “Why hasn’t anybody beaten her up already?”... Dolezal consulted African American women in her church about the protocol of braiding her hair. “And they were like, ‘To copy is to compliment.’ Everybody said that.”... Does she think some African Americans struggle to see that white people can suffer, too? “I think there’s definitely a stereotype of white privilege, and that stereotype gets expanded to mean rich, not oppressed, not suffering, et cetera. And yes, it’s a misperception.” The undeniable existence of white privilege, she argues, does not preclude the possibility of white pain... She has admitted to fabricating needless deceits in the past – she once claimed to have been born in a tepee – which makes me worry that her subjective concept of truth matters more to her than veracity... Nowadays we would not call someone who presents as a woman, but was registered a boy at birth, a liar"

The Psychology of an Ethnic Fraud: Behind Rachel Dolezal’s Invented Persecution - "she’s identified a third party (a black man) as her real father, and is alleged to have claimed one of her black adopted brothers is actually her son. Dolezal has accused her parents of child abuse, and specifically of using a “baboon whip” to beat her and her siblings. Dolezal has described this whip, presumably a sjambok, as “pretty similar to what was used as whips during slavery,” and said that her parents “would punish us by skin complexion” by beating them with it. In other words, Dolezal seems to be saying, not only is she black, but her family history and body itself bear the scars of the historical trauma of slavery... Her case suggests more than just a deep-seated problem, something more than just a highly narcissistic form of histrionic personal disorder, or an unhealthy need for obsession and approval."

Plus-size model says Uber driver called her fat - "Holliday faced backlash herself for calling her driver “fat” in the video, as one of her followers pointed out, “Looks like you’re doing some shaming yourself.” She defended herself by writing, “saying my driver is fat was obviously being used as a descriptor & not to insult him""

I’m a Fat Woman and I Think Tess Holliday Needs to Shut the Hell Up - "Maybe we should drop the stereotype that every skinny woman is a mean girl and that all fat women are bullied, victims, and therefore cannot bully anyone else? Now, if we are to flip the script for a moment and look back at her prior comment about perpetuating the image of what is wrong with America and society, let’s pretend she is what is looked to as the beauty standard in society. For many people, that is unrealistic. I’d feel as comfortable in her body as I would a Victoria’s Secret model (ie. I would feel uncomfortable in both). What I would have to do to maintain an image like Tess Holliday is too much work. Like the Victoria’s Secret Angel, I’d have to monitor my calories, monitor my activity level, change my diet accordingly, and no, I am not about to do that to meet some other person’s beauty standard"

Flailing Democrats Tell Pro-Life Candidates and Voters: You Can’t Join Our Party - “The Democratic Party is viewed as more out of touch than either Trump or the party’s political opponents. Two-thirds of Americans think the Democrats are out of touch—including nearly half of Democrats themselves.”

Report: Only 2.65 Percent of Immigrants into Italy Are Refugees - "A disturbing statistic that has recently come to light reveals that half of the migrants arriving in the country (90,334) never even requested asylum, but disappeared into the country as undocumented immigrants, commonly referred to by the Italians as “clandestini.”... Despite the fact that the vast majority of immigrants into Italy were denied asylum, fewer than 5,000 were deported in 2016, meaning that more than 175,000 remained in the country, most of them illegally."

Murderous Antifa With Bike Lock Outed As San Francisco Area Professor - "At the Battle of Berkeley on April 15th, an masked Antifa slid forward from the confusion and swung a bike lock into the head of an unarmed man, immediately drawing blood, before slipping back into the crowd. The act of violence, while predictable, was an unprovoked criminal assault with a deadly weapon intended to cause grievous bodily injury. It could easily have killed the victim. The criminal attacker was originally identified by /pol/ as San Francisco State University professor Eric Clanton. Jack Posobiec has since confirmed that Eric Clanton is at Diablo Valley College"
Yet Esquire is painting this as heroic anti-fascists defending society against Nazis

We Should Thank Emily Rose Nauert For Scaring Women From Becoming SJWs - "During the recent Berkeley fighting between free speech advocates and antifa, Emily Rose Nauert (or Emily Rose Marshall) tried to strike white nationalist Nathan Damigo with a weighted glove. But Damigo quickly falcon-punched her. Her literal downfall after the Berkeley free speech rally, which was attacked by hordes of masked antifa, led to an outcry from white knights everywhere, including Captain America actor Chris Evans... Nauert, who goes under the political name Louise Rosealma and pornographic name Venus Rosales, is profiting from being a hypocritical antifa and SJW... The third count would be her possession of a weighted/studded glove, one she used to strike at Nathan Damigo. This weapon, and it is a weapon, is illegal in the state of California... there’s the battery of her going at Damigo’s throat
"Headed to Berkeley to disrupt the neo nazi White Supremacist jerk circle. Nervous aff but determined to bring back 100 nazi scalps" wouldn't count as a true threat on its own, but given her glass bottle and the altercation...

More murder and violence in Germany - "one statistic stuck out in the report - while police had registered only 114,000 criminal incidents among asylum-seekers and refugees in 2015 - there were 174,000 in 2016. "Among the violent crimes, there were 1 percent more Germans, but 90 percent more migrant suspects," de Maiziere said - before adding that many of these crimes took place among the asylum-seekers themselves inside shelters... Ulbig also pointed out that many of the crimes among asylum-seekers were being carried out by repeat offenders - in Saxony, for instance, 1 percent of migrants are responsible for 40 percent of the crimes committed by migrants. Not only that, Syrians - who de Maiziere described as a group "truly in need of protection" - were much less likely to commit crimes than people from other countries... Anti-Semitic incidents climbed by some 7.5 percent (from 1,366 to 1,468)"

How Diversity Hurts Performance (Revisited)

It occurred to me that the previous post I had on Diversity and Performance relied on a 1998 literature review.

I decided to look for something more recent, and exploring the issue of diversity more broadly, and it had broadly similar results:

The Role Of Context In Work Team Diversity Research: A Meta-Analytic Review (2009)

"Our review indicated that approximately 60 percent of the direct effects reported in past research were nonsignificant for various diversity attributes. Among the remainder, 20 percent of the effects reported were significantly positive, and 20 percent were significantly negative...

We first examined the correlations between all types of diversity and performance and obtained a near-zero, nonsignificant result (r .01, k 117, 95% CI .02 to .00). This initial result corroborated past meta-analytic findings (e.g., Webber & Donahue, 2001). We then conducted separate analyses for relations- and task-oriented diversity and found a different pattern of results for each type of diversity. For relations-oriented diversity [Ed: Gender/Race/age], we found a very weak negative but significant relationship with performance (r .03, k 69, 95% CI .05 to .02). The relationship between task-oriented diversity [Ed: Function/Education/Tenure] and performance was also very weak but positive and significant (r .04, k 48, 95% CI .02 to .06)... functional background diversity was most positively related to performance (r .13, k 20, 95% CI .09 to .17) and that age diversity showed the most negative performance effect...

Gender diversity had a significant, negative effect on team performance in majority male occupational settings (r .09, k 12, 95% CI .12 to .05). The effect of gender diversity was significantly positive in relatively gender balanced settings (r .11, k 7, 95% CI .06 to .15)... The average correlation was significantly negative in majority white occupations (r .07, k 10, 95% CI .10 to .04) and positive in relatively balanced occupations (r .11, k 6, 95% CI .07 to .14)...

Task-oriented diversity showed more positive performance effects in majority male and white settings...

As predicted in Hypothesis 2a, relations-oriented diversity had a positive effect on performance in service industries (r .07, k 21, 95% CI .05 to .09). Inconsistently with Hypothesis 2a, however, in the manufacturing industry setting, the effect of relations-oriented diversity was negative (r .04, k 16, 95% CI .07 to .01) and interestingly, relations-oriented diversity displayed the strongest negative performance effect in high-technology industry settings (r .18, k 21, 95% CI .20 to .15)...

Among teams with low interdependence relations-oriented diversity was positively related to performance (r .08), and among teams with moderate and high interdependence, relations-oriented diversity was negatively related to performance...

Hypothesis 4 proposed that the negative effects of relations-oriented diversity would be strengthened in long-term teams. We found strong support for relations-oriented diversity: the categorical moderator model was highly significant (QB[1] 222.91, p .01). The performance effect of relations-oriented diversity was positive in relatively short-term teams (r .09, k 23, 95% CI .07 to .12) but became negative in more stable or long-term teams (r .14; k 43, 95% CI .16 to .12)...

Our findings indicated that the industry settings in which teams were embedded also had interesting implications for team-level diversity-based outcomes. We found that relations-oriented diversity had positive effects in service industry settings and slightly negative effects in manufacturing settings. In addition to the market competence perspective (Richard et al., 2007) discussed in developing our hypotheses, some additional considerations should also perhaps be taken into account. Service settings (for example, retail establishments and restaurants) involve front-line customer contact, and the costs of interactions based on negative categorizations are high in this context. Hence, firms embedded in these industries may engage in proactive diversity management efforts to address gender-, ethnicity-, and age-based issues in the workplace"

Unsurprisingly, on the whole diversity based on shallow demographic attributes (gender/race/age, which I shall henceforth call "diversity") was shown to be bad whereas real diversity in an attribute actually indicative of a different background, i.e. functional background, was shown to be good.

Some might interpret "diversity" sometimes having a U shaped relationship with performance (where "diversity" is low, increasing it reduces performance before it increases it) as evidence that we need affirmative action, but this assumes the gains from "diversity" will outweigh the harm of affirmative action (i.e. bringing in unqualified people to make the numbers is going to worse than negate the positive effects of "diversity"). Plus, the sample of studies all used real world teams, so low initial "diversity" is probably correlated with the task at hand, i.e. increasing gender diversity in a predominantly male engineering team may lead to worse performance because of the nature of engineering, whereas increasing gender diversity in a relatively balanced marketing team may lead to better performance because of the nature of marketing.

And given the spiel about "diversity" in tech it is interesting that this form of "diversity" was the most negative in high technology settings (they say this may be because white men have more training/mentoring/coaching/better performance reviews, i.e. visibility, but the results are what they are, and we don't know if they get more visibility because of discrimination or because of performance - which is actually what we would expect in the presence of affirmative action).

Also it is interesting that if you need to work with other teams, "diversity" is bad, and that the longer you work with your team, the more negative "diversity" is.

Links - 8th June 2017 (1)

Steven Lim: One Last Shot at Fame - "I was surprised when I finally reach Steven’s father on the phone and the man speaks to me for a full ten minutes before agreeing to a meeting. He’s driving when this happens, and stops the car just so I can have his undivided attention. He makes it clear to me: he’s only agreeing to talk because Steven is his son, and he hopes I will be able to talk some sense into him."

Before 'Batman Begins': The Secret History of the Dark Knight Movies That Almost Got Made - "Wise and Shapirio tried to charm Warner Bros. execs by mailing them action figures of Scarecrow and Man-Bat, but it was no use."

British special forces are using Bollywood songs to freak out ISIS - "In another incident, they intercepted ISIS' internal communications and blasted them with Bollywood tunes instead. The experiments have reportedly revealed their hiding places and weaknesses, depending on how much time it took the militants to reach the source of the music and how they complained about the music."

COMMENT: Singapore maintains ban on 1970s soft porn - "the MDA review hinted at its progressive side, proudly acknowledging that Fanny Hill was being taken off the banned list. Fanny Hill is an erotic novel set in London. Fanny Hill was published in 1748. So, about 250 years from now, we can look forward to Playboy being taken off the banned list."

Why you really get sick on planes – and how to prevent it - "the air you breath on a typical airplane flight is thoroughly clean. Fresh air from outside the plane is continuously drawn into the cabin via what are known as compressor stages in the jet's engines. These stages compress the very cold and extremely thin air from outside the plane until its pressure matches that of the cabin. Pressurizing the air also heats it up, so it's cooled back down before passing through High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters (which remove a minimum of 99.97% of any airborne particulates, bacteria and viruses) and combining with recirculated cabin air. But there's that word again. Recirculated. Yes, the fresh air from outside the plane combines with some air that's already been making the rounds in the cabin for a little while — but that circulating air started out as fresh external air itself, and it too has been cycling through HEPA filters. What's more, recirculating cabin air is continuously released from the plane via outflow valves, so air inside the plane is constantly being replaced by the fresh air from outside. In fact, the average airplane's cabin air is completely refreshed about 20 times per hour. By comparison, the air in your average office building (which is also typically HEPA-filtered) is refreshed just 12 times per hour. In other words, the air you breathe at cruising altitude is most likely significantly cleaner than just about any you're liable to find on the ground."

Indonesian officials ordered to eat street food to trim budget

Underground Prison Cuisine - "they created strange but what was to them a wonderful meal. “Onions and garlic smuggled from the kitchen, mixed with tofu and noodles from lunch, then add luncheon meat, stew pork and soy sauce. That’s fine dining already!” reminisced Benny. In certain prisons, there were other means to get fresher ingredients. At the Selarang Park DRC, with lush surroundings, wild animals that foraged their way into the premise would fall prey to the desperate inmates working in the garden. Jeffery, a former detainee there, had a vivid impression of a particular hunting method. “They stuck long needles into the grass patch, and then scatter bread crumbs over them to lure the pigeons,” he said. Such ideas and cooking methods were passed down through generations of inmates. They even learnt how to make alcohol from the Malaysian and Indonesians convicts, using antiseptic, pineapple skins and orange juice, “I think that’s how they did it at home,” said Jeffrey... According to Jeffery and Josiah, who left the prison in 2009, inmates no longer ‘masak’ since the early 90s, when prisons were consolidated and the cells were installed with surveillance cameras"

Liquid nitrogen cocktail: Wine bar fined £100k after teenager loses stomach - Telegraph - " Training notes were said to have been "loose" with staff told to wait 10 seconds until the liquid nitrogen had boiled off before consumption"

Fact Checking The Claim Of 97% Consensus On Anthropogenic Climate Change - "Even though belief is clearly below 97%, support over 80% is strong consensus. Would a lower level of consensus convince anyone concerned about anthropogenic global warming to abandon their views and advocate unrestricted burning of fossil fuels? I think not. Even the 2016 Cook paper says “From a broader perspective, it doesn’t matter if the consensus number is 90% or 100%.”
Significantly, this was written by someone with 35 years experience in the oil and gas industry

Do you pronounce 'scone' to rhyme with 'cone' or 'gone'? It depends where you're from - "In fact, the way you pronounce scone says far less about your class and much more about your geographical origins – for, according to “The Great Scone Map”, produced by Cambridge University academics, its pronunciation follows a discernible pattern across Britain and Ireland. Those who rhyme it with gone predominate in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the north of England. Those who rhyme with cone dominate in southern Ireland and the Midlands. The rest of the country is a mixture of the two pronunciations. And, just to complicate the matter, there is a third pronunciation available for the word – in the form of the village of Scone in Scotland, which is pronounced “skoon”... some experts believe that in 50 to 100 years the use of “th” in popularly spoken English will have disappeared. “The idea horrifies some English language teachers but at the end of the day we have to accept that words and their pronunciation are flexible and changeable,” says Setter."

Italian waitress saves up for 2 years, travels to Indonesia to marry villager she met on Facebook - "Ilaria finally arrived in Batang and headed directly to her future husband's home in Tragung village, Kandeman district. However, the foreigner's arrival quickly drew public attention with Dzulfikar's neighbours notifying the police of her presence. Police personnel was immediately dispatched to check on Ilaria and the purpose of her visit to Batang Village"

Why Free Speech on Campus Is Under Attack: Blame Marcuse - "There was one major influence here: Herbert Marcuse, the father of the New Left and perhaps the most influential Marxist of the last half century, and his most famous essay from 1965: Repressive Toleration. It is here that you find the template for an upside-down view of freedom held by so many students today. In this essay, Marcuse explains that free speech and toleration are illusions so long as society has yet to conform to the Marxian ideal. So long as that is true, in fact, free speech must be suppressed and toleration itself must not be tolerated... Marcuse says that if you oppose policies like social security or Obamacare, you should be denied the freedom of speech and assembly. You should be shut up and beat up. The path toward true freedom is through massive real-world oppression. If you have the wrong views, you have no rights... as Marcuse said with characteristic bluntness, we must push the “cancellation of the liberal creed of free and equal discussion.” We must, he said, be “militantly intolerant.”"

107 cancer papers retracted due to peer review fraud - "Fake peer reviewers often “know what a review looks like and know enough to make it look plausible,” said Elizabeth Wager, editor of the journal Research Integrity & Peer Review. But they aren’t always good at faking less obvious quirks of academia: “When a lot of the fake peer reviews first came up, one of the reasons the editors spotted them was that the reviewers responded on time,” Wager told Ars. Reviewers almost always have to be chased, so “this was the red flag. And in a few cases, both the reviews would pop up within a few minutes of each other.”"

Online vigilantes (unsurprisingly) identified the wrong parties in viral Toa Payoh hawker centre clip - "Kids, this is why you don’t play online vigilante. Thanks to the over-enthusiastic efforts of internet lynch mobs and trigger-happy publications, innocent individuals were wrongly accused of being the central figures of an incident that went viral over the weekend... Dozens of posts accused the young couple in subject to be employees of UOB’s Toa Payoh branch, and word quickly spread around, thanks to Singapore’s endless, vapid thirst for viral news."
I'm not sure if I'm more disappointed that Mothership is encouraging cyber shaming and witch hunting or that almost everyone else is cheering it on

What's the Best Age to Have a Baby? (It's Older than you Think) - "if you define “best age” in terms of the longest life expectancy for the mother, the optimum age is oldest of all. Mirowsky conducted interviews with 1,890 mothers, asking about their current health, including chronic illnesses, mobility problems, and self-assessments of malaise and other problems. Then he looked at mortality data, made some adjustments for educational attainment, and concluded that the overall “best age” for a first child, in terms of long-term health and mortality for the mother, was 34. Social pressure that delays the beginning of parenthood, he wrote, “greatly outweighs the biodevelopmental advantages of youthful organs.”"

New App tells women how many times they were "manterrupted" during the day - "Are you a retarded Feminist who thinks everything is a gendered issue? Do you need an application on your phone that will take up your microphone 24/7, causing it slow down and waste your battery power? If you answered “yes” to either of the questions above, then we have just the app for you. A new application called “woman interrupted” claims they can tell how many times a woman has been interrupted in a day by using her smart phone’s microphone."

An Epidemic of Bad Epidemiology - " Do not confuse hazard, a potential source of harm, with risk, the likelihood that the hazard will cause harm. Consider bacon. The influential International Agency for Research on Cancer declared bacon a hazard for cancer in 2015, but the agency does not make risk assessments. Eating two slices of bacon per day is calculated to increase your lifetime risk of colorectal cancer from 5 to 6 percent. Put that way, I suspect most people would choose to continue to enjoy cured pork products. Kabat also argues that an editorial bias skews the scientific literature toward publishing results suggesting harms. Such findings, he notes, get more attention from other researchers, from regulators, from journalists, and from activists. Ever since Rachel Carson's 1962 book Silent Spring wrongly linked cancer with exposures to trace amounts of pesticides, the American public has been primed to blame external causes rather than personal behaviors for their health problems. Unfortunately, as Kabat notes, the existence of an alarmed and sensitized public is all too useful to regulators and other interest groups. He quotes an honest but incautious remark in the air pollution researcher Robert Phalen's 2010 testimony to the California Air Resources Board: "It benefits us personally to have the public be afraid, even if these risks are trivial"... Kabat suggests that the precautionary principle—"better safe than sorry"—is largely an ideological ploy to alarm the public into supporting advocates' policy preferences"

Have Leftovers Gone Bad? - "With the decline of traditional home cookery and the rise of efficiency-obsessed start-ups, however, leftovers face a new challenge: finding a role at a time when meals are increasingly taken outside of the home, or assembled from kits. Is there room for leftovers in such a world?... Home economics is now an outmoded term, but its name contains an essential truth: The economics of eating a meal at home were once substantively different from dining out. Home cooks spread the returns on labor and resources over time. Today’s dinner becomes tomorrow’s lunch. The unused celery from a stew later reappears in a soup. Investments that make little sense when used in one sitting became viable when stretched over many. Leftovers were the defining features of home cooking."

Curly and Italian Parsley? What's the difference?

Facebook is predicting the end of the written word - "In five years time Facebook “will be definitely mobile, it will be probably all video,” said Nicola Mendelsohn, who heads up Facebook’s operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, at a conference in London this morning. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, has already noted that video will be more and more important for the platform. But Mendelsohn went further, suggesting that stats showed the written word becoming all but obsolete, replaced by moving images and speech"
Damn lazy people

Made in Singapore: Bibi & Baba - worn by children here since 1947

Be Mine? Why It’s Smart to Court Your Friends - "We still don't have a good way of talking about pursuing friendship. Years of style-section trend stories have documented modern problems with finding and forging friendships. The term “friend crush” gets thrown around, or its gendered cousin, the “girl crush.” (See the lovely ’zine and popular Tumblr on the subject.) And, as has become de rigueur for low-level social insecurities, a few apps have appeared to help people forge friendships. A new one called Ketchuppp promises to help you make time for people you love platonically. And when I interviewed Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen, he told me they hope the app will eventually be widely used to find friends, not just make dates. “In every kind of relationship there’s a person being pursued and a person who’s a pursuer,” he says."

College Leaders Are Too Afraid to Advocate for Free Speech on Campus - "Today, nearly half of a random sample of roughly 3,000 college students surveyed by Gallup earlier this year are supportive of restrictions on certain forms of free speech on campus, and 69 percent support disciplinary action against either students or faculty members who use intentionally offensive language or commit “microagressions”—speech they deem racist, sexist, or homophobic. According to a free-speech survey conducted by Yale last year, of those who knew what trigger warnings are, 63 percent would favor their professors using them—by attaching advisories to the books on their reading lists that might offend or disrespect some students, for example—while only 23 percent would oppose. Counterintuitively, liberal students are more likely than conservative students to say the First Amendment is outdated... many of these students employ the classification of “the insider.” Believing that “outsiders” cannot possibly understand the situation that faces these groups of offended individuals, by virtual of race, gender, ethnicity, or some other category, the students often dismiss the views of their professors and administrators who can’t “get it” because they are not part of the oppressed group... Students and their families have been increasingly treated as “customers.” Presidents of colleges and universities have been too reluctant to “offend” their customers, which may help explain why they so often yield to wrong-headed demands by students... Of all of America’s great universities, the University of Chicago seems to have come the closest historically to getting this right. The school’s well-known 1967 Kalven Committee report was, I believe, correct when it stated: “The mission of the university is the discovery, improvement, and dissemination of knowledge. Its domain and scrutiny includes all aspects and all values of society. A university faithful to its mission will provide enduring challenges to social values, policies, practices, and institutions. By design and by effect, it is the institution which creates discontent with the existing social arrangements and proposes new ones. In brief, a good university, like Socrates, will be upsetting.”"
How long can liberals pretend this is a small, unrepresentative minority of a group?

Is It Better to Blend Your Food? - "when people who drank the blended “soup,” it kept them from feeling hungry for about an hour longer than the whole-food meal... “So if you eat a mixed meal, the water exits the stomach rapidly and the stomach shrinks,” Spiller explained. This is known as gastric sieving. “If, by contrast, you had made that separation of liquid and solid impossible—by blending it into a smoothie or whatever—then that couldn't happen. The liquid that would come out would contain some calories.”"

Are Tote Bags Good for the Environment? - "Just like plastic bags, totes multiply. In a 2009 article about the bags for Design Observer, the Urban Outfitters designer Dmitri Siegel claimed to have found 23 tote bags in his house, collected from various organizations, stores, and brands. Like plastic sacks, tote bags, too, now seem essentially unending. Because of their ubiquity, tote bags that have been used very little (or not at all) can be found piled on curbs, tossed in trashcans in city parks, in dumpsters, everywhere. Their abundance encourages consumers to see them as disposable, defeating their very purpose... it’s less ecologically damaging for Americans east of the Mississippi to import wine from France than from California... Siegel identifies designers as particular culprits in the oversaturation of tote bags. He notes that because the bags are large, flat, and easily printed on, they’re great for embellishment and product placement. They’re given away with purchases at galleries, bookstores, eyeglass boutiques, grocers, tattoo parlors. Plus they’ve been hyped. He describes the 2007 launch of the “I’m not a plastic bag” tote, by fashion designer Anya Hindmarch... few totes are made to last long enough to obtain the number of uses required to reach resource-expenditure parity with the plastic bags they were meant to supplant. Though they promise timelessness and sustainability, they develop holes, straps come undone, seams disintegrate. They become fouled with stains and grime. Many fashion brands sell bags for hundreds of dollars, with totes tracking the increase in economic inequality... An online poll conducted in 2014 by the marketing research firm Edelman Berland found that about half of respondents typically choose to use plastic over reusable bags, despite also owning reusable bags and recognizing their benefits"

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Links - 6th June 2017 (2)

‘Bad’ video game behavior increases players’ moral sensitivity: May lead to pro-social behavior in real world - "several recent studies, including this one, have found that committing immoral behaviors in a video game elicits feelings of guilt in players who commit them.

Why Are Republican Lies Bad But Democrat Lies Okay? - "In 2012, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claimed Romney hadn’t paid income taxes for ten years. That was a lie. But that didn’t matter. Four years later, Reid was even gleefully unrepentant about having lied, and nobody really cares about it. When Obamacare began falling apart and people began losing their health insurance plans by the millions, President Obama claimed he had warned the country that certain insurance plans might get cancelled. That was a lie. In fact, he had said precisely the opposite: that Americans could keep the plans they liked. Well. The New York Times claimed that Obama’s brazen lie was “additional explanation;” Jonathan Capehart at the Washington Post said the president’s lie was not a lie but a “lie,” with scare quotes. Capehart then went on to argue that George W. Bush was the real presidential liar. In 2014, when Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber inadvertently spilled the beans about Obamacare’s lies, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi—in a fit of spectacular cowardice—denied knowing who he was. That was a lie, and it was so obvious a lie wrought by so transparent a cowardice that the media should have had a field day. Nobody made much of a big deal out of it."

F.B. Purity Features - FBP : Clean up and Customize Facebook - "Fluff Busting (F.B.) Purity lets you Clean up and Customize Facebook. It has a myriad of features for eliminating the junk and clutter on Facebook."

Sharia law guidelines abandoned as Law Society apologises - Telegraph - "The Law Society has withdrawn controversial guidelines for solicitors on how to compile “Sharia compliant” wills amid complaints that they encouraged discrimination against women and non-Muslims... it was a vindication for those who were accused of racism or being anti-Muslim for questioning the wisdom of original practice note"

CNN Wonders Why Anime Child Porn Isn't Banned in Japan - "Because police are too busy saving real victims instead of drawn fake victims."
"Shooting people is illegal so why do we allow shows and games with murder in them?"

VIDEO: Doc Shows the Right Way to Pop a Pimple -- It's Not What You Think - "“Never squeeze a pimple because you will macerate it,” adding “You’re destroying all the healthy tissue with the pressure you are putting on there by squeezing.” Instead, you take an alcohol-sterlized needed, place it parallel to the skin and pierce the pimple from one side to another – straight through like a kebab skewer—and then rip upwards."

MH370, MH17 Tragedies Were Caused Due to Un-Islamic Behaviours like 'Serving Alcohol and Exposing Flesh': Malaysian Official

Fuck It, I'm Going Back to Firefox - "These days Chrome is bloated, slow, and constantly crashing on me. I've finally reached the breaking point."

Pat Law - In the simplest of all forms, two wrongs do not make a... - "Perhaps a little traumatizing too, when being shouted at in the Ladies. But it must've been more traumatizing for the old lady who thought a guy was next to her cubicle listening to her pee... The call for boycott of IKEA Singapore for sponsoring Lawrence Khong's circus act by some homosexuals is not one I understand. I understand the angst if IKEA Singapore has never sponsored a gay play by an openly gay director. But they have. I understand the angst if IKEA Singapore had banned homosexuals as either customers or employees. But they haven't. The call for boycott is akin to intolerance too. IKEA Singapore should reserve their right to engage whoever they want as a merchant on their pretty little loyalty programme, and unhappy homosexuals reserve their right to not shop at IKEA anymore. But to call for a boycott? When you call for one on behalf of other homosexuals, you are as big as an instigator as Lawrence Khong is. Fight intolerance with grace. Not hatred."
In homophiles' minds, can a homosexual be a homophobe?

Jennifer Lawrence discusses nude photos leak in US Vogue interview - "“No one ever asks me out,” she tells the latest issue of US Vogue. “I am lonely every Saturday night. Guys are so mean to me""

'Phuc Dat Bich': man says he created name hoax to fool media and Facebook - "In a mea culpa posted to Facebook, still titled Phuc Dat Bich, on Wednesday afternoon, the 23-year-old Melbourne man admitted that the name change and doctored image was part of a prank intended to fool the news media and highlight shortcomings of Facebook’s “real name” policy... “Out of this ordeal I’ve concluded not to trust the credibility of the media, it’s twisted by the hungry journalists who mask the truth ... It goes to show that an average joe like myself can con the the biggest news sources with ease.”"

Wedding gatecrash bar just raised: Get 512 Facebook Likes to marry your bae
What depths will women not sink to?

UK film censors forced to watch a 2-day long movie of paint drying - "To protest the UK's antiquated film censorship regime, Charlie Lyne crowdfunded a movie of paint drying. Having raised £5963, Charlie was able to submit a 607 minute film, which the censors now have to sit through"

Man dies in Germany after blowing up condom vending machine in apparent robbery attempt

New London Tube Map Shows How Long It Takes to Walk, Not Ride a Train - "It shows that people who catch the Tube from Covent Garden to Leicester Square and Mansion House to Cannon Street (or vice versa) are wasting both time and money, as the journey takes less than five minutes on foot"

Price of wedding tables hits new high - "Wedding banquet prices at top hotels are on the verge of hitting the unprecedented $2,000-mark for each table of 10, with several newlyweds already forking out more after additions such as menu upgrades and alcohol. And that is before the addition of the Goods and Services Tax... Couples themselves may have a part to play in driving up prices, according to wedding planners... CIMB economist Song Seng Wun believes nothing short of a full-blown recession will bring table prices down. "There are certain things in life for which prices are inelastic," he said. "Healthcare, funeral packages... and in between, weddings. My advice to couples getting married today? Do it in Johor"... Commodities trading firm treasurer Stacey Su, who tied the knot on March 5 with 30-year-old software engineer Lee Qianwen, celebrated their wedding at W Singapore Sentosa Cove. After a menu upgrade, they spent more than $200 on each of their 340 guests. The 29-year-old admits the cost initially stunned her, but she was determined not to think about it. She said. "I just wanted to have a good, memorable time with my friends and family, and not worry about counting every single cent.""
If you don't have to pay for something...

This is what you should wear on a date, according to a survey of 1,000 women - "An overwhelming 94% of women would like to see their date show up in a T-shirt. But the kind of T-shirt depends on the vibe you want to give off. Regular fit and crew necks are better if you want to give off that husband-material vibe, but if you just want to be a “seducer,” you might want to stick with a slim-fit V-neck."

Facebook Really Does Rule The Internet, And These Charts Prove It - "Not only does Facebook reach a much larger audience than services such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Snapchat, it also saps more time from the people who use it."

Artist Tracey Emin, Inspirational Woman, Marries a Rock - "He’s solid. He’s stable. He contains multitudes: good for sitting on, always holds the door for you. He’s not argumentative or threatened by your career. He’s totally fine with you having friendships with other men. While he would never even look at another woman, he’s okay with you straying every once in a while. After all, it is modern love. Sign me up"
Yet when men marry blowup dolls...

Kagan Goh - In 1983, my father, Goh Poh Seng: doctor, poet,... - "The Singapore authorities are not friendly toward rock & roll. Two of my songs, “China Girl” and “Modern Love,” were banned from radio play. “Restricted,” as they say. Our wonderful and fearless promoter, Dr. Goh Poh Seng, risked his livelihood, bank balance, and even his freedom to get me and my band into his country. When the authorities heard I was going to do an impromptu guest appearance at his youth club tow days before our major gig, they busted it, banned the resident band for indecent performance, and threatened Poh Seng with imprisonment if a guest of the club – (me) – should get up on stage and sing. He also faced incredible local resistance in getting the staging and lights together. When he asked for three yards of cable, local suppliers – knowing it was for rock & roll – would only sell him a 100-yard drum. No one would lease him timber for the stage, so he ended up buying an architect-designed permanent structure at ten times the cost…and so it went, over and over. The lights were flown in from all over Malaysia. Many arrived broken, and those intact not much more powerful than a bedroom lamp. But, good god, he tried"
Ahh... creativity!

Scotland's national dish is an 'imposter' and was invented by Vikings, claims master butcher - Telegraph - "Mr Callaghan is convinced the authentic recipe is venison, creating a "meatier and richer" flavour in an interpretation of the dish which also contains port, juniper, balsamic vinegar, redcurrants and spices... “The only reason haggis is associated the world over with Scotland is because of Robert Burns.” The Scottish Poet, Robert Burns, popularised the traditional sheep's gut filled with offal, oats and blood in To a Haggis, written in 1786, but until then the dish was common throughout England as well. The book, published today, shows evidence of a haggis-like dish described by the Ancient Greek writer Aristophanes in about 400BC and a recipe for a pig haggis from the medieval English king, Richard II's reign, in 1390. "

Problem: Facebook's Users Are Sharing Less. Solution: Pay Them to Share More

Hong Kong Pokémon Fans Protest Pikachu's Name Change - "A small group of protesters even demonstrated in front of the Japanese Consulate in Central, carrying banners, singing the Cantonese theme song, and demanding that Nintendo change “Pei-kaa-jau” back to “Bei-kaa-chyu.”"

Technology and the death of civilisation - "this photograph of children looking at their smartphones by Rembrandt’s ‘The Night Watch’ in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam started doing the rounds on the web. It quickly became viral. It was often accompanied by outraged, dispirited comments such as “a perfect metaphor for our age”, “the end of civilisation” or “a sad picture of our society”. Clearly, to lots of folk, the photograph epitomised everything that is wrong with young people these days and their ‘addiction’ to technology. These children were being distracted by their technology to such an extent that they weren’t paying any attention to the beauty surrounding them in the real world. Only they weren’t. It turns out that the Rijksmuseum has an app that, among other things, contains guided tours and further information about the works on display. As part of their visit to the museum, the children, who minutes earlier had admired the art and listened attentively to explanations by expert adults, had been instructed to complete an assignment by their school teachers, using, among other things, the museum’s excellent smartphone app... I would like to think that all those who liked, posted, shared and tweeted the picture of children on smartphones by Rembrandt’s masterpiece in the erroneous belief that it illustrated everything that is wrong with society feel a tiny bit silly and a little more humble as a consequence. But it won’t happen. The tragic thing is that this — the truth — will never go viral. So, I wonder, what is more likely to bring about the death of civilisation, children using smartphones to learn about art or the wilful ignorance of adults who are too quick to make assumptions?"

Tbilisi vegan cafe appeal over meat-wielding 'extremists' - "The attackers wore strings of sausages round their necks and threw chunks of meat onto customers' plates"

Emmanuel Macron's idyllic vision of France is a myth - "The most troubling aspect about those detained in France in recent months is their background. No longer are the suspected terrorists solely young working-class men of North African origin, like those who carried out the killings at Charlie Hebdo, the Jewish supermarket and the Bataclan. In September, police charged three women after a botched attempt to detonate a gas bomb outside Notre-Dame cathedral, and in November a suspected terror cell was broken up in Strasbourg, with one of the suspects a 37-year-old teaching assistant at a local primary school."

Emmanuel Macron Says France Terrorism is Fact of Life

The macabre trial of Prof. George Bensoussan: Verdict today - "Bensoussan, head of of the Memorial de la Shoah editorial department, was invited by famous French philosopher and member of the French Academy Alain Finkielkraut to participate in a radio program and discussion. In the course of the discussion, Bensoussan, who was born in Morocco and knows the reality of life in the Arab world first-hand, referred to remarks made by Algerian-born Professor Smain Laacheron of Strasbourg University on the topic of anti-Semitism among the Arab families in France, in a film shown on French TV3. In his portrayal of the anti-Semitic atmosphere which has become the norm in the Arab milieu of France, but is still regarded as an unspoken taboo in France, at least publically, Laacher described extensively the phenomenon of what he called ‘domestic anti-Semitism’ in Arab families, with such details as “one of the parents’ insults to their children when they want to reprimand them, is to call them ‘Jews.'“ Laacher also said on the record, in the movie broadcast on French TV3, that “anti-Semitism in Arab families is first of all domestic (...), it is in the air that one breathes” – all this according to the transcript of the film... The pro-Islamist organization Le Collectif Contre l'Islamophobie en France (Collective Against Islamophobia in France, CCIF) wasted no time in bringing the case against George Bensoussan to the Paris prefecture which, in a surprising move, decided to prosecute. That, in our view, was and is the essential point of yet another shameful public trial in France, astonishingly similar to the Stalin show-trials... When people compare renowned Jewish historian Bensoussan to Dreyfus, it is an immediate and understandable association. In fact, the essence of the criminal case and trial of Bensoussan and the way it proceeded is astonishingly similar to the first trial of Emil Zola in 1898 when that great French writer decided to come to the defense of Dreyfus... one is astonished – or not – to see that there are several very visible French human rights organizations, including LICRA, the Jewish left-wing body, attacking Bensoussan along with the pro-Islamic Collective Against Islamophobia, as well as the French Human Rights League... One cannot help but remember the phrase of Pascal Bruckner, well-known French philosopher and writer, from his classic work “The Tyranny of Guilt”: “Europe relieves itself of the crime of the Shoah by blaming Israel (...)”. In the same work, Bruckner also wrote of what he called ‘quiet re-legitimization of the hatred of the Jews” masked under the disguise of "the Palestinian question."
He was acquitted, but still

80% of drug addicts in Malaysia are Malays, Parliament told
If the disproportionate number of Malay drug addicts in Singapore is due to a racist government and their not being called up for NS for a few years, what is the cause of the disproportionate number of Malay drug addicts in Malaysia?

"There Is Definitely Something Strange Going On" In Sweden

"There Is Definitely Something Strange Going On" In Sweden

"In 1990 non-European immigrants accounted for only 3% of the population and any problems could be isolated and managed within the bigger framework of society. That figure has increased to some 13-14% now, and is growing at perhaps 1-2 percentage points from last year, with persistent gaps in income, unemployment and education. It’s really a question of scale rather than degree of divisions.

You still have a sizeable number of Iranians, Iraqis, Bosnians and the like who are well integrated, dress like any westerner, speak fluent Swedish and openly talk to anyone. That group is even bigger than in 1990. But there is another group which is living in a ghetto and who does not speak Swedish all that well, does not feel a part of society, is unemployed and so on. And that group has increased rapidly. When it reaches a certain size it starts to influence everything around it – like schools, social spaces and so forth...

I like to look at things like gaps in employment, income and school results. If we start with the first one, in the age group 20-64 82% of native born Swedes are employed compared to only 58% of immigrants. That is a huge gap right there. It has remained constant going back to 2000, and even slightly increased compared to 1990.

We see the same thing happening with income, in that immigrants on average earn 40% less than the natives, which is also worse than in 1990. And if you look at school results, you find a massive gap yet again: 9% of the natives don’t qualify to go to high-school after 9th grade, compared to around 30% for those of immigrant origin.

So you have these major gaps that have been very persistent over time and rank among the highest in the developed world. If you look at the employment gap, it is the highest in the OECD, and because the group keeps growing as a percentage of total the problem for society becomes bigger and bigger...

You could see a very strong “white flight” from towns that are becoming dominated by immigrants.

Research shows that the tipping point for that flight to occur is very low: after 4% of non-European immigrants the native Swedes start to move out. This is arguably an even worse segregation problem than in the US. At the same time, there is a fascinating study that shows that if you ask the average Swede if it is important to live in a multicultural neighborhood most of them say yes. Actually, the ones who moved away from those neighborhoods are even more likely to respond positively...

Last quarter we had 3.9% GDP growth on an annualized basis. That’s not particularly impressive when you consider that we had 1.4% official population growth and we probably had another 1.4% from refugees that have not been accounted for yet. If you look at these numbers since 2006, Sweden has had close to zero GDP growth in per capita terms, maybe 0.6% per year on average. That’s not at all impressive when compared to the historical average.

At the same time we have seen a massive increase in household debt which has to be paid back at some point. To give you a sense people say that we have the second most indebted households in the OECD. That’s a big number.

Sweden used to have very strong state finances... we went from having fiscal surpluses during recessions to a deficit now during a robust business cycle recovery.

If you look at GDP and population growth figures projected by the government, we are seeing something that I had never seen before: projected negative GDP per capita growth rates in a period of economic cycle recovery . The only reason for that is immigration; Sweden is bringing in a lot of people who consume but do not produce much...

Just the initial cost for those asylum seekers is 1.5% of our GDP, significantly higher than our defense budget at around 1%. And that does not count the net costs associated with housing, health, welfare spending and so forth that arise later.

But much more meaningful than the defense budget is the UNHCR budget for the 60 million refugees displaced around the world. And just those initial costs that Sweden spent in 2015 were twice the UN’s funding! The left likes to talk about the privileged 1%, but the 0.3% of refugees that made it to Sweden got twice as much resources as the 99.7% displaced around the world.

ET: Apparently the latest strategy is to house thousands of migrants in a docked luxury cruise ships.

TS: They are doing that, and you couldn’t make this stuff up. The waste of resources compared to dealing with the problem at the source is staggering.

Another mind blowing number – and you might think it is impossible but I have all the official figures to back this up – is the cost to house all these unaccompanied minors we have coming in, mostly from Afghanistan. By any indication most are not even minors, but in Sweden you get special treatment if you qualify as such. And their age claim is seldom challenged by the authorities so they usually get asylum even if they are much older than a minor.

Now, this is very expensive because they are treated like children and get a lot of resources. We are approaching the point where the 20-30,000 or so minors under this category are going to get more money than the entire budget of Afghanistan including foreign aid - a country with 30 million people! It’s almost impossible to deny this because it’s simple budget calculations.

At the same time, we are cutting our foreign aid budget to meet all these expenses, by something like 30%. I personally think that catastrophe aid, refugee aid, food aid works…

ET: … And it helps to prevent this huge migratory influx...

TS: There was a recent calculation by an AID-organization that argued that we are cutting programs to children in third world countries, and an estimated 20,000 people might die just from cutting the Swedish foreign aid, if the estimate is accurate.

In return, we are probably not saving a single life because none of those migrants are coming directly from war zones; almost all that come to Sweden were already in safe countries like Turkey, Iran or Germany...

ET: … Wait a minute, 92% of them are male?

TS: Yes, there is definitely something strange going on. More than half of the world’s refugees are women. In World War II, when Sweden took refugees from Finland, they were children and 90% were below the age of 10. But now almost all of them are late teenagers – supposedly; we know many are older for a fact. When other countries age test it turns out that the majority are not children. And when there are crimes committed and the age is investigated, often we get these absurd reports where some of these guys are older than 30 and yet the government puts them with other real minors in schools or housing, and this is creating a lot of anger now. The media created this taboo where because they are officially supposed to be children we can’t question it, and you are fascist if you do. Yet most people can see that many are adults.

Now I’m not moralizing this. If you have an open door policy and you are incentivizing Afghans to take advantage of the system, can you really blame them? But it is an idiocy to equate anyone who questions the claim of being a minor with being a fascist.

You know, it’s really funny that the tale about the emperor having no clothes is a Scandinavian tale. Everybody can see many are not children, but then the political and media consensus will fire or at the very least censor the people who point out this plainly obvious fact. Because how can you question children running from war, using circular reasoning that anyone who claims to be a child escaping war is one and cannot be questioned. You know, a self-reported 70% are not even coming from Afghanistan but safer countries like Iran, seeking a better life...

We have serious scientific polls that clearly state that the majority or plurality of Swedes support reducing refugee immigration, even going back as far as the 1980s. There has always been more saying that Sweden should take in less refugees and this number has probably skyrocketed in recent months.

One recent poll I have seen, and it excludes the past months, shows very high opposition: only 8% said we are not taking enough immigrants, where 58% said we are taking too many. It’s the elite opinion that forms the consensus that Sweden should take many more immigrants – it’s almost like a religion, but it is not the popular view...

Anyhow, in the short run you will continue to see shocking headlines from Sweden. The recent inflow has overloaded the system to a point where we are experiencing a crime wave. And absurd things are happening, things nobody has almost seen before: mass assaults on women by large gangs of men, lots of fighting with knifes or scolding water, murders, acid thrown in faces of women, rapes, abuse of minors, rapes of young boys... Headline after headline of horrific stuff.

Swedes always like to say that “we don’t want it like the United States”; I joked it’s almost becoming too late for that, now the best Sweden can hope for is “we don’t want it like the Game of Thrones”. The inability of the European leadership to deal with the crisis is at once surreal and fascinating, almost like witnessing a Donald Duck version of the fall of the Roman Empire in real time."

Addendum: This is also Sweden on the Brink? – An Interview with Dr. Tino Sanandaji | Erico Matias Tavares
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