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Saturday, August 05, 2017

Links - 5th August 2017

The Impact of Moral Incentives on Credit Card Repayment in Indonesia - "Messages stating that “non-repayment of debts by someone who is able to repay is an injustice” significantly increased the number of clients meeting minimum payments, proving more effective than substantial financial incentives for repayment. Sending either a simple reminder or an Islamic quote unrelated to debt repayment had no effect... Cash rebates equal to 50 percent of the customer’s minimum payment increased the share of customers making the minimum repayment by 7 percent, less than half the effect of the moral messages. The cost of text message reminders was negligible, but the bank incurred additional costs to fulfill rebates, making the moral appeal significantly more cost-effective at increasing repayment."

Oh, My God | Tell Me Something I Don't Know - "This goes back to the concept of a mamzer. Now in Yiddish and in Hebrew a mamzer is a bastard and so you'll hear this in America: you know that guy who took my parking space. What a mamzer, right? But actually in Torah a mamzer is the issue of an adulterous woman - not an adulterous man, a married men can do whatever he wants... but if a married woman has a child born to somebody who is not her husband that child is considered a mamzer and mamzerum - mamzers - have a particular stigma. Which is that they can't marry a fellow Jew except for a fellow mamzer or a convert. And the stigma is so severe that it carries on to ten generations of the issue of the original mamzer. So basically the mamzer has almost no marriage pool so Israeli civil courts never order paternity tests to determine if a child was born to a married woman who's had an affair because they don't want any child or those subsequent generations to bear that stigma. They also interestingly do their best to look the other way - they do back flips to presume that maybe it wasn't adulterous. So even if she is estranged from her husband and her husband's been living in a foreign land they say well maybe about nine months before the birth he took an overnight flight, he took a red eye back and they rekindled that original spark. So we can't prove they didn't have sex that night so maybe it's actually the husband's child and it's not a mamzer...
[On the slave boy in Matthew and Luke] Interestingly enough both Matthew and Luke in the original text did not use the word slave or servant, they use the word pais, from the Greek. Which means beloved boy. What do we know about our friends the Romans? We know that they would leave their wives at home and bring their young men with them and when you actually consider it through that prism the story makes a lot more logical sense. Why would an occupying officer seek out a local homeless Jewish mystic faith healer to come into his house to heal a common slave unless he was much more than just a common slave and why would the apostles be so repulsed by this? Viewed in this context the story makes a lot of sense especially considering Jesus's record of forgiving prostitutes and adulterers and blessing a gay union"

Pilot Cancels Transatlantic Flight Because Of Passenger's Wifi Hotspot Name - "Shortly before the flight was scheduled to depart, a passenger discovered a wifi hotspot with the name “Jihadist Cell London 1.”"

The cherry picked science in Vox’s Charles Murray article - "As Timothy B. Lee writes, “This debunking of Charles Murray doesn’t appear to include a single quote of Murray’s arguments in his own words.” (Lee is a reporter at Vox, but presumably he was not involved in editing the article.) ... it is important to emphasize just how mainstream Murray’s views are in the field of intelligence research. The most controversial sentence in The Bell Curve attributed about half of the black-white IQ gap to genetics, the rest to environment. In 2013, a survey of 228 intelligence researchers found that the typical scientist in this field agrees... behavioral geneticists will announce over 600 SNPs statistically associated with educational attainment — and IQ by proxy. Are you ready to come back to this topic with that data in hand?"

Black Lives Matter Hosted Black-People-Only Party on Memorial Day - "The venue was evasive when Heat Street questioned them on whether holding racially-segregated events is legal."

Doctors warn women against putting wasp nests in their vaginas - "Some online retailers have been selling oak galls, which are nests that house wasp eggs before they hatch, and touting them as a natural way of cleaning female genitals. The product reportedly is crushed into a paste and applied topically, with one listing on Etsy, which has now been removed, claiming it can improve a woman’s sex life."

Beatles’ Sgt Pepper album attacked by feminist writer - "Amanda Marcotte slammed the Fab Four's seminal album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, because it 'repelled the female gaze.' Marcotte, who writes for left-wing US website Salon, 'resents' Sgt Pepper because it transformed the Beatles from being a band teenage girls could enjoy to 'respectable art' aimed at 'grown men'... Marcotte courted controversy in 2007 when she called supporters of defendants in the Duke lacrosse rape case: 'rape-loving scum'. It was later found that all three men, students at Duke University in the US, were falsely accused of the crime."

Civil society's role cannot be to provide public goods - "While there are important roles for civil society, the argument that we should count on civil society to provide housing solutions instead of pursuing policy change reflects a misunderstanding about the nature of housing problems, how public policies work, and what civil society can and cannot do... policies represent collective decisions about what society deems important and who may claim public resources. For instance, if education or healthcare policiesdiscriminate against the children of single, unmarried parents, we would find that deeply objectionable... The issue at hand is therefore also one of fairness and equality: Public goods should be evenly accessible to all members of society. When we see unevenness in our public policy, we should work harder to resolve it collectively, rather than push the resolution to individual actors such as civil society."
The definition of public goods is really broad nowadays
Why is it okay for housing policy to "discriminate" against singles? Or cigarette smokers. And non-Singaporeans, for that matter

Trump protesters could be facing decades in prison for inauguration demonstrations - "the 212 protesters were arrested by the Metropolitan Police Department and initially charged with felony rioting, a crime that carries a 10-year prison sentence and a $25,000 fine. On April 27, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia added additional charges that include urging to riot, conspiracy to riot and destruction of property.The possibility of long-term prison sentences for these protesters could have a chilling effect on participation in future rallies, particularly at a time of heightened levels of anti-Trump activism... Alsip and the other defendants face the additional strain of having to pay for travel expenses to and from Washington for each of their court hearings before they go to trial. “Most of us don’t have a whole lot of money,” she said. “Generally we are fighting the rich because we are economically or politically disadvantaged and don’t have a lot of capital.”"
Apparently it's a threat to free speech to prosecute Trump protesters for rioting and destroying property

Feminist writer says wonder woman isn't feminist enough, because she's sexy and good looking - "Christina Cauterucci – a writer for Slate, argues that Wonder woman fails as a Feminist movie because of the super-heroine’s sex appeal... It gets worse.She also thinks the movie is homophobic. I can’t even see the logic here... Maybe the reason there aren’t enough women in the movie is because this is a movie about the allied powers fighting Germany and the Ottoman empires in the first world war – a war I don’t remember many women lining up to fight in?"
Can't help that she's Jewish either
Feminists would say that since Wonder Woman is fiction anyway, we should pretend that lots of women fought in World War I too

Israeli 'Wonder Woman' Star Gal Gadot Attacked On Twitter For 'Zionist' Pro-IDF Views - "The comments come in response to Gadot’s military service, where she spent a mandatory two years in the Israeli Defense Force. Gadot has been vocally supportive of the Israeli military since her service and has been criticized frequently for it. “I am sending my love and prayers to my fellow Israeli citizens” wrote Gadot in a Facebook post two years ago. “Especially to all the boys and girls who are risking their lives protecting my country against the horrific acts conducted by Hamas, who are hiding like cowards behind women and children…We shall overcome!!! Shabbat Shalom! #weareright #freegazafromhamas #stopterror #coexistance #loveidf”. The post received over 200,000 likes in support, but started a very bitter group of critics against Gadot’s work."
If saying you support the IDF means you support genocide, does saying you support US troops mean you endorse waterboarding and Abu Ghraib style torture? Then again at least waterboarding and Abu Ghraib style torture actually happened

When Will Wonder Woman Be a Fat, Femme Woman of Color? - Ms. Magazine Blog - "On Paradise Island, there are Black warriors in addition to white ones, which is a good start, but other women of color are missing. Also, while the female warriors are strong and ass-kicking, they all have tall, thin body types and they all could be models on a runway. In fact, in a pivotal battle scene, Wonder Woman struts across the battlefield as if on a catwalk. As a result, their physical strength plays second fiddle to their beauty, upholding the notion that in order to access power women must be beautiful in a traditional way. Especially with the body positivity movement gaining steam, the film could have spotlighted female warriors with fat, thick and short body types"
Not the Onion, but Ms Magazine

'Wonder Woman' And The Power Of Watching A Woman Save The World - "I cried within the first five minutes of “Wonder Woman.” And then about 10 minutes later. And then another 15 minutes after that. In fact, I found myself choking up on and off throughout the entire 2+ hour film ― not because the movie was sad, but because I had never seen anything quite like it. Just the visual of seeing an army of ripped, powerful women charging down to protect each other and their world was enough to bring me to tears.. “I blacked out with joy,” Meredith Fineman, CEO of FinePoint told HuffPost about watching the film’s opening scenes. “It was only women ― fighting, being strong, putting themselves in danger, with muscles and beauty”... When it comes to pop culture, we speak often about representation; the simple yet often unfulfilled idea that it matters to see someone like you fill a variety of imagined roles on screen... Movies and TV shows help expand (and reinforce) what we see as “normal” and what we believe to be possible. It should feel both normal and possible to see a woman help save the world, even if she’s not an immortal Amazonian daughter of Zeus."
In the grand scheme of things, these people have slightly fewer issues than the feminists who want a fat, ugly, brown/black Wonder Woman
If representation matters, why isn't anyone calling for a superhero who's a fat, ugly neckbeard who has bad skills with women?
Comments: "its not like she's the first (or only) comic book super heroin in a movie. It all just feels manufactured to me. Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs, Ellen Ripley in Aliens, Katniss in the Hunger Games, Sarah Connor in Terminator, Alice in Resident Evil, Rhona Mitra as Eden Sinclair in Doomsday, and Sonja in Underworld: Rise of Lycans, Kate Beckinsale in Underworld, Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider, Noomi Rapace and Charlize Theron in Prometheus, Charlize Theron in Aeon Flux, Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, Halli Berry in Catwoman and X-Men, Gina Carano in Haywire, Furiosa in Mad Max, Rey in Star Wars, Pam Grier in Foxy Brown, all are movies with strong female leads (or at least co-stars). Why the floodworks for this movie?"
Of course there's a lot more misandry and racism in the comments but it is Huffpost

Grant Morrison Weighs In On “Batman v Superman’s” Wonder Woman - "Grant Morrison says that while he can appreciate why current takes on Wonder Woman are so aggressive, readers should expect something closer to her creator’s vision when they pick up the “Wonder Woman: Earth One” graphic novel. “I can understand why they’re [depicting a warrior Wonder Woman],” Morrison said in an interview with Nerdist. “I get all that, but that’s not what [creator] William Marston wanted, that’s not what he wanted at all!”... “[Marston’s] original concept for Wonder Woman was an answer to comics that he thought were filled with images of blood-curdling masculinity”... “Yanick Paquette did this amazing design job, where there are no phallic objects. The only phallic objects are like these Greek towers that are almost like this haunting echo of the culture they came from… Wonder Woman’s Invisible Plane is now shaped like a vagina, it’s the most incredible thing. It opens up in the back and it has a little clitoris hood, everything is a female-based design. It’s all based on shells and natural stuff. He’s created this entire newly designed world for the Amazons. And for the first 48 pages, there are no men — it’s just women talking to each other.”"

Sex, Love, Bondage: The Vision of William Moulton Marston - "It was while working in this capacity that Marston had the idea to create a new kind of superhero, one who would combat crime with love, rather than violence. It was his wife’s idea that this new hero should be a woman...
Wonder Woman is very much the product of Marston’s worldview. Through his psychological research, Marston had come to the conclusion that women were naturally superior to men, both morally and in terms of skill. Further, he believed that women’s tendency toward loving submission was far preferable to masculine authority, which he viewed as toxic and violent.
Such themes were apparent in the early Wonder Woman stories, where the all-women utopia of Paradise Island was accompanied by the Reform Island penal colony, where enemies of the Amazons were not punished, but rehabilitated. Additionally, the goal of the much-vaunted bondage imagery that pervaded Marston’s stories was two-fold: first, to serve as a metaphor for the oppression women suffer in patriarchal society, and second, to add an erotic element so that young readers found themselves associating submission with love, through what Marston called “sex love training.”"

Why 'Wonder Woman' Soared and 'Ghostbusters' Sagged - "One film ignored gender politics while the other tried to capitalize on it — and audiences made their choice"
Misogyny was the reason Ghostbusters failed huh?

Is 'Wonder Woman' the New 'Ghostbusters?' - "Some social justice warriors aren’t keen on the finished product anyway. Turns out they didn’t like giving co-star Chris Hemsworth, a man, so many funny moments. The movie failed to properly “out” Kate McKinnon’s character as a lesbian. Even director Paul Feig slyly suggested the character is gay, but the studio preferred to blur that matter. And it didn’t give the women more fully developed characters.Then again, it looks like the “Wonder Woman” movie may not be perfect, either.: Three men wrote Wonder Woman, and that's a problem"
Even such blatant SJW pandering as Ghostbusters didn't satisfy some of them. So why bother?

Policing Offence

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Policing Offence

"The politics of offence, identity and rights are becoming ever more complicated and toxic. You can say it's great to have a black president but not that you'd like a white one. Ditto women. Just when you've learned to call the sexually ambiguous or at least transient transgender, you're told the concept of gender is now unacceptably binary and hence insulting.

There're exploding tripwires of social acceptability everywhere, with a new language to describe perceived offensiveness: microaggressions. So-called safe spaces and trigger warnings to protect students from being confronted with ideas they don't agree with. Presumably calling them the snowflake generation for their oversensitivity is unacceptably offensive too.

It only seems to work one way. Black or brown people can't be racist about whites. Women, if that's not too binary a description, can't be sexist about men...

Are we stifling opinion and debate, making the political personal and identity more important than ideas?...

It basically is a way of trying to trump each other by how many suffering points we have based on not what you've thought or said or achieved but based on the accidents of birth and skin colour...

'Often it is presented as natural and that is the problem. We need to accept that we're socialized in certain ways and often women are presented as, when Theresa May was announced as Prime Minister a lot of people were talking about how women always clear up men's mess as if we are hardwired to do that. Yes we're socialized to do that but it's not naturally ingrained within us'

'Isn't this what takes us into this kind of - so it might be all right to say that women are better write, crime writers than men. As long as I say women are socialized to be better crime writers. So you end up in this situation where as long as I use all the right words it will be okay'...

I've just written this book called 'I find that offensive' and the thing that drives me mad is when people start every sentence: as a woman i find that offensive or as a lesbian I find that offensive or as a person of color I find that offensive, you know what I mean...

Identity is used to try and trump somebody else and silence them. You know if somebody says as a woman I find that offensive, you are meant to shut up...

People are drawing attention to the fact that they are systematically being silenced. So what we need to realize is that we can talk about individuals and we talk about specific instances but actually what this is a product of is a system that is unfair...

'You just critiqued essentialism a moment ago. So I mean when you say they're drawing attention to the fact that they have been systematically silenced, I mean there is no comparison between: when you say as a woman does that mean a Theresa May woman, an Andrea Leadsom woman? A you woman, a me woman?...

We're not having sophisticated discussion about oppression in society at the moment. What we are having is competing identities trying to say what's acceptable to be said and policing ourselves. You know like people say you are not allowed to say that about lesbian, gay rights because you're not from the LGBT community... if you only look at things through the prism of identity you avoid critiquing them for what they are saying, what their ideas and what their politics are. That's what my critique is.'

'And i agree with that to an extent but that is to assume that we aren't all judged on certain qualities. That we aren't all judged on being a woman, on being a person of color. That those things we carry them with us every day and we are judged on those criteria'

'No no. When you say we carry them with us, it's become fashionable to make a virtue out of producing them as part of your argument which is actually an essentializing way of reducing politics down to identity'...

'I think identity nowadays actually squashes ideas and puts an end to politics full stop. I think one other consequence of this that we can see is that not all identities are equal.

So feminists have spent decades arguing that we need to have more women represented in positions of leadership so they can act as role models for younger women. And then we get to women at the weekend in the runoff for the Conservative party leadership and suddenly these are the wrong kind of women. These are just are females who happen to be put into a position of power. They're not women that feminists actually approve of.

I think one of the consequences of this and where this takes us is that we've become unable to separate out the personal from the political nowadays and we've become unable to separate out things that we disagree with from things that we are insulted by and we're far too quick to jump to be outraged and jump to be insulted than actually sit down and be able to engage in political dialogue'

'I'm rarely outraged by things people say to me but isn't it important for us to be sensitive to the effect our words have on other people?'

'I actually think it's patronizing and insulting to worry so much about the effect that we might have on somebody by our words that we stop ourselves from saying those words. I actually think it's far more respectful to say what we think and assume that the person we're talking to is able to cope with debate in exactly the same way that we consider ourselves able to cope with debate... I think it's very very insulting to talk down to people and I think the biggest way you can talk down to someone is by changing your language'...

'Peter Thatchell... Even you have fallen foul of this stuff, haven't you? You've been accused, unfairly I'm sure, of bigotry, racism and transphobia. If it happens to you what hope for the rest of us?'

'Well precisely. Particularly when there is no evidence ever presented for those allegations... I was one of the champions of identity politics forty years ago, fifty years ago... in those days women, ethic minority people, lesbians, gay men, disabled people, others were totally excluded from the public discourse and political debate...

What I think has to some extent gone wrong is as your previous speakers have alluded to is that identity is increasingly being used as a weapon to either denigrate or silence people because of their particular traits or background. Now I believe that a good idea is a good idea regardless of who proposes it or what their background is. Just because someone is a straight white male doesn't mean to say automatically their idea is invalid. They should be judged on the content of what they say, not on those characteristics...

You have to judge someone on what they intended. If they have made a mistake, be ready to forgive and to educate rather than punish. And I think so much of identity politics is about punishing people who make mistakes...

'I asked her to explain exactly why it was impossible for a black person to be a racist about white people or women to be racist about, sexist about men. And she answered with a distinction which I didn't quite follow between prejudice and racism but it had something to do with historic power structures. I think her real argument-'

'I understand the point and the point is that racism is prejudice plus power... these ideas are almost impossible to understand unless you spend your life in discussing these kinds of questions and for me one of the criteria, criteria for a political idea is that it's something that people can understand. If a political idea is something that you can't understand unless you're steeped in that area it's a problematic idea for me'...

'She started to get into contradictory territory because she actually understood something of the dangers of essentializing people to their identity. She mentioned the word essentialism but she actually then went on to do exactly that very thing it seemed to me. And although she kept saying yes I know the danger of doing that but on the other hand I think it's important that we are able to draw attention to the historic plight of women when we talk... rather arrogantly assume all of the struggles of your particular gender or know.

I'm always very tempted to say there's an Irish person, you can't possibly say that's me because you know I mean I went through the famine you know... She is asserting, her view is that in a world of absolute equality there would be no gender differences. Now that is a very debatable proposition. If we're going to say well where anybody who doesn't agree with her about that debatable proposition is somehow deemed to be offensive we're in a very difficult world'

'Or also privileged. I mean that's the thing is where like you don't know because I'm the woman and I understand it because of. And you think no it's a political analysis, let's discuss it'...

He felt as a Guardian writer, reader that he could talk to Guardian writers and readers but he didn't think that UKIP's telling the same joke to the same material to a UKIP audience should be allowed. Very liberal, very Guardian"

Friday, August 04, 2017

Who Owns Culture?

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Who Owns Culture?

"A big brass cockerel suddenly became an unlikely though some might say appropriate prize in the great twenty first century tussle over history, justice and restitution. The cockerel stands in the hall of Jesus College Cambridge. Has done for a century or more. It was originally part of the treasure taken by a British punitive expedition that overthrew and ransacked the African kingdom of Benin in the late nineteenth century, the zenith of British imperialism. The exact opposite for the Benin Empire of course.

The students at Jesus College have voted unanimously to call for the cock to be returned, not without some controversy. The original motion was deemed despicable for its supposed paternalistic and colonial language and because not enough black students in the wider university had been consulted. Being right on is very exacting these days.

To the students it's a simple matter of justice. Wicked imperialist loot to be returned to its rightful owners.

The history is slightly more complicated. The kingdom of Benin was destroyed after it had massacred a peaceful and though doubtless scheming British delegation. Benin itself was an imperial military dictatorship that enslaved fellow Africans to sell to European traders.

As it no longer exists the question rises over who exactly in present day Nigeria it should be returned to. Nonetheless the Jesus cockerel takes its place alongside the Elgin marbles as cultural symbols of past injustice for which we must make amends...

I'm glad that Britons who valued the Elgin marbles looked after them at a time when Greeks were indifferent to them and I'm just sorry that the British Museum didn't have care of artifacts that are now being destroyed in Aleppo and Palmyra...

I think that the whole idea of repatriation is Romantic, essentialist. It's based on the idea that everything is the cultural property of somebody along essentially ethnic lines...

If we look at the principle of the Benin bronzes there's already a conflict in Nigeria. Are the cultural owners of those the Nigerian people in which case they go to the National Museum in Lagos? Are they the property of the Oba of Benin who was the original owner? In which case ninety nine point nine percent of the Benin people, the Nigerian people would never see them. And the security in both cases would probably leave much to be desired...

There are whole museums like the Accademia museum in Venice was entirely created by Napoleon to commemorate a culture that he had effectively destroyed... you can't build, rebuild a load of churches and put these paintings back and I think that that's the case with most of these situations...

The Parthenon Marbles, they are part of the whole culture of antiquity which has had an enormous impact on western culture. Most of which, that impact, took place outside Greece. Most Classical civilization was created by people who had never went to Greece...

[On returning the Elgin marbles] 'What is special about the original location? I mean is it something about the hill upon which they stand or are we trying to get at something about people? Because if it's about people I mean today's Greeks aren't like Ancient Greeks at all'...

'The new museum that has been built is designed specifically to display the sculptures in the way they were meant to be displayed'

'No no no. Clearly not that. Because they were up high on the Parthenon. They clearly were not designed to be in a museum'...

At a time when Modern Greeks - I'm talking about the nineteenth century - have clearly shown no interest in their own heritage it was English Romantics who came along and gave them a sense of pride in their Classical past. And as part of the symbol of how much we valued it, these marbles came back to Britain and to be looked after and now the Greeks realize how important they are...

I'm interested in the broader trend. So why there have been more claims since the nineteen eighties for repatriation but also a receptivity to those claims from museum professionals. And i am concerned that this is really about what a museum is and that what is at stake is really the kind of Enlightenment values that the museum was founded on. So that, that's been subject to great scrutiny and then you've had the politicization of culture. So culture's been asked to do things like make amends for past wrongs like kind of apologize for colonization when I think it just can't possibly do that...

If we take the Benin bronzes for example. The rooster that is being subject to this claim. I mean that was created in the thirteenth to the fourteenth century in a medieval African kingdom. That has got nothing to do with Nigeria...

'In Iraq after the fall of Saddam a trove of tens of thousands of Jewish documents both secular and religious were discovered in a base, in the basement of the intelligence service almost completely submerged under water. Left for longer they would have been destroyed. They were rescued and taken to America. There has been a fight ever since. Iraq says they are part of Iraq. The Jews say they are part of the Jews of Iraq, they belong to the Jews of Iraq who were either murdered or chucked out of Iraq and therefore they should not go back to Iraq. In your view who should own them? Iraq, the Jews or should they go to the British Museum?'

'My answer to the question is where is best for those artifacts?... We should learn and the problem with these battles is that we do not learn. They become objects of atonement or objects of identity and one that is an insult to those past human civilisations... Who speaks for that culture and on what basis? On the basis of blood? And do I speak therefore for people who live in Scotland?... there are questionable racial claims that are made'...

The Greeks were willing to donate their own bullets to the enemy so that lead from the Parthenon wasn't used for bullets against them so I think it's just false to say they didn't value them...

If it is true as Professor Sandis just said that the British Museum has plenty of other stuff that could tell the story and could do without the Elgin marbles, then it must also be true that if half the Elgin marbles are still in Athens it can equally be argued that there's plenty of stuff there to tell the story without the return of the other half. And so I rather reject the binary position.

I mean it seems to me that these objects have several significances. And at the moment the division let's say of the Elgin marbles between London and Athens is helping both of those positions. Some of them are there to establish the context, reminders that these people lived in this particular place although of course we have no trace of what these people were like and the rest is saying look this is what these marbles, this is what this sort of art contribute to the, contributed to the development of Western Civilization"

Links - 4th August 2017 (2)

Music | Tell Me Something I Don't Know - "'I play an unusual musical instrument... what common household object wound up being an instrument in liturgical music in the nineteenth century... I'm very fortunate and very careful with my saw. But also the saw that I play today has no teeth thanks to the New York city police. They gave me a ticket saying that the teeth are a weapon and therefore I cannot play in a public space... the amount of metal in the teeth is so small that fortunately it makes no difference for the sound... the discovery that a handsaw can make music was made by lumberjacks perhaps as might be expected. But what is less expected is the turn that the musical saw took about one hundred years later from being a folk instrument to being what one might call a liturgical instrument because it was adopted by priests and missionaries to aid in their work... [In the second half of the 18th century and the early 19th century] musical instruments were an uncommon luxury but hand saws were essential because they needed to build the church as their destination... It is angelic, spiritual, mesmerizing. It is the closest sound to that of the human voice"

Polish leader Beata Szydło rages at European leaders over Manchester terror attack - "“If you cannot see that today terrorist danger is a fact that can hurt every country in Europe and you think that Poland should not defend itself, you are going hand in hand with those who point this weapon against Europe, against all of us. “This is an attack on Europe, on our culture, our tradition. Why am I talking about that? That is a good question because all of us in this room have to answer the question… Do we want politicians that claim that we have to get used to attacks and who describe terrorist attacks as ‘incidents’? “Or do we want strong politicians that can see a danger and fight against it effectively?”"

There's A War On Sugar. Is It Justified? - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "Robert LUSTIG: We started comparing what sugar did versus what alcohol did, and we realized, you know what, sugar and alcohol do the exact same thing... We started comparing what sugar did versus what alcohol did, and we realized, you know what, sugar and alcohol do the exact same thing, and it makes sense that it should, because after all, where do you get alcohol from? Fermentation of sugar. We were now seeing the diseases of alcohol without the alcohol...
KAHN: we’ve seen, clearly, smoking cessation in a large proportion of the population. And when people stop smoking, that’s usually been associated with weight gain. Psychotropic drugs, smoking cessation, potential infections have been attributed to a rise in obesity...
LUSTIG: We don’t want to turn off our reward system entirely. If we do, we get into trouble. We actually did this. We did this experiment with a medicine back in the early 2000s. That medicine was called Rimonabant . What it was was it was the anti-marijuana medicine. It blocked the endo-cannabinoid receptors in the brain, and by doing so reduced reward for alcohol and for food. In fact, people who took Rimonabant lost a fair amount of weight. It looked very promising. Until we started looking at the Phase 3 data and started realizing that a lot of these people became severely depressed, and many of them committed suicide... if you take away a reward, you take away the reason for living."

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Orthorexia Nervosa: When 'Healthy' Food Becomes Harmful - "It felt like my only hope, so every time that I would go into a search engine and type in how do I get well, how do I get this alternative cure, the diet industry, the lifestyle and health industry just bombarded me. It saturated me with information. And as soon as I discovered on the internet that food might be an answer to a health problem I was having I took it to really extreme measures and I went in the space of eighteen months from being totally indifferent to food to cutting out animal products to cutting out eating cooked food to only eating fruit to only eating organic watermelon and drinking water and I believed that anything else would kill me or give me cancer or heart disease. Somebody with orthorexia, they will change their allegiance with food whenever the next new extreme thing comes along... every day I was chasing a new high. How extreme can I go with food, what can I cut down on today?... you don't need friends because food is your friend... I didn't believe that face to face friends were any good for me... when you're orthorexic you don't take responsibility for things. I didn't think well I messed up. I thought oh I must have eaten too much sugar today and the sugar has caused me to lapse in concentration so I am going to solve this emotional problem with a detox. I literally went to a health food shop, I picked up a detox kit, I went home with my detox kit, I was literally throwing stuff out the fridge. I mean what was in there apart from kale that could have killed me, I don't know...
People want to know who they are and if someone could say I am a raw foods vegan they've now established who they are as a person and their value comes from how well they stick to it... I do hear about this from a lot of countries that one wouldn't automatically connect it to. Brazil, Poland, Portugal, Turkey are countries that have a lot of discussion of orthorexia, which aren't obviously the world's wealthiest countries"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Little Kitchen of Horrors - "The Brothers Grimm tried to make it nice for us. Originally the person who wanted to eat the children wasn't a wicked witch. The story goes like this. There was a terrible famine in Germany and a mother and a father and their two children who lived in a small house one day realized that they were down to their last four slices of bread - one slice for each of them and the mother looked at the children and she looked at the father and she said: what if there were more slices for each person? What if we killed one of the children and ate that child and the father cries and he pleads with her and she says: there's nothing we can do. If we don't eat one of the children we'll starve and our other child will die too. So eventually he agrees. He says ok I see your reasoning so let's kill and eat our child and this they do and the three of them share the meal and they share the remaining bread between them. And then another famine comes and again they're down to their last three slices of bread and the mother looks at the three slices of bread and she looks at the child and she says to her husband there are only three slices of bread. What if there were only the two of us to eat those three slices? What if we killed our other child and ate our other child. Again he begs and he pleads but she says if we don't we'll die ourselves so eventually he says alright you go right ahead and do it. So she kills the only remaining child and they roast and eat that remaining child and they share the remaining bread between them. And they go on living happily in the forest and there it ends. No retribution, it just ends like that... these stories are plainly coping mechanisms for crises so it's not very surprising that we find them cropping up in time of war because war hugely disrupt the food supply and also in times of famine"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Liberte, Egalite, Gastronomie? - "Nicolas Sarkozy, he had a problem during political campaign because everybody knew that he didn't drink, and everybody know that he loves pizza... a French politician is expected to have a considered opinion about their food as president... according to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, a third of all tourists visiting France come for the wine and the food, but that reputation according to some has been ebbing away. The Michelin Guide awards more stars to restaurants in Tokyo than Paris...
In Medieval Europe the food people ate was determined by class not geography. 'If you go back to the middle ages you can't talk about national cuisines. You have a kind of western cuisine with nuances, depending on where you are in Italy France or in England but mostly you have the same kind of aristocratic cuisine everywhere. For instance you have a huge place for spices or you mix sugar and salt, sweet dish with salt as well so you have the same features for every cuisine everywhere. With some nuances as I said, like for instance English and Italian preferred maybe to have more sweet in the addition more than French people maybe at least until the fifteenth century. At that time you can't talk about a French cuisine... [On the 17th and 18th centuries) neither butter nor cream were used in the middle age so that's something very new and it will be something which will increase until the nineteenth and twentieth century"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, The Fish Japan Ate - "At the most typical Japanese type of sushi generally in the old days was made up of fish that had interesting textures. That included shellfish, clams - things that were crunchy. All those different crunchy chewy whatever textures were considered an interesting feature of sushi. Over the course of the past hundred years this has been completely reversed so today the emphasis on bluefin tuna is primarily an emphasis on the culinary value of succulence. Totally soft, melt in your mouth fat... when I started looking into the history of tuna in Japan I was very surprised to discover that it had not been considered at all a desirable fish to eat by the Japanese a hundred years ago. It was considered to be very smelly and bloody and it would go bad easily. The fish that Japanese people tended to prize were much different. They were small light fleshed fish with delicate flavors and some texture, you know they liked clams, they liked squid, they liked small white fish... [On post-WWII] more western style diets started to impact Japan a bit. Eating red meat, eating beef, eating fattier cuts of meat. Another thing that we can see happen was the result of Japan's high tech export economy peaking in the nineteen seventies when they were flying these huge plane loads of electronics manufactured in Japan over to the US in particular, and those planes were going back empty. And Japan Airlines, an executive in their cargo division whose job it was to find products to put in those planes going back to Japan so that the cargo division of Japanese make more money. He looked all over the place for all kinds of stuff to put in those planes, couldn't really find much in North America that he thought Japanese would be that interested in but he discovered a bunch of sport fishermen particularly off the east coast of the US and Canada that would catch these huge bluefin tuna for sport, have their photo taken with them and then send them to the town dump"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, I Don't Cook - "Studies suggest that in countries like the US and the UK people are cooking less than we did in the past. Market researchers NPD found that less than sixty percent of evening meals eaten at home last year in the US were cooked compared to seventy five percent thirty years ago"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Foodunnit? - "His research has involved interviewing more than one hundred active residential burglars in St. Louis, Missouri. 'Burglary tends to flow out of intense periods of partying. They're not eating, they're using drink and drugs. If they have any money they're gonna spend it on drink and drugs to kind of keep that party going. So they get inside, they're very elated to be in the house. All of a sudden they're not vulnerable to being seen by passers-by. They feel a good deal safer, and so all of a sudden they: realize everything here, I can have anything in here I want. Now they're hungry, you know they're hungry and they're also partial to partying so if they can find any alcohol, any food in the refrigerator, they are going to be very tempted to use it. Now there's a problem in this because if you get too seduced by all that's available to you, you end up spending too much time in the property and you make yourself vulnerable to arrest. But criminals aren't good at avoiding temptation... I've known burglars who've gotten to houses, they've eaten, then they found alcohol and they've drunk so much that they've actually collapsed there and been caught simply because they were too intoxicated to move"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, The Real Value of a Cup of Tea - "[On tea plantations] The houses the workers live in and their schools and hospitals are provided by the estates. Decent housing and good sanitation is a legal obligation and in return tea workers' wages are significantly below even India's modest minimum wage... most tea estates don't seem to be keeping their side of the bargain... one estate tried to lock us up... everywhere we found the same story: broken houses and filthy conditions"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Hands Off My Food! - "They are only going to eat at the white hot chicken joints because those are the trendier places and that's what bothers me and that's where I think this becomes a case of cultural appropriation...
Food Historian: I would want to make a case for the necessity of what you might call brokers or interpreters or cross cultural agents. The word appropriation makes it sound as if it's straightforward and quick and easy. It's not. It takes a great deal of work. I have a friend who's just published a book on food of Persia for which she went to Persia for some considerable time to collect the materials. That is not a straightforward or easy thing to do. So I think that we need these brokers unless we're all to live in little boxes. I mean I think we need people from inside the culture who have deep emotional understanding of it and commitment to it. I think we often need people outside the culture who can bring to it an outsider's view that perhaps throws into focus things that insiders can't say...
You're seeing in Mexico a fascinating thing that's been happening for the past twenty years which I'll call a re-Mexicanization of Mexico. On that side of the border within the country itself in cosmopolitan society the sentiment was that everything that's Mexican is bad and that everything that's European is good. So the Mexican attitude in Mexico City was that well I don't want mescal. My great grandfather used to drink that and he's poor. He's like gimme a Pinot Grigio and I'll have some risotto with that. So even on that side you're seeing restaurant tours going: no we're not going to get wagyu beef. Why not? We're going to serve grasshoppers because that's what we've always had... I don't think any one Mexican can claim to know this is the one true iteration of this"
So because black people are bad at marketing and don't bother marketing it in a trendy way, it's white people's fault because 'cultural appropriation'

Are the Rich Really Less Generous Than the Poor? - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "[On a real rather than laboratory experiment comparing the honesty of the rich and the poor] The rich returned way more than the poor — in fact, they returned twice as much. Return rates of the rich were roughly 80 percent and return rates of the poor were roughly 40 percent... the non-cash envelopes were also not returned by the poor families [even though they wouldn't benefit from keeping them]... the envelopes that the rich got were being returned much faster than the envelopes of the poor folks...
STOOP: We, then, need a theoretical model, to map behavior to preferences. We model it as follows: a household returns an envelope if A (its altruism towards Joost, the intended recipient of the card) minus N (the neediness of the contents of the envelope) minus P (the financial pressure, the stress costs) is greater than zero. When altruism outweighs the neediness (N) and the stress (P), then the household returns the envelope. With the data that we have, we can actually estimate the A, the N [and] the P.
ANDREONI: When we account for those, what we find is that the basic tendency to want to do the right thing is the same for the rich and the poor. But it’s the fact that rich and poor affects these other aspects of the decision and affects the outcome.
STOOP: What we find is, not surprisingly, that the N differs between the rich and the poor. Meaning that the poor need the money [more] than the rich. Also, in line with this relatively new literature on financial stresses of the poor, we find that P, the financial pressure, is greater for the poor for the rich. Then we have A, altruism, and we find that these are the same between the rich and the poor. I consider this to be really a hardcore economic insight. As economists, we always say that incentives shape behavior, and this is another example of that. There are many other studies that look only at behavior. So far, it seems as if our study is the only study that has disentangled behavior from preferences."
Do preferences really mean anything if they are not expressed in behavior?

Portland Stabbing Survivor Blames City for 'White Savior Complex', Says Women the Real Victims - "Micah Fletcher, the lone survivor of the Portland train stabbing has denounced people who have donated money to support him and the families of the two other men who were fatally injured in the violent attack. A lone suspect, Jeremy Christian, is alleged to have stabbed the three men when they attempted to calm him down during an anti-Muslim rant at two young women on the train... Fletcher insists that the real victims are the women, who he says must be traumatized from being targets of hate, and from the deaths of the two men who tried to intervene."

California Democrats Just Voted for Single-Payer Healthcare But Have No Idea How to Pay for It| Heat Street - "During the debate over the bill, Democrats nakedly admit that ObamaCare has left millions without insurance due to coverage gaps or spiking premiums... And don’t think the state can simply tax its way to a single-payer utopia. California currently has the highest sales tax and top marginal income tax rate in the country. Don’t bother squeezing the stones for more blood, either. Remember: Around five million people left the state in the last 10 years (600,000 decide red Texas was more hospitable). Free healthcare or not, people want out."

We Happily Invent New Crimes to Punish Men, But Ignore the Real Criminals - "the 52 other “hate incidents” – which were not criminal offences – included name calling, tweets, or even women overhearing offensive jokes. You read that right: “hate crime” data in the United Kingdom includes women not liking jokes that maybe weren’t even directed at them. Which is itself funny, in a “laugh or cry” kind of way... to date there has been not a single prosecution for FGM in all of the UK, even though there were 5,500 cases reported in 2016 alone... I headed to the city centre with one aim – if I saw random packs of men harassing women, I would give them a taste of their own medicine... In four hours, the only arguably inappropriate thing I saw was a group of three refreshed young women squeezing a buff man’s (highly admirable) pecs. He objected so much that he posed for selfies. Nowhere did I see a single man grope or wolf whistle a woman. Not even a single “get your bits out for the lads!” Nothing."

Renowned 'Food Science Expert' Says Feminism Is Making Everybody Fat - "“It’s certainly been fuelled by the fact women work and that we have changed things and we have allowed this huge change to happen,” she said... Boycott also says that she and other feminists shamed some women out of doing things like preparing meals for their family. “I said ‘don’t cook, don’t type. You’ll get ahead.’ We lost it. Schools gave up cooking. Everyone gave up cooking.”"

Belgian city to become first in world to go veggie... but only once a week - "Ghent's officials, in co-operation with Belgium's national vegetarian organisation, EVA (Ethical Vegetarian Alternative), is adopting Thursdays as a vegetarian day for officials and - from September - for the city's schoolchildren too."

Impact of Fathers on Parental Monitoring of Daughters and Their Affiliation With Sexually Promiscuous Peers: A Genetically and Environmentally Controlled Sibling Study. - "Girls who receive higher quality fathering engage in less risky sexual behavior (RSB) than their peers... higher quality fathering may decrease daughters’ engagement in RSB by increasing the amount of parental monitoring that they receive and decreasing their affiliation with peers who promote RSB"

When Doctors Admit Bias, Patients Are More Likely to Trust Them - "specialty bias occurs in all areas of medical expertise. One survey, for example, found that 79 percent of male surgeons would choose surgery if they were diagnosed with clinically localized prostate cancer while 92 percent of radiation oncologists would choose radiation therapy under the same circumstances. Specialty bias is unavoidable, and while the practice of surgeons spontaneously disclosing their biases is undertaken in earnest, it may not only be ineffective but actually is likely to backfire on the physicians’ intentions"

40 Years of STAR WARS: Why KOTOR Worked and How BioWare Has Changed - "Let’s face it: BioWare has changed. Most of the original developers have either moved on to greener pastures or are busy making their own beer. We could spend all day blaming the EA buyout, but what’s important is the legacy this company left behind. Games like KOTOR need to be studied. They represent important milestones in gaming history, essential innovations that revolutionized the way we play games today. Hopefully, BioWare recaptures the passion and dedication that made their classic games so great. Until then, we’ll always have KOTOR."

Liberal Bias in Social Psychology: Personal Experience II

Liberal Bias in Social Psychology: Personal Experience II

"Anyway, one of my former graduate students and current collaborators, Dr. Jarret Crawford, has been at the forefront of exposing bias in the ways ideological biases have been studied by (overwhelmingly) liberal social psychologists. He led a study examining whether liberals or conservatives showed more bias in their evaluations of scientific articles. This is a hot topic because liberals (including but not restricted to liberal social psychologists) are so often appalled at conservatives supposed anti-scientific views (see my previous posts on why this view is so highly overstated and also on why conservative skepticism about science is often more well-justified than liberal trust in it).

In our study, people read either an article reporting research showing that affirmative action harmed African-Americans and an article reporting research showing that same sex relationships were just as healthy as heterosexual relationships OR they read an article reporting research showing that affirmative action was beneficial to African-Americans and an article reporting research showing that same sex relationships were not as healthy as heterosexual relationships. So, everyone read one “liberal” and one “conservative” article. Furthermore, everything about the articles was held constant, except the result, so there were no objective differences in the quality of research supporting the liberal or conservative conclusions.

The main question was: Who would be more biased in their judgments of the article, liberals or conservatives? People were asked to indicate how true they considered the article to be, and how biased they considered the author to be.

And the resounding answer was: Liberals were far more biased. Liberals viewed the articles reporting “liberal” results (affirmative action and same sex relationships are good) as truer and reflecting less author bias than the articles reporting “conservative” results. Conservatives, in contrast, viewed the truthfulness and bias in the articles as nearly identical, regardless of their results...

This should have been important “news” – even “counterintuitive news” given how much the received wisdom emphasized conservative bias (and, for better or worse, social psychology has long been enamored of such counterintuitive findings – although, as this story demonstrates, perhaps it is primarily counterintuitive findings that do not challenge the supposed moral or intellectual superiority of liberals that are so privileged).

We could not get this published. It was rejected at two separate journals. Finally, we decided to bag every mention of liberals being more biased than conservatives, and resubmitted it to another journal. This time, it was accepted. Now, even though the text does not mention finding that liberals were more biased than conservatives, the pattern is right there, in the data reported in tables and figures, for anyone to see. The paper shows that liberals are more biased than conservatives, at least when and how we studied it. Neither I nor Jarret would or did claim that such a pattern is always necessarily true. But it was true in our data. We were just not permitted to say so."

In other words, liberals are more biased than conservatives. And in the peer review process, the exact same article was rejected when framed as liberals being more biased (i.e. what is actually found) but accepted when it didn't explicitly report this key finding.

Links - 4th August 2017 (1)

Keeping Kids From Toy Guns: How One Mother Changed Her Mind - "We didn't always used to frown upon weapon play; children of the 1950s grew up steeped in television shows showing gun-toting heroes like the Lone Ranger, and toy soldiers and cowboy costumes were common playthings. But societal panic intensified in the wake of a spate of tragic school shootings in the 1990s, and a shift towards zero tolerance policies and regulating how children should play has been steadily increasing ever since. We've become so panicked about toy weapons that we are rewriting them out of our past. Jay Mechling, a professor at the University of California, Davis, recounts in The Journal of Play how surprised he was that an icon of postwar 1950s American childhood - the Daisy BB gun - was utterly absent, along with toy guns, when he visited the Strong National Museum of Play. The Daisy and toy replica guns had been nominated for inclusion in the museum's National Toy Hall of Fame multiple times, but protests against them by parents and teachers prevailed.* Toy guns were systematically being erased from the American cultural history of childhood. Although many of us in America worry that gun play desensitizes kids to violence, the research doesn't bear this out. In fact, it can actually help teach children to read each other's facial cues and body language, figure out their place in a group, and learn how to adjust their behavior in social settings. Play helps children learn how to signal each other: this is fantasy
This also applies to TV violence

If in doubt, add an egg. The 10 cooking tips everyone should know - "Meat and fish cooked on the bone will always have a deeper, more interesting taste than the equivalent fillets, and stocks made from bones will not only add flavour to your soups and sauces, but richness: a good stock should have a slightly wobbly consistency at room temperature thanks to the gelatine content (don’t worry, it will melt when you heat it up)."

Osaka Escort Erotic Massage Club - "This site is engaged in the education of our youth very seriously." (NSFW)"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Maths in the Early Islamic World - "A lot of people assume that it started because of the birth of this new religion Islam in Arabia. Whereas in fact for a whole century there was an Islamic dynasty the Umayyad where scholarship didn't really flourish. The Golden Age is really thought to have begun with the Abbasid dynasty... The Abbasids were very much influenced by Persian culture. And in Persia there was this long long tradition of scholarship and learning. And so they became obsessed with texts and books. So the Golden Age really began with a wonderful flourishing translation movement...
Algebra itself, all the way through the Islamic period, didn't have symbols. They had to wait for people like Descartes. So they were writing everything rhetorically, everything in prose. But that didn't slow them down in terms of doing algebra...
[On Indian numerals] We know that it had reached as far as Syria by the 600s because there's a lovely quote from a Syrian Christian bishop complaining about the Greeks thinking they know everything and the Indians are marvelous"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Seneca the Younger - "He got very into extreme philosophical practices. He adopted vegetarianism and his father thought that was rather a dangerous thing to do in case he was associated with an exotic religious sect and then might be subject to the Emperor Tiberius at the time was cracking down on exotic religions...
You can only show the virtue of mercy if you have the capacity to chop someone's head off. So mercy is always an autocratic virtue"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum - "People don't seem to realise... We're in a very cold period of time in earth history. We have ice at both poles. We have about 70m of sea level potential locked up in that ice and as we've looked back through the whole of geological history, it's very difficult to find any other period of time where we have ice at both poles"

BBC World Service - The Documentary, Wives Wanted in the Faroe Islands - "[On coming from Southeast Asia] When I step from the plane the first feeling I feel is the fresh air. I feel like I'm drowning because of the freshness of the air"

BBC World Service - The Documentary, Cathedral of the Fallen - "In nineteen fifty nine because Franco did not have enough people from the Nationalist Front to bury in the Valley of the Fallen, what he did was dispatch an order throughout Spain to remove the remains of those killed and bring them there without anyone's permission"

BBC World Service - The Documentary, #GrannyWisdom - "So I asked my great grandma... how she learned about sex and she said that she learned everything from her husband. And so I asked well how did he find out and she said oh when he was sixteen his family had a maid and she took him down the cellar and taught him"

Study: Walking Can Be as Good as Running - "The key to improved cardiovascular health, according to this study, is calorie expenditure, regardless of how it's expended. Runners aren't healthier by virtue of being runners -- they're just more efficient in their exercising. If you prefer walking, you can be just as well off, health-wise. "Assuming a slow jogging speed of a 12 minute mile, compared to a walking speed of 17 minute miles, you would need to walk about 50 percent further to expend the same energy as running," lead author Paul Williams explained to me. In terms of time, "you would need to walk for about twice as long.""

Laser technology uncovers 1,600-year-old Christian frescoes in Rome's biggest catacomb - "It is a myth that Christians buried their dead underground in secrecy, the academics said. The reason they dug catacombs was to accommodate thousands of dead bodies, while only paying tax on the surface area of the land. In the St Domitilla Catacombs, the Christians dug down to a depth of 100ft."

Statue of Dog Peeing Pops Up Near NYC's 'Fearless Girl' - "Gardega said the "Fearless Girl" wasn't made by some individual artist making a statement, but made by a billion-dollar financial firm trying to promote an index fund."

Why Hong Kong chefs age fish used in sashimi and sushi – just as good steaks are aged | South China Morning Post - "certain types of fish are refrigerated and aged to enhance the texture and taste, in the same way good steaks are aged for flavour and tenderness. While sushi cognoscenti were aware of this, chefs outside Japan rarely talked about it – until now."

Deep Learning Algorithm Rewrites Traditional Recipes for New Regions, Ingredients - "Imagine your favorite go-to recipe mutated to conform to the traditional methods and ingredients of any number of diverse regional food cultures. Consider, say, lasagne, but a sort of lasagne that's instead a naturally occurring part of Japanese or Ethiopian cuisine. Not "fusion," but something deeper—a whole rewriting of what a lasagne even is according to the culinary traditions of some other place"

Why China chose the German instead of English legal system | South China Morning Post - "civil law works very badly in dictatorships, where it politicises justice and leads to socially inefficient outcomes. There is strong evidence to show that when civil law is transplanted through colonisation into an environment with a bad government, it will lead to more abuse. Transplantation of common law does not suffer as much from this problem as the sovereign is less able to use the legal system for political purposes... The German system had a distinctive communitarian character. It was the product of the Prussian desire to build up a rational state bureaucracy and a strong military command in fear of Napoleonic France, and unite the many small states, principalities and cities in Bismarck’s Germany"

It’s not just Donald Trump: The Pope makes it a point to look miserable around visiting dignitaries - "It’s a treatment that Francis has given to a who’s who of foreign dignitaries. Irish president Michael Higgins, Jordan’s King Abdullah, Japan’s Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko and former U.S. president Barack Obama, among others, all came back from the Vatican bearing official portraits showing them standing next to a surprisingly disinterested pontiff. The Pope is essentially in the same boat as Queen Elizabeth II. As a non-partisan constitutional monarch, the Queen similarly has to avoid any sign that she’s giving special favour to any particular politician or visiting world leader."

Why Maajid Nawaz Refuses To Praise Didsbury Mosque For Speaking Out Against Isis - ""Surprise, surprise you happen to have the same sorts of speakers, with the same sorts of views that would sympathise with the same sorts of things that al Qaeda want to implement in their theocratic Caliphate. "So what you oppose ISIS, so what? That's like saying "I oppose Stalin but I support the Nazis" or else "I oppose Hitler but I support Stalin gulags""... "Until we can separate, until we can separate these extremists from our community, and isolate them, don't blame the rest of society for wondering whether every Muslim is an extremist, when our mosques are hosting the extremists themselves.""

Take the test: Feminist shenanigans or satire? - "Below are five stories about feminist antics. One is pure invention, the others are true. Can you tell which one is false?"

No, You’re Not More Likely to Be Killed by a Right-Wing Extremist than an Islamic Terrorist - "when these apologists for Islam get bored of claiming that jihadists are incessantly and inexplicably lying about their religious motivations, they invariably engage in the crass exercise of throwing around skewed data in a desperate attempt to deemphasize the danger posed by Islamic terror. As far as I can tell, this is not due to some well-meaning concern for people worrying unnecessarily, or to ensure that counter terrorism strategy is accurately focused upon the most serious threat, it seems rather to be a tactical attempt to prioritize the protection of odious 7th century folklore over the welfare of real human beings... Muslim adults comprise less than 1% of the U.S population, and yet according to this study, are responsible for a whopping 27% of the terrorism in the country. This is a significant overrepresentation among such a tiny minority and, as expected, is completely overlooked in this report...
they will be citing a report or article that contains most, if not all, of the below errors:
A tally which starts after the biggest terror attack committed on U.S. soil.
A tally which ends before the deadliest mass shooting on U.S. soil. (Both of these attacks were committed by jihadists.)
A tally which fails to include certain other jihadist and right-wing attacks.
A tally which misreports certain attacks as “right-wing” or “far-right”.
A report which fails to include figures for Americans killed abroad.
A report which ignores foiled plots.
A report which ignores the number of non-fatal casualties.
A report which is not calibrated to consider the disproportionate focus of counter-terror analysis on Islamic terrorism.
A report which is not calibrated to consider the disproportionate number of attacks by Muslim extremists in relation to their lack of prevalence as a minority group.
A report which conflates several disparate ideological motivations for non-Islamic terrorism by lumping them all into the “far-right” bracket.
A report which ignores all terror attacks outside of the United States...
Ironically, those of us concerned about the global impacts of Islam, are routinely accused of xenophobia and bigotry, often by the very same people who demand that we measure threat by ignoring Islamic terrorism in foreign states. They seem to be arguing that as long as jihadism is negligible in the good ole U.S. of A, then it’s as though the threat to “foreigners” in the rest of the world is of little to no concern. I must say, that sounds a lot like bigotry and xenophobia to me."

Watching movies with children: How my daughter’s screen habits changed my criticism. - "Watching P. grow into a very different kind of watcher than I am—less passive and analytic, more collaborative and engaged—has been a welcome stripping away of my own viewing habits and assumptions. I’d long presumed films should be watched from beginning to end; she’s happy to keep returning to one beloved scene, or watch a musical song by song, skipping all the dialogue in between, or watch the first half-hour of 101 Dalmatians 10 nights in a row."

Disney Kills Star Wars Game Without Telling Creator - "All in all, it's rough. I understand needing to reallocate resources (yes, even when you're a company of Disney's "that's no moon!"-level size), but treating developers poorly is a) classless and b) a crappy way to run a business."

BBC World Service - The Documentary, Subversion, Russia and the West - "What's so interesting here in Moscow is that almost everyone you speak to portrays Russia as the one on the defensive. It's the one under attack with the West trying to undermine its position, to stir up dissent. It's a refrain you hear from almost everyone you speak to now"

Fool Me Once | Tell Me Something I Don't Know - "Hands are really hard for everybody, and they always have been and that's why back in the day in the Renaissance, the Old Masters used to separate fee for each visible hand that would be depicted in the painting. And this would be spelled out in contracts before the painting was done. So if you were a wealthy patron that was commissioning a work of art and when you got the estimate back it seemed too high, the hands might be a place that you could skimp...
When Customs and Border Patrol seizes counterfeit goods they go back to the company whose products are being knocked off and they'll give them a choice of having the goods destroyed or they can be saved and used in the time of an emergency. So after Katrina the state of Mississippi tapped into this stockpile using prison labor to help sort and distribute the goods. Since seventy percent of the counterfeit goods originate in China it expedited things to teach the prisoners to read basic mandarin to speed up sorting all the boxes...
[On the Ghost Army in WWII] In their spare time they drew each other and they painted like the scenery: the bombed out villages and the whorehouses... they would create fake headquarters and pretend to be generals which was really fun because that was breaking all army regulations which they enjoyed a lot...
[On Brian the Wiz] He was offered a hundred thousand dollars to get breast implants and he did and he had to keep them in for a year. And he didn't like, he chest hair and everything it was anyway he did it and then as long as I knew him he never took him out because he always said it was really good for getting girls... I don't know if you guys know many magicians but they learn magic cause they're not naturally good with the ladies so. So anyway it was like hey can you believe it I have breast implants and the girls are like really and it was like an ice breaker I guess"

Under the Hood | Tell Me Something I Don't Know - "[On the popularity of kosher food products] Romaine lettuce for instance is infested with aphids... if you are a kosher certified restaurant you will have a rabbi or a trained individual in the back checking every broccoli floret, every cauliflower and every piece of lettuce... a large percentage of those who purchase kosher products do so because they have the impression of cleanliness... it pays for itself because you don't have to spend very much in total in order to be able to reach two percent of the market or five percent of the market and that's a win. The New York Times in 1975 did a study and the price for a consumer to purchase a kosher product, when you buy Coca Cola - how much are you as a consumer paying for the Orthodox Union that ubiquitous OU on the label? It is 6.5 millionth of a penny. So based on incremental sales, from a factory perspective it makes perfect sense... about sixteen percent of all kosher consumers are Muslims. It's actually beautiful. Now one of the few areas that imams and rabbis talk almost on a daily basis has to do in the food industry"

Money Money Money | Tell Me Something I Don't Know - "The ten dollar bill from the Cook Islands in the middle of the Pacific its famous for having the most R rated design in the history of currency. It's an image of a topless woman riding a shark...
[On the Radhanites] 'So can I ask Alana: where there is money there is fraud so how did you protect against that?'
'Beheadings. Yeah it was very seriously enforced and you couldn't marry off your daughter so if our house of Dubner didn't pay his debt his daughters and the daughters of everyone related to him wouldn't be able to marry. It was reputationally based money'"

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Links - 3rd August 2017 (2)

BBC World Service - The Documentary, A Soldier's Eye View of Afghanistan - "The Russians were better fighters than the Americans or the British on the ground. Western soldiers rely on technical equipment and modern technology and computer systems... They severely failed in the ground fight wherever we faced them. They cannot go anywhere without air power. Russians would go places without air power. They would land somewhere without any aerial support or tanks and they would spend the night."

Make Love and Lose Your Religion and Virtue: Recalling Sexual Experiences Undermines Spiritual Intentions and Moral Behavior - "sexual induction diminished spiritual behavioral intentions (Experiments 1 and 2), in particular among those with high individual disinhibition (Experiment 1), as well as behaviors of prosociality and integrity/honesty (Experiment 3). The effects were independent of individual religiousness/spirituality. These findings suggest that combining sexual pleasure with self-transcendence and moral perfection, even if a legitimate ideal, is not an easy enterprise."
Maybe sex cults are about the sex, not the religion

How Wealth Reduces Compassion - "luxury car drivers were more likely to cut off other motorists instead of waiting for their turn at the intersection. This was true for both men and women upper-class drivers, regardless of the time of day or the amount of traffic at the intersection. In a different study they found that luxury car drivers were also more likely to speed past a pedestrian trying to use a crosswalk, even after making eye contact with the pedestrian... participants who had spent time thinking about how much better off they were compared to others ended up taking significantly more candy for themselves--leaving less behind for the children... less affluent individuals are more likely to report feeling compassion towards others on a regular basis... upper class individuals are worse at recognizing the emotions of others and less likely to pay attention to people they are interacting with (e.g. by checking their cell phones or doodling)... Piff and his colleagues suspect that the answer may have something to do with how wealth and abundance give us a sense of freedom and independence from others"

Free pizza is a better way to motivate workers than paying them more money - "A slice of gooey cheese and tomato is a great incentive at the start of the working week but, ultimately, a 'Well done' from mission control comes out top... Early in the week, free pizza came top, with a 6.7 per cent increase in productivity over the control group, while a compliment from the boss saw an increase of 6.6 per cent, New York Magazine reported. Perhaps surprisingly, a cash incentive came third with 4.9 per cent. However, by day two, the money-motivated group performed 13.2 per cent worse than those in the control group. Over the course of the week, the cash bonus cost the company more and resulted in a 6.5 per cent drop in productivity."

An Anniversary of Shame - "What makes the observance of this 9/11 anniversary so enervating and even shameful is an acute sense of what might have been. According to some experts, the main conflict against Al Qaeda could have effectively ended in as little six months, by mid-to-late 2002, had the right decisions been made by our elected and appointed officials."

There Is a Male Engagement Ring - "Rolexes, I realized, are engagement rings for dudes—the main difference being that most women would absolutely buy a diamond solitaire for themselves but can't; men are free to buy a Rolex for themselves but just won't"

The Case for Having (or Pretending to Have) a Hot Ex - "Both male and female volunteers rated faces as more attractive, desirable, and dateable when paired with hot exes than when featured solo. While having a hot ex is a boost to your attractivess, having a homely one can hurt you. When volunteers spent more time looking at a potential mate’s unattractive partner, they were less interested in dating that person... There's an exception to this rule, and (as usual) it's hot women. While female volunteers downgraded otherwise hot men if they were paired with a dumpy partner, men gave high ratings to an attractive woman regardless of her partner's appearance. Women, generally the choosier and more cautious sex, are more likely than men to rely on social cues such as whether other women find the target guy attractive."

How the way we walk can increase risk of being mugged - "The way people move can influence the likelihood of an attack by a stranger. The good news, though, is that altering it can reduce the chances of being targeted."

Yes, There Are Pro-Life Atheists Out There. Here’s Why I’m One of Them - "if self-awareness is to be the dividing line, anyone unconscious or in a coma might not be considered a person, while those in a heightened state of awareness due to drugs would trump the rest of us. If we determine that the ability to suffer and feel pain is what counts, then any born person with Congenital Insensitivity to Pain can be stripped of equal rights and killed. If higher brain function or a greater degree of health are what matter, then anyone with a higher IQ or a greater longevity and health than your own should be free to decide that your unfortunate quality of life makes your existence not worth continuing. Only the pro-life position — that all human beings should be granted the common right to continue their lives as human persons, regardless of their age, stage, gender, sexual orientation, race, or physical form and abilities — is truly egalitarian and fair for all human beings"

How to Trick People Into Saving Money - "she got an email saying that a “prize savings” feature had been added to her card. If she kept some of her balance in a virtual “vault,” meaning that it would not show up in her available funds, she would be eligible to win a cash prize in a monthly drawing—up to $1,000. Every dollar in the MoneyCard Vault would equal an entry in that month’s drawing. This caught her interest. A prize would go a long way toward her being able to buy a car. It also made her focus on what all those “stash” requests were about. “Oh, cool, this can work as a savings account, too,” she remembers realizing. So when she got paid, she started setting aside “10 bucks, 20 bucks, whatever I could.”"

Hacking Traditional College Debate's White-Privilege Problem - "On March 24, 2014 at the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) Championships at Indiana University, two Towson University students, Ameena Ruffin and Korey Johnson, became the first African-American women to win a national college debate tournament, for which the resolution asked whether the U.S. president’s war powers should be restricted. Rather than address the resolution straight on, Ruffin and Johnson, along with other teams of African-Americans, attacked its premise. The more pressing issue, they argued, is how the U.S. government is at war with poor black communities. In the final round, Ruffin and Johnson squared off against Rashid Campbell and George Lee from the University of Oklahoma, two highly accomplished African-American debaters with distinctive dreadlocks and dashikis. Over four hours, the two teams engaged in a heated discussion of concepts like “nigga authenticity” and performed hip-hop and spoken-word poetry in the traditional timed format. At one point during Lee’s rebuttal, the clock ran out but he refused to yield the floor. “Fuck the time!” he yelled"
If you can't win, play by your own rules and call people who disagree racist

Every Every Every Generation Has Been the Me Me Me Generation - "For some visual evidence of this phenomenon, here is a century or so of culture writers declaring the youth to be self-obsessed little monsters"

How Online Shopping Makes Suckers of Us All - "Our ability to know the price of anything, anytime, anywhere, has given us, the consumers, so much power that retailers—in a desperate effort to regain the upper hand, or at least avoid extinction—are now staring back through the screen. They are comparison shopping us... The price of a can of soda in a vending machine can now vary with the temperature outside. The price of the headphones Google recommends may depend on how budget-conscious your web history shows you to be... the practice of setting a fixed price for a good or a service—which took hold in the 1860s—meant, in effect, a cessation of the perpetual state of hostility known as haggling... [consumers] loved deals so much that, to make sense of their behavior, economists were forced to distinguish between two types of value: acquisition value (the perceived worth of a new car to the buyer) and transaction value (the feeling that one lost or won the negotiation at the dealership)."

'Grit' Isn't That Great, Research Shows - "Gritty people stick with the task before them, but sometimes it’s at the expense of their own financial gain—and even overall performance"

Mary Otto, Author of 'Teeth,' on the Dentistry-Medicine Divide - "the dental profession really became a profession in 1840 in Baltimore. That was when the first dental college in the world was opened, I found out, and that was thanks to the efforts of a couple of dentists who were kind of self-trained. Their names were Chapin Harris and Horace Hayden. They approached the physicians at the college of medicine at the University of Maryland in Baltimore with the idea of adding dental instruction to the medical course there, because they really believed that dentistry was more than a mechanical challenge, that it deserved status as a profession, and a course of study, and licensing, and peer-reviewed scientific consideration. But the physicians, the story goes, rejected their proposal and said the subject of dentistry was of little consequence. That event is remembered as the “historic rebuff.” It's still talked about sometimes, not a lot, but it’s seen as a symbolic event and it’s continued to define the relationships between medical and dental education and medical and dental healthcare systems in funny ways"

Black Screen - see the dust! - "Click the above button to display black-screen in fullscreen mode so you can SEE THE DUST better and make your computer screen clean."

Tweeting From Left to Right - "We observed that information was exchanged primarily among individuals with similar ideological preferences in the case of political issues (e.g., 2012 presidential election, 2013 government shutdown) but not many other current events (e.g., 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, 2014 Super Bowl). Discussion of the Newtown shootings in 2012 reflected a dynamic process, beginning as a national conversation before transforming into a polarized exchange. With respect to both political and nonpolitical issues, liberals were more likely than conservatives to engage in cross-ideological dissemination"

High school graduation rates among children of same-sex households - "Children living with gay and lesbian families in 2006 were about 65 % as likely to graduate compared to children living in opposite sex marriage families. Daughters of same-sex parents do considerably worse than sons"

AWARE Singapore - Posts - "Right now, households cannot earn more than $1,500 if they want to apply for or keep rental housing. This is especially unrealistic for a single parent with one or more children. No one should have to choose between a roof over their heads and a better-paying job to give their children a better life. Our petition calls for an increase in the income cap for public rental housing, and setting it on a per-capita basis. #asinglelove"
Comment: "Why is the single mother always "dark"?The real stats say otherwise."
Response: "The comics are each primarily based on one of our research interviews (we spoke to 55 single mothers for our report). Those in turn are based on referrals to us from social workers and agencies, which were disproportionately ethnic minority. We sought to reflect the stories we collected; no other intention."
AWARE gets burned by SJW!

Faisal Saeed Al Mutar - Posts - "Why don't the articles that say "30,000 Muslims marched against ISIS" mention that they are AHMADYIA MUSLIMS who are not considered Muslims by many if not most Muslims around the world because they believe that there was a prophet that came after Mohamad? in fact, in one of the largest Islamic countries in the world (Pakistan), you can't even have a passport WITHOUT declaring (Qadyianis) which is derogatory term to describe Ahmadyis."

Police swoop on garden party where song mocking the death of Osama Bin Laden was played - "The force helicopter and 10 officers were sent to a home in Highdene Road, Cherry Hinton after a complaint from members of the public the music was too loud and people were allegedly shouting anti-Islamic abuse... “This is music which is well known which was put on YouTube when Bin Laden was killed by the British and American army. In the music there is no reference to colour, race, or religion. "The police then threatened to arrest everyone if we didn’t hand over our karaoke machine and mobile phone."

The scientific evidence for microaggressions is weak and we should drop the term, argues review author - "Personality having a hand in microaggression experience would also explain why some people from minority groups report no microaggressions when canvassed. The (limited) evidence that more ambiguous slights lead to more negative outcomes could also reflect the established psychological fact that in “weak” situations with no clear guidelines for action, people’s personality – in this case, their negative emotionality – tends to assert itself to fill in the interpretive gaps... Lilienfeld also suggests we all consider putting aside the word microaggression in favour of “perceived racial slight” – because we don’t yet understand the role of interpretation due to personality, and because it simply isn’t clear that those using microaggressions are showing aggression as we usually understand the word"

Microaggressions: Strong Claims, Inadequate Evidence - "The microaggression concept has recently galvanized public discussion and spread to numerous college campuses and businesses. I argue that the microaggression research program (MRP) rests on five core premises, namely, that microaggressions (1) are operationalized with sufficient clarity and consensus to afford rigorous scientific investigation; (2) are interpreted negatively by most or all minority group members; (3) reflect implicitly prejudicial and implicitly aggressive motives; (4) can be validly assessed using only respondents’ subjective reports; and (5) exert an adverse impact on recipients’ mental health. A review of the literature reveals negligible support for all five suppositions. More broadly, the MRP has been marked by an absence of connectivity to key domains of psychological science, including psychometrics, social cognition, cognitive-behavioral therapy, behavior genetics, and personality, health, and industrial-organizational psychology"

‘Voltron’ Fans Blackmail Studio with Leaked Photos, Demand Gay Romance

Fareed Zakaria: Liberals think they're tolerant, but they're not
The camp of bigots grows ever larger!

Jawi steps up Ramadan enforcement operations - "The Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) is stepping up enforcement operations during this Holy month of Ramadan. Its enforcement chief Wan Jaafar Wan Ahmad said this was being done in all the three federal territories — Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan. “On the first day yesterday, we caught three Muslims in the Sungai Besi area (here) for eating in public during day time. If Muslims are unable to observe the Ramadan fast because of illness fo age, it does not mean they can eat in public (during fasting hours),” he told Bernama. He added that action could be taken under shariah laws against offenders. First time offenders can be fined up to RM1,000 or jailed not more than six months or both, if convicted"

British Airways chaos and was cost cutting to blame? - "The airline and Mr Cruz have blamed the computer meltdown on a power failure. The vague explanation has been dismissed by aviation industry insiders as ‘moronic’. They said airlines made sure they survived power failures by using a system known as UPS – uninterruptible power supply. It means that if one mains power supply fails, the business switches automatically to a second supply... Mr Cruz made a controversial decision last year to shut down the airline’s British computer department with the loss of 700 jobs around the country."

BA's £150m outage was caused by someone turning computers on and off too quickly - "The engineer involved is reportedly from contractor CBRE Global Workplace Solutions, who are assisting the airline with its investigation... alternative power sources such as batteries and a generator also failed"

How plane meals differ in business class vs. economy

Gordon Ramsay reveals three golden rules for eating out - "The 50-year-old chef said customers should avoid specials, be suspicious of outlandish boasts and be prepared to haggle for their wine"

Academics take smart drugs prescribed to help ADHD to keep up with university work - "One in five academics are taking smart drugs to help them write difficult grant applications, a leading academic has claimed. Cambridge neuroscientist Dr Hannah Critchlow said that professors were increasingly using medication which was meant for Alzheimer's patients, narcoleptics or children with ADHD."
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