When you can't live without bananas

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Thursday, January 04, 2018

Links - 4th January 2018 (3)

The Famous Easter Island Heads Have Hidden Bodies

Why is Tajikistan imposing a dress code on its people? - "Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon has ordered a special commission to oversee an "appropriate" dress code for both men and women. This decision followed his Mother's Day speech in March in which criticised women for wearing "foreign" black clothing. The president was referring to the black Islamic dress that has become increasingly popular in Tajikistan despite his previous condemnations of it. His first criticism was voiced in 2015 after which a campaign against the hijab began with heads of institutions demanding that their employees not appear at work wearing one. Tajikistan, a former Soviet republic with a population of about 8 million, is a predominantly Muslim nation... "Wearing the hijab and blindly copying a culture that is foreign to us is not the sign of having high moral and ethical standards for women""

Burqa-wearing Muslim preacher says plucking eyebrows a sin - "The Saudi-trained Islamic College of Australia teacher, who converted to Islam 28 years ago, is weighing into a hot topic doing the rounds at Sunni workshops in western Sydney."

These Syrian Christians fled Muslim extremist harassment. Then they found it again in Germany. - "Bakhous was the only Christian among 10 Syrian refugees in a shared apartment assigned by German authorities. The others were devout Muslims who didn’t drink alcohol. “If you think beer is forbidden,” Bakhous says he replied, “Why did you come to Germany?” “We’re the majority in this house,” he says his roommate replied. “If you don’t like it, you can go.” Eventually he did... Open Doors Germany, a Christian organization, says it interviewed 200 Christian migrants from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan this year, and that 88 percent of them reported being targeted by other migrants because of their religion. Most people reported facing insults, but some reported physical attacks and even some death threats... Awad left for Germany, and says he ended up at a refugee shelter where the majority of the refugees were Sunni Muslims. Awad says he overheard some of them boasting that they weren’t fleeing persecution, but that they were there to spread political Islam in Europe."

The Saudi Solution: Accommodations are plentiful in the kingdom for Sunni Muslim migrants - "The KSA has many unique attractions for Sunni Muslims. To begin with, it has 100,000 high-quality, empty fiberglass tents that can house about 3 million people in Mina, just east of Mecca. Fireproof and air-conditioned, complete with toilets and kitchens, this unique resource is occupied a mere five days a year by pilgrims on the hajj. Comparing the KSA to the states of northern Europe, shows its many other advantages:
Geography: Much closer.
Climate: Hot.
Language: Arabic.
Economics: An insatiable need for labor.
Legal system: Reassuringly familiar.
Religion: Islam, Islam, Islam...
The Persian Gulf countries have been berated for not taking in "a single" Syrian refugee. Yet the Saudi authorities claim to have taken in 2½ million Syrians. How to explain this discrepancy? In part, the Saudis are lying. But also, in part, the GCC and other Arabic-speaking states such as Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria never signed the 1951 Refugee Convention (because they reject the convention's goal of resettlement as applied to Palestinians). Accordingly, they avoid using the term refugee, with its implication of permanence, and refer instead to guests, who stay only temporarily until they return home. How many Syrians have been allowed into Saudi? One study, by Lori Plotkin Boghardt of the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy, estimates they number in the "low hundreds of thousands," say 150,000. That's a small fraction of the over four million in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan – and just 5 percent of the migrants who could be housed just in Mina's splendid tents."

Why Don’t More Muslims Denounce Barbarism? - "As for blaming colonialism: the notion that Islam had a gentler side when the West showed up is totally inaccurate. As I documented in my book about Napoleon’s scientists in Egypt, when the French arrived in Egypt in 1800—the first large-scale interaction between the west and Islam in modern history—they were appalled at the treatment of women. Just one example: in his journals, Vivant Denon—who would go on to be first director of the Louvre—described encountering a woman in the middle of the desert with an infant on her back. Blood streamed down her face and a close look proved that both her eyes had been stabbed out. Denon wanted to give aid, but the locals told him her husband had merely meted out the approved punishment to unfaithful women... [Aslan's] little essay outrageously attempted to equate savage Islamist attitudes toward women—sanctioned wife-beating, deprivation of basic rights including the right to divorce and drive cars and inherit wealth—with recent allegations in the atheist world that women have been harassed in elevators at atheist conferences."
So much for blaming Westerners for all the regressive laws in the Arabic world

Wax Parlour Threatens to Sue Blogger To Remove Bad Review. The Email Is SO BAD It Will Go VIRAL - "Beauty blogger Charlotte Ashlene had a misadventure when she went to Deal.com.sg hoping to get a cheaper waxing deal. Despite having had a bad experience at one of its affiliated vendors before, she went ahead with this deal at La Belle Skin beauty parlour. To cut a long story short, her waxer was sloppy, and left some of the sticky wax on her lady bits.Apart from TMI-ing all of us in the blogosphere, it appears that the La Belle Skin beauty salon also got wind of this bad review. The company emailed the blogger in what appears to be the worse legal threat letter we have seen, which appeared to be composed on a Mobile phone no less. Apart from spelling her name wrong, this quote really takes the cake—”We have discuss [sic] with our company lawyer and we will use libel and slander legal definition of slander to sue you.”"

Singaporean couple renovates their HDB home into a European Museum
European palaces aren't so cramped

A Rich Neighbor Named Xerox - ""You're ripping us off!", Steve shouted, raising his voice even higher. "I trusted you, and now you're stealing from us!" But Bill Gates just stood there coolly, looking Steve directly in the eye, before starting to speak in his squeaky voice. "Well, Steve, I think there's more than one way of looking at it. I think it's more like we both had this rich neighbor named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it.""

Robert Mugabe could contest election as corpse, says wife - "Grace Mugabe has professed fierce loyalty to her husband, previously saying she would get him a wheelchair and push it for him so that he can continue to rule. Mugabe has declared he wants to live until he is 100 and rule for life"

Tesla’s Electric Cars Aren’t as Green as You Might Think - "Devonshire Research Group, an investment firm that specializes in valuing tech companies, dug into the data and concluded that Tesla’s environmental benefits may be more hyped than warranted. Devonshire isn’t saying that Tesla is pulling a Volkswagen, or that its cars are spewing greenhouse gases from invisible tailpipes. It’s arguing that Teslas (and, by extension, all electric vehicles) create pollution and carbon emissions in other ways. Each stage of an EV’s life has environmental impacts, and while they aren’t as obvious as a tailpipe pumping out fumes, that doesn’t make them any less damaging... “If you use coal-fired power plants to produce the electricity, then all-electrics don’t even look that much better than a traditional vehicle in terms of greenhouse gases... manufacturing an electric vehicle generates more carbon emissions than building a conventional car, mostly because of its battery”

There's a Wire Above Manhattan That You've Probably Never Noticed - "On the Sabbath, which is viewed as a day of rest, observant Jewish people aren't allowed to carry anything—books, groceries, even children—in public places (doing so is considered "work"). The eruv encircles much of Manhattan, acting as a symbolic boundary that turns the very public streets of the city into a private space, much like one's own home. This allows people to freely communicate and socialize on the Sabbath—and carry whatever they please—without having to worry about breaking Jewish law... New York City isn't the only metropolis in the U.S. with an eruv. They can also be seen (or not seen) in St. Louis, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, and numerous other cities across the country"

Abe Lincoln Leads to Healthy Eating, Marilyn Monroe to Sinful Snacking - "Sixty percent of kids who saw a photo of Lincoln chose a healthy snack afterward, but less than 30 percent of kids who saw Monroe did the same — they opted for candy"

Is It Sexist To Say That Women Are Superior To Men? - ""Women are not equal to men; they are superior in many ways, and in most ways that will count in the future. It is not just a matter of culture or upbringing. It is a matter of chromosomes, genes, hormones, and nerve circuits. It is not mainly because of how experience shapes women, but because of intrinsic differences in the body and the brain."... Konner, even while affirming that not all men are violent and not all women are nurturing, fearlessly advances his women's superiority thesis. Maleness is "a birth defect," he declares."
Imagine what would happen if someone said men were superior to women...

BAE ordered to pay £360k to secretary in sexism row after manager told her 'women take things more emotionally than men' - "A SECRETARY has been awarded a £360,000 sexism payout from her employers after a manager told her "women take things more emotionally than men"... the manager's comment plunged her into a mental breakdown... The then 52-year-old took sick leave with stress and and was sacked from her £22,000 a year job... The Tribunal either rejected or made no finding on 15 other sex discrimination complaints, but found that her dismissal had been unfair and an act of victimisation... BAE's legal team argued that to blame all her psychiatric problems on the manager's single comment "offended against all logic"."

By Percentage, Lesbians Sexually Assault More Than Campus Males - "'It has been estimated that between 17-45% of lesbians have been the victim of at least one act of violence perpetrated by a female partner (Burke et al, 1999; Lie et al, 1991), and that 30% of lesbians have reported sexual assault / rape by another woman (Renzetti, 1992).'
Taking the percentage fluctuation into account, those numbers are much higher than the embellished 1-in-5 stat tossed around by the Title IX exploiters, and the federal government has even taken notice... gay domestic violence appears to not only be at a higher rate than that of the male-on-female, “campus rape culture” epidemic, but it’s consciously under-reported by activists and their media because “victimization” is a big money business and something as irrelevant as LGBTQ “intimate partner” violence will not be allowed to turn off that (cash and sympathy) spigot... Nowhere in that advocacy Huffington Post piece is the issue of LGBTQ domestic violence even inferred"
"Patriarchy" is so powerful that it harms lesbians more than straight women

IT HAPPENED TO ME: I Waited Until My Wedding Night to Lose My Virginity and I Wish I Hadn't - "Sex hurt. I knew it would. Everyone told me it would be uncomfortable the first time. What they didn't tell me is that I would be back in the bathroom afterward, crying quietly for reasons I didn't yet comprehend. They didn't tell me that I'd be on my honeymoon, crying again, because sex felt dirty and wrong and sinful even though I was married and it was supposed to be okay now... Ten-year-old girls want to believe in fairy tales. Take this pledge and God will love you so much and be so proud of you, they told me. If you wait to have sex until marriage, God will bring you a wonderful Christian husband and you'll get married and live happily ever after, they said. Waiting didn't give me a happily ever after. Instead, it controlled my identity for over a decade, landed me in therapy, and left me a stranger in my own skin. I was so completely ashamed of my body and my sexuality that it made having sex a demoralizing experience. I don't go to church anymore, nor am I religious. As I started to heal, I realized that I couldn't figure out how to be both religious and sexual at the same time. I chose sex. Every single day is a battle to remember that my body belongs to me and not to the church of my childhood. I have to constantly remind myself that a pledge I took when I was only 10 doesn't define who I am today. When I have sex with my husband, I make sure it's because I have a sexual need and not because I feel I'm required to fulfill his desires"

How our immune systems could stop humans reaching Mars - "“The results showed that in weightlessness, the immune system acts like it does when the body is infected because the human body doesn’t know what to do and tries to turn on all possible defense systems,” said Professor Evgeny Nikolaev, of Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and theSkolkovo Institute of Science and Technology... astronauts who travelled into deep space on lunar missions were five times more likely to have died from cardiovascular disease than those who went into low orbit, or never left Earth. Astronauts are fitter than the general population and have access to the best medical care, meaning that their health is usually better than the general population. Those of comparable age but who never flew, or only achieved low Earth orbit, had less than a one in 10 chance of death from cardiovascular disease. But the chance of death rose to 43 per cent for those who reached the Moon or deep space, probably because of the impact of deadly space radiation."

Can less be more? Comparing duration vs. frequency of sexual encounters in same-sex and mixed-sex relationships - "While the sexual frequency data replicated past findings, with female same-sex couples reporting the lowest sexual frequencies, sexual duration data painted a very different picture, with female same-sex couples reporting significantly longer durations spent on individual sexual encounters than men and women in mixed-sex or male same-sex relationships"

Britain's youngest sex swap patient reveals why she's undergoing surgery to switch gender for the third time - "Ria – who was born Brad – became ­Britain’s youngest sex-swap patient at 15. Doctors controversially backed her belief she was a girl in a boy’s body. She was given blockers to stop her going through puberty, followed by injections of female hormones to impede face and chest hair and trigger the formation of breasts. But with her life spiralling out of control as she struggled with her new identity – and the fears of never being accepted as a woman – Ria decided to transition back and live her life instead as a gay man. Before having crucial surgery, she ended her treatment and became Brad again soon after her 18th birthday. It turned her into the unwitting poster boy for those who claimed teenagers were too young to be given gender reassignment. But five years on Ria is more certain than ever that is not the real her – and is making her second attempt at becoming a woman to have the future she always dreamed of."
So she's needed to do the Orwellian rewriting of the past thrice?

Great White Shark v Killer Whale: The two deadliest sea titans are now waging war on each other - ""Once the shark is at the surface, the killer whale pivots and lifts its tail out of the water and comes down on top of it like a karate chop,” she said. The shark’s fatty liver can weight more than 60kg and is rich in organic chemicals that make it a perfect food source for killer whales. Alison Towner, a biologist from the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, said: “They work together and are very co-ordinated. "Two orcas take a pectoral fin in their mouth and pull open a shark together to extract the liver.”... There are only two predators alive that are bigger than killer whales – the sperm whale and the giant squid. These two giants are locked in an equally titanic struggle as sperm whales eat giant squid, often suffering horrendous scars from the squid’s tentacles as it lashes out in self-defence."

And now for something completely different - SWGOH

Links - 4th January 2018 (2)

‘Did it for family’: Two women charged for stripping on Facebook Live - "“But I really had to support my family. I have a mother and a younger sibling who needs tuition. I don’t have enough income,” she added"

UC Berkeley Battles Students Over 'Offensive' Building Names - "“Many were hopeful” when the university said it would review building names in the wake of concerns about Barrows Hall, “but more than a year later, the committee tasked with reviewing building names instead simply recommended creating yet another committee,” the paper said, claiming that nearly every building on Berkeley's campus honored a "racist."... Barrows was the superintendent of schools in Manila while the Philippines was under American control, and went on to serve as Berkeley's president for a brief time in the early 20th century. Little of his work is considered "white supremacist," but apparently, his mere appearance in the Philippines during a time of colonization is enough to tarnish him for eternity. But, it also turns out that the student-proposed solution to the "Barrows problem" was just as problematic. According to Campus Reform, the kids wanted Barrows Hall renamed after Assata Shakur (also known as Joanne Chesimard), a member of the Black Panthers who was convicted of murdering a police officer in 1977, escaped prison and now lives in exile in Cuba. The FBI lists Shakur as a "domestic terrorist" and a member of the "extremist group," the Black Revolutionary Army."

Hawker reveals why Indian-Muslim mee goreng is red - "“The red colour gives the impression that the dish is spicy, and eating with that perception in mind will somehow make the dish taste nicer,” said the 41-year-old, whose customers are commonly Malay. “Malays like spicy food,” said Rahim, who has applied the same strategy to other dishes such as the mutton chop. And thanks to improvements made to food colourings over the years, the mee goreng is a lot redder today than it was in the past."

Portland Police Are Erasing Gang Database After Complaints That It's Mean To Gang Members - "The move appears to be done in the name of political correctness. Many agencies throughout the nation have gang member databases, and they are an invaluable investigative tool for officers, including officer safety. The gang database would alert officers when they were out with a known gang member, and that database is now going away. The database was also used to send social workers to try to work with the gang members to get them out of gangs."
Addendum: If you have no data, you can't claim there's a problem. Brilliant.

Sacramento City Council Votes Unanimously To Pay Gang Members $1.5 Million To Not Kill People - "The program pays gang members to graduate school and stop shooting at people. If a gang member wants to start killing people, they’ll be forfeiting their taxpayer-funded payday"

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant Calls Two Officers 'Racist Murders,' So They Sue - "Two Seattle Police Officers are suing city councilmember Kshama Sawant after she publicly called them “racist murderers” after they were forced to shoot Che Taylor in 2016, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit, reported by Safe Seattle, states that in addition to calling the officers murderers, she also said that the shooting was the result of “racial profiling” despite overwhelming evidence that this was not the case."

The Double Blue Pill Can Be An Insidious Weapon Of Reaction - "Take old Atticus Finch, the iconic defense lawyer from To Kill a Mockingbird. The story is set in depression-era Alabama, where a young white girl and her father falsely accuse a black man of raping her. A literature teacher may include the book in his syllabus in order to advance a narrative about the evils of racism. But now introduce the concept of “rape culture” into the discussion and you’ve turned things on their head. Atticus Finch is no longer the brave, color-blind attorney upholding the law in the face of systemic racism: he is complicit in a patriarchal society that “blames the victim.” The knife of the double blue pill will cut very deep. Not only will double blue pilling expose the absurdity of any type of argument offered by social justice warriors, in their attempts to refute your arguments they will attack other aspects of social justice. They will eat each other. Since you really have no vested interest in the argument, the more heated it gets, the more entertained you are... the temptation to argue honestly with thoroughly dishonest people is likely to be a person’s undoing. By using the double blue pill counter to social justice advocacy, one does not set off alarm bells in the Marxist thought police. It is also useful in the office-type environment with liberal Nazi human resources departments. Any type of action to counter you is an actual attack on social justice itself, just a different aspect of its broad coalition of victims"
This sounds a lot like intersectionality!

Genetics, Fear, and the Slippery Slope of Moral Authoritarianism - "this last cautionary tale—that of using genetics to advance stereotypes—ultimately led to what appeared to me to be censorship and moral indoctrination. My program was shrouded in this fear like a cloud. Like Google’s motto, “Don’t be evil”, what was evil was assumed and any utterances out of step with certain assumptions were silenced—their holders punished... the cold, shaming signals I received within the genetics community began to make sense. Genetics, I began to see, has a tribal culture, interlaced with post-modern thinking about race, gender, and intelligence. The mark of the post-modern tinge being the taboo nature of these otherwise academic topics. If you touch these topics, the gods (your peers) may punish you, even if you strive by your occupation to reduce inequalities, are an equal opportunity feminist, and think differences in intelligence matter socially but don’t constrain a person’s innate worth as a human being... what our majority needs to protect against is the horror that we can’t see so clearly—normal people, sanctioned by the majority, committing atrocities not yet recognized by the majority as harms. This is why we must tolerate the voices of dissent and, in particular, dissent against core values, the values that make groups take up moral crusades. For this reason, Google should end its shunning and offer back to Damore his job. Far from Damore’s words being a threat to diversity, they protected diversity in Silicon Valley from the creeping boxed thinking that sets communities up for moral malaise... ideas are best addressed by facing them, not by ousting members with ideas deemed contentious. Engaging on the battlefield of ideas is how we balance and protect each other."

Is It Time to Break Up Google? - The New York Times - "Brandeis wanted to eliminate monopolies, because (in the words of his biographer Melvin Urofsky) “in a democratic society the existence of large centers of private power is dangerous to the continuing vitality of a free people.” We need look no further than the conduct of the largest banks in the 2008 financial crisis or the role that Facebook and Google play in the “fake news” business to know that Brandeis was right. While Brandeis generally opposed regulation — which, he worried, inevitably led to the corruption of the regulator — and instead advocated breaking up “bigness,” he made an exception for “natural” monopolies, like telephone, water and power companies and railroads, where it made sense to have one or a few companies in control of an industry. Could it be that these companies — and Google in particular — have become natural monopolies by supplying an entire market’s demand for a service, at a price lower than what would be offered by two competing firms? And if so, is it time to regulate them like public utilities? Consider a historical analogy: the early days of telecommunications."

Pope Francis Breaks Tradition and Stuns Thousands With Bold Move - "he bowed down in front of the crowd at St. Peter’s Basilica and confessed his sins to an ordinary priest, Reuters reported. Typically, the pope goes to confession in private, so his decision was a departure from the past."

The London escalator trial shows how our fear of change defeats logic | Masuma Rahim - "Transport for London’s novel solution to the congestion at the station makes perfect sense and, during a trial last November, it cut congestion at peak times by 30% - but commuters weren’t happy, and many chose to defy the change, sticking to their old habits. TfL staff had the unenviable task of trying to ensure several thousand commuters obeyed the new “standing-only” rule, and despite their best efforts, there were the inevitable renegades... Volkswagen teamed up with the marketing agency DDB Stockholm to try to encourage behaviour change through incentives. Unsurprisingly, people were 66% more likely to take the stairs than the escalators if the staircase was turned into a giant set of piano keys. Essentially, if you can motivate people to change based on an intrinsic motivation, you’re probably going to have more success"

Islam has made London a more conservative place than it was 50 years ago - "The new conservatism of London has already had profound effects, as demographic changes gather pace. Stonewall’s bus adverts, for example, would be better concentrated in Tower Hamlets, where there were 47 anti-gay attacks in 2008, rather than being wasted on the rest of us. Young gay men in the provinces no longer need to run away to London, one of the most religiously conservative places in England now (and not just among Muslims – African Christians too)... the Tate Gallery refused to exhibit John Latham’s conceptual piece God is Great, originally made in 1991, which featured a six-foot high plate of glass with a Talmud, Bible and Koran. It said it would not be "appropriate" following the London bombings. Latham was in the avant garde of 1960s art, where freedom to criticise and mock religion went without saying; 50 years later London is a very different place in many, many ways."

London Metropolitan University's alcohol-free zone plan - "Professor Malcolm Gillies, the vice chancellor of London Metropolitan University, said "cultural sensitivity" was the reason behind the proposal"

'It is only a matter of time before a Muslim student is physically assaulted' - Muslim students condemn university alcohol ban - "We find your recent comments regarding banning alcohol on university premises being based on religious grounds as an attack not only on the values we hold, but also on the values of the wider non-Muslim community. Your comments clearly showed that the alcohol ban you proposed is based on gross generalisation about the views of Muslim students"

Islamic State sent Istanbul mass murder jihadi three women as reward for butchery - "In some sections of Islam it is understood that those who die in the name of God are gifted 72 virgins upon reaching heaven. While Mashaipov was clearly the recipient of a reward without having to give his life in the name of his religion, it is not clear if the women sent to him were virgins"

Maryam Namazie and the Shame of the Pro-Islamist Left - "The dismal spectacle of radical queer activists, feminists, and sundry other progressives, professing solidarity with Islamists is at once fascinating and enraging. Whatever kind of higher education survives in ISOC’s utopian caliphate, it’s certain that no feminist or LGBTQ+ societies will be permitted to exist. But for radical university students in the West, their lives of almost unparalleled opportunity, privilege, and comfort are a source of considerable guilt and anxiety. So conspiratorial notions of omnipresent oppression have been contrived against which they oblige themselves to struggle. This idea is supported by claims that liberal democracy is a sham, that objectivity is illusory, and that reason is elitist. And since all that makes rational discussion virtually impossible, debates about ideas are transformed into competing professions of woe, decided by whoever turns out to be subject to the greater degree of structural oppression... Namazie is a woman, an Iranian (and thus a “person of color”), an ex-Muslim, a feminist, and a campaigner for secularism and human rights. And yet apparently she still hasn’t collected enough oppression points to outbid theocratic fascist males, conversant in the hand-holding jargon currently fashionable on the Tumblr Left... In late 2013, a scandal erupted when it was revealed that advocacy organization Universities UK had published diversity advice (since withdrawn) recommending segregation of audiences by gender at Islamist events on campus. The New Statesman’s Laurie Penny, a young feminist writer who has built a career on radical self-disgust, protested in the Guardian that she could hardly be expected to condemn religious gender apartheid while women remained under-represented at the top levels of the academy. “Horror stories about Muslim misogyny,” she added, “have long been used by western patriarchs to justify imperialism abroad and sexism at home”."
Whataboutery is okay if liberals do it

Islamic Islamophobia: When Muslims Are Not Muslim Enough, What Does It Promise for the Rest of Us? - "There is so much attention paid to the idea of "Islamophobia" in the country that many people -- including some Muslim groups -- immediately assumed that the killing of Asad Shah was an "Islamophobic" murder. It turned out, however, that the man who had been detained by police -- and this week sentenced to a minimum of 27 years in prison for the murder -- was also a Muslim. Mr Shah was an Ahmadiyya Muslim -- that is, a member of the peaceable Islamic sect which is dismissed as "heretical" by many Muslims. Mr Shah's murderer, on the other hand, was a Sunni Muslim, Tanveer Ahmed, who had travelled up from Bradford to kill Mr Shah because he believed Mr Shah had "disrespected the Prophet Mohammed." At this point the comfortable narratives of modern Britain began to fray... What happened this week in court when Tanveer Ahmed was found guilty and sentenced for the murder of Asad Shah was even more revealing. After the judge read out the sentence, Tanveer Ahmed raised his fist and started shouting in Arabic "There is only one prophet." Supporters, who made up around half the people in the public gallery, joined in with his cries. All of which made it understandable that the family of Mr Shah had been too terrified to turn up in court during the trial of their relative's murderer, and are apparently planning to leave Scotland."

Erdoğan's One-Man Islamist Show: Dateline - "A recent survey by Kadir Has University in Istanbul suggests that a substantial number of Turks are fully aware of the current trajectory. The survey found that 56.5 percent of Turks do not think Turkey is a democratic country while 36.1 percent think it is. Similarly, 59 percent think that there is no freedom of thought while 33.1 percent said there is. A mere 9 percent of Turks think there "definitely" is a free press in the country although another 31.3 percent agree to some extent. These numbers leave almost 60 percent who are sure they no longer have these civil liberties. More alarmingly, when narrowed down to AKP voters—49.5 percent according to the November 2015 elections—the study finds that these Turks do not care all that much about democratic values... nearly half of AKP voters do not think they live in a democratic country but are happy to vote for the party anyway, without blaming it for the democratic deficit"

Islam needs to invest in people and universities, not mosques - "The discourse on Islam as we know it today has been hijacked by Islamist militants. Their actions and narrative have had the power to frame Muslims the way the militants want them to be in the media. The remaining 99 per cent of Muslims have been a silent majority and have done very little to resist or change that perception. Part of the reason might be that much of the debate in the Islamic world today is prehistoric. From Pakistan and India to the edges of the Islamic world, Islamic councils are more concerned with questions related to women's dress and piety than with talking about science, technology and innovation. The counter narrative is nonexistent... I had the opportunity to attend a fundraiser hosted by an Islamic organisation in Australia. To my surprise, in a matter of four hours, the organisation raised more than $2 million to build yet another mosque. The organisation's head said at the event he was committed to building a mosque every two miles in Australia... For too long, the discourse has been focused on building mosques, instead of universities. That's one reason it isn't a surprise that throughout the Muslim world we see beautifully decorated mosques, but not a single university worthy to be seen as one of the world's top universities. Unless the Muslim world and the Muslim communities living in the West reprioritise and start investing in people and scientific knowledge with their oil wealth or charity, the field will remain wide open for militant-minded individuals to carry the flag of Islam."

CAIR: Islamists Fooling the Establishment :: Middle East Quarterly - "The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), headquartered in Washington, is perhaps the best-known and most controversial Muslim organization in North America... The Department of Homeland Security refuses to deal with it. Senator Charles Schumer (Democrat, New York) describes it as an organization "which we know has ties to terrorism." Senator Dick Durbin (Democrat, Illinois) observes that CAIR is "unusual in its extreme rhetoric and its associations with groups that are suspect." Steven Pomerantz, the FBI's former chief of counterterrorism, notes that "CAIR, its leaders, and its activities effectively give aid to international terrorist groups." The family of John P. O'Neill, Sr., the former FBI counterterrorism chief who perished at the World Trade Center, named CAIR in a lawsuit as having "been part of the criminal conspiracy of radical Islamic terrorism" responsible for the September 11 atrocities. Counterterrorism expert Steven Emerson calls it "a radical fundamentalist front group for Hamas." Of particular note are the American Muslims who reject CAIR's claim to speak on their behalf... Kamal Nawash, head of Free Muslims Against Terrorism, finds that CAIR and similar groups condemn terrorism on the surface while endorsing an ideology that helps foster extremism, adding that "almost all of their members are theocratic Muslims who reject secularism and want to establish Islamic states."... Perhaps the most obvious problem with CAIR is the fact that at least five of its employees and board members have been arrested, convicted, deported, or otherwise linked to terrorism-related charges and activities."

Tom Holland: We must not deny the religious roots of Islamic State - "The truth is that in Islam today, as in Christianity during the Reformation, the spectrum of those who practise the faith is widening to convulsive effect. Hasan’s dismissal of two Isis recruits from Birmingham as “religious novices” echoes the horror of Catholic scholars such as Thomas More at the pretensions of Protestant tailors and tinkers. Just as in the early 16th century the printing press and the efforts of translators such as Luther and Tyndale served to democratise knowledge of the Bible, so in the 21st century has the ready availability on the internet of the Quran and the hadiths in the vernacular enabled rappers, security guards and schoolgirls all to bandy scripture. To complain that quranic verses which mandate crucifixion or beheading are being cited without reference to the traditions of Islamic jurisprudence is to miss the point. It is precisely because Isis militants imagine themselves the equivalent of Muhammad’s companions, blessed with an unadorned understanding of God’s commands, that they feel qualified to establish a caliphate"

Dating in NUS


"#20714: With the recent discussions regarding local girls vs foreign girls, I would like to share my experience hooking up with both local and exchange students in NUS. I hope to remain as objective as possible while sharing my experiences. I graduated recently in 2015. I am a Singaporean guy, straight. I consider myself to be average looking.

When I entered uni, I found it quite difficult to hook up in Campus. I was having more luck with girls during my NS days. I stayed at PGP throughout my uni life, which was essentially a dead place. My guy friends from halls invited me frequently for drinking sessions with their friends. I recall being touchy with several girls during the drinking and clubbing after. Most Hall girls are cute and have this bubbly vibe. I found them adventurous and fun in general. Once after clubbing, this girl brought me back to her room at KR. Before entering her room, I excused myself to the bathroom to freshen up. When I stepped into her room, she had changed out of that cute dress she was wearing, into her FBTs and singlet. This unfortunately, was a turnoff for me. For me, foreplay is important as it enhances that sensual environment. We tried making out, but she was too tipsy from the way her body moved. I left shortly after tucking her into bed. That was the closest I got to hooking up the whole semester.

The following semester, I took two classes at U-town. I was surprised to see so many exchange students there. I found the girls to be friendly as they would say hi to me in Lectures and often smile casually at me. However, I always felt that Caucasian girls were not my type even though some were attractive and very good looking. One afternoon, I spotted this really cute girl at the U town Bus stop, Golden hair, petite with beautiful eyes. After contemplating for a good 5 minutes, I approached her, introduced myself and started a conversation. She was from Sweden, very friendly and spoke good English. I managed to get her number and suggested that I'd take her out for dinner that weekend. We had several drinks after dinner and ended up having sex at her U-Town residences. The sex was really awesome and she was very confident in bed. Both of us were clear that this wasn't a serious relationship and continued to remain friends till she left for her home country. We hooked up several times after that as well.

She introduced me to her circle of friends who were mostly exchange students. They often partied during the weekends which was how I managed to meet more exchange students. During a party at MBS, (not sure why exchangers love MBS so much) I met this exchange student from the US. We kept flirting and I finally brought her back to my room at PGP. She was very active during sex, especially during foreplay. I found her to be more creative in bed. We hooked many times throughout the semester and during the holidays, where we took a short trip to Hong Kong together. She has a boyfriend back in the states, but they were taking a break during her exchange I pitied my PRC neighbour at PGP, a pleasant guy who seemed studious and probably had to put up with the noise.

The following year, Tinder became popular. This app changed my life. Those who use Tinder in U-Town will know how many options are available. I was getting laid more than I had expected with both locals and exchange students, to the point where I had to turn down hook-ups. Although I must admit, girls on Tinder are always turning down hook-ups as well. I increased my circle of friends, and my sex-life got better.. My female friends from NUS, many of whom I met during sec sch and JC were also interested in my guy exchange friends. I brought them along for parties, and they brought their female friends. One of whom I hooked up with.

The Stereotype that Asian Guys are unattractive and can't get Caucasian is not entirely true. I often joked about this Stereotype with exchange students whom I've slept with. Many of them find Singaporean guys to be cute and generally well-mannered. However, very unapproachable. Most of my hook-ups told me that I am the first local guy that has approached them. An exchange friend of mine said that she once complimented a cute local guy on his jacket during lecture. He thanked her in a serious manner, blushed and looked away the whole time while his friends giggled and poked fun at him throughout the lecture. Another Swiss exchange student of Japanese descent told me that she had a huge crush on her TA and kept flirting with him after class. He did not reciprocate (probably because he was a TA). My exchange friend from Italy who was insanely hot and always getting hit on by other exchange guys, found a Singaporean guy in our tutorial class extremely attractive. He wasn't handsome in my opinion, short, skinny with that nerdy vibe.. According to her, he made intelligent comments during tutorials and it seemed like he "knows what he's doing". Many of my other female exchange friends found it difficult to approach local guys, even if it's just to make friends. This results in them hanging out with other exchange students as opposed to locals. Believe me, many exchange girls I met during parties have asked me to introduce them to my Singaporean guys friends. In short, Singaporean guys just don't approach exchange girls.

I am not saying that foreign girls are better than local girls. In fact, I find many Singaporean girls super chio and hot, and great in bed. My point is, instead of arguing over which race or nationality is better, learn to appreciate all types of people from different backgrounds. If you intend to sleep around, just make it clear from the start that you aren't into anything serious. Hurting a girls feelings is a huge no. Many exchange students are looking for serious relationships, and it's pretty unfair to them if you use them emotionally to get laid.

Working life is very different. Long hours in the office and responsibilities often leads to less sex and social interaction. So both guys and girls, enjoy it while it lasts :)"

Links - 4th January 2018 (1)

The Malaysian government has blocked Steam itself to stop sales of Fight of Gods - "In a story of Biblical proportions, the Malaysian government has blocked citizens from accessing Steam, in order to stop people playing Fight of Gods. This comes after the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission called for the ban and removal of the heavenly fighter from Steam."

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, The Morality of Empathy - "Empathy is a commendable human emotion but whilst it can come naturally I think reason and the courage to do what's right even when it seems cruel or hard are perhaps in the end more essential human capabilities...
If parents in areas of conflict believe that unaccompanied children are more likely to get through than being accompanied they will send their children on their own...
There's a common perception that empathy is much like Ebenezer Scrooge waking up on Christmas morning and suddenly realizing that all of these strangers with whom he's before had absolutely no, common community of emotion have feelings and thoughts but what the clinical, sorry the social psychology experiments tend to show is that empathy actually already confirms and prejudices we already have. So you will tend to be more likely to empathize with people who are either like you or share the same beliefs that you do...
'Can you really give me a purely rational argument for being good?'
'Sure. Reciprocity. Or sympathy, or custom... I think you're tending to see good as a matter of motivation whereas I take a more functional view of goodness"

Viking Britain | Podcast | History Extra - "People often shocked to discover we have first hand accounts of Viking men who wore eyeliner. That they invested heavily in their clothing, now big baggy silk trousers sort of MC Hammer pants. You know these sorts of images that are unfamiliar, putting it, put into a viking context. You know evident care that people took over their, their personal grooming. Combs and tweezers are things that are found in Viking graves - male and female in abundance... over engineered objects - you don't need to build a comb out of hundreds of different bits but they did and decorated them very finely"

SGSecure app not compulsory for NSFs: Defence Minister
It's not compulsory. But if you don't download it you can't bookout.

The grooming of girls in Newcastle is not an issue of race – it’s about misogyny | Chi Onwurah - "What’s worse, rape or racism?... The idea that Muslim immigrants and their families have brought sexual abuse and violence against women to our shores is an insult to them, as well as to the generations of women and sexual abuse victims who have lived among us for centuries and whose suffering had no name or voice... So which is worse, rape or racism? The answer, of course, is to reject any such choice... Chi Onwurah is Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central"
@EllaJustBecause: "Please speak to victims before you write this stuff. I was called a "White slag" "White cunt" as they beat me and raped me over 100 times."
@Georgia06420675: "As a victim i find this extremely offensive because it WAS about race and religion. White working class girls, Pakistani Muslim men. Simple... also, if this isn't racial, why was I called "a little white slut"/"white cunt"? oh I forgot, you cant be racist to white people... let's put it this way: if white men around UK were grooming Pakistani girls, calling them "Pakistani sluts" would we deny the racial element in that abuse? would we say it was simply "misogynistic"? or would other issues be at play too\?"

Rotherham researcher 'sent on diversity course' after raising alarm - "A researcher who raised the alarm over the sexual abuse of teenage girls in Rotherham more than a decade ago was sent on a 'ethnicity and diversity course' by child protection bosses who refused to act on her evidence. The researcher, who was seconded to Rotherham council by the Home Office, was told she must "never, ever" again refer to the fact that the abusers were predominantly Asian men. Speaking to the BBC's Panorama programme under the condition of anonymity, the researcher said that she identified more 270 victims of trafficking and underage prostitution by mainly Muslim gangs in Rotherham. But, despite being sent to Rotherham Council, the report - based on interviews with underage girls seeking help from the council's anti-child prositution project, called Risky Business - was never published. Indeed, the council tried unsuccessfully to sack the researcher after she resisted pressure to change her findings. Data to back up the report's findings also went missing from the Risky Business office the weekend after she submitted her report, the researcher told the programme... One of the girls who was allegedly abused, whose name was changed to Isabel to protect her identity, said that her abuser told her he would "play the race card" if the police tried to take action"
Keywords: Diversity training

Plan to let students grade themselves gets an F - "A proposal to allow University of Georgia students to choose their own grades has failed after the school axed the idea... an archived syllabus outlines a "stress reduction" policy that offers students the option to choose their own grades. "If you feel unduly stressed by a grade for any assessable material or the overall course, you can email the instructor indicating what grade you think is appropriate and it will be so changed," the policy reads... Watson also wrote that students should leave "immediately" if they are stressed out by group work. "If in a group meeting, you feel stressed by your group's dynamics, you should leave the meeting immediately and need offer no explanation to group members"... Watson acknowledged his policies might "hinder the development of group skills and mastery of the class material," but wrote that he would "provide every opportunity" for students who wanted to gain a better understanding of the course material.""
I thought snowflakes were only found in the arts, not in business school

PE2017: Mad at the G - "If anyone had openly pointed out that there has been no Malay president since Yusof Ishak and we should make arrangements for one, he or she would have been shouted down for being a chauvinist. He or she would have been told to stand behind our meritocratic ideals, rather than ask for affirmative action... I am mad because it’s farcical the way the Workers’ Party (WP) wasn’t able to get its adjournment motion discussed in Parliament because two People’s Action Party Members of Parliament (MP) suddenly had their own motions to table after the WP had made public its agenda. I’ve checked. There’s only been nine or 10 such motions since the 13th Parliament sat. Suddenly, we have three motions tabled in a spate of three days. What has happened to the G’s conviction about the rightness of its views? It could have shouted down the WP MPs, but somehow it seemed to want the elections out of the way quickly... Racial questions are popping up, because people are being brought slap up against the knotty problem of who belongs to what ethnic group. Yet the G cannot tamp this down because it had opened the can of worms in the first place. Now, the discussion is described as “mature’’ when, in other instances, it would have been slapped down as being inimical to social order."

Dr Tan Cheng Bock - Posts - "in 1993, the Government’s preferred candidate was Ong Teng Cheong. Everyone knew he would win. But Dr Goh Keng Swee still went out of his way to persuade Mr Chua Kim Yeow to stand for elections. Why? To prevent a walkover and give citizens the dignity of expressing their choice... People now feel muzzled and angry. Because when you take away our right to vote, you take away our political voice. You tell us that our choice does not matter. PE 2017 has been a quiet affair. But there is now a deafening silence awakening the nation. We did not get a chance to speak with our vote this round, but the time will come. And when it does, it will be thunderous. Of this I am sure."

PE2017: Four "interesting" issues raised at the IPS conference - "1. Is a Malay who converted to Christianity still a Malay?... the decision made by the Community Committee can’t be challenged, noted law academic Kevin Tan. Its decision is final and can’t even be contested in the courts. He wondered if this was constitutional. Dr Norshahril Saat of the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute noted that the Community Committees are made up of prominent individuals – an “elite-driven mechanism”. They might not share the sentiments of Malays at the grassroots who seem primarily concerned with the aspirants’ language ability, religious outlook, and contributions to the community.
2. Electoral contest or walkover : Which is better?... This question came from former senior minister of state Zainul Abidin Rasheed, who said that the reserved election had opened “a can of worms’’, causing division among Malays, as well as non-Malays... Minister Chan made an interesting point: He wouldn’t like to see criteria relaxed simply to ensure a contest. “I can understand Singaporeans’ aspirations to have a contest and more people contesting. But I don’t think Singaporeans would like to have different rules for different races,” he said. Make what you will of that."

Priscilla Clapp on Burma’s ethnic minorities - "most of the Rohingya do not speak Burmese, but rather a form of Bengali language, and many who are not educated have not assimilated into the population there. Therefore, they are looked on as foreigners even though these families have lived in the country long enough to qualify for citizenship. We would probably have the same issue here in the U.S. if we had a large immigrant population that never attempted to assimilate. Thus, rightly or wrongly, the Rohingya are viewed by the majority of Burmese as foreigners or recent immigrants. Those who have been there for more than a generation qualify for citizenship but not with the ethnic identity of “Rohingya.” The government’s requirement that they must identify as “Bengali” has wide popular support in the country. The Rohingya’s demand for recognition of their ethnic identity as a prior condition for achieving citizenship appears to have developed more recently and there is evidence that many of the Rohingya living in Rakhine state are not really the ones vocalizing this concern. Many living in Rakhine have been willing to forego the Rohingya identification for the sake of receiving naturalized citizenship. There is a large Rohingya diaspora around the world that generally speaks for them in the international community. So what you hear on behalf of the Rohingya is often coming from the diaspora and not directly from the Rohingya people living in Rakhine, which makes it difficult to identify the starting point for solutions to this problem... I object to the use of extreme words like "genocide," "holocaust," "crimes against humanity," and "ethnic cleansing" because that is not what this is. It is not Yugoslavia... A lot of work has to be done with the Rakhine themselves because they do not have a voice outside the country, so they feel they are being overpowered by the Rohingya diaspora that controls the international debate. Nobody speaks out for the Rakhine... The armed ethnic minority organizations are particularly militant about ethnic identity and they want their identity on these documents. People in the international community who tend to view the issue only through the lens of the Rohingya problem are often unaware of the complexities on the ground that the government is dealing with."

Former State Dept Diplomat on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar: 'I Don't Accept the Narrative' - "There was indeed a terrorist attack in Rakhine. It came from outside, it was perpetrated by people in the Rohingya diaspora living in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia coming in through Bangladesh. And they have killed a lot of security forces. This started in October and the latest attack was timed to follow the recommendations, the presentation of the recommendations of the Kofi Annan international commission on Rakhine, which Aung Sun Suu Kyi has accepted and agreed to implement. These recommendations call for a long-term solution there. She was already working on it when it was disrupted by this latest terrorist attack. Their tactics are terrorism. There’s no question about it. [Kyi is] not calling the entire Rohingya population terrorists, she is referring to a group of people who are going around with guns, machetes, and IEDs and killing their own people in addition to Buddhists, Hindus, and others that get in their way. They have killed a lot of security forces, and they are wreaking havoc in the region. The people who are running and fleeing out to Bangladesh are not only fleeing the response of the security forces, they are fleeing their own radical groups because they’ve been attacking Rohingya, and in particular the leadership who were trying to work with the government on the citizenship process and other humanitarian efforts that were underway there... There are numerous reports that Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh have provided weapons and other assistance to ARSA"

15 Years After Land-Grabs, Mugabe Invites White Farmers Back To Zimbabwe - "And so once again we see that necessity (a food shortage) breeds invention (rethinking populist land grabs), but lest anyone should believe that Mugabe has done a complete 180, we'll close with the following advice given to supporters at a recent Patriotic Front rally:
"Don't be too kind to white farmers. They can own industries and companies, or stay in apartments in our towns but they cannot own land. They must leave the land to blacks.""

British conductor sacked by US music festival after 'innocent' joke with his African-American friend was labelled racist - "Matthew Halls was removed as artistic director of the Oregon Bach Festival following an incident in which he imitated a southern American accent while talking to his longstanding friend, the African-American classical singer Reginald Mobley... The singer, who was born and raised in the southern state of Florida, said the concert had an “antebellum” feel to it, of the sort associated with Gone With the Wind and other rose-tinted representations of the pre-Civil War south. In response Mobley says that Halls “apologised on behalf of England”, before putting on an exaggerated southern accent and joking: “Do you want some grits?”, in a reference to the ground corn dish popular in the south. “I’m from the deep south and Matthew often makes fun of the southern accent just as I often make fun of his British accent,” said Mobley. “Race was not an issue. He was imitating a southern accent, not putting on a black accent, and there was nothing racist or malicious about it.” But the singer suspects that a white woman who overheard their conversation and spoke to him moments later went on to report it to the university, alleging Halls had made a racist joke. An internal inquiry into the incident is understood to have been held as a result of the complaint. However, Mobley was not invited to give evidence and he says there is a deep irony in the fact the authorities appear to have assumed on his behalf that he would have objected to the joke. “I’m the subject of a falsified story, without having the chance to have my say,” he said. “My voice has been taken away in a conversation about race that involved me, and technically that’s racist.” Pressure on the festival organisers to reinstate Halls is growing, with from others musicians coming to his support. “A lot of our allies have become so eager to help the race and fix the scars they almost go too far,” said Mobley. “They think they are at the point where they understand racism more than those who have really encountered it in their lives and they make assumptions on our behalf about how we might feel, as if we don’t understand when something said to us or done to use is racist. “It’s well meaning, but the path to hell is paved with good intentions. “It also demeans and cheapens the very serious work done by civil rights activists and abolitionists to have the difficult nuances of racism and microaggressions taken seriously.”"
Maybe Mobley didn't understand how he was being victimised by racism through dog whistling!

A Policy of Censorship More Extreme Than Google - "this problem is not unique to Google but is widespread in both industry and academia... He begins by invoking the history of racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry, going on to assert that diversity efforts are an effective remedy, but providing no evidence to back up this bold claim. In fact, it is highly questionable that this is true, especially in light of a recent cover story in The New York Times reporting that the underrepresentation of African-Americans and Hispanics at colleges and universities has gotten worse, not better, over the last 35 years while affirmative action has been in effect. Horowitz goes on to claim that viewing diversity efforts as acts of discrimination is a “false equivalence” and that the memo is therefore “not part of a healthy dialogue at all.” By doing so, he alienates the majority of the American people and makes it clear that their opinions are unwelcome at MongoDB. According to a Gallup poll taken last year, 63% of Americans believe that race or ethnicity should not be a factor in college admissions, while 66% believe that gender should not be a factor... The notion that policies put in place to promote diversity or remedy historical injustices can themselves be acts of discrimination has also been the holding of the United States Supreme Court in numerous cases... Horowitz continues by characterizing Damore’s memo as “just another attempt to disguise prejudice in the clothing of rationalism.” “History is littered with them,” he claims, although he provides not a single example. This characterization seems highly questionable, since many of the most oppressive institutions that have existed through history operated by forcing people to suppress their rationality and accept the word of authority figures without questioning. From the Inquisition to the regimes of Hitler and Stalin, those who thought for themselves were to be quashed, often with brutal violence... he is suggesting that the idea that companies should treat their employees equally without regard to their gender is so horrific that to merely speak it is threatening to women. His use of the words “hostile environment” is almost certainly an allusion to sexual harassment law. That he would interpret this law so broadly as to consider the expression of political views or scientific hypotheses to rise to the level of sexual harassment is deeply troubling. The First Amendment comes into play here, as these are no longer solely the actions of a private corporation but rather are done in the name of complying with the law. Just as troubling is Horowitz’s contention that it is unacceptable not just to agree with the parts of the memo that he found offensive but rather to agree with anything that Damore said—granting that he had “some good points” is hostile. In doing this, Horowitz displays the worst tendencies of the far-left. When confronted with ideas with which they disagree and that they find offensive, they seek not to understand or even to persuade, only to demonize and dehumanize. Since Damore deviated from the politically correct dogma on diversity, we must not only criticize the points on which we see him as being wrong but unequivocally condemn every word of his memo. There is no room for nuance, no room for subtlety. Feelings supersede facts. The emotions of the most fragile must be soothed at any cost, even if the truth is a casualty... It seems that MongoDB has failed to live out another of its stated core values, Be Intellectually Honest."

Fired Googler Damore: 'Underground Conservative Network' In Silicon Valley - "conservatives and other dissidents across Silicon Valley are surreptitiously documenting leftist practices — some seemingly violative of federal non-discrimination laws — for unspecified purposes, added Damore, and assorted leftists — some operating independently and others at the direction of large technology companies — are allegedly seeking to infiltrate the aforementioned “underground conservative network” to expose its participants."

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Links - 3rd January 2018 (3)

Cities | Tell Me Something I Don't Know - "Identifying vacancies in China is really really hard. In part because we don't always trust all the official statistics. I mean the usual number is about one fifth of the Chinese housing stock is empty... [In the US] one to two percent for single family detached housing, as much as ten percent for rentals. But those rentals are being flipped... In Shanghai and Beijing they are empty because people have bought them and left them empty. In many third and fourth tier cities they're empty because the developers have built them and they can't sell them and nobody is making them sell them. They are allowed to sit on them forever...
They they built the cities without any infrastructure so you've got housing but you don't have health care, you don't have education, you don't have transportation. So you basically are like you said putting people in prisons...
You've probably read in the news that bees are dying nationwide. That's because of agricultural chemicals, bee diseases and habitat loss. But bees are doing somewhat better in cities compared to the countryside especially. Urban behaves make more honey, they survive the year better and they're actually more biodiverse, meaning there's more species of bees in cities than their surrounding countryside... The pesticide levels found in beehives in cities and then all around Massachusetts... there were pesticides all over Massachusetts: in the city, in the countryside and in the suburbs. It wasn't less pesticides in the cities as we predicted...
City mayors when they flip just narrowly from Republican to Democrat and it turns out that they do exactly the same things and it comes down ultimately to this utter pragmatism which is required to lead a great city. There's this old story that Mayor, it was then it was Mayor Lindsey of New York with Mayor Daley of Chicago. They were talking about at this conference of mayors and Lindsey was giving an impassioned speech about how the Vietnam War was wrong and how it was terrible and was all about foreign policy and sits down and this gruff old big Chicago pol leans over and says: you do know your job is to take out the trash don't you?...
We look for the out houses when we take an archaeological site because that's where everyone threw their garbage and archaeology is essentially the study of trash... we actually have archaeological digs in Boston brothels and they're incredibly interesting... we found vaginal syringes... they were used to administer STD medication"

Family Matters | Tell Me Something I Don't Know - "There are some countries where first cousin marriage is the norm in fact. In the United Arab Emirates or in Pakistan sixty percent or upwards of marriages are between first cousins...
'What is then the typical relatedness of American spouses?'
'Well for white non Hispanic couples they're as related as first cousins once removed... if you factor out shared ancestry like a tendency for Polish Americans to marry other Polish Americans and so forth then you get down to second cousin effect of similarity. So there's some je ne sais quoi that is drawing us to people who are genetically similar to each other, to us and when we look at specific genetic signatures like the genes for educational success or the genes for height, we're even more similar to our spouses so for education we're like first cousins and for height we're like half siblings'... For all the other phenotypes - outcomes we measure like how much schooling do you have or your level of depression or risk for Alzheimer's or diabetes. The similarity between spouses on the actual outcome is higher than the genetic similarity for that outcome... we're less correlated on our actual heights than we are on the genetics of height so obviously there's something else that's associated with height like general health status or something that we're sorting on more than the actual height itself...
I interviewed the head of Cousin Couples. This is a group that's lobbying to make first cousin marriage legal in all fifty states cos right now it's illegal in twenty four and they see it, is like marriage equality. Gay marriage fight part two... if you ban them from marriage because of genetic defect, what do you do about two people who are not related at all but who both have the Alzheimer's gene? How do you argue that that should be illegal?...
Who are the least helpful family members in a horror film?... because lots of horror films tend to be teen oriented the people who tend to be most helpful in terms of family members tend to be the family members who are closest in age to the protagonist. So it's usually brothers and sisters who can sort of band together and share the conflict and vanquish the aggressor... Grandparents can give advice provide some help in a limited way but they're usually too physically weak to make it through the whole ordeal... the least helpful family members - that is the parents... remarkably consistent in being either too little too late or just absent entirely...
Teen protagonists need to be able to prove themselves without their parents"

Extra 2: Meet the Senator Who Wants to Start an Evidence-Based Revolution | Tell Me Something I Don't Know - "I think that he went into a little bit of politician speak there... I heard Al Franken do an interview and he said that strategy of most politicians is to be as boring as possible, cos you don't want to be quoted. You don't want to be quoted except on your talking points"

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Political Discourse - "Insults are a very important part, a valuable part of British political tradition. I'm much more worried about the degradation of politics by things like shallow thinking and untruth...
'There are things that should not be said. Some phrases that should not be used. Some insults that should not be heard precisely when we most feel like using them. They're no good otherwise'
'I think the worst insults, the most toxic debate has actually come from the establishment itself. And if you look at the way in which Leave voters are talked about, it's absolutely horrific. In relation to Brexit. They are stupid, they are racist, they are xenophobes, they have lizard brains. I mean all of these things have been said in the mainstream establishment press. Similar things have been said about Trump supporters. They are obnoxious, they are fascists, they are unintelligent, they are low information - that's the PC phrase for stupid. That's where the most toxic terminology is coming from and if people respond in kind we cannot be surprised by that...
The people who shout loudest about toxicity in politics are as toxic in the way that they deal with their opponents...
Why is the focus on language? And so I'm asking myself what lies behind the focus on language. I'm not saying language isn't important. It's absolutely central to self expression and words really matter. No shrink is going to say words don't matter but what is going on at the moment is very curious indeed. I think there is something going on which is about control by the wretched elites that we're all thinking about or hearing talked about, about what is allowed and what is not allowed...
'When he said well I'm a bit perplexed about this question about whether or not violent discourse begets violent action, well just look at a history book... and you will see there is no particular, there is no question about this. It is pretty clear that violent discourse generally speaking is a precursor to violence'
'I think that is overly simplistic, you keep urging us to be nuanced and the idea that it's language that created fascism or indeed led to the Russian Revolution I think completely - I'd say read a history book.
'It misses the point of the, of ideas having traction rather than the language in which they're used. Again it's a confusion of the style and the substance''

2303 WW1 Artillery | The History Network on acast - "Artillery came of age during the First World War. Seventy five percent of the known casualties were caused by artillery fire. As a measure of its importance in nineteen fourteen, twenty percent of the French army were artilleryman. By nineteen eighteen this had risen to thirty eight percent"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Upper Crust? - "You have folks who would never at least not publicly use racial or class derogatory language, feel perfectly comfortable critiquing the behaviors of poor or people of color based on their dietary choices or their bodily shape. And there's a way in which that seems like it's okay to do because it's an objective scientific critique...
The whiter the bread is the more expensive it is until you get to the high socio economic level where then the brown bread becomes more expensive...
There is quite an history of a food punditry in the United States at least is a history of moralizing about individual food choices. And the idea that if we could only change what people eat we could somehow change society for the better. Typically though that moralizing about food choices doesn't end up making society better, in fact it ends up reinforcing hierarchies of difference"

Hardcore History 60 The Celtic Holocaust - "At one point Caesar says the men in the garrison decide they're going to try to slip out and get to Vercingetorix's army, live to fight another day. The problem is is that that town contains not just those warriors but their families too and Caesar says their attempt to sneak out you know without alerting the Romans was foiled when the women started screaming and crying. When they realized the men were leaving, begging and beseeching them not to leave them to the fate of falling into the hands of the Romans. Sort of screwed up their plan. They alerted the enemy because they were so loud... it's better to save at least the warriors than to have everyone die right?... out of a population of forty thousand Caesar says about eight hundred survived. The Romans killed everyone: man, woman, child, old, infirmed - everything"

How Big is My Penis? (And Other Things We Ask Google) - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "The top search that starts [with] “my husband wants” in India is “my husband wants me to breastfeed him.”...
I did a couple of studies. I said, “Does anxiety rise after terrorist attacks?” You could see Google searches for anxiety in places after a terrorist attack. They don’t seem to rise. You could say like, “Does anxiety rise when Donald Trump is elected?” Everyone’s saying they’re anxious. There’s no rise in anxiety there, so that changes how we think about society...
STEPHENS-DAVIDOWITZ: With African-Americans, there’s pretty much one word that is searched more than every other potentially racist word.
DUBNER: I can think of one word that Hillary has been called a lot. That would probably get you fairly far. No?
STEPHENS-DAVIDOWITZ: The issue with sexism is that a lot of the negative words are also porn searches...
DUBNER: If we asked people how frequently they have sex, what do you think they would say?
STEPHENS-DAVIDOWITZ: Men will say about one-and-a-half times a week. And women will say about once a week... They’ll be exaggerating how often they’re having sex... I did this comparison The General Social Survey asks men and women how frequently they have sex and whether they use a condom. If you do the math on that, then American men say they use 1.6 billion condoms in heterosexual sexual encounters. American women use 1.1 billion condoms in heterosexual sexual encounters. Obviously, those — by definition — have to be the same, right? You know already that someone’s lying. But then I got data from Nielsen on how many condoms are sold every year in the United States and only 600 million condoms are sold every year. That doesn’t mean that they’re lying about how much how much sex they’re having. That might just be having more unprotected sex. But if you actually look at the best math on how frequently people get pregnant, if people are having as much unprotected sex as they say they’re having, there would be more pregnancies every year in the United States... [the rate of exaggeration is] Three to one for men, and two to one for women...
The top three Googled complaints about male partners are that he talks, twitches, and jerks in his sleep. The top three Googled complaints about female partners are that she talks, farts, and masturbates in her sleep."

The Fracking Boom, a Baby Boom, and the Retreat From Marriage - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "I am perfectly comfortable saying that it looks like being born to two, or living with two married parents is beneficial for kids. I know a lot of academics, they don’t want to say that, right? Because it sounds really socially conservative and preachy. But what’s really interesting is if you think of how higher-educated, higher-income parents are behaving, they are still almost entirely having children inside of marriage. Both parents are investing an extraordinary amount of financial resources, time and energy into their kids. In some sense, it’s a luxury to be able to say, “I don’t want to make social commentary like that.” Well, that’s because the kids of higher-educated, higher-income parents — they’re doing extremely well. But the kids who are being born to less-educated single moms, they are falling farther and farther behind. To not be honest about that — I don’t think that’s doing anybody any favors, even if it’s politically more comfortable...
DUBNER: Wow. So a coal boom produced more marriage, more kids and fewer kids born to unmarried moms; whereas a fracking boom produced more kids, but no more marriage and a lot more kids born to unmarried moms?
KEARNEY: Yeah. Equal proportion increase in married and nonmarried births in the fracking boom. We speculate that this suggests that social context is really important to determining the response to economic changes... As an economist when I’ve been asked, in policy contexts in the past few years, “What would it take to halt the retreat of marriage among less-educated populations?” My answer’s always been, “We need to see the economic situation of less educated men improve.” Now when I’m asked, “What’s going to help?” Now I have no idea. If it’s not just about economics, but if it’s about quote-unquote ‘culture’ or ‘social norms,’ that’s a lot harder to deal with...
Now there’s been two schools of thought on that. One is, “The marriage ship has sailed. Now we need to adjust to this new reality that many kids in this country — in particular many low-income or minority children — are going to grow up without the benefit of living in a two-parent household. What is our social contract going to be? We need to potentially increase safety-net resources or just make sure that those kids have more resources”... all of our tax and transfer programs actually explicitly financially penalize marriage. At the very least, we could make our tax and transfer system marriage-neutral.
The reluctance to talk about the worse outcomes, and the promotion of single parent families - more examples of how being politically correct hurts people
If you need to direct more resources towards children in single parent families, one can see that as a cost to society - and thus something that a responsible government should avoid - unless you think you'll never run out of other people's money and that other people will always be happy to pay
Though much maligned, Singapore's approach of not making single parenthood a cultural norm has merits

BBC World Service - The Documentary, The Origins of the American Dream, The Origins of the American Dream - "In nineteen fourteen a journalist named Walter Lippmann wrote a book called Drift and Mastery. It's virtually forgotten now but it contains within it the earliest known use of the phrase 'the American dream' to mean a general collective American ideal. Lippmann described what he called America's fear economy of unbridled capitalism suggesting that America's dream of endless progress would need to be restrained because it was a fantasy and a distraction:
'The American temperament leans generally to a kind of mystical anarchism, in which the natural humanity in each man is adored as the savior of society. If only you let men alone they'll be good a typical American reformer said to me the other day. He believed as most Americans do in the unsophisticated man. In his basic kindliness and his instinctive practical sense. A critical outlook seemed to the reformer an inhuman one; he distrusted the appearance of the expert; he believed that whatever faults the common man might show were due to some kind of Machiavellian corruption. He had the American dream, which may be summed up, I think, in the statement that the undisciplined man is the salt of the earth'...
The KKK had completely died out by the turn of the twentieth century. But in nineteen fifteen everything changed when a film was released called Birth of a Nation as Kevin Cruz explains. "It tells a story that is largely false, one in which northern white and southern whites come together to believe that they have a common enemy now. And the common enemy are freed blacks in the south. That they're out of control and that these whites need to put aside their differences from the Civil War and come to make common cause to put down this new internal threat. And in this story the Ku Klux Klan is the hero"...
It was screened at the White House by President Woodrow Wilson, a segregationist who had first campaigned under the slogan America First. Before long the KKK had adopted that phrase as well as many photos of Klan rallies from the nineteen twenties attest...
Calvin Coolidge famously says that the chief business of America is business and he elevates business essentially to the status of a religion. He says in one address that the man who builds a factory builds a temple. The man who works there worships there and he and other leaders of the country at the time really do make businessmen out to be a set of messiahs who will deliver all that Americans need
If compulsory education had racist roots maybe some people would be opposing it today

Replace Christopher Columbus With The Artist Formerly Known As Prince? - "Maybe Columbus was an innocent immigrant, who came here for opportunity and freedom, fleeing an oppressive monarchy and aggressively religious theocracy back home. When he got here, the evil nativist, nationalist Indians tried to close their borders to him, and deport him with violence. Who were they to create borders from thin air, and claim people shouldn’t cross them? Red-skinned fascists, are what they were."

Half of Swedish police trainees are women - "The autumn term at the Swedish National Police Academy has begun and more women than ever before are are starting their training to be police officers. This year, 44% of the new intake are female... "We've had a steady increase in the number applying to the police course," said Marie Andersson, who is the head of recruitment at the National Police Board. "In January 2002, 3,300 applied, of which 34% were women. In August this year, the applications had almost doubled and the number of women had increased to 36%.""
If a larger proportion of trainees are female than those who apply...

3 Swedish police officers (all women) unable to detain lone refugee - YouTube

Arabs Are Prominent in Israel’s Government
- "“I am Israeli,” says Issawi Frej, an Arab member of the Knesset (MK). “I am a citizen here. I want to be here.” The Meretz-party representative also tells me: “The American people don’t understand that there are 1.5 million Palestinian Arabs who live inside Israel, and who are Israelis with rights. Americans think about the Palestinian Authority only, and no one thinks about us.”... Frej, the eldest of a dozen children and father of seven, is one of twelve Arab MKs. They and other Arabs hold prominent posts in Israel’s courts, diplomatic corps, and armed forces... While these Arab MKs’ comments may rankle most Israelis and their American friends, such dissent confirms Israel’s status as an open and vibrant constitutional republic, unlike so many closed dictatorships in this chronically diseased neighborhood... Arabs excel in Israel’s military, some even as generals. Lieutenant Colonel Magdi Mazarib is an Islamic member of Israel’s 260,000-strong Bedouin Arab minority. He also is the Israel Defense Force’s top-ranking tracker. Many of the IDF’s 1,655 Bedouins use their nomadic skills to detect infiltrators along Israel’s borders, especially in the north. They can inspect rocks and sand and determine where and when a foe has trespassed... Though Israel’s Jews and Arabs clash, they also cooperate far more than most journalists admit. In his Ramadan greetings last July, Prime Minister Netanyahu described his country’s Muslim citizens as an “integral part of Israeli society.” He also said he attaches ”great importance” to their “role and contribution to the economy and in all aspects of life in Israel.”"
If Israel is doing ethnic cleansing, it's failing miserably at it

Planning for Christmas Early

Spam I got today:

Subject: Want to be with a brunette on Christmas?

Message: Sexy lady for a real man!

I am well-shaped, elegant, emotional and hot!

I adore sex! You’ll feel comfortable with me anywhere.

I can invite you for Christmas. Would you like to come?

My photos and questionnaire are attached.

(the last line was a redirect link to City Lägenhetshotell which is Gothenburg, Sweden. Out of curiosity I clicked on it and it redirected to http://datingsworld11.com so I guess their website got hijacked)

Links - 3rd January 2018 (2)

PETA versus the postdoc: Animal rights group targets young researcher for first time - "It started in May with a web post by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). “Tell Yale University to Stop Tormenting Birds!” the headline read, followed by text accusing postdoc Christine Lattin of wasteful experiments and animal abuse in her research on stress in wild house sparrows. Then the emails from PETA supporters began flooding Lattin’s inbox: “You should kill yourself, you sick bitch!” Then the messages on Facebook and Twitter: “What you’re doing is so sick and evil.” “I hope someone throws you into the fire …” By the end of August, PETA—based in Norfolk, Virginia—had organized three protests against Lattin, and she says she was getting 40 to 50 messages a day... PETA, she soon learned, hadn’t just posted about her research on its website; it had filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a Massachusetts district attorney. The group also sent letters to Lattin’s funders and to Yale, urging them to stop supporting her research"

Asian grooming gang's rape of white girls not racist, rules judge - "The judge’s decision meant stiffer penalties for racially aggravated crimes could not be applied in the case of the Newcastle-based sex ring. Judge Penny Moreland said the gang picked out their victims “not because of their race, but because they were young, impressionable, naive and vulnerable”... In a previous case, linked to the gang, one member expressed his contempt for white women when he was challenged by a ticket inspector on the Tyne and Wear Metro. Badrul Hussain, 37, who was convicted of drug offences but cleared of inciting prostitution, told her: “All white women are good for one thing, for men like me to f*** and use as trash, that is all women like you are worth.”"
Maybe you need to be white to be convicted for racially aggravated crimes

Professor: Use of "identity-based stereotypes" will be punished - "Students enrolled in an Anthropology 101 Lab at the College of the Canyons may be sent to the dean’s office if they purport “identity-based stereotypes.” According to the Physical Anthropology Lab syllabus, stereotyping someone “based on race, gender, ability, nationality, sexuality, or any other identity” is “considered an interruption and will a) be barred from participating in class, b) lose all participation points for the day, and c) referred to the Dean of Students.” The two page syllabus, handed out to students on the first day of class, was accompanied with a White Privilege Checklist... The course professor, Amanda Zunner-Keating, clearly doesn’t see the irony in punishing students who reference stereotypes while simultaneously stereotyping every white individual through the white privilege checklist. However, this doesn’t matter to Keating. She allegedly told students that she uses a Freirean teaching approach and that “we are all engaged in an oppressive power structure.” She followed this up with a quote from Paulo Freire: “The educator has the duty of not being neutral. Contrary to the social justice themes espoused by Keating, the course objectives are to “analyze behavioral and observational data with the Scientific Method to understand human and non-human primate biology and evolution” and well as to “demonstrate and apply knowledge of skeletal anatomy to primate, hominem, and modern human evolution.”"
College of the Canyons is a community college, not an elite one

Former Muslim, Anti-FGM Campaigner Shazia Hobbs Suspended from Twitter - "A Muslim apostate and high profile campaigner against both female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage has been suspended from micro-blogging platform Twitter, amidst a wider crackdown on right wing voices on the website, and other online platforms like Facebook... “It’s absolutely disgusting,” she told the website. “There was no reason given. Twitter would not tell me what tweets were in violation of their rules. They said it was because of ‘harassment’. “All I tweet about is the rape of Pakistani children by Pakistani men,” she said... she is frequently called “racist” and accused of being “full of hate” for calling for the jailing of parents who subject their daughters to genital mutilation. “I get the biggest amount of hate from Pakistani men and ‘feminazis’ who tell me I’m ‘fueling the far right’. “I’m trying to put a stop to these harmful practices. I’ve had more love and acceptance from the so-called ‘far right’ than from the Pakistani community”"
Feminists seem to be for female genital cutting in certain circumstances

A Botched Black Bag Job Reveals the Long Arm of Chinese Intelligence - "even if your company is not operating in China and your executives are not traveling there, that does not mean you are safe from the long arm of Chinese espionage if it is interested in your intellectual property and aims to steal it. Beijing's cyber espionage program clearly has global reach from its bases in China. Second, the Chinese government has a robust network of people working for its intelligence services, academic institutions and think tanks who can try to infiltrate companies by posing as students, researchers, potential clients, suppliers, cleaning contractors and security guards. This highlights the need for good access controls to corporate offices, as well as the need for employees to be aware of people attempting to "wagon train" in the door behind them — most likely how Liu got into the secure area.
Finally, the Chinese government has a sophisticated human intelligence program that is quite capable of recruiting company employees using cash, sex or other approaches. This capability is useful against not only government targets, but also commercial targets that have information or technology the Chinese government deems critical to the country's military and economic goals."

Thirty Years After the Immigration Reform and Control Act - "Then came the IRCA, “accepted as a once-only great compromise,” wrote the Pulitzer-Prize winning scholar Jack Miles for the June 1994 issue of The Atlantic:
The mass legalization of then-illegal immigrants was traded for the promise that a new program of employer sanctions would destroy the incentive for further mass immigration. That hope proved vain; but if it had never been entertained, IRCA would never have passed.
That hope proved vain because, as Schlosser put it, “these sanctions have rarely been applied”...
Instead of stemming illegal immigration, IRCA has actually encouraged it
People respond to incentives (like DACA)

The Southern Poverty Law Center Has $69 Million Parked Overseas - "The Southern Poverty Law Center invests almost 20 percent of its nearly $320 million endowment fund in offshore equities and other investments. The 2016 annual report of the Alabama-based civil rights organization reports $69,093,576 of "non-U.S. equity funds" among the assets comprising the total endowment fund of $319,283,961, a fund the SPLC describes as a "plan for the day when nonprofits like the SPLC can no longer afford to solicit support through the mail because of rising postage and printing costs." (Given that 2016 contributions topped $45 million, that day has not yet arrived.)... The Beacon quoted two financial industry executives who expressed surprise and incredulity about the SPLC's offshore investing."
Social justice is profitable

Are Americans becoming more conservative or liberal (right or left)? - "With Trump and the re-appearance of white nationalism in the public spotlight, many people are wondering if conservative (right-wing) ideology is on the rise. One can find many influential outlets endorsing this notion. CBS, BBC, Vox, and certainly others have all run articles suggesting this... If there is one substantial ideological shift in American public opinion in the post-war period, it is the dramatic and near-universal increase in social liberalism since the 1950s... There is currently no good evidence I am aware of that overt racism or white nationalism is growing. It likely appears larger than it is, especially to progressives, precisely because it has never been less common in American history."

Migrating to Britain | Podcast | History Extra - "People left and they left, even if they imagined they would be going home in a few years, they really left behind a past. And what they had to do was recreate the past in a meaningful way, bring the past with them and partly that might be through a nostalgic recreation of what their past had been like. Certainly right across all all the communities that I looked at you can find nostalgic constructions and particularly parents telling their children how wonderful home was. And that's part of the joy of Madoram's [sp] poem you know because they bring up their kids with this idea of the Punjab as heaven and when the kids actually get there they are completely horrified"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, What happens to the UK courts post-Brexit? - "The Germans had a state monopoly on alcohol and to protect that they adopted quite a few measures, some of which might appear a bit bizarre...
'Any cassis sold there had to have an alcohol content of at least twenty five percent.'
'The French product didn't meet that requirement. It was between fifteen and twenty percent alcohol so the product could not be sold in Germany unless of course you added extra alcohol'
'So French cassis could be kept off German shelves'"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Alexandra Shulman on body image and fashion's future - "Sixty years ago young people looked the same as old people and it was really about the end of the fifties when the whole idea of the kind of teenager took place and the young adolescent. And that meant that they actually wanted to have their own style of dress. And they didn't want to look like their parents and their parents didn't want particularly to look like them so that's where a kind of youth culture and street culture style grew up...
Nobody wore jeans as anything other than utility wear... you probably wouldn't have worn jeans in even if you were sort of forty years old in nineteen sixty but by the time the eighties came round everybody's wearing jeans...
If you look at some of the sort of heroines of our time, style icons as they say. People like Rihanna, Beyonce, Kim Kardashian, they're not that skinny... [they're] famous for their look so skinny is not necessarily what people want to be now... you don't see that shape on the catwalk but that's something else. That's not to do with the way that most people want to look and dress. That's to do with the way that fashion designers want their clothes to be seen...
Women do not have to wear high heels. In fact if you look at fashion now it's all about flats and people who wear high heels wear them like me because they want to... wearing a heel gives you a whole different feeling about your body. Not only does it add a bit of height but it changes your posture, it actually in my case gives me a feeling of being a bit more in control rather than kind of slopping around in something like a pair of slippers"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Terror in Barcelona: How can cities defend themselves? - "When Elvis Presley died and I do remember this he wasn't that hot anymore. Tragically dead Elvis proved to be a bigger deal for ten fifteen years than live Elvis had been you know. And it kind of sated the public appetite"

Herbed Duck Confit & Sweet Potatoes Entrée - Addiction Pet Foods - We go to the Ends of the Earth for your Pet - "Our scrumptious Herbed Duck Confit is full of deliciously tender duck, sweet potato, herbs and vitamins – a surefire way of keeping your dog happy.
Dogs adore our Herbed Duck Confit, a luxury grain-free dish that makes a great alternative to beef, chicken and lamb. We’ve paired the duck with sweet potatoes, which are high in beneficial fiber and essential vitamins to promote vitality and healthy digestion.
We’ve also added fragrant thyme and rosemary to the dish, which is carefully formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for all life stages."
Sounds better than human food

Creature Comforts | Tell Me Something I Don't Know - "Before enduring World War II Deep Sea Fishing was a main source of income for a large population of Japanese fishermen and the people who lived in Hawaii. But there was a federal statute that was passed in nineteen forties that prohibited boat owners who were American citizens from obtaining fishing licenses. There was a suspicion that Japanese fishermen were passing information to Japan about the sea conditions around the strategically important Hawaii. So we had these new fishing restrictions that cut off a main source of protein to Hawaii. Luckily, spam came about and Hormel Foods provided during World War II about fifteen million cans of spam to our troops. There was a large US military presence on the island of Hawaii at this time and therefore that meant that the Hawaiians had access to spam. Ever since spam become an absolutely explosive food on the island. Hawaiians consume on average about eight million cans of spam and is now considered by its nickname Hawaiian steak... wonderful thing about spam is that it's baked in its own can... it makes it shelf stable and that's why it's so fundamentally fantastic to be able to you know feed so many people over such a long period of time...
We fight the last battle and what we're really fighting over now is a surge of immigration that happened in the 80s and 90s but the issue isn't a new surge, it's what we do about the people who came then...
We just put them in these really bad moods and then we either gave them their own particular comfort food or we gave them a food that they liked but that wasn't their comfort food and to our surprise it didn't matter which we gave them. Whatever we gave them their mood improved... even with no food at all"

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Peace, Justice and Morality - "[On Northern Ireland's troubles] If you find out who killed your mother what would you do with that knowledge?'
'I wouldn't do anything with it then. Certainly would not bring it to the authorities. There's absolutely nothing to be gained by bringing probably a man or a woman in their sixties to court now to serve a present sentence for an event over thirty three years ago, probably carried out when they were very very young, very very impressionable, and a product of a society that was poison personified...
What's interesting about the Rwandan cases is that all levels of society were prosecuted. It wasn't only elites. In fact four hundred thousand everyday citizens were also prosecuted but of course they were also genocide perpetrators. What is lacking in the Rwandan case is any kind of acknowledgment of the role of the group that we often think of is the victims the Tutsi"

Critic's Notebook: Hillary Clinton Dishes, Doles Out Blame on 'CBS Sunday Morning' - "Ten months after her historic election defeat, Clinton is clearly ready to cash in. And the interview proved that when it comes to the five stages of grief, she hasn’t gotten past anger. Although she apparently did go through a period of depression... “I’m done with being a candidate. But I’m not done with politics, because I literally believe that our country’s future is at stake.” But first, there’s a book tour to conduct. And lots of money to be made, with “VIP” tickets going for thousands of dollars. Yes, with the Clintons, some things just never change."
So much for being a good loser

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Double disaster hits Houston and South Asia - "You've now got very large numbers of Rohingyas living in exile across the world, millions of them now. More Rohingyas live outside Myanmar than inside it. Quite a lot of them went to Saudi Arabia. About two hundred thousand we think there. Some of those have become radicalized...
In nineteen fifty six MGM said it wanted to make a film that truly represented India. Bhowani Junction was a particular favorite of my Sri Lankan father in law. It featured one of his two favorite actresses, Ava Gardner. It didn't bother him that a half Indian heroine was being played by the all American Ava Gardner...
Gandhi. When that film was made its director Richard Attenborough sought advice from India's first Prime Minister, Nehru. His words were, according to Attenborough, simple. All that matters is that he should be very good. Nevertheless when it emerged that the Mahatma was going to be played by a British actor Ben Kingsley there were many who felt he couldn't possibly represent such an important figure in Indian history. One journalist told Richard Attenborough no human could"

Politickling | Tell Me Something I Don't Know - "The most efficient way to campaign in Vermont is to go to the garbage dump because there's no municipal garbage removal service so everybody has to show up at the garbage dump. And when they're throwing their trash in the dumpster you're shaking their hand and your signature or whatever...
The War Department as part of its preparations for the ground invasion of Japan ordered five hundred thousand Purple Hearts. They had learned from D Day and the wider Pacific theater that the casualties would be high and that the war would probably go on for two more years. When Japan surrendered after the atomic bombings the ground invasion was canceled and all of these purple hearts ended up in a warehouse. The surplus metals have survived through the Korean war, the Vietnam war, two wars in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan and all the minor conflicts in between. And there are still estimated seventy to eighty five thousand still out there that haven't been awarded. And the medals have been sitting around for so long that in the 80s and 90s they actually had to go back and, and redo the ribbons and clean them up and prepare them to be awarded...
'Firefighters you found in your research is a group that is, you're saying the reputation and the reality are very different in the compassion and love department?'...
'The thing that's so surprising is how often they tell me about how much love they have for their colleagues and it's affection and caring and compassion and fondness. So much so that it's really quite different than the tough, heroic kind of masculine image they give off which is also part of the profession but when you investigate a little bit you find out that this is one of the most loving, compassionate professions. But actually in my effort to get as many puns in my publications as possible I ask the question: is love all you need? And the answer is no actually so when we're looking at how they perform it turns out you need a different emotion. You need joviality which is humor and pranks and amusement and excitement and that turns out to be a much better predictor of how quickly they get to your house when you call 911, how they work as a team... They really do talk about as part of their hiring so when I ask them well what kind of person would fit in? No stiffs. So that's the most important criteria'...
There is a Federal Government contract with the University of Mississippi where there is a farm where they grow a lot of weed and any researcher in the United States despite the fact that about two hundred million Americans live in states that have access to medical marijuana and again research is being done everywhere, that's the only place they can go to get it... It's easier for a medical researcher to get LSD in the United States or heroin than it is for that researcher to get marijuana...
President James Garfield - after he was elected but before he was inaugurated, he spoke to the graduating class of Harvard. And in his speech he told them to not work so hard and to set aside time for reading. Because he was such an avid reader that he actually had a custom built chair that had one high arm and one low arm so he could throw his legs over and read in a more comfortable way"
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