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Friday, May 04, 2018

Links - 4th May 2018 (2)

Sweden data breach: 82 per cent of people sent to prison for gang rape are foreign born - "According to Swedish journalist Peter Imanuelsen the data is probably reliable: “I’m very certain it is legit. See the article on Friatider. Since they are being sued for publishing this info, it must mean it is correct.” The Swedish police are certainly not happy with the data transparency. According to them it is a serious breach of the Personal Data Act (PUL). Swedish mainstream media seemed not happy as well: For example newspaper SVT published an article about the fact that this is one of Sweden’s biggest data crimes."

Immigrants Commit 84 Percent Of All Rape In Sweden—Migrants Commit Two-Thirds - "Breaking down the numbers further: 95.6 percent of all violent rapes (that is, where the woman is not subdued through social pressure, drugs or alcohol, or fear of violence, but through the actual use of physical violence) were committed by men of foreign descent (this includes legal immigrants and migrants). Likewise, 90 percent of all gang rapes are committed by men of foreign descent, many of whom were Afghani. In fact, fully one quarter of all gang rapists were Afghani immigrants... perhaps the most pernicious part about this is that these foreigners were invited to Sweden, and are generally lodged at Swedish expense—they are financing their own destruction. In fact, migrants are costing Sweden roughly 17 percent of its national government’s budget annually. And sadly, they are not alone. Denmark’s non-Western immigrants are costing the nation some 59 percent of its tax surplus. Likewise, migrants in Germany are estimated to cost the nation some $1,241,050,000,000 over the coming decades... the UN has suggested that Sweden will become a third world country by 2030, as it will be unable to keep up with its peers"

Swedish Government To Ban Websites that List Ethnic Origin Of Criminal Suspects - "Sweden has proposed banning the public use of legal document search engine Lexbase, which is used to identify the ethnic origins of Swedish criminal suspects. According to the Swedish government, the data released by the website is too sensitive for the public and should be limited only to professionals like lawyers, journalists, and researchers. Previously, the website was protected under the Swedish Freedom of Expression Act, but the new legislation could limit what data they are allowed to release... While Justice Minister Morgan Johansson said that journalistic activity would not be affected, he left the definition of what constitutes “journalistic activity” open to question. For many years, the Swedish government has stopped the collection of statistics relating to the ethnic or religious background of criminals, making it difficult for researchers to track the correct rate of migrant crime, as opposed to crimes committed by native Swedes. Some, like police officer Peter Springare, have claimed that the majority of serious crimes are committed by migrants or individuals from migrant backgrounds. Others have used freedom of information requests to look at crimes on a case-by-case basis and track the rate at which criminals born overseas have offended. One research project attempted to look solely at cases of gang rape in Sweden and found, through examining court documents, that nine out of 10 gang rapes were committed by asylum seekers and individuals with a migration background."

Feminists In Sweden Flee 'No Go' Zones Overrun With Islamic Refugees - "Famed feminist Nalin Pekgul, who called attention to the rising insecurity of women in the suburbs, says she now avoids the center of town in Tensta, where she lived for 30 years. And the former Left Party official Zeliha Dagli moved from Husby to the inner city. Pekgul says she no longer feels safe in her home town, adding that Muslim fundamentalists now have full control of the center"
Keywords: no-go zones

Woman, 70, Says Migrants Defecate In Streets, Set Cars on Fire. Cops Charge Her With Hate Crime. - "After a lengthy probe, prosecutors in Sweden decided that the post violated the nation’s law on incitement to racial hatred, FriaTider wrote. If the pensioner is found guilty, she faces four years in prison."

Muslim Appeals 40 Hours Community Service for Raping Child and Filming Assault - "Via Fria Tider (translated):
Ali was sentenced to 40 hours of youth service for the rape of children in a schoolyard. Both he and his parents are now challenging the judgment of the Court of Appeal. 16-year-old Ali was convicted in February of child rape after he pinned a 13 year old girl against a wall at Toleredsskolan in Gothenburg and forced her to oral sex. The crime took place in July, 2016."

Facts about migration and crime in Sweden - "Data from the Swedish Crime Survey shows that in terms of lethal violence, there has generally been a downward trend over the past 25 years. Nonetheless, the level in 2015 – when a total of 112 cases of lethal violence were reported – was higher than for many years. Studies conducted by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention show that lethal violence using firearms has increased within the context of criminal conflicts. The number of confirmed or suspected shootings was 20 per cent higher in 2014 than in 2006. The statistics also show that 17 people were killed with firearms in 2011, while the corresponding figure in 2015 was 33... People from foreign backgrounds are suspected of crimes more often than people from a Swedish background. According to the most recent study, people from foreign backgrounds are 2.5 times more likely to be suspected of crimes than people born in Sweden to Swedish-born parents"
Even the official Swedish government website reports that immigrants and their descendants commit more crimes than those of a local background

KATIE HOPKINS reports from Scandi-lib paradise of Sweden - "Her apartment was broken into last week in the middle of the day. The burglars took her laptop and her car keys, and later her car. The police told her they were too busy to come. She doesn't want her picture to be seen now. Not in case the migrants attack again, but because the feminists will come after her and hound her as a racist for speaking out. The migrant men scare her. But it is Swedish women who have silenced her... I ran to the scene of an unexploded hand grenade in a bin outside the police station of a no-go area of town, near a mosque. I asked the police who the target was. They said they didn't know. I asked the Muslim leader at the mosque. He said he thought it was the police. Then two women grabbed me and told me not to make this about the mosque, not to make this a Muslim issue. This was about the police — nothing to do with migrants. I wondered if they weren't missing the point. A bomb in a bin."
Keywords: no-go zones

How Sweden became an example of how not to handle immigration | The Spectator - "A parallel society is emerging where the state’s monopoly on law and order is being challenged. ‘Today, the gang environment is — well, I don’t want to exactly call it the Wild West, but something in that direction,’ says Amir Rostami, an authority on Swedish organised crime who teaches at Stockholm University.

Donald Trump's Sweden’s Immigration Gaffe: The Truth Behind It - "Since the beginning of the immigration crisis, Sweden has cut 950 million U.S. dollars from its foreign aid to allocate to immigration services, and much more will have to be cut from other welfare programs to deal with a projected massive influx of refugees. No available studies show the current immigration as anything but a net loss for the country. The idea that immigration is noble has become a truth in Sweden and in much of Europe, and any critique against it is interpreted as racism. In this climate, we close our eyes to real solutions, such as devoting resources (military or financial or both) to aid individuals where they are. Western nations are now, at great expense, creating a problem within their own borders — to fulfill some sort of idea of themselves as being “good” countries — rather than doing actual good elsewhere. Europe is not dealing with the reason for the immigration crisis but is only delaying its solution indefinitely... If we go by the current estimates, Sweden in two years will spend on immigration alone the equivalent of two annual defense budgets or the entire cost of unemployment benefits. There are no signs that the number of immigrants will diminish, and there is no plan to cut federal costs or raise taxes to pay for this... The Swedish debate on immigration is so contentious that even relaying statistics can lead to one’s being branded a bigot"

Pool makes splash with gender jacuzzi split - "Sweden may have an international reputation for promoting gender equality, but the Eriksdalsbadet complex – home to one of the most popular public swimming pools in Sweden – is introducing segregated hot tubs for the first time. The move follows reports by increasing numbers of women, who claim they have been groped by men as they relax in the giant bubble baths."

Lesbian couples two and a half times more likely to get divorced than male same-sex couples, ONS figures reveal - " Sociologists believe the lower rates of divorces among gay men may reflect a trend of women committing sooner and having higher expectations for a relationship. Gunnar Andersson, professor of demography at Stockholm University, previously found in successive studies that women in Norway, Sweden and Denmark were twice as likely to dissolve their civil partnerships than men. “This reflects trends in a heterosexual marriage because women are more prone to say they want to marry - but they’re also more likely to initiate a divorce""
Addendum: Damn patriarchy - depriving women of a man to blame!

Top Ten: What drives expats mad about working in France - "Most workers curse meetings but in France they love them and they tend to go on for hours or at least until the coffee has run out, without anything being sorted out, says reader Mike. “I worked for a Franco-American company for several years. When the French led the editorial meetings, they could take up to an hour or more, and little was resolved at the end of them. When the Americans headed the meetings, they were never more than 20 minutes."...
If you’re not a heavy smoker and don’t drink coffee then you could well end up friendless in the French workplace, warns Local reader Jonathan, a British lawyer who used to work at a Paris-based firm. “Every 40 odd minutes a colleague asks you if you want a coffee and will look down on you if you refuse. And coffee is en principe accompanied by a cigarette – the two go hand in hand.”"

World's most expensive meat? Find it with Paris butcher - "The 2000 vintage cote de boeuf (rib steak) can command €3,000 ($3,200). The breed of cattle in question, rivaling the most expensive and exclusive global names in beef such as Black Angus and Kobe, is called Blonde Aquitaine. Polmard and his family raise them outside the small town of Saint Mihiel in the Meuse region of Lorraine, northeastern France. "My family wouldn't dream of raising animals in sheds where they have no space or room to roam," he says. "Here they are in the open air, living in forests and on parkland. There are shelters they can choose to visit in case it rains or snows. It's really five-star accommodation!" "

Why we should continue taxing tampons - one man's view - "Sanitary items are different from “condoms, lubricants, sunscreen and nicotine patches” because people already want to use them and there is no evidence of significant public health risk if usage falls. Also, “necessity” is not the binding criterion for determining what gets taxed – we tax electricity... I sometimes wonder if sin taxes – tax on alcohol and cigarettes for example – are to blame for the way people see tax in general. A lot of people interpret the tax system as a moral agent judging their actions. If I saw all tax as punishment, I’d be furious about paying tax on sanitary items too... Exemptions undermine the efficiency of the tax system but also the sense that tax is our common duty."

Top Muslim Scholar: Orthodox Islam and Violence 'Linked' - "Among Indonesia’s most influential Islamic leaders is Yahya Cholil Staquf, 51,advocates a modern, moderate Islam. He is general secretary of the Nahdlatul Ulama, which, with about 50 million members, is the country’s biggest Muslim organization. Yahya... Western politicians should stop pretending that extremism and terrorism have nothing to do with Islam. There is a clear relationship between fundamentalism, terrorism, and the basic assumptions of Islamic orthodoxy. So long as we lack consensus regarding this matter, we cannot gain victory over fundamentalist violence within Islam... Within the classical tradition, the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims is assumed to be one of segregation and enmity... Within the Islamic tradition, the state is a single, universal entity that unites all Muslims under the rule of one man who leads them in opposition to, and conflict with, the non-Muslim world... [ISIS’s] goal of establishing a global caliphate stands squarely within the orthodox Islamic tradition... The last time I was in Brussels I witnessed some Arab, perhaps North African, youth insult and harass a group of policemen. My Belgian friends remarked that such behavior has become an almost everyday occurrence in their country. Why do you allow such behavior? What kind if impression does that make?... you’re taking in millions of refugees about whom you know virtually nothing, except that they come from extremely problematic regions of the world."

Here’s the gender gap that matters - "The gender gap in engineering and math is old news by now. Despite society's strenuous efforts to close it – including giving girls pink Lego sets to play with – nothing seems to work. The percentage of female engineering students remains around 20 per cent, give or take. Meanwhile, there's another gender gap that everyone ignores. This one is in the ultra-competitive field of veterinary medicine. Not long ago, all vets were men, and women who aspired to be vets were told to aspire to something else. Scarcely any women were admitted into vet schools before the 1970s. Today the ratio in veterinary school is 80-20 – in favour of women... Oddly, nobody is hollering about discrimination in veterinary medicine. No activists or politicians are lobbying for preferential treatment for men, or preaching about systemic discrimination, or complaining because women win all the scholarly awards. No one gives two hoots about the vets (except for the veterinary schools themselves, which are desperate to recruit more males). The reason is that this particular gender imbalance doesn't fit the prevailing narrative, which is that women in historically male fields face systemic discrimination at every turn... Today, women dominate at all levels of education, including the graduate levels. In most postgraduate fields, as well as in law and medicine, women now outperform and outnumber men by growing margins."

Monosodium glutamate intake is inversely related to the risk of hyperglycemia - "In animal studies, monosodium glutamate (MSG) intake at a particular age has been found to increase the risk of insulin resistance and obesity. Inconsistent associations between MSG intake and overweight have been reported in humans. No population study has assessed the association between MSG intake and diabetes risk. This study aims to prospectively examine the association between MSG intake and hyperglycemia in a Chinese population.... high MSG intake is associated with a decreased risk of hyperglycemia in Chinese adults"

Vintage Scandinavian Airlines food will make you furious with envy - "The extravagant first class meals include fresh lobster, salmon and even caviar, along with entire ham legs and charcuterie arrangements carved right in the aisle by a toque-wearing chef wielding a now-unthinkably large knife."

A good man is hard to find: China's 'leftover women' look for love abroad - "people born after the introduction of the one-child policy, in 1979, are more risk averse, less trusting and trustworthy, more pessimistic and less competitive than those born before. According to Lata Gangadharan, professor of economics at Monash University, Australia, the study suggests the effects are more marked for men... To studied 50 leftover women and found them increasingly likely to choose Western men, "who are generally believed to be more open-minded and egalitarian in terms of gender roles"... Numbers are swelling at Shanghai's Yali Marriage Quotient Club, where women pay anywhere from 2,800 yuan to 40,000 yuan for classes specialising in how to bag an "elite foreign man"... "The culture difference was tough to start with," says Zhou, "I was expecting Europeans to be caring and controlling like Chinese guys, but they never seemed to get jealous or show any attachment. I suffered a lot because they all seemed so cold and uncommitted." "Most foreigners come to me for sex not a relationship," says Mei Deng, voicing a common complaint. Deng, who moved to Australia last year after breaking up with a Chinese boyfriend of five years, says, "I thought a relationship should be built first and sex comes after, but casual sex is very normal here."... In 2009, popular dating website hongniang.com conducted a series of polls showing the "happiness scores" of Chinese women in cross-cultural marriages had declined by 25 per cent"

Scientists Have Discovered This Drug Fixes Cavities and Regrows Teeth - "Dental fillings may soon be left in the ash heap of history, thanks to a recent discovery about a drug called Tideglusib. Developed for and trialled to treat Alzheimer’s disease, the drug also happens to promote the natural tooth regrowth mechanism, allowing the tooth to repair cavities."

How Facebook Outs Sex Workers - "Despite the fact that she’d only given Facebook information from her vanilla identity, the company had somehow discerned her real-world connection to these people—and, even more horrifyingly, her account was potentially being presented to them as a friend suggestion too, outing her regular identity to them. Because Facebook insists on concealing the methods and data it uses to link one user to another, Leila is not able to find out how the network exposed her or take steps to prevent it from happening again. “It’s not just sex workers who are careful to shield their identities,” she said to me via Skype. “The people who hire sex workers are also very concerned with anonymity so they’re using alternative emails and alternative names. And sometimes they have phones that they only use for this, for hiring women. You have two ends of people using heightened security, because neither end wants their identity being revealed. And they’re having their real names connected on Facebook.”"

When bias beats logic: why the US can't have a reasoned gun debate - "instead of evaluating skin cream trials, participants were asked to evaluate whether a law banning citizens from carrying concealed firearms in public made crime go up or down. The result: when liberals and conservatives were confronted with a set of results that contradicted their political assumptions, the smartest people were barely more likely to arrive at the correct answer than the people with no math skills at all. Political bias had erased the advantages of stronger reasoning skills... When it comes to guns, Americans want it both ways. A recent Pew study found that just over half of Americans want stronger gun laws. Even stronger majorities of Americans also believe that most people should be allowed to legally own most kinds of guns – and allowed to carry them in most places... Part of the weakness of major gun control proposals is the result of “the NRA’s catch-22”, said Adam Winkler, a gun politics expert at the University of California Los Angeles law school. “The NRA waters down the gun laws and makes them ineffective and then says, ‘Look, the gun laws are ineffective, we told you that gun laws never work.’”"

What makes an Independent Commission of Inquiry

I was asked, in relation to the Committee of Inquiry (COI) that will be set up to investigate Dave Lee's death, what I would consider in evaluating how independent a COI is.

Independence in a COI is important not just to ensure a procedurally fair enquiry (i.e. no coverups), but also to have a more objective view of the incident (postmodern dissing of objectivity and prioritising of lived experience aside) - indeed this is why independent COIs are set up in the first place.

In Dave Lee's case,

"the COI will be chaired by a Cluster Superintendent from the Ministry of Education, with a medical specialist from the public healthcare sector as one of its members"

Some factors - none either necessary or sufficient - that would make one think a COI is independent would include:

- having non current civil servants on board
- having non civil servants on board
- having foreign experts on board
- the full findings being published
- the COI identifying systemic issues instead of blaming a few bad apples
- high ranking people being held accountable instead of only low level scapegoats

It is instructive to look at other COIs, in comparison. For example, the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War was led by a retired civil servant.

A senior non-MINDEF civil servant, while more independent than someone from MINDEF, is still from the government.

Besides the Chilcot Inquiry, one can also look at other COIs in Singapore.

In 1992, the tanker Stolt Spur had an explosion in its boiler room and 3 Singaporeans were killed.

The Committee of Inquiry comprised Judge Richard Magnus, Assoc Prof Tan Thiam Chye (who seems to be a doctor and, as the same suggests, is also an academic) and Mun Leong Liew, a business leader.

I'd say that would be a pretty good model for a COI. Judges by their nature are more independent than civil servants (who are after all from the Executive branch of the government). Though of course if it'd been a retired judge it'd have been better still.

In addition, in this case Sembawang Shipyard belonged to a government-linked commercial enterprise, so the COI was not investigating the government per-se.

A related issue is whether what a COI concludes is the gospel truth. In some people's view, it seems COIs are omniscient and infallible. Yet one must question this assumption.

For example, the Little India COI supported the claim that alcohol was a major contributor factor (despite little evidence), but ignored or downplayed other relevant factors like similar incidents in India and other factors identified by The Online Citizen and Workfair Singapore.

Curiously, way before the COI had published its findings, the government had already moved to ban, on 11 December 2013, the sale and consumption of alcohol in the Little India area, and touted it as a plausible contributory factor.

Notably, this was just 3 days after the riot, more than 6 months before the COI released its findings on 30 June 2014 and indeed before the COI was even appointed on 13 December 2013.

It seems that those who say no one should comment, speculate or come to conclusions until the COI releases its findings exempt the government from this rule.

One cannot help but wonder if this public prejudging of the causes of the Little India Riot predisposed the COI to point to alcohol as a major factor for this riot. After all, in Singapore sub judice is criminalised "to prevent people from making public statements that could influence the minds of decision makers in court".

While a COI is not a court proceeding, a similar principle would seem to apply here; even though the Administration of Justice (Protection) Act exempts statements "made by a person on behalf of the Government about the subject matter of or an issue in a court proceeding that is pending is not contempt of court under subsection (1)(b) if the Government believes that such statement is necessary in the public interest" (we are talking about the principle of influence, not legal culpability).

Links - 4th May 2018 (1)

Forum | The Donald by The_Romford_Blue - "There’s something weird about the glee that overcame certain Brits when they heard Trump is visiting Britain in July. They can’t wait to dust down their placards, don their pussy hats, and take to the streets to rage against the ‘tangerine tyrant’. But if they’re so political, surely they’d have marched against Theresa May at some point, over Syria, or Windrush? And why didn’t they raise a peep during the visit of Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman last month? He really mistreats Muslims: represses them, beheads them, plunges them into famine (see Yemen). He denies women basic rights, yet no pussy hats for him. Next month President Erdogan of Turkey is coming here: there are no excitable tweets about railing against this persecutor of journalists and warmaker against the Kurds. Why Trump and not them? Because protesting against Trump isn’t actually political – it’s therapeutic, it’s visceral, it’s virtue-signalling with bells on. It’s about venting an often snooty emotional angst about the state of the world and against disobedient voters who won’t do as they’re told and choose Hillary or the EU. The big anti-Trump demo won’t really be a political march – it will be a middle-class primal scream"

Managing the managers: The rise of the business 'philosopher-kings' - "McKinsey was a big character - tall, and fond of chomping cigars, ignoring his doctor's advice. His ideas caught on with remarkable speed: by the mid-1930s he was hiring himself out at $500 (£380) a day - about $25,000 (£19,000) in today's money. And as his own time was limited, he took on employees. If he didn't like a report they wrote, he'd hurl it in the bin. "I have to be diplomatic with our clients," he told them. "But I don't have to be diplomatic with you bastards!""

Do welfare states boost economic growth, or stunt it? - " Imagine a single parent with two children. He or she might qualify for various payouts: housing benefit, child benefit, unemployment benefit. Could he or she accumulate more from the welfare system than they could get by working at the minimum wage? In 2013, according to research by the Cato Institute, in no fewer than nine European countries, the answer to that question was "Yes". In three of them - Austria, Croatia and Denmark - the marginal tax rate was nearly 100%. That means, if the single parent took a part-time job to earn some extra cash, he or she would immediately lose it in reduced benefits. Such a "welfare trap" hardly seems sensible. But it's also plausible to think that welfare states can improve economic productivity. If you lose your job, unemployment benefit means you don't have to rush into another one: it gives you time to find a new position that makes best use of your skills... the weight of evidence suggests that it's a wash - the positive and negative effects balance out. Welfare states don't make the pie bigger or smaller. But they do change the size of each individual slice. And that helps to keep a lid on inequality. At least, it used to. In the past two decades, the data shows welfare states haven't been doing that so well. And that's not surprising - they're creaking under the weight of a rapidly changing world. There's demographic change: people are living for longer after retirement... one of the biggest ways welfare states shaped the modern economy was to take the heat out of demands for much more radical change. Otto von Bismarck was no social reformer in the Frances Perkins mould. His motives were defensive. He feared that the public would turn to the revolutionary ideas of socialists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. In America, the New Deal was attacked from the left and right."

How air conditioning changed the world - "Boston entrepreneur Frederic Tudor amassed an unlikely fortune doing something similar. He took blocks of ice from frozen New England lakes in winter, insulated them in sawdust, and shipped them to warmer climes for summer. Until artificial ice-making took off, mild New England winters caused panic about an "ice famine"... Historically, theatres often shut down for summer: no windows, human bodies tightly packed together and, before electricity, lighting provided by flares. New England ice had been briefly popular. In the summer of 1880, New York's Madison Square Theatre used four tons a day: an eight-foot fan blew air over the ice and through ducts towards the audience. Unfortunately, though cool, the air was also damp, and with pollution increasing in New England's lakes, the melting ice sometimes released unpleasant smells. Willis Carrier's "Weathermaker" was much more practical... air conditioning is good news for many reasons. Studies show that it lowers mortality during heat waves. Heat makes prison inmates fractious - air conditioning pays for itself by reducing fights. When the temperature exceeds 21C or 22C in exam halls, students start to score lower in maths tests. In offices, air conditioning makes us more productive: according to one early study, it made US government typists do 24% more work... human productivity peaks at between 18C and 22C."

What tally sticks tell us about how money works - "Tallies were a way of recording debts with a system that was sublimely simple and effective. The stick would contain a record of the debt, for example: "£9 4s 4d from Fulk Basset for the farm of Wycombe". Fulk Basset was a Bishop of London in the 13th Century. He owed his debt to King Henry III. Now comes the elegant part. The stick would be split in half, down its length from one end to the other. The debtor would retain half, called the "foil". The creditor would retain the other half, called the "stock" - even today, British bankers use the word "stocks" to refer to debts of the British government. Because willow has a natural and distinctive grain, the two halves would match only each other... If you had a tally stock showing that Bishop Basset owed you £5, then unless you worried that he wasn't good for the money, the tally stock itself was worth close to £5 in its own right... the tally sticks themselves became a kind of money, a particular sort of debt that could be traded freely, circulating from person to person until it utterly separated from Bishop Basset and a farm in Wycombe... On Monday 4 May 1970, the Irish Independent, Ireland's leading newspaper, published a matter-of-fact notice with a straightforward title: Closure of banks. Every major bank in Ireland was closed and would remain closed until further notice. The banks were in dispute with their own employees, who had voted to strike, and it seemed likely that the whole business would drag on for weeks or even months. You might think that such news - in what was one of the world's more advanced economies - would inspire utter panic, but the Irish remained calm. They'd been expecting trouble, so had been stockpiling reserves of cash, but what kept the Irish economy going was something else. The Irish wrote each other cheques... The system was finally abolished and replaced by paper ledgers in 1834 after decades of attempts to modernise. To celebrate, it was decided to burn the sticks - six centuries of irreplaceable monetary records - in a coal-fired stove in the House of Lords, rather than letting parliamentary staff take them home for firewood. Burning a cartload or two of tally sticks in a coal-fired stove is a wonderful way to start a raging chimney fire. So it was that the House of Lords, then the House of Commons, and almost the entire Palace of Westminster - a building as old as the tally stick system itself - was burned to the ground."

School Start Times, Brand Names, and Too Much Ground Beef | Tell Me Something I Don't Know - "There's a trade off always between how much a muscle has been used and how tough it's going to be. But the tougher it is also the more flavor it's going to have. So that's the reason that you know a tenderloin's great, you can cook it in five minutes, you can cut it with a fork but it's never going to have the same flavor as a pot roast which you have to cook low and slow for six hours...
A later school start time could have a very beneficial effect on the economy. So our own research shows that if nationwide schools would start at eight thirty AM that would add about nine billion dollars a year to the US economy in terms of larger GDP... They do better in school. So it has been found that one hour more of sleep increases the probability of graduation or attending college by somewhere between eight to thirteen percent. And plus a lack of sleep is heavy associated with car crash and car crashes is one of the leading causes of death among American teenagers... they go to bed roughly at the same time but they get up in the morning later and actually interestingly they benefit from the better quality of sleep that tends to come their way in the early hours of the morning"

All About Bugs (of the Animal and Computer Varieties) | Tell Me Something I Don't Know - "You all know what it's like to go see King Lear if you haven't read it about ten minutes before. You might leave saying oh is wonderful. It wasn't wonderful because it wasn't the language that we speak. Whenever anybody says generous at a Shakespeare play you think that they mean magnanimous. They mean noble. They mean somebody who's living in a castle and you know up high and looking out. So somebody says generous and you think oh they mean magnanimous but they don't. It doesn't make sense and then the person keeps talking. That happens about every six lines...
[On Microsoft research on the money earned from annoying ads vs how much they piss users off (the religious war in online publishing)] If x is the amount of money that we make as a publisher to run the ads, the annoyance amount was 3X. So it cost you more money to apologize for the damage of the ads than you make by running the ads"

Good Night's Sleep Makes Us Happier Than A 50% Pay Rise, Research Suggests - "sexual satisfaction, health of relatives and feeling connected to the local community all impact our overall wellbeing. However, sleep was found to have the largest impact by far, with getting enough shut-eye having a greater impact on happiness than a 50% raise...
These were the five factors found to separate a typical person from those living best:
1. A Good Night’s Sleep
2. Sex Life Satisfaction
3. Job Security
4. Health of Close Relatives
5. Community Connectedness"

Animal mothers trick multiple males they are the father to prevent infanticide - "Closely related species that differ in infanticide and testes size include chimpanzees, where the males commit infanticide, versus bonobos, where males have not been observed to kill offspring. Bonobos have testes that are roughly 15 per cent larger than those of chimpanzees. Similarly, male Canadian Townsend voles do not commit infanticide and have 50 per cent larger testes compared to infanticidal males of close relatives the North American meadow voles"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Wednesday's business with Dominic O'Connell - "There's a very widespread belief in the UK that the UK gained a great deal from joining the EU. We've looked at that and we find that's absolutely not the case. The data shows very clearly that the UK economic growth if anything was lower after we joined the EU. What people do is to say well our growth was slower than say France and Germany before we joined and afterwards it was faster and therefore we know there was some relative improvement. If it wasn't an actual improvement that was a relative improvement. And a relative improvement only came because France and Germany slowed down so much after the nineteen seventies"

The Internet's Original Sin - "the pop-up ad. It was a way to associate an ad with a user’s page without putting it directly on the page, which advertisers worried would imply an association between their brand and the page’s content. Specifically, we came up with it when a major car company freaked out that they’d bought a banner ad on a page that celebrated anal sex. I wrote the code to launch the window and run an ad in it. I’m sorry. Our intentions were good... The fallen state of our Internet is a direct, if unintentional, consequence of choosing advertising as the default model to support online content and services

The Western Elite from a Chinese Perspective - "One class was about strategy. It focused on how corporate mottos and logos could inspire employees. Many of the students had worked for nonprofits or health care or tech companies, all of which had mottos about changing the world, saving lives, saving the planet, etc. The professor seemed to like these mottos. I told him that at Goldman our motto was “be long-term greedy.” The professor couldn’t understand this motto or why it was inspiring. I explained to him that everyone else in the market was short-term greedy and, as a result, we took all their money. Since traders like money, this was inspiring. He asked if perhaps there was another motto or logo that my other classmates might connect with. I told him about the black swan I kept on my desk as a reminder that low probability events happen with high frequency. He didn’t like that motto either and decided to call on another student, who had worked at Pfizer. Their motto was “all people deserve to live healthy lives.” The professor thought this was much better. I didn’t understand how it would motivate employees, but this was exactly why I had come to Stanford: to learn the key lessons of interpersonal communication and leadership."

Low-income and owning a car. Why? - "“It’s quite (difficult) trying to travel with two young children on public transport.” (Watch the episode here.) With the nearest MRT station about a 10-minute walk from her home, she added: “If I want to go to the MRT station, I have to either walk in the sun or squeeze onto a bus.”"

Commentary: Can intermittent fasting help tackle diabetes? - "The days of restricted eating gave the pancreas a break that allowed it to remove and recycle many of its cells. Then, when the mice started eating again, new cells that were capable of producing insulin emerged."

The Fascinating Afterlife of Peru's Mummies - "In the Andes, mummification was a way of preserving power, not memorializing it. As the Spanish discovered, the western spine of South America might be the Earth’s largest natural laboratory for making mummies. The sands of its bone-dry coast, stretching from Peru down to northern Chile, first made them naturally. Then, 7,000 years ago, the Chinchorro people learned to mummify their dead—2,000 years before the ancient Egyptians"

Academic Freedom Under Threat in Sweden - "“You will include Judith Butler in your course.” That was announced to Erik Ringmar, senior lecturer in the Department of Political Science at Lund University, after the September meeting of the department’s board of directors. Not that there’s anything wrong with reading the queer studies feminist Butler. It’s just that the course Ringmar teaches is primarily about the reaction to modernity at the turn of the last century, with a focus on fascism... The department’s goal, set by the board and approved by the academic board, is that the proportion of female authors must never fall below 40 percent of the reading lists. A course like Erik Ringmar’s—”Modern society and its critics“—which focuses on original texts from around the turn of the last century, immediately gets into trouble since fascism in the 1930s wasn’t exactly a bastion of gender equality... The gender equality plan of the Faculty of Social Sciences makes it clear that teachers must include sufficient literature from gender studies... All of this is guided by the underlying principle that it is not just about recruiting more women, it is about getting the right kind of gender perspectives which are influenced by the postmodernist and poststructuralist theories dominant within the humanities. While these perspectives may be interesting in some contexts, they are usually strongly ideological and almost always impossible to falsify. The direction to include Judith Butler on his reading list made the Director of Studies and Erik Ringmar decide to not hold the course again. Students who want to learn about the emergence of fascism at the turn of the 20th century need to apply to another university, and all this at a time when right-wing reaction is on the rise again in Europe. This is just one example of academic freedom being traded for a specific vision of social justice, and similar processes are taking place across the country. This process is called gender mainstreaming and it threatens academic freedom at all Swedish universities... One would think that the universities would have carried out an investigation to determine the extent to which the oppressive power structures they purport to exist permeate their organisations and student bodies. (Generally, when you contend that something exists, you need to prove it). But the National Secretariat for Gender Research recommends against this. In their feedback, those who have surveyed the situation at their own universities are mildly reprimanded... At Malmö University, it means, among other things, that parts of the education of a specialist nurse will be earmarked for gender studies... Swedish universities are willingly turning themselves into a commissariat for a one-sided and simplistic vision of social justice. And when the search for truth and the ideology of social justice collide, which do you think is likely to win?"
Ahh gender quotas. Just like if you can't get enough girls into sports, close down the boys' teams

Cutting Men’s Programs Now to Stay Title IX Compliant Later - The New York Times - "Delaware is one of dozens of universities that have eliminated low-profile men’s teams like wrestling, gymnastics and swimming in an effort, the universities say, to comply with Title IX, the federal law that bans sex discrimination in education. But in cutting the men’s varsity track team, Delaware took the practice a step further. The university did not make the argument that it needed to cut the team to immediately comply with the law — after all, it plans to add a women’s golf team in the fall. Instead, officials say they are ending the track program, which has its 100th anniversary this year, out of concern hat they could not remain compliant in the future... Rather than spend money on expanding sports for women, many universities have instead cut men’s teams in order to comply with the proportionality method"

How Title IX Hurts Female Athletes - "Title IX has inflicted significant collateral damage, including increased health risks for the players, a drop in the number of women coaches, and increased exposure to sexual abuse."

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Links - 3rd May 2018 (3)

How outdated stereotypes about British accents reinforce the class ceiling - "while regional accents do not have an effect on the perceived attractiveness of the speaker, they do have a significant effect on perceived level of intelligence. People ranked the Yorkshire accent as the most intelligent followed successively by RP, silence and then the Birmingham accent... Some of our own participants perceived the RP accent both as privileged and dull... the Yorkshire accent is associated with trustworthiness, which in turn is associated with intelligence."

Many 'change accent to get ahead' - "More than one-third of employees have changed their accent in order to impress their boss and improve their career prospects, research suggests. Among the 1,000 people surveyed, 38% of those with a regional accent said they had had difficulties being understood... "Everyone has an accent and, within the UK, accents change noticeably about every 25 miles"... Liverpudlians were the most willing to change their accent, closely followed by people from the Midlands. However, not one Irish person admitted to having changed their voice for either professional or personal reasons"

North Korean defector watching 'The Transporter', 'CSI': Doctor - "The North Korean soldier who dramatically defected through the demilitarised zone has been captivated by American crime dramas and sci-fi thrillers since he woke up in a South Korean hospital... The 24-year-old soldier, identified only by his surname, Oh, has watched high octane driving flick "The Transporter" and forensic whodunnit "CSI", and can't get enough of K-Pop... The television remains fixed on a 24-hour movie channel as the local news could upset the patient... Movies and pop music dominate their conversations, Lee said, stressing that his patient "really likes girl bands""

What the parasites in a defector’s stomach tell us about North Korea - The Washington Post - "Finding worms inside a soldier who once guarded one of the most scrutinized borders in the world is especially telling, a sign that North Korea’s food woes affect military members, who typically have a higher ranking on the food-rationing list. There are even reports that North Korean soldiers have been ordered to steal corn from farmers to stave off hunger."

In Finland, seniors are ‘VIP clients’ who get to take nurses out for coffee - "Espoo — with a population of about 275,500 inhabitants in 2016 — faced a conundrum some 10 years ago not unlike Singapore’s. Back then, Finland took a medicalised approach to eldercare and many were still in four or five-bedded wards in nursing homes, while staff consisted almost exclusively of nurses, said Ms Maria Rysti, specialist in services for the elderly under the City of Espoo’s Social and Health Services. The city council changed the service culture and management style with its Ageing Policy Programme. It supported the transition for elderly citizens to live at home, or home-like environments where they can “live their own way of life” and be treated as “subjects, not objects”"

Go ahead, wear a bindi. As an Indian-American, I view it as cultural appreciation, not appropriation - "Growing up in a small, predominantly white town where my culture was not well known, I encouraged others to wear Indian inspired accessories, including the bindi, and to try Indian food. It helped build awareness about my culture and created a sense of unity... The real impact of “cultural appropriation” is the decreased integration of other cultures. Sensitivity and microaggression trainings have turned people timid and afraid. I’ve noticed people are afraid to ask questions about my culture out of fear of being “offensive.”"

Police reluctant to make arrests due to sharp fall in number of custody suites - "Police are reluctant to make arrests because the closure of custody suites has led to hour-long trips to the nearest cells. Officers are now letting suspects go “and hoping for the best”, the chairman of the Police Federation told The Daily Telegraph."

‘No Evidence Needed’ to Report ‘Transphobic Hate Crime’ - "The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has held a “public consultation” and issued “revised” guidelines on “hate crimes” and “transphobia”, which are likely to result in ever increasing numbers of people being dragged through court for speech crimes... “In order to treat a crime as a hate crime for the purposes of investigation, there is no need for evidence to prove the aggravating element”, the guidelines add. “Hate crimes” receive harsher sentences than other crimes, and “aggravating” factors are often vague, such as the definition of “transphobia”."

Disney's Pick for Mulan is Literally the Worst Actress in China, According to China - "Liu YiFei had been chosen to play the titular lead in Mulan in the live-action remake of the beloved classic originally released in 1998... her casting is a welcome change of pace from Hollywood’s standard modus operandi of Whitewashing, the choice is perhaps a bit perplexing, considering she’s rated by Chinese netizens as one of the worst actresses of all time."
We know they have the important bit down - skin colour

Muslim school receives 'inadequate' Ofsted rating after loos did not have toilet paper for 'cultural reasons' - "some of the girls told inspectors they were so unhappy about the situation that they avoided using the lavatory all day... "Inspectors found published sectarian material in a storeroom behind the school office. They made the headteacher aware of this. "The headteacher explained that he was not aware of how the materials came to be in school."

The war on sex is out of control - "the Police Service of Northern Ireland, which yesterday tweeted: ‘If you bump into that special someone under the mistletoe tonight, remember that without consent it is rape #SeasonsGreetings.’ It’s hard to know what’s worse: that the PSNI doesn’t know what rape is, or its use of that passive-aggressive ‘Seasons Greetings’ hashtag... Sex is in dire crisis. It’s being crushed under the jackboot of a new misanthropy that views any spontaneous, uncontracted interaction between adults with dread. We might have to refight the battle for sexual liberation... Student officials have made sexual-consent classes compulsory for freshers, where they lecture them about the importance of getting verbal, non-inebriated consent for every stage of a sexual encounter, as if fucking were the same as making a business deal. (And as if 18-year-olds aren’t going to get blotto before sex. What planet do these people live on?)... Two journalists, Rupert Myers and Sam Kriss, were hounded out of the British media over what were in essence bad dates. Myers stands accused of saying to a woman he had a drink with ‘I want to fuck you’, while Kriss kissed a woman and bought her wine and invited her back to his house for sex... John Lasseter, head of Pixar, has taken a six-month leave of absence over ‘unwanted hugs’. Seriously. When will we recognise that a moral crusade that sweeps up even men who like a hug is a demented thing? One of the things that led to radio presenter Garrison Keillor losing his job – more than that, his life’s work – involved him accidentally putting his hand on a woman’s bare back. He went to comfort her after she told him she was unhappy, but he didn’t realise she was wearing a loose shirt, meaning his friendly gesture engaged her bare skin. He apologised. She accepted. But no matter: in the mad new war on human interaction, even a friendly male hand on a woman’s back is tantamount to a sex crime (never mind puckering up under the mistletoe)... In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Party views the ‘sex instinct’ with disgust while a Junior Anti-Sex League polices flirting and touching. And in such a sexphobic climate, ‘the sexual act, successfully performed, was rebellion’. Today, you don’t even have to go that far; today, we’re so messed up about sex and love and warmth and touch that even to hold mistletoe over a drunk colleague’s head and plant a smacker on his or her cheek is rebellion. So do it. Rebel. Be human."

Film Review: Genki Genki 18 - "Genki Genki 18, also known as “The Fish That Has is Crunched and the Wound is Received” (which I can only imagine is a shaky translation from Japanese to English), is about a girl and two dirty, nasty dockworkers (this is an assumption; I don’t know where they work, I just know they haven’t showered recently and have access to a plethora of fish). These aren’t the kind of films that are found on IMDb, so I don’t have the same type of cast and crew information I would normally bring you, but I do know the girl is Rui Miduki. Basically, the two guys have her chained up, they paw at her, chew on her hair, and tear her clothes off, then start rubbing and slapping dead fish on her. These fish are later torn apart, their guts spread all over her, shoved in her mouth, and used as additional lubrication while the guys have sex (or rape?) her. There are money shots on the fish, there are clusters of guts shoved into every orifice, and there are even power tools used toward the end to add to the mess of gore and bodily fluids. And this all goes on for over an hour and a half."

The Costly Paradox of Health-Care Technology - "Technology doesn’t raise prices in other parts of the economy. Improvements in computers provide better products at lower prices, and automobiles are an equally good example... We came up with two basic causes. The first is a dizzying array of different treatments, some that provide enormous health value per dollar spent and some that provide little or no value. The second is a generous system of insurance (both private and public) that pays for any treatment that doesn’t obviously harm the patient, regardless of how effective it is. We created three “bins” of treatments, sorted according to their health benefit per dollar of spending. The category with the greatest benefit includes low-cost antibiotics for bacterial infection, a cast for a simple fracture, or aspirin and beta blockers for heart attack patients. Not all treatments in this category are inexpensive. Antiretroviral drugs for people with HIV may cost $20,000 per year, but they are still a technology home run because they keep patients alive, year after year. A second category of technology includes procedures whose benefits are substantial for some patients, but not all. Angioplasty, in which a metal stent is used to prop open blocked blood vessels in the heart, is very cost-effective for heart attack patients treated within the first 12 hours. But many more patients get the procedure even when the value for them is less clear. Because the U.S. health-care system compensates generously for angioplasty whether it’s used correctly or not, the average value of this innovation is driven toward zero. A third category includes treatments whose benefits are small or supported by little scientific evidence. These include expensive surgical treatments like spinal fusion for back pain, proton-beam accelerators to treat prostate cancer, or aggressive treatments for an 85-year-old patient with advanced heart failure. The prevailing evidence suggests no known medical value for any of these compared with cheaper alternatives. Yet if a hospital builds a $150 million proton accelerator, it will have every incentive to use it as frequently as possible, damn the evidence. And hospitals are loading up on such technology; the number of proton-beam accelerators in the United States is increasing rapidly."

Policy lessons from health taxes: a systematic review of empirical studies - "If the primary policy goal of a health tax is to reduce consumption of unhealthy products, then evidence supports the implementation of taxes that increase the price of products by 20% or more. However, where taxes are effective in changing health behaviours, the predictability of the revenue stream is reduced. Hence, policy actors need to be clear about the primary goal of any health tax and frame the tax accordingly – not doing so leaves taxes vulnerable to hostile lobbying. Conversely, earmarking health taxes for health spending tends to increase public support so long as policymakers follow through on specified spending commitments."
So, the more expensive cigarettes and alcohol are in Singapore, the more the PAP cares for Singaporeans

POOL RULES - "Menstruation Cycles Have Been Known to Attract Sharks So Don't Jeopardize Innocent Swimmers"

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - 2012-04-28 - "What are 'hippies?'"
"The most violent humans in history"

I FOUND HIM! | The T-Rex Runner - "50. Fat. Diabetic. Ahead of you"

Messe Kopp 'Forward': Filmmaker Captures Hypnotizing 'Reverse' Walk Through Jerusalem (VIDEO) - "Messe Kopp, a filmmaker in Israel, has created a mind-boggling video featuring a mesmerizing “reverse” walk through the streets of downtown Jerusalem."

Anti-Piracy Group Accused of Stealing the Photo They Used in an Anti-Piracy Ad - "Anti-piracy group The Business Software Alliance was called out this weekend for allegedly using a stolen photo in an anti-piracy ad that encouraged people to turn in unlicensed software users"

Botched Steve McCurry Print Leads to Photoshop Scandal

More Photoshopped Photos Emerge in the Steve McCurry Scandal - "It appears that McCurry’s entire blog — along with the examples we referenced — has been deleted. We have not yet received any response to our request for comment... McCurry has responded to the controversy in a new exclusive interview with TIME. The piece is titled “I’m a Visual Storyteller Not a Photojournalist.” McCurry says that he will “rein in his use of Photoshop” going forward"

Nova Don't Go - "Assuming that Spanish speakers would naturally see the word “nova” as equivalent to the phrase “no va” and think “Hey, this car doesn’t go!” is akin to assuming that English speakers would spurn a dinette set sold under the name Notable because nobody wants a dinette set that doesn’t include a table... The truth is that the Chevrolet Nova’s name didn’t significantly affect its sales: it sold well in both its primary Spanish-language markets, Mexico and Venezuela. (Its Venezuelan sales figures actually surpassed GM’s expectations.)"

This genius streamed a pay-per-view UFC match by pretending to play it - "A streamer broadcast a live pay-per-view UFC match on multiple platforms, including Twitch, by pretending it was a video game he was playing"

What makes gambling wrong but insurance right? - "Gambling tools such as dice date back millennia - perhaps five thousand years in Egypt. Insurance may be equally old. The Code of Hammurabi - a law code from Babylon, in what is now Iraq - is nearly 4,000 years old. It includes numerous clauses devoted to the topic of "bottomry", a kind of maritime insurance bundled together with a business loan. A merchant would borrow money to fund a ship's voyage, but if the ship sank, the loan did not have to be repaid"

Do passports restrict economic growth? - "the more zealously bureaucratic continental nations had realised the passport's potential as a tool of social and economic control. A century earlier, French citizens had to show paperwork not only to leave the country, but to travel from town to town. While wealthy countries today secure their borders to keep unskilled workers out, municipal authorities historically used them to stop skilled workers from leaving... Many countries ban employers from discriminating among workers based on characteristics we can't change: whether we're male or female, young or old, gay or straight, black or white. It's not entirely true that we can't change our passport: $250,000 (£193,000) will buy you one from St Kitts and Nevis. But, mostly, our passport depends on the identity of our parents and location of our birth. And nobody chooses those. Despite this, there's no public clamour to judge people not by the colour of their passport but by the content of their character."

How department stores changed the way we shop - "Another trailblazer was an Irish immigrant named Alexander Turney Stewart. Stewart introduced New Yorkers to the shocking concept of not hassling customers the moment they walked through the door, a novel policy he called "free entrance". AT Stewart and Co was among the first stores to practise the now-ubiquitous "clearance sale", periodically moving on old stock at knockdown prices to make room for new. Stewart also offered no-quibble refunds. He made customers pay in cash, or settle their bills quickly. Traditionally, shoppers had strung out their lines of credit for up to a year. He also recognised that not everybody liked to haggle, with many welcoming the simplicity of being quoted a fair price, and being told to take it or leave it... The first salesman Stewart hired was appalled to discover he'd not be allowed to apply his finely tuned skill of sizing up the customer's apparent wealth and extracting as extravagant a price as possible. He resigned on the spot, telling the youthful Irish shopkeeper he'd be bankrupt within a month. By the time Stewart died, over five decades later, he was one of the richest men in New York... Time-use studies suggest women spend more time shopping than men. Other research indicates that this is a matter of preference as well as duty: men tend to say they like shops with easy parking and short checkout queues. Women are more likely to prioritise different aspects of the shopping experience, such as the friendliness of sales assistants."

Chesterton's Fence

Daniel Jordan:

"There is a wisdom to cleaning your room before tackling the ills of the world.

But I can think of another way to learn the hard lesson.

Buy a junk car, but one that actually works. Take the whole thing apart piece by piece.

Next challenge, put the car back together and make sure it works as good as it did before you took it apart.

You will learn that is is incredibly easy to deconstruct things, but very difficult by comparison to make things work as good as it did before you started mucking about. People as a rule are very good at tearing things apart, we are woefully bad at making complex things work that are beyond our understanding.

Cars are, for all of their complexity, remarkably simple compared to societies.

Maybe people that work in the trades aren't as simple minded as you think, and they are wiser than you know. There is this elitism among certain academic types that permeates through society and looks down at the working class. The kind of elitism that smugly believes that it knows better, but contains none of the humility to admit its faults and gaps in knowledge or wisdom.

I do not trust post modern, deconstructionist types. It takes almost no intellectual prowess to point ones finger at the ills of the world and label things as flawed or imperfect, like the junky car that our society is. Flawed, but running. I remember when I was 14. We all do. The people who can only attack the civilization we have as evil and flawed but give zero credit to the enormous steps we have taken and the monumental human achievements of our past and present have thrown objectivity out the window. Such people if given any power would have no clue what to do with it and would predictably only make things worse despite any claims of good intentions."

Or, as GK Chesterton put it:

"In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, "I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away." To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: "If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it."

This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunaties who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious. There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease. But the truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution. If he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, he may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, or that they have since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes which are no longer served. But if he simply stares at the thing as a senseless monstrosity that has somehow sprung up in his path, it is he and not the traditionalist who is suffering from an illusion. We might even say that he is seeing things in a nightmare."

--- The Drift from Domesticity

(quoted as: "Don't ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.")

Links - 3rd May 2018 (2)

Marxists' Apartment A Microcosm Of Why Marxism Doesn't Work - ""A spirit of free-market competition in the house would likely result in better incomes or better grades," Browning said. "Then, instead of being hated and ostracized by the world at large as socialist countries usually are, they could maintain effective diplomacy with their landlord, their parents, and Kirk's boss who cut back his hours at Shaman Drum Books." The lack of funds and the resulting scarcity breeds not only discontent but also corruption. Although collectivism only works when all parties contribute to the fullest extent, Foyle hid the existence of a $245 paycheck from roommates so he would not have to pay his back rent, in essence refusing to participate in the forced voluntary taxation that is key to socialism"

RAF opens combat roles to women amid concern from senior officers - "Col Richard Kemp, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said he “vehemently” disagreed with allowing women to serve in the infantry, as is planned next year. Speaking to BBC News, Kemp said he was concerned that women were more likely to suffer long-term injuries than men. This in turn could lead the military budget being hit by expensive compensation payments... Kemp also claimed military training would become less arduous. “My other concern is that standards of training and selection will be dropped. The army deny they will do that, but I’m confident they will”... In an interview with BBC Essex, he pointed out that there were no mixed-gender national sports teams, adding: “The simple fact is we take sport more seriously today. We take the defence of our country and the lives of our servicemen and women less seriously.”... The former head of the British army, Gen Lord Dannatt has also expressed doubts about the plan. Maj Judith Webb said she shared concerns about the physical consequences for women serving on the frontline. But she added: “Women are capable of anything and everything. My concern has been about the longevity of women in these roles.”"

Alexandria Shooting Motive: Did Anti-Trump Rhetoric Inspire James Hodgkinson? - "Three months before James Hodgkinson picked up a gun and targeted Republican members of a congressional baseball team as they practiced in Alexandria, Virginia, on Wednesday, he signed a petition calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump"

How networks shape history | Podcast | History Extra - "Another good example of why the world is not going to necessarily get better the more networked it is, is the phenomenon of homophily, the fact that people are gravitate towards people like them, like themselves. Birds of a feather flock together... network science shows that if you have a population which is say ethnically heterogenous in a large school - there's lots of evidence of this from the United States - they will self segregate according to race or ethnicity and so this phenomenon is another reason why the more networked society gets the more divided it can paradoxically become...
French Revolution has a very different outcome from the American Revolution in that the networks that brought the Ancien Regime down in some ways failed to create any new order, you end up with a kind of anarchy. And the only way that you can deal with the problem of anarchy created by the late seventy nineties is to create a very hierarchical new order which is what Napoleon does. And there's a turning point there with Napoleon's advent as First Consul and then Emperor"

The Last Kamikazes | Podcast | History Extra - "You have a country where I think only eleven percent of the nationals are willing to fight for the country, which is the lowest in the world and I think that's what a lot of people of that generation, of the war generation wanted to achieve, to make sure that Japan would never be in a situation where it would be involved in a war and that's why we have the pacifist constitution and so on but even then the fact that today you ask any young Japanese people and most of them say that they wouldn't even consider joining the army and fight for the country. I think that rapid change is quite incredible"

Britain’s Chinese army | Podcast | History Extra - "[On coolies] We always think of soldiers at the front line as fighting, as being in the trenches, as being involved in combat. In actual fact a lot of the time that soldiers spent at the front line they weren't fighting or even in the trenches. They were carrying out what were called fatigue duties behind the lines and that could be anything. It could be repairing roads, laying rail, digging new trenches, constructing wells, assembling supply domes - almost anything you can think of could be a duty that the soldiers would be required to do and they were called fatigues partially as a mocking term because they would fatigue the soldier. Now the problem with doing a fatigue aside from wearing the soldier out when he could be resting or recuperating is it greatly diminished the time that was available for training and one of the big problems the British army had at the Battle of the Somme was there was very little time to train the army and so it went into battle almost without any significant battle training and of course it suffered very heavy losses... the survivors have to do even more work behind the lines"

You Say “eye-RACK,” I Say “ear-ROCK” | Tell Me Something I Don't Know - "Democrats are more likely to say Ih Rahk which is the pronunciation closer to what we would call the source form or how this is pronounced in Arabic while Republicans are more likely to use the pronunciation Ih Rack or Eye Rack... I actually found the same political effect to hold for variables like Chili vs Chih Leh or Keh Beck vs Kweh Beck...
This isn't necessarily about do I identify as a Democrat or Republican but it's more about do I identify as globalist versus nationalist...
The music we listen to first, we like let's say simple music. That means in a year the markets will go"

Farming Without Sun or Soil and Eating Manna From Heaven | Tell Me Something I Don't Know - "Pope Francis said something really cool. He said that giving something to someone in need is always right and if a glass of wine is the only happiness he has in life, that's okay"

Edward VI and the Vagrancy Act 1547 - "in 1547 he introduced the Vagrancy Act. This stated that any able-bodied person who was out of work for more than three days should be branded with a V and sold into slavery for two years. Other offences by the same individual would lead to a life of slavery. Many local authorities refused to enact this harsh legislation."

An Astronaut, a Catalan, and Two Linguists Walk Into a Bar… | Tell Me Something I Don't Know - "You can't split the inventive... somebody just made that up and that person said you can't split the infinitive because you can't split an infinitive in Latin because in Latin the infinitive is one f-ing word so you can't split it. Because you can't split a word, it's like trying to cut a cat in half. And so this person decided, well you can't split an infinitive in English because English is supposed to be like Latin. He's dead and here we are. Just let it go. Split your infinitives and enjoy it please"

Womb to Tomb | Tell Me Something I Don't Know - "Many people don't realize that monogamy was initially adopted as a military tactic because it was Greco-Roman strategists and not philosophers or religious adherents who embedded this into our society and they did it because it was an effective tool for building an empire. So they started laws built around putting one person with one other person and they wanted to keep that in line because it had all these social level effects... like in crime rates... polygynous societies have much higher crime rates because if you have a lot of single men around that's not good news... there have been some scholars who have speculated that these single men, if they are very sexually frustrated will have a greater probability of overthrowing the empire...
[On digital vs flushable pregnancy tests] About a quarter of the [pregnancy] tests that are sold today are digital and they have more computing power in them than the Apple 2c. They also have batteries in them and despite the fact that the instructions for the tests say that you should remove the batteries before throwing the test out, zero percent of the women that we surveyed actually remove the battery from their test so with this innovation has also not done is provide for the privacy problem of pregnancy tests. When we talk to women and survey women we find that nine out of ten women say that they want to control who knows whether they're pregnant or not pregnant...
Parents who rated themselves higher on authoritarian parenting which is a harsh my way or the highway approach to parenting also had blunted empathic responses to watching their kids receive a reward"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Constantine the Great - "[On 'With This Sign You Will Conquer] This story we actually first know about after his death. And the person who writes about this, Eusebius, who's his biographer has already written an account twenty five years before he doesn't mention this. And there is another account where Christ comes and gives us a slightly different message in a dream before the battle and so on. It looks very suspicious that Constantine's Christianity rolls like a snowball through history - the later the source the more Christian he is...
Most people don't care enough about them to persecute them... in some parts of the Empire there's no evidence they really did much persecuting at all. Christians later when they wanted martyrs had to invent lots of martyrs to make the persecution look grander than it was"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Feathered Dinosaurs - "Feathers first evolved for something else - probably for insulation, it makes sense. We don't know for sure but you know these dinosaurs were active and energetic, they needed to retain their body heat so probably the first feathers evolved for insulation but then that one group of small meat eating dinosaurs change their feathers, turn their feathers into things that could form wings. But now we see, amazingly this has emerged over the last few years that the first dinosaurs with wings couldn't fly either. They were too big. Their wings were too small. So it looks like even wings did not evolve for flight. Maybe they evolved as some kind of display billboard on the arms, you know to attract mates or intimidate rivals. Animals including birds today are always using their feathers for display purposes"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Picasso's Guernica - "There is this fantastic photograph of the Basque government in exile standing in front of the painting in the pavilion in Paris where Picasso, as it's being taken down, says to the Basque government: this is yours. If you want the painting it's yours and the Basque government in exile says no thank you. And that has been one of the thorns in the side of the Basques wanting to claim Guernica for the Basque country, but little by little within the Basque country Guernica becomes adopted, becomes a symbol of the suffering of the Basque country during the Franco period where owning a reproduction like the postcard that you have in front of you of Guernica is illegal... Colin Powell announces the Invasion of Iraq in front of the Security Council where they have covered up the tapestry and the people of Guernica and in particular the survivors of the bombing write a letter of protest to the United Nations"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Thebes - "The Athenians did not like to portray really bad problems in their own city state or theatre. They liked to export that. That's a bit like a lot of Shakespeare's plays about really bad politics are deliberately set in Italian Republics or elsewhere. It's using the elsewhere so you can be safe and you've got to get it past the Archon. That's the magistrate who chooses the plays to go on. He chooses plays that are suitable ideologically for the Athenian audience... the Athenians really hated the Thebans so it was a very safe place to commit murder and incest... Thebes was quite a secretive society... it was run by a few aristocratic families. I actually think the incest theme reflects something... we've actually got six plays set there and they are some of the most violent and some of the most famous in the repertoire"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, Raqqa In Ruins - "IS don't just use civilians as shields - they use them as bait. The day before a hundred people had been spotted trying to leave IS territory. They were mainly women and children. When Abul Abdul and his men approached them kids ran to the side of the street and the women revealed themselves to be IS fighters armed to the teeth...
I live in London and I know how identity is often shaped in opposition - there is nothing more Scottish than a Scot in England"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, A New Recipe - "If you say I'm Spanish, I love my country, I want a united Spain - it's as if you're in favor of Franco"

TV dinners: The hidden cost of the processed food revolution - "American families spend increasingly more outside the home - on fast food, restaurant meals, sandwiches and snacks. Only a quarter of food spending was outside the home in the 1960s. That has steadily risen over time and in 2015 a landmark was reached: for the first time, Americans spent more on food and drink outside the home than at grocery stores. The British passed that particular milestone more than a decade earlier... the washing machine did not save a lot of time, because before washing machines, we did not wash clothes very often. When it took all day to wash and dry a few shirts, people used replaceable collars and cuffs or dark outer layers to hide the grime.

How the lift transformed the shape of our cities - "When the furthest reaches of a six- or seven-storey building were accessed only after an arduous climb, they tended to be the servants' quarters or the artist's garret. After the lift, the attic became the loft apartment, the penthouse... the Empire State Building was always energy efficient by the simple virtue of being a densely packed vertical structure next to an underground station. One of the organisations that designed the building's retrofit is visionary environmental organisation the Rocky Mountain Institute, whose super-efficient, environmentally sustainable headquarters, doubling as a showcase home for founder Amory Lovins, was built high in the Rockies, 180 miles (290km) from the nearest public transit system."

How formula milk shaped the modern workplace - "In Utah, there's a company called Ambrosia Labs. Its business model? Pay mothers around the world to express breast milk, screen it for quality, and sell it on to American mothers. Milk is pricey - over $100 (£77) a litre (1.75 pints). But that could come down with scale - and maybe formula could be taxed, to fund a breast-milk market subsidy. Not everyone likes this idea. Indeed, the government in Cambodia, where Ambrosia used to operate, has banned the export of breast milk."

How Chinese mulberry bark paved the way for paper money - "The abysmal world record for hyperinflation is held by Hungary in 1946, where prices trebled during the course of every day. Walk into a Budapest cafe back then, and it was better to pay for your coffee when you arrived, not when you left."

How plastic became a victim of its own success - "plastic has benefits that aren't just economic, but environmental too. Vehicles made with plastic parts are lighter, and so use less fuel. Plastic packaging keeps food fresh for longer, and so reduces waste. If bottles weren't made of plastic, they'd be made of glass. Which would you rather gets dropped in your children's playground?"

How market research revolutionised advertising and shopping - "In 1929, he helped the American Tobacco Company to persuade women that smoking in public was an act of female liberation. Cigarettes, he said, were "torches of freedom"."

Does Management Matter? Evidence from India - "A long-standing question is whether differences in management practices across firms can explain differences in productivity, especially in developing countries where these spreads appear particularly large. To investigate this, we ran a management field experiment on large Indian textile firms. We provided free consulting on management practices to randomly chosen treatment plants and compared their performance to a set of control plants. We find that adopting these management practices raised productivity by 17% in the first year through improved quality and efficiency and reduced inventory, and within three years led to the opening of more production plants. Why had the firms not adopted these profitable practices previously? Our results suggest that informational barriers were the primary factor explaining this lack of adoption. Also, because reallocation across firms appeared to be constrained by limits on managerial time, competition had not forced badly managed firms to exit"

How a creative legal leap helped create vast wealth - "The East India Company quickly learned the value of maintaining cosy relationships with British politicians, who duly bailed it out whenever it got into trouble. In 1770, for example, a famine in Bengal clobbered the company's revenue. British legislators saved it from bankruptcy, by exempting it from tariffs on tea exports to the American colonies, which was, perhaps, short-sighted on their part: it eventually led to the Boston Tea Party, and the American Declaration of Independence. You could say the United States owes its existence to excessive corporate influence on politicians."

The great intellectual property trade-off - "in Dickens's day, American literature and innovation were in their infancy. The US economy was in full-blown copying mode: they wanted the cheapest possible access to the best ideas that Europe could offer. US newspapers filled their pages with brazen copying - alongside attacks on the interfering Mr Dickens. A few decades later, when American authors and inventors spoke with a more powerful voice, America's lawmakers began to take an increasingly fond view of the idea of intellectual property. Newspapers, once opposed to copyright, now rely upon it. And we can expect to see a similar transition in developing countries today: the less they copy other ideas and the more they create their own, the more they protect ideas. There's been a lot of recent movement: China didn't have a copyright system at all until 1991... those who defend intellectual property protections still tend to argue that - right now - those protections offer more than enough incentive to create new ideas. Dickens himself eventually discovered a financial upside to weak copyright protection. Twenty five years after his initial visit to the US, Dickens returned, keen to make some money. He reckoned that so many people had read cheap knock-offs of his stories that he could cash in on his fame with a lecture tour. He was absolutely right: off the back of pirated copies of his work, Charles Dickens made a fortune as a public speaker, many millions of dollars in today's terms."

Why one American Muslim loves Donald Trump - U.S. Election 2016 - "The Egyptian-born businessman who came to the United States in 1979 and became a citizen two decades later said in an interview on Friday that he was alarmed by changes in Egypt, where, in his view, high unemployment and poverty have driven many young Egyptians to religious extremism."

Sociobiology in the 1970s

There could not have been a worse time than the mid-1970s for the inauguration of human sociobiology. The Vietnam War, the most hated conflict in American history, was mercifully coming to an end. Also, victory seemed in sight in the battle for civil rights, although still far from secured. American democracy, in its cumbersome and noisy fashion, was again proving its mettle. The negative side of this tumult, however, was the opportunity it offered extremism. The fashionable mood in academia was revolutionary left. Elite universities invented political correctness, enforced by peer pressures and the threat of student protest. Marxism and socialism in this ambience were all right. Communist revolutions were all right. The regimes of China and the Soviet Union were, at least in ideology, all right. Centrism was scorned outside the dean’s office. Political conservatives, stewing inwardly, for the most part dared not speak up. Radical left professors and visiting activists, the heroes on campus, repeated this litany: The Establishment has failed us, the Establishment blocks progress, the Establishment is the enemy. Power to the people it was—but with an American twist. Because ordinary working people remained dismayingly conservative throughout this sandbox revolution, the new proletariat in the class struggle had to be the students. And, unable to picture their futures as stockbrokers, bureaucrats, and college administrators, many of the students complied.

In academia’s now necktie-free zone, race was a radioactive issue, deadly to any who touched it without extreme caution. Talk of the inheritance of IQ and human behavior were punishable offenses. Anyone who dared mention these subjects in any manner other than formulaic condemnation was at risk of being called a racist. Indictment as a racist in the eyes of the community, even if wholly false, would have been cause for banishment from academe. But that almost never occurred because the faculty were smart and timorous enough to stay entirely away from the subjects, at least in public. Even private conversations were cautious and muted...

Sociobiology, therefore, was widely seen not as an intellectual resource, as I had hoped, but as a threat to the blank-slate worldview. Worse, within a small but outspoken segment of the intellectual elite, it was considered a threat to Marxist ideology. In rejecting sociobiology, these critics managed to redefine the word in a wholly new and misleading way. In the popular media, it came to mean the theory that human behavior is determined by genes, or at least strongly influenced by them, as opposed to learning. Of course, that proposition is nowadays seen to be correct, and there was already plenty of evidence to support it in the 1970s. But regardless of the evidence, that is not what sociobiology meant originally or is understood to mean by scientists today. Sociobiology is a scientific discipline, the systematic study of the biological basis of all forms of social behavior in organisms, including humans. As an ensemble of working theories, it even encompasses the possibility of a blank-slate brain, recognizing that in order to flatten out innate predispositions to achieve such a brain would require a great deal of evolution involving a large number of genes. In other words, the theory of a blank slate is at base an intensely sociobiological idea, albeit wrong"

-- On Nature / EO Wilson

Links - 3rd May 2018 (1)

Privilege: an advice - "Britain has the lowest social mobility in the OECD, controlling for both race and gender. Race and gender are relatively unimportant: in fact, they are so unimportant that women (until the average age of first childbirth) in Britain have now opened a statistically significant gender wage gap on men. If a woman is lesbian or chooses not to have children, the wage advantage persists. Despite repeated claims that austerity has hit women hardest, men are its primary victims, and this is added to a systemic decline in male employment rates and wages over the last 25 years. We have deliberately used large data sets here, in part to reflect the way ‘privilege’ is used in debates: if being a member of a given group means certain characteristics can be assumed on the basis of one’s membership, then in Britain, to be a middle-class, childless, gay woman confers a significant wage advantage, statistically speaking...
The problem with making claims that there is a knowledge advantage to be had from lived experience as a member of an oppressed group is threefold.
1. It may not be true.
2. It assumes that other people (regardless of their backgrounds) have no imagination or empathy.
3. It may be that structural privilege (in Britain: Oxbridge, public school, membership of the professions) confers a knowledge advantage that is greater than any knowledge advantage conferred by the experience of oppression...
(1) is most serious of all. If you claim that there really are ‘ways of knowing’ peculiar to the experience of being a member of an oppressed or disadvantaged group — independently inaccessible to people who are not members of that group — then you are denying everyone else the opportunity to test your knowledge claims empirically. This is dangerously close to making your claims an article of faith, and is characteristic of organised religion... People are different, a trite but nonetheless demonstrable reality. This means that individuals cannot be reduced to group characteristics, and any comment that begins ‘men do…’ or ‘women have…’ or ‘blacks are…’ must have appended to it the words ‘statistically speaking’... Outside statistical evidence, it is unlikely that there is enough that unites all women in order to ensure their political interests intersect, even in a limited way. That is why Margaret Thatcher was a Conservative Prime Minister who supported abortion rights, while Dilma Rousseff is a Socialist President who opposes abortion rights, and why women — like men — express political views that fall across the spectrum. To suggest — as some feminists do — that women like Thatcher or Rousseff (on the basis of their views on, say, economics or abortion) do not understand that they are oppressed as women is to make the extraordinary claim that even the most capable and powerful women do not know their own minds."
Stereotypes are apparently good when used for the cause of social justice

French Cheesemakers Crippled by EU Health Measures - "Unpasteurised milk, which gives a unique earth-and-fruit flavour, has been gradually marginalised on false public health pretexts after intense lobbying by the food processing industry, to the detriment of the consumer but the incalculable advantage of those producing cheese made with pasteurised milk. The latter will last up to a month on the supermarket shelf, while many made with raw milk – such as fresh goat’s cheese – are unlikely to be edible after more than 10 days... The industrial fromagers have also succeeded, by legal force, in hijacking the Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP) bandwagon and now pasteurised, industrially fabricated cheeses make up nearly half of this protected enclosure, thus further threatening an endangered species. AOP Cantal is now 70% pasteurised; Ossau-Iraty from the Basque region is 80%, and Fourme d’Ambert is a staggering 97%... The slithery slide of French gastronomy is in no way confined to the fate of its once mighty national cheese trolley. In the past 10 years, at least half of the country’s artisans-boulangers have stopped baking the croissants and viennoiseries that they sell. These products, far from being home-baked, are mass manufactured, ­frozen, delivered and sold at an enormous mark-up, making it almost impossible for the genuine corner shop baker to compete."

Relentless optimism of ugly men makes up for unappealing looks - "Despite being at a disadvantage in the looks department, some men are able to snare a partner far more attractive than them through relentless persistence and overblown belief in their own sex appeal. Now scientists believe this could be down to an evolutionary trait which tricks men into overestimating the value of their looks to prevent them from missing a mating opportunity. This overconfidence causes them to try their luck with a greater number of women because they are less likely to see them as unattainable... The study also suggested that women underestimate how interested men are in them, possibly to help deflect unwanted sexual interest, avoid accusations of promiscuity and raise a "choosiness barrier" to single out which men are truly interested in them"

The Empress Has No Clothes: The Dark Underbelly of Women Who Code and Google Women Techmakers - "I’ve finally decided to share my story publicly. It’s a story about being punished for wrong-think by a group of women in technology, who, ironically, consider themselves the victims of an unfair patriarchal system designed to suppress female voices... My only “crime” is being an outspoken, albeit moderate, conservative who doesn’t prescribe to the radical feminist narrative of many women in STEM groups... By telling the story of how I got mercilessly smeared and ostracized by the leadership and members of two prominent women in tech groups, Women Who Code and Google’s Women Techmakers, my hope is to encourage other people to speak up and to fight back if they’re the victims of bullying. It’s important to recognize that women can, and do, bully each other, and in the tech industry, it is unfortunately a problem that is all too often ignored and even denied, because other factors like racial bias, sexism, and even sexual harassment are typically blamed for an unfavorable attrition rate of women in tech... during the Women Who Code hackathon, it became clear to me that this event focused on marketing strategies, creativity, and the discussion of gender politics, and not on the development of technical skills... Alicia Carr and Maggie Kane, both individually and in their capacity as group leaders of Women Who Code and Google Women Techmakers, were determined to ostracize me from the tech industry and ruin the business that I’ve painstakingly built — simply because they object to my political ideologies... When rational and mature people feel upset about something, they often get angry, but only toxic and vindictive people use lies, false accusations, and exaggerations to destroy someone else’s credibility. From their actions, it’s clear that Alicia, Maggie, Women Who Code, and Google don’t believe that people should have the right to freely express ideological dissent, and therefore they set out to punish me for my views, without regard for my rights or for consequences. To them, I was guilty of a terrible moral offense, so they wanted everyone else to be “careful” of me and stand up against my “harmful” thoughts. It’s a shame that Women Who Code and Google Women Techmakers put on such a good face by feigning kindness and respect for all women in tech... Women Who Code and Google Women Techmakers don’t really care about all women and, frankly, they don’t seem to care that much about tech either. Instead, they focus on divisive identity politics, and they expect their members to remain submissive inside the echo chamber if they wish to be accepted."

Mohamed El-Erian reveals daughter's talk led to PIMCO exit - "While at the top of world finance, Mohamed El-Erian juggled £1.2trn of investments and wrestled with the knottiest economic problems. But it has now emerged his greatest dilemma arose from asking his daughter to brush her teeth... one main reason for leaving his high-pressured post was a mundane conversation with his then 10-year-old daughter about brushing her teeth which led to her writing him a note listing the 22 important events in her life he had missed due to work... Mr El-Erian, whose earnings at PIMCO reportedly reached as much as $100m a year, said the incident showed him instantly that he had allowed his relationship with his daughter to suffer at the expense of his globetrotting job."
Maybe the solution is to pay $100 million a year to parents who are unable to fulfil their work demands

A Cornell scientist came up with four ways to lose weight without dieting - "Shoppers who kept their mouths busy with sugarless gum while shopping bought 7% less junk food"

People in the West can stop obsessing about learning Chinese - "only 70% of people in the country can be considered Mandarin speakers. Of that 70%, the ministry said, “only 10% are capable of communicating fluently” in the language. In short, you don’t have to be fluent in Mandarin to speak better than 93% of China... even if (or when) China does overtake the US as the world’s largest economy, the difficulty foreigners have learning Mandarin and its written script makes the language unlikely to challenge the dominance of English in international trade. (Indeed, even during Japan’s dramatic post-war economic expansion, Japanese never came close to toppling English as the global lingua franca.) Besides, China isn’t the only Asian country with good growth prospects—and anyway its fastest-growth days are probably behind it."
Mandarin - so hard that only 7% of Chinese people can speak it fluently

Chinese man attempts to 'rent' out his girlfriend to pay for an iPhone 6 - "The deal included “but is not limited to” eating together, studying together, playing games, or going on dates. However, the placard said there was to be no “funny business”... Local authorities later threw doubt on the man's story. According to a post on Weibo by the Songjiang University Town police department, the man was escorted off campus after it was discovered he was not a student and may have been faking his story to drum up attention for a smartphone app. This would not be the first time a Chinese consumer has gone to desperate measures to buy the latest Apple device. In 2012, a Hunan teenager sold a kidney and used the funds to buy an iPhone and an iPad... prosecutors in Shanghai charged a couple with human trafficking after they sold their baby online and used part of the proceeds to buy a new iPhone."

The Exact Amount Of Time You Should Work Every Day - "the 10% of employees with the highest productivity surprisingly didn’t put in longer hours than anyone else. In fact, they didn’t even work full eight-hour days. What they did do was take regular breaks. Specifically, they took 17-minute breaks for every 52 minutes of work... “Those 17 minutes were spent completely away from the computer–not checking email, not on YouTube” says Gifford. Taking a walk, chatting with co-workers (not about work), or relaxing reading a book were some common activities the most productive employees did while on break."

Entrepreneur Fanfiction is Screwing Your Life Up - "People who write this content are more interested in "the life of the entrepreneur" than in "the business of the entrepreneur". If you ever read an entrepreneurship article that doesn't actually include any business advice, then you're probably reading entrepreneur fanfiction."

Race and Attraction, 2009–2014 – The OkCupid Blog - "One interesting thing is to compare what you see above with what those same users have told us about their racial attitudes. Answers to match questions have been getting significantly less biased over time... And yet the underlying behavior has stayed the same."
This fits in with the increasing improtance of virtue signalling

U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey | Pew Research Center - "Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons are among the highest-scoring groups on a new survey of religious knowledge, outperforming evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics on questions about the core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions... large numbers of Americans are uninformed about the tenets, practices, history and leading figures of major faith traditions – including their own"

Why hawkers are a dying breed. - "The dilemma of the Hawker in the future of Singapore landscape is very simply stated: Everybody wants to continue to enjoy good, cheap, hawker food. Almost nobody wants to be a hawker (with the insane working conditions), or would want their children to be hawkers."

The Tunku Spills The Beans On Singapore's Split From Malaysia - "He once told King Faisal of Saudi Arabia that he “loved dancing, drinking and gambling,” to which the latter replied, “Yes, but I am not looking for an imam” and then proceeded to make the Tunku secretary general of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference... Lee Kuan Yew, according to the Tunku, worked hard to help form Malaysia, but alas, worked harder to break it...
The Tunku: True, the British would not give him independence. I gave him independence. When I gave him independence, there was nothing to stop Singapore’s asking to rejoin Malaysia. Somebody else different from Kuan Yew might one day do just that, but it is up to the government of Malaysia whether to accept Singapore or not. If you accept Singapore, the one danger will always be present, that the Chinese will dominate the nation with a surplus population of two million, and later on three million or even four million.
Dato’ Abdullah Ahmad: And aggressive (and industrious), too...
The Tunku: In actual fact, I wanted only Sarawak and North Borneo (now Sabah) at the time. But the British made a condition that if I wanted Sarawak and North Borneo, I must also have Singapore as well, because we would be the influence that could keep Singapore from the communist menace. I said that that was all right; if that was their condition, I would take Singapore in.
Dato’ Abdullah Ahmad: So your speech about your fear of Singapore becoming a Southeast Asian “Cuba” was merely an excuse, wasn’t it?
The Tunku: Yes...
Dato’ Abdullah Ahmad: Why did you not entertain Lee Kuan Yew’s plea for a looser federation instead of separation?
The Tunku: If I had agreed to what he wanted, he would be a good boy for a while. Then he would go back to his old ways of trying to create ill will between the Malays and the Chinese through the Malaysian Malaysia campaign. I thought for a long time, you know, and I was in close touch with Razak, that the best way was to go on our separate ways but remain good friends. I simply could no longer work with nor trust Lee Kuan Yew."
If Singapore is so committed to racial harmony, why did Lee Kuan Yew try to exploit racial tensions in Malaysia?

How can I raise an enlightened child without depriving her of her cultural roots? - ""I wish I wasn't white." I start. Nothing in the parenting manuals has prepared me for that. "All we've ever done is hurt people," she continues. "I wish my skin was dark and that I had a culture."... my husband and I are children of missionaries and harbour an acute guilt for the cultural imperialism of our forebears. To compensate, we've raised our children with a deep appreciation of non-Western cultures... part of me is programmed to protest. Is it not my moral obligation to tell her that her feelings of poor self-worth are nothing compared with the psychological ruin of real racism?... "Great Britain?!" she pouts accusingly. "Aren't they the bad ones?" Abigail's life to date has been spent absorbing the endless lament of her adults over the injustices of European colonialism. Earlier that summer on a cross-Canada road trip, at what seemed like every historical site, I made a point of highlighting how the colonizing British had brought Indigenous culture to the edge of extinction with their foreign diseases, their land-grabbing policies and their culture-negating residential schools.
White guilt has consequences
Comments: "The question that glaringly goes unaddressed is, "How did such a young, white child become so racked with guilt and self-hatred?" Surely, this does not happen by accident. What forces in education and media have given her these ideas, and what do they stand to gain by doing so? Dive down that rabbit hole and maybe in your next article you can report your findings.It is also sadly hilarious that you reduced your daughter's rich cultural heritage to a tea ceremony. Perhaps, in your effort to "set the history record straight," you could inform her that while her Peruvian boyfriend's ancestors were committing human sacrifice by the thousands, your British ancestors were enjoying the Renaissance of the Elizabethan era."

Difference Between Afternoon Tea and High Tea - "The addition of the word "high" to the phrase "high tea" is believed to differentiate between the afternoon tea that is traditionally served on low, comfortable, parlor chairs or relaxing in the garden and the worker’s after-work high tea that is served at the table and seated on high back dining chairs."

Why ARE all the male heroes disappearing from the box? - "Like the Labour Party, the Beeb loves to wave the banner for equality. But it’s feminism for effect — serious commitment is lacking if you’re not paying female presenters as handsomely as the men. There is, of course, no limit to the BBC’s dedication to PC causes. The Doctor spent much of the last series campaigning for gay rights across the solar system with his short-lived lesbian companion, Bill (Pearl Mackie), intent on turning the sci-fi adventure serial into a sermon on gender fluidity. Don’t expect this to stop now a woman is in charge. Never mind a police box — this new Doctor’s Tardis should be a soapbox. And that means Doctor Who, which has been steadily shedding its audience, is speeding towards its own doom — and the black hole of cancellation... In almost every new British drama, men are relegated to sidekick status or else cast as moral weaklings with a vicious streak. Characters fall into two distinct categories: women good, men bad. Switching the Doctor’s gender is just another example of this endemic sexism in TV fiction... The latest series of Broadchurch was a case in point: every man was fatally flawed, and most were sexual monsters. It’s telling that Broadchurch was written and created by Chris Chibnall — the man who now controls Doctor Who."
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