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Saturday, December 08, 2018

Links - 8th December 2018 (2)

The social costs of ride-hailing may be larger than previously thought - Ubernomics - "Far from reducing congestion by encouraging people to give up their cars, as many had hoped, ride-hailing seems to increase it. Bruce Schaller, a transport consultant, estimates that over half of all Uber and Lyft trips in big American cities would otherwise have been made on foot or by bike, bus, subway or train. He reckons that ride-hailing services add 2.8 vehicle miles of driving in those cities for every mile they subtract. A new working paper by John Barrios of the University of Chicago and Yael Hochberg and Hanyi Yi of Rice University spells out one deadly consequence of this increase in traffic. Using data from the federal transport department, they find that the introduction of ride-sharing to a city is associated with an increase in vehicle-miles travelled, petrol consumption and car registrations—and a 3.5% jump in fatal car accidents. At a national level, this translates into 987 extra deaths a year. What could be done to tip the balance back to benefits overall? “Congestion pricing is the most direct solution,” says Jonathan Hall of the University of Toronto. Several cities, including London, Stockholm and Singapore, have moved in this direction, charging drivers for entering busy areas at peak hours. If ride-hailing firms tweaked their pricing to encourage carpooling, that would help, too."

Don Lemon doubles down after calling white men ‘biggest terror threat’ in U.S. - The Washington Post - “Unfortunately this is how so many leftists actually think,” he continued. “Disgusting! Imagine the outrage if you changed ‘white men’ with any other demographic?”

Who carries out more terror attacks on U.S. soil: Right wing or Islamic extremists? - "Several studies show there have been more terror related incidents or events involving right-wing extremists compared with Islamic jihadists. Many of these, however, were foiled plots that never resulted in an actual attack... One point that is clear from the research: Islamic terror attacks on U.S. soil, though less frequent, have been much more deadly per attack... Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University San Bernardino agreed there are far more incidents of terrorism involving right wing extremists. The Islamic jihadist inspired attacks, however, have garnered more attention in the United States because they’ve been much more lethal. He cited the example of the Orlando nightclub shooting in 2016 in which a man claiming allegiance to the Islamic terror group ISIS killed 49 people."
And these analyses leave out September 11th. Comment from elsewhere: "Since Hiroshima the US has used just as many nukes as Swtizerland, so what's everyone crying about? Leaving out the most significant attack in our history to manipulate the data to serve your narrative is infuriatingly disrespectful from where I'm standing."
Meanwhile Snopes will claim that it's misleading to say that police shoot more white people than black, because there're more white people in the US

An0maly on Twitter - "Facebook is now suspending accounts for quoting Don Lemon. Really. I got a 24 hour suspension for posting a direct tweet from Sarah Jeong. How come liberals get promotions & million dollar contracts for speaking foul -- & we get banned for simply quoting them?

Comment on Lucas Lynch - "Fact: The left-leaning Mother Jones data on mass shooters, used by CNN and many other outlets, proves whites are not overrepresented as mass shooters in the U.S. For terrorism it’s even a smaller percentage (Jihadists are responsible for near 60% of terrorism deaths, according to widely respected New America Foundation). Factually, black males commit around 50% of gun homicides, and mass shootings make up around 1% or less of all homicides. So if people want to go around pointing fingers ...
Indeed, white males DO commit a great number of mass shootings, but it's EQUAL or less than their share of the population. And mass shootings and hate crimes are far less than 1/100th of homicides. (Hate crime murders are 1/1000th.)
It’s a fact-based argument that “blacks commit more crime” across the board, including mass shootings (16% of total), at a HIGHER rate than their percentage of the population (13%). Non-Hispanic whites (63%) technically commit more mass shootings than anyone else in the United States, but the same or possibly LESS than their percentage of population (64% of total, according to Mother Jones-data interpreted by CNN … or possibly 54% according to Mother Jones-data interpreted by Newsweek).
Ironically, it's Asians that CNN reported to be commit mass shootings at 2 1/2 times their population!"
Whether per capita is the relevant metric depends on your problem statement If you are trying to identity problem populations to target, it is a relevant metric. E.g. surveillance of extremist mosques
If you're looking at interventions that are easily rolled out to a population, total numbers might be more useful. E.g. if guns kill a lot of people, reforming gun laws may make more sense to reduce gun deaths as opposed to focusing on nuclear waste even if nuclear waste is more deadly to those who work with it/encounter it (i.e. on a per capita basis)

How Can I Drink Bubble Tea Without Finishing the Tea Before the Bobas? - "It’s better to use a slim cup than a wide cup. This can create a taller layer of bobas, and there is less area to catch the bobas when few are remaining.
Don’t add too much ice. If you add ice, let it melt to add volume to the tea. I usually shake my cup before drinking to ensure the entire drink is cold in case the ice was dropped on top without shaking or stirring. The trade-off is that it might dilute the tea.
It’s better to take a powerful sip than a weak sip. Powerful sips ensure you get the bobas, while weak sips may only give you the tea. Just don’t be so aggressive you end up choking."

1,600 dead, 70,000 homeless. Why wouldn’t tsunami-hit Indonesia want aid? - "Indonesia’s reluctance in accepting foreign aid has previously been attributed to national pride, a desire for self-sufficiency or protecting the nation’s sovereignty. According to some analysts, Widodo risks looking weak if he accepts outside help too readily, while risking a political backlash if Indonesia cannot handle the disaster on its own. As if to save face, this week Securities Minister Wiranto explained Indonesia’s acceptance of assistance for the Sulawesi disaster as helping bilateral diplomacy with other countries... India and Bangladesh are among countries that have rejected or limited international assistance in recent years, but have been generous when it comes to providing aid, for example to Rohingya refugees."

Sweden Blows Tax Millions on 'Feminist' Trucks and 'Equal' Firefighting - "Feminist trucks that are "better suited for women," a new system for "greater equality in banking" and design solutions "for a more equal firefighting." These are only some of the new projects scheduled to receive tax money from the government authority Vinnova, which promotes "anti-bias innovations.""

Swedish Feminists Are So Bored They’re Telling Men How to Sit on the Bus - "To counter this "normalized expression of power" (that’s what they call slouching), a group of firebrand feminists have set up a blog called "Macho i Kollektivtrafiken" ("Macho in Public Transport"), encouraging readers to send in sneaky snaps of men in relaxed poses. The aim is to spread awareness of a "symbolic and active recreation not just of power, but of a stereotypical form of masculinity." Do Swedish women really feel threatened by men who slouch on the subway? Can this seriously be construed as a feminist issue? Do feminists today really view women as weaklings who are traumatized by straddle-legged passengers and who don't have the guts to tell men to scooch over? It's tempting to suggest that the women posting pictures of slouching men online should grow a pair, and point out that feminists have fought hard to shake the image of women as thin-skinned victims off and to prove that women have agency, gumption, and power...
'this is part and parcel of the kind of oppression that leads to women being raped, getting lower salaries, and being exposed to violence in relationships.'"
From 2012. Vice wouldn't publish this today

Externalities and the Swedish Man Tax - "the feminist council of Sweden’s Left Party made worldwide headlines when former party leader Gudrun Schyman proposed a radical initiative that included—among other things—a “man tax”. The idea was to use tax policy to correct for the supposed “externality” of men’s violent behavior toward women, and use the proceeds to fund anti-domestic-violence programs. Needless to say, the proposal was panned in the media. Now, a year later it appears Sweden’s Left Party is paying a steep political price for the radical proposal...
'SPARE a thought for Swedish feminists whose newly formed party is disintegrating after hardliners presented a manifesto advocating a “man tax”, the abolition of marriage and the creation of “gender-neutral” names'"

Already 20% of driving lessons in Sweden are in Arabic as migrants fail them in Swedish

Man fired from PBS for saying Meghan Markle is ‘not bad.’ The woman who complained had called Trudeau ‘hot’ - "A news writer with PBS who was fired for expressing admiration of Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, complains of a double standard because his female coworkers were heard saying Justin Trudeau was “hot” without similar consequences... One woman, sitting some six metres away and unable to see the photo in question, his claim says, said his comment contravened company training on sexual harassment in the workplace; another said “Haven’t you learned?” Heckman denied his comment had a sexual connotation. It was, he claims, “intended to convey that the Duchess (of Sussex, as Markle is now known) possessed charm and beauty and was a suitable match for her fiancé, who has a reputation of possessing charm and handsome looks.” “No reasonable woman would consider his remark to be a sexual comment about the Duchess”"

Chef Who Thought Her Bloating Was Gluten Intolerance Turned Out To Be 33 Weeks Pregnant

Democratic Voters Move Leftward on a Range of Issues - "leaders in the Democratic Party have undergone a dramatic shift toward unalloyed support of immigration, including to a certain extent illegal immigration. But voters have moved as well. In 1994, just 32 percent of Democrats said that immigrants strengthened the country. Now 84 percent do... The percentage of Democrats who say that the government needs to do more to fight racism has risen from 57 to 81 since 2009. In 1994, four in 10 Democrats said that racial discrimination was the main reason black people couldn’t get ahead; in 2017, more than six in 10 did. White voters have moved especially dramatically, as Thomas Edsall notes: On both of these indicators, white Democrats are actually further left than black ones"

History According to Bob: Ancient Warfare, Ancient Workers

Choice excerpts:

Sea Peoples Part 2 - The Peleset:
The Philistines rose to a position of power in the region due to their military superiority over the local population, because they were iron users. There are lots of military engagements that are found in the Old Testament. The Philistines did have a law that stated if you were a non Philistine and you held more than a small handful of iron, you were subject to death because they were so concerned that their control, the people they were controlling would learn the technique, and there'd be more of them than there were Philistines.

Hyksos Part 2:
Analogy on the issue with training with the between the composite bow that the Hyksos had and the English longbow which took lots of practice. You needed lots of strength - the bowman in the English army during the Hundred Years War were almost deformed from the muscles that they built up in order to fire it

Ancient Siege Warfare Part 1:
If you just take the walled-in section. One of the earliest cities is of course Jericho and earliest Jerico is only ten acres so you might be able to put two thousand people in that. The general rule of thumb that archaeologists use for cities is two hundred people per acre. Jerusalem at the time of Sennacherib was probably about thirty five acres

Background to the Battle of Marathon Part 1:
What do they have the plumes over the top of their heads? Well that's to help entangle arrows coming down besides giving you notification where who's commanding where

Background to the Battle of Marathon Part 3:
If the Greek hoplite was outfitted with a full armour, that would mean that only about six percent of his total body area was uncovered. And most of these areas didn't have any major organs. For example your arms - you're going to have completely exposed arms, you're not gonna have gloves on. You may have a bracelets of some sort on the wrists but they're not going to have full grieves like you have in the Middle Ages, so that's open. The face is open, in some cases the throat is open and you would have your legs between the knees and the upper thigh - that would be open so you know those are the main areas. In recreated tests both broadhead and narrow tipped arrows were fired into replica Greek linen thorax cuirasses - this would be either linen or leather. The range that they were fired at was twenty five meters. The modern bow with the fifty five pound pull weight or draw weight - which is actually greater than that of the ancient Persian bow, most of the arrows - if they penetrated at all went in only about one or two millimeters. Of course the curved surface of a bronze plate cuirass was even more effective

Marathon Through the Eyes of Four Historians Part 1:
The Greek trophy which tends to mark the spot where the enemy turned and ran - so if you find a column on a Greek battlefield, that usually marks the point in a victory where the enemy turned and ran off. The interesting to note is that the word trophy that we use today is derived from a Greek word which means turn. So the trophy would have marked the spot where the heaviest fighting took place


Ancient Beauty Workers Part 1:
The Greek and Romans did not believe tattoos had any kind of beauty aspect. They used tattoos to humiliate people. So they're used on criminals, on prisoners, on slaves basically to label people. They referred to tattooing - or the Romans did - as stigmata or skin prick. Or to cut the skin with a sharp instrument.

04 June Ancient Beauty Workers Part 2:
It was also believed that a talisman garland would offer you protection. For example, a garland o wreath made with amethyst, roses and ivy leaves was supposed to protect you from drunkenness. You ever seen those paintings where you see all the people at an orgy or at a festival with the funny little hats? Well, that's supposed to keep them from getting drunk. Obviously, it doesn't work but they do look good

Ancient City Workers Part 1:
[On firefighting] The main weapon that was incredible at this time is the ancient fire extinguisher, which is called an astum [sp?]. It's a clay pot filled with chemicals that smother fires. And you go, wow, how did they come up with that? But if you think about it, if the ancients are good enough to make Greek fire, surely they had something around to counter in case of some kind of accident. You just take the clay pot, you put your chemicals in it, and you throw it like a hand grenade.

Links - 8th December 2018 (1)

China’s Race to Find Aliens First - "Science fiction is sometimes described as a literature of the future, but historical allegory is one of its dominant modes. Isaac Asimov based his Foundation series on classical Rome, and Frank Herbert’s Dune borrows plot points from the past of the Bedouin Arabs... seti does share some traits with religion. It is motivated by deep human desires for connection and transcendence. It concerns itself with questions about human origins, about the raw creative power of nature, and about our future in this universe—and it does all this at a time when traditional religions have become unpersuasive to many... In the first volume of his landmark series, Science and Civilisation in China, published in 1954, the British Sinologist Joseph Needham asked why the scientific revolution hadn’t happened in China, given its sophisticated intellectual meritocracy, based on exams that measured citizens’ mastery of classical texts. This inquiry has since become known as the “Needham Question,” though Voltaire too had wondered why Chinese mathematics stalled out at geometry, and why it was the Jesuits who brought the gospel of Copernicus into China, and not the other way around. He blamed the Confucian emphasis on tradition. Other historians blamed China’s remarkably stable politics. A large landmass ruled by long dynasties may have encouraged less technical dynamism than did Europe, where more than 10 polities were crammed into a small area, triggering constant conflict. As we know from the Manhattan Project, the stakes of war have a way of sharpening the scientific mind. Still others have accused premodern China of insufficient curiosity about life beyond its borders... even at China’s most prestigious academic institutions, a third of scientific papers are faked or plagiarized. Knowing how poorly the country’s journals are regarded, Chinese universities are reportedly offering bonuses of up to six figures to researchers who publish in Western journals. It remains an open question whether Chinese science will ever catch up with that of the West without a bedrock political commitment to the free exchange of ideas. China’s persecution of dissident scientists began under Mao, whose ideologues branded Einstein’s theories “counterrevolutionary.” But it did not end with him. Even in the absence of overt persecution, the country’s “great firewall” handicaps Chinese scientists, who have difficulty accessing data published abroad... The idea that civilizations expand ever outward might be woefully anthropocentric... Secular humanists won’t be spared a sobering intellectual reckoning with first contact... We have flattered ourselves that we are, in the words of Carl Sagan, “the universe’s way of knowing itself.” These are secular ways of saying we are made in the image of God."

NYT Opinion on Twitter - "What are the president's priorities?"
When you hate Trump so much you advocate invading the Middle East

Swedish Chief Prosecutor: No-Go Zone Rinkeby Is Like a 'War Zone' - "Swedish Chief Prosecutor Lise Tamm has claimed that the Stockholm suburb of Rinkeby is like “a war zone”. Ms. Tamm, who will become acting head of the anti-organised crime unit in the New Year, said that she would be looking to war-torn countries like Colombia and El Salvador to find new methods of handling the rampant violence in Sweden’s no-go zones, Sveriges Radio reports."

Comparing Prescriptive and Descriptive Gender Stereotypes About Children, Adults, and the Elderly - "Prescriptive stereotypes of elderly men and women were weaker. Overall, boys and men had more restrictive prescriptive stereotypes than girls and women in terms of strength and number."
For all the feminists who keep complaining about how gender stereotypes hurt women - those regarding women aren't actually strong

Kill Infinite Scroll – Get this Extension for 🦊 Firefox (en-US) - "This disables some infinite scroll scripts such as those from http://www.infinite-scroll.com used by Tumblr."

Bitcoin Mining Alone Could Raise Global Temperatures Above Critical Limit By 2033 - "A recent UN climate report said that if global temperatures rose above 1.5 C it could lead to catastrophic climate change. Bitcoin alone could raise global temperatures by 2 C within two decades... Bitcoin’s energy consumption likely roughly equivalent to the energy needs of Austria and may be more resource intensive than mining gold... Most Bitcoin mines are located in China, but a few have cropped up in the United States and Canada as well. In some cases, these mines are so large that they use the same amount of electricity as the town they are located in, much to the ire of local residents"

Don’t Buy This: Bogus Food Expiration Dates Make You Waste Food - "Consumers throw away about half of the $218 billion worth of food wasted each year in the US—or about $375 per person—often because they're confused about the dates stamped on their food... While you should never eat mold, illnesses caused by e.coli, Listeria, and Salmonella are typically a result of improper food handling, improper hand washing or eating undercooked meat. Most food is safe for a lot longer than you think. Shelf-stable and frozen foods can last indefinitely so tossing that frozen pizza from last year is a huge waste. Same for dry foods like pasta, crackers and nuts. When in doubt, use your sense of sight, smell and texture to determine if your food is still good"

Barbra Streisand: Donald Trump Making Her Fat - "Lena Dunham blamed Trump for making her thin"

The ECHR’s ruling on defaming Mohammed is bad news for Muslims | Coffee House - "The ECHR would presumably be surprised to learn that far worse criticism is levelled at Aisha by some Shia Muslims, for whom she remains a polarising figure. This ruling could have wide-ranging – and unforeseen – implications, delivering a victory for those who do wish to criminalise criticism of Islam. Compare this decision (from a supposedly progressive and secular European court) with the ruling this week in Pakistan that Asia Bibi, the Christian woman unfairly accused of blasphemy, should be freed – the contrast is truly sobering. Ultimately, the ECHR’s logic rests on a depressing assumption that Europe’s Muslims are somehow incapable of intellectual debate and too fragile to hear criticisms of their religion. Yet this scrutiny is crucial for exposing Islamism – the totalitarian imposter of Islam – and countering its evils. Thanks to this ruling, the ability of Muslims like me – who oppose Islamism with all our being – to participate in public debate has been weakened. It’s bad news for Europe – and probably beyond."

A Racial Shakedown in Portland - "Portland is not normal. This is a city where antifa mobs are allowed to set up roadblocks and mob elderly drivers, all with the mayor’s apparent acquiescence... Ms. Khan accused the bicyclist of being “another white person calling the police on a black person.” She wasn’t. Portland Police have no record of that phone call taking place. It is hard to know how the pedestrian, derogatorily christened “Crosswalk Cathy” on social media, could have known the race of the car’s owners. Portland doesn’t offer its residents race-tagged parking permits (yet), and the incident occurred on a busy business street. But that didn’t stop Portland Mercury news editor Alex Zielinski from writing a provocative (and wrong) story with the headline, “Woman calls cops on Portland man’s parking job. She’s white. He’s black.”... Last week’s race controversy ignited by Portland Mercury is not the first time the progressive alternative paper has published race-baiting content. Last year, it ran a libelous (and subsequently retracted) column accusing various restaurants of religious and cultural appropriation—and suggesting they were guilty of “culinary white supremacy.” The predictable result of that column was the siccing of a mob on the female owners of Kook’s Burritos, the business featured most prominently in the piece. They deleted their social media accounts, shut down their food cart, and went into hiding. “Tribal hatreds are a dangerous thing to stoke,” said Heather Mac Donald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of The Diversity Delusion. She says most Americans are naïve about the tribal violence that defines much of the historical and modern human experience. “In the worst case, [victim ideologues] are fueling the fires of violent civil strife.” The genre of “white people doing something to black people” is, by now, a well-established media genre that generates easy clicks. But there is also an unsettling subplot that few seem willing to discuss. The two people of color who star in last week’s viral video both act abominably toward a young woman they’ve just met. In a city where too many bicyclists and pedestrians have been struck and killed in car accidents (2017 was one of the deadliest years with 45 killed), the woman did her role as a good citizen by calling a non-emergency hotline to report the car blocking the crosswalk. And it was Ms. Khan, not the pedestrian, who instantly racialized the incident, while her male partner called the woman an “idiot” and told her that she doesn’t belong in the neighborhood. Who’s the racist—not to mention segregationist—here?... Sha Ongelungel, who was recently profiled glowingly as a racial justice activist in The Guardian, published the woman’s employer information on Twitter and encouraged others to call or email them. They obliged and demanded that she be fired. Ms. Ongelungel stopped responding after I inquired if she took any steps to verify the couple’s (false) allegation... In a city whose guilty whites seem ready to roll over on any pretext, no complaint is too absurd to become fodder for race hustling."

HK star Nicholas Tse launches McDonald’s menu inspired by childhood comfort foods - "Called “My Taste of Hong Kong”, Tse’s menu features familiar flavours from traditional cha chaan teng (tea restaurants) and Hong Kong street foods...
Bolognese & Fried Egg Angus Beef Burger
Fried Onion Crispy Pork Cutlet Burger
Siew Mei (Hong Kong style roast meat) -flavoured Shake Shake Fries
Typhoon Shelter Crab-flavoured Shake Shake Fries
Cookie & Milk Tea McFlurry ice cream
Tropical Orange Punch"

What is a safe third country? - "The so-called ‘first country of asylum’ principle often justifies the decision to return asylum seekers to another country. It means that a country can reject a person’s asylum application if they have already been granted protection by another country. It is also often referred to as ‘safe third country’ principle. This broader term includes other relationships between an asylum seeker and a third country where they are deemed safe. These two principles are central to the Dublin Regulation, of which Norway is a member. The Dublin Regulation aims to streamline asylum management in Europe by only allowing an asylum application to be processed by one country; normally the country where the person first arrives in Europe. It seeks to avoid ‘asylum shopping’ when a person applies for protection in one country after being rejected by another. Although the Dublin Regulation is only valid for European countries that have signed it, the two previous principles are based on an interpretation of the 1951 Refugee Convention, and hence applicable to all countries that have acceded to it. The principles are not directly mentioned in the Convention, but derived from Article 31, which states that a refugee should not be punished for illegally entering a country if they are arriving directly from a country where they were under threat."
If you go from one safe country to another, are you still an asylum seeker or just an economic migrant?

The Simplest Way to Drastically Improve Your Life: More Sleep - The New York Times - "measurably improve your memory, overall cognitive performance, ability to learn new information, receptivity to facial cues, mood, ability to handle problems, metabolism, risk for heart disease and immune system... The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called sleep deprivation a public health crisis, saying that one-third of adults don’t get enough sleep. Some 80 percent of people report sleep problems at least once per week, and according to a 2016 study, sleep deprivation “causes more than $400 billion in economic losses annually in the United States and results in 1.23 million lost days of work each year.”"

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Links - 5th December 2018 (2)

Are You Solving the Right Problems? - "Imagine this: You are the owner of an office building, and your tenants are complaining about the elevator. It’s old and slow, and they have to wait a lot. Several tenants are threatening to break their leases if you don’t fix the problem. When asked, most people quickly identify some solutions: replace the lift, install a stronger motor, or perhaps upgrade the algorithm that runs the lift. These suggestions fall into what I call a solution space: a cluster of solutions that share assumptions about what the problem is—in this case, that the elevator is slow... However, when the problem is presented to building managers, they suggest a much more elegant solution: Put up mirrors next to the elevator. This simple measure has proved wonderfully effective in reducing complaints, because people tend to lose track of time when given something utterly fascinating to look at—namely, themselves. The mirror solution is particularly interesting because in fact it is not a solution to the stated problem: It doesn’t make the elevator faster. Instead it proposes a different understanding of the problem.Note that the initial framing of the problem is not necessarily wrong. Installing a new lift would probably work. The point of reframing is not to find the “real” problem but, rather, to see if there is a better one to solve. In fact, the very idea that a single root problem exists may be misleading; problems are typically multicausal and can be addressed in many ways. The elevator issue, for example, could be reframed as a peak demand problem—too many people need the lift at the same time—leading to a solution that focuses on spreading out the demand, such as by staggering people’s lunch breaks."

Labour Party branch 'voted down motion condemning Pittsburgh synagogue attack' - "A local Labour Party branch has refused to pass a motion condemning the antisemitic attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh that left 11 people dead, according to a party activist. Steve Cooke, the secretary of Norton West branch in the Stockton North constituency, said he was “aghast” that the motion was voted down after members claimed there was too much focus on “antisemitism this, antisemitism that”. Members of the branch reportedly demanded that a reference to antisemitism be removed from the statement... They suggested the text on the synagogue attack should not specifically refer to antisemitism but should instead condemn all racism, which Mr Cooke said it already did. Mr Cooke said previous motions on Islamophobia and anti-migrant rhetoric had not been met with similar demands that they be made less specific and instead refer to all forms of racism... The executive of Stockton North Labour Party had previously voted down Mr Cooke’s attempts to have antisemitism training delivered to members... the Metropolitan Police said it was investigating possible antisemitic hate crimes committed by Labour members, after a dossier of cases was passed to its commissioner, Cressida Dick."
Yet All Lives Matter is racist

Walker’s Corner - Posts - "Superman shouldn't be white"
"The blacks already have a successful superhero can we latinos get superman if you are gonna be changing character races? He technically is an illegal alien anyway."

The European Union’s Neoliberal Dilemma - WSJ - "Those who say the European Union is a neoliberal plot are, of course, largely right. Any single market that allows free movement of capital and people by its very nature pits country against country, region against region and town against town in a competition to attract investment and productive people. The rewards flow to those that offer the best business environment, high-quality infrastructure and the right mix of skills. Those that get it wrong face stagnation or decline. Until the global financial crisis, the EU’s free movement of capital and people appeared to deliver only winners... Many of those countries whose economic models relied upon the free movement of capital—whether to finance corporate investment or government spending—were confronted by a sudden stop in funding that plunged their economies into recession. That in turn led many of their citizens to take advantage of the free movement of people to look for work elsewhere in the single market... Even for countries that haven't succumbed to populist backlash, the challenges of prospering in the single market are formidable. Take Latvia, which has seen more than 15% of its population emigrate in two waves, one after it joined the EU in 2004 and another in the aftermath of a severe financial crash in 2008."

The Real Reason They Hate Trump - WSJ - "Every big U.S. election is interesting, but the coming midterms are fascinating for a reason most commentators forget to mention: The Democrats have no issues. The economy is booming and America’s international position is strong. In foreign affairs, the U.S. has remembered in the nick of time what Machiavelli advised princes five centuries ago: Don’t seek to be loved, seek to be feared... the leftists I know do hate Mr. Trump’s vulgarity, his unwillingness to walk away from a fight, his bluntness, his certainty that America is exceptional, his mistrust of intellectuals, his love of simple ideas that work, and his refusal to believe that men and women are interchangeable. Worst of all, he has no ideology except getting the job done. His goals are to do the task before him, not be pushed around, and otherwise to enjoy life. In short, he is a typical American—except exaggerated, because he has no constraints to cramp his style except the ones he himself invents."

The First Rule of Microsoft Excel—Don’t Tell Anyone You’re Good at It - WSJ - "As an Excel expert, “you become indispensable, and that’s a double-edged sword,” Mr. McIllece said."

The Bias Response Team Is Watching - WSJ - "
‘The most important indication of bias is your own feelings,” the University of Michigan advises students. It then urges them to report on their peers, anonymously if they prefer, “and to encourage others to report if they have been the target or witness of a bias incident.” The Bias Response Team is there, ready to investigate and mete out justice. More than 200 American campuses have established similar administrative offices to handle alleged acts of “bias” that violate no law... Adjunct professor Mike Jensen had asked his students to read Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt’s “The Coddling of the American Mind” and debate controversial subjects, including gay marriage and transgender issues. According to the team’s report, a student who “identifies as a transwomen [sic]” told the Bias Response Team she was “very offended and hurt by this,” according to the bias incident report. A university official, Marshall Parks, warned Mr. Jensen that if he discussed such subjects again, he could face scrutiny by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as Title IX and Title VII investigations. “So if the topic’s worth that, it’s your call,” Mr. Parks said. Mr. Jensen secretly recorded the conversation. “I felt that I had no academic freedom,” he later said... Records from numerous universities show that even obviously silly or trivial incidents are taken seriously by Bias Response Teams. Back at Michigan, a residence hall director reported a phallic snow sculpture as a bias incident... One explanation for such absurdity is that Bias Response Teams are often composed of administrators whose jobs depend on the assumption that bias is widespread. When the University of Michigan was hiring a “bias incident and prevention and response coordinator,” it sought someone who could “enact cultural appropriation initiatives” and “partner with other campus and divisional social justice initiatives.” This makes Bias Response Team members bad cops with everything to lose, creating a bias toward finding bias."

Why the Left Is Consumed With Hate - WSJ - "For many on the left a hateful anti-Americanism has become a self-congratulatory lifestyle. “America was never that great,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently said. For radical groups like Black Lives Matter, hatred of America is a theme of identity, a display of racial pride... How did the American left—conceived to bring more compassion and justice to the world—become so given to hate? It began in the 1960s, when America finally accepted that slavery and segregation were profound moral failings. That acceptance changed America forever. It imposed a new moral imperative: America would have to show itself redeemed of these immoralities in order to stand as a legitimate democracy. The genius of the left in the ’60s was simply to perceive the new moral imperative, and then to identify itself with it... for the left to wield this power, there had to be a great menace to fight against—a tenacious menace that kept America uncertain of its legitimacy, afraid for its good name.
This amounted to a formula for power: The greater the menace to the nation’s moral legitimacy, the more power redounded to the left. And the ’60s handed the left a laundry list of menaces to be defeated. If racism was necessarily at the top of the list, it was quickly followed by a litany of bigotries ending in “ism” and “phobia.”... the left’s success has plunged it into its greatest crisis since the ’60s. The Achilles’ heel of the left has been its dependence on menace for power. Think of all the things it can ask for in the name of fighting menaces like “systemic racism” and “structural inequality.” But what happens when the evils that menace us begin to fade, and then keep fading? ... White-on-black shootings evoke America’s history of racism and so carry an iconic payload of menace. Black-on-black shootings carry no such payload, although they are truly menacing to the black community. They evoke only despair. And the left gets power from fighting white evil, not black despair... For Martin Luther King Jr., hatred was not necessary as a means to power. The actual details of oppression were enough. Power came to him because he rejected hate as a method of resisting menace. He called on blacks not to be defined by what menaced them. Today, because menace provides moral empowerment, blacks and their ostensible allies indulge in it. The menace of black victimization becomes the unarguable truth of the black identity. And here we are again, forever victims"

The Secret to Surviving Military Service: Moisturizer, Foam Cleanser, Cucumber Face Mask - WSJ - "South Korea is a force in the global beauty industry and its carefully groomed pop idols have become global stars. And for many guys here, the gateway to face serums and 10-step skin-care regimens is their time as military conscripts... The average man in South Korea spends more than twice as much on skin care as men in any other country, according to market-research firm Euromonitor. South Korean men use an average of 13.3 cosmetics products each month... A poll of draftees this year by the South Korean Defense Ministry’s daily newspaper found that the two most popular products in the commissary were a snail-extract cream and a hydration cream... Amorepacific Corp. , a cosmetics maker that is one of South Korea’s biggest companies, pioneered a camouflage cream seven years ago that was easier on the pores. “Extreme Power Camo Cream,” with a formula that includes green tea, charcoal and red pine extracts, sold more than 50,000 units in its first six months... Even during joint U.S.-South Korean exercises, when the 23-year-old had to sleep and eat in simulated battle conditions, he managed to pack his skin-care essentials. “There aren’t any rules against skin care, so I kept up the routine even during training”"

Cultural Borrowing Is Great; The Problem Is Disrespect - WSJ - "the fluidity of power can make it tricky to establish who’s got the upper hand. How should we assess the power dynamic when black American performers help themselves to sartorial signage from Japan, one of the richest nations on the planet? Consider, for that matter, how eager India’s ruling elite has been to assert yoga as a national possession... Baba Ramdev does a terrific downward-facing-dog—he says it triggers hair growth—but in India, Hindu nationalists like him are the top dogs. Swami Ramdev himself controls a multibillion-dollar corporation. So try explaining to a low-caste Dalit or a Muslim in the subcontinent that the people they consider their overlords are really an oppressed, marginalized and subordinated group. “One person’s center is another’s periphery,” as the scholar of Hinduism Wendy Doniger has observed... The real problem is that ownership is the wrong model. The arts flourished in the world’s traditional cultures without being conceptualized as “intellectual property,” and the traditional products and practices of a group—its songs and stories, even its secrets—are not made more useful by being tethered to their supposed origins. But vigorous corporate lobbying has helped the idea of intellectual property to conquer the world. To accept the notion of cultural appropriation is ultimately to buy into a regime where corporate entities, acting as cultural guardians, “own” a treasury of intellectual property and extract a toll when others make use of it... People who parse such transgressions in terms of ownership have accepted a commercial system that is alien to the traditions they aim to protect. Yoga turns out to be an illuminating case study here. The religious-studies scholar Andrea Jain has looked at how major figures in the establishment of modern yoga, like K. Pattabhi Jois and B.K.S. Iyengar, sought to emphasize its putatively ancient roots, while also claiming biomedical authority. (Today, Swami Ramdev says yoga can cure cancer; also, homosexuality.) In reality, what most people know today as yoga—postures, breathing exercises—has little precedent in premodern sources... the scholar Mark Singleton has detailed specific similarities between yoga and a Danish gymnastics system that was taken up in the early years of the 20th century by the British and others... Well-meaning Westerners can thus find themselves colluding with right-wing Hindu nationalists who are intent on claiming ownership over complex, dynamic and adaptive practices. A little wokeness is a dangerous thing."

The Man Who Discovered ‘Culture Wars’ - WSJ - "For much of American history, the most salient cultural fault lines were between religious groups. Hostility between Protestants and Catholics prompted bitter battles over school curricula in the mid-19th century, and the fight over Prohibition pitted mostly Protestant “drys” against mostly Catholic “wets.” But by the 1960s cross-denominational conflicts had begun to fade. As America became more culturally diverse, the Protestant consensus gave way to a Christian consensus, and later a “Judeo-Christian” one. Yet social peace did not arrive. Quite the opposite. A new set of issues emerged out of the sexual revolution and identity politics: not merely abortion, Mr. Hunter says, but everything from “condoms in schools” to “Christopher Columbus, is he a villain or a hero?” These questions didn’t track with traditional left-right economic debates, he continues; nor did they seem to put believers of different denominations in opposition. Instead, the new divide was within religious groups, with orthodox believers within Protestantism, Catholicism, and Judaism on one side and their progressive wings and secularists on the other. This “new axis” of conflict redefined left and right. It was the basis of Mr. Hunter’s 1991 book, “Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America,” which first brought the term to the forefront of popular discourse... Mr. Buchanan was on to something, Mr. Hunter suggests, when he tied the culture wars to the end of the Cold War: “Identity is formed not only by our affirmations but by our negations. The Soviet Union—communism generally—was an enemy against which we could define ourselves.” When the Berlin Wall fell, “that need for an enemy became internal to the United States.” Perhaps the discrediting of the economic left by the collapse of communism made culture a more salient source of domestic conflict... mass prosperity reduced the urgency of other social problems. In that sense, Mr. Hunter says, America’s culture war is “the kind of conflict that societies can go through when nothing else is at stake.”... outside government, progressives have a clear cultural advantage in major institutions, from universities to movie studios to publishing houses to advertising agencies. Such institutions matter because “culture is not only a system of meaning” but also an “economy”... As elite institutions increasingly repudiated the values of the masses, the culture wars took on what Mr. Hunter calls a “Nietzschean” quality: The stakes began to seem so high that coalitions would “abandon their values and ideals in order to sustain power.” Upper-class culture professes cosmopolitan openness, but “cultures are not, by their very nature, tolerant of much plurality,” he says. “So the Harvard Law School prides itself on its diversity, but it’s a diversity in which basically everyone views the world the exact same way.”... One challenge of the Enlightenment he says, is that “reason gave us the power to doubt and to question everything, including reason itself.” That “throws us back upon our own subjectivity. . . . You have your truth, I have mine.”"

Government agencies being neutral and just following the science untainted by ideological, political or any other biases

A on Singapore's proposed tax/ban on high-sugar drinks: While I can somewhat understand the sugar tax, I don’t think banning is a logical solution, especially since cigarettes themselves aren’t banned. Yes, cigarettes are highly taxed, but instead of high sugar consumption which affects only the individual, smoking affects the people around you too. They should follow through with a cigarette ban if they insist on a sugar ban.

Probably the thing I take the most issue out of this proposal is that banning will take away people’s freedom to choose for themselves. There are better ways to encourage a less-sugar intake such as subsidising healthier drinks, labelling sugary drinks with health warnings and education. Banning should never even be considered.

If they do go through with a ban, I’d argue that we should also ban not just cigarettes, but alcohol as well. Alcohol can affect people around you, if you become drunk and violent. I think if the government feels like we cannot make choices properly and control ourselves, then they should ban all such harmful consumables, and not just sugary drinks. Salt and MSG should probably be considered as well, due to the high levels of hypertension and heart disease we have here.

Me: the harms of secondhand smoke are greatly exaggerated

A: They aren’t. There’s a reason why we have smoke-free zones, and I’d actually much prefer it if the whole country is cigarette-free as well.

A cursory lookup on MOH’s health sites will inform you about the dangers of second-hand smoke, so since this information is by the government, I'm not spreading Fake News: Environmental Tobacco Smoke

Me: It's based on bad science

Secondhand smoke isn’t as bad as we thought.

"Newer, better studies with much larger sample sizes have found little to no correlation between smoking bans and short-term incidence of heart attacks, and certainly nothing remotely close to the 60 percent reduction that was claimed in Helena. The updated science debunks the alarmist fantasies that were used to sell smoking bans to the public, allowing for a more sober analysis suggesting that current restrictions on smoking are extreme from a risk-reduction standpoint."

A: Are you saying MOH's finding is bad science and thus false? That's quite a serious allegation there.

Me: Are you saying MOH is infallible?

A: I'm saying that I trust MOH, an agency with certified doctors and other health professionals and nutritionists, instead of sites with dubious origins.

If you think MOH is spreading Fake News, you are free to report them to the police. I believe we have laws in place for these things. :)

Me: I'm amused that you think slate is a site with dubious origins

Or that the numerous scientific articles they link to, published in peer reviewed journals are dubious

A: I'm similarly amused you think MOH partakes in bad science and publishes false data, and thus is guilty of spreading Fake News. This is a government body, and such allegations are extremely serious.

I guess all the professional expertise in their medical facilities and their research must be wrong then, since some other site disagrees and contradicts MOH's professionally-sourced and scientifically-based findings. :)

Me: You need to learn more about how science works and the interaction between public policy and science.

I'm assuming you also imagine that vaping is more harmful than cigarettes, that Marijuana is harmful and that the death penalty deters crime.

A: You also need to learn more about how to substantiate your points with factual and accurate sources, instead of accusing a government body of spreading lies.

If you think Slate is more accurate as compared to a government agency which employs the scientific method and the rigours of research to formulate their data, then you should seriously re-examine your education.


Nice assumptions, btw. Typical of someone who boasts of online research > hard facts.

Me: Well, clearly you didn't read the article, or put any store in the links to numerous peer reviewed studies even after I pointed them out

Quite amusing that you claim I need to substantiate my points

Your "substantiation" is "gahmen say one, must be correct"

A: Lmao, I didn't say that 'gahment say one, must be correct'. Amusing level of comprehension you have there. I only said that I'd rather trust a professional body which employs rigorous research and hard science to formulate their data, instead of Slate, which likely cherry-picks their opinions to form their opinion piece.

Quite amusing you cannot see this when I quite literally have to spell it out for you. :)

Secondhand smoke isn’t as bad as we thought.
Also headlined as: "We Used Terrible Science to Justify Smoking Bans"

"In the early 2000s, as jurisdictions across the country fought over expanding smoking bans to bars and restaurants, anti-smoking advocates seized on the Helena study and related research showing that secondhand smoke exposure can affect coronary functions to promote fear of secondhand smoke. Groups across the country stated that “even half an hour of secondhand smoke exposure causes heart damage similar to that of habitual smokers.” Not to be outdone, the Association for Nonsmokers in Minnesota wrote in a press release that just 30 seconds of exposure could “make coronary artery function of non-smokers indistinguishable from smokers.” The message to nonsmokers was clear: The briefest exposure to secondhand smoke can kill you.

A decade later, comprehensive smoking bans have proliferated globally. And now that the evidence has had time to accumulate, it’s also become clear that the extravagant promises made by anti-smoking groups—that implementing bans would bring about extraordinary improvements in cardiac health—never materialized. Newer, better studies with much larger sample sizes have found little to no correlation between smoking bans and short-term incidence of heart attacks, and certainly nothing remotely close to the 60 percent reduction that was claimed in Helena. The updated science debunks the alarmist fantasies that were used to sell smoking bans to the public, allowing for a more sober analysis suggesting that current restrictions on smoking are extreme from a risk-reduction standpoint.

By the time the Helena study was published in the British Medical Journal, the authors had lowered the observed reduction in heart attacks from 60 percent to 40 percent; still an impressive figure but a substantial drop from the claim they had prematurely publicized to press worldwide. Immediate responses to the paper from other scientists were harshly critical, noting the small size of the Helena population—about 68,000 residents at the time—and the medical implausibility of achieving such a massive effect in such a short period. It was impossible to know with certainty whether the drop was caused by the ban or was simply due to chance.

Nonetheless, the Helena paper spawned a wave of studies seeking to replicate the finding. Research observing similar reductions followed in places such as Pueblo, Colorado; Bowling Green, Ohio; and Monroe County, Indiana. One characteristic shared by these places was their low populations and correspondingly small sample sizes: The last of these studies covered only 22 heart attacks among nonsmokers over the course of nearly four years.

When studies sampling larger populations finally appeared, the reported declines in heart attacks began to shrink...

A 2008 study covering the entire country of New Zealand—a population smaller than England’s, but bigger than the American towns previously studied—found no significant effects on heart attacks or unstable angina in the year following implementation of a smoking ban; hospitalizations for the former had actually increased.

Contradictory research continued to come in. A clever study led by researchers at RAND Corp. in 2010 tested the possibility that the large reductions identified in small communities were due to chance. They assembled a massive data set that allowed them to essentially replicate studies like those in Helena, Pueblo, and Bowling Green, but on an unprecedented scale. Whereas those studies had compared just one small community to another, the RAND paper compared all possible pairings of communities affected by smoking bans to all possible controls, for a total of more than 15,000 pairings. They stratified results by age in case there were differential effects on the young, working age adults, or the elderly. And in an improvement on most other studies, they also controlled for existing trends in the rate of heart attacks.

The study found no statistically significant decrease in heart attacks among any age group...

A 2012 study of six American states that had instituted smoking bans came to a similar conclusion. So did a 2014 study, which is notable for being co-authored by some of the same researchers who had previously published papers suggesting that the Colorado towns of Pueblo and Greeley had experienced reduced rates of heart attacks after implementing smoking bans. When Colorado enacted a statewide ban, the authors had an opportunity to see if their earlier results could be duplicated across the larger population of nearly 5 million people. No effect appeared. As an additional test, they re-examined the data excluding 11 jurisdictions that had already implemented comprehensive smoking bans: The statewide ban still showed no effect.

In the paper’s admirably honest commentary, the authors reflected on the reasons that earlier studies, including their own, had overstated the impact of smoking bans. The first is that small sample sizes allowed random variances in data to be mistaken for real effects. The second is that most previous studies failed to account for existing downward trends in the rate of heart attacks. And the third is publication bias: Since no one believes that smoking bans increase heart attacks, few would bother submitting or publishing studies that show a positive correlation or null effect. Thus the published record is likely unintentionally biased toward showing a larger effect than truly exists...

Drawing on data from 28 states from 2001–2008, lead author Vivian Ho, an economist at Rice University, compared rates of hospitalization for heart attacks in areas with and without smoking bans.

Following the methodology of previous studies, she and her coauthors found a statistically significant reduction in hospitalizations for heart attacks and congestive heart failure following implementation of a smoking ban (though only among people older than 65). But when they went a step further, adjusting the analysis with county-by-county health data addressing variables such as access to hospitals and increases in cigarette taxes, the effect of the smoking bans disappeared. Ho and her co-authors suggest that modest improvements in cardiac health that were previously credited to smoking bans may actually be caused by differentials in access to medical care and people smoking less when cigarette taxes increase (smoking cigarettes does have a proven negative effect on cardiac health)...

“No clear link between passive smoking and lung cancer,” read a 2013 headline in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, hardly a pro-tobacco publication. That was a report on a cohort study tracking 76,000 women that failed to detect a link between the disease and secondhand smoke. The finding comports with existing literature suggesting that the effect is borderline and concentrated on long-term, high levels of exposure.

Despite the mounting evidence that transient exposure to secondhand smoke is more an annoyance than a mortal threat, smoking bans have become widespread and politically entrenched. According to the latest update from Americans for Nonsmokers Rights, which publishes quarterly reports on anti-smoking laws, more than 80 percent of the American population now lives under smoking bans covering workplaces, restaurants, or bars. An additional 3,400 jurisdictions ban smoking in outdoor areas such as parks, beaches, and stadiums. More than 400 cities and counties restrict smoking while dining outdoors. More than 1,700 college campuses are completely smoke-free. Nearly 600 jurisdictions include e-cigarettes under their smoke-free laws. Some jurisdictions make limited allowance for places such as cigar bars and hookah lounges, while in others these are completely forbidden or limited to businesses grandfathered in before ordinances took effect.

The cost of these policies falls almost entirely on people who smoke, an increasingly put-upon minority of the population. Rarely are their preferences consulted...

Smokers increasingly find their habit viewed as on a par with use of illicit drugs. Smokers also report that judgments against them cut deeper than their outward behavior, extending to their identity as human beings. “Even if you can’t articulate it you probably intuitively feel it in the same way that if you’re black or a woman and you’re being discriminated against,” one subject told his interviewers. “Like even if you can’t articulate it or you certainly can’t prove it or you’d be at the Human Rights Commission, but you kind of know it’s happening.”

To some anti-smoking advocates, that stigmatization is useful if it encourages people to quit. The authors of this paper are skeptical, noting that such stigmatization could instead lead to feelings of powerlessness...

Early arguments for smoking bans at least paid lip service to the idea that restrictions were necessary to protect unwilling bystanders’ health. But as bans have grown ever more intrusive even as the case for expanding them has withered, that justification has been revealed as a polite fiction by which nonsmokers shunted smokers to the fringes of society. It was never just about saving lives...

As Jonathan Swift said in an apt aphorism, “Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it.” Too late to help smokers banished from public life.

There were good reasons from the beginning to doubt that smoking bans could really deliver the promised results, but anti-smoking advocacy groups eagerly embraced alarmism to shape public perception. Today’s tobacco control movement is guided by ideology as much as it is by science, prone to hyping politically convenient studies regardless of their merit and ostracizing detractors.

This has important implications for journalism. As health journalists take on topics such as outdoor smoking bans, discrimination against smokers in employment or adoption, and the ever-evolving regulation of e-cigarettes, they should consider that however well-intentioned the aims of the tobacco control movement are, its willingness to sacrifice the means of good science to the end of restricting behavior calls for skeptical scrutiny...

To cite just a few recent examples: In Washington, the city council has passed legislation restricting e-cigarettes, which emit vapor, and chewing tobacco, which doesn’t emit anything. In England, health advocates argue for restricting outdoor smoking because children should not so much as see someone lighting up. “Smokers themselves are also contaminated… smokers actually emit toxins,” one Harvard researcher mused to Scientific American in 2009, warning against exposure to invisible “thirdhand smoke” wafting off of smokers’ clothing and hair. Writers at Vox have gone so far as to advocate banning smoking even in private homes. The list could go on endlessly. Is it any wonder smokers feel stigmatized?"

Links - 5th December 2018 (1)

Where Will You Stand? - "If we are to uphold the dharma, says Rev. angel Kyodo williams, we must stand up to racism and expose its institutionalized forms—even in our Buddhist communities... The attention of our nation has rightfully turned to the policing of black and brown bodies. From above, it looks like just black and brown folks are being policed and while you may feel bad, you are free. But here is the truth: policing is expressing itself through the state. The police force is the institution carrying out a specific mandate—a mandate that expresses a survival need of the social construct that we inhabit. That mandate is to control black bodies."
The cancer spreads

What if women went on a sex strike before the midterms? (Opinion) - "I snapped to attention the first time I heard the term "service sex." I heard it in 2017, from a researcher at an annual sex researchers' conference in Montreal. This expert was describing straight women who were distressed because they didn't feel desire for their husbands or long-term partners. Wanting to keep their men happy, these women often had sex anyway, with a resigned attitude and little thought to their own pleasure"
So much for bashing white women for supporting white supremacy
"Oh look, another suggestion that women use sex as a political tool. These same people then ask "why is the value of a woman based on sex?"
All this framing of waning female sexual desire as a craving for novelty (i.e. trying to claim that women are as/more sexual than men) ignores the higher bar for sex in the first place - a bait and switch is a more parsimonious explanation

Physiological correlates of imagery-induced orgasm in women - "Orgasm has been reported to occur in response to imagery in the absence of any physical stimulation. This study was undertaken to ascertain whether the subjective report of imagery-induced orgasm is accompanied by physiological and perceptual events that are characteristic of genitally stimulated orgasm. Subjects were women who claimed that they could experience orgasm from imagery alone. Orgasm from self-induced imagery or genital self-stimulation generated significant increases in systolic blood pressure, heart rate, pupil diameter, pain detection threshold, and pain tolerance threshold over resting control conditions. These findings provide evidence that orgasm from self-induced imagery and genital self-stimulation can each produce significant and substantial net sympathetic activation and concomitant significant increases in pain thresholds. The increases in the self-induced imagery orgasm condition were comparable in magnitude to those in the genital self-stimulation-produced orgasm condition. On this basis we state that physical genital stimulation is evidently not necessary to produce a state that is reported to be an orgasm and that a reassessment of the nature of orgasm is warranted."
i.e. some women can orgasm without being touched

It's NOT Okay To Be White In Canada's Universities - "The absurd over-reaction, including by Harjit Sajjan, the Minister of National Defence, to a statement indicating it is "Okay" (i.e. acceptable) to be genetically European (white) is proof that many people do in fact believe it is not acceptable for an individual to be white. Simply stating that it is acceptable for an individual to have certain DNA has sparked outrage, accusations of "racism", "white supremacy", and "hatred", and has even been condemned as "offensive" and a "scare tactic""

Why a Helium Leak Disabled Every iPhone in a Medical Facility - "the issue was isolated to about 40 Apple phones, tablets, and watches. Android phones were just fine, as was the rest of the computer equipment at the facility."

‘Fight Club’ organized by teachers at day care caught on camera - "She says now she struggles making her son realize fighting at day care is not widely accepted. Merseal said, “When we chose a new day care for him and he started going he asked me in the car if they were going to make him fight.”"

Yelling ‘I hate white people’ and punching one isn’t a hate crime, Canadian judge rules - The Washington Post - "Tamara Crowchief may have yelled "I hate white people" as she carried out a violent assault on a white person, but that doesn't mean her attack was racially motivated"

‘I hope Trump is assassinated’: A Missouri lawmaker faces mounting calls to resign after Facebook comment - The Washington Post - "Democratic state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal went on her personal Facebook page Thursday morning to vent two days after the president blamed “both sides” for the brutality... Chappelle-Nadal once likened those looking to hand control of the St. Louis police force from the state to local authorities to “house slaves”"
But of course only Trump is to blame for "inciting violence"

Why Italy's #MeToo movement is failing - The Washington Post - "Culturally, we have a very high bar for what constitutes sexual harassment, both socially and legally. We are more tolerant of men’s improper behavior. Any Italian woman is used to having men commenting on her physical appearance: We call them compliments (and men think of it as just being men). No woman would go to Human Resources if a male colleague were to ask about her sexual life: We call that joking... Instead of having their voices amplified, Italian women supporting the #MeToo movement are constantly mocked online by men and even other women who see them as uptight feminists"
Cultural imperialism is good?
Someone she is blaming Latin culture on Berlusconi

Princeton protesters occupy president’s office, demand ‘racist’ Woodrow Wilson’s name be removed - The Washington Post - "Student protesters filled Princeton’s historic Nassau Hall Wednesday afternoon, sitting in the university president’s office and refusing to leave until their demands to improve the social and academic experiences of black students on campus are met — starting with an acknowledgement of famous alumnus Woodrow Wilson’s “racist legacy” and the removal of his name from all buildings.
once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

How Japan learned to love PC gaming again - "You can get a credit card in Japan, but good luck using it. Cash still reigns supreme, and even if a store takes credit cards, Huntley joked that you should expect five receipts covered in stamps. Worse, he says most bank cards won't let you make purchases online... Is it any wonder physical music sales are still massive in Japan while digital media sales lag behind the rest of the world? "I think that impulse buy, it's hard to get that in Japan," Huntley said... "Japanese people have a genetic predisposition to motion sickness," said Huntley. "That's why most Japanese games actually don't let you control the camera. It's why they don't play first person games, really, in Japan. Actually, a lot of people will actually take motion sickness pills before playing a VR game. That's how hardcore they are. They want to enjoy it, even though they know they're going to get sick. They buy pills just so they can play the game. Anything camera related, that can make anybody feel remotely queasy, that's just a no-go for Japan.""

Let's Face It, A Staycation Is Code For “Let’s Have Sex” - "According to a another boutique hotel in Somerset, 25% of their customers comprise young Singaporean couples aged 21 to 30. From their observations, most couples arrive with the intention of spending time together away from their homes, and spend the majority of their stay holed up in the room ‘Netflix and chilling’... Camera surveillance is, in fact, a growing trend amongst parents"

Free speech: a selfish and irresponsible right? - "Of all advanced industrial nations, Singapore has by far the least freedom of expression. What makes this fact even more remarkable is how little pressure there is from the public for liberal reform. One reason for this state of affairs is the negative reputation that freedom of expression has been saddled with... it is again a myth that democratic principles call for unrestrained, unregulated speech... It is through public discourse that people in a democracy express and shape their interests, seek conciliation and make compromises, and it is there that the maximum level of free expression is required. This has to do with the fact that democracy is essentially is a promise we make to one another that even if we don’t like the outcome of certain collective decisions, we will peacefully respect them. No other system known to man is better able to generate the peaceful and voluntary assent of the losers, without coercion or violence. This assent depends on the legitimacy of the process, which is more likely when every segment of society believes that it has been heard. Here again, we can see that it is a gross mischaracterisation to consider freedom of expression a selfish or irresponsible right. The right to freedom of expression is so important not for the sake of the individual alone, but because the right to hear and be heard is central to an order tailored to achieve peaceful co-existence as a society... Here again, we can see that it is a gross mischaracterisation to consider freedom of expression a selfish or irresponsible right. The right to freedom of expression is so important not for the sake of the individual alone, but because the right to hear and be heard is central to an order tailored to achieve peaceful co-existence as a society... There is another respect in which Singapore’s stifled freedoms are irresponsible even from a pro-PAP perspective. Consider the party’s favourite nightmare scenario: a freak election in which it is suddenly booted out of power and finds itself in opposition. When that happens, all those discretionary powers that it now possesses will pass into the hands of another party... Despite the evidence that excessive restrictions on freedom of expression have been costly for governance, there may still be diehard conservatives who argue that, all said and done, Singapore is the best country on earth, and that those of us who seek more freedom are being irresponsible. I liken this attitude to a father who tells his family that since he is fitter and healthier than other men out there, he really doesn’t need to take out a life insurance policy"

Bernie's Right—America Should Be More Like Sweden - "Being more like modern Sweden actually means deregulation, free trade, a national school voucher system, partially privatized pensions, no property tax, no inheritance tax, and much lower corporate taxes. Sorry to burst your bubble, Bernie... As the Swedish researcher Nima Sanandaji has observed, the income of Scandinavians in the U.S. is about 20 percent higher than the average, and their poverty rate is about half the poverty rate of average Americans... Apparently, you can take Scandinavians out of Scandinavia, but not the Scandinavia out of Scandinavians. There is a cultural background that explains some of our success, going even further back than the laissez faire period in the late 19th and early 20th century, a culture of social trust, comparative lack of corruption, and a Lutheran work ethic. This may reflect a long history of internal stability, scant levels of feudalism, and a strong tradition of trading... Gunnar and Alva Myrdal, the two leading Social Democratic thinkers of the 20th century, thought that the Scandinavian countries were uniquely suited for experimenting with high taxes and redistribution. They had homogenous populations with a strong work ethic, non-corrupt civil services, a high degree of trust in bureaucracies and politicians—and competitive free trade economies to foot the bill. If it did not work there, they suggested, it would be difficult to think it could work anywhere"

Who Has the Right to a Dignified Death? - "In [Belgian] terminal cases, two doctors need to confirm that the patient’s suffering stems from an incurable illness. For non-terminal cases, three doctors must agree. But doctors have adopted increasingly loose interpretations of disease... Last year, thirteen per cent of the Belgians who were euthanized did not have a terminal condition, and roughly three per cent suffered from psychiatric disorders. In Flanders, where the dominant language is Dutch, euthanasia accounts for nearly five per cent of all deaths... The Flemish media have adopted a mostly uncritical approach to euthanasia, running numerous articles about the courage of people who have chosen to die. Last year, De Standaard, a prominent Flemish newspaper, published a long tribute to a depressed mother who was euthanized after being abandoned by her boyfriend and becoming disillusioned by her psychiatric care...The suicide rate in Belgium (excluding cases of euthanasia) is the second-highest in Western Europe, a phenomenon often attributed to the Flemish personality type known as “binnenvetter,” a person who holds emotions inside... he rejects the idea that suicide is always an indication of pathology... Godelieva had never had electroconvulsive therapy, though it is effective for about half of patients with depression... De Wachter believes that the country’s approach to suicide reflects a crisis of nihilism created by the rapid secularization of Flemish culture in the past thirty years. Euthanasia became a humanist solution to a humanist dilemma... He recently approved the euthanasia of a twenty-five-year-old woman with borderline personality disorder who did not “suffer from depression in the psychiatric sense of the word,” he said. “It was more existential; it was impossible for her to have a goal in this life.” He said that her parents “came to my office, got on their knees, and begged me, ‘Please, help our daughter to die.’ ”... René Stockman, the director of a Catholic organization, Brothers of Charity, which says that it runs a third of the psychiatric institutions in Belgium, told me, “They are using our Christian vocabulary in a new context. They say they are ‘saving’ people from their bad lives, through ‘mercy’ and ‘compassion.’ I cannot accept that.” He sees euthanasia as a failure of both psychiatry and medical education... René Stockman, the director of a Catholic organization, Brothers of Charity, which says that it runs a third of the psychiatric institutions in Belgium, told me, “They are using our Christian vocabulary in a new context. They say they are ‘saving’ people from their bad lives, through ‘mercy’ and ‘compassion.’ I cannot accept that.” He sees euthanasia as a failure of both psychiatry and medical education... only half of euthanasia cases in Flanders had been reported to the Federal Control and Evaluation Commission. There were no repercussions for failing to report euthanasia deaths to the commission, a situation likely aided by the fact that nearly half of the sixteen members on the commission are affiliated with right-to-die associations."
On the slippery slope of euthanasia in Belgium
Evidently the claim that euthanasia reduces the suicide rate is not so uncontestable

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Links - 4th December 2018 (2)

Does A Victory For Gay Marriage Lead To Polygamy? Depends On The Reasoning. - "In oral arguments two years ago over California’s ban on gay marriage, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked how the court could strike down Proposition 8 without also striking down state laws banning incest and polygamy... Marriage laws, like bans on pornography and mistreating animals, are partly based upon longstanding cultural traditions that courts are loathe to overturn. But it would be a curious view of tradition to believe the men who wrote the Bill of Rights intended to protect the right of two men to marry each other – they’d have been horrified at the idea. So were many of the Michigan voters who passed that state’s gay-marriage ban in 2004 by a 58% majority... “If the court says there is a basic right to marry, that certainly sounds like an argument for polygamy,” said Eugene Volokh, a professor at UCLA Law School and editor of the popular Volokh Conspiracy blog. “Even if they say it’s for only one other consenting adult, then people will say `what’s the rationale?’”... The court has to somehow decide that “marriage is not relevantly limited by sex, but it is relevantly limited by number”... In 2013, a federal judge struck down Utah's polygamy ban"
"Slippery slope"

Academics Shouldn't Sell Out Truth for Justice - "What is the telos––the purpose, end, or goal––of the university? In a thought-provoking 2016 lecture, the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt argued that the answer ought to be “truth,” but that lately, more of America’s top universities are embracing social justice as a second or alternative telos. While acknowledging that those goals are not always at odds, he argued that “the conflict between truth and social justice is likely to become unmanageable,” and he urged academia to affirm the primacy of truth-seeking. A recent essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education recognizes the same conflict, but implies that it sometimes ought to be resolved in the other direction... foundational scholars in modern philosophy were anti-Semites and even Nazis. What’s an academic to do?... 'Failure to cite because of a scholar’s misconduct — whether for being a Nazi or a sexual harasser — betrays the entire scholarly enterprise that justifies the existence of universities and the protection of academic freedom'...
Consequences might include:
the (further) politicization of scholarship as academics disagree about what constitutes morally objectionable behavior and how it ought to affect citations;
the new burden of researching the personal lives of scholars one cites;
disingenuous virtue-signaling and citation call-out culture;
bad actors who take advantage of the shift from substantive standards to subjective moral judgments to withhold credit from good scholars; and
increased opacity in the profession as academics remove citations to scholars who influenced their work, making it harder to follow their arguments.
More on social justice corrupting academia - if academia is ideologically tainted, can you still slam those who are skeptical of it as ignorant or biased?

‘A time bomb’: how social tensions are rising in a corner of northern England - "Ever since she was elected to represent the town in 2012, Sarah Champion MP has been receiving complaints about litter, fly-tipping and antisocial behaviour, blamed on Roma arrivals. For a long time, the complaints came from white British and British Pakistani people who had bought their homes before EU enlargement... postal workers said they were so frightened delivering in Eastwood after being mugged for their parcels that they no longer went out alone... as their English improves, the Roma want to defend themselves. Recently, Champion went to a meeting of about 40 Eastwood Roma residents, who said they felt intimidated and victimised in their own homes, let alone the streets. “They talked of bullying and degradation, and they were saying that it was the Pakistanis who were doing it,” said the MP. She said the “disreputable” landlords renting to Roma were almost exclusively Pakistanis, happy to take high rents for substandard properties, secure that the Roma would not complain... the Observer met a small group of young Roma women at the Clifton Learning Partnership, which helps Roma settle into UK life. Like their compatriots in Page Hall, they are fed up with being blamed for every piece of litter on Eastwood’s streets, every dumped mattress, every late-night party. “It’s all our fault, all Roma fault, like always, everywhere”"
Strangely the word racism doesn't appear here

Had They Bet On Nuclear, Not Renewables, Germany & California Would Already Have 100% Clean Power - "Had California and Germany invested $680 billion into new nuclear power plants instead of renewables like solar and wind farms, the two would already be generating 100% or more of their electricity from clean (low-emissions) energy sources"

Solar And Wind Lock-In Fossil Fuels, And That Makes Saving The Climate Harder And More Expensive - "Privately, many climate and energy experts admit that the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way to decarbonize energy supplies is with nuclear power. How could they not? France and Sweden proved it... many of the same experts proclaim publicly, “We need a clean energy mix!” — one that includes solar and wind. Why? The reason has nothing to do with technology, engineering, or economics and everything to do with politics... Humankind has never transitioned to energy sources that are more costly, less reliable, and have a larger environmental footprint than the incumbent — and yet that’s precisely what adding large amounts of solar and wind to the grid requires. Moreover, past energy transitions delivered both decarbonization and “dematerialization” — less material throughput per unit of energy... a mixed system would require large amounts of solar and wind and thus far more power plants, transmission lines, and everything else required to provide reliable electricity. In other words, going from energy-dense fuels to solar and wind requires the rematerialization of energy in the form of more land, materials, mining, storage, and waste... Nuclear, they found, has decarbonized electricity at a rate 12 times faster than solar or wind... had France tried to decarbonize using a “clean energy mix” that included solar and wind, it would have had to increase oil or gas-burning in order to maintain electric reliability. That’s because the electric system requires fast-ramping energy sources like oil and natural gas when the sun stops shining and the wind stops blowing... Are a few hours of battery backup sufficient to integrate solar and wind onto the grid? Not in the slightest. Solar and wind are unreliable over months and years, not just hours. That means unfathomable quantities of electricity would need to be stored over months or years... oil and natural gas companies are perfectly aware that solar and wind lock-in their main product? That’s why they are only all too happy to invest in and promote solar and wind... Given the religious quality of so much renewable energy advocacy, mixology is a far more comfortable position to hold"

An ode to nuclear waste - "Solar panels, you say? Solar panels are nothing more than future electronic waste, spread over our rooftops and soon in our beautiful green fields. Within 30 years, these solar panels will have to be dismantled at garbage heaps in poor countries. There, the solar panels are burnt to get the copper wire out, and all the toxic fumes from all that molten plastic and all those heavy metals like lead, chromium and cadmium will cause problems to people’s airways, increased risk of cancer, birth defects… Solar waste: who ever makes a fuss about that? It is very different when it comes to nuclear waste. In the past 60 years, nuclear waste has never killed or injured anyone; it has not made a single person sick. And that is because nuclear waste is stored safely... Virtually every component of ‘nuclear waste’ has a useful application in industry, agriculture, science or medicine"

We Don't Need Solar And Wind To Save The Climate -- And It's A Good Thing, Too - "Reporters were as enthusiastic about renewables in 1930s as they are today... By 2016, renewables were receiving 94 times more in U.S. subsidies than nuclear and 46 times more than fossil fuels per unit of energy generated... Did the solar and wind energy revolution arrive? Judge for yourself: in 2016, solar and wind constituted 1.3 and 3.9 percent of the planet’s electricity, respectively... By 2017, wind and solar had grown to become 48 and 3 percent of Denmark’s electricity... Denmark has fewer people than Wisconsin, a land area smaller than West Virginia, and an economy smaller than the state of Washington. Moreover, the reason Denmark was able to deploy so much wind was because it could easily export excess wind electricity to neighboring countries — albeit at a high cost: Denmark today has the most expensive electricity in Europe... As for solar, those U.S. states that have deployed the most of it have seen sharp rises in their electricity costs and prices compared to the national average... While Germany has deployed some of the most solar and wind in the world, its emissions have been flat for a decade while its electricity has become the second most expensive in Europe. More recently, Germany has permitted the demolition of old forests, churches, and villages in order to mine and burn coal... both Brazil and hydro-heavy California stand as warnings against relying on hydro-electricity in a period of climate change. Both had to use fossil fuels to make up for hydro during recent drought years. That leaves us with nuclear power as the only truly scalable, reliable, low-carbon energy source proven capable of eliminating carbon emissions from the power sector... The dilute nature of water, sunlight, and wind means that up to 5,000 times more land and 10 - 15 times more concrete, cement, steel, and glass, are required than for nuclear plants. All of that material throughput results in renewables creating large quantities of waste, much of it toxic... the huge amounts of land required for solar and wind production has had a devastating impact on rare and threatened desert tortoises, bats, and eagles — even when solar and wind are at just a small percentage of electricity supplies... France is already seeing its electricity prices rise as a result of deploying more solar and wind... the problem of the unreliability of solar has been discussed for as long as there have existed solar panels. During all of that time, solar advocates have waved their hands about potential future solutions."

Stop Letting Your Ridiculous Fears Of Nuclear Waste Kill The Planet - "If all the nuclear waste from U.S. power plants were put on a football field, it would stack up just 50 feet high. In comparison to the waste produced by every other kind of electricity production, that quantity is close to zero... for 50 years there has been a well-financed, psychologically sophisticated, and coordinated effort to frighten the public... Any terrorist who wants to make a dirty bomb could just just break into the local hospital where radioactive waste (from x-rays and other medical devices) is available at far lower levels of security... Will the cans of old nuclear fuel stick around forever? Probably not. Sometime between 2050 and 2100, new nuclear plants — like the kind being developed by Bill Gates — will likely be able to use the so-called “waste” as fuel."

Nuclear the ‘only option’ to replace coal and gas: Michael Shellenberger - "One of the world’s leading new-generation environmental thinkers has said the “renewable energy experiment” with wind and solar has failed. Michael Shellenberger, a former renewables advocate to Barack Obama when he was president, is now a global champion for nuclear energy, which he said was the only option to replace coal and gas on a global scale... He said opposition to nuclear was “like a superstitious religious belief”. Mr Shellenberger was named a Time magazine Hero of the Environment in 2008 and is co-­author of an “ecomodernist mani­festo” that aims to decouple human wellbeing from environmental destruction... “The reality is the death toll from Chernobyl in 1986, after 20 years, is less than 200 people.” “In what other issue does the science say one thing so clearly but such a vocal group refuses to accept the evidence,” Mr Shellenberger said. “Climate change is apparently the most important issue in the world but it is not important enough to get some pretty basic facts straight”... Mr Shellenberger has written extensively and gives lectures on how nuclear has been thwarted by environmental campaigns, often with the aid of the fossil fuel industry... “When you do nuclear, what additional benefit does wind and solar bring?” he said. “All they do is make the electricity system chaotic and provide greenwash for fossil fuels"
Whoever doesn't agree with environmental activists is a fossil fuel industry shill, and there is no money in promoting renewables so there can't possibly be a conflict of interests there!

Wind farms are the 'new apex predators' as they kill off three QUARTERS of predatory birds
Over extrapolation aside (the study didn't actually say there were fewer birds because they'd been killed off by the wind farms - even if the study coauthor said something that partially supports that claim), green energy isn't as green as is claimed (nuclear energy, OTOH, is a lot more self-contained)

Fukushima – the reacton from nuclear engineering communities - "what transpired in Japan isn’t really seen as a failure of modern nuclear technology at all; rather, an unfortunate combination of obsolete designs and too-cosy state capitalist operation. The operating company, TEPCO, had a long history of poor safety enforcement and maintenance. On top of which it failed to follow its own advice in a 2004 report, which recommended a higher seawall that could have kept Fukushima’s generators dry. On the technology side, the Fukushima reactors which failed were General Electric BWR/3 models, designed in the late 1960s and installed in Japan in 1971 – that is, more than 15 years before the Chernobyl disaster. Failsafe procedures and general reactor configuration have moved on so much since BWR/3 that this kind of cooling failure is not possible in more modern reactors"

Renewables Can't Save the Planet. Only Nuclear Can - "Renewables were first promoted in the 1960s and 1970s as a way for people to get closer to nature and for countries to achieve energy independence. Only recently have people come to see adopting them as crucial to preventing global warming... The transition from a low-energy, biomass-dependent agricultural life to a high-energy, fossil-fuel-dependent industrial one came at a high human and environmental cost but also delivered significant progress. As terrible as industrial capitalism, particularly in its early forms, could be for factory workers, it was usually an improvement over what came before it, as Smil documents in a series of delightful boxes peppered throughout the book that feature obscure old texts reminding the reader of the brutality of daily life before and during the Industrial Revolution... In a study published in June in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of energy and climate researchers found that the most prominent proposal for shifting the United States to completely renewable energy had inflated estimates of U.S. hydroelectric capacity tenfold... The real threat to the public comes from irrational fears of nuclear power. The Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan in 2011, for example, did not lead to any deaths from direct radiation exposure. Yet public fear led Japan’s prime minister to intervene unnecessarily, prompting a panicked and needlessly large evacuation, which led to the deaths of over 1,500 people... a comprehensive study of nuclear power plant construction costs published in Energy Policy last year found that water-cooled nuclear reactors (which are far less expensive than non-water-cooled designs) are already cheap enough to quickly replace fossil fuel power plants... In the 1960s and 1970s, some of nuclear power’s opponents regarded the technology as dangerous because it would provide humanity with too much energy"
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