When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, January 12, 2019

Links - 12th January 2019

WALSH: Nobody Wants To Take Away Your Birth Control, Liberals. We Just Don't Want To Pay For It. - "Thanks, Birth Control Day. It was a day for people — mostly leftists — to take to social media and explain why birth control is so wonderful, so essential, so necessary to a fulfilled and happy life, and why it must never be banned. The media tells us that yesterday's festivities were especially important because the future of birth control is in doubt. President Trump may soon take our birth control away, which would be very bad because birth control is a "health necessity."... What is really interesting about the Left's breathless defense of birth control is that they are defending it against an imaginary threat. Nobody is talking about banning birth control. Nobody is trying to take it away. Nobody is attempting to impede anyone's ability to obtain birth control. The Left is screaming at the weirdest straw man ever constructed. We have been told for years that women are having trouble "accessing" contraception. But where are these women with access problems? Where do they live? The Mojave Desert? If they live anywhere in civilization, they are surely only a few miles away from contraception. You can buy it at gas stations, grocery stores, drug stores, Walmart, Target, etc. You can get it for free at many medical clinics. You can even have it delivered to your door. Birth control practically rains from the sky... The Left invented the concept of "reproductive rights" and lumped abortion and contraception together under that same umbrella. While they pretend to be offended by the suggestion that abortion is birth control, that is exactly the impression they wish to foster. Now whenever a Democratic politician screeches about the evil conservatives who want to infringe on "reproductive rights" and end "reproductive health care" for women, what they mean is that conservatives want to stop abortion doctors from killing babies. But what the oblivious Democratic voter hears is that conservatives want to steal their birth control. The idea has settled into the liberal mind that anyone who opposes abortion must therefore oppose birth control. A lot of people do oppose abortion, so, by this confused way of thinking, a lot of people must oppose birth control... When people insist that they have a "right" to "access" contraception, what they mean is that they have a right to be given contraception for free. The thing that impedes birth control access is the same thing that impedes access to any other product: you have to pay for it. This is not due to the designs of dastardly Republicans. It's just how the free market works"
Since being against illegal immigration is being against immigration, which is being against foreigners, which is xenophobic, it's no surprise being against 'free' birth control is the same as a ban on it
So much for the "War on Women"

The harsh realities behind the rising sugar cane prices in Singapore - "Singapore imports more than 99 per cent of its sugar cane from Malaysia, where the best areas for growing the plant are in the western states, such as Negeri Sembilan, Perlis, Kedah and Perak as well as in Muar, Johor. Sugar cane’s water requirements are higher than other arable crops, yet too much water can also create problems... Even if the weather takes a turn for the better, Singaporeans might still have to pay more to get their sugar cane fix in the near future. Many of Malaysia’s sugar cane farms are small family holdings, and that model of business may well become a thing of the past."

Is that a boy or girl? Parents whose sons have long hair OK if child mistaken for girl - "Long hair on boys became an issue recently when a pre-school teacher punished a six-year-old boy with longer-than-usual tresses. She reportedly made him stand in front of his class and put on a girl's hair clip. The episode sparked outrage among people who felt it was cruel to embarrass a child for his appearance and for its rigid gender stereotyping... At the international school where he used to teach, it was common for boys to sport long hair. Pre-schools here say they do not dictate how long a child's hair should be... "If the long hair interferes with the child's vision or learning, we would highlight this to parents and encourage them to trim their child's hair, but the final decision still rests with the parents."... some people assume her son is a girl and refer to him as such. Her main concern is whether such assumption would confuse Matthias about his gender. She says: "I would check with him now and then by asking him, 'Are you a girl or a boy?' So far, he has answered correctly every time."... "I always tell my son you cannot control what others do, but you can control what you do." He says Lloyd handles questions about his hair confidently. "When people ask him if he's a girl, he would tell them, 'No, I am a boy.' If they ask why he has long hair then, he would say, 'Because it looks cool.'" In fact, Lloyd has grown so attached to his hair that Mr Loh is worried he might resist cutting it before he enters primary school next year. He says: "We have started preparing him for it and he seems to understand that he has to do it because that's the rule in primary schools.""

South China's schools finally give green light to girls having long hair - "High school student Li Chuling brushes her long hair into a ponytail before she leaves for school every morning. It takes time, but she enjoys it. "Every girl likes to be well groomed," she said. Yet up until recently, the length of girls' hair was strictly controlled at many high schools in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province. The city hit national headlines in 2006 when female students were told to keep their hair short - level with their earlobes at the longest. This stirred heated discussions about whether schools had the right to dictate such things. But local media have reported that the once-strict requirement is being relaxed at many schools... "Now every floor of the girl students' dormitories has been equipped with a hair dryer," she added. Zhang Yiri, an associate professor at Guangzhou City Polytechnic, said the rules that require all the students to have the same, short hairstyle are outdated. "Students are not servicemen, and they have the right to develop their personality and like to look smart while studying hard," Zhang said. In recent years, more schools have quietly relaxed their rules on girls' hair, only requiring female students to have a short haircut at the beginning of the semester, rather than year-round. Xiao explained that the previous strict requirement was made in consideration for students' health and safety. "Girl students with long hair could have an accident during laboratory work in their chemistry lessons. They might also easily catch a cold after swimming, as their long hair cannot be dried in a very short time," Xiao said... Wang Yanyan, mother of a 16-year-old girl, said it was hard work persuading her daughter to have her hair cut before the new school term began. "My daughter used to cry and say she looked ugly after having a short hair cut," Wang said. "Fortunately I no longer have to do that.""

'Crawl back under your rock,’ Swedish FM tells anti-PC academic Jordan Peterson - "Sweden’s Foreign Minister has issued a rather undiplomatic request to Canadian academic and internet sensation Jordan B. Peterson, thrilling a Stockholm audience by expressing her desire to see him fade from the public eye. Speaking on a “pro-women” panel in Sweden’s capital on Wednesday, Margot Wallström said that Peterson should "crawl back under the rock he came from,” adding that she "can't grasp why people waste so much time on that man."

Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson’s book is a hit in Sweden – even though FM loathes him - "A Swedish book retailer has listed Jordan Peterson’s new book as a top seller, just days after the country’s foreign minister told the Canadian academic to “crawl back under his rock”. Peterson’s new book, '12 Rules For Life, an Antidote to Chaos’, is currently one of the most popular titles on Adlibris – a Swedish online book retailer."

Three Girls: I prosecuted the Rochdale child grooming gang - it wasn't about race - "I took the then unprecedented decision to reverse an earlier decision made my other prosecutors and police in 2008/9 NOT to prosecute... These victims came, in the main, from chaotic and troubled backgrounds. Some in care, others alienated from their families. The term "child prostitute" was used extensively to describe them and it should be noted both that the Home Office in a circular to police in 2008 used that term and spoke of girls making an "informed choice" to engage in this behaviour. Parliament only finally removed the term from all laws a couple of years ago. It was clear to me that the yardsticks traditionally used to evaluate the credibility and reliability of victims in other cases was being used without adaptation to cases of child sexual exploitation. In my view, this led to the outcome of vulnerable victims being left unprotected by criminal law... they were deliberately targeted by these predators because they had troubled lives and chaotic backgrounds tinged with criminality – the predators sadly (and rightly) assumed that nobody would either believe them or act upon a complaint... The perpetrators in these so-called group grooming cases are disproportionately from British Asian heritage, according to the Child Exploitation Division of the National Crime Agency in a sample they looked at but, to put in context, 90% of sex offenders in the UK are white males. That said, there is very little research into why this is the case. It may be, in part, due to the disproportionate presence of men from minorities in the night time economy, and, as victims told me, they were drawn to this world by a need for warmth, food, transport and mind numbing substances, it is likely to be found where these predators existed... In a town hall meeting after the case (portrayed in the film), when challenged about whether I wanted people to be "grasses" and "informers," I said I wanted us to be a "nation of good neighbours" looking after each other and all our children."
By Nazir Afzal

Financial Times tool warns if articles quote too many men - "The Financial Times is automatically warning its journalists if their articles quote too many men, in an attempt to force writers to look for expert women to include in their pieces. The media organisation found that only 21% of people quoted in the FT were women, prompting the development of a bot that uses pronouns and analysis of first names to determine whether a source is male or a female. Section editors will then be alerted if they are not doing enough to feature women in their stories. The paper, which covers many male-dominated industries, is keen to attract more women readers, with its research suggesting they are put off by articles that rely heavily on quotes from men... “Desks that use quotes from a high proportion of women also feature more women in their pictures, and their articles are well read by women,” the deputy editor, Roula Khalaf, told staff in an internal email, saying that women tend to feature in stories about the NHS, US immigration, and EU tech regulation but less so in stories about US trade, the oil industry and banking."
Maybe this is going to increase turnover. It will almost certainly reduce quality
Maybe women experts and readers are just more interested in the NHS, US immigration and EU tech regulation than US trade, the oil industry and banking

Speaker at UK Labour conference reportedly called for killing Israeli MKs - "A woman scheduled to speak at a UK Labour Party conference later this month once called for attacks against the Knesset and Israeli lawmakers... Ewa Jasiewicz, 40, a British-Polish anti-Israel activist, is scheduled to speak about the future of trade unions at the Momentum festival organized alongside Labour’s annual conference. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who reportedly called her a “good friend,” is also scheduled to speak. The Times said it had unearthed a report from Jasiewicz, written in 2002 when she was living and working in Jenin in the West Bank at the height of the Second Intifada, in which she suggested that terror groups should attack Israeli MKs instead of civilians... she had in 2010 vandalized a remaining wall of the Warsaw Ghetto, spraying it with “Free Gaza and Palestine” graffiti... Almost 40 percent of British Jews would “seriously consider emigrating” if Corbyn became prime minister"
What if someone vandalises a mosque while criticising the repression of women in Saudi Arabia?

Angela Lansbury: Women must 'sometimes take blame' for sexual harassment - "“We have to own up to the fact that women, since time immemorial, have gone out of their way to make themselves attractive,” the 92-year-old said. “And unfortunately it has backfired on us — and this is where we are today.”"

I helped Google screw over James Damore

I helped Google screw over James Damore : JamesDamore

"I was involved in the internal decisions involving James Damore's memo, and it's terrible what we did to him.

First of all, we knew about the memo a month before it went viral. HR sent it up the reporting chain when he gave it as internal feedback, but we did nothing. There wasn't anything we could do, except admit to wrongdoing and lying to our employees. We just hoped that no one else would see his document.

Unfortunately, the memo started spreading within the company. The floodgates opened and previously silent employees started talking. To quell dissent, we: told executives to write to their employees condemning the memo; manipulated our internal Memegen to bias the ratings towards anti-Damore posts (the head of Memegen is an "ally" to the diversity cause); and gave every manager talking points on what to tell their reports about the memo. In all our communications, we concentrated on how hurt employees purportedly were and diverted attention from Google's discriminatory employment practices and political hegemony, never mind the science.

We needed to make an example of Damore. Looking for some excuse to fire him, we spied on his phone and computer. We didn't find anything, although our spying probably made his devices unusably slow, preventing him from organizing support within the company. When we did fire him, our reputation and integrity took a hit, but at least other employees were now afraid to speak up.

Firing him without an NDA was a huge risk though. He was a top performer and knew too many compromising secrets, like Dragonfly, the secret censored search project in China. He had also reported several legally dubious practices in Search that still exist. Only God knows why he never leaked Dragonfly or the other issues, but I think it's because he actually cared about Google.

Our response after we fired him was equally disgraceful. We were supposed to have a Town Hall TGIF to answer employees' questions about the controversy. However, after questions started coming in that we couldn't reasonably answer, we had to cancel it. We shifted the blame onto "alt-right trolls" and have avoided talking about it openly since then.

To control the narrative, we planted stories with journalists and flexed Google's muscles where necessary. In exchange for insider access and preferential treatment, all we ask for is their loyalty. For online media, Google's ads pay their paycheck and our search brings their customers, so our influence shouldn't be underestimated.

We dealt with his NLRB case in a similar way. People are ultimately lazy, so we found a sympathetic lawyer in the NLRB and wrote the internal NLRB memo for her. No one wanted to spend the effort to oppose it, despite it being laughably weak. Then, after Damore dropped his NLRB case and filed a class action lawsuit, we had the NLRB publicly release their memo. Our PR firms sent press releases saying "the NLRB ruled the firing legal", which was, of course, manufactured bullshit.

All of our scheming was over the phone, in deleted emails, or through an external PR firm, so we can deny all of it. Now that we've forced him into arbitration, we're close to screwing him over completely."

James_Damore: "Whoah, this would explain a lot.

I can't verify its authenticity, but the OP is correct that I was one of about 100 employees that knew about Dragonfly. I also did report several legal issues in Search that they probably haven't fixed. My phone and computer were also extremely slow after the document went viral. Other parts of the post include knowledge that only a Googler would know.

u/TiredOfLying4Google please contact my lawyer, Harmeet Dhillon."

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Is philanthropy bad for democracy?

Rationally Speaking | Official Podcast of New York City Skeptics - Current Episodes - RS 221 - Rob Reich on "Is philanthropy bad for democracy?"

"Most big philanthropy is striving to bring about policy change. Well, that represents a plutocratic element in a democratic society that otherwise prizes political equality...

There was one in particular in Georgia, where someone had set aside money for a public park which was intended to be whites only. 1964 comes around, Brown versus Board comes around, now this is no longer constitutional. And so the solution to that problem was that the existing park owned by the public but conditioned for whites only, was to be sold to private interests, and then the money that was gained from the proceeds to be returned to the heirs of the original donor...

From the standpoint of the African Americans in the city who now had various portions of land bottled up for an extensively public service to which they had no access, and the donor got credit for being a philanthropist and got various forms of civic esteem — I think from the standpoint of African American citizens they are worse off... prior to the Brown versus Board of Education decision, African Americans are made worse off insofar as there is now a public park to which they have no access. So they are situated unequally, relative to white citizens. And moreover, the donor has increased his social status — the park is named after him, there's various sorts of civic esteem attached to it — so there's an expressive view that's communicated, that this is a form of philanthropy that is civically valuable. Which, seems to me, to denigrate in all the ordinary ways the status of African Americans...

"For the love of god people, stop giving money to Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Stanford." And the reason for this has something to do with, first, it's not especially an effective use of money, he thinks. If it's going to build the new dining hall at Yale with 100 million dollars on a campus that already has 20 billion dollars in its endowment, or whatever the case is at Stanford...

In one particular case was that the world would actually have been better off if instead of having given a bunch of money to one of these universities, the donor had taken the money and just set it on fire in his backyard.And then you start to wonder, how is that possible? That the would would be better off?

And his answer to that question has to do with the tax advantages, so if the owner had burned it in the backyard then there would have been 20%, 30%, 40% tax revenue on that act of private consumption. And the fractional benefit to a citizen of a tax dollar relative to the benefit of the world of building a dining hall at Yale's already nicely developed campus, in his estimation the tax revenue would have been better for the world than that...

Now let's talk about a world in which there's no tax benefits... private donations to existing public schools are a way of amplifying existing inequalities in educational opportunity from public finance and public dollars for education...

Since every individual has limited resources and limited time, when we valorize the philanthropic activities of the parents in Palo Alto to support their public schools, rather than complain about the school finance system in Sacramento and the changing that would benefit all California children, it just seems to me to make it less likely that the relatively savvy, relatively well to do people in Palo Alto will actually direct their attention to the source of the problem.And so we put in place a system which makes it more likely that the root source of this problem remains in place.

And in the meantime advantages a very small class of individuals — namely the children of Palo Alto, rather than the site that the school system is meant to benefit in the first place, all California kids."

Presumably we should condemn girls' schools too since they exclude men

This is why we can't have nice things - equality means everyone must be equally miserable

Links - 10th January 2019

Democrats Hate Gerrymandering—Except When They Get to Do It - "I live in Alexandria, Virginia, a city that Democrats dominate. In May of 2009, however, one Republican managed to get elected to the six-member City Council. This was apparently too much for Democrats to stomach. One month after his election, the City Council voted to move municipal elections from May to November—an attempt to squash the chances that Republicans could compensate for their numerical disadvantages by organizing to win low-turnout elections. It worked."

Donald Trump as a Cultural Revolt Against Perceived Communication Restriction: Priming Political Correctness Norms Causes More Trump Support - "on a sample of largely politically moderate Americans taken during the General Election in the Fall of 2016, we show that temporarily priming PC norms significantly increased support for Donald Trump (but not Hillary Clinton). We further show that chronic emotional reactance towards restrictive communication norms positively predicted support for Trump (but not Clinton), and that this effect remains significant even when controlling for political ideology. In total, this work provides evidence that norms that are designed to increase the overall amount of positive communication can actually backfire by increasing support for a politician who uses extremely negative language that explicitly violates the norm... As restrictive norms become ever more salient and heavy-handed, the more they will work in the short-term. But in the long-term, this salient heavy-handedness increases the likelihood that they will ultimately backfire. And this backfiring doesn't just occur for norms that are genuinely repressive to political freedom—it also occurs for norms that have a clearly good and noble aim."

Study: Voters Worried About Political Correctness Flocked to Candidate Trump - "These findings complement work done by the mathematician Spencer Greenberg, which showed that believing "there is too much political correctness in this country" was the second most reliable predictor of whether a person would vote for Trump (second only to being a Republican)... "Voters can simultaneously 1) dislike Trump's bigotry 2) dislike Dems' harping on it 3) perceive that Dems used to care about white working class, now only care about minorities 4) mistrust Republicans on class, but perceive Trump as different," Grossmann explained on Twitter. "In fact, [this] pattern seems dominant.""

Study: Obama voters switched to Trump because of race
The paper, Vote Switching in the 2016 Election: How Racial and Immigration Attitudes, Not Economics, Explain Shifts in White Voting, shows that how they measured "xenophobia" and "racial hostility" are dishonest - 2 out of 3 of the questions on immigration are about *illegal* immigration, and in the 4 questions on race, you're marked as racially resentful if you think blacks haven't been shortchanged, that blacks should be like the Irish, Italians, Jews and many others who overcame prejudice and succeeded without special favours and you think blacks should just try harder and if you don't think slavery and discrimination have made it hard for blacks to succeed. So it's just as bankrupt as the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory with its definition of "Hostile Sexism"

Racial Attitudes and Political Correctness in the 2016 Presidential Election - "White and black Americans, moreover, understand the racial resentment scale differently, and many minorities score high on it. Only overt racism predicts whether whites discriminate and whether they have racially biased evaluations of others. Racial resentment does not predict either. The liberal side of the scales may also represent biased thinking. Liberals perceive more racism and sexism than racial minorities and women say they experience. Experiments show that liberals perceive tests where men or whites perform better as less credible than equivalent tests showing women or minorities doing better, even though conservatives rate them equally credible. Liberals are thus predisposed to believe discrimination is the cause of disadvantaged group disparities. Seeing these attitudes as more than simple bias may help understand Trump support across genders and races... minority vote choice was also partially driven by attitudes toward diversity and value change. Racial and gender attitudes are related to broader cultural views (such as agreement that “the American way of life is threatened”) that are widely subscribed to by Americans across social groups... Asking about statements that might be offensive to particular groups increased support for Trump. His supporters were more fearful about restrictive communication norms. Beliefs that political norms around offensive speech silence important discussions and prevent people from sharing their views are widespread, particularly among conservatives. Many conservatives say they cannot discuss topics like gay rights, race, gender, or foreign policy for fear of being called racist or sexist. Opposition to political correctness thus incorporates aversion to norms toward discrimination claims. When voters begin to question society’s norms, they can see candidates (even those who lie regularly) as more authentic truth tellers when they subvert those norms... There has been no increase in “racial resentment” for 30 years. It is instead increasingly associated with most other political attitudes, increasing among Republicans and decreasing among Democrats. Politically-aware partisans are most likely to sort into their majority party viewpoint on racial attitudes... there have now been more changes in racial attitudes among Democrats than Republicans, suggesting that reactions to Democratic elite messages and the campaign context were also driving views... Clinton talked a lot less about policy issues and a lot less positively overall. Clinton raised the salience of norms about off-limits race and gender discourse, believing it would help her win votes (but may have also activated views of political correctness). Clinton talked far less about class, discounting “the rich vs. the middle class” message that has been a Democratic staple for generations. As a result, class attitudes had no effect in 2016, even though they had been dominant in 2012."
Besides expectations of discrimination being a self-fulfilling prophecy, you also find what you're looking for - when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail

Democrats Are Changing Their Minds About Race - "One candidate in Texas has openly referred to mass deportation as “like ethnic cleansing.” Another candidate in Indiana’s ninth district, which Trump won by 27 points, referred to ending Temporary Protected Status for Salvadoran immigrants as “an act of incredible cruelty done for no other reason than to appease the lowest common denominator: Trump’s white nationalist base.” Needless to say, this is a far cry from the way Democrat politicians talked about immigration just a few years ago. Data from Pew suggests Democratic members of the public have moved dramatically to the left on issues of race"
In other words, as the moral arc of the universe continues to accelerate and twist, there're more and more "deplorables"

-Meme - "-Steve Scalise Nearly Assassinated
-Rand Paul Physically Attacked
-MN GOP Candidates Attacked
-Kevin McCarthy's Office Bricked
-NY GOP Chapter Vandalized
-Ricin Packages Mailed to Trump
-All the Antifa Riots and Assaults
-Hillary "Don't Be Civil "
-Holder "Kick Them"
- Hoax Packages Sent to Prominent Democrat Leaders
*eyes wide open*"

Chinese officials try to 'barge' into minister's office as APEC summit tensions boil over - "The police were called when Chinese officials attempted to "barge" into the office of Papua New Guinea's foreign minister, it emerged on Sunday (Nov 18), as APEC summit tensions boiled over. The Chinese delegates "tried to barge into" Rimbink Pato's Port Moresby office Saturday, in an eleventh-hour bid to influence a summit draft communique, but were denied entry... At the Pacific Islands Forum in September, Nauru's president demanded China apologise after its delegation walked out of a meeting when the host refused to let an envoy speak until island leaders had finished. "They're not our friends. They just need us for their own purposes," President Baron Waqa said at the time."
China's peaceful rise

FGM cutters 'being flown into UK to mutilate girls to order', survivor warns - "So-called cutters are being flown into the UK to perform female genital mutilation (FGM) on young girls, a campaigner has warned"

Singapore's favourite ah lian speaks to Stomp about sudden fame: 'I want to tell my parents...' - "Lerine Yeo, 30, became talk of the town after two videos of her modelling clothes for her online apparel store went viral online... Instead of lace from the original design, Lerine creatively shares how one can make use of the little 'holes' in the $9 top to hook various items -- be it your umbrella, wanton mee, cane, EZ-Link card or whatnot... Rather than claiming that one size fits all like many sellers tend to do, she is honest and advises taller girls to reconsider getting it because "the chances of getting people to see your 'ka cheng' [butt] is very high, 80% high". She adds: "You walk cannot open the big big already... If not your luncheon meat, your seaweed all come out give people see." Naturally, Lerine's animated demeanour, coupled with her use of Singlish and Hokkien, has won her thousands of fans -- as well as some haters... Lerine, who started Misshopper Boutique in March and now runs it full-time, opened up to Stomp in an interview on Monday (Sep 24) about her newfound fame"

Was cold-war hysteria as large in the USSR as it was in the USA? Did the Russians have fallout shelters, "duck and cover", etc? : AskHistorians - "In the United States, for example, we had McCarthyism, ideological propaganda, etc. Basically all of these things were also present in the Soviet Union. In both cases they were equally important or prominent features throughout the length of the Cold War, that stretched some forty-or-so years."

Why do many rulers have 'common' names with just a number to distinguish them? (e.g: Henry 1 to 8, Louis 1 to 18). When/where and why did this start and does it happen outside Europe? : AskHistorians - "They often have common names to legitimize their right to rule. If Louis I was a good king, then all successive Louis have that memory they can invoke that memory more directly. Monarchs derive their power from the idea that they are the best to rule. The fact that they had an illustrious pedigree was as good an indicator of their right to rule as any. One good example is how the Romans did it. At one point during the empire, an era called the tetrarchy, there were four different "heads of state." The senior heads of state were called Augustus (after the first roman emperor), while junior ones were called Caesar (after Julius Caesar.) Most Roman Emperors, in all eras added Caesar and/or Augustus to their given names once they reached the throne. (TITVS FLAVIVS CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVGVSTVS) for example. These were the most illustrious men in roman history. Anything that the current emperor could do to link himself with the those glorified (and deified) memories, he would do it."
"This also works the other way round. Because of the reputation of King Charles I and the pretender-king Charles III (as well, to a lesser extent, the party-boy Charles II), Prince Charles doesn't want to be crowned as King Charles III, but rather George VII to avoid bad press."
"It's not just temporal rulers. The Catholic Popes do a similar thing: upon their accession to the papacy, they choose a papal name for themselves, which usually honours or invokes a previous holder of that name. This emphasises the continuity of the papacy, and also announces what sort of papacy the incumbent intends. For example, the current pope has taken the name Benedict XVI, to reflect a monk Benedict, and the previous Pope Benedict XV. This tradition has become so entrenched that only one Pope in the last 1,000 years has taken an original name: John Paul I. And, even then, he was merely combining two previous papal names"

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Yet Another Awful Pro-Gun Video

(this was meant to go out on 5th January)

Some gun nut sent me this video and proclaimed that "Ima leave this here.Remember the sad trolls we have around here so rabidly anti-gun? Yea, this just bitchslaps them to Mars."

Predictably, it was an awful video, coming from someone who proclaimed that this awful meme was "reality, facts, and cold hard logic" and had a "shitton of cold hard facts" about how guns prevent violence (when in reality it was just about how gun control isn't 'compromise'):

Throwing silly YouTube videos is no substitute for making a real argument. Especially videos as bad as this one - it's an awful video which spent most of its time being snarky and contemptuous rather than making any real argument. I wasted 14 mins listening to it and many more debunking it.

To be fair, it was better than that silly meme he posted that was totally irrelevant, but it also wasted a lot more of my time so I'm not sure it was more worthwhile.

Apparently it was responding to another awful video (which I think is bad too), but this video is claiming that that other awful video is representative of all who advocate gun control (e.g. "the left wants to take away all of our guns").

This is what we call a straw man..

There are only 2 real claims that I found in the video:

1) Gun rights are fundamental, non-negotiable rights

2) Guns save more lives than they cost

In turn:

1) Gun rights are fundamental, non-negotiable rights

This is an article of faith.

Strangely, more or less the whole world does not hold this article of faith.

Well, the ability to hold slaves used to be considered a fundamental right in the US.

And in Muslim countries their fundamental rights include include the ability to have 4 wives.

2) Guns save more lives than they cost

So at 8:40 it claims that 2 million crimes are prevented with guns each year, and cites what are allegedly CDC figures for this (in contrast, the claim that "virtually all of the research" shows that guns are mainly used for self-defence is totally unsourced)

Yet, this number does not seem to be a CDC figure but apparently comes from a 1995 study (How Often Do People Use Guns In Self-Defense?) - you will see mention of the NRA and Gun Owners of America using this figure too (How often are guns used to stop crimes?), but they come from the same place. And this study's figures is contentious because all the people supposedly shot don't appear to be shot in real life.

Plus defensive gun use as classified by this survey is not the same as a gun being used to prevent a crime.

People were only asked - "have you yourself or another member of your household used a gun, even if it was not fired, for self-protection or for the protection of property at home, work or elsewhere? Please do not include military service, police work, or work as a security guard" (Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun / Kleck and Gertz 1995).

Consider, for example, that just because I use a gun in self defence does not mean a crime was not committed. Or that I might say that I was using a gun to defend myself, but this was just my perception (e.g. A big burly guy comes up to me and says 'what's up' in a tone I consider menacing. I tell him: 'woah, get away from me' while brandishing my weapon. I then consider this to be an instance of defensive gun use - when really I was just being paranoid).

There're other methodological problems with this figure. A more reliable estimate (as per the NPR article) is that there are 100,000 defensive gun use incidents a year. The figure may even be 67,740 a year (as per the Wyff4 one).

The video then claims that 300,000 crimes are committed with guns each year. I don't know where the figure comes from, but according to the National Crime Victimization Survey (Gun Violence | National Institute of Justice), 467,321 people were victims of gun crime in 2011. Note that this undercounts the number of crimes committed with guns - because the same person could be a victim of gun crime multiple times in a year.

So clearly there're more crimes committed with guns than are prevented.

Going back to the video, the figure of 10,000 killed in gun homicides, however, seems right.

The video then did some dodgy math from 2 million crimes prevented with a firearm to claim that guns are used to prevent 5,479 violent crimes a day. Did you spot the mischievous conflation? Even if you take the figure of 2 million defensive gun uses meaning 2 million crimes were permitted, you need to assume that all of these 2 million crimes were violent crimes.

Next they observe that there are 300,000 gun crimes a year, and 13,000 are homicides, so 4.3% of gun crimes are gun homicides. This bit checks out - at least the numbers are not an order of magnitude away from the source I found (the NIJ page). However, the video then goes on to claim that we can infer that out of 2 million crimes prevented with guns each year, 86,666 crimes would've resulted in a death so guns save 86,666 lives saved a day.

Did you spot the mischievous conflation here? It is more subtle but still evident.

Basically even if we accept the figure of 2 million crimes prevented with guns each year, we cannot assume that the proportion of gun homicides in the actual crimes *committed* is the same as the proportion of crimes *prevented* that would've resulted in homicide (if they had not been prevented). So their extrapolation is nonsense.

The video then claims that this figure of 2 million crimes prevented is an underestimate since it excludes instances where brandishing a weapon scared off a perpetrator.

Yet, that only looks at one side of the equation. One can also look at cases where a weapon was brandished (but not used) in order to commit a crime. Plus it misunderstands how defensive gun use was classified in the survey - actually firing the gun was not required for it to count (NWU paper - page 14/39)

Other nonsensical claims in this video:

It claims gun control won't work. Strangely, gun control works in much of the world. Especially the developed world.

Gun control is collective punishment since it punishes some people for what others do. Great. I can have my own nuclear bomb now, since I shouldn't be punished for what rogue states do with theirs.

It brings in contempt of court for some reason - what does this have to do with gun rights?

Apparently only totalitarian governments ask you to make sacrifices for the greater good. This misunderstands the nature of the social contract. Living in a society we all make sacrifices (willingly or otherwise). For example libertarians and anarchists don't like to pay taxes. So presumably a government that taxes you is a totalitarian one.

There is a claim that tyrannical governments strip people of gun rights - citation needed.

Then it invokes Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia and spouts fantasies about overthrowing a "tyrannical" government. You can ask the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto how that worked out. And good luck now that militaries have even more powerful weapons than were available in the 40s.

Well, guess what? The Nazi Germany point is a lie. Nazi Germany actually *loosened* restrictions on gun ownership (Adolf Hitler and the Myth of Nazi Gun Control Laws).

(Naturally the gun nut didn't react well to my debunking, but that was expected - at least I got a blog post out of this exercise instead of just wasting my time)

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Links - 6th January 2019 (2)

Mary Baldwin U closes art exhibit after two days when students said they found the art racist - "Mary Baldwin shut down an art exhibit after two days when some students said images were racist. But artists say their work was about -- but decidedly not supporting -- the glorification of the Confederacy."
Censorship is good when it's "anti-racist"

Soros' global influence - "In his 1987 book ‘The Alchemy of Finance’, Soros wrote: “I admit that I have always harbored an exaggerated view of self-importance – to put it bluntly, I fancied myself as some kind of god…”... Israel backed the poster campaign, saying the government’s criticisms of Soros were “entirely legitimate.”... Soros’ name came up 60 times in emails released by WikiLeaks during the campaign... dcleaks.com released more than 2,500 private files from Soros’ Open Society Foundations containing evidence that Soros had given money to anti-Israel and pro-Islamist organisations which praise Sharia law and Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood... Nigel Farage hit out at Soros, saying that his funding of EU lobby groups could constitute ‘the biggest collusion in political history.’"
It's anti-Semitic to criticise Soros. So Israel is anti-Semitic

The Arranged Marriage That Ended Happily Ever After, 30 Years Later - "When you don’t have passionate feelings to glaze over your partner’s flaws in early marriage, you are less likely to be undone by inevitable disappointments later on. True, I’d never seen my parents look dreamily at each other, but I’d also never heard them threaten divorce."

Best Street Food Cities Around the World - "If you walk down the right street at the right time in any of these cities you could make a case for them being the best in the world, but Singapore's massive scope, creativity, breadth of dishes available, and the fact that you can devour all this stuff with relative sanitary confidence earns them the title of best street-food city in the world."

How I explained the 8 schools of magic to my players : DnD - "Illusion: You make someone look like a frog.
Transmutation: You turn someone into a frog.
Enchantment: You make someone think they're a frog.
Conjuration: You make a frog appear.
Abjuration: You protect the frog.
Evocation: You kill the frog.
Necromancy: You revive the dead frog.
Divination: You know that it was actually a toad and not a frog the whole time."

Kajsa Ekis Ekman - "This is Birgitte from Stavanger, whom I spoke with recently in Norway. She was showering in the changing room of her local gym when she saw a naked man with his penis out. She asked him politely whether he had gotten lost, whereupon he replied that he was a woman and had registered as such, and thereby had the right to be there. Birgitte asked the staff who said no men should be in the women's locker room. Still the man kept on showing up there, and when Birgitte contacted the staff again, he sued her for harrassment and discrimination. Under Norway's new gender identity law from 2016, anyone can change their gender without having to undergo surgery, and then has the right to use facilities designated for that sex. Birgitte now faced a trial for harrassment just for not wanting a man in her locker room - not only that, the media depicted her as an evil, non- tolerant "phobic" woman. Nobody seemed to understand that it is not the WORD "man" she objected to, it is the presence of ACTUAL male organs in a female space where we take our clothes off. And whereas many commentators have shown sympathy for the man, saying "transwomen should not have to shower with men" few realize this is exactly what they are making women do now. Due to all the pressure, Birgitte was not able to continue working at her office and had to take sick leave. Luckily she was aquitted by 2 votes to 1. But when I ask her about the gym, she says she never uses the locker room anymore - she showers at home, and most women change in the locked bathrooms when the man is there. Women with hijab even go to the sauna with hijab on! This is one of the consequences of gender identity legislation based on self-identification. Women's feelings and safety are not deemed important, and our spaces shrink. To raise one's voice can result in a lawsuit. It is becoming clear these laws are passed without any feminist perspective whatsoever."

Boys left to fail at school because attempts to help them earn wrath of feminists, says ex-Ucas chief - "Britain’s education system is failing to tackle the “astonishing” underperformance of boys as feminists have made the topic “taboo”, the former head of the university admissions service has warned. Mary Curnock Cook, who was chief executive of Ucas until last year, said the fact that boys are falling behind in education is a national scandal – yet it is such an “unfashionable” topic to discuss that it has become “normalised”... "other disparities in education – such as the gulf between rich and poor children – are narrowing, but the gap between boys and girls is getting wider. “In about ten years’ time the gap between boys and girls will be worse than rich and poor. That is astonishing really.”... When attempts are made to address men’s issues, they are ridiculed and are met with the “wrath” of feminist and gender equality groups, she said. Last month the only university in the UK with a men’s officer scrapped the role after the candidate withdrew due to “harassment”. James Knight was the only candidate to his name forward to be men's officer at the University of the West of England, and said he wanted to highlight male mental health issues. However, the National Union of Students officers began a campaign against the role, and he pulled out after claiming he harassed... In the past five years, more than twice as many male university students committed suicide than their female peers, despite there being fewer male students."
"Feminism is for men"

EMU group ends 'The Vagina Monologues,' citing exclusion of some women - "Eastern Michigan University's Women's Resource Center will no longer host productions of "The Vagina Monologues," noting that the play's version of feminism excludes some women... Survey respondents opposing the production consistently indicated they were concerned that the play centers on cisgender women, that the play's version of feminism excludes some women, including trans women, and that overall, "The Vagina Monologue" lacks diversity and inclusion... The survey was launched as a result of conversations with current students, as well as feedback from a WRC workshop titled "Not all women have vaginas," during the 2017-18 academic year... EMU is not the first university to reconsider its position in hosting "The Vagina Monologues.""

The Influence of Kinesiology Tape Color on Athletic Performance: An Actual Published Study…Seriously

West Midlands Police accused of discriminating against white male officers in 'promotion blocking' row - "White male officers were blocked from promotion by West Midlands Police in order to give women and ethnic minority candidates a better chance."

California's Deadliest Fires Could Have Been Mitigated By Prevention - "As California’s fire season burst back into the headlines, President Trump generated controversy with a weekend tweet emphasizing the role of forest management in these fires... CAL FIRE experts expanded on the problem by blaming decades of policy that discouraged controlled burns to reduce the fuel load in the now-burning forests in the north and hillsides in the south, creating tinderbox conditions. Some of the needed prescribed burns in Southern California’s coastal chaparral and grasslands have been deterred by environmental lawsuits and air quality concerns... Harvesting trees on public land is controversial but helps pay for needed brush clearing. Many environmental groups vigorously oppose both. But fighting the larger, hotter fires that result without active forest management is even more costly and threatens lives... California’s out of control wildfires may have emitted up to 50 million metric tons of carbon dioxide this year alone, about one-eighth of the entire state’s annual emissions, largely wiping out two decades of the state’s hard fought greenhouse gas reductions for 2018. Plus, unlike a natural gas-powered electric plant or a modern car, the fires cause terrible air quality."

Dog Accused Of 'Racist Hate Crime' For Pooing Outside Someone's Front Door - "A dog has been accused of a 'racist hate-crime' for pooing outside somebody's front door with the incident being logged by police because 'the victim perceived this to be a racial incident'. This case is among the 2,500 reported hate crimes reported to and logged by the Met Police in 2015 and 2016 as uncovered by the Mail on Sunday in a Freedom of information request. The crimes have been described as 'petty' and 'undeserving of police time and expense' as some others include: an envelope being opened and resealed, an accident involving a car that was decorated with a remembrance poppy, a disputed 'line-call' in a tennis match, a dead rat found in someone's garden and a man telling library staff he was campaigning for Brexit... "This is part of the reason that police struggle to investigate serious offences such as home burglaries. People need to start thinking more carefully before they call the police."... Another incident claimed a 'suspects dog was barking at a victim' and many of the incidents logged were over car parking or minor crashes... A man claimed that his neighbours were deliberately parking outside of his home to target him 'due to him being black'. Some of the incidents were rather stretched as some arguments revolved around customers in shops, pubs and public transport. On another occasion, a resident in a block of flats said that a neighbour was racially abusing them by 'smoking heavily'. In a logged incident involving a person who claimed a bus driver gave them a 'racist look' and one woman who was thrown out of a pub for appearing to be 'drunk, aggressive and erratic' told police that she was only targeted 'because she is Polish'."
It's no wonder the number of hate crimes is exploding

Male lions do help with the hunting after all - "Most nature documentaries depict male African lions as layabouts who prefer to let the females do all the hunting. But a new study using pioneering new tools shows that the king of beasts could be doing his share after all. The bad rap of male lions comes from a lack of data on what the males are really up to in the habitats where most African lions live -- not on the open plains of the Serengeti, but in the bushier lands of Africa... They are solitary predators who leap out of thick vegetation to ambush their prey. That's in contrast to the well known social hunting behaviors of lionesses... across Africa wildlife preserves are being managed to enable tourists to see certain animals, like lions, elephants, rhinos and leopards, he said. So it's important to understand what the animal's habitat really is. If you have an animal in the wrong habitat, that is more like a zoo than a wildlife preserve."

List: Google Translate for My Asian Parents - "“I heard that you want to start a band.”
You’re doing drugs, aren’t you?
“I’m proud of you.”
Sorry, Asian parents do not say this. Please try again."

Chani Nicholas Horoscope: Meet Woman Bringing Social Justice to Astrology - "Chani Nicholas is transforming horoscopes from quips about finding true love and stumbling into financial good fortune to pointed calls to action "
The cancer spreads yet again

Vegetarian food stall in Shenton Way gives discreet 50% discount to workers in cleing staff uniform - "A vegetarian food stall in Shenton Way has resorted to giving 50 percent discounts for its food to workers who show up in their staff uniforms. This group of workers consists of cleaners and housekeepers working in the nearby buildings. The vegetarian food stall, Mummy Yummy Singapore, is located in the Shenton House building."

Dead cockroaches make excellent magnets – now what are we supposed to do with this info? - "In a bizarre experiment, a team of international physicists gassed a group of roaches to death with nitrogen before rinsing them in an ultrasonic bath. The luckier ones were kept alive and fed an unlimited diet of water and cat food pellets before they were chilled to 4°C (39°F) to stop them moving. Next, the researchers inserted the unsuspecting pests into individual plastic bags before placing them in-between a pair of magnetic plates. The roaches were subjected to a magnetic field strength of 3 kiloGauss (0.3 Tesla) – over a hundred times stronger than a fridge magnet – for 20 minutes."

Police drone intercepts illegal drone with skynet : interestingasfuck

The Greatest Failures

X-Culture - Posts

I collect failure stories. Some other time, I'll share some of my own failure stories. Here are my top 3 failures from the business world.

I like books that detail failures much more than books that detail success. "Losing the Signal" is way more educational than "7 Habits of Successful People".

KODAK was the king of photography. By and large, Kodak invented the photography as we knew it in the 20th century. They perfected the technology and by the 1990s a Kodak kiosk was pretty much on every corner of every city around the world. Then, in the late 1990s digital photography started becoming a thing, and Kodak completely ignored it. Some would say that's the fate of all "old" players, but Nikon and Cannon embraced digital and emerged as top players again, while Kodak kept dismissing the new technology until in 2012 it filed for bankruptcy. Even though the company is still around, kids younger than 18 probably won't even recognize this name.
More on the Kodak failure in "Out of Focus: The story of how Kodak lost its direction" by J. Larish.

NOKIA was the king of mobile telephony. A true global player. Almost a monopoly in some countries. Flush with money and sitting on thousands of patents pertaining to mobile phones. In 2000 Nokia accounted for 70% of Helsinki's stock exchange market capital, 43% of Finland's R&D, 21% of total exports, and 14% of corporate tax revenues. Then along came the smartphones. First the BlackBerry and then iPhone changed how we use our phones, and Nokia completely missed the wave of mobile email, touchscreens and app stores. In the late 2000s Nokia finally tried to catch up, but it was too late. Embarrassingly, they did have a big early warning in the form of BlackBerry, and they missed it. Then, of course, when iPhone came out, it was way too late.

Notably, BlackBerry's story is almost identical to that of Nokia in the post-iPhone era. Again, ask kids younger than 18, and they won't know what Nokia is.
More on the BlackBerry and Nokia failure in "Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry" by J. McNish and S. Silcoff.

Yahoo! was probably the first true Silicon Valley success story, the biggest story of the late 1990s. They ruled the Internet search industry. Destroyed by two students with an algorithm (Google). At least Kodak and Nokia lost to other big rivals. Yahoo! lost to literally to two kids. Looking back, it's hard to comprehend how did Yahoo! not see it coming, why they never bought Google, and why they could never develop a better algorithm and clean up their ad-cluttered website.
More on the Yahoo! failure in "Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!" by N. Carls

Honorable spectacular failure mentions:
. Blockbuster
. The Encyclopedia Britannica
. MySpace

Most people would say, the lesson is that big and "old" companies are often so comfortable in their dominant position that they fail to spot new opportunities and adapt.

For me though, the LESSON is that it is really, REALLY hard to identify truly promising new opportunities. Even the biggest industry experts have a hard time telling which trends are junk and which ones are gold.

For every unappreciated genius there are a million of idiots who think they are geniuses.

Looking back, we all know Kodak should have gone digital and Yahoo! should have bought Google. But the truth is, thousands of new things are presented every day. It's nearly impossible to identify true gems in this noise at the time they are presented.

Try it yourself.

Should BMW invest billions in going electric? Or should they continue investing in hydrogen? Or self-driving? Or just keep building top-quality gasoline cars?

Should power companies bet everything on solar? Or wind? Or new-generation nuclear? Or nuclear? Or should they continue investing in cleaner fossil fuels?

Should Amazon spend billions on drone delivery? Or should it pump billions in Blue Origin (space exploration)?

How about Musk's Boring company? Or Hyperloop? The way of the future, or an expensive failure?

Should Apple spend billions on trying to build its own "Google Glass"? Or electric self-driving car? Or could the money be spent better elsewhere?

We will know for sure in 30 years, but the truth is, today nobody knows. Google, Facebook, Apple buy hundreds of startups, and 99% of them turn out to be a waste of money. It's easy to judge bad decision of the past. It's really, REALLY hard to predict the future.

My favorite book on this is "Everything Is Obvious. Once You Know the Answer" by D. Watts

Author: Vasyl Taras

Links - 6th January 2019 (1)

Mark Zuckerberg Defends Facebook as Furor Over Its Tactics Grows - The New York Times - "Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg passed off many critical security and policy decisions in recent years and delayed responses to abuse on Facebook or played down its significance. More recently, Facebook went on the attack, employing other companies to divert attention to critics and competitors. In one case, an opposition research firm, Definers Public Affairs, worked to discredit protesters by trying to link them to George Soros, the liberal financier... “Up to now, whatever you said about Facebook, you couldn’t say it was a two-faced company,” said Rishad Tobaccowala, chief growth officer for the Publicis Groupe, one of the world’s biggest advertising groups.But now it is clear that “it says one thing to you and does something completely different,” Mr. Tobaccowala said. “This is very hard if you are a marketer.” In Washington, Republicans and Democrats alike blasted Facebook. Senator Rand Paul, Republican from Kentucky, said in an interview on CNN that he was concerned over Facebook’s power as a “monopoly.”Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat from Minnesota, said at a hearing on Capitol Hill that she planned to ask the Justice Department to investigate whether Facebook’s hiring of opposition research firms to influence politicians violated campaign finance rules."

Facebook reportedly discredited critics by linking them to George Soros - "Amid growing pressure from lawmakers over its role in Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, Facebook increasingly turned to Definers Public Affairs, a Washington DC based political consultancy founded by Republican operatives and specializing in opposition research, according to the report. One of Definers’ tactics was to publish dozens of negative articles about other tech companies, including Google and Apple, in order to try to distract attention from Facebook’s public relations woes... Soros has been openly critical of Facebook and Google"

Too Much Caffeine May Stress the Heart - The New York Times - "In moderate doses caffeine has mainly positive effects for most people. But it increases production of cortisol, which can lead to health problems including anxiety, weight gain and heart disease... what if, like my brother, you are consuming six or more cups of coffee a day? Even if your sleep is not disrupted, that amount of caffeine has been associated with an irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, jitteriness, irritability and anxiety, all of which can have untoward effects on cardiovascular function... For those at risk of heart disease, perhaps the most serious adverse effect of excessive caffeine consumption is its ability to raise blood pressure"Creepy Places to Visit in Eastern Europe - "The Sedlec Ossuary (located in Sedlec, near Kutna Hora) is one of the Czech Republic's creepiest tourist attractions. This Roman Catholic Chapel is decorated almost entirely with human bones, and the effect is both beautiful and spooky. Of particular interest may be the delicate-looking chandelier made of human skulls, long bones, and shoulder blades of the deceased...
At the Karosta Prison Hotel in Latvia, prisoners—"guests"—can subject themselves to the bleakness and dankness of a former Soviet prison, as well as verbal abuse from the prison "guards." Comfort certainly isn't the goal of this hotel, and the creepiness factor is not only apparent in the physical surroundings but also in the memory of the actual prisoners who paid for their stay with suffering instead of with cash."

The Evolution of a Restaurant Dish, From Vision to Revision - The New York Times

WATCH: Celine Dion Empowers Newborns to ‘Choose’ Their Gender in Kids' Clothing Ad - ""Dion’s heart is certainly in the right place but her clothing partnership reinforces the idea that traditionally masculine attire is acceptable for all genders, while traditionally feminine attire is for girls alone," Teitel wrote. "Plain: good. Fabulous: bad. Is this really the 'new order' we want to establish?"Others object to the promotion of gender neutrality in general, seeing such activism as evidence that progressivism has overreached. As University of Notre Dame political scientist Patrick Deneen argued in his 2018 book-length takedown of the liberal project, "Why Liberalism Failed":"Under the guise of differences in race, an exploding number of genders, and a variety of sexual orientations, the only substantive worldview advanced is that of advanced liberalism: the ascent of the autonomous individual backed by the power and support of the state and its growing control over institutions, including schools and universities." To be fair, Dion's ad evinces a sense of humor, ending with Dion getting cuffed by security guards and hauled off the jail. And on an interview Wednesday with HLN's “Morning Express with Robin Meade,” Dion averred that she was not telling anyone how to raise their kids."

DPM maintains that female circumcision is part of Malaysian culture - "Putrajaya has reaffirmed its stand that female circumcision is part of Malaysian culture.The statement came following a flare-up when on Nov 9, Malaysian delegates to the Universal Periodic Review on human rights in Geneva, Switzerland, defended the practice of infant female circumcision as a “cultural obligation” in Malaysia... in affirming the government's stand, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said female circumcision here was unlike that practised in some African countries."

This Male Conservative Politician Says He’s Now A Woman, And Is Therefore Free To Talk About Abortion - "Nationals senator Barry O'Sullivan has told parliament he is declaring his gender "to be a woman", so left-wing politicians will stop attacking him over his anti-abortion views."

Student Senate Tries To Impeach Student Body VP For Saying 'Illegal Alien' On Personal Facebook - "The Associated Student Government at Emporia State University in Kansas tried to impeach the student body vice president for using the term "illegal alien" on her personal Facebook page. The vote failed a two-thirds approval vote with 11 votes in favor, seven against, and three abstentions... the Justice Department instructed U.S. attorneys to use the term "illegal alien" instead of "undocumented immigrant" because the "word 'undocumented' is not based in US code and should not be used to describe someone’s illegal presence in the country."... "It was crushing to see my peers call me an unfit leader, ignorant, and racist solely based on one post I made, expressing my political beliefs," she said. "ESU strives to be a campus of diversity and inclusion, but the diversity of political thought is next to none. I have been taught that I may not be able to control what people say or do to me, but I can control how I react. Which is why I am dedicated to having better dialogue between students and myself, so that together we can learn and grow from listening to different perspectives and beliefs."... the student government canceled its weekly meeting because of "serious concerns for the safety and well-being of the campus community.""

China plans to launch an ‘artificial moon’ to light up the night skies - "Chinese scientists are planning to launch an artificial moon into orbit by 2020 to illuminate city streets after dark.Scientists are hoping to hang the man-made moon above the city of Chengdu, the capital of China’s southwestern Sichuan province, according to a report in Chinese state media. The imitation celestial body — essentially an illuminated satellite — will bear a reflective coating to cast sunlight back to Earth, where it will supplement streetlights at night."

Human genome sequencing: the real ethical dilemmas - "The misconception that drives many a myth about genomics is that it is a simple and deterministic science. This is not just born of Gattaca, but of headlines that proclaim the supposed discovery of "genes for" obesity, binge-drinking and so on, and of the long-running and often futile nature versus nurture debate. It also reflects the way many of the first genes discovered to have medical importance are indeed deterministic – people with the Huntington's mutation will get the disease, as will those with two copies of the recessive cystic fibrosis variant.But for the most part, the genome does not work this way. Genomics is much better understood as a complex and probabilistic science, in which a constellation of genetic variations makes the odds, but many other factors, environmental as well as biological, decide the outcome... An employer who wants to hire bright staff will always get more reliable results from a relevant aptitude test. Height is strongly influenced by genes, but nobody in their right mind would measure it with a DNA test. So it is with other complex traits. There may be a case for outlawing genetic discrimination, but because it won't work, not because it will... Insurance companies are businesses in need of customers. If they rule out everyone at high genetic risk of disease, they will have nobody to cover. We may need a new safety net to protect the minority with truly deterministic genetic variations, such as Huntington's carriers, but for the rest of us, the market will likely suffice"

Apple's T2 Chip Makes Third-Party Mac Repairs Impossible - "If you own a 2017 iMac Pro or 2018 MacBook Pro, Apple requires proprietary software to repair your device, even if all you need is a new battery or keyboard replaced, which means only Apple and authorized service providers can fix your Mac... What makes this worse is the fact that once Apple decides to stop supporting models fitted with a T2 chip in future, there will be no way to repair them. They will become dead products.If the high cost of purchasing an iMac Pro or MacBook Pro wasn't enough, this requirement for proprietary software during a repair puts a hard limit on the lifetime of a device... Blocking repairs ultimately leads to higher prices and enforces planned obsolescence. The best way to fight it is by supporting right to repair initiatives and bills such as the California Right to Repair Act. You could also choose not to buy Apple, but it seems unlikely enough people would be willing to do that for Apple to even notice."

Self-driving cars will be used for sex and prostitution - "nearly 60% of all Americans have had sex in a car. This time-worn tradition may only increase when you consider that self-driving cars are essentially private rooms on wheels... 'AVs will provide new forms of competition for hotels and restaurants'... they’ll also revolutionize red light districts, putting prostitution on wheels... “Urban studies in general tends to conceptualize social life in terms of the daytime.” We ignore what happens at night."

Judges recommend healing lodges for violent offenders - "Judges across Canada have recommended healing lodges for violent offenders, a CTV News review of court cases has discovered.John Holmes, for example, was killed in 2016 when his wife stabbed him 17 times in their Alberta home. Barbara Holmes, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in a crime described by Justice James Langston as “frenzied,” received a five-year sentence in 2018. In his sentencing decision, Langston spoke at length about Canada's mistreatment of Indigenous people and noted that the killer’s mother had been in residential schools... Over the past seven years, 20 people convicted of killing minors have served at least part of their sentences in such facilities."

Watch: B.C. car thieves arrested in 'bait car' at McDonald's drive-thru - "A bait car is a vehicle intended to be stolen, fitted with interior video surveillance and an engine that can be switched off at the click of a button when police are in position. The program has been effective, said Inspector Brian MacDonald, the officer in charge of the program. Abbotsford Police confirmed that car theft is down for a fourth straight week in the region."

Supreme Court to hear case of woman arrested after not holding escalator handrail - "The Supreme Court of Canada agreed Thursday to hear the case of a woman who was ticketed and arrested after she refused instructions to hold onto an escalator handrail.Bela Kosoian was in a subway station in the Montreal suburb of Laval in 2009 when a police officer told her to respect a pictogram with the instruction, "hold the handrail."She replied that she did not consider the image, which also featured the word "Careful," to be an obligation. She refused to hold the handrail, and tensions mounted after she also refused to identify herself."

51 Illegal Photos Of North Korea That Kim Jong Un Doesn’t Want You To See - "Perhaps The Most Ridiculous Prohibition I Faced: This Official Painter Was Working On A New Mural In Chilbo. I Took The Picture, And Everybody Started Yelling At Me. Since The Painting Was Unfinished, I Couldn’t Take The Picture...
Only In North Korea: I Was At A Factory Shooting With My Tv Crew. We Were Followed By A Local Cameraman Who Filmed Throughout The Trip (On The Right). On This Day, The Government Sent Another Cameraman To Film Us All! Very Meta"

South Koreans resist arrival of Yemeni asylum seekers - "An influx of nearly 1,000 Yemeni asylum seekers into the South Korean resort island of Jeju has triggered a fierce backlash against immigration rules that many South Koreans perceive to be lax and dangerous to the well-being of their society.The concern has grown suddenly with 950 foreign nationals — the majority fleeing conflict-wracked Yemen — applying at the Jeju Immigration Office for legal refugee status after arriving as tourists. In the whole of last year, only 312 people applied for refugee status on Jeju and local people fear their island is being targeted as an easy way into the East Asian nation."It has become really bad in recent weeks and it is all because Jeju introduced a program that enabled people from 186 countries to come here without a tourist visa," said Hank Kim, owner of the Core Travel Agency. "It is meant to promote tourism but these people have realized that it gives them an easy way into the country"... "We have all read about the problems that immigrants have caused in Europe — in Germany and France in particular — and we do not want that to happen here."And we are also worried because of their religion," he admitted. "We have had no contact with Muslim people before, but we know that they all have big families and they bring their own culture instead of trying to adapt to the place where they live, so people here think that they should have gone as refugees to other Muslim countries."... "There are already Muslims living in South Korea, many of whom have married a Korean and been granted permanent residency here, but they still choose to live in their own districts and make no effort to integrate into this society," he said. "They also attempt to convert Korean people into their religion.
South Korea is very far from Yemen

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