When you can't live without bananas

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Friday, August 23, 2019

Links - 23rd August 2019 (3) (ACLU)

The ACLU Condemns DeVos’s Title IX Reforms, Says These Due Process Safeguards ‘Inappropriately Favor the Accused’ - "It's no surprise that victims' rights activists and their allies are furious about the Education Department's proposed changes to Title IX, the federal statute that deals with sex and gender discrimination on campus.It is surprising, however, to see the American Civil Liberties Union joining in this chorus. The ACLU has long defended the rights of accused terrorists, criminals, neo-Nazis, and the Westboro Baptist Church. The group works tirelessly to protect due process, even for the least sympathetic among us... I am astonished to see the ACLU take the position that a government policy gives an accused person too many rights, especially when these rights are things the ACLU has generally supported. (In other words, they are not weird new rights invented out of thin air. These are standard protections that regrettably were not applied to campus sexual misconduct adjudication during the Obama years.)... The ACLU recently broke with longstanding tradition to oppose the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court—and ran ads saying that Kavanaugh's denials of sexual impropriety should be dismissed, since other accused rapists like Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein also denied the charges against them. Between that and this, principles of due process and the presumption of innocence seem to be falling off the organization's radar as things that should be defended, at least when the person who needs these protections lacks sympathy from intersectional progressives. Even on this front, though, the critics of Title IX reform seem to forget that the students who face sexual misconduct adjudication on campus are—as best we can tell—disproportionately men of color and immigrants. Who will speak for them, if not civil liberties organizations?"
The ACLU got taken over by liberals, so due process is something Nazis support

Title IX: The Civil Rights the ACLU Won't Defend - "The ACLU doesn’t object to any of those due-process protections when a person faces criminal charges. Indeed, it favors an even higher burden of proof, “beyond a reasonable doubt,” to find an individual guilty.But the ACLU opposes the new rules for campuses... One line in particular was shocking to civil libertarians: It promotes an unfair process, inappropriately favoring the accused. Since when does the ACLU believe a process that favors the accused is inappropriate or unfair?Not when a prosecutor believes she has identified a serial rapist, or a mass murderer, or a terrorist. In those instances, it is the ACLU’s enemies who declare that crime is alarmingly high and reason that strong due-process rights therefore make the world unacceptably unsafe. It is the ACLU’s enemies who conflate supporting survivors of violent crime with weakening protections that guard against punishing innocents. Those enemies now have the ACLU’s own words to use against it."

Betsy DeVos’s Title IX Rules Highlight How Bad Campus Kangaroo Courts Have Become - "the rules will not only require colleges to permit cross-examination of witnesses (including the accuser), but will also prohibit universities from relying on the statements of any witness who refuses to submit to cross-examination.Cross-examination is so fundamental to adversary proceedings that it’s is simply incredible that some universities have been prosecuting and expelling students without permitting the accused’s representative to question his accuser. Prohibiting cross-examination irrevocably stacks the deck against the accused. The Supreme Court has rightly called cross-examination “the greatest legal engine ever invented for discovery of the truth.”... "Not only did some schools deny cross-examination, but they also denied the accused access to the relevant evidence in his case, including exculpatory evidence?” Yes, they did deny access to evidence. It wasn’t uncommon for accused students to walk into hearings with only a cursory understanding of the charges against them and partial access to evidence, and then have to respond — on the fly — without access to any legal help. Yes, the kangaroo courts could be that bad... The rules also dispense with the single investigator/adjudicator model that allowed universities to place a single person in the position of investigator, prosecutor, and adjudicator. There were no safeguards against bias. Again, this requirement is so basic that it’s simply stunning that it has to be articulated. In a crucial change, the proposed rules protect the First Amendment by significantly tightening the definition of some forms of sexual misconduct. As Reason’s Robby Soave explains, “Under the previous system, administrators were obliged to investigate any unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, which is a fairly wide swath of behavior. Some officials even interpreted this to include mundane speech that happened to involve gender or sex.”The new proposed rules, by contrast, apply controlling language from the Supreme Court to define sexual harassment as sexual assault, quid pro quo harassment, and “unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the recipient’s education program or activity.” Through this change, the DOE finally conforms its harassment definition to the language of Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, a case that defined the standard for peer-on-peer hostile-environment sexual harassment... The old-school ACLU knew there was no contradiction between defending due process and “supporting survivors.” Indeed, it was through healthy processes that we not only determined whether a person had been victimized, but also prevented the accused from becoming a “survivor” of a profound injustice. I hate to use arguments that sound remotely like “arc of history” determinism, but the college procedures DeVos is abolishing were so manifestly unfair and prone to grotesque abuse that they were not sustainable. Courts by the dozens — and judges from across the ideological spectrum — were ruling against universities, sometimes with the strongest of words. If the Department of Education didn’t make systematic changes, courts were going to force its hand — case by agonizing case."

The ACLU And The Zombie Apologists - ""If your support of due process is contingent on your sympathies for accuser or accused, then you do not support due process or the Constitution."... Remember, due process “inappropriately favors the accused.” Those four words are the ACLU’s epitaph."

Leaked Internal Memo Reveals the ACLU Is Wavering on Free Speech - "The American Civil Liberties Union will weigh its interest in protecting the First Amendment against its other commitments to social justice, racial equality, and women's rights, given the possibility that offensive speech might undermine ACLU goals."Our defense of speech may have a greater or lesser harmful impact on the equality and justice work to which we are also committed," wrote ACLU staffers in a confidential memo obtained by former board member Wendy Kaminer.It's hard to see this as anything other than a cowardly retreat from a full-throated defense of the First Amendment... The memo also makes clear that the ACLU has zero interest in defending First Amendment rights in conjunction with Second Amendment rights. If controversial speakers intend to carry weapons, the ACLU "will generally not represent them."... Kaminer, though, sees the memo as yet more evidence that the ACLU "has already lost its zeal for vigorously defending the speech it hates."... Kaminer notes that the ACLU is of course free to change its position on free speech—but it should own up to this evolution... It seems fairly clear to me what's happening here. Leadership would probably like the ACLU to remain a pro-First Amendment organization, but they would also like to remain in good standing with their progressive allies. Unfortunately, young progressives are increasingly hostile to free speech, which they view as synonymous with racist hate speech. Speech that impugns marginalized persons is not speech at all, in their view, but violence. This is why a student Black Lives Matter group shut down an ACLU event at the College of William & Mary last year, chanting "liberalism is white supremacy" and "the revolution will not uphold the Constitution." Campus activism is illiberal, and liberal free speech norms conflict with the broad protection of emotional comfort that the young, modern left demands."

How the resurgence of white supremacy in the US sparked a war over free speech - "Since its founding in 1920, the ACLU has helped make the US home to arguably the most freewheeling, unregulated public discourse in the world. And it has done this partly by defending, in the courts of law and public opinion, the speech rights of racists and fascists. The ACLU asserts that laws guaranteeing freedom of speech must embrace everybody (think the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis) if they’re going to protect anybody (think organised labour, anti-war protesters and Black Lives Matter). “The same laws or regulations used to silence bigots can be used to silence you,” its website explains.Over the course of the 20th century, the ACLU largely won the country over to its vision, making freedom of speech one of the most widely accepted principles in US political life... nine senior members of the organisation wrote to the board condemning the possibility that the ACLU might “reverse its historic role” in defending freedom of speech. Every major news outlet in the US reported on the conflict. Journalists from the left and right who cover the free-speech beat, including Glenn Greenwald at the Intercept and Conor Friedersdorf at the Atlantic, argued that curtailing white-supremacist speech would ultimately harm liberal causes... A long-time consensus has been breaking down,” the legal historian Laura Weinrib, who has written an important new history of free speech in 20th-century America, told me. One study suggests that many liberals have become increasingly intolerant of racist speech. Several other studies show that support for free speech is weakening, especially among millennials. “I think this generation perhaps doesn’t fully apprehend just how hard fought-for the right to freedom of speech was,” Romero told me recently. Partly as a result of these trends, free-speech defenders of all political stripes believe that the principle is under greater threat than it has been for generations. “We confront a real crisis now about the future of free speech in this country,” Wendy Kaminer, a former member of the ACLU’s national board, told me... large swathes of the left and the right have switched positions on freedom of speech... In one troubling recent case in France, highlighted by Glenn Greenwald, 12 activists were convicted of violating hate-speech laws for wearing T-shirts that read “Long live Palestine, boycott Israel”... “That’s absurd,” Romero said, when I asked him about the impression among some staff that the ACLU puts more into representing white supremacists than defending people of colour. “And it’s just not borne out by the facts.” A spokesperson for the ACLU said that, nationwide, the organisation dedicates more time and resources to fighting mass incarceration than any other issue. Other priorities include immigration, LGBT rights, national security issues and voting rights. It has filed at least 150 legal actions against the Trump administration."

ACLU sues Jeff Sessions over restricting asylum for victims of domestic, gang violence - "The Department of Justice said in a statement Wednesday morning that most victims of such crimes do not fit the definition for asylum claims."Our nation’s immigration laws provide for asylum to be granted to individuals who have been persecuted, or who have a well-founded fear of persecution, on account of their membership in a ‘particular social group,’ but most victims of personal crimes do not fit this definition — no matter how vile and reprehensible the crime perpetrated against them," the department said in a statement... Under U.S. and international law, a person may seek asylum based on persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution because of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group... Sessions' June memo overruled a 2014 decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals that gave asylum status to a Guatemalan woman who fled her husband after what the board called "repugnant abuse." The board found that the woman qualified for asylum because she was a member of a particular social group — in this case, married women in Guatemala who could not leave their relationship... Many asylum seekers "are leaving difficult and dangerous situations," Sessions said in a June speech. "But we cannot abandon legal discipline and sound legal concepts.""
International law is only good when it aligns with liberal priorities

Caesar at Hastings

Dan Carlin's Hardcore History: Addendum: EP8 Caesar at Hastings

"There were people using clubs on both sides at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Is there any older weapon than clubs? Maybe stones. And the Anglo Saxons were throwing stones at the Normans...

The one thing you notice when you pick up a gladius of any kind is its weightedness. It's not a heavy sword. swords are generally lighter than most people think anyway, but its weight balance is such that it feels like a cleaver, you know, like you could swing it in about halfway down, your swinging motion, the sword itself helps pick up steam. But it's really the point that does the majority of the damage, it's got a point that just is meant for just puncturing through things like armor.

And the Roman training generally insisted that they run up to the enemy's battle line, shove the big old shield in their face, and stab upward with this sword into the guts of the opponent. Because as the manuals pointed out, a slashing cut rarely kills. But a stabbing wound even an inch into the enemy is often fatal. Weird as that may sound right, an era before medicine, you pierce the viscera and somebody is probably going to die. Good chance of it anyway, let's qualify that remark, especially if you're using Roman medicine...

Adrian Goldsworthy says it's a myth that they [pila] were deliberately built to be flimsy at one point so that it would bend because we all grew up thinking that you know, these had a long tip. And then when they were thrown, the weight of the handle would bend the pilum downwards. So if it was sticking in your body, or your shields, or wherever you had this thing that was impeding you...

The final appeal of the Viking Age being denied, when the results of Hastings were confirmed… What happened at the Battle of Dyrrachium is the Byzantines were using mercenaries and auxiliaries just as the Romans had. In this case, some of them were refugees from the Battle of Hastings. Much of the Varangian Guard in 1081 were Anglo Saxons and the ironic twist from the Battle of Hastings is not only are there Anglo Saxons who fought at the Battle of Hastings at the Battle of Dyrrachium, they’re once again fighting Normans. In fact Normans where it's very likely there were some people who fought the Battle of Hastings too. This is like getting a second crack...

Just like the first fight though, the Anglo Saxons in the Varangian Guard, and if you believe the sources pursuing what they thought was a defeated foe, once again, just like at Hastings blows themselves out like a bunch of horses who've run too far and too fast, loses their cohesion and gets their rear end handed to them again. Famously, they're supposed to have tried to take refuge in a nearby church which the Normans proceed to burn down, killing them all. Welcome to Norman history, by the way.

The ironic part about it is they were supposed to be pursuing a beaten foe, because the Byzantines had managed to blow away a whole flank of Normans and Norman Knights. So this should have been the beginning of the end, they should have been able to wrap around them in a half moon sort of fashion, and just begin to roll up the enemy army. But what saved them is the proverbial big punch. When the Norman Knights charge again, supposedly at a joint in the line. So if you think about the Byzantine front line, having a left wing and a right wing in the center, there are joints or hinges between, you know, a wing and the center. They're supposed to have charged at one of those wings. Maybe again, physics of battle thing, in small groups that just continually scared the hell out of the people they were running into. Remember the Byzantines considered the Norman charge irresistible"

Links - 23rd August 2019 (2)

Tommy Robinson Exposed - Posts - "Donald Trump says Sadiq Khan is a "disaster" because of violent crime rates in London.Here's how London's homicide rate compares to US cities"
Comments: They're run by democrats lol"
"Those cities are most diverse cities in US lol"
"Wow this graph is racist you should be ashamed of your self. Top 5 cities are majority African American and ran by democrats."

Two Nike Employees Start a New Singaporean Supper Club in Portland

Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg on the Victorians | History Extra Podcast - History Extra - "‘Do you have any sympathy to the idea that statues that have become culturally redundant, should be, that their time has passed, we should put other people who are more kind of reflective of the present day in their place?’
‘No, I think you should add to the collection of statues. I'm no admirer of Oliver Cromwell. I think that he was a disastrous figure, particularly terrible in Ireland. But I'm not campaigning for removal of his statue outside the House of Parliament. Because he's the one man who sent troops into Parliament to determine division lobbies. It wasn't the right place to put it, but it's there. And it's part of our history. And Napier is part of our history. Moving his statue doesn't take the history away. And what about Gordon, whose statue is not only in London, just behind the Ministry of Defense, but also in Melbourne? I mean, he was a hero across the Empire, should he be taken down across the Empire? Or is it just an interesting historic fact that there he is, and how important he once was, and of course, how forgotten he now is?’...
Gordon [and] Napier. They both believe that all life is sacred, not just an Englishman's life. And that, again, is not something people necessarily realize about the Empire. How many of the Imperial figures, weren’t racist at all. And Sleman, of course, he's stopping Indians being murdered, he's not stopping British administrators being murdered, and he thinks this is crucial, important life work. So there is a nobility in this feeling that you can spread good to the world because you value everybody equally."

How blockchain takes us back to medieval times | FT Alphaville - "real-time clearing could theoretically save $8bn in reserve funds. But what that also means is that all participants would have to pre-fund (or even over-fund in a volatile market) all prospective trades fully before being able to execute them"

Adobe Has New Tools for Detecting Photoshopped Images

Google relies on growing underclass: Temps who outnumber full-timers - "Cruz became one of Google’s many temps and contractors — a shadow workforce that now outnumbers the company’s full-time employees. But she never made the jump to full time. She was swiftly fired after a Google manager, whom she said had harassed her for months, told the temp agency that had hired her that he wanted her gone.High-tech companies have long promoted the idea that they are egalitarian, idyllic workplaces. And Google, perhaps more than any other, has represented that image, with a reputation for enviable salaries and benefits and lavish perks.But the company’s increasing reliance on temps and contractors has some Google employees wondering if management is undermining its carefully crafted culture. As of March, Google worked with roughly 121,000 temps and contractors around the world, compared with 102,000 full-time employees... Though they often work side by side with full-timers, Google temps are usually employed by outside agencies. They make less money, have different benefits plans and have no paid vacation time in the United States... The reliance on temporary help has generated more controversy inside Google than it has at other big tech outfits, but the practice is common in Silicon Valley. Contingent labor accounts for 40 to 50 per cent of the workers at most technology firms, according to estimates by OnContracting, a site that helps people find tech contracting positions.OnContracting estimates that a technology company can save $100,000 a year on average per American job by using a contractor instead of a full-time employee.“It’s creating a caste system inside companies”... Google was the employer in all but name. It decides what jobs they do, dictates where and what hours they work, and often decides if and when to fire them.Google’s contractors are barred from company events like holiday parties and all-hands meetings. They are not permitted to look at internal job postings or attend company job fairs... the company sent security updates only to full-time employees during a shooting at YouTube’s offices last year, leaving contractors “defenseless in the line of fire.” They were also barred from a meeting the next day to discuss the attack."

Teach "Don't Steal", not "Lock your doors" - Posts - "Feminism: "We demand a woman's right to choose!"
Woman: "I choose to be a sta-at-home mother, and to love my husband and our children, and to be supportive to him."
Feminism: *Mushroom cloud*"

India's passion for traditional tea in a clay cup - "That first time I tried it, I thought it was utterly disgusting, and tipped it out of the window, much to the horror of my fellow passengers.Then to my horror, they threw their cups out of the window.Eurgh! Not only had I been given a vile drink, but witnessed a national vile habit, littering on a criminal scale... A day or two in the baking summer sun or the monsoon rains, and these crude cups disintegrated, Indian clay returning to Indian soil. A perfect ecological model."

Kolkata's age old tradition of 'bhar' clay cups of tea - "Tea drinkers here, swear by the superiority of the clay cup. The clay, they say, gives the tea a rich and earthy flavour. It brings a ceremonial ending to each cup of tea as well. When the tea is finished, the bhar are customary thrown and crushed to pieces on the ground."
Maybe water in India is dirty so washing the cups will make them even dirtier

Ethnic differences in testicular structure and spermatogenic potential may predispose testes of Asian men to a heightened sensitivity to steroidal contraceptives. - "Homogenates of fixed testes were evaluated for the number of Sertoli cells and the daily sperm production based on pachytene primary spermatocytes (PDSP) or spermatids with spherical nuclei (DSP). Paired parenchymal weight was less (P < 0.05) in Chinese men than in Hispanic or Caucasian men. The PDSP per gram of parenchyma was lower (P < 0.05) and the DSP per gram tended to be lower in Chinese men than in other groups... It is postulated that smaller testes, coupled with the reduced number and function of Sertoli cells and reduced daily sperm production, contribute to an inherently lower spermatogenic potential in Asian men, which predisposes them to a heightened negative spermatogenic response to steroidal contraceptives." Asian men have smaller testes and less sperm production than white or Hispanic men

Joanne Lipman: Diversity Training Fails American Companies - "For most of its history, diversity training has been pretty much a cudgel, pounding white men into submission with a mix of finger-wagging and guilt-mongering... here’s the thing about diversity training: it doesn’t work.Harvard organizational sociology professor Frank Dobbin and others have since delved into why such programs have failed. Dobbin combed through thousands of data points and found that for white women and black men and women in management positions, it actually made things worse. That’s right: companies that introduced diversity training would actually employ more women and black men today if they had never had diversity training at all. He singled out three situations in which training is doomed to fail: when it’s mandatory; when it so much as mentions the law; or when it is specific to managers, as opposed to being offered to all employees. Unfortunately, he found, about 75% of firms with diversity-training programs fall into at least one of those categories. Perhaps more to the point is the fact that the training infuriates the people it’s intended to educate: white men. “Many interpreted the key learning point as having to walk on eggshells around women and minorities–choosing words carefully so as not to offend. Some surmised that it meant white men were villains, still others assumed that they would lose their jobs to minorities and women, while others concluded that women and minorities were simply too sensitive”... Training done badly can also damage otherwise cordial relationships. Women and minorities often leave training sessions thinking their co-workers must be even more biased than they had previously imagined. In a more troubling development, it turns out that telling people about others’ biases can actually heighten their own. Researchers have found that when people believe everybody else is biased, they feel free to be prejudiced themselves... The evidence is damning. Yet companies continue to invest heavily in diversity training, spending, by one estimate, almost $8 billion a year. It has led to what the Economist dubbed “diversity fatigue.”
Why SJW-ing is a self-fulfilling prophecy

Candidates Who Explain Progressive Policies via Conservative Principles Could Be Uniquely Persuasive - Pacific Standard - ""a presidential candidate who framed his progressive economic platform to be consistent with conservative values like patriotism, family, and respect for tradition—as opposed to more liberal value concerns like equality and social justice—was supported significantly more by conservatives and, unexpectedly, by moderates as well... These new results are consistent with a 2010 study that found people invested in justifying the status quo—that is, conservatives—were more supportive of pro-environmental policies when such policies were framed as a way to help sustain the American way of life"

Ontario firefighter says his human rights were violated because he wasn’t given vegan food during B.C. wildfires - "An Ontario firefighter alleges his human rights were violated when he was not provided sufficient vegan food while battling a massive blaze in British Columbia... The case centres on whether veganism is a form of creed — the definition of which was expanded by the Human Rights Tribunal in 2015 to include non-secular beliefs... About 10,000 homes were evacuated in William’s Lake, and the only store open was a Tim Hortons that police were helping run, he wrote in his complaint. He said the ministry had long known about his dietary constraints, and he had also filled out a standard food information form for the trip. “On some days during my deployment to William’s Lake, I was not provided with any food that was vegan or not otherwise contaminated with animal products, and therefore forced to go hungry,” he wrote. On July 16, he ate salad and side dishes. The next day, he wrote, there were no vegan meals, so he ate plain bagels and coffee from Tim Hortons. The day after that he was given “beans, oatmeal and fruits.”“After working 16-hour days for four days with inadequate nutrition I began to feel physically ill and mentally groggy,” Knauff wrote. “Until that point I had been trying to push through my hunger and exhaustion, sustaining myself on nuts and fruits.”... He asked for personnel to buy tofu during one of their service runs. He got three blocks of tofu, gave it to the camp’s chef, but never saw it again, he wrote.Things came to a head on July 23 when he was looking forward to a big barbecue dinner, where vegan burgers would be served.But, he wrote, the chef handled beef patties before touching the vegan patties with the same gloved hands.Knauff said he swore at the chef, who swore back. His supervisor gave him a warning... He took his plate to his supervisor and asked him if he could see any protein on his plate. The supervisor offered him protein bars.“I was upset and told him ‘no,”‘ and then he told him — with a curse word — to fix the problem... Base camp was difficult for all involved, as was trying to feed 1,000 firefighters with the closest towns with open stores hours away, the ministry says."
Why the Singapore Navy doesn't accept people with dietary restrictions

The cost (to others) of virtue signalling (aka luxury beliefs)

'Luxury beliefs' are latest status symbol for rich Americans

A former classmate from Yale recently told me “monogamy is kind of outdated” and not good for society. So I asked her what her background is and if she planned to marry.

She said she comes from an affluent family and works at a well-known technology company. Yes, she personally intends to have a monogamous marriage — but quickly added that marriage shouldn’t have to be for everyone.

She was raised by a traditional family. She planned on having a traditional family. But she maintained that traditional families are old-fashioned and society should “evolve” beyond them.

What could explain this?

In the past, upper-class Americans used to display their social status with luxury goods. Today, they do it with luxury beliefs.

People care a lot about social status. In fact, research indicates that respect and admiration from our peers are even more important than money for our sense of well-being.

We feel pressure to display our status in new ways. This is why fashionable clothing always changes. But as trendy clothes and other products become more accessible and affordable, there is increasingly less status attached to luxury goods.

The upper classes have found a clever solution to this problem: luxury beliefs. These are ideas and opinions that confer status on the rich at very little cost, while taking a toll on the lower class.

One example of luxury belief is that all family structures are equal. This is not true. Evidence is clear that families with two married parents are the most beneficial for young children. And yet, affluent, educated people raised by two married parents are more likely than others to believe monogamy is outdated, marriage is a sham or that all families are the same.

Relaxed attitudes about marriage trickle down to the working class and the poor. In the 1960s, marriage rates between upper-class and lower-class Americans were nearly identical. But during this time, affluent Americans loosened social norms, expressing skepticism about marriage and monogamy.

This luxury belief contributed to the erosion of the family. Today, the marriage rates of affluent Americans are nearly the same as they were in the 1960s. But working-class people are far less likely to get married. Furthermore, out-of-wedlock birthrates are more than 10 times higher than they were in 1960, mostly among the poor and working class. Affluent people seldom have kids out of wedlock but are more likely than others to express the luxury belief that doing so is of no consequence.

Another luxury belief is that religion is irrational or harmful. Members of the upper class are most likely to be atheists or non-religious. But they have the resources and access to thrive without the unifying social edifice of religion.

Places of worship are often essential for the social fabric of poor communities. Denigrating the importance of religion harms the poor. While affluent people often find meaning in their work, most Americans do not have the luxury of a “profession.” They have jobs. They clock in, they clock out. Without a family or community to care for, such a job can feel meaningless.

Then there’s the luxury belief that individual decisions don’t matter much compared to random social forces, including luck. This belief is more common among many of my peers at Yale and Cambridge than the kids I grew up with in foster care or the women and men I served with in the military. The key message is that the outcomes of your life are beyond your control. This idea works to the benefit of the upper class and harms ordinary people.

It is common to see students at prestigious universities work ceaselessly and then downplay the importance of tenacity. They perform an “aw, shucks” routine to suggest they just got lucky rather than accept credit for their efforts. This message is damaging. If disadvantaged people believe random chance is the key factor for success, they will be less likely to strive.

White privilege is the luxury belief that took me the longest to understand, because I grew up around poor whites. Often members of the upper-class claim that racial disparities stem from inherent advantages held by whites. Yet Asian Americans are more educated, have higher earnings and live longer than whites. Affluent whites are the most enthusiastic about the idea of white privilege, yet they are the least likely to incur any costs for promoting that belief. Rather, they raise their social standing by talking about their privilege.

In other words, upper-class whites gain status by talking about their high status. When laws are enacted to combat white privilege, it won’t be the privileged whites who are harmed. Poor whites will bear the brunt.

It’s possible that affluent whites don’t always agree with their own luxury beliefs, or at least have doubts. Maybe they don’t like the ideological fur coat they’re wearing. But if their peers punish them for not sporting it all over town, they will never leave the house without it again.

Because, like with diamond rings or designer clothes of old, upper-class people don a luxury belief to separate themselves from the lower class. These beliefs, in turn, produce real, tangible consequences for disadvantaged people, further widening the divide. Just as fashionable clothing will soon be outdated, so will today’s fashionable beliefs. In the future, expect the upper class to defame even more values — including ones they hold dear — in their quest to gain top-dog status.

A more cynical take (hinted at in the article) is that rich people, by virtue signalling, hobble others and thereby perpetuate their own wealth (and thus privilege).

Links - 23rd August 2019 (1)

Cloyd Rivers on Twitter - "I am 25yrs. with a fine arts degree. No job, no insurance, on foodstamps and $20,000 in college debt. I am the 99%"
"1 - Go to college
2 - Accumulate debt
3 - Pick stupid major
4 - Graduate with useless degree and no useful skills
5 - Pretend you're a victim
6 - Blame society
7 - Vote Democrat

Equally Wed - Posts - "Equal rights for others does not mean less rights for you. It's not pie"
It's not pie, it's cake. Gay/transgender cake

Malaysian switched at birth wants to switch religion - "Sales executive Zulhaidi Omar, 29, was raised in an ethnic Malay family, and discovered his true origins only after a Chinese woman at a supermarket where he worked noticed his features were similar to those of her father... His natural father, Teo Ma Leong, 66, said he had always suspected the fifth of his six children was switched at birth, because the boy had a dark complexion, the Star said.“A check with the hospital gave us no clues, so we brought him up as one of our own, although we knew our actual son was out there somewhere,” Teo added.As a child, Zulhaidi said, he was teased about his Chinese-like features and never felt accepted by the family in which he was brought up, so he left them when he was 13.“My Malay father had left us when I was three,” he said. “My mother remarried, but I could not get along with my stepfather, so I left.”He waited on tables and worked at a car wash to put himself through school, eventually ending up with a diploma in business administration.The other changeling, Tian Fa, 29, was brought up by the Teos, married a Chinese woman, and has no intention of seeking out his biological parents, the Star said.Now Zulhaidi wants to renounce Islam and take a Chinese name.Whether Muslims can convert to another faith is a tricky legal question in Malaysia"

Teen Vogue on Twitter - "Yes, sex work is real work!
Comments: "Why is a teen magazine promoting prostitution to their 13-year-old readers?"
"Teen Vogue. Teen. Vogue. Teenager. Teen. Promoting sex work? Are you grooming young kids now? Don’t you think you could have maybe published this in adult Vogue since your demographic is probably 15 year olds or is that too much to ask from you psychos?"
"Several years ago, when I was a middle school librarian, I stopped subscribing to Teen Vogue...because of articles very much like that. A couple of girls told me that was the right decision."

Bring back the brothel, says female French MP - "France must bring back the brothel to protect its prostitutes from exploitation, trafficking and aggression in the street, an MP from Nicolas Sarkozy's rightwing party has said... Brunel's stance is supported by a majority of French people: 59% of respondents supported the reopening of so-called maisons closes (literally, closed houses)... the number opposed to the reintroduction of brothels has dropped from 26% seven years ago to just 10% now. Women remain markedly more against the idea than men."
Too bad they adopted the Nordic model instead

Sex – Not A Commodity In France Anymore - "One may remember that demonstration of prostitutes who chanted the slogan “Less whores than good wives”, implying that conjugality is the place where lovemaking can be repeated monotonously without feeling, where women are merely subservient objects to men. There was also a romanticism attached to prostitution, among writers, in the world of bad boys, a world untouched by the law, in which a number of cinematic masterpieces have been made. Paintings and drawings of “Maisons closes” (brothels), and prostitution appear frequently in art over the centuries."

The impact of the 'Swedish model' in France: chronicle of a disaster foretold - "the concept of sexual humanitarianism refers to the global hegemony of a neo-abolitionist discourse, which systematically conflates prostitution with trafficking, framing prostitution as “paradigmatic of a system of male power” and seeking its abolition by removing the demand for sexual services. This trend is best exemplified by the global resonance of the “Swedish model” – a policymaking framework aiming to reduce the demand for prostitution by decriminalising sex work and criminalising the purchase of sex – as an ideal instrument to fight trafficking... ninety-eight per cent of the surveyed sex workers, both migrants and non-migrants, were against it... As early as 2014, rates for sex work had already begun to decrease and many clients stopped calling for fear of being fined. The words of a 27-year-old French woman working as an escort in Paris further illustrate this:
“The threat of criminalisation in the near future has already scared away some of my clients: the most respectful ones”. (Paris, 2014)...
The anticipated negative effects of this law have been confirmed by new research... The main aims of the law were to decrease the number of sex workers and to protect them by abolishing the previous criminalisation of public soliciting, and shifting criminality to the clients instead. However, the law ended up achieving the opposite of its intended aims... cases of violence, of all kinds, have increased and that impoverishment, increased health risks and increased exposure to violence form a vicious circle. All of these negative dynamics could have been avoided if politicians had listened to sex workers, trusted the results of the 2014-15 survey and relied on the existing scholarly literature on the impact of the ‘Swedish Model’. They prioritized their sexual humanitarian, neo-abolitionist agenda instead of taking seriously the concerns of the people they purported to help."

Nordic Model: The Ongoing Criminalization of Sex Workers in Northern Europe - "Operation Homeless rested on “promotion” law’s indirect criminalization of sex-worker’s renting a flat. Upon discovering the address of a worker (through surveillance or when a worker reports a violent crime) the police will contact the landlord and threaten prosecution unless the worker is evicted. The Oslo police refused to provide Amnesty International with the number of landlords prosecuted in this campaign, which doesn’t seem to have even been a consideration. The evicted workers not only lose their housing but also often lose the month’s rent and their security deposit (AI, 36, 41, 43; and Bjørndahl, 33). These workers then face future housing discrimination from landlords who are reasonably afraid to rent to a known sex worker. The evicted themselves undoubtedly become more vulnerable to extortion by landlords and other third parties, and to exploitation and abuse in the streets. Criminalization regimes generally exclude sex sector workers from the protection of law and provision of justice. Under the Swedish Model this is more grotesque, as ostensibly legal workers find themselves excluded from labor protections and basic rights. According to the Norwegian state itself, “the threshold for reporting a violent customer to the police ..seems to be higher after the law” (New Republic). As mentioned above, reporting a crime can lead to eviction or, for migrant sex workers, deportation...
“There is very little evidence to suggest that any criminal laws related to SW stop demand for sex or reduce the number of sex workers. Rather, all of them create an environment of fear and marginalisation for sex workers …These laws can undermine sex workers’ ability to work together to identify potentially violent clients …The approach of criminalising the client has been shown to backfire on sex workers. ” — UNAIDS Guidance Note on HIV and SW; p.31... Ann Jordan, an expert in international law and the director of American University’s Program on Human Trafficking and Forced Labor, describes the Swedish Model as “a failed experiment.”"

In China, they’re closing churches, jailing pastors – and even rewriting scripture - "Early Rain is the latest victim of what Chinese Christians and rights activists say is the worst crackdown on religion since the country’s Cultural Revolution, when Mao Zedong’s government vowed to eradicate religion... “The goal of the crackdown is not to eradicate religions,” said Ying Fuk Tsang, director of the Christian Study Centre on Chinese Religion and Culture at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “President Xi Jinping is trying to establish a new order on religion, suppressing its blistering development. [The government] aims to regulate the ‘religious market’ as a whole.”While the CCP is officially atheist, Protestantism and Catholicism are two of five faiths sanctioned by the government and religious freedom has been enshrined in the constitution since the 1980s. For decades, authorities tolerated the house churches, which refused to register with government bodies that required church leaders to adapt teachings to follow party doctrine... “What really makes the government nervous is Christianity’s claim to universal rights and values.”... “Ten years ago, we used to be able to say the party was not really interested in what people believed internally,” said Pils. “Xi Jinping’s response is much more invasive and it is in some ways returning to Mao-era attempts to control hearts and minds.”Bibles, sales of which have always been controlled in China, are no longer available for purchase online, a loophole that had existed for years. In December, Christmas celebrations were banned in several schools and cities across China."
And some people thought it would stop at Uighers, or even Muslims
Of course China shills claim Uighers who are persecuted are all terrorists, and Christians who are persecuted are all foreign agents

Dressing Up the Brain: Wearing a Suit Makes You Think Differently - "wearing clothing that’s more formal than usual makes people think more broadly and holistically, rather than narrowly and about fine-grained details. In psychological parlance, wearing a suit encourages people to use abstract processing more readily than concrete processing. Research on the effects of clothing on cognition remains in its early stages. Another similar study showed that when subjects wore a white coat that they believed belonged to a doctor, they became more attentive"

Ancient Chinese Buildings Are Held Together With Rice, Sugar, and Blood - "Sticky rice is sweet, and augments savory dishes such as zongzi, pyramids of rice and fillings neatly wrapped in leaves, or tang yuan, a sweet soup with rice dumplings. It is also waxy—a texture that comes from the polysaccharide amylopectin, which gives the rice a denser microstructure. Mixed with lime mortar, the grains boost compressive strength, helping walls bear loads without fracturing. They are also highly water resistant, which protects buildings against erosion... Animal blood might sound like a grisly substance for building walls, but it was a perfectly normal additive used by several cultures. Historical recipes written in French, Italian, and English have detailed ways to mix oxblood and lime mortars. In China, builders used pig blood to improve the consistency of their mortar, according to a 2014 study. It is also easily available, resulting in diverse regional dishes such as pork blood soup and pig blood curd... Incredibly, structures built with sticky rice mortar have survived more than natural erosion. A Ming tomb, of the minister Xu Pu and his wife, was nearly damaged by a bulldozer when found in 1978, but it was “so firm [the vehicle] could do nothing about it,” according to a 2009 paper. Its three authors describe another near-miracle: in 1604, when a 7.5-magnitude earthquake shook the port city of Quanzhou, many temples, stupas, and bridges were not destroyed. Instead, sticky rice mortar kept their foundations firmly secured."

Parliament tightens its abortion law - "Under the new abortion law approved after hours of more late-night debate in Parliament, women pregnant with twins, triplets or more must now obtain permission from a medical board if they want to abort one fetus or more"
From Norway

Muslim rights group says ‘Aladdin’ is racist and Islamophobic, slams Disney for releasing the film during the ‘Trump era’ - "A Muslim civil rights group has blasted Disney for releasing Aladdin during the “Trump era”, saying the story is rooted in racism, Orientalism, and Islamophobia.The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim rights group in the United States, has urged movie reviewers to address the racial and Islamophobic stereotypes perpetuated in the live-action remake of Disney’s Aladdin."
They should just have whitewashed it - then no one could complain it was Islamophobic or racist
More proof that you can never win against grievance mongers

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Links - 22nd August 2019 (2)

15 Facts About 'The Garden of Earthly Delights' by Hieronymus Bosch

Hidden meanings in The Garden of Earthly Delights - "Ultimately, The Garden of Earthly Delights evades analysis. According to Falkenburg, it’s a work deliberately designed to resist interpretation; while Erwin Panofsky claims in Early Netherlandish Painting that “In spite of all the ingenious, erudite and in part extremely useful research devoted to the task of ‘decoding Jerome Bosch’, I cannot help feeling that the real secret of his magnificent nightmares and daydreams has still to be disclosed. We have bored a few holes through the door of the locked room; but somehow we do not seem to have discovered the key”."

Why Do Dogs Look So Sad? - "dogs’ faces are structured for complex expression in a way that wolves’ aren’t, thanks to a special pair of muscles framing their eyes... when dogs work these muscles, humans respond more positively. And both man and mutt benefit from a jolt of oxytocin when locked in on each other"

What if the Asian-white achievement gap were treated the same as the white-black gap? - "Why is it that the Asian-white achievement gap gets no attention compared to the extensive and widespread attention the white-black achievement gap gets, even though the gap for Math SAT scores has been growing for Asians vs. whites since 1996 while it’s been stable for whites vs. blacks for the last 20 years?"
Looks like Asians are even more white/have even more 'whiteness' than whites

15 rights LGBT people in the UK still don't have - "1. Gay conversion therapy is still legal in the UK
2. Trans prisoners are put in the wrong prison
3. Gay and bi men can’t donate blood for three months after having sex
4. There’s no non-binary gender option on passports
5. HIV-prevention drug PrEP is not widely available
6. No central London LGBT+ venues are fully accessible
7. Intersex babies are operated on by the NHS
8. Gay marriage is still illegal in Northern Ireland
9. Sex education doesn’t teach LGBT+ relationships
10. LGBT+ people can’t travel safely on public transport
11. Teaching kids that LGBT+ people exist has caused protests in two cities
12. In Northern Ireland, trans people can be legally discriminated against
13. Sexuality and gender identity aren’t included in the census
14. 24% of homeless young people are LGBT+
15. The Gender Recognition Act still hasn’t been reformed"
We are told that the gay agenda is a paranoid right wing conservative myth, but most of these aren't even rights and the rest only apply to Northern Ireland (so using them to slam the UK is mischevous)

When you get a stitch in your side, what's really going on? - "There's a medical term for that stabbing side cramp: exercise-related transient abdominal pain, or ETAP. And it's far from rare. Around two-thirds of runners experience them every year. But unfortunately for middle schoolers, elite athletes, and weekend joggers everywhere, this medical term does not come with a medical solution. There's no standard advice for how to prevent a side stitch, says sports chiropractor Brad Muir, because we don't know the mechanism that produces the pain in the first place... That's partly because, even though side stitches are common, researchers haven't really studied them. In 2015, a review article noted that after a few studies in the 1940s and 50s, there was a nearly 50 year gap in research on side stitches. Despite that, there are some basic things that we do know about ETAP: It's more common in younger people; the number of reported cases tends to drop off as people get older. The pain is more common in activities where the upper body twists, like swimming, running, and horseback riding. Athletes of all levels get side stitches—elite athletes get them less often, but their stitches are no less painful than the ones in amateur exercisers"

Why the X-Men Cartoon Theme Song is Even Better Than You Remember... - YouTube

PA threatens to cut security ties with Israel if Gaza blockade lifted - "The Palestinian Authority (PA) has threatened to sever security cooperation with Israel if the blockade on the Gaza Strip is lifted"
From 2018. Of course, Israel is always to blame

Kuwaiti Cleric: Kill Apostates; Enslave Infidels | MEMRI TV - "In his weekly fatwa session, which he uploads to his YouTube channel, Kuwaiti cleric Othman Al-Khamis said that apostates must be killed. In a video uploaded on January 9, 2019, Sheikh Al-Khamis said that apostasy is tantamount to scorning Islam. In an October 14, 2015 video, Sheikh Al-Khamis said that only infidels may be enslaved, adding that people who do not worship Allah must convert to Islam, pay the jizya poll tax, be forced into slavery, or be fought against and killed"

Google’s Best AI Just Flunked a High School Math Test - "Unfortunately for our new AI overlords, the crusade to take over the world has been stopped in its tracks by an unlikely hurdle: a 16-year-old’s math test... even a simple math problem involves a great deal of brainpower, as people learn to automatically learn to make sense of mathematical operations, memorize the order in which to perform them, and know how to turn word problems into equations.But artificial intelligence is quite literally built to pore over data, scanning for patterns and analyzing them. In that regard, the results of the test — on which the algorithm scored a 14 out of 40 — aren’t reassuring."

THE UNINTENDED GENIUS OF DONALD TRUMP - "Donald Trump must be treated seriously because he has demonstrated a willingness to make controversial and hard decisions. Many commentators thought that his threats to raise and extend tariffs on imports from China merely a negotiating tactic but he has proceeded to do so when he perceived that China was proving intransigent... It is important to look beyond Trump’s antics and even beyond Trump himself or his term of office, to consider structural implications of the trade wars, especially with China. Taking the long-term view can reveal insights into how, what seem like disruptive even destructive policies in the short term may in the longer term potentially lead to a revival of American economic strength and lead to a broader resurgence of economic growth... Trump is forcing the American economy to evolve. China’s has been a key supply chain partner to the United States for most of the last two decades. By imposing stinging tariffs on Chinese imports, which have to be paid by the US importers not the Chinese exporters, Trump is forcing American businesses to revise their products, services and business models to remain competitive.Over the coming decade, the well proven ingenuity of American companies will lead them to evolve their products to be independent of supply from China. And even if they find the economics of ‘insourcing’ or relocating the supply chain within the US commercially unviable, they will search for new sources of supply which will benefit other developing countries such as Vietnam, Loas and Cambodia. Unlike with China, these small economies can never evolve to being strategic rivals to the United States and thus their growth will be politically palatable. Chinese companies too will have to find new markets for its exports and the development of secondary economies will create new sources of demand. The geographic distribution of potential markets of demand will also create resilience in the global economy that is overconcentrated on the consumption of the largest economies... Trump is spurring innovation... By obstructing Chinese companies such as Huawei and distracting the Chinese leadership with his trade war, he is artificially creating time and space for American companies to regain their competitive advantage in innovation. His ‘us versus them’ approach, will also drive competitive innovation in both economies as political leaders urge their respective leading companies to outperform their competitors... Taken together, these longer-term effects of the Trump era will be structural and substantive. Each has the potential to deliver new sources of growth, reshape the global economic model and to distribute the benefits of growth more widely"

Eat Pray Love: An insult to women with real problems - "why is Eat, Pray, Love so popular despite this chicanery? Perhaps because it taps into a deeper malaise, some level of inchoate female unhappiness that is not often addressed in the mainstream. Perhaps the secret of its success is not Gilbert’s journey, but that she managed to run away from her life.Or perhaps it is popular for the same reason I always believed the film Ghost was so popular with women: because the husband snuffs it in the opening scenes. You can see the appeal for Mrs Clinton... Gilbert is the kind of indulged, privileged, self-obsessed, professional, middle-class woman whose entire focus is always inwards in despair, never outwards in hope.In the end, she is healed not by some great mental revelation, but by having sex with the first bloke who asks her."

Why Elizabeth Gilbert’s Ideas About Happiness in Eat Pray Love Are Wrong | Intellectual Takeout - "Gilbert would have us believe there is a direct path to happiness that each of us can navigate. In Gilbert’s case, today’s right partner or circumstance may be replaced by a better one tomorrow, as one reaches for more happiness. But Gilbert’s path to happiness is misdirected. A bottomless appetite seeking better circumstances is antithetical to happiness.Eli Finkel is a psychology professor at Northwestern University. In his book The All or Nothing Marriage, Finkel explains how Gilbert taps into our “cultural zeitgeist—the contemporary American hunger for a life that is true to the self rather than beholden to rules and restrictions.”Finkel points out that at the beginning of Eat Pray Love, Gilbert is “married to a loving, decent” man and “knows it,” but “settling for love and decency doesn’t feel like an option for [her].” In Eat Pray Love, Gilbert claims to find happiness and her true self. She falls in love with José Nunes (called Felipe in the book) a Brazilian-Australian importer. In her follow-up book to Eat Pray Love, Committed, Gilbert marries Nunes; she presumably lives happily ever after. Not so fast. In 2016, she left Nunes for Rayya Elias.As Finkel points out, “This is the second time Gilbert has divorced an impressive and appealing partner who generally treated their relationship with respect and dignity.”...
'“Fairy tales and romantic comedies often depict getting married at the end of the story—the beginning of the happily-ever after. From the perspective of a relationship scientist, such stories are more farce than romance. Building a happy marriage requires that spouses successfully navigate a dense thicket of challenges and opportunities, frequently without a good map of the route ahead.”'...
In a 2015 New York Times essay “Confessions of a Seduction Addict,” Gilbert confesses that in her youth she “careened from one intimate [non-monogamous] entanglement to the next — dozens of them — without so much as a day off between romances.”“Sex was just the gateway drug,” she writes. Gilbert was after “seduction”"

Attacks by White Extremists Are Growing. So Are Their Connections. - The New York Times - "white extremism — an umbrella term encompassing white nationalist, white supremacist, neo-Nazi, xenophobic, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic ideologies — accounted for about 8 percent of all attacks in [Europe, North America and Australia] and about a third of those in the United States."
How come the people who constantly obsess about the "far right" and "white extremists" are the same people who reassure us that you're more likely to die from falling out of your bathtub than from terrorism and it's Islamophobic to worry about it?
Of course there's a convenient fudging of the numbers by including Elliot Rodger
Somehow, the article doesn't put the numbers in context by looking at what is behind 92% of attacks

European study on anti-Semitism is scrapped - "A study backed by the European Union on the rise of anti-Semitism has been shelved after officials decided that its findings were "too controversial".The 112-page survey, commissioned by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia based in Austria, found that many anti-Semitic incidents were carried out by Muslim and pro-Palestinian groups.The research was ordered in response to fears that anti-Semitism was on the rise across Europe - and apparently confirmed the truth of the claims. However, the centre - which is the EU's official racism watchdog - was unnerved by its results.–– ADVERTISEMENT ––A spokesman for the watchdog refused to comment yesterday, but according to authoritative reports officials admitted a "political decision" was taken not to publish it partly because of fears that it would increase hostility towards Muslims... An official who refused to be named said: "There is a trend towards Muslim anti-Semitism, while on the Left there is also mobilisation against Israel that is not always free of prejudice. Merely saying the perpetrators are French, Belgian or Dutch does no justice to the full picture."... Dr Rita Koch, a prominent Jewish historian in Vienna, said that the refusal to publish the report was pushing political correctness to extremes. "This is an official body and it has no business covering up this report. If it wanted the report, it should be prepared to publish it. Behaving like this is like they are afraid of their own shadow.""
From 2003
If you can't blame the "Far right", it's not a real problem

Housing the People: An Interview with Dr Loh Kah Seng

Episode 34: Housing the People: An Interview with Dr Loh Kah Seng

"Not all the social groups in a society respond the same way as the official narrative would state. So for example, the much lauded Singapore story’s narrative about our move from kampung housing or slums and squatter areas into public housing, which is supposed to be the modern form of housing. Superior, clean - was was not true for people. One of the things I found actually was that for many of the people who first moved into one room emergency flats build by the HDB and SIT in the 50s or 60s, those housing was not very different from living in the slum area in Chinatown, or a squatter area in a kampung the margins of the city...

There wasn't enough state intervention and support given to the kampungs, that's why they continue to burn. That's why we see Bukit Ho Swee happen. Whereas a lot of the state resources were given to not making the kampungs, safe or sanitary, but basically the British colonial government wanted to get rid of the kampungs in the city area, and much more effort and resource was given to building what the British considered low cost flats. They were being built by the Singapore improvement Trust for the working class population [like in Tiong Bahru]. And these were never working class, low cost housing - only in the eyes of the British...

‘One common lament of Singaporeans, older Singaporeans is how we’ve lost this kampung spirit. But it suggests that the kampung spirit also developed because of an absence of the state in that because there was no state intervention in critical areas because we had to do things on our own therefore we develop this local spirit of people having to look out for each other. So it seems to me that when people lament the compound spirit they’re also lamenting a certain loss of autonomy’...

When the kampung dwellers or fire victims move into public housing on a permanent basis, they begin to adopt a way of life, which is drastically different from what they had done before. So for example, pigs and wooden toilets were no longer possible. And this also meant that it had an economic impact. Rent had to be paid in the flats on a regular basis. So you can't just wait for part time employment, or casual employment, in order to pay the rent. It had to be paid, and the HDB was going to press you to pay the rent every month. And subsequent to that, from 1968 onwards, when the government began to allow the use of CPF savings to pay for the ownership, the purchase of HDB flats it also became important therefore, to have a full time permanent job in order to continuously contribute to the CPF and pay for the purchase of the flat over long term installments.

So from that perspective, the CPF and coupled with the public housing project was immensely successful in changing how people looked at their life and the importance of work… buying a flat is one of the rituals that most Singaporeans go through which is very different from the past when Singaporeans basically do not care very much about the kind of housing they were living in as long as it was large enough for their family, or as long as it was relatively close to their workplace or to their family and friends...

‘This is a sort of an inflection point where before this… Singaporeans could live off the land in a almost autonomous fashion. They didn't have to be participants in the economy, in the state, they could have pigs, they could grow vegetables, but once you get into HDB housing, it's not just the flat, but it's a whole different lifestyle that comes with it. You have to take part in the modern economy, you have to be plugged into, you know, rent payment, tax payments, and you have to, you know, you can't have any sort of independence from the state. So that's what you meant by squatters to citizens’"

Links - 22nd August 2019 (1)

The Monopoly of Legitimate Benevolence – Ts’ang Chung-shu - "The benevolent sovereign concept was one of the earliest to spread beyond China’s borders... Thus, for example, a tendency to evaluate governments based on economic performance has been observed and measured over time and across the majority of Chinese-influenced states. Chu et al. (2013) used Asian Barometer Survey data to show a strong correlation between positive evaluations of the economy and support for government in the PRC, Vietnam, Singapore, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mongolia, but –crucially — not in Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia or Thailand (all of which have historically been subject to far less Chinese influence)... Econometric studies have shown that — contrary to normal practice elsewhere — corruption has a positive effect on economic growth in East Asia... In countries that were traditionally subject to Chinese cultural influence, governments tend to attach a high level of importance to dealing with the issue, whether by fighting it outright or by attempting to integrate it within the sphere of state control. The time and energy devoted to these battles only makes sense if they are interpreted as governmental struggles for survival against rival economic power networks, rather than being seen as ordinary law-enforcement actions... Those who refused to allow themselves to be coopted into the dominant faction had to be jailed or executed, not merely because they broke the law, but because they had the potential to become an independent state-within-a-state. Indeed, Xi has said as much openly"
Basically Chinese culture is about corruption and patronage
Further support for saying that Xi's war on corruption is really a war on corruption that doesn't benefit him

The Comparative Politics of Corruption: Accounting for the East Asian Paradox in Empirical Studies of Corruption, Growth and Investment - "Numerous empirical studies demonstrate that corruption reduces investment and/or slows growth. But how robust are these relationships? This question is answered by conducting a series of crosscountry regression tests using four different corruption datasets. We find that corruption slows growth and/or reduces investment in most developing countries, particularly small developing countries, but increases growth in the large East Asian newly industrializing economies. The latter finding provides solid empirical support to a country case literature that explains the East Asian paradox––the combination of high corruption and high growth––in terms of stable and mutually beneficial exchanges of government promotional privileges for bribes and kickbacks."

A Requiem for Florida, the Paradise That Should Never Have Been - "The consensus among the soldiers was that the U.S. should just leave the area to the Indians and the mosquitoes; as one general put it, “I could not wish them all a worse place.” Or as one lieutenant complained: “Millions of money has been expended to gain this most barren, swampy, and good-for-nothing peninsula.” Today, Florida’s southern thumb has been transformed into a subtropical paradise for millions of residents and tourists, a sprawling megalopolis dangling into the Gulf Stream that could sustain hundreds of billions of dollars in damage if Hurricane Irma makes a direct hit. So it’s easy to forget that South Florida was once America’s last frontier, generally dismissed as an uninhabitable and undesirable wasteland, almost completely unsettled well after the West was won... The Army Corps of Engineers, the shock troops in the nation’s war on Mother Nature, built the most elaborate water management system of its day, 2,000 miles of levees and canals along with pumps so powerful some of the engines would have to be cannibalized from nuclear submarines"

Why Arabs are so Easily Offended - "Nicolai Sennels, a Danish psychologist who has had extensive experience with treating Muslim youths has identified four main differences that are important in order to understand the behavior of Muslims and how they interact with Western influences. Without dismissing the intrinsic value of multiculturalism or the need to identify with ones cultural roots Sennels has identified four main differences that are important in order to understand the behavior of Muslims. They concern anger, self-confidence, the so-called "locus of control" and identity... In Muslim culture, anger is seen as a sign of strength. To Muslims, being aggressive is a way of gaining respect. When we see pictures of bearded men hopping up and down and shooting in the air, we should take it for what it is: these are the true role models of acceptable behavior... it is honorable to respond aggressively and to engage in a physical fight in order to scare or force critics to withdraw, even if this results in a prison sentence or even death. They see non-aggressive responses to such threats and violence as a sign of a vulnerability that is to be exploited. They do not interpret a peaceful response as an invitation to enter into a dialogue, diplomacy, intellectual debate, compromise or peaceful coexistence but the opposite... Muslims are brought up to have an "outer locus of control." Their constant use of the term inshallah ("Allah willing") when talking about the future, as well as the fact that most aspects of their lives are decided by older traditions, clan tribal affiliations and authorities, leaves very little space for individual freedom. Independent initiatives are often severely punished. This shapes their way of thinking, and means that when things go wrong, it is always the fault of others or the situation."

Are Muslim Arabs Especially Fatalistic? - "The eminent sociologist Max Weber (1958) argued that capitalism first emerged in Protestant countries and not elsewhere because, as religions go, the Protestant faith was less fatalistic than the others.Other social scientists have found that East Asian Canadians are more fatalistic than European Canadians (Norenzayan & Lee, 2009), Southerners are more fatalistic than Midwesterners (Sims & Baumann, 1972), and Hindus are more fatalistic than Westerners (Kapp, 1963).In a similar vein, many scholars have noted that Muslim Arabs are more fatalistic than non-Muslims and non-Arabs (De Atkine, 2004; Huntington, 1996; Nydell, 2005)."

Contrasting Muslim And Western Psychologies: The Locus Of Control - "As far as integration goes, we can’t just blame Muslims. I think that a reason why they may not describe themselves as Danes or French, even after several generations, is because they are not welcome to feel that way. I’ve noticed that the only countries in the world where integration seems to be successful are the countries where English is the dominant language. That may be because English is an amalgamation of so many other languages, so maybe there is something inherently inclusive about it. Also, in places like North America and Australia, we are lucky to enjoy pluralism because we are not ethnically defined."

The science myths that will not die - "Thyroid cancer is now the most common type of cancer diagnosed in South Korea, but the number of people who die from it has remained exactly the same — about 1 per 100,000. Even when some physicians in Korea realized this, and suggested that thyroid screening be stopped in 2014, the Korean Thyroid Association, a professional society of endocrinologists and thyroid surgeons, argued that screening and treatment were basic human rights. In Korea, as elsewhere, the idea that the early detection of any cancer saves lives had become an unshakeable belief... annual mammograms did not reduce mortality from breast cancer. That's because some tumours will lead to death irrespective of when they are detected and treated. Meanwhile, aggressive early screening has a slew of negative health effects. Many cancers grow slowly and will do no harm if left alone, so people end up having unnecessary thyroidectomies, mastectomies and prostatectomies. So on a population level, the benefits (lives saved) do not outweigh the risks (lives lost or interrupted by unnecessary treatment)... Focusing so much attention on the current screening tests comes at a cost for cancer research, says Brawley. “In breast cancer, we've spent so much time arguing about age 40 versus age 50 and not about the fact that we need a better test,” such as one that could detect fast-growing rather than slow-growing tumours...
Myth 2: Antioxidants are good and free radicals are bad...
mice genetically engineered to overproduce free radicals lived just as long as normal mice, and those engineered to overproduce antioxidants didn't live any longer than normal... one study in humans showed that antioxidant supplements prevent the health-promoting effects of exercise, and another associated them with higher mortality. None of those results has slowed the global antioxidant market... Today, most researchers working on ageing agree that free radicals can cause cellular damage, but that this seems to be a normal part of the body's reaction to stress. Still, the field has wasted time and resources as a result...
Myth 3: Humans have exceptionally large brains
Myth 4: Individuals learn best when taught in their preferred learning style
Myth 5: The human population is growing exponentially (and we're doomed)"

The Red Pill Room: Of Feminism and Femininity: A Brief History - "The source of the problem is that "Woman As Independent Earner" encompasses little, if anything, of the previous incarnations of Femininity. And it is increasingly distant from the long-established roots of feminine identity, so much so at this point that one can easily say that Femininity has fractured, and is experiencing a severe crisis."Woman As Independent Earner", the Strong, Independent Woman archetype, has been promoted by feminism and non-feminist women alike as a lofty goal to aspire to. Loftier than any other, save only in the most conservative enclaves. The "Feminine Mystique" that was once a point of rebellion has now eroded into a caricature of former feminine glories. Encouraged by feminism to reject marriage and the pursuit of reproductive goals in favor of education and vocational aspirations, the remnant of the old standards still hold women up to personal and social expectations far more in line with the Agrarian past. Femininity is experiencing an identity crisis again because now that it has successfully established "Independent Earner" into its matrix, it doesn't know how to make it relate to the other cast-off identities a woman has in her metaphorical closet. The problem is that "Independent Earner" is now the dominant paradigm in Femininity, at direct odds with "Home & Hearth" and "Motherhood". And it's sharing a mostly-unhealthy relationship with "Sex Kitten", these days... To feminism, making a permanent commitment does not confirm a woman's adult ability to face up to her adult responsibilities . . . it implies an irrevocable commitment to one potential breeding partner in a way that precludes feminist "agency" to make a better mate selection at a later time... By denigrating the power of lifelong marriage as a goal for a young woman, advising her to max out her SMV early and ignore her MMV until all the decent dudes are long gone, feminism manages to screw young women out of reproductive options even as it fights to secure reproductive rights for them."

7 ways social media fooled political experts in GE2015 - "GE2015 was not the social media election that it was touted to be...
1. Sharing stuff on social media did not lead to more knowledge about the GE.
In fact, survey results collected by Dr Debbie Goh suggested that an excessive use of personalised communication via social media – that is, sharing and producing political content based on personal interests and values – had a negative influence on the knowledge of some groups of voters... the online chatter was “not to engage in a complex discussion of the GE”, but to partake in the “carnival atmosphere” created by it...
3. Among swing voters, those who attended a particular party’s rally tended to vote for the other party instead.
4. The more knowledge participants think they have about on political issues, the more they voted for the Opposition.
5. The more a voter thought his or her vote would make a difference, the more he or she tended to vote for the incumbent PAP.
6. Voters were influenced by closed social media groups more than they were by open social media groups.
7. Participants used social media to relate to other users more than for expression or information seeking."
Every election, people forget the lessons of the last one

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Links - 21st August 2019 (3)

Big Green, Inc. : The Money Fueling the Environmental Left - "Today’s environmental movement is fueled by a group of interconnected, left-leaning foundations that are seeking to disrupt the development of America’s energy resources. In order to understand how these groups work together and where the environmental movement’s funding originates, IER developed Big Green, Inc., a database that tracks environmental grants stemming from 14 foundations and directed to over 1,900 grassroots activists groups and totaling more than $4.2 billion. Our key findings include:
• The “David vs. Goliath” narrative surrounding environmental activism is false. Environmental organizations outpace conservative and free-market groups in terms of funding and organizational capacity.
• As evidenced by the emergence of the “Keep it in the Ground” Movement, this money plays a major role in shaping public opinion, which translates to economically destructive policy initiatives that emanate from all levels of government.
• A key strategy of the environmental movement is to target key institutions that drive the ideas that animate our society.
• Environmental funding has been tied to foreign actors, which raises concerns over the role geopolitics plays in environmental advocacy."
Of course, money only disqualifies arguments from the "right wing"

Higher temperatures increase suicide rates in the United States and Mexico - "Linkages between climate and mental health are often theorized but remain poorly quantified. In particular, it is unknown whether the rate of suicide, a leading cause of death globally, is systematically affected by climatic conditions. Using comprehensive data from multiple decades for both the United States and Mexico, we find that suicide rates rise 0.7% in US counties and 2.1% in Mexican municipalities for a 1 °C increase in monthly average temperature. This effect is similar in hotter versus cooler regions and has not diminished over time, indicating limited historical adaptation. Analysis of depressive language in >600 million social media updates further suggests that mental well-being deteriorates during warmer periods"

Reasons for Attempting Suicide among a Community Sample of Adolescents - "The motives of suicide attempts among a community sample of 99 U.S. high school students were explored. Participants completed an in‐depth computer‐assisted self interview about their most recent attempts as well as additional psychosocial measures. Results indicated that nearly 75% of the adolescents engaged in suicide attempts for reasons other than killing themselves and that depressive symptoms and premeditation prior to the attempt were significantly associated with increased risk for engaging in the attempts with death as a clear motive. Linking motive for an attempt (death, interpersonal communication, emotion regulation) and treatment approach may improve prevention of subsequent attempts and completed suicides."
This suggests that many suicide attempts are just to get attention

Decriminalization of Suicide in Seven Nations and Suicide Rates - David Lester, 2002 - "In a study of seven nations, suicide rates were higher in the years after decriminalization of suicide than before...
The present study examined the inf‌luence of decriminalization in seven nations, namely, Canada in 1972, England and Wales in 1961, Finland in 1910, Hong Kong in 1967, Ireland in 1993, New Zealand in 1961, and Sweden in 1864"

In Singapore, a Shocking Rise in Suicides from an Unexpected Age Group - "Although persons aged 60 and above account for just a tenth of Singapore's population according to government numbers, the number of persons from this demographic who committed suicide in 2017 was 129 out of the 361 cases across all age groups. That number was a record high in that age group since the government started tracking suicides in 1991... accumulated debt from habitual gambling, medical fees or living expenses are prevalent push factors. Brandishing a constantly changing skyline peppered with skyscrapers of banks and the iconic Marina Bay Sands casino and hotel, “the Switzerland of Asia” is also known to be one of the most expensive and most stressful cities in the world... Instead of spending the holidays alone in their nursing homes or one-room apartments, they will don Eugene’s VR headsets to enjoy a traditional Lion Dance or visit China together.One of the few developers in the world granted access to Facebook’s cutting-edge proprietary technology, Eugene has worked on other projects involving the elderly too, which include using VR to bring dementia patients to their old homes and help them remember their loved ones. Eugene told VICE that the trial run of his Chinese New Year VR sequence yielded generally positive reactions: many of the seniors were in good spirits afterward and seen chatting excitedly about the experience"

Elderly suicides: Why euthanasia is not the solution - "Is euthanasia or assisted suicide a solution we should consider, especially in light of the recent news that elderly suicides in Singapore have reached an all-time high last year? Some have indeed suggested so.Personal autonomy is one reason given, while for others, euthanasia is a compassionate way of ending suffering. The alternative to not providing euthanasia, it is argued, are the suicides that are already happening... in 2015, two British scholars published a ground-breaking study in the Southern Medical Journal of US states that have legalised assisted suicide... The study found that far from reducing suicides, legalising assisted suicide is associated with a 6.3 per cent increase in the total suicide rate – including both assisted and non-assisted suicides. For the over-65 age group, the increase is 14.5 per cent. This is alarming, especially considering that US-style assisted suicide is sometimes held up as a more moderate and well-regulated model, compared with the excesses of the Belgian euthanasia regime, for example. In Belgium, up to 50 per cent of euthanasia goes unreported, doctors end over 1,000 patients’ lives a year without request, and euthanasia is performed on children... Not only does legalising euthanasia or assisted suicide give the impression, as Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon observed in 2013, that society has “no (or at least low) collective interest in fighting to preserve the lives of those” who are eligible for such life-ending provision, such as the elderly or the terminally ill, such persons become more at risk of viewing their own lives as less worth living or protecting.And we might also ask, is there not a double standard in seeking to allow some people assistance in suicide, even as we do all we can to prevent young people and others from committing suicide?... support for euthanasia also often begins with the worrying assumption that certain people like the elderly and the sick would kill themselves anyway. But is this a truly compassionate outlook?For one, research has found that just as hearing about others’ suicides can increase suicidal behaviour, stories about individuals who consider suicide but decide against it can also lead to reduced suicide rates.This suggests that suicide is less inevitable than some might think... Offering euthanasia, on the other hand, validates the person’s belief that his life is lacking in dignity, or altogether worthless.This is not true compassion, but a failure to find alternative pathways out of those negative feelings. Autonomy then becomes a form of abandonment from the community."
So much for the "myth" of the slippery slope

Death by donation: Euthanizing patients for organs gaining acceptance - "At international medical conferences in 2018 and 2019, I listened as hundreds of transplant and critical care physicians discussed “donation after death.” This refers to the rapidly expanding scenario in Canada and some Western European countries whereby a person dies by euthanasia, with a legalized lethal injection that she or he requested, and the body is then operated on to retrieve organs for donation.At each meeting, the conversation unexpectedly shifted to an emerging question of“death by donation” — in other words, ending a people’s lives with their informed consent by taking them to the operating room and, under general anesthesia, opening their chest and abdomen surgically while they are still alive to remove vital organs for transplantation into other people...
While literally “giving yourself” to others might seem commendable at first glance, let’s discuss three downstream considerations to abandoning the dead donor rule.
►People with physical and mental disabilities have expressed that they feel stigmatized and that society devalues their lives. Would this send them a not-so-subtle message to get out of the way and do something noble with their healthy organs?
►How quickly would we see expansion whereby those who can’t speak for themselves are included as donors?
►What does it mean for all of us when our healers — physicians — are in a position that directly overrides nearly 2,500 year-long prohibitions against taking life?
Consider the case of Ben Mattlin, who suffers from spinal muscular atrophy. In a 2012 column for the New York Times, he wrote of the “thin and porous border between coercion and free choice” for those who feel devalued. On the subtle erosion of his autonomy, he wrote: “You also can’t truly conceive of the many subtle forces (to die) — invariably well meaning, kindhearted, even gentle, yet as persuasive as a tsunami — that emerge when your physical autonomy is hopelessly compromised.”... According to a 2015 article in the NEJM, of the 3,882 deaths due to physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia in Flanders, Belgium, in the year 2013 alone, 1,047 (27%) were due to medication dosages to hasten death without patients’ consent. Such patients are generally unconscious and may or may not have family members around.In 2014, a statement on end-of-life decisions by the Belgian Society of Intensive Care Medicine asserts that "shortening the dying process" should be permissible "with use of medication ... even in absence of discomfort.” When discussing these facts, two prominent physicians, one from the Netherlands and another from Harvard, told me that where they come from, they call that murder. When physicians are participating in a procedure designed to take a person’s life, will patients feel 100% certain that their physician is firmly on the side of healing? What message does it send about the value of every human life when physicians endorse the exchange of one life for another? What affect has it already had on physicians complicit in such death-causing procedures?"
Very soon euthanasia will become like abortion - just a healthcare procedure. And doctors who refuse to practise it will be slammed like those who refuse abortions are condemned today

The war within Islam. - "All over the non-Muslim world, we hear incessant demands that those who believe in the literal truth of the Quran be granted “respect.” We are supposed to watch what we say about Islam, lest by any chance we be considered “offensive.” A fair number of authors and academics in the West now have to live under police protection or endure prosecution in the courts for not observing this taboo with sufficient care... this idiotic masochism has to be dropped. There may have been a handful of ugly incidents, provoked by lumpen elements, after certain episodes of Muslim terrorism. But no true secularist or even Christian has been involved in anything like the torching of a mosque. (The last time that such a thing did happen on any scale—in Bosnia—the United States and Britain intervened militarily to put a stop to it. We also overthrew the Taliban, which was slaughtering the Hazara Shiite minority in Afghanistan.) But where are the denunciations from centers of Sunni and Shiite authority of the daily murder and torture of Islamic co-religionists? Of the regular desecration of holy sites and holy books? Of the paranoid insults thrown so carelessly and callously by one Muslim group at another? This mounting ghastliness is a bit more worthy of condemnation, surely, than a few Danish cartoons or a false rumor about a profaned copy of the Quran in Guantanamo"
Slate was so different in 2007

RuPaul's show proves that identity politics is a drag - "I leaned over to my girlfriend and asked what the big deal was with Trinity Taylor. Why did no one want her to win?“She’s the only white queen left, so people don’t really want her to win.”Man, oh man. That is rich. The host of the show, RuPaul, is ultimately the one who decides who wins the title of All-Star. RuPaul, a gay black man, actively selecting white queens over black queens because she doesn’t like them was such a perplexing idea to me.Apparently, this was the issue. Trinity Taylor, the only white queen left, had a very strong season from the start and hadn’t really faltered at any point. From many people’s perspective, she was the most well-rounded queen and deserved the title.But her winning would again suggest to the Drag Race fans that RuPaul and her show perpetuate white supremacy... After 10 episodes and fierce competition, a draw. Both were inducted into the Drag Race Hall of Fame. The crowd went wild, and most in the bar were generally pleased.But that was the problem with a tie. A black Queen won, yes. But it kind of felt like she HAD to win, or the fanbase would throw a tantrum... It’s a type of pandering that we now keep seeing over and over in award shows and events of that nature."
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