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Friday, November 22, 2019

Links - 22nd November 2019 (2)

Celeste Brash on Twitter - "A friend wrote a well-performing tech article on Medium. It's a good article with one small error - its click success has come from dudes clicking and sharing and explaining how she's wrong. So she keeps the error in and makes roughly $100/month off of mansplaining."
Of course, as we know mansplaining is simply anytime a man criticises a woman - even if he's right

Ed Solomon on Twitter - "At the cafe where I'm writing the people next to me were disagreeing about the origins of Men in Black & I said "If you'd like, I could clear that up for you" & one responded: "I'm sorry, we do not need an old white male's mansplanation." So I apologized and that was that."
[On a Harry Potter example] ">tfw death of the author only applies to white men"
Once again, "mansplaining" is just a way to shut men up on behalf of women, even if the men know more (bonus points for adding in elements of racism and ageism here). Some might claim that they wouldn't have known he was the writer - but the fact that he was dismissed due to his age, sex and race even before he said anything

Escape The Echo Chamber - Posts - "Just because your paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you. We now know that US intelligence agencies broke rules, leaked to the press, and lied to get warrants in pursuing the Trump Russia conspiracy cases. These failings hit the highest levels of the FBI, DOJ, and the State Department. Most of the political drama from the last three years has its roots in official misbehavior."
Of course liberals just obsess about "obstruction"

We've lost sight of the real scandal - "For the first time in our nation’s history, an inspector general — one appointed by President Obama — has determined that at least two men who sat in the top spot at the FBI committed multiple violations that warrant possible prosecution. That in itself is a scandal with national implications deserving of headlines, congressional hearings and promises to overhaul a broken system.Of course, the complicating factor in the whole mess is that the government entities responsible for addressing any wrongdoing are the same ones inextricably tied to the alleged wrongdoing... When the FBI lost thousands of text messages, sought by the inspector general, between FBI official Peter Strzok and bureau attorney Lisa Page, it was chalked up to a technical snafu and the case was closed. There was no announcement at the FBI about steps being taken to ensure such a major blunder won’t happen in the future; there was only what amounted to a symbolic shrug. The chaser to that debacle was Strzok and Page’s text messages from their time working for special counsel Robert Mueller also ended up somehow deleted.There’s been no swift, public action that we know of on eight criminal referrals that two House Intelligence Committee Republicans, Reps. Devin Nunes of California and John Ratcliffe of Texas, sent to the Department of Justice more than five months ago. There’s no word of any action more than eight months after Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a criminal referral to the DOJ against Christopher Steele, author of the anti-Trump political opposition research “dossier.”The Department of Justice took a pass on filing charges against ex-FBI Director James Comey for alleged violations that the inspector general documented with precision in more than 70 pages of a report last month.Finally, there have been no FBI apologies offered to former Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page after the FBI wiretapped him for more than a year. No post-mortem launched into how the FBI could have been so wildly wrong when swearing to the court, over and over, that Page was a Russian spy."

Women at Oxford are getting fewer Firsts in Classics for a reason, and lowering standards will make things worse - "Classics (Literae Humaniores or ‘Greats’) is among the oldest degrees at Oxford University. One of the things that attracted me to it when I enrolled over a decade ago was the knowledge that I’d be immersing myself in the same scholarship and debate that shaped some of the most interesting minds in history. News that discussions are to take place to redesign the Classics syllabus has therefore left me apprehensive. Changes to the degree are being considered as a means of addressing the stark gender gap in students’ examination results. Last year, 46.8 per cent of male candidates achieved a First in their Classics Finals compared to just 12.5 per cent of female candidates. According to Dr. Pitcher from the Oxford Classics Faculty, a group has been established to "recast" the syllabus to tackle this disparity. No proposals have as yet been made as to what form a potential recast would take... I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that men are doing better than women at both stages in the language-based papers, which test understanding of Greek and Latin grammar, vocabulary, and translation.This is where the difference between male and female students was most noticeable in my time. I recall arriving for my first language classes, confident that my grammar was strong, only to witness boys compose passages of ancient Greek as if it was their mother tongue.A little probing revealed that many of them had had Greek and Latin grammar drilled into them from the age of eight if not six. The same tradition does not exist in girls’ schools.Even girls from some of the most high-achieving schools in the country had never witnessed such rigour. For all the brilliance of our Oxford language tutors, it was unlikely the gap between us could be closed in a few short years."

Police 'incredibly frustrated' at being sent to Facebook rows rather than burglaries - "Common sense policing has "gone out of the window" with officers forced to spend their time intervening in trivial social media disputes rather than attending burglaries and other serious crimes, the new head of the Police Federation has said. John Apter, who represents 120,000 rank and file officers across England and Wales, said his members were "incredibly frustrated" because they felt were no longer able to do the job they had signed up to do... the Telegraph revealed that police forces were failing to investigate two thirds of domestic burglaries properly and in many cases were not even attending crime scenes because there was little chance of catching the offender.But last week it emerged that one force had asked people to report insults on social media, even if they were not considered to be a hate crime... "Where we get drawn into local disagreements, the argument over the remote control, the dispute in the playground, the row on Facebook it is frustrating. I certainly think police time can be better spent and it makes a mockery when we are so stretched."You can't treat society like that and you can't treat the police as political footballs. We need to have a sensible debate with politicians, with society with the public about exactly what they want their police to do."

My shift at the chip shop where nobody wants to work - "despite having 10 available jobs, in a town where seven per cent of 18-24-year-olds are unemployed, they simply cannot find anybody to fill them.  Not that they’ve been short of applications - there were 300 to 400 in just a fortnight, but when the chip shop invited people in for a shift they often didn't reply. “We were inexplicably getting CVs from all over the country,” says their son Robert, 37, with whom they run the business. “We just didn’t hear back from them. When they do reply, we have tried to organise an interview and trial shift. If you are lucky, about one in 10 show up.”... With Universal Credit having been rolled out in Darlington in March, Frank Suhadolnik (who originally hails from the US) believes that the new benefits system has made people ”workshy”. That one word alone has proved enough for the nation’s media to descend on this unassuming family business.The crux of the matter seems to be this: part of the requirement of claiming Universal Credit is demonstrating that you are actively seeking work – even if you have no intention of actually becoming an employee. Robert believes this might be why he is receiving so many clearly unsuitable applications and so little concrete interest. He has been told by potential recruits that if they work too many hours, their benefits will be reduced to the point where they are essentially receiving around 37 pence for each pound they earn at work. This attitude seems in direct contradiction to the Government’s stated aim of Universal Credit “making work pay”... Since the story was first reported, he has managed to fill four of the vacant 10 positions with local candidates, but the unsuitable CVs keep flooding in. That morning, the latest has arrived in the post: from Biggleswade in Bedfordshire a 400-mile round trip away to work a shift at the national living wage of £7.83 an hour."

By banning pesticides and GMOs, the EU is sleepwalking into a food security crisis - "In France, for example, Emmanuel Macron has said that we can find a replacement for the herbicide glyphosate within three years. This is quite simply impossible without a miracle. He has promised to phase out glyphosate use in France. This will be hugely harmful both for French farmers – who will pay the price initially – and for European agriculture in general, as it will reinforce myths around pesticides... the European Court of Justice recently ruled that gene editing techniques are to be covered by the same rules in Europe as GMOs, making it almost impossible to get authorisation for these techniques. As countries like France take the lead on the anti-GMO movement in Europe, the most promising alternative technologies are being halted by the EU."

Using Physics, We Just Made the Ax Far More Effective - "The LeverAxe uses principles of the lever to split wood more efficiently. The ax’s weight is set off-center, so as the ax strikes the wood, it penetrates the wood a little and expels the rest of the gravitational energy by rotating and splitting the wood in the same way you would with a lever. This design requires less force than a traditional ax to split wood... The LeverAxe requires less brute force as it transfers most of the energy it uses to the wood, unlike a traditional ax that will transfer a lot of energy back to the wood-chopper.This ax update gets even better. Because it splits wood using a lever instead of a brute-force wedge, the tool never gets stuck in the wood. That means the days of wedging your ax in a knot are over."

Here's the Porn That Women Watched in 2018 - "The popularity of women with the ladies is not new. Last year, VICE showed the same trend, and it's been the same since Pornhub began analyzing women's porn habits back in 2014.Two explanations for this have been put forward by Sexual Therapy Psychologist and Pornhub Sexual Wellness Center Director Laurie Betito. She points out that lesbian porn allows women "to see acts they like to receive, which is why" pussy licking "is so popular." Last year, "licking pussy" was 281% more requested by women than men.In 2016 , the psychologist suggested another track, as "lesbian," "lesbian scissors," "lesbian seduces a straight" and "trip to three lesbians" were among the most popular search terms of the year."Looking at these statistics, one might think that bicurious women are turning to [porn sites] for learning, ideas, confirmation and inclusion," she said.  Asian porn has always (or, in any case, since 2014) aroused the interest of women, but 2018 was a year where related terms were among the very most popular. "Japanese", "hentai", and "Korean" were respectively the 2nd, 3rd and 5th most sought after terms. "Threesome" was also among the most popular terms, in 4th place.Pornhub's analysis highlights a peculiarity in women's preferences. Women are twice as likely as men to watch gangbangs and double penetration, but also twice as likely to watch romantic videos. According to psychologist Laurie Betito, "women are looking for more scenarios in their porn. In their fantasies, women want to be taken aback. This is interesting because, in reality, women are stronger, and "in control" of their sexuality, while in their fantasies, some of them return to more traditional gender roles."

Rationally Speaking | Official Podcast of New York City Skeptics - Current Episodes - RS 236 - Alex Tabarrok on "Why are the Prices So D*mn High?" - ""Actually, all real prices cannot fall. What we are hoping to see cannot in fact happen. Over time, you must see some prices rise. And that is due to what is called the Baumol effect, what we call the Baumol effect...
'You take the string quartet in 1826. It takes four people 40 minutes to produce the piece. Now, we move all the way to 2019. It still takes four people 40 minutes to produce the piece.So there's been zero increase in productivity over that 180 years or so... Now, at the same time, lots of other industries have increased in productivity. So if we go back to 1826, the average wage is $1 an hour, because those workers, they can't do very much. They're not very productive. The average wage in 2019 is more like $25 an hour.So in 1826, we're saying the opportunity cost of those four workers to produce this piece, it's basically $4. In 2019, for the same four workers, it's $100. So what we've seen is that zero increase in productivity, but the wages have gone up by a factor of 25 --'
'Meaning the wages they could be getting if they left music and went to work in another sector have gone up'
'Or to put it another way, the wages you have to pay them to get them to move from the other sector... So wages have gone up by a factor of 25. Productivity hasn't gone up at all. So it must be that prices have gone up by a factor of 25. And that's the essence of the Baumol effect... wherever you go in the world, or pretty much wherever you go in the world, people will be complaining about the rising cost of healthcare.'...
If you look at professional services -- which is like law, accounting and architecture, things of that nature -- they have gone up in price just as much as healthcare. And there's no big government regulation of accounting or architecture. There's no big government purchases of these things.Now, of course it is true that all of these things are regulated, because everything in our society is regulated. But you have to look cross-sectionally -- does more regulation explain, does it correlate with, higher prices? And the answer is just no... The regulation story I think does not fit law, accounting, architecture, professional services. Nor does the subsidy story. These areas are not particularly subsidized.Here's another area which does not fit the subsidy story, and that is expenditures on pet care, on vets, have also gone up just as much, if not by more, than on human health care. And we don't have big subsidies.And also there's very little third-party payers, is another thing which people blame. There's very little insurance"

CBF Mag 1.05 | Destination Québec - Coffee Break Languages - "'I actually remember, Mark, having a very, I'd say interesting conversation between a French Canadian and we spoke for a bit, half an hour, and he said to me that actually his French was purer than mine. It was very interesting'
'Well, it ultimately is the French that was taken over there in the 1600s, so it is an older form and probably, dare I say, a purer form. Similar to the Spanish used in many parts of Latin America. For exactly the same reasons'...
'One of the things that I really like about Les Belles-soeurs is the fact that it was actually translated into Scots and performed as The Guid Sisters. And so the working class dialect of Montreal, joual, was translated into working class glaswegian dialect and performed a few years back as The Guid Sisters"

The Dating Market: Thesis Overview

The Dating Market: Thesis Overview

"Most academic researchers have attempted to explain changes in dating, marriage, and household formation data using legacy frameworks based on commonly accepted variables from research done in the 1950s and 1960s, which are themselves heavily biased by the post-war household formation boom. No one would disagree with the proposition that cultural attitudes toward sexual behavior and the nature of marriage have changed materially since then, but models remain outdated due to the pace of change in the dating market compared to the pace of change in academia. We propose that viewing the phenomenon of online dating as a means to reduce market frictions is sufficient to explain the vast majority of changes in outcomes, with other variables having scalar effects...

The primary explanatory factor for why the share of dating online grew rapidly is likely platform access via smartphone proliferation and the shift to mobile only websites.

Note in the charts above the up spike in “met in bar or restaurant.” In data science, the technical term for these reporting individuals is “liars.” They reported meeting in a bar because that is technically where the pair met in person for the first time,but the match was generated online...

A conservative estimate of the percentage of new relationships begun online in 2019 is at least 65%, but likely over 75%. So, online dating now produces most new relationships. Why? From the perspective of prime reproductive age individuals, cost structures (safety, monetary, time, social frictions, etc.) have shifted, with many dropping to effectively zero. Because costs(physical safety, social stigma)have been disproportionately impactful to women, their elimination has had the effect of flipping the power dynamic in the market to favor women in prime reproductive age, though the dynamic changes with age.

The cost of instantly searching for potential mates is now effectively zero...

The social costs of rejecting a potential mate are now likewise effectively zero, making introductions within existing social groups (friends, family friends, church, etc.) structurally inferior propositions given significant social and reputational risk in the event of an adverse outcome. This has led to the rise of “ghosting,” where one side of a relationship simply stops responding rather than suffer an uncomfortable break up conversation. Rude? Sure. But given no actual viable retribution mechanism, it has become the norm. It’s important to note that Facebook integration into dating with their proposed dating product reintroduces potential retribution threats and social downside. This is a primary reason why we think Facebook’s dating efforts will stall.

The growing generational cohorts (Gen X, Gen Z) structurally lack the balance sheet and income power to purchase many fixed assets (housing, etc.) that the Baby Boomer generation participated in, leading to a secular rise in a “renter’s economy.” Because housing, transportation, etc. are now largely short-term commitments, many of the financial limitations that contributed to marriage decisions are now void, and the marginal costs of trial cohabitation are lower (12-month leases, etc.).

Reductions in marginal and opportunity costs lead individuals to exit potential or new relationships faster, and over time allow individuals to acquire more information about long term mate compatibility.People are less likely to stay in negative relationships, more likely to cut things off when red flags are spotted, and less likely to go on multiple dates when a spark is not there.This is leading to more short-term relationships, significant delays in marriage age, and increases in required marriage circumstances. This also has an effect of forcing people onto the dating apps, as market participants who are not on dating apps are attempting to pair with people who have structurally superior cost structures than them, leaving them generally unable to compete...

With the advent of online dating, women in prime reproductive age are in the dominant position in the dating market for the first time in human history...

These dynamics have also led to prime reproductive age individuals having less sex, with men being disproportionately priced out of the market. This is a material driver of the “incel” (involuntary celibate) social movement/problem.

There is a very interesting paper by Melanie Li-Wen Long and Anne Campbell entitled Female Mate Choice: A Comparison Between Accept-the-Best and Reject-the-Worst Strategies in Sequential Decision Making that attempts to evaluate female mate selection criteria and constraints around it. While the paper is too nuanced to go into in this overview, the punchline is that the general dominant constraint for women has been not the risk of selecting too low quality of a mate, but rather the risk of not settling for an adequate mate and in doing so ending up alone. We would expect online dating as a medium to materially alter this dynamic as a constraint...

Below are some entertaining charts from OKCupid on how men rate women versus how women rate men. Men broadly rate women on a nearly perfect normal distribution.

Women rate men on a curve that we assume approximates male ownership rates of crocs/cargo shorts.0% of men rated most attractive makes sense. Women know all men secretly own at least one pair of cargo shorts.

If we assume OKCupid’s data is roughly representative of naïve preferences, and that incentives to “settle” are lower due to decreased market frictions, we would expect women in a given cohort would net choose to opt in to dating or sex at a lower rate. This appears to be exactly what is happening...

Age is obviously a massive factor in dating, and it remains one of the most important factors in evaluating the market. Women aged 18-25 are the effective “price setters” of the market and are able to select at will from the available inventory of males aged 18-60. Generally, women will only date older and men will only date younger. Thus, as women age from 20 to 30 years of age, 25% of the available inventory of potential mates evaporates. In addition to this, the rates of partnership for both genders is fastest between 20 and 35, going from 50% to 90%. This means that as female market participants move from age 20 to age 35 their available inventory to select from may shrink to a small minority of the original pool. Male market participants face a virtually unchanged opportunity set, if not an increasing pool of opportunities.

This also means that men struggle more in the dating market when young, and over time adjust expectations as the market prices their deficiencies more shrewdly. Between ages 30 and 35, both male and female cohorts are highly predisposed to forming long term partnerships due to visibly shrinking opportunity sets from the female perspective and general exhaustion and expectation rationalizations from the male perspective...

The age dynamic creates significant inter-age cohort competition in the female population and increased overall competition in the male population. This can be conceptualized as the market becoming more efficient, which naturally leads to many market participants anecdotally expressing unhappiness with the status quo as they incorrectly identify an inability to produce low effort excess returns as the circumstances being “unfair.” Basically, the same thing is happening in the dating market as is happening in the Hedge Fund market: things are getting more efficient, very few are pleased about it, and there are lots of strange advice books, blogs, and videos coming out.

Speaking of expectations that may be over inflated by pop culture, we feel it is tremendously important that we highlight the very existence of the film “Long Shot” (2019), in which Seth Rogen, who is unemployed in the film, and Charlize Theron, who is The Secretary Of State of The United States Of America in the film, fall in love. Yes, you read that right. “Long Shot” may have actually overdone it and become totally unbelievable as a premise, because the film only grossed $53.4mm on a budget of $40mm.

An additional knock-on effect of online dating that initial potential mate matching is increasingly visual, leading to secular demand growth in cosmetics and photography products, while fragrance sales remain flat because their value is irrelevant in the current market"

Links - 22nd November 2019 (1)

An0maly on Twitter - "Notice a pattern? The fear-mongering never ends. When they get caught in a lie, they move to the next big lie. Ozone layer. Nuclear catastrophe. Ice Age. Global Warming. Kavanaugh. Russia Collusion. They don’t want solutions. They want you in a permanent state of fear."
"Happiness isn’t very good for the economy"

Disney CEO Admits George Lucas Didn't Like ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens' - "Just prior to the global release, Kathy screened The Force Awakens for George. He didn’t hide his disappointment. "There’s nothing new," he said. In each of the films in the original trilogy, it was important to him to present new worlds, new stories, new characters, and new technologies. In this one, he said, "There weren’t enough visual or technical leaps forward."

Introverts Who Pretend To Be Extroverts Report Being Happier

‘For 30 years I’ve been obsessed by why children get leukaemia. Now we have an answer’ - "numbers of cases have actually been increasing in the UK and Europe at a steady rate of around 1% a year. “It is a feature of developed societies but not of developing ones,” Greaves adds. “The disease tracks with affluence.”... “For an immune system to work properly, it needs to be confronted by an infection in the first year of life,” says Greaves. Without that confrontation with an infection, the system is left unprimed and will not work properly.”And this issue is becoming an increasingly worrying problem. Parents, for laudable reasons, are raising children in homes where antiseptic wipes, antibacterial soaps and disinfected floorwashes are the norm. Dirt is banished for the good of the household.In addition, there is less breast feeding of infants and a tendency for them to have fewer social contacts with other children. Both trends reduce babies’ contact with germs. This has benefits – but also comes with side effects. Because young children are not being exposed to bugs and infections as they once were, their immune systems are not being properly primed.“When such a baby is eventually exposed to common infections, his or her unprimed immune system reacts in a grossly abnormal way,” says Greaves. “It over-reacts and triggers chronic inflammation.”... Greaves is now experimenting on mice to find out which bugs are best at stimulating rodent immune systems. The aim would then be to follow up with trials on humans in two or three years. “The aim is to find six or maybe 10 species of microbes that are best able to restore a child’s microbiome to a healthy level. This cocktail of microbes would be given, not as a pill, but perhaps as yoghurt-like drink to very young children.“And it would not just help prevent them getting childhood leukaemia. Cases of conditions such as type 1 diabetes and allergies are also rising in the west and have also been linked to our failure to expose babies to bacteria to prime children’s immune systems. So such a drink would help cut numbers of cases of these conditions as well."
The hygiene hypothesis strikes again!

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, The Inca - "‘What did the Spaniards make, Spanish make any attempt to understand these people, instead of quite soon as we got blowing them into oblivion?’
‘Yes, they did. I mean, they had their own translator, Martine, who was very important in terms of the process of communicating between the Quecha speaking and other languages, but particularly Quecha speaking Inca and the Spanish. And they did make very strong attempts, I think to understand what was going on and indeed the success of the Spanish is partly that they did understand quite a lot of how the Inca were working. Partly they were drawing on sort of information they already had about how the Aztec worked, which is why they chose to take the Emperor and capture him was because they'd already seen an empire that was like that where taking a single ruler can have such devastating effect. So they did bring certain understandings of the landscape. And they then you know, one of the things that they do quite early on is to begin to try and record Inca history and understanding in order to be able to maintain their control.’...
It's pretty catastrophic when the Spanish conquer the Incas, and a lot of elements of their culture are severely tested, but quite a lot of them do survive. So if we think about religion, yes, people are forced to convert. But there's pretty clear evidence from well into the 17th and 18th centuries, that indigenous traditions such as, for example, disinterring mummies, or dead people who've been buried, or for example, worshipping the gods through sacrifices of llamas or guinea pigs, which was the other main domesticated animal, that continues, and you end up with quite a sort of Socratic form of religion that incorporates both Christianity and pre existing beliefs. This is illustrated really well by a picture that is in Cusco Cathedral, which shows Jesus having the Last Supper, and it's done by an artist named Marcos di Pata. If you look at it initially, it looks quite normal. Jesus and his disciples are sat around a table. But if you look closer, Jesus is about to tuck into a roasted guinea pig, which is not really what you'd expect, and he's also drinking chicha beer and and other items. So this kind of mixture does continue. One other quite nice element of the painting is that the disciple who is Judas Iscariot is supposed to have been painted with the facial features of Francisco Pizarro, the Conquistador...
Men end up with an increased element of maize in their diet. And one of the arguments for this is this is because they are drinking more beer because they are being reciprocated for their work through festivals of beer while they are working. So that we see some aspects of what the Inca are doing and using beer to manipulate the masses if you like"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Martina Navratilova on Caster Semenya - "‘You will know that although, as you put it, she was born that way, born a woman, she does have abnormally high testosterone levels. And some say, well, look, that's just not fair. It's not competing on a level playing field.’
‘Well, we try to make the field as level as possible, as you know, hers physical condition is a very unusual case. Very, very rare situation. The fact that she has been competing as a woman and has been doing this all her life, has been brought up as a woman, physical attributes. I mean, it's just, it's a very tricky situation. I mean, where do you go from here?’
‘It's not just about her is it? The International Athletics Federation have claimed that there are over 100 records have been set in recent years by women like Caster Senebta, and that they could see a future which all the prizes are going to people, ah not all but most who have DSD?’
‘Well, unless there's an epidemic in the, in the condition, I don't think that's going to happen. Again, this is a very few people, women, men have this condition. That have been competing or are at an elite level. It's not going to be a deluge or sort of exceptional situation. And maybe the thing to do, which I've been saying all along is just take it as a case by case basis, because there is no way to make one rule that fits everybody.’
‘And yet, there’ll be plenty of people listening to you, who may be a little surprised by this. They know that you were quite outspoken about trans women taking part in women's sport. And they saw this test case, they saw this issue of testosterone levels as perhaps a way to avoid the problem that you had described. Why don’t you see it that way?’
‘Well, again, because this is an exceptional situation where you have, you know, even if you have hundreds of athletes like this, you're talking about hundreds of people who are potentially transgender, could be every man. I'm not saying obviously that this would happen or could happen. But potentially, you have any male can say, okay, I am, I am really a woman and transition and live as a woman, potentially every man can do that. Whereas this, this hyper androgenism is you're born with it. And it's an exception rather than a rule.’...
‘There are people who have criticized you, say, look, this is a myth, the idea that someone born a man would choose to change their gender to win prizes or trophies, medals or indeed, money. It's far too traumatic a thing, far too emotional thing for anybody to make that sort of decision.’
‘Again, the way some of these rules in some of these sports are you don't have to do anything other than proclaim yourself a female... I did not apologize. I said I did not mean to offend anybody. And if I'm wrong, please tell me where but I was never really told where I was wrong. I was just attacked… the potential for cheating is certainly there. Has it happened yet? I don't know. Would it happen? Probably. Because you know, people cheated for far less than hundreds and hundreds of millions potentially of dollars or whatever money you may be making. Athletes have been asked would you cheat on with steroids, etc. so that you could win a gold medal even if it takes away 10 years of your life? And so many of them said yes. So the potential is there'"
The trans lobby is going to be on her again since she's just said some trans athletes are just pretending to be trans

Catholic School Cures Harry Potter Fans By Forcing Them To Read JK Rowling's Twitter Feed | The Babylon Bee - ""We found that nearly 100% of kids were no longer interested in the books after they read Rowling's constant retconning of characters and rants about American politics," said school pastor Fr. Dan Reehil. "Once they found that Rowling said that Trump was worse than Voldemort and tried to shoehorn issues of diversity, gender and sexuality, and social justice into the novels long after they were written, kids' interest in the series just disappeared, as though their enthusiasm had been hit with a Reducto charm."

Man Who Died In Broad Daylight Shooting 'Accidentally Killed Himself' - "As he was hitting the windows the gun went off and he shot himself - that's what we've been told"

Meet the `SPY 11' Kids With $250 Billion Riding on Their Lives - Bloomberg - "The fate of the world’s largest exchange-traded fund rests on the health of a group of twenty-somethings.Thanks to a quirk in the legal structure used to set up the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust, known as SPY, more than $250 billion rests on the longevity of 11 ordinary kids born between May 1990 and January 1993. Those children are now carving out careers in public relations, restaurants and sales, spread around the country from Boston and Philadelphia to Alabama and Utah. But none of the eight spoken to by Bloomberg News was aware of their role in investing history... like many trusts, the fund was initially structured to expire in 25 years -- in January 2018. It was subsequently amended to peg the fund to the lives of individuals, which extended its own life. SPY as we know it will cease to be on Jan. 22, 2118, or 20 years “after the death of the last survivor of the eleven persons” -- whichever occurs first""

Taobao didn’t remove pirated work based off Taiwanese artist, but did so after someone purposely said she is ‘pro-independence’
Summarised as: "A wild story: A painter from #Taiwan found out his works were printed on stationaries sold on Taobao. So what did he do? Instead of fighting with the Chinese manufacturer, he reported himself as pro Taiwan independence, and the products were immediately taken off Taobao"

Historian Harry Potter On British Prisons | History Extra Podcast - History Extra - "There was no prison system in Britain, really until the late 18th, early 19th century, because there was no need for one. There was a vast plethora of different established loops [sp?] that were used for custodial purposes, somewhat purpose built prisons, many were just kind of lockups, which could actually be a room in a pub, or a dungeon in a castle, or even a cell in a monastery, which, of course, is where we get the term cell from. There came a time when more and more offenses, were actually attracting penalties of a punishment being prison, as opposed to the norm where punishment, prison was a place where you kept people until they were tried, and then executed, transported, flogged, put in the pillory, fined or whatever it was. But with the decline of capital punishment, and the problems with transportation, prisons were now being seen as places where people would be sent in lieu of other punishment. And that's when, of course, they began to think about the purpose of prison rather than purely its functional role...
‘The topic of expenses has already come up a couple of times, what have some of the biggest obstacles establishing new prisons have faced over the centuries?’
‘Well to begin with there wasn't a great deal of problem, because they were all private enterprises. And they were run for profit. And you actually paid for the keepership of such an establishment. And you made your money by charging the prisoners. So they were charged an entry fee and they were charged an exit fee. You had what was called the tap which sold liquor, amongst other things, which caused a bit of consternation among some reformers’
‘Sounds more like a hotel than a prison.’
‘Well, it was a fairly bog standard hotel. But as with all those things, that was really, there was the first class or second class and very much third class, depending on your, depending on how much money you had to spend, you could actually live quite well. I mean, in Newgate, if you had the money, you will get your own ,cell you can have your friends coming in to visit you, you will be able to have food brought in. But you will primarily be expected to pay for everything from the bed to everything you bought in the shop, for instance. And they would charge your visitors money to come in as well. So you could make a lot of money out of prison. So initially, there wasn't any problem.’"

Gordon Brown on Businessman Andrew Carnegie | History Extra Podcast - History Extra - "‘It was a gospel that was quite authoritarian, it was he knew best’...
‘And he put conditions on that giving didn't he?’
‘Carnegie believed that if he gave, but those people who received it did nothing, then that would be a transaction that wouldn't work. And so he insisted that if he gave money, something was done in return. So for example, when he gave the libraries and he gave 3000 libraries around the world, he insisted that those people who had the libraries given by him provided the books themselves. And that usually caused quite a lot of controversy because money had to be raised locally, to back up the endowment of the library by Carnegie. And in some cases, they had a local referenda to decide... to have the library. And it was conditional in another sense that he expected the recipient to do something in quite a big way. I remember when he was asked by New York Philharmonic Orchestra to give a sum of money to save the orchestra from going out of business. And Carnegie that morning was prepared to give them money, but only half of it and told them to go away and find another donor and then he would pay up. Later in the day, the Philharmonic people came back and said, look, we found the money. And Carnegie started to write the check to back up the other donor. When he asked casually who the other donor was, it was your wife, he was told. And Carnegie of course, had been outmaneuvered by his wife. Because the Carnegie family were paying for the whole of the orchestra. Carnegie’s gospel of wealth was that he should give it all away. So to die rich was to die disgraced. And so he set out in a very planned way to give away his money. Now, the first sixty years of his life, he’d made money, the next 20 he was giving it away. Some people say that he could not undo the damage he’d done in the first 60 years by whatever he did in the next 20 because he was a ruthless employer. He was authoritarian, he was quite egotistical’...
Carnegie makes us think about what the purpose of philanthropy actually is, I think he makes us think about it in two ways. One is we've got to look at the impact. And so we now have tools for measuring the impact... the second thing he does is makes us think about the the purpose of philanthropy, and whether philanthropy is really a small number of rich people doing as they like, and just sponsoring the causes that they find attractive, and perhaps even changing from one moment to the next in a very discretionary way. Because charity is given can be as equally taken away, or whether people should as Carnegie did think very carefully about the purpose"
He doesn't go into the contempt that Carnegie had for poor people since they were a lost cause - it was the next generation he was interested in

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Links - 21st November 2019 (2)

Canada humour eh - Posts - "Raccoons wash their food before eating it. So they gave them cotton candy."

A Guide to Traditional Japanese Dishes From All 47 Prefectures of Japan

Bernie Sanders chose Linda Sarsour: Can Jews overlook her views? - "her 2015 speech at Louis Farrakhan’s Million Man March, where she called Zionists white supremacists... A well-known advocate for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, in 2016 she told a large group of Muslims that her movement had no room for Jews who don't share her anti-Israel views. "We have limits to the type of friendships that we're looking for right now," Sarsour told the American Muslims for Palestine conference... In 2017, she literally embraced Rasmea Odeh, a convicted terrorist who in 1970 was sentenced to life in prison for two bombing attacks on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and spent 10 years in prison before being released in a prisoner exchange in 1980.At last year’s convention of the Islamic Society of North America, Sarsour accused the Israeli police and military of training American police to kill blacks and opposed humanizing Israelis."

Seeking relief from nicotine addiction, some e-cigarette users turn to cigarettes
Out of the frying pan and into the fire

Women Aren’t Always Sentenced By The Book. And Maybe They Shouldn’t Be. - "Under the default federal sentencing rules, family considerations are generally considered irrelevant. Ultimately, the judge ignored the prosecutors’ argument and did cite family as a reason for giving James a reduced sentence, in addition to her long record of community service. She still ended up with two years in prison, but that was less than half of the default term recommended under the federal guidelines... Women of all races get shorter sentences than white men... sentences for men are on average 63 percent longer than sentences for women... Legal scholar Dan Markel and his co-authors wrote in a 2009 book that family ties should be considered only with great caution to ensure equal treatment and to avoid continuing patriarchal norms or creating a “class of persons who are immune from incarceration” and therefore desirable hires for criminal outfits."
Of course, liberals pretend that only white women benefit from this sexism

Janice Fiamengo on Twitter - "Feminism 101:
Man wealthier than woman? Oppressor!
Man poorer than woman? Trash!
Man more educated than woman? Privileged!
Man less educated than woman? Loser!
Man's attitude, 'Let me protect you!' Benevolent sexist!
Man's attitude, 'I won't protect you.' Misogynist!"

the masked snooze on Twitter - ""Income inequality is only a priority for white, cis-men. The rest of us have bigger problems." Says Gingrich staffer and mining lobbyist."

The Singapore Daily - Posts - "I shudder at the thought of how lightly some fellow Singaporeans take Singapore's success and how some take for granted our stability and prosperity.A few even think we're making far too big a deal out of a few activists going up north to meet Dr M to ask him to lead the region towards democracy and more human rights, etc. To me, what they did was near treacherous. Don't think all alternative media sites are on the good side. You never know who are the people really running the sites, and you never know who are the people really funding the operations.Say NO to political sites that hire or use Malaysian writers to badmouth our own country, and say NO to activists who compromise our nation's sovereignty.And remember this, Singaporeans should stay united as one. The enemy is on the outside."
"Michael Patraeus describes Kirsten Han as a 'self-professed journalist' when she has actually contributed to major publications....yet he describes himself as an economist when he has no experience in the field. He also sees fit to write an article centred on a topic he has no experience nor training in. I wonder how much this fly-by-night writer is being paid to produce this slanderous piece."
One a Michael Petraeus article

Parliament: Cycling and personal mobility devices essential to country's car-lite drive, says Josephine Teo - "Cycling and the use of personal mobility devices (PMDs) are an "essential part" of Singapore's quest to go car-lite, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo in Parliament"
From 2017. Maybe the plan was to accelerate PMD use by making everyone buy a PMD to ride on walkways, since pedestrians would no longer be safe

65-year-old woman injured in Bedok e-scooter accident dies in hospital - "Police confirmed Madam Ong Bee Eng had died. A 20-year-old man was arrested after the accident, and police said they are investigating the case as one of causing death by a rash act... "She has been cycling in the area for almost 30 years, and has never had an accident before""
Singapore finally had its first fatality in its government's obsession with a 'car-lite' society

Opinion: E-Scooters Are A Menace To Society - "In 2017, there were 49 fires involving e-scooters, according to statistics released by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). This number spiked by more than 50% to 74 in 2018. The spate of fires compelled the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to consider reviewing a deadline for the devices to meet fire safety standards
E-scooter related injuries have been on the rise. According to emergency departments, the number of e-scooter and personal mobility device riders who met with accidents and sustained injuries serious enough to be admitted to hospitals jumped from 10 in 2017 to 23 in 2018...
Germany in May 2019 banned e-scooters from pavements and France will follow suit in September. In the United Kingdom, roads and pavements are off-limits to e-scooters and restricted to private property."
Luckily PMDs don't do something truly horrific and damaging, like sticking MRT doors together

2 in 5 Singaporeans want complete ban on PMDs: survey - "Two in five Singaporeans call for a complete ban on personal mobility devices (PMDs) following the recent spate of related accidents, a survey has found.Findings released on Tuesday (8 October) from a study by UK-based research firm YouGov showed those who disagree with a ban and those who are undecided were almost split evenly at 29 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively... three in five Singaporeans classify PMDs as “dangerous”, with close to half ranking the device as the most dangerous mode of transport among options presented in the survey."

PMDs may be banned if users' behaviour does not improve, says Janil Puthucheary - "If the users of personal mobility devices (PMDs) do not improve their behaviour, the government may have “no choice but to ban their usage completely in Singapore”, said Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State for Transport"

NEWS: ST poll says 70% of Bedok North residents want ban on pmds - "Nowadays when retiree Tan Hock Suan walks in his Bedok North neighbourhood, he will look over his shoulder every few metres to see if there is any personal mobility device (PMD) speeding down the road behind him.The 73-year-old told The Straits Times that a month ago, he was walking to a nearby hawker centre to meet his friends when he was almost run over by a PMD."I heard the engine from a distance, so I had to move to the side to avoid it. I have also seen people having to jump out of the way, grazing their elbows and knees," Mr Tan said."I think a few small injuries are much better than being hit and seriously injured. We have all seen how PMDs can hit someone with the force of a motorbike."... A straw poll of 150 residents by ST showed that around 70 per cent of residents wanted PMDs to be banned or restricted to those with legitimate mobility issues. About 80 per cent of residents wanted the government to impose strict fines on those who ride recklessly, or help to modify the devices to go at much higher speeds.The residents said the presence of PMDs was a "public nuisance" and "an accident waiting to happen"."

Do not let this plague of electric scooters come to Britain - "In cities all over Europe, in every cafe, people are talking about the same thing. No, not Brexit: it’s those damn electric scooters.The plague started last year and has spread like wildfire: Brussels to Lisbon, Paris to Wroclaw. Silicon Valley start-ups showed up one day with vans full of them... Britain, almost alone, has managed to stay mostly scooter free: saved by its strict road regulations... Could they be tamed and become a useful part of cities’ transport mix? A docking scheme – similar to the one used by Boris Bikes – would solve the biggest issue: the blocking of pavements. But of course, the tech firms pushing them haven’t bothered with that – they would have to apply for planning permission, and buying land in prime city centres would probably render the whole thing unprofitable. Better just to fly-tip their product wherever they fancy: I have seen it in Brussels, at 3am: men silently unloading scooters out of an unmarked van and leaving them on the pavement, like a reverse burglary. There’s also no reason in principle why individuals couldn’t simply buy and own an electric scooter like they own a bike or car. Most of the problems come from the dockless rental system which encourages user to leave them strewn around the place."
Maybe European PMD riders aren't as inconsiderate as Singaporean ones

Electric scooters: France introduces new rules to 'restore tranquillity' - "France is bringing in new rules for the use of electric scooters following hundreds of incidents involving the vehicles, including several deaths.From Saturday, riders will be required to be at least 12 and will not be able to ride their scooter on the pavement.The two-wheeled vehicles' top speed will also be capped by next year."

Commentary: E-scooter ban on footpaths – here’s a list of those who got off scot-free - "Are personal mobility devices (PMDs) really that bad? The numbers tell a terrible story. Six PMD riders dead between January 2017 and September this year reported by Tan Tock Seng Hospital alone... There was a public petition to ban them from public footpaths, with more than 69,000 signatures.So, came new rules. The Active Mobility Act, made effective in May 2018, specified conditions PMDs and bicycles must meet like the maximum speed. And more new rules again in 2019, mandating the registration of e-scooters, electric bikes and compliance with UL2272 certification. Then the rules were changed on Monday (Nov 4) when a ban on e-scooters on footpaths was announced.Yet, all of these, in my mind, are stop-gap measures.The casualties include e-scooter riders themselves. As far back as 2017, the warning signs were already being noticed by trauma doctors at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, who admitted close to four such casualties a month. By September this year, that was nearly nine a month... The fallout from e-scooters is not limited to death and bodily harm. There have been too many fires resulting from the charging of these devices."

SmartPeopleClub - Posts - "My Girlfriend is Not Hungry: Add extra french fries to your entree, and fried chicken wings (2) or fried cheese sticks (3)"

Australian teachers outraged at 'crazy political correctness' and ordered to meet 'praise quotas' - "Teachers are being ordered to reward a minimum number of students for good behaviour as part of a bizarre new 'praise quotas'.Queensland Teachers' Union president Kevin Bates said teachers are being instructed to record positive behaviour reports on a state-wide database.The OneSchool database records cases of injury, bullying or truancy in students, but schools are now urging teachers to record a minimum of 20 positive behaviour reports per week... Child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg slammed the move as being 'political correctness gone crazy'.Mr Carr-Gregg said rewarding children for 'good behaviour' that was otherwise considered normal would breed a generation of 'wusses'. 'It is a reward for behaving like a decent human being, and that is bizarre,' he said.He also said that having to note down every time children do something right or wrong would put an unnecessary load on teachers who already struggle.Mr Bates explained that teachers in Queensland have been directed to report even small incidents between children through OneSchool.While he understands that bullying is a 'pervasive issue', he noted that 'one incident of someone behaving badly does not bullying make'."

Justice for Ursula

Alternative Disney - Posts:

"All I know is... Ariel wasn't forced to sign shit. In fact, Ursula was perfectly clear on the terms of service (she even sang a song about it). So after her thirsty ass crashes a wedding, she has her friends run to daddy and has Ursula killed to avoid payment, (and to steal an almost married man)...if you ask me this home wrecking jezebel and the whole Goddamn family needs to be locked up as accessories to murder. Flounder and Sebaslians asses too. #justiceforUrsula"

On The Little Mermaid

Links - 21st November 2019 (1)

College trustee’s Straight Pride Parade speech prompts cries for her resignation - "A Raritan Valley Community College trustee who spoke at the recent “Straight Pride Parade” in Boston is drawing criticism, including calls for her resignation... “Children need stability, not confusion and indoctrination," Nace told the crowd.“Where is the overwhelming need to teach lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual history that supersedes basic academic success”... The uproar over Nace’s remarks is the latest since Gov. Phil Murphy, in February, signed a law requiring public school districts to develop lessons about the “political, economic, and social contributions” of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, in addition to those with disabilities, starting with the 2020-21 school year... New Jersey was the second state to mandate LGBT education - California was the first, in 2011... Two other states, Colorado and Illinois, followed New Jersey this year in requiring LGBT education. In her remarks in Boston, Nace argued that the emphasis on LGBT education was detracting from academics and possibly distorting history.She cited examples from a curriculum model in California that questioned the sexuality of President James Buchanan, the only unmarried U.S. president, and 19th Century poet Emily Dickinson... "For most children, their gender is a fundamental part of who they are. The vast majority of children are not confused about their sex, and it’s something that they were never, ever preoccupied with until today”"
The same people trying to shut down straight pride parades claim that straight people have never faced discrimination

Auckland adman hires professional clown for redundancy meeting - "A Kiwi adman has chosen an unusual support person to accompany him to a redundancy meeting.In lieu of the usual suspects of a friend, colleague or family member, the member of the creative team at FCB hired a professional clown to attend the meeting with him... In the strange world of support creatures, this adds another colourful addition to a quirky crew that already includes hedgehogs, peacocks and goats.  The Herald understands that the clown blew up balloons and folded them into a series of animals throughout the meeting. It's further understood that the clown mimed crying when the redundancy paperwork was handed over to the staffer."

Guardian apologises for David Cameron editorial - "The Guardian has apologised for saying David Cameron had only felt "privileged pain" over the death of his son... Comedian and actress Jenny Eclair tweeted: "I am furious with David Cameron but to question his grief privilege as the Guardian is doing is vile beyond vile - his 6 year old son died.""

This is one of the best costumes ever : interestingasfuck - "*Head on a plate*"

China's scissor-hand selfie-takers warned of cybersecurity threat - "A popular hand gesture adopted by China’s online community in uploaded pictures could be used by criminals to steal people’s fingerprints, Chinese cybersecurity experts have warned.The “scissor hand” pose – similar to the peace sign or “V” for victory– could reveal a perfect fingerprint if held close enough to the camera... scissor-hand pictures taken closer than three metres (10 feet) could be vulnerable and should not be published on the internet.“A scissor-hand picture taken within 1.5 metres (four feet 11 inches) can be used to restore 100 per cent of people’s fingerprints, while pictures taken about 1.5-3 metres away can turn out 50 per cent of the fingerprints”"

‘Ireland is not a typical European country. It's more like Africa’ - "“Ireland is not a typical European country. It’s almost like Africa. The way the people chat and live their lives, it’s not like in Holland or Germany or Belgium or France. People in Ireland value their family, that’s something I’ve discovered here.”... He says he feels happy in Limerick and that he has rarely experienced racism in this country.“Where I come from in Rwanda we had too much racism. We were the same people but I’d see neighbours killing their neighbours because of their tribe. Even if you meet someone here who is not a good person, you cannot call that racism. Not everyone is good, there are bad people everywhere, but I cannot see racism here.”"

Makeup artist brands Boots 'racist' after she finds security tags on only 'black hair care' products - "Boots has been accused of racism for putting security tags on hair products for black customers but leaving ones aimed at white people untagged.Make-up artist Natasha Wright was upset to see the devices - designed to prevent theft - in a store on Wembley High Road in north west London... In response Boots said: 'To prevent theft our colleagues add security tags to the products they believe are being stolen.'They do this regardless of what the product is, the cost of it, or which aisle they are on.'"
So apparently Boots is so racist that they waste money tagging black hair products even if they're not at higher risk of being stolen. I guess at least they're not beholden to neo-liberal market logic

Dead bodies move as they decay, Australian scientists find - "Time lapse cameras set up by Australian scientists at a research facility have recorded dead bodies moving as they decompose"

Machete-wielding gangs trade blows in shocking broad daylight brawl on busy South London street - "The video, filmed on London Road, shows baseball bats and what appear to be knives, machetes and even swords being used in the ugly fight"

Florida couple busted for DUI had sex in back of police car - "Ex-cons Aaron Thomas, 31, and Megan Mondanaro, 35, were initially stopped by a deputy after they were spotted riding bikes with no lights and almost being hit by a car... Thomas and Mondanaro were placed in the backseat of a patrol car — and that’s when things got hot and heavy... Thomas managed to briefly flee, escaping hold of the deputy who tried to remove him from the patrol car.But he was caught shortly after behind a nearby Cold Stone Creamery.Authorities hit Thomas with an additional charge of theft because he took the police handcuffs with him when he ran off"

Guard with huge, stinky penis found guilty of abusing inmates - "A Brooklyn jail guard was found guilty of sexually abusing female inmates Monday — after the victims gave matching accounts of his giant, stinky penis. A jury found correction officer Lt. Eugenio Perez guilty on 23 counts for forcing four women at the Metropolitan Detention Center to perform oral sex on him and propositioning a fifth... Perez previously sat stoically through his nearly two-week trial, as visibly uncomfortable jurors endured graphic testimony from victims about his huge, hook-shaped, uncircumcised, putrid pecker. “He wasn’t circumcised. It was big, and it was like a hook … It was humongous and it curved,” one 38-year-old told the court. “If it didn’t stink I would have been all over that s–t.”... The feds were able to corroborate the women’s stories by getting a warrant for photos of his distinctive junk — which were shown to the jurors.“There is no reason why any of the victims should know anything about his penis. They all remember things about his penis”"

Having an elder brother is associated with slower language development - "Several studies had already demonstrated that children who have an elder sibling have poorer linguistic performance than those who have none. Now a research team at the CNRS, Hôpital Robert-Debré AP-HP, the EHESS, the ENS and the INSERM1 has reported a more specific result: this only concerns children who have an elder brother"

Meme - "Look son! An angry purple-haired woman dressed as a vagina is here to lecture us on human dignity"

dyl on Twitter - "Women: boobs aren’t sexual organs! stop sexualizing boobs! men can show their nipples in public, why can’t we?
Men: aight then send me a pic of your tiddies
This is the same doublethink whereby some liberals claim that you should never touch anyone without consent, since they need to claim female hysteria about having their breasts touched should apply to all sexes and all body parts. So presumably you should never tap anyone on the shoulder

Moms Outraged After Shirtless Beach Photos Of Their Long-Haired Sons Keep Getting Taken Down By Instagram - "in some cases, the moms were even banned from Facebook or Instagram for days on end...
maybe stop sexualizing the chests of girls and women?  The chest is not a sex organ. Breasts are not genitals."

Jolie King and Mark Firkin Imprisoned in Iran During Trip - "A blogger couple who traveled from Australia to Asia and the Middle East in an attempt to “break the stigma” surrounding developing countries was reportedly arrested in Iran... “Our biggest motivation… is to hopefully inspire anyone wanting to travel, and also try to break the stigma around travelling to countries which get a bad wrap [sic] in the media,” the pair wrote online... King and Firkin were arrested for reportedly flying a drone without a permit. They’ve been imprisoned ever since.  A source told the BBC that King was told Iran is holding her as part of a potential prisoner exchange with Australia. King and Firkin aren’t the only couple to have taken turned their idealism into action by traveling to potentially dangerous foreign lands... Jay Austin and Lauren Goeghegan were biking in southwest Tajikistan – a region that borders ISIS-territory in northern Afghanistan – when they were murdered by five men who stabbed the couple to death. The attack was led by an Islamic State terrorist. The two had embarked in 2017 on a bike trip around the world. In an echo of Firkin and King, the couple was motivated by their belief that, “By and large, humans are kind,” as Austin put it in a blog post documenting the journey.“You read the papers and you’re led to believe that the world is a big, scary place,” Austin wrote from Morocco. “I don’t buy it. Evil is a make-believe concept we’ve invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own.”"

Hodan Nalayeh: Somali-Canadian journalist among 26 killed in Kismayo attack - The Washington Post - "Hodan Nalayeh spent the last days of her life doing what she loved most: sharing a side of Somalia rarely depicted in the West... al-Shabab militants stormed the Asasey Hotel in Kismayo, killing at least 26 people, including Nalayeh, 43, and her husband, Farid Jama Suleiman. An additional 56 people were wounded. It took around 14 hours for Somali security forces to regain control of the hotel, where several tribal elders and another journalist, Mohamed Sahal Omar, were also killed... Nalayeh’s death came as a particular shock to the Somali diaspora, where the YouTube star was seen as a relentless optimist — someone who found a way to always see the best of humanity in a country where so many others seemed to only see the worst... Her presence in Somalia sparked hope among those in the diaspora looking for proof that they too could one day return to their ancestral homeland, said Mukhtar Ibrahim, executive director of the Sahan Journal, a nonprofit news organization covering immigrant communities in Minnesota, where there is a large Somali population."
Headlined as: "A Somali-Canadian journalist returned to Somalia to tell ‘uplifting’ stories. Then terrorists killed her"

Newark's Lead-Water Crisis Won't Be America's Last - The Atlantic - "The city of Newark, New Jersey, is racing to replace all of its lead pipes after a public outcry over the high levels of lead in its water. After exceeding a federal lead limit three times in a row, the city began to provide water filters to certain residents in 2018. But some of the filters were found to be ineffective, and as of the end of last month, thousands of the city’s residents were still advised to drink bottled water... Newark is far from the only city that has struggled to keep its drinking water free from lead. Drinking water in the United States is mostly safe, but between 2015 and 2018, about 5.5 million Americans in communities around the nation got their water from systems that exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s lead action level of 15 parts per billion... The widespread presence of lead in water in certain areas points to what advocates call a serious failure to upgrade water infrastructure in recent decades. “The U.S. has not been investing in its drinking-water infrastructure for generations,” says Erik Olson, the senior director for health programs at NRDC, which filed a lawsuit against Newark last year. “A lot of our pipes are 50 or 100 years old or more, and many are lead. And water-treatment plants are still using World War I–era technology for treatment.”... replacing all the lead service lines in the U.S. could cost $30 billion. It’s a hefty-seeming sum, “but that’s the kind of investment that society made when these water systems were being built 100-plus years ago,” he says. “We have been living off of the investments of our great-grandparents for decades.”... Americans have already indicated that they are willing to pay for even safer water: We currently spend $18.5 billion on bottled water every year."
Crumbling US infrastructure strikes again

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Links - 20th November 2019 (3) (Labour UK/Jeremy Corbyn)

Climate change: Firms failing to tackle crisis will be delisted from stock exchange, Labour says - "Companies that fail to act on the climate change they cause will be axed from the stock exchange, under radical Labour plans."

Concerns about antisemitism mean we cannot vote Labour - "nder Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, Labour has come under formal investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission for institutional racism against Jews. Two Jewish MPs have been bullied out of the party. Mr Corbyn has a long record of embracing antisemites as comrades... We refuse to vote Labour on 12 December. John le Carré (David Cornwell), Fay Weldon, Joanna Lumley, William Boyd, Simon Callow, Antony Beevor, Sathnam Sanghera, Janina Ramirez, Trevor Phillips, Jimmy Wales, Suzannah Lipscomb, Tom Holland, Frederick Forsyth, Peter Frankopan, Ghanem Nuseibeh, Dan Snow, Fiyaz Mughal, Tony Parsons, Dan Jones, Maajid Nawaz, Oz Katerji, Nick Hewer, Ed Husain, Terry Jervis"
Of course there're still people claiming Labour's anti-Semitism problem is fake and concoted by the right wing tabloid press

Labour councillor suspended over claims she called Hitler 'the greatest man in history' - "A Labour councillor has been suspended after a series of anti-Semitic tweets were found on her Twitter account.Aysegul Gurbuz, 20, is the latest name drawn into a row threatening to divide the party following claims of harassment of Jewish students at Oxford University... Another tweet hoped that Iran would use a "nuclear weapon" to "wipe Israel off the map".Other tweets expressed "disgust" that "Jews are so powerful", and one even stated "Ed Miliband is Jewish. He will never become prime minister of Britain."... Among the most shocking tweets was one that began: "Jews cannot expect us to sympathise with their history under Hitler."Gurbuz was also a candidate for Warwick Student Union’s Ethnic Minorities Officer, listing in her manifesto a commitment to “Increase awareness of Holocaust Memorial Day”, as well as serving on the Executive Committee of the Warwick Friends of Palestine Society... "How many more cases must we see before the Labour Party takes action?"  Miss Gurbuz denied she had written the tweets and claimed her sister may have posted them"
Amazingly, this is from April 2016, showing how deeprooted the problem is

Momentum activists blamed for rise of anti-semitism at Oxford Labour Club, a senior source has claimed - "Activists linked with the Jeremy Corbyn's hard leftist Momentum group are partly to blame for a rise in anti-semitism at Oxford, a senior source at the Oxford University Labour Club has alleged. It comes after a former co-chairman of the club claimed the infiltration of ‘hard leftists’ at the Oxford University Labour Club has led to a ‘vicious culture of personal attacks’, including the recent anti-semitic incidents. It also follows the resignation of the co-chairman of the organisation, Alex Chalmers, earlier this week after accusing a large proportion of members of having “some kind of problems with Jews”. It is alleged the hard leftists are members with links to Momentum, the hard-Left group backed by Jeremy Corbyn, and are claimed to be advancing an “authoritarian and intolerant” Marxist tradition that “punishes dissent”."

Is the Labour Party's problem with racism beyond repair? - "senior members of the Labour club liked to regale listeners with a song called “Rockets over Tel Aviv” and endorse Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians. They were in the habit of casually referring to Jewish students as “Zio”. They repeated tropes about the “Zionist lobby” and “high net worth Jewish individuals”. They stated all Jews should be required to denounce Zionism and the state of Israel, and that those who refused to do so should be shunned. And they had arranged for a group of students to harass a Jewish student and shout “filthy Zionist” at her."

How Labour's Left has stitched up selection - "Since 2015, the Left has won victory after victory within the Labour Party. The leadership, the National Executive Committee and the general-secretaryship have all been won, leaving only one last bastion of resistance to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and the Left project. The Parliamentary Labour Party has had a core of MPs prepared to fight the leadership over antisemitism and obfuscation on Brexit. In a hung parliament it has acted as a powerful bloc of votes and an alternative voice whose public face has been the deputy leader, Tom Watson.  Now Watson has gone. Last week he resigned his Parliamentary candidacy and the deputy leadership... every constituency that wanted an open selection process with voting by local members lost its power. The NEC, controlled by the Left, now could impose or remove candidates at will. Of course it is the same Left that for 45 years has preached the virtues of internal democracy and membership power within the Labour Party. This seems to have been temporarily forgotten in the exercise of power... The profile and politics of the new PLP would be much more aligned to the membership of the party since 2015 — more radical, more diverse, much younger and mainly supporters of Momentum... In Coventry’s two rock solid Labour seats, Geoffrey Robinson and Jim Cunningham — two white male MPs born in 1938 and 1941 respectively — have been replaced by Taiwo Owateni and Zarah Sultana — both female, BAME candidates who are likely to be in the House of Commons for decades to come. Sultana, who is 26, has already got into trouble over tweets when she was a student in 2015 declaring her desire to celebrate the deaths of Tony Blair and Benjamin Netanyahu. Sultana’s tweets have put her under pressure but she survives. Every day there are stories emanating from social media that in earlier times would have ended careers. But loyalty to the leadership is now enough to put you in place and keep you there."

Labour candidates deny anti-Semitism and attack the Poppy Appeal - "A Labour candidate described the party’s anti-Semitism problem as “racism smears” that were “politically motivated”.  Mark McDonald, candidate for Stoke on Trent South, claimed that the scandal was the result of an “unholy alliance” between the Conservative party and a “small group” of Labour MPs... Labour's Paul Farmer, who secured the candidacy for Camborne and Redruth, praised socialist Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez as “the most elected leader in the world”.  He also suggested that governments did not need to balance the books as they could “always print more money”.  Kate Osborne, who was selected as the Labour party candidate for Jarrow on Saturday, has been criticised for sharing an image of Theresa May with a gun pointing at her head. Liz Kendall, Jess Phillips, Yvette Cooper, Lucy Powell, Cat Smith and Vicky Foxcroft have written to the party’s powerful ruling National Executive Committee demanding action.  In a statement they said: “The impact of such images are clear – they incite intimidation and violence against female politicians.”  The party's candidate for Filton and Bradley Stoke previously attacked the Poppy Appeal saying supporters are backing the “blatant glorification of war”.  Mhairi Threlfall believes the public should wear their poppy if they want to cheer on the “continued legalised mass murder”."

The implosion of Labour is a historic milestone in our politics - "I can remember a number of occasions when major political parties simply fell apart – most commonly after a spectacular defeat – but never before in the opening days of a general election campaign. It is impossible to exaggerate the political significance, not to say the emotional impact, of lifelong Labour stalwarts actually advising their supporters to vote Conservative: to commit, in effect, what would once have been seen as mortal sin. The broadcast news may have tried to present (perhaps in the interests of a confused notion of “balance”?) the cataclysmic testimony from Ian Austin and the resignation of Tom Watson as the electoral equivalent of Jacob Rees Mogg’s infelicitous phrasing. But even the BBC seemed to get it in the end. Somehow the story “Top Tory Inadvertently Says Something Tasteless”, didn’t quite match up to the extraordinarily moving testimony of a man who had been devoted, man and boy, to the Labour cause – and now felt morally compelled to renounce it. This is not just a campaign mishap. It is a historic milestone in our national politics. The major Opposition party is no longer functional. The governing party – whatever your view of it – is the only credible one that can be supported.This is the view not only of the high-profile figures who have resigned from Labour but of a large number of those who will continue to run and campaign for the party with varying degrees of despair and desperation – quite a few of them scarcely bothering to conceal their hope that the Corbyn junta will be crushed by a massive election defeat... What Corbyn and his more hard-headed comrade, John McDonnell, are advocating is the programme of the British communist (not Trotskyist) movement. The headline plans include renationalising private industries with compensation to shareholders decided arbitrarily by the government rather than at market value, which is to say the state seizing the means of production on whatever terms it chooses.There will be the introduction of taxes on assets (like private homes) as well as income, which amounts to the seizure of individual savings and the financial security they provide. Then there is the apparent intention to eliminate the existence of billionaires from the country – which effectively exports all their tax liability to some other jurisdiction, thereby losing vast amounts of revenue that might have been spent on, as Mr McDonnell would say, our Northern infrastructure... Under a Labour government, employees would have a legal right to choose (not to “request” – to choose) their hours of work.Seriously enforced, this would produce such ungovernable chaos that the efficient management of businesses would be virtually impossible. But the problems of running a business are precisely not what Labour wants to be seen as understanding.Private bosses are the class enemy... the Corbyn-McDonnell doctrine rejects free market economics precisely because it creates mass prosperity – which it always describes as “greed”. In fact, individual prosperity offers the possibility of self-determination: the freedom to move on, to escape the passivity and defeatism of poverty... ut that argument would cut no ice with the McDonnell-ites because they aren’t champions of individual freedom which depends on having choices. They are advocating clear, defining steps toward a command economy as outlined in the essential Stalin-era doctrine of the British communists. Perhaps this explains their bizarre sentimental attachment to Russia.Why on earth, in the post-Soviet age, defend Putin against accusations of attempted assassination in the Salisbury poisoning outrage? (Note to Seamus Milne: you do know that Russia isn’t a socialist country anymore, right?) I suppose old loyalties die hard.Oddly, Corbyn seems to have the same soft spot for Putin as Donald Trump"

Labour would ban billionaires, says prominent Corbyn supporter - "Lloyd Russell-Moyles, the MP for Brighton Kemptown, signalled a Corbyn government would “redistribute” the assets of the most wealthy.Citing “tax-dodgers” and “bad landlords”, he told the Emma Barnett Show: “I don’t think anyone in this country should be a billionaire”... The radical stance appears to have the backing of the party leadership, with a Labour source saying last night: “Every billionaire is a policy failure.“We will put wealth and power in the hands of the many not the few.”It came as Mr Corbyn launched Labour’s election campaign along traditional class lines, seeing to set up the contest as a choice between the struggling and the well off."
The Labour way of achieving equality - cut down people at the top, so they're as badly off as people at the bottom

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Election campaigns - "‘Will Boris Johnson apologize today for making the same promise repeatedly and failing to deliver it?’
‘I think most people listening to this are thinking, actually it's quite clearly Parliament that's failed to deliver it. He after all, did absolutely everything in his power to get Parliament to come to its  senses and Parliament... went about deciding not to vote for the program motion... unless you want us to start breaking the law that Parliament sets, there’s just nothing that you can do when Parliament is so dithering and delaying’...
'The truth is that the country voted to leave. I think it took the establishment by surprise, certainly took Parliament by surprise, who'd voted overwhelmingly to have that referendum and to honour it and then decided not to when push came to shove'...
[On Diane Abbott] ‘You are someone who in the last election received almost half of all the abusive tweets sent to female MPs, more than 10 times as much as we received by any other female MP, according to a study that was done by Amnesty International.’...
‘The huge rise in online abuse and obviously, it's addressed more than anybody else has to do the anonymity online. And my view is, we should make it harder for people to be anonymous online. They can have an anonymous identity. But the website, twitter, facebook should have their real name and address… I believe that the fact that people are completely anonymous has made this problem worse. When we try, when the police try and track down people abusing me, they find they can’t identify them. If Twitter, Facebook and online had the people's real name and address, I think we'd be able to crack down on this much more.’"
Yet another reason Labour is a horrible choice for the UK

Labour conference approves motion to extend free movement - "Labour conference has approved a radical policy motion advocating the extension of free movement, the closure of all detention centres and the awarding of equal voting rights to all UK residents... In the UK, full voting rights are currently limited to citizens of the UK, Ireland and Commonwealth countries. EU citizens living in the UK can vote in local and European elections, but not general elections.The motion seeks to instruct the next Labour government to change the situation, such that non-EU and non-Commonwealth citizens are awarded the right to vote in all elections. Nondiscriminatory national voting rights are rare, with New Zealand being a notable exception."

I’m glad the Tories filibustered the youth vote bill. If we can’t trust 16-year-olds with a pint, why should we trust them with a vote? - "a private members’ bill introduced by Labour MP’s, seeking to reduce the voting age to 16, got its second reading in the House of Commons. As well as Labour, it received the backing of the Liberal Democrats, Green Party, SNP and Plaid Cymru, and was championed by such luminaries as Vince Cable and Lord Adonis.The Tories filibustered the debate, meaning that there was no time for a vote on the voting age being reduced to 16. However, the question remains as to why left-leaning parties are so determined to let under-18s vote.It has been touted as something to bring younger people into society earlier, giving them a say over their futures, recognising they can be responsible. But rather than welcome this idea, the public should view it with real caution. Though it appears a liberal policy to widen the reach of democracy, the reality is that it is patronising and opportunistic.Though wanting 16-year-olds to vote, the parties arrayed in favour of it remain staunchly opposed to legalising a raft of other things they currently cannot do. Below the age of 18, it is illegal for people to smoke, vape, drink alcohol, buy fireworks, knives, gamble, get a tattoo or even use a sun bed. You cannot inherit money, nor can you buy a house. Below the age of 17, of course, you also cannot drive, whilst until you are 18 you can’t be sent to an adult prison. None of the parties plan on changing that any time soon, whilst plenty of government bodies actively encourage raising some of these age limits. How can it be that a 16-year-old is mature enough to make head or tail of complex political decisions, but immature enough to be prevented from buying a pint, learning to drive a car, getting on the property ladder, or just getting a tan? If 16-years-olds are to be allowed to vote like adults, they should receive all the other freedoms voting adults receive... If political parties distrust the young so much, why are they so keen to give them the vote? The answer is the same as why they want to keep them away from drink and fireworks: they think they’re immature, making them easier to mislead... Young people vote overwhelmingly for left wing parties and policies, so it’s no wonder these parties want to give 1.5 million more of them the vote. Cable, Adonis and Labour’s Jim McMahon see them as easy prey, in much the same way as Jeremy Corbyn did at the last election, with his promise to reduce tuition fees, or Nick Clegg when he promised to oppose raising them. In both cases, the politicians went back on their word, but no doubt, come the next election, the same impossible bribes will be dangled in front of them again. If Labour and the Lib Dems seriously thought these people were mature enough, they’d never dare to mislead voters in such a way. This isn’t empowering, it’s child exploitation. Giving youngsters a vote doesn’t involve them in society. By accident or design, most are blissfully naive about politics. It is, in fact, a trick to give paternalistic politicians more power over the young. All that will happen is that they’ll be screwed by the same politicians – they just won’t be able to drown their sorrows afterwards."

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Iran in the crosshairs - "[On the Labour Party and people leaving] So, Tom Watson, well, he says it wasn't for political reasons. But I mean, clearly, the fact that he is seen as being on the moderate anti Corbin wing of the Labour Party is not a great look. And then of course, you had somebody else leaving the party, a former MP, saying that Jeremy Corbyn was completely unfit to lead the country. You also had Britain's most famous newspaper for the Jewish community, urging non Jews to look at Labour's record on anti semitism. I mean, you just couldn't make this stuff up. What you can point to is Mr. Corbyn’s standing in the opinion polls, and they suggest that he is the most unpopular leader of Her Majesty's opposition since polling of that question began. And I suspect a number of things have happened since the last general election in 2017. I think number one, there are these allegations of anti semitism that come one after another, and from the people inside the party, people leaving the party with great emotion after the treatment that they have received. But I think it also comes because in the last two years, I guess an awful lot of people who've been watching the political process, and my goodness there’s been lots to watch. And maybe thought actually, given the extraordinary difficulties of two conservative governments, Mr. Corbyn, they would think, hasn't provided a very forensic critique. And I think all of that has combined to really damage him"
Yet online it's like Labour supporters are living in a different universe, claiming anti-Semitism is made up by right wing tabloids etc

Jeremy Corbyn on Twitter "Boris Johnson does not care about violence on our streets. #Marr #Ridge"

Jeremy Corbyn has blood on his hands from IRA support, former terrorist says - "A former IRA terrorist said Jeremy Corbyn's support for the group gave its members "great encouragement" and claimed the Labour leader and shadow chancellor John McDonnell have "blood on their own hands". Sean O'Callaghan said the support of the Labour leader and Mr McDonnell had "made it easier" for the republican terror group to carry out atrocities."

Right Wing Political Bible - Posts - "Conservative's mental gymnastics:
Brexit means Brexit
Lib Dem's mental gymnastics:
Fuck your democracy
Labour's mental gymnastics:
We accept the result
But we'll block all attempts to leave
Get a better deal and hold another referendum
Allow foreign nationals the right to vote
And campaign to remain"
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