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Saturday, January 04, 2020

Links - 4th January 2020 (2)

If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich? Turns out it’s just chance. - MIT Technology Review - "while wealth distribution follows a power law, the distribution of human skills generally follows a normal distribution that is symmetric about an average value. For example, intelligence, as measured by IQ tests, follows this pattern. Average IQ is 100, but nobody has an IQ of 1,000 or 10,000.The same is true of effort, as measured by hours worked. Some people work more hours than average and some work less, but nobody works a billion times more hours than anybody else.And yet when it comes to the rewards for this work, some people do have billions of times more wealth than other people. What’s more, numerous studies have shown that the wealthiest people are generally not the most talented by other measures."

Facebook Said It Wasn't Listening to Your Conversations. It Was. - "Following an investigation by Bloomberg, the company admitted that it had been employing third-party contractors to transcribe the audio messages that users exchanged on its Messenger app... what was Facebook’s excuse for listening to users' audio? Everyone else was doing it.A Facebook spokesperson told VICE News that the practice was “very common in tech” ⁠— at least until a week ago, when media reports revealed that Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft were all capturing and listening to audio from users’ devices."

Women Outraged That Spray-Tan Provider Charges $20 Extra for Fat Girls - "The spray-tanner then explained that she would have to charge her extra for the additional supplies and time.“My regular clients are a max size 8. It’ll be $20 extra as there’s more surface area if you know what I mean”... The entire exchange was subsequently posted Tuesday to the All Things Tanning Facebook page, where it earned thousands of outraged comments from defenders of women’s rights, some of whom demanded that the company be “named and shamed.”“It’s blatant discrimination”"

Kelsey Bressler Solicits Men's Nude Pics for Research Purposes - "A developer solicited photos of men’s penises for a project that would allow users to filter out unwanted “dick pics.”Kelsey Bressler, former chief technology officer for revenge porn activist group Badass Army, solicited the photos from her 7,000 Twitter followers... Earlier this year, Bressler announced she was selling nude photos of herself to raise money to attend DEF CON, a hacking conference... A recent study that will be published in The Journal of Sex Research found that men who send unsolicited dick pics might be narcissists."

Facebook Said It Wasn't Listening to Your Conversations. It Was. - "Following an investigation by Bloomberg, the company admitted that it had been employing third-party contractors to transcribe the audio messages that users exchanged on its Messenger app... what was Facebook’s excuse for listening to users' audio? Everyone else was doing it.A Facebook spokesperson told VICE News that the practice was “very common in tech” ⁠— at least until a week ago, when media reports revealed that Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft were all capturing and listening to audio from users’ devices."

Women Outraged That Spray-Tan Provider Charges $20 Extra for Fat Girls - "The spray-tanner then explained that she would have to charge her extra for the additional supplies and time.“My regular clients are a max size 8. It’ll be $20 extra as there’s more surface area if you know what I mean”... The entire exchange was subsequently posted Tuesday to the All Things Tanning Facebook page, where it earned thousands of outraged comments from defenders of women’s rights, some of whom demanded that the company be “named and shamed.”“It’s blatant discrimination”"

Kelsey Bressler Solicits Men's Nude Pics for Research Purposes - "A developer solicited photos of men’s penises for a project that would allow users to filter out unwanted “dick pics.”Kelsey Bressler, former chief technology officer for revenge porn activist group Badass Army, solicited the photos from her 7,000 Twitter followers... Earlier this year, Bressler announced she was selling nude photos of herself to raise money to attend DEF CON, a hacking conference... A recent study that will be published in The Journal of Sex Research found that men who send unsolicited dick pics might be narcissists."

Oddly Sexual Yearbook Quotes - "My A's turned to B's and so did my grades, God bless."

Science Proves That Men Are Funnier Than Women - "In the meta-analysis, published Tuesday in the Journal of Research in Personality, a team of psychologists reviewed 28 previous studies that looked at sex differences in “humor production” ability... It was the first comprehensive and systematic review of the subject, seeking to include all the relevant research. As one of the authors, Gil Greengross, explained in a writeup for Psychology Today, a typical study included in the analysis asked subjects to write a funny caption for a cartoon. Judges later rated the responses for funniness. To control for bias, studies had to involve third-party evaluation of the subjects by someone who did not know their sex. The researchers also checked possible confounding variables, like the countries where the studies were done, the sex of the authors and evaluators and the age of the subjects.According to Greengross, an evolutionary psychologist at Aberystwyth University in Wales, “none of it made a difference in our analysis.” Overall, the researchers found that men were rated as significantly funnier than women. Fully 63 percent of men were deemed funnier than the average woman... it’s possible that “our society suppresses women from producing and exhibiting humor.” But he said there’s “minimal evidence to support the view.”More plausibly, he said, humor gives men an evolutionary advantage when it comes to mating with women. “[W]omen, who undertake the heavier costs of reproduction (pregnancy, breastfeeding) are choosier than men when selecting a mate,” he explained. “Women tend to look for various signal indicators of mate quality, and a great sense of humor is one of them. Humor is strongly correlated with intelligence, which explains why women value men with a great sense of humor, as intelligence was crucial for survival throughout our evolutionary history when we mostly lived in hunter-gatherer groups.”Meanwhile, men tend to prefer women who appreciate and enjoy their jokes, abilities largely unrelated to humor production... Greengross did not address the fact that the comedians considered to be the very best at their craft — like Richard Pryor, George Carlin and Dave Chappelle — are overwhelmingly men. While that may reflect the male skew of the comedy field in general, the variability hypothesis offers another explanation: Compared to women, men appear more likely to have very high or very low intelligence, as well as other traits... In 2005, then-Harvard University President Larry Summers suggested the variability hypothesis could help explain the predominance of men in the science and engineering professions. Harvard cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker recounted the reaction for the New Republic.“Nancy Hopkins, the eminent MIT biologist and advocate for women in science, stormed out of the room to avoid, she said, passing out from shock. An engineering dean called his remarks ‘an intellectual tsunami,’ and, with equal tastelessness, a Boston Globe columnist compared him to people who utter racial epithets or wear swastikas,” Pinker wrote. “Alumnae threatened to withhold donations, and the National Organization of Women called for his resignation. Summers was raked in a letter signed by more than 100 Harvard faculty members and shamed into issuing serial apologies.” Summers later faced a non-confidence vote from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, prompting him to resign as president."

Meme - "I CALLED MY SCHOOL-TIME FRIEND, HE SAID HE WAS WORKING ON a SPECIAL PROJECT 'AQUA-THERMAL TREATMENT OF CERAMICS, ALUMINIUM AND STEEL UNDER a CONSTRAINED ENVIRONMENT
I WAS IMPRESSED. LATER I REALIZED THAT IDIOT WAS WASHING UTENSILS IN WARM WATER, UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF HIS WIFE
English Is a Beautiful Language"

Aimee Terese on Twitter - "A real man is sometimes a creep or a perv or rude, but he'll own it. Propagandising that masculinity is toxic only encourages men to act like passive aggressive teenage schoolgirls. For LOTS of women on the left, not dating leftist men is just a matter of basic self-respect."

Chaos Agent Of Color on Twitter - "I don’t think any of us can wash our legs in the shower without thinking about white ppl anymore. Once again white supremacy has infested our homes and our minds."

China Uncensored - "A modern masterpiece. Featuring Xi Jinping, Starry Lee, Elizabeth Quat, Carrie Lam, Teresa Cheng and Fanny Law (the one with the fan). Law made the ridiculous claim that teenage girls offer themselves to frontline male protesters. Then hen on Law's fan is some kind of reference to her being a political "prostitute." #hongkong #hongkongprotest #carrielam #winniethepooh #winniethepoohmemes #xijinping"

Census Bureau Releases Preliminary Results Of 2019 Test Of Citizenship Question - "If the Trump administration had been allowed to add the now-blocked citizenship question to the 2020 census, it likely would not have had a significant effect on self-response rates... After backing down from efforts to use the 2020 census to ask about citizenship status, the Trump administration is now moving forward with compiling government records to produce detailed citizenship data.In an executive order released in July, President Trump said that he wants the data to be available for state redistricting officials to use when redrawing voting districts after the national head count."

Bettina Arndt - "This is a bloody disgrace. Six research grants from Suicide Prevention Australia, all given to female researchers, not one addressing male suicide. Please write to Greg Hunt Health Minister Greg Hunt and the Prime Minister and complain about this shocking misandry and misuse of taxpayers' money. And talk to your local MPs and Senators. Suicide Prevention Australia has a gender neutral policy which includes not a single programme specifically addressing the unique causes of male suicide. This is a shocking organisation which for decades has refused to address the glaring gender imbalance in suicide rates. Please help me spread the word about this latest example of a feminist narrative deliberately denying the truth about the six men who kill themselves every day in Australia. We are letting these men down by allowing our government to ignore their plight."

Vijaya Gadde on Twitter - "@WillOremus hi - here's our current definition:
1/ Ads that refer to an election or a candidate, or
2/ Ads that advocate for or against legislative issues of national importance (such as: climate change, healthcare, immigration, national security, taxes)"
I wonder if those cheering Twitter's ban on "political" ads know that ads on climate change are now banned - somehow things are only "political" when one disagrees. Admirably at least Twitter is (trying to be) fair here

'Remodelling the lizard people's lair': Denver airport trolls conspiracy theorists - "Large posters, placed on hoardings around the terminal, cast doubt on what’s really going on. One reads: “Construction? Or cover up?” and features Illuminati insignia on a yellow hard hat. Another shows a reptile head poking out of a suit and asks: “What are we doing?” It offers three potential answers, one of which is: “Remodelling the lizard people’s lair.”... ever since it was opened in its current iteration in 1995, Denver international airport (DIA) has, for some reason, been the subject of conspiracy theories. There is, to give the tinfoil hat crowd their due, lots that is fishy about DIA. The dedication stone, created for the airport’s opening, bears the logo of the Freemasons and was paid for by two Freemason grand lodges in Colorado, as well as something called the “New World Airport Commission”, an organisation about which there is almost no information. It has led conspiracy theorists to argue that their airport is the headquarters for a secretive new world order linked to the masons or the Illuminati.

Study: Conservative YouTube Content Leads To 'De-Radicalization,' Not Radicalization - "A new study out of Penn State’s Political Science Department found that rather than conservative content online leading to radicalization, as the popular “gateway” narrative insists, the reverse appears to be true. The study, titled “A Supply and Demand Framework for YouTube Politics,” published online in October, takes a closer look at the popular narrative that YouTube serves as a “radicalizing agent,” particularly for the right. Conservative content, the narrative goes, supposedly acts as a “gateway” for viewers, potentially leading them to the fringes of the far-right. But, as Birkbeck University of London’s Eric Kaufman puts it in his succinct summary of the study’s key finding, “Contrary to the ‘gateway drug’ narrative,” the new study “shows the Intellectual Dark Web (i.e. [Jordan Peterson], [PragerU], [Joe Rogan], [Ben Shapiro], [Rubin Report]) is de-radicalizing potential Alt-Right viewers.”... with the “skyrocketing” of Conservative content online, despite a similar increase in Alt-Lite and Alt-Right content, the total views of Conservative content continued to climb while far-right traffic steeply declined.

Charlie on Twitter - "Imagine a city less crowed (sic)...
Do your part. Get sterilised! Yay! *all white people in ad*"
"Spotted in London (Holloway Road)... Funny, this sign doesn’t meet the usual ‘diversity’ requirements of all the others around London."
This doesn't help the case that 'white genocide' is a paranoid far right conspiracy theory with no basis in reality

Old Holborn QC ✘ on Twitter - "If I had paid £30K to send my daughter half way across the world in the back of lorry to work in a nail salon in Warrington for £3 an hour, I'd probably not be whinging to the press. Just saying.
So why the UK and not Singapore, Japan or America?Simple.No ID required in the UK. No registration of address. Nothing. Get here and the rest is easy. Claim asylum and get free housing, medical care and education.Stop leaving the lid off the jam."

Segments of Random Thoughts - Posts - "Pakistani Muslims stamping on the head of an effigy of PM Modi in central London. While Prince Williams and his wife Kate are experiencing pakistani culture in Pakistan, real Pakistani culture is itself breeding in the hearts of London."
"Xenophobia? Hate speech? Bigotry? Or do these things come into play only when white people are involved?

Florent Crivello on Twitter - "SAN FRANCISCANS: my studio costs $2700 and I stepped on human feces & 1 used syringe on my morning commute
CITY: we hear you, action must and will be taken. Scooters are now illegal
SF-ANS: what
CITY: no more delivery robots
SF-ANS: but
CITY: workplace cafeterias are forbidden"

Zen

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Zen

"If you meet the Buddha on the road to enlightenment, kill him’. So said Lin Chi, a teacher active in China in the ninth century AD. Despite the somewhat contrary attitude expressed in this statement, Lin Chi was himself a Buddhist, an exponent of a branch of the religion widely known in the West as Zen. Zen is a Japanese translation of Chan, the Chinese word for meditation. It developed in China in the sixth century AD, coming from sixth century BC, India, it emphasizes a monastic way of life, the practice of meditation, and the use of paradoxical riddles to help follow or sidestep rational thought and achieve a state of sudden enlightenment. It came to Japan in the Middle Ages, and its strong impact eventually spilled into the West, especially in America in the 20th century. The religion developed under particular historical circumstances and it's played a significant role in East Asian cultures and beyond...

‘One of the ideas associated with Chan is the doctrine of sudden enlightenment. Can you tell us about that?’

‘Sure. Yeah. I think perhaps the easiest way to say it would be that sudden enlightenment is a, an approach to the Buddhist path to liberation, the sequence of practices… path to liberation, things one has to do to achieve what we sometimes call enlightenment, but is more accurately thought of as liberation or awakening. It's an approach to that which assumes that in some profound way, this achievement is already innate, within people, within those who are seeking it and therefore, to conceive of this path and to practice it in a way, to conceive of it as sort of a gradual transformation from one state to another or a gradual path of progress from one place to another, that this is somehow fundamentally misguided.

And that because of the state of liberation is already innate within people, to achieve it is more like a sudden realization that one already has this thing and therefore, it must be sudden, in that sense. I should just also say if, if I can, that this is a sort of description of the idea of sudden enlightenment, in the context of the rise of Zen, it also has a certain polemical value as a slogan. So, when Zen speaks of sudden enlightenment, they're not just saying, well, this is how we approach the duration, but that other groups of Buddhists approach it in a gradual fashion, and that's not as good. So, it had, it has both a sort of descriptive value, but then also this kind of ideological value, which is extremely important within the Zen tradition’

‘And is connecting to the idea among certain sects of Buddhism zen, and that this kind of cannot be put into words. The doctrine cannot be be put into words’

‘Right. And that would be connected to this idea that precisely because the state of liberation is something that is already inherent in you, any attempt to explicate how one arrives at it is already a fundamentally misguided notion. So any spoken or really just consciously articulated sequence of steps, sequence of practices that one must do, this is already the wrong thing. In fact, not just the wrong thing, but is positively as an obstacle. And so that the path of liberation now becomes conceived of not as learning to do some thing, but in somehow refraining from trying to do anything’

‘So you sit, you wait for that to happen, which will happen if you wait for it to happen.’

‘Yeah, there's, I think, a valid perspective from which it doesn't quite work in the end as a totally unified system. In that if you tell people, someone comes to you and says, well, how do I reach enlightenment and you say, don't try to reach enlightenment. You know, you could say, well, that doesn't really work and you're not going to sell a lot of you know, Buddhism, if that's the only thing you have to say. So there's a context, an institutional religious context within which this teaching was promulgated. And you have to keep that in mind. Otherwise, it doesn't actually make any sense at the end of the day’...

If one tries to talk about the sort of the Zen approach, particularly this approach in which they're reluctant to explain what the approach is, just sit, you know, just by sitting you are the Buddha. If considered in the abstract, these statements, I think, often don't seem to make much sense. But when we again, remember that these are statements which are being articulated in a particular context.

So when the Zen Master says, don't try to attain enlightenment, right, he's presuming that he's speaking to someone who is already committed to attaining enlightenment, right, in a context of people who have devoted their entire lives to, an institution that has set up all of these rituals and practices and things precisely for this purpose, so there's a sort of disconnect between what Zen masters say, and what from the outside, they look like they're doing and the point of it all, if you want to put it that way, in some ways, lies precisely in that contrast. Don't try to attain enlightenment is a way to articulate the attitude you should have while trying to attain enlightenment.

Now, the Zen masters wouldn't say that, because they, they're only going to say the part of it: don't try to attain enlightenment, but when they're saying this, they're surrounded by people who are in an institution devoted to the attainment of enlightenment. So when you put those two together, it makes a bit more sense… We don't always know the difference between when such things are said as a kind of ideology versus when they reflect what people have actually done.

So in the case of Zen, for example, yes, you have many statements to the effect that enlightenment should be something that can appear in every aspect of your life. But did the Zen monks leave their monasteries and stop performing their elaborate rituals and stop devoting 40 years of their life to doing these things? No, they kept doing that...

[The idea that] a Zen master is as good as a Buddha had actually been quite important in giving East Asia, China in the first instance, a sense that they didn't need India. And there was a big shift in Chinese culture about a millennium ago, towards a, a more independent culture that didn't look outside China. What this meant was that you had created a new Buddhist culture that was distinctively Chinese, that used Chinese poetry, also painting and calligraphy. And it was this package that was exported to Japan…

‘One of the things that accounts for a Zen success in Japan is the strong connections established between the government and the Japanese, the Zen institutions’

‘Why did they, why were they attracted to each other, Zen and the government?’

‘Well, Buddhism is power. I mean, in addition to being enlightened and all those other things, you know, one of the things that Buddhism promises is worldly power. If you perform good Buddhist deeds, if you patronize enlightened Buddhist masters, you get a return in this life which can help you do all sorts of things. So this is, this is not unique to Japan by any means. And this goes back to the beginnings of Buddhism in India really.’

‘But in Japan Buddhism really established itself as a state religion that legitimized the government. And the Zen schools as that sort of newly arrived schools could legitimize the emerging ruling elites, which are the warrior elites. So the reason is not really the kind of stern discipline that monastics, Zen monasticism was proposing, but was in the fact that Zen monks coming from China, were bringing Chinese civilization, they were bringing, they were kind of a new players in the acculturation of the emerging military classes’…

‘In Japan, for instance, when we really see films about the samurai, several times we're looking at a man using Zen to the perfect Archer. Now, can you give us the connection there, because archery and zen has gone through it.’

‘I'm afraid that that was not a connection that was made historically. Martial Arts had their own, their own kind of development. And in fact, you can say that they were as much linked to Zen as to tantric Buddhism. All the swords that for instance, are used by, swordsmens are, not all but many of them are inscribed with esoteric deities, with tantric deities rather than with Zen sayings. But the connection between Zen and martial arts is, I think, a much more modern connection. Now that started really at the end of the 19th century, and was part of a broader movement of modernizing Zen and associating it to all sort of, well, art and non religious elements, spiritual elements. And it's connected to the emphasis on Bushido as one of the ident-, kind of characteristic that identifies Japan. So we are not talking really of medieval positions here.’...

[On the claiming of Zen by the Beach by Kerouac and Ginsberg and by Zen and the Art of motorcycle maintenance etc] I think they were getting something that was seriously there. But they were, of course, also extracting it from its historical, institutional, religious context. So, but on the other hand, that's what Buddhists have always done. When the Chinese got Buddhism from India. They also extracted it from that context and made something new. So from that point of view, it's all well and good, but from a historical point of view it's a bit novel


Sidestepping rational thought is a good description of Eastern philosophy - non-rational, or even mystical mumbo jumbo

Links - 4th January 2020 (1)

Harriman: Sea Otters in Alaska - "In July, 1911, the United States, Japan, Russia and Great Britain entered into a treaty "for the protection of fur seals and sea otters in the North Pacific, by outlawing the killing of fur seals and sea otters in these waters by any Americans except Alaska Natives." The U.S. Navy was charged with enforcing the treaty, and, the sea otter in Alaska made a remarkable recovery"
Western countries - leading the way in altruism even in the early 20th century

Drone Research Shows Why Albatross Wings Are Black On Top - "the dark upper wing surface absorbs sunlight very efficiently -- so efficiently, in fact, that the dark upper wing surface could become as much as 10° Celsius (18° F) warmer than the pale underside. This temperature difference lowers air pressure on the upper side of the wing, which reduces drag and generates additional lift, according to the researchers. This serves to make soaring less energetically expensive for these large seabirds, particularly over long distances."

Tubercles on Humpback Whales' Flippers: Application of Bio-Inspired Technology - "In “bubbling” behaviors, underwater exhalations from the paired blowholes produce clouds or columns of bubbles, which concentrate the prey (Winn and Reichley 1985; Sharpe and Dill 1997; Leighton et al. 2007; Reidenberg and Laitman 2007). Bubble nets are produced as the whale swims toward the surface in a circular pattern from depth. At completion of the bubble net, the whale pivots with its flippers and then banks to the inside as it turns sharply into and through the center of the net (Ingebrigtsen 1929; Hain et al. 1982)."

BBC World Service - 30 Animals That Made Us Smarter, Whale and wind turbine - "History books tell us the vast number of humpbacks that were hunted commercially for their oil, meat and baleen. During this time, more than 90% of the global population were killed, and in 1998, they were listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN. But thanks to a moratorium on commercial whaling a few years earlier in 1982, amongst other reasons, by the International Whaling Commission, their numbers have steadily increased. They were reclassified in 2008 as being of least concern, although certain populations still retain an endangered status.”
Great, Japan can hunt humpback whales too now since extinction is fake news

China’s Debt Relief along the Belt and Road – What’s the Story?
So China does actually do some debt relief, but it's less than before BRI. Which means as a proportion of their lending it's been going down

The German city of Dresden has been forced to declare a 'Nazi emergency' - "The eastern German city of Dresden has declared a "Nazi emergency" as officials warned of a rise in far-right support and violence.The city is the birthplace of the Islamophobic Pegida movement, which holds weekly rallies here, while the anti-immigration Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) party won 28 per cent in September regional elections... It was backed by the left and liberal parties but rejected not only by the AfD members but also by centre-right Christian Democrats who said it should not have targeted right-wing extremism only."

Right- and left-wing violence cannot be equated, says expert - "if an anti-Semitic crime cannot be fully cleared or dispelled, it is automatically categorised as a right-wing extremist act, even if it is not.Moreover, in recent years we have observed an increase in physical attacks on Jews where perpetrators are of Arab descent...
If one believes the statistics, there are more left than right-wing extremists in Germany. However, more crimes are being committed by the right. Is this true?
This is because of how offences are classified – one has to distinguish between hate crime and propaganda offences. The German penal code is strongly tailored to deal with right-wing extremist acts, notably with regard to inciting people and forbidden symbols. This means that that the amount of propaganda offences perpetrated by the right is much higher than on the left."
If you cook the statistics, you can use them for political ends. Like bashing the "far right" and ignoring leftist violence

Frank Magnitz: Far-right German politician is beaten unconscious - "A far-right German lawmaker has been beaten unconscious by at least three masked assailants in an attack seen by police as "politically motivated."Frank Magnitz, a member of parliament and the leader of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party (AfD) in Bremen, was assaulted on Monday afternoon as he walked through the center of the city... This attack comes after an explosion targeted an AfD office in the eastern state of Saxony on January 3. Police said there has been a rise in attacks against the party, and that most incidents were acts of vandalism"

General election 2019: Who has selected the most women as candidates? - "Politicians understand by encouraging the adoption of women candidates in these "retirement" seats - many of whom will inherit strong majorities and are seen as relatively safe - the parties can boost their number of female MPs and edge towards gender balance.The selections in such prized "safe" seats remains ongoing, but at the time of writing, more female candidates had been selected than the number of incumbent female MPs who are leaving the Commons"
This is a great way to tell people that female politicians don't get into Parliament on their own merits and shouldn't be taken seriously

Eranski on Twitter - "I just realized AOC has open DMs and my mind is filled with intrusive thoughts of boomers in sunglasses demanding feet pics from her & sending her bathroom selfies with The Punisher logo tattooed on their sunburned sweaty chests."
"@coherentstates Replace “boomer” with any ethnic or cultural minority, does this tweet still read okay to you? Congratulations Twitter, you’ve invented the world’s first ageist slur."

Millennials' extreme hatred for Baby Boomers is totally unjustified - "Millennials (and to some extent their Gen-X and Gen-Z brethren) hate their elders with a ferocity never before seen in our culture. Egged on by the media-savvy likes of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, they blame prolonged heat waves on boomers who supposedly stood by and cheered as the Earth went up in flames. The phrase “OK BOOMER” has now become young people’s “repeated retort to the problem of older people who just don’t get it,” marking “the end of friendly generational relations,” The New York Times declared last week. According to the article, a teen designer has already sold $10,000 worth of sweatshirts with the “OK BOOMER” slogan repeated many times on the front, ending with the line, “Have a terrible day.”Generation gaps will always be with us. Historian Marc Wortman found a generational split over sending young men off to war way back in 1941. But unlike those of us who came of age in the 1960s-early 1970s, who merely disapproved of our elders’ “colonialist” wars and shag rugs, millennials (born between 1980-1994) can’t stand the air we boomers breathe.Too many millennials whine that their complacent elders bequeathed them a rotten America and a rotten world — economic malaise that will leave them with lousier lives than their parents and a planet on fire from climate change. But if they spent more time studying actual history, which can’t easily be found on iPhones, they’d know that boomers were, and remain, the most socially and environmentally conscious generation America ever has ever known. Maybe too much so — our universities’ overwhelmingly “progressive” agendas originated in the 1960s and have become more dominant ever since... Despite horror stories about six-figure debt, college grads owed an average $29,200 for student loans in 2018, according to the nonprofit Institute for College Access & Success. That’s barely more than the $4,000 I owed when I graduated in 1971 — which was $25,249 adjusted for inflation in 2019 dollars... Maybe today’s young workers who resent lunching at their desks would prefer busing tables in a high-volume steakhouse under merciless, slave-driving owners, as I first did when I got out of college.Our bosses fed us sandwiches before a 10-hour shift that included no lunch or dinner break inside or out"

Meme - "“Please trust me, I grew up in a Communist nation and escaped it as an adult, it was Hell, everyone suffered, their promises were empty, you don’t want it here”
Millenial Westerners: “Okay boomer""

Microsoft Japan’s experiment with 3-day weekend boosts worker productivity by 40 percent - "Microsoft Japan carried out a “Working Reform Project” called the Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019. For one month last August, the company implemented a three-day weekend every week, giving 2,300 employees every Friday off during the month. This “special paid vacation” did not come at the expense of any other vacation time... even though the employees were at work for less time, more work was actually getting done! A lot of the increase in productivity is attributed to the changing of meetings. With only four days to get everything done for the week, many meetings were cut, shortened, or changed to virtual meetings instead of in-person. And even though it should seem obvious, it’s also important to note that 92.1 percent of employees said that they liked the four day workweek at the end of the trial. Due to its success this year, Microsoft is planning on repeating it again next summer or perhaps at other times as well."

German firm tests out 5-hour work day, employees work from 8am to 1pm - "Lasse Rheingans, the company’s managing director, reduced the workday to five hours from the standard eight, keeping employee salaries and annual leave the same as before.However, this comes with some conditions – employees are mandated to keep their phones away and avoid distractions such as small talk.Employees also check their emails only twice a day, and meetings are scheduled to last no more than 15 minutes.As such, work efficiency is maximised within the five hours, and employees can go home at lunchtime... Rheingans is quite adamant on this management method. In a 2018 Business Insider article, he talked about what he felt was a pointless “work longer” mentality.
“In my experience, there is nothing to gain from working longer,” said Rheingans, “In software development, for example, you end up making more mistakes, you have to go back over everything and in the end you invest more time than would have if you’d worked shorter hours and focused harder.”
Many of his employees were happy about the changes, delivering better quality work for clients.Employees were also able to engage in their personal hobbies, and Rheingans himself had more time to spend with his children.The new working arrangement also proved to be economically successful to some extent, as Rheingans added that the company turned a profit in 2018, when the trial was in place. He now implements the five-hour work day in summer months."
As with Microsoft, this is a summer thing. This suggests that this is good - but only when there isn't a lot of work to do

Tokyo companies’ late-night overtime habits exposed in time-lapse YouTube video channel【Videos】 - "In order to present a more accurate picture of their working environments, the organization Tokyo Workers films the Tokyo offices of major Japanese companies, in time-lapse, to see how late their interior lights are on."

Meme - "When the world's richest guy is bald, It's a proof that there is no cure for baldness So don't waste your money in hair growth remedies.
*Jeff Bezos*"

Westerners in shock & awe at S’pore hotel’s room service robot - "Hotel Jen, which appears to be the hotel the Twitter user was staying in, has had this nifty little service for a while now.The first two robots, adorably named Jeno and Jena, were introduced back in November 2017."

Gang of 16 threaten gym users with knives in Finsbury Park robbery - "Six of the "biggest athletes" from the sports academy were walking home together at 8.20pm on Monday when they were accosted by a group of about 16 males near the Stroud Green Road gate... Dynamic Sports Academy coach Adrian Klemens said: "They were being tailed by one of them on a bike. Then there were 16 of them. They circled them and picked one off to the side and said: 'Give me your phone or I will stab you - put in your Apple Pay password.'"Out of our group three were white and three were black and they said to the black guys: 'You're good,' and just attacked the white guys."Adrian said the victim they took to the side kept putting his password in wrong because it was his mum's account, prompting one assailant to tell him: 'If you get this wrong again you're dead.'... "We need a physical presence in the park. I've been running that sports academy for 13 years and I've never seen police.""

What's Blockchain Actually Good for, Anyway? For Now, Not Much | WIRED - "the cryptographic machinery behind blockchains is notoriously slow. Early platforms, like Ethereum, which gave rise to the ICO frenzy, are far too sluggish to handle most commercial applications. For that reason, “decentralized” projects represent a tiny portion of corporate blockchain efforts, perhaps 3 percent, says Apolline Blandin, a researcher at the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance.The rest take shortcuts. So-called permissioned blockchains borrow ideas and terms from Bitcoin, but cut corners in the name of speed and simplicity. They retain central entities that control the data, doing away with the central innovation of blockchains. Blandin has a name for those projects: “blockchain memes.”... The system lacked practical features she uses all the time, like a simple way to link documents. She liked the software she uses now. It was built by an established company that was just a call away, in case anything fritzed. “I’m having a hard time understanding how blockchain is going to really positively affect my citizens,” Kinville says. “Is it the speed of the blockchain? The security? Between faxes and emails, things get done just as quickly.” The city’s data is backed up on three servers; Kinville keeps a print copy, just in case... For a while, blockchain was seen as a panacea, says Andrew Stevens, a Gartner analyst who coauthored the “blockchain fatigue” study. Stevens’ team focused on projects that touted blockchain as a way to identify fraudulent and tainted goods in supply chains. They predicted 90 percent of those projects would eventually stall. Blockchain evangelizers were finding that supply chains more complex than expected, and that blockchain offered no ready-made solutions. When it comes to mission-critical blockchain projects, “there are no deployments across any supply chains,” he says... Using blockchain simply to track and trace items is pointless on its own, says Jerry Cuomo, CTO of IBM Blockchain; there are already tools for that. But if there’s a dispute—say, between a retailer and a packer in its supply chain—companies find it useful to have a record with a common set of facts. Blockchain is, in theory, purpose-built to do just that. But it’s still early days, he says. “Try to start something with 20 companies and you’ll be in the room with 20 lawyers.”... Using Ethereum just wasn’t practical for handling day-to-day transactions from thousands of users and vendors. “It’s just too much for the technology today”"

Blockchain wins the John McAfee Award for Destroying Time and Wealth - "In December 2017, McAfee grew frustrated with people doubting the long-term viability of cryptocurrencies. “Bitcoin now at $16,600,” he tweeted. “Those of you in the old school who believe this is a bubble simply have not understood the new mathematics of the blockchain, or you did not care enough to try. Bubbles are mathematically impossible in this new paradigm. So are corrections and all else.”Ignoring that it would be very bad for literally anything if pricing corrections were impossible, that tweet did not age well. Since then, Bitcoin has lost 75 percent of its value. It is now trading at $4,000."

Friday, January 03, 2020

Links - 3rd January 2020 (2)

Fed Up (Ep. 390) - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "DUBNER: can you describe what it’s like to be a central banker in a time when the president is so willing to publicly rebuke the central bank’s work?
DALY: Well, let me first say that we all live in a much more open world than we used to. That we’ve always had disharmony. There have been times when people think the Fed’s not doing something right or this group isn’t doing something right. Another government institution isn’t doing something right. The thing that’s different now — and I would say it’s globally different — is that things are just more accessible. Twitter has made all the debates that used to be behind closed doors, and we’d learn about them long after people had departed their positions, have made them live... I’m not a historian, but I am a casual student of history. And when I go back and read periods of history, things look as contentious and debatable, it’s just very public now... there is something to the idea that people get nervous when expansions last a long time. We have this whole group of literature that says expansions don’t die of old age, and yet everybody thinks they do. So there’s just general nervousness that when you hit your 10-year mark, the longest expansion in history, the natural human tendency is to think it can’t last forever. Then you look at it in the data. And there’s been a lot of uncertainty. There’s trade uncertainty, there is Brexit uncertainty, there’s geopolitical uncertainty, there’s just the general financial volatility that comes from just markets trying to figure things out, that creates uncertainty.So this just creates a level of angst that makes people even more cautious than they would be if they were simply just thinking the expansion would run out of gas because it’s old. So, all those factors are ones that create mood issues, and the big question that I’ve been wrestling with the last nine months is, what’s going to win, the data or the mood? If you look at the data, the data are good. Apart from business investment, there really isn’t any weak indicator in the U.S. economy."

What can Silicon Valley learn from tinned food? - "Napoleon may or may not have said: "An army marches on its stomach," but he was clearly keen to broaden his soldiers' provisions from smoked and salted meat.Appert's laboratory was an early example of a common phenomenon - military needs spurring innovations that transform the economy.From GPS to Apple's iPhone to Arpanet, which became the internet, Silicon Valley is built on technologies first funded by the US Department of Defense... another Frenchman, Philippe de Girard, started applying the techniques to containers made of tin, not glass. But when he wanted to commercialise his idea, he decided to sail across the English Channel.Why? Too much French bureaucracy, according to Norman Cowell, former lecturer in food science at Reading University.He argues Britain's financial system of the time was entrepreneurial, with plenty of venture capitalists prepared to take risks."
Better not tell the libertarians that the government was instrumental in Silicon Valley's success

Are cigarettes responsible for modern marketing methods? - "in China, in the half-century after Chairman Mao took power, per-capita cigarette sales went up roughly ten-fold. The China National Tobacco Corporation is the country's most profitable company, and it sells 98% of cigarettes. State-owned, it contributes up to a tenth of government revenues.Perhaps it's no surprise, then, that China has been late to restrict cigarette advertising.As recently as 2005, adverts assured that "Smoking removes your troubles and worries". One brand warned that "Quitting smoking would bring you misery, shortening your life". That brand's name? Longlife... just 10% of smokers in China are aware that brands labelled "light" and "low tar" are no less harmful to your health than other cigarettes."

Belfry | Definition of Belfry by Merriam-Webster - "Surprisingly, belfry does not come from bell, and early belfries did not contain bells at all. Belfry comes from berfrey, a medieval term for a wooden tower used in sieges. The structure could be rolled up to a fortification wall so that warriors hidden inside could storm the battlements. Over time, the term was applied to other types of shelters and towers, many of which had bells in them. Through association, people began spelling berfrey as bellfrey, then as belfrey and later belfry. On a more metaphorical note, someone who has "bats in the belfry" is crazy or eccentric. This phrase is responsible for the use of bats for "crazy" ("Are you completely bats?") and the occasional use of belfry for "head" ("He's not quite right in the belfry")."

15189A Cosi fan tutte - detailed analysis - "They have contracted a sort of mock marriage with the wrong fiance. Or have they? Any great work of art, and maybe this is a defintion of a great work of art, is open to a variety of interpretations. So, for the sake of clarity, we are telling this story straight, as it is traditionally performed in the opera house. But the whole business of who knows what and when they know it - how much Despina knows and when, whether - and we shall return to this point later - the women should return to their original fiances or the new ones, how much the women are brainless pawns of a clever Don Alfonso and how much they drive the action - these are all questions wide open to interpretation by stage directors and fine singing actors"

Girls, what was the most obvious hint you dropped, and the guy just didn't get it? : AskReddit - "I asked a guy on a festival to come take a shower with me. He didn't get it. He just repeated there was only one free shower and I was like "well they are big I'm sure it's fine" and he just looked confused and told me I could go first."
"Invited him over to "watch a movie" eventually laying my legs across his lap and hard flirting but after 4 movies I had to finally make the move... 4 in one night! After I had told him previously that I'm giving him the green light. He said he was scared of creeping me out lol"
"I have a hard time asking girls out these days, in person, because I really dont want to make them uncomfortable. Last time I did I made the mistake of wearing my work shirt... she tried to get me fired... was at a sports bar type set up...To clarify, I didn't ask her out. I asked for her phone number. After talking to her for like 30 minutes... "hey, um let me know if I'm overstepping here, but I enjoyed talking to you and was wondering if I could have your number." Is exactly what I said. She said no, I said okay, and left the situation. Next thing I know my boss has a private meeting with me..."
"What do you expect in an age where women can revoke consent 30 years later, and men are convicted in the court of public opinion without a trial. Piss her off the morning after, and you could be looking at expulsion from your university, so its not too surprising that guys are going to want your consent and a liability waiver notarized in front of a district court judge."
"I realized recently that I'm scared to initiate friendships with women because of the few select women that have misconstrued platonic friendly gestures as making a move and used it as an excuse to belittle me."
"I've been invited over to my crush's house, where she made her sister go outside, changed in front of me into shorts and a tee, asked me to lay down with her, and put on a movie.I left early because I felt like a burden and a creep."
"And for girls who think their hints are obvious when they do this exact thing, we guys know that girls mainly do this with the friends way deep in the friend zone or they think the friend is gay. So no. It isn’t an obvious hint to us."
"Unfortunately, and I say this as someone who has been described fairly regularly as not at all creepy and has never crossed a line or been at risk of such a thing, the use of the term "creepy" as a descriptor of men by women is far more correlated with physical appearance than any other single characteristic, at least as I've seen it. People describe fedora-wearing fatsos as creepy without interacting with them beyond looking at them: people refuse to describe Ted Bundy as creepy despite there being irrefutable evidence of him raping and murdering numerous women."
"One girl gave me the green light, so when she came over , I started flirting with her and making moves. She leaves and then texts me that I made her uncomfortable by coming on to her.I didn't see her for 2 more years when she finally came over again, I was on my best behavior. we hadn't even talked about anything sexual. So o made a point to give her space and whatnot.This bitch texts me upset I didn't make moves."
"We were discussing costumes and I sent a picture of me in my bunnysuit and said I'd need help out of it . His response was telling me he hoped my roommate was home or that would suck .I had to tell him I was implying I'd like HIM to take it off me and it took him a minute to catch up"
"A girl came to my house once and spent the night. Around the time for bed, she told me she doesnt sleep with a top on or panties. I told her thats okay I'll sleep on the couch so she can be comfy.She called me from downstairs later that night and told me she couldnt sleep and she was cold. I figured "well obviously! Youre naked!" So i gave her another blanket and went back downstairs."
"I had a girl invite me round her house once just to show me her posters. They were all of Harley Davidson motorbikes, and she said she's never ridden a Harley before... Awkward silence and after a few other sort bits of small talk I decided to be on my way.2 years later I'm sitting on the bus and realise what she meant... Harley. Ridden a Harley... My name is Harley."
"My buddy in college was stressing over when to make the move to kiss a girl he liked. While we encouraged him to not wait for the perfect moment and just go for it, he admitted he should have tried to kiss her when they were in the shower."

Why Did Trump Win? - "Donald Trump’s wholly unexpected triumph in 2016 is the main explanandum of a vast political science literature that has emerged in the three years since. Economic explanations predominated at the beginning. Since then, a different diagnosis has come to the fore that traces support for Trump to White racial prejudice. This diagnosis has achieved a nearly hegemonic position among political scientists and Democratic elites more generally... Once we start looking at electoral college-weighted, county-level correlates of the Trump swing—Trump’s vote share less Romney’s vote share—a very different pattern emerges. The three strongest predictors of the Trump swing are college graduation rate, population growth rate, and growth in deaths due to drug overdoses in 2003-2017... Trump strongholds are places that are bleeding people. College-educated people are known to be much more mobile than people without a college degree. This suggests that the pattern we see in college graduation rates is due to college-graduates leaving, or not returning, to these places... But the most striking correlate of the Trump swing is growth in deaths due to drug overdose. The fixed-effect of this variable is a remarkable +3.4%. That’s higher than the fixed-effect of college graduation rate, population growth rate, and net migration rate. Indeed, in a three-factor model, growth in deaths due to overdose emerges as the strongest predictor of the Trump swing... Without controlling for other factors, median income is negatively correlated with the Trump swing (fixed-effect = -2.6%). The interpretation of these correlations is straightforward: Counties that swung to Trump are poorer than those that did not... These results should disabuse us of the notion that Trump’s election had little to do with people getting left behind—I drop the quotation marks on purpose. Trump is in the White House because large parts of the country are in serious trouble. People can see the decline of their communities with their own eyes. What is pissing them off is that coastal elites keep ignoring their trauma and focus their attention on creating a more inclusive country. But what does this have to do with racism? More pointedly: Why does the breakdown of elite-mass relations, now manifest in the Trump insurgency, exhibit the symptoms that it does? Why do people in Trump country, whose trauma is real enough, blame immigrants and minorities? Part of the answer is that people in Trump country regard Boasian antiracism as the hegemonic ideology of coastal elites—as indeed it is. Of course, they don’t call it that; they call it political correctness instead. Resentment of coastal elites, although driven by all-too-real decline of situated communities, is thus expressed as a wholesale rejection of the hated elites’ self-congratulatory worldview... In effect, Trump is a message from Flyover Country for elites. Are American elites listening? Democrats in particular need to pay attention. It is Democrats who repaired elite-mass relations through the 20th century and thereby re-stabilized the system. They must do it again. In order to do so, they must abandon the idea that racism is the key to 2016. It is not. Widespread despair is the key to 2016."

The Simple Secret of Trump's Supreme Political Confidence: Old-Fashioned Fan Mail - "When politicians are deliberating over joining a presidential race, it is common for them to boast that a diverse array of Americans is encouraging them to run. While there is often truth to this claim, the appeals usually come from staff, close friends and loyal donors who have offered regular support over the years.Cohen’s binders of letters, the outpouring of promises and pleas, were perhaps unprecedented in modern times"

Firefly: pictures, information, classification and more - "The females of certain unusual insect-eating North American fireflies are known to mimic the flashes of other, nonpredatory females. When an unsuspecting male alights nearby, the predatory female reduces the intensity of her flashes to more closely resemble the weaker signals of the nonpredatory female until her prey is within reach"

What termites can teach architects - "Architects will be able to physically replicate the processes by which organisms build habitats or biological membranes, to control the flow of heat, moisture or any other component of ‘comfort’... How does the mound dissipate air through its network of holes? As the sun moves through the sky during the day, the air in the thinner chimneys on the outer edges of the mound heat up quickly, while the air in the mound’s big, central chimney stays relatively cool. Hot air rises up through the outer chimneys and cool air in the central chimney sinks, circulating air continuously—injecting oxygen and flushing out carbon dioxide. At night, the flow reverses as the outer chimney air cools down quicker than the inner chimney air. Mimicking termites’ strategies, architects and engineers can drastically improve energy efficiency in buildings. Take Mick Pearce, a Zimbabwean architect who designed the award-winning Eastgate Center in Harare, Zimbabwe. Similar to termite mounds, the concrete outer walls of Eastgate are porous. As wind blows through the tunnels on a hot day, the concrete sucks up the heat, cooling the wind before it whooshes into the shopping center. Fans flush the heat out of the concrete at night so it will be ready to store more heat the next day. Following termites’ lead, Pearce cut energy use down to about 10 percent of a normal building that size."

Video: Cartwheeling spider inspires robot for Mars - "A recently described spider called Cebrennus rechenbergi can avoid predators by tumbling to safety, an ability that inspired its discoverer to develop a robot with a similar talent... A bionics expert, he set about building a robot that could mimic the flicflac. He says such a machine would be ideal for navigating the harsh surface conditions of Mars, although it will have to have greater stamina than the spider. If the flicflac cartwheels more than four or five times a day Mr Rechenberg says it can die of exhaustion."

Coffee

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Coffee

"‘How important was it that coffee was non alcoholic?’

‘It was very important, although, of course, even more important back in the Ottoman Empire, and Arabia. It was important because, until that point, really in terms of sociable drinking, that would all have to be conducted over some form of alcohol. So once there was a drink that was actually doing the wakeful as opposed to the sleeping, that obviously enabled it to be used in settings such as work practices, such as places where people were negotiating trading and so forth. And that becomes the basis really, of the early coffee houses’...

Some of the stuff that was written about the coffee houses in the early days was satire on it or promotion of the coffee house. There's a famous pamphlet in which the women were inveighing against the men for attending coffee houses and becoming feminized. They gossiped like women, and then when they came home, they're *cough* like shotten herring, no good for anything... They're impotent. Yes. Coffee houses made men impotent. But they also sharpened men's wits. So there were coffee houses associated with particular wits like the greats dramatist and poet John Dryden held court in in Will’s coffee house in Covent Garden...

So coffee had always had its detractors from when it, when it first arrived. This strange black hot, bitter drink. So it was an obvious sort of subject for satirical attacks and criticism. It had, critics of its physiological effects as well that we've been hearing about. I mean, medically people accused it of being both an intoxicant and an aphrodisiac, but also causing impotence and obstructing the bowels and things like that. And then people also accused it of wasting people's time, hanging around in coffee houses, talking to each other, keeping talking because that's the effect that coffee has long into the night, when they should have been, people should have been working. So apprentices and law students are particularly accused of spending far too much time in the coffee house.

People also accuse it of being an exotic luxury, you know, wasting the nation's hard currency for product which has no nutritional value. And so, this sort of connection between physiological fear of the effects that coffee was having on, on British masculinity as it were, on British men and the social effects that coffee has, becomes a sort of vector for hostility to coffee into coffee houses…

In the middle of the 18th century the royal family took to tea drinking and coffee was no longer quite such the, the buzzy drink. Tea became more refined. Tea was also something that you could drink at home so it could be more widespread. Coffee was something you drank in a coffee house, all men. Tea, you could drink at home. The lady of the house could preside over the tea table. Also the because of the Dutch East India Company doing so well with coffee trade, the British East India Company, I think put more of its effort into tea drinking. So there's a big commercial pressure to keep producing tea and making tea more saleable... it declined seriously and has never fully recovered even in the current coffee boom…

America is really the first mass market for coffee. And what we see is obviously a gradual increase over the 19th century where we see big growth immediately after the Civil War. And that's probably because in terms of the armies of the Civil War, the Confederate Army consumed a large amount of coffee. Coffee obviously has psychoactive properties, which we've discussed, that was seen as a good thing by the generals to keep their soldiers alert. Their soldiers became very keen on coffee and were drinking coffee, as they put it between meals, with meals, after meals. On every route march we have to have coffee before we start and so forth. So the coffee ration that was actually given to each soldier probably would have supported making 10 cups of coffee a day. Obviously, once those people are demobilized, that's quite a latent demand for coffee...

[On Brazil using slave labour to produce coffee and accounting for an overwhelming proportion of global supply due to it, and being the last to abolish slavery] It's still by far the largest producer. I think about somewhere between a third and a half of the global production is Brazil… after slavery was abolished, and this, the people who have previously been slaves were unwilling to work on on the plantations, as you can imagine, and they tried indentured labor, especially from from Southern Europe and from Japan, which accounts for the large, partly accounts for the large populations of Japanese and Italian immigrants and in Brazil, and they mechanized more of the, more of the production so that it didn't require as much labour when slave labour is not available. Then the next step is steam driven...

‘I think if we look at the way coffee consumption is going today, it seems to me to set out two quite radical alternatives for the world. One is the world of corporate coffee, the coffee chains existing on a low wage economy. So you have that kind of mass coffee market on the one hand. On the other hand, do you have these micro lot esstates, fair trade coffee, the sort of hipster coffee which is as varied and as interesting as as fine wines. And it's made in an artisanal way and designed to be consumed by a kind of small self selecting, perhaps. But it's a very different model of how to live’

‘Well, I, I'm going to start by disagreeing a little bit because the corporate chains that you're referring to actually created that market for the specialty coffee. And in fact, I think the big division we have to think about is really the division between coffee being drunk as coffee in the coffee shop, and the kind of mass coffee that we have as coffee products, most of which is drunk in the home or used in other ways in the home’…

‘As the Swiss government stockpiles essential foodstocks in case of new nuclear wars… they have a huge stockpile of tons and tons of coffee, and I thought this isn't really an essential, you know, and it's taking up room that could be taken up with lithium ion batteries or whatever, which is more essential, sardines or soy or whatever. But the Swiss people rose up and said, No, we must have, coffee is an essential. We've got to keep it...

In Algeria in the 19th and 20th centuries when the French colonized Algeria, there was a thriving Algerian coffee culture, which is very like the Oriental culture. Men drinking in the afternoon, chatting on tonight, drinking that kind of coffee. The French brought coffee with them as a colonizing force. And they couldn't really understand, they rather looked down on this local coffee culture. They thought that these people were... the gossip and the idleness, they're wasting their time sitting around gossiping, whereas the French are drinking their kind of coffee at the right times of the day, first thing in the morning, and after dinner, were able to be fit, alert, intelligent and efficient, whereas these natives were drinking coffee in a way which rendered them luxurious and idle’

‘It's an interesting reflection on that is that actually coffee growing and coffee growing countries generally as we said, drink very little coffee. And part of the reason for that is that actually their own governments or their own rulers have prevented them from so doing, not least, for example, say Kenya had a rule that you couldn't roast coffee in the country. And that was in place up until the 2000s. What we do see is actually that where coffee is consumed in those economies, it is standard instant style coffee. So we have the irony that these coffee growing countries are drinking coffee in ways that are very much the, you know, the ways that we have developed to actually sort of compress and, frankly, reduce the quality of the coffee and the time that goes into it’…

‘Italy is, has obviously is very proud of its coffee culture. Really that coffee culture although as we said Italy's the entry point for coffee into Europe, it really becomes developed with the distinctiveness of espresso. Espresso is a way of it, of basically preparing coffee. And the essence of it is using pressure to speed up the time of extraction. Beginning of the century, you see these first wonderful big, huge vertical coffee machines with big steam boilers making things that they call espresso because they're making coffee expressly for each individual customer. They're making it up by expressing, using a certain amount of steam pressure, to put the water through the coffee, and they're making it much quicker, though for that pirate it's about 40 seconds.

When we start thinking about espresso is really with the revolution that comes immediately after the Second World War with Gaggia, Achille Gaggia, who produced the lever machine which actually is kind of a spring coiled machine. And consequently using that piston is able to push water through at much higher, much higher pressures about sort of nine to 12 bars. Once that standardized with the application of electricity and so forth, and Italy at that time again is urbanizing very rapidly and also *something* electricity, we have the development of the Italian coffee bar.

Fast coffee, short, short shots delivered quickly. And we also have the Italian coffee culture. Standing up drinking the coffee. Going in, going out very quickly. Part of that is because the Italians have a law that enabled them to put a maximum price on coffee, but it was a cup of coffee served without service, if that makes sense. So it had to be a cup of coffee just passed across the bar. And as a result, that coffee prices kept very low. Everyone takes their coffee standing up.

One of the reasons why only now do we have in the last couple of years a Starbucks opening in Italy is because there was no market for that, because basically the prices would have been far too high to generate any real demand amongst the Italian people’...

Austerity means that actually the fascists don't really approve of coffee. Coffee imports kind of  decline during the whole of fascism. Because they regard it exactly as Martin was saying. It's, you know, it's a drink that is a luxury because it's imported. So as early as 1926, espresso machines, the installation of espresso machines is temporarily outlawed in Fascist Italy in order to stop people drinking luxurious coffee. So the real take off of all of that machine is really in the 50s"

Links - 3rd January 2020 (1)

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Saudi oil industry attacked - "‘Mankind is making huge strides in one particular area of development, namely, child mortality. Reports from the World Health Organization and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation released this week have shown that in almost all countries of the world, the number of children dying before the age of five has fallen over the past 20 years. In the year 2000, the figure was nearly 10 million child deaths. By 2017. That figure was almost halved even as the world's total population continued to grow. A story to celebrate, but not apparently covered by most news organizations’...
‘One expert used to quiz people about big trends and compare their answers to the random guesses of chimpanzees. The chimps won every time. Educated audiences were systematically wrong. You've got to ask where we get our information? Well, from the news, which overlooks big trends in favor of sudden events, shapes perceptions with famine and disaster. And so we miss one of the most colossal changes in human welfare ever’"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, Who Will Lead Israel? - "[On the disadvantages of proportional representation] The Israeli electoral system of proportional representation guarantees coalition governments, especially if the result is close as it was this month, the vote is followed by a decision by the President about who’s asked to try to form a government. Then there's weeks of horse trading about which party gets what. It is never a pretty process. Promises are elastic or expendable. The leaders of smaller parties can become kingmakers...
You might think that after President Trump's travel ban, ever increasing sanctions and threats of war against Iran, Iranians in America would unite against the president. But in the Farsi cafe, my dining companions are quick to disabuse me of the notion of a unified Persian front. We’re settling into a traditional lunch of *something*, in the heart of what has become known as Terangeles, the district of Los Angeles, that is home to the largest population of Iranians anywhere outside Iran. There were some Iranians here who voted for Trump, and actually want America to go to war with Iran... Those people see it as a fast route to regime change… but it would be a disaster for Iran. It would end up as another Syria. Fred and Susie both came to the US in the late 70s and watched Iran's Islamic Revolution unfold from afar. They were soon followed by thousands of their countrymen and women escaping the new regime. American-Iranian relations had been cordial under the Shah and LA, with its Mediterranean climate, car culture, and proximity to mountains felt familiar to those fleeing Tehran. It didn't take long for an Iranian quarter to spring up in West LA, and the new arrivals were generally welcomed by the American people. But on the fourth of November 1979, that all changed when a group of Iranian students stormed the US Embassy in Tehran, and took 52 Americans hostage. Iranians were suddenly public enemy number 1. 40 years later, the hostage crisis is viewed as an embarrassing episode by most American Iranians, or Persian Americans, as some insist, keen to distance themselves from the country today. And they’re keen to point out how well they've done too. Iranians are the most successful immigrant population in the whole of the US, Mo bellows enthusiastically at me. He’s a restauranteur and casino owner, a fast talking hyperbolic advert for the American dream. We’re in top positions in tech, in government, in business. We're creating jobs, he brags. And he's not too bothered by the president’s stance on Iran. Trump has been good for the economy. Business has never been better… The monarchists voted for [Trump]. Of course, the monarchists, they come up a lot in conversation here. They're the Iranian immigrants who had connections to the Shah and loathe the current regime. The one man I speak to of this persuasion is in favor of the US attack on Iran, despite still having friends and family living there. As he puts it, what do you want? A slow death, or a quick one?… Obama was too soft on Iran she says. And when pressed on her voting intentions for next year's election, she doesn't rule out voting for Donald Trump... most Iranians in LA agree on one thing - they want an end to the Islamic Republic. But how that should be achieved is up for discussion. An awful lot of discussion"

Orlando Figes On The Transformation Of Europe | History Extra Podcast - HistoryExtra - "We think of opera now as a sort of rarefied, elite art form, but in the 19th century it was very popular and in Italy, in particular, there were several hundred opera houses, it was a genuinely popular art form. And if a new say Verdi opera came out, within days of the premiere, there were organ grinders playing the music, you could hear it being played by bands on a bandstand. It was being sung by cafe performers. It was that quick, the dissemination of opera, right down to, yeah, the cafe concert, the tavern, the music hall, and so on. So the way we think today of this sort of great bifurcation between high culture and mass culture didn't really exist at that time, in the sense that they were both then feeding off each other. It was really only with the conscious creation of a canon of classical music, the idea of classical music was an invention of the 1830s 40s and 50s. It's only at that point that this divide begins to develop. But even after that, high culture remains popular"

Episode 126: Art History BB: Caravaggio's The Calling of St. Matthew — The Art History Babes - "'[Baroque] literally means misshapen pearl and denotes the twisting helix shape often seen in Baroque art. Baroque compositions also tend to include more movement [than Renaissance Art]. Beginning in the 17th century, the Baroque built on Renaissance foundations of rationality and illusionism, but they added more drama, because who doesn't want more drama? I want more drama...
Baroque adds an intense and emotionally charged spiritualism into what the Renaissance artists were already creating. Artists were much more interested in representing important transitions or the moment right before something important happens.’
‘So a good kind of predecessor to this idea would be like Michelangelo's David, where he decided to sculpt the moment, right before David flings the rock and kills Goliath. So it's that moment of contemplation, like that moment of calm before the storm, and then that's something that you really see in Baroque art... He would lie and cheat to get what he wanted, and even face slander charges for making up a dirty poem about a rival'…
‘He was also an artichoke slinger... He also challenged viewers of the time, in mixing high and low subjects within his art, which it wasn't uncommon to see paintings of biblical scenes where people were in contemporary clothing. But it was kind of the level of unsavoryness that he would include that really would get people upset’...
‘I’ve been known to tell people like you're too interesting to be interested in the Renaissance. Let's move on to the Baroque... You think you like the Renaissance, but you don't even know yet’
‘Like that's such a snobby art historian moment.’"

Episode 133: Art History BB: Taj Mahal — The Art History Babes - "Traditionally, Akbar is considered the Emperor that made the Mughal Empire great for support and spread of religious tolerance. Alternatively, his grandson, Aurangzeb gets the blame for implementing more strict Islamic rules and essentially setting up the empire’s eventual decline…
This idea that we like to align history with our current ideology. And we want to find patterns and things that make sense to us based on where we're at now, which we've talked about in the podcast, like in terms of not, you know, imposing our views on historical figures, people and kind of having period eye in that way that we understand or like period thought, I guess that would be we're like understanding where a person was in time. But he gets into like, people like to make Akbar the hero for being tolerant and Aurangzeb the villain for being intolerant. But he also points out that might not have had anything to do with why the Mughal Empire fell, and maybe like a warning not to moralize it in a way. Because we tend to do that and want to be like, see, like religious tolerance would have saved the Mughal Empire...
‘We love to do the good versus evil argument. The fact that like, the Marvel movies are so popular right now is like proof that people want a good guy and a bad guy, you want a hero, you want a villain, you want it, you just want it clean, you know, this guy was right, this guy was wrong. And you want history to fit into a neat black and white diagram... And it's like, man, that's just like, not the way it works the vast majority of the time’...
'History is written often according to a contemporary narrative'"

The Economics of Sports Gambling (Ep. 388) - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "MATHESON: For an economist, “black market” doesn’t mean “bad things.” Black market for an economist simply means that this is something that’s not recorded, and the government doesn’t know about. So when I ask my students what sort of black-market activities are out there? They’ll tell me, “Drugs, prostitution, gambling, running guns,” and I will come right back, and I’ll tell them “Oh yeah — and babysitting and mowing lawns.”...
The oldest organized sports that we have a good date on is the Olympics. The Olympics came about in 776 B.C. We have good evidence of that. We have fairly good evidence that the first gambling on the Olympics occurred in about 775 B.C. So as soon as they started playing games, someone started gambling on it...
Gambling certainly does have the possibility to undermine the integrity of sports. And it has particularly the worry to undermine college sports — again, because college athletes are generating huge amounts of money for the N.C.A.A. while not getting paid.  The obvious solution is: pay the athletes what they’re worth. But we’re not going to see that anytime soon, so— they’re going to maintain their integrity by policing their athletes rather than, by actually giving them a living wage.
DUBNER: Right. Meaning the more you’re paid, the less incentive you have to throw a game. Or to participate at all, collaborate with gamblers.
MATHESON: Historically, one of the most corrupt sports is cricket. And that’s because until about 20 years ago, the only cricket out there were national team games. So India playing Pakistan or England playing Australia. The problem is, you didn’t have any free agency, because it’s very hard for an Australian to become an Indian. And so players were stuck on their teams. And because players were stuck on their teams, they didn’t make much money. Even though cricket was wildly popular in places like India. So here you have a sport where there are literally hundreds of millions of people watching. But the athletes themselves weren’t making any money. That is pretty much the prime recipe for corruption. And again, massive corruption in cricket, both known and suspected.  But guess what — about 10 years ago, they started actually playing some professional club cricket called the I.P.L., the Indian Premier League. And now you actually have cricket players making some decent money. There’s evidence that suggests that the number of suspicious matches in cricket has gone down since cricketers started actually making some real money and have something to lose if they get caught...
DUBNER: Is spending on sports gambling regressive?
MATHESON: I don’t think we have nearly enough data to answer that question. We certainly know that gambling on, for example, lottery tickets — highly regressive, especially scratch-off tickets. Super regressive. We do know that gambling is associated with lots of bad social effects. We know that introduction of state lotteries and casinos into neighborhoods increases crime. It increases bankruptcy. A huge portion of consumer bankruptcies involve at least some amount of gambling that occurs. And there’s reason to believe that sports gambling puts a particular group at specific risk. Think of all those sports fans who say, ‘“You know, I would never buy a lottery ticket. That’s just luck. But I know everything about sports. I should be able to win this.” And guess what? You can’t beat the casino. These amateurs who think they’re experts don’t stand a chance, but do stand a chance of really getting sucked in. And the question is how quickly can they extricate themselves and realize that “Yeah, I’m actually not any good at this.”... the one sports gamble that we know has a long-run payoff is actually betting on the horse races and betting heavy favorites to show. So what that means is you’re taking a horse that everyone thinks is going to win the race, and you bet on them to at least come in no worse than third. It turns out that that is a winning bet, dollar-wise."

How the Supermarket Helped America Win the Cold War (Ep. 386) - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "HAMILTON: The 1957 Supermarket U.S.A. exhibit in Zagreb, Yugoslavia, which was then a communist country, was a fully operational 10,000-square foot American supermarket filled with frozen foods and breakfast cereals and everything else. They airlifted in fresh produce from the U.S. because they didn’t think Yugoslavian produce was attractive enough. It was about this display of affordable abundance available to American consumers.
For anyone who didn’t get the message, there was also a sign touting, quote, “the knowledge of science and technology available to this age.” In other words: “if you like our breakfast cereal, just think how much you’ll like the rest of our capitalism.”
HAMILTON: There were quite a few people who thought that if you showed that American consumers could access affordable food — strawberries in December — without having to wait in line, that that might actually cause the whole communist system to collapse.
The Supermarket U.S.A. exhibit proved tremendously popular. More than 1 million Yugoslavs visited; some received free bags of American food.
HAMILTON: Immediately after seeing it, Marshal Tito, the leader of the country at the time, ordered the whole thing to be purchased and it was bought wholesale from the United States exhibitors and used as a model. They hired a consultant from an Atlanta supermarket firm to come over and teach them how to build their own chain of socialist supermarkets...
In the early 1930s, when the U.S. government guaranteed farmers 80 cents per bushel of wheat, the government wound up buying, and storing, more than 250 million bushels... If you ever wonder why the U.S.D.A.’s old “food pyramid” — the diagram of recommended servings of different foods — why the biggest category, at the bottom of the pyramid, was “bread, cereal, rice, and pasta,” well, the U.S. had an awful lot of all those foods. And if you ate as the U.S.D.A. instructed, there’s a good chance you put on a few pounds. You can’t think about nutrition without thinking about agriculture policy...
TIMMER: High-fructose corn syrup. Yep. You’ve got surplus corn and you’ve got a demand for easy, convenient sweetener in the food sector. And that was just a perfect storm. That syrup revolutionizes food processing because instead of a powdery sweet thing, it’s a liquid, and liquids are way easier to handle in food processing...
I used to ask my class, I’m talking 1985, “Where is the world’s largest supercomputer?” And the correct answer was, “It’s at the Pentagon.” Okay. “Where is the world’s second largest supercomputer?” Bentonville, Ark. Home of Walmart. They used that computer to track every single item on every single Walmart shelf. That information technology is what revolutionized food marketing. And it was pretty much invented by Walmart...
Another consequence of the scaling-up of American agriculture: more standardization and less variety.
HAMILTON: So apples — in the early 20th century, consumers in say, New York state would have access to literally hundreds of varieties, even in mass retail markets. By the mid-20th century, it’s down to just a handful. Red Delicious really dominates the whole market. And apples became remarkably tasteless by the mid-20th century, so certain qualities were given up in order to gain that advantage of price and abundance.
TIMMER: Well, we clearly won the food wars in terms of supply and abundance. We won the abundance war. What we may be in the process of losing is the health and quality dimensions going forward."

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Links - 1st January 2020 (2)

S’poreans fear cockroaches more than death, ghosts & loneliness: Survey - "54 percent of 1,033 respondents fear drowning the most. Fire (48 percent) comes next on the list of 15 phobias that respondents were presented with, followed by reptiles (47 percent) and cockroaches (42 percent)... women as a whole are twice as likely to be very afraid of reptiles (61 percent versus 32 percent).They are also more likely to fear roaches (56 percent versus 28 percent)."

Everything halal: consumer goods makers exploit Indonesian push for products that satisfy Islamic law, selling ‘halal fridges’ and ‘halal cat food’ - "The Sharp representative told her that the materials usually used to produce fridge compartments could contain traces of animal products that are forbidden to Muslims, she recalls.“When it was time to replace my old fridge, I didn’t hesitate to choose this [halal] fridge,” says Miranti, who had been invited to the launch as a member of the Indonesian Halal Chef Association... Indonesia had planned to make halal labelling mandatory for consumer products and services from this month, but the high cost of acquiring certification and the lack of clear guidelines meant millions of local producers were without certification as the deadline came and went.  Under the plan, compulsory labelling would have first applied to food and drink products and services from October 17, before being gradually widened to include drugs, cosmetics and other consumer goods... In recent years the country has seen an increasing number of non-consumable products labelled halal. These include cotton buds, laundry detergent, fabric softener, hijabs (hair and neck scarves) and shoes. This labelling has sparked debate, both online and offline, with many questioning the manufacturers’ motives for putting halal labels on their products... not all products can be granted halal certificates from the MUI. The organisation can send a letter of refusal along with an explanation of why certain products do not need to be halal-certified.  He cites one rejected request from a natural gas company that wanted to get halal certification for its product. The company, he says, argued that the natural gas would be used in the production of halal make-up and therefore required certification. The MUI, however, did not agree.
And you thought halal toilets were bad
Is Indonesia still an example of "moderate Islam"


Ministry launches Indonesia’s first halal-certified corrective glasses

Private versus public electricity distribution utilities: Are outcomes different for end-users? - "Overall, we find no major differences between the efficiency and quality of services which commercial end-users receive from private or public utility companies. This is also reflected by the fact that the top 10 economies in the Getting Electricity indicator of Doing Business have both majority public (e.g. Korea Electric Power Corp and Dubai Electricity and Water Authority) and majority private distribution companies (e.g. CLP Power Hong Kong Ltd and UK Power Networks) represented."
So much for the private sector always being better than the public. Or, on the other side, that evil capitalism and profit seeking results in degraded service

Michael Moore Tries To Prove Women Are Better Than Men, Gets Brilliantly Shut Down By A Woman - "There are plenty of badass women but Academy-Award winning filmmaker Michael Moore thinks there aren’t any bad ones. “No women ever invented an atomic bomb, built a smokestack, initiated a Holocaust, melted the polar ice caps or organized a school shooting,” Moore tweeted. Missing logic in his men vs. women claims, writer Jessica Ellis wrote an insightful rebuttal to Moore"

Boy told not to doodle in class decorates restaurant with his drawings - "Joe Whale, nine, kept getting into trouble for doodling during classtime. Rather than shutting down the habit of scribbling in his workbook, Joe’s parents decided to encourage his creativity by sending their son to an after-school art class. His teacher recognised Joe’s talent and posted his work all over Instagram, which led to something pretty wonderful. Number 4, a restaurant in Shrewsbury, contacted Joe’s teacher to ask if the nine-year-old could come to the building and decorate the dining room with his drawings."

Georgia Rappers Rape Female, Set Her on Fire after Losing Freestyle Battle to Her - "Three scumbag reprobate rappers from southern Georgia reportedly committed unspeakably evil crimes against a female just because she beat the three in freestyle rap battle, according to media reports.The three degenerate Columbus, Ga. men (and we use the term loosely) — Ketorie Glover, 23, Joey Betrail Garron, 28, and Robert Carl Johnson, 23 — decided to avenge their humiliation for losing to a female by deciding to kidnap her, gang rape her, sodomize her, shoot her and set the victim on fire and leave her for dead."

London's Gatwick Airport tests faster ways to board - "The trial includes boarding people from the back row to the front, with window seat passengers boarding first, followed by middle and then aisle seats... A Gatwick spokesperson told CNN that in the first week of the trial a flight of 158 passengers boarded in 14 minutes -- two to three minutes faster than normal."

Instagram and Facebook ban 'sexual' use of emojis including the eggplant and peach - "Facebook and Instagram have banned the use of 'sexual emojis' including the eggplant, peach and water drips.The new guidelines state that the taboo emojis cannot be used to depict sexual activity and nude body parts can't be covered up with the playful symbols."

Trump has more female senior advisers than last three administrations - "President Trump has seven women currently serving as senior White House advisers — more than any of his three predecessors.At the same time in their presidencies, Barack Obama had five; George W. Bush three, and Bill Clinton five... Trump’s record may be higher than that of any chief executive in history"

Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne Used To Hate Donald Trump. Now, He’s Kind of a Fan. - "Before Donald Trump took office, it was hard to find a tougher critic of him than Patrick Byrne, the libertarian CEO of the online retailer Overstock.com... Byrne has reconsidered his views on President Trump, who he says is dismantling the administrative state and deregulating the economy in powerful ways. Byrne, who wrote his Stanford doctoral dissertation on the limited-government philosophy of Robert Nozick, even says that Trump is right to challenge China on trade and that libertarians need to be willing to confront places where the world is more complicated than our theories allow. He says that while there are still many things that bother him about the president—especially his rhetorical style—it's time to realize Trump is not only a far better president than Hillary Clinton would have been, but has moved things forward on issues such as tax reform, criminal justice reform, and school choice."

Donald Trump's Job Approval Higher Than Obama's At Same Point in Presidency, Poll Shows - "Despite a string of White House controversies, a recent poll shows President Donald Trump's job approval rating is currently higher than former President Barack Obama's was at the same point in his administration.According to Gallup, Trump's job approval rating is at 43 percent—three points higher than Obama's 40 percent at the same time in his presidency. The survey shows Trump only one point behind Bill Clinton and four points behind Ronald Reagan at this point in their first term."

Historians and Journalists Defend Donald Trump After President Is Mocked on Ancient Rome Comments - "President Donald Trump has come under fire for suggesting that the culture and values that bind the U.S. and Italy date back thousands of years to ancient Rome.The remarks were made during a Wednesday press conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella at the White House. They prompted derision online from social media users who interpreted Trump's comments as suggesting the two nations had been allied for thousands of years, even though both are less than 250 years old. But others came to Trump's defense, suggesting the president was in fact commenting on Roman cultural, political and legal traditions that imbue all modern Western nations and governments, including the U.S.Trump said Wednesday that the "United States and Italy are bound together by a shared cultural and political heritage dating back thousands of years to Ancient Rome." Many social media users jumped on Trump's comments, citing them as a further example of the president's apparent historical illiteracy. The Western Roman Empire had collapsed by 476, 1,300 years before the foundation of the U.S. Italy too, is a very young country, having only been unified from rival city states by 1871.The most vociferous online critics interpreted Trump's comments as suggesting the U.S. and Italy had been allies since ancient times. But the president did not say this.In fact, Trump's assertion of a shared heritage between American and Italian culture is an accurate one... Multiple historians and journalists came to Trump's defense. Mike Duncan, a best-selling author and podcaster who became famous for his work on ancient Rome, wrote on Twitter, "My scorching hot take is that what he said is basically fine."ABC News correspondent Terry Moran concurred. "Trump was absolutely 100 percent correct that Italy and the USA share a political and cultural history dating back to Ancient Rome," he explained. "The Senate, for instance. Look it up. Also Cicero, Cato, Cincinnatus, etc etc If you are tweaking Trump for this, you're embarrassing yourself."CNN reporter and Trump fact-checker Daniel Dale argued that the president's critics were unfairly misrepresenting his comments. "People are wrongly describing this statement to mock it," he said on Twitter."Trump said the two countries have a shared political-cultural heritage that dates to Ancient Rome, not that there were actual ties between two actual countries as far back as Ancient Rome.""

CAIR Demands Twitter Suspend President Trump for Attacking Ilhan Omar - "The Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) sent out a press release last Wednesday demanding that Twitter suspend its most important account: that of President Trump. Because Trump has repeatedly enraged Leftists by going over the heads of the establishment media and talking directly to the American people through his tweets, there are no doubt a large number of tweets that have made Leftists want him gone from Twitter forever. But the one that sent CAIR over the edge committed the sin that is absolutely, finally, unanswerably unpardonable: Trump had the audacity to criticize that sacred cow of all sacred cows, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.)... Predictably, Omar claimed victim status in her response to Trump: “The President of the United States is continuing to spread lies that put my life at risk. What is Twitter doing to combat this misinformation?” CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein doubled down on this preposterous claim that criticizing Omar was tantamount to threatening her life: “It is unconscionable that the president of the United States would so casually promote falsehoods that threaten the life a member of Congress elected by the people of Minnesota. Action must be taken by Twitter against the president and the source of the false information.” CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad chimed in with the equally preposterous charge that criticizing Omar meant that Trump was “anti-Muslim”... Omar, Hussein, and Awad don’t think they put Trump’s life at risk when they constantly characterize him as “anti-Muslim,” “racist,” etc. What is Twitter doing to combat this misinformation?"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Trouble at the top - "[On West Papua] The Internet close down, it's actually just did more harm than good. And it's actually been campaigned by so many people, including the activists and also Papuans itself, because that way, the people in Papua, they cannot get proper access to balanced news so they just get information from mouth to mouth and who knows that it's valid, or is it a hoax?"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, UK makes its move - "[On Qatar’s poor attendance in the World Athletic Championships] ‘In 2015 in Beijing, there were empty seats down in the Bird's Nest Stadium… in 2013, in Moscow, there were lots of empty seats and in fact Sergei Bubka who's the Ukrainian pole vault, former world record holder, he bused in 2000 Ukrainians to try and fill the stadium in Moscow... They've been bringing in workers, migrant workers, lots of East Africans supporting their athletes. The long distance events and members of the army have also been brought in to occupy some of those empty seats’…
‘But it's not just the empty seats. We've also been hearing stories about athletes’ problems, about athletes struggling with the heat too’
‘Again this was expected but what they did to try and mitigate against these problems was to have the long distance events, the road events, the marathons, the race walks, starting at midnight. But the first one was last weekend, the women's marathon had 68 runners. 28 failed to finish. There were people being carried off in wheelchairs, one or two on stretchers as well, all being helped off absolutely exhausted, soaked in sweat, it was suffocating heat, over 30 degrees with high humidity’"
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