When you can't live without bananas

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Friday, March 27, 2020

Links - 27th March 2020 (2)

The Laffer curve for high incomes - "Five countries have higher tax rates than the peak of the Laffer curve."

Estimating Income Responses to Tax Changes: A Dynamic Panel Data Approach - "We use the estimates to simulate the fiscal consequences of a tax reform that reduces the top marginal tax rate by five percentage points. Such a reform turns out to have negligible effects on tax revenues and may even yield a fiscal surplus."

Michelle Obama: George W. Bush is 'my partner in crime'
How times change. It seems like it was only yesterday that Dubya was literally Hitler

Islam’s reformation: an Arab-Israeli alliance is taking shape in the Middle East | The Spectator - "I’ve noticed a change of mood on my own travels. I regularly meet Egyptians and others who desperately want to normalise relations with Israel and they offer three reasons. First, the events of the Arab Spring exposed the fanaticism of the Muslim Brotherhood and other related Islamists, with the hardliners now being viewed as a threat to both Islam as a faith and Muslims as a people. Isis and other ‘Islamic states’ are, of course, the logical outcome of Islamism. Now that this creed has been tested to destruction, it is being seen for what it is — and rejected.Second, the need to stand firm against Iran is becoming a cause that unites Israel with Sunni Arabs and anti-Tehran Shiite Muslims in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. It’s well-known that mullahs in Tehran support Hezbollah, which is dedicated to destroying Israel. But they also meddle in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. So against this menace of Shiite political Islamism, committed to destroying Muslim secular governments and exporting Shiite revolutionary ideology, Israel is coming to be regarded as a benign neighbour.Finally, and most intriguingly, Israel is being seen by moderate Arab governments as a trade and security partner as the West sends mixed signals"

Maajid Nawaz - "White nationalists to Islamists in 2017:‬
‪“Your rhetoric is stoking jihadist terror”‬
‪Islamist reply: ‬
‪“Nothing to do with me guv” 🤷🏽‍♂️‬
‪Islamists to white nationalists in 2019:‬
‪“Your rhetoric is stoking far-right terror”‬
‪White nationalist reply: ‬
‪“Nothing to do with me guv” 🤷🏽‍♂️
‬ ‪Populists to #RegressiveLeft 2017:‬
‪“Tackle Islamist ideology to stop jihadist terror”‬
‪The Regressive Left:‬
‪“No. We must understand their grievances”‬
‪#RegressiveLeft to Populists in 2019:‬
‪“Tackle far-right ideology to stop racist terror”‬
‪“No. We must understand their grievances” 🤦🏽‍♂️‬
‪#RegressiveLeft to Populists 2017:‬
‪“It’s not about ideas. Jihadists are loners with mental health issues”‬
‪Populists in 2017:‬
‪“No. It’s ideology”‬
‪Populists to Regressive Left 2019:‬
‪“It’s not about ideas. Far-Right are loners with mental health issues”‬
‪Regressive Left 2019:‬
‪“No. It’s ideology” 🤦🏽‍♂️
‬ ‪Populists to Islamist 2017:‬
‪“Your leaders & ideologues are responsible for inflammatory rhetoric. Ban Islam!”‬
‪“Free Speech!”‬
‪Islamists to Populists 2019:‬
‪“Your President & ideologues are responsible for inflammatory rhetoric. Ban neo-Nazis!”‬
‪“Free Speech!” 🤦🏽‍♂️
And round and round and round it goes. Meanwhile, I feel like it’s groundhog day"

Meanwhile in Canada - Posts
So there're people complaining about Christmas trees now. Supposedly they take 12 years to grow, cutting them ruins the boreal forest and you shouldn't cut "lovely things" for a "stupid holiday". People always find something new to complain about. And the slippery slope continues to slide as people invent new problems...

Three year prison sentence for people who damage EU flag, German state proposes - "Anyone who attacks the blue and gold starred cloth displayed in public, rendering it “removed, destroyed, damaged, unusable or unrecognisable” could be slapped with a lengthy jail term or hefty fine. The proposed law will also protect the European anthem, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, according to a report in Saarbrucken Zeitung, a daily newspaper in West Germany... Paragraph 104 of Germany’s criminal code states that anyone who damages the flag or symbol of a foreign nation will be imprisoned or fined"

German police is hiding facts about migrant crime statistics "to preserve civil peace" - "The German newspaper Hannoversche Allgemeine recently raised the question if violent crime statistics are tweaked in the country.A state police officer is quoted saying: “There is no lying, nothing is hushed, but things are deliberately left out.”...  “In the case these terms do appear in police reports, from what I have understood, the police chief will make a written note on the report which says: ‘Please review this’.” This is a signal to alert the police officer who wrote the report to remove certain terms which are provocative and could have a negative influence on the statistics. In these statistics you will find the term assault instead of sexual assault without any further specification."

Germany springs to action over hate speech against migrants - The Washington Post - "even leaders on the political left are questioning whether the bid to weed out hate is going too far. Stefan Körner, chairman of Germany’s liberal Pirate Party, argued that democracies “must be able to bear” a measure of xenophobia. He condemned the government’s deal with social media outlets to get tougher on offensive speech, saying that “surely it will lead to too many rather than too few comments being blocked. This is creeping censorship, and we definitely don’t want that.”... The offensive views include an online post of a hangman’s noose as one solution to the refugee crisis, a quip by a right-wing politician about the breeding habits of Africans, as well as a comment made by a controversial speaker at an anti-migrant rally lamenting the closure of World War II-era concentration camps.The surge of incendiary comments online has been so strong that one of Germany’s largest media outlets, Der Spiegel, disabled its readers’ comment function for articles related to refugees."

Sweden Refusing New Study of Migrant Crime Despite Alarming Figures From Norway - "In Norway, all parties are united in the standpoint that it perfectly legitimate to investigate the connection between immigration and crime, despite having different opinions of the results"

Reality Check: Are migrants driving crime in Germany? - "Since 2014, the proportion of non-German suspects in the crime statistics has increased from 24% to just over 30% (when we take out crimes related to immigration and asylum irregularities). Breaking that down even further, in 2017 those classified as "asylum applicants or civil war refugees or illegal immigrants" represented a total of 8.5% of all suspects.  This is despite their population representing just 2% of Germany as a whole. When it comes to violent crime, 10.4% of murder suspects and 11.9% of sexual offence suspects were asylum-seekers and refugees in 2017.  A government-backed analysis of the German state of Lower Saxony, which has taken the fourth-highest number of asylum seekers, showed there was an increase of violent crime by 10.4% between 2014 and 2016.  It analysed the crimes that had been solved, and attributed the overwhelming majority of the rise to migrants."

Booby traps: Man in Maine killed by own device - "A 65-year-old American man who rigged his home with a booby trap to keep out intruders has been killed by the device.Ronald Cyr called police in the town of Van Buren in the state of Maine to say he had been shot.Police found a door had been designed to fire a handgun should anyone attempt to enter. Mr Cyr was taken to hospital but died of his injuries.It is illegal for home-owners to install such traps... It is illegal to set up devices in your home to protect it from intruders, if those devices can cause harm.The legal argument is that life is more valued than property and that the devices have no means of preventing accidental harm or distinguishing between targets.Even if the trap targets a criminal, the trap-setter, though having the right to protect their home, has no right to determine the punishment. Injury can lead to lawsuits. In the 1971 case of Katko v. Briney, in Iowa, two homeowners were held liable for injuries caused by their spring-loaded shotgun to a trespasser intent on stealing from a vacant property.The court ruled the deadly force was not reasonable and awarded the plaintiff $30,000 (£23,000) in damages."
Freedom, fuck yeah!
I thought in some states you have the right to shoot and kill anyone who enters your home illegally

Nazi design exhibition in Netherlands raises fears of glorification - "An exhibition of Nazi design has opened in the Netherlands to protests and a request for visitors to the museum not to take and share photographs for fear of the exhibits being glorified on social media.The Museum of Design in Den Bosch is showcasing sculpture by Adolf Hitler’s favourite artist, Arno Breker, a 1943 VW Beetle, photos and Leni Riefenstahl films from the era, in what is being billed as the first great exposition of the “Design of the Third Reich”.Running for five months, the exhibition has been criticised by the Association of Dutch Anti-fascists, which has called in vain for local authorities to intervene."
People cannot be allowed to think the Wrong Thing. Telling people what to think is good when it's in the name of "anti-Fascism"

Twitter Doesn’t Realize that Protecting Hate Speech Promotes Tolerance - "In the 1830s abolitionists were using the U.S. mail in their campaign to end slavery. In 1835 United States Postmaster Amos Kendall found one bulk mailing to Charleston, South Carolina, to be particularly objectionable. He believed the mailing to be part of “a wicked plan of exciting the negroes to insurrection and to massacre” and conferred President Andrew Jackson on how to handle the mailing, which was characterized by Charleston’s postmaster as “inflammatory and incendiary.”Jackson’s response was to order the mail delivered only to “subscribers” and the names of abolitionists receiving the mail to be “published as supporters of ‘exciting the negroes to insurrection and to massacre.’” The abolitionists deserved, Jackson added, “to atone for this wicked attempt with their lives.”It was the speech of abolitionists that some, including the President, considered offensive. In slaveholding states the speech of abolitionists was criminalized, with their speech considered “treason against slavery.” In Maryland, criminal libel laws were used against abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison.Which is more dangerous: “Offensive” words or suppression of speech? Today, particularly on college campuses, many believe that words are the greater danger. Pew Research Center survey data reveals that 40 percent of millennials believe that “government should be able to prevent people publicly making statements that are offensive to minority groups.” Overall, 28 percent of the U.S. population shares that views.  Social media has responded to the call of the minority for censorship. At the urging of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Twitter has recently suspended the accounts of those on the alt-right that they determine to be guilty of hate speech. In October, YouTube restricted access to a video on the First Amendment by Wall Street Journal reporter Kimberley Strassel on the grounds that it was “potentially objectionable.” The restriction was reversed after others exercised their right of free speech to expose YouTube’s decision as ludicrous. This past spring when many in England were in an uproar about Donald Trump, the English author of the Harry Potter series J.K. Rowling offered this defense of the freedom to be offensive: “[Trump’s] freedom to speak protects my freedom to call him a bigot. His freedom guarantees mine.”"

Gorillas, orangutans and chimps die in German zoo fire - "The fire was likely to have been caused by Chinese sky lanterns that were set off amid New Year’s Eve celebrations and landed inside the zoo... 48-year-old Massa, the oldest living silverback gorilla in the European endangered species breeding programme, had perished in the flames. Investigators believe it is highly likely the fire was was caused by Chinese sky lanterns, also known as Kongming lanterns, which had been illegally set off in the city, police said at a press conference on Wednesday.Several witnesses had reported low-flying lanterns in the city on Tuesday night, and three lanterns with handwritten messages had been found near the zoo enclosure, a police spokesperson said. Setting off rockets and firecrackers in the streets is a key part of Germany’s New Year’s Eve ritual, and the law allows citizens to light their own fireworks in public on 31 December and 1 January.In recent years there has been a growing debate about a ban on pyrotechnics, and about 30 German municipalities imposed partial bans on private fireworks this year.The sale of Chinese sky lanterns is already illegal in all German states bar the eastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, however."
I guess the death of charismatic animals pisses people off more than "racism"

A particularly unhinged person

Even by the standards of online commenters, this person is particularly unhinged

The Atlantic - Posts: "To what extent should the Constitution be violated to fight the coronavirus?"

Sarah IH: The Constitution should never be violated and anyone who feels otherwise is my committed existential enemy.

Alexander Gordillo: Sarah IH The constitution is not a suicide pact

Thomas Jefferson:

“A strict observance of the written law is doubtless one of the high duties of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation. To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to the written law, would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property and all those who are enjoying them with us; thus absurdly sacrificing the ends to the means.”

Sarah IH: Alexander Gordillo I stand by what I said.

Scott Allen: Jeffe Sarah IH good luck with that. I hope you’re not with the “freedom” group that believes that anything you want to do should be allowed.

Alexander Gordillo: Sarah IH you must be so clear on the constitution as to absolve all interpreting done by lawyers. Good on you! Also, existential enemy? Give yourself a break.

Sarah IH: Alexander Gordillo I am a lawyer. And I have not interest in discussing this with you further.

Scott Allen Jeffe Nor with you.

Alexander Gordillo: Sarah IH I will comment and respond as I please. You are free to share your opinion and I am free to respond.

Sarah IH: Alexander Gordillo Go discuss it with someone not your enemy. Blocked.

Caleb Kuddes: Sarah IH if you’re not interested in discussing it, why comment? Does declaring it satisfy you in some way? Unfortunately the Constitution is pretty useless to dead people, and without “violating” the letter of it, there are going to be a whole lot of them.

Sarah IH: Caleb Kuddes Because it interests me to see how many traitors and enemies are in our midst. So not you either. Blocked.

Jaana Reising: Sarah IH The way you are responding to Alexander and Scott is making me think that you must have received your “degree” in trump university.

Sarah IH: Jaana Reising I hate that traitor. Blocked.

Links - 27th March 2020 (1)

F-35 Problems: How the Joint Strike Fighter Got to Be Such a Mess - "For over two decades, the F-35 has been the symbol of everything that's wrong with mammoth defense contracts: behind schedule, over budget, and initially, over-sold... The development of the F-35 has been a mess by any measurement. There are numerous reasons, but they all come back to what F-35 critics would call the jet's original sin: the Pentagon's attempt to make a one-size-fits-all warplane, a Joint Strike Fighter... Long before the delays and overruns that riddles the F-35 program, history was littered with illustrations of multi-mission aircraft that never quite measured up. Take Germany's WWII Junkers Ju-88, or the 1970s Panavia Tornado, or even the original F/A-18. Today the Hornet is a mainstay of the American military, but when it debuted it lacked the range and payload of the A-7 Corsair and acceleration and climb performance of the F-4 Phantom it was meant to replace. F-35 supporters were undaunted in the face of that evidence, adamant that the technological advances needed to make a do-it-all aircraft for several brances of the military had finally arrived... Who gets the blame for a 20-year misadventure? In 2013, the GAO's Michael Sullivan asserted that Lockheed had failed to get an early start on systems engineering and had not understood the technologies involved at the program's launch. But a RAND study the same year found the three F-35 variants had drifted so far apart during development that having a single base design may prove to be more expensive than if services had just built separate aircraft tailored to their own requirements from the get-go. And to this the fact that enormous defense projects almost always go over-budget and you've got a recipe for the start-and-stop, muddled first two decades of the F-35."

F-35’s Gun That Can’t Shoot Straight Adds to Its Roster of Flaws - Bloomberg - "Add a gun that can’t shoot straight to the problems that dog Lockheed Martin Corp.’s $428 billion F-35 program, including more than 800 software flaws... The annual assessment by Robert Behler, the Defense Department’s director of operational test and evaluation, doesn’t disclose any major new failings in the plane’s flying capabilities. But it flags a long list of issues that his office said should be resolved -- including 13 described as Category 1 “must-fix” items that affect safety or combat capability -- before the F-35’s upcoming $22 billion Block 4 phase... “no significant portion” of the U.S.’s F-35 fleet “was able to achieve and sustain” a September 2019 goal mandated by then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis: that the aircraft be capable 80% of the time needed to perform at least one type of combat mission. That target is known as the “Mission Capable” rate."

Questioning Law’s Empire - "Until the 19th century, Sumption says, “most human interactions were governed by custom and convention”, whereas now “law penetrates every corner of human life”. Witness the number of statutes and regulations that now govern us, as well as the “the relentless output of judgments of the courts”. Reviewing the range of questions over which judges now have jurisdiction, he observes that even “special areas that were once thought to be outside the purview of the courts, such as foreign policy, the conduct of overseas military operations and the other prerogative powers of the state, have all one by one yielded to the power of the judges”. And he notes further that the Human Rights Act 1998 “has opened up vast new areas to judicial regulation”. The lawyer’s conceit is that the expansion of law’s domain – and the jurisdiction of the courts – is simply the outworking of the rule of law. Not so says Sumption, for the rule of law “does not mean that every human problem and every moral dilemma calls for a legal solution”... lawmaking tends to displace other forms of social order and to curtail the discretion (of someone other than a judge) that may be necessary to respond intelligently to the problem... the recent, tragic case of little Charlie Gard reveals much about the changing place of law and courts in our public life. The doctors were unwilling to decide for themselves whether to discontinue treatment, instead seeking “absolution” from the court... The term “absolution” was chosen with care, I am sure, and implies, plausibly, that the rise of law turns partly on the retreat of religion... Turning more briefly to the quest for security and reduced tolerance of risk, Sumption argues that this inevitably results in ever more legal rules and legal action... His misgivings, I infer, concern the unreality of public expectations, which often overlook the trade-offs that must be made, the costs that pursuit of security entail. Lawmaking involves compromise and not every problem, to repeat, can or should be solved by extending law or empowering courts."
A more profound variety of judicial activism

The New Teacher Project says low expectations hurt kids - "Students only demonstrated grade-level mastery on their assignments 17% of the time. More often than not, their teachers are not assigning work that would bring them up to their grade level. “Students spent more than 500 hours per school year on assignments that weren’t appropriate for their grade and with instruction that didn’t ask enough of them–the equivalent of six months of wasted class time in each core subject,” the report found. But classrooms filled with predominantly higher-income students spent twice as much time on grade-appropriate assignments as classrooms with predominantly lower-income students."
The soft bigotry of low expectations hurts

It’s Okay to “Forget” What You Read - "What we get from books is not just a collection of names, dates and events stored in our minds like files in a computer. Books also change, via our mental models, the very reality that we perceive."

Genetic influence on family socioeconomic status and children's intelligence - "Environmental measures used widely in the behavioral sciences show nearly as much genetic influence as behavioral measures, a critical finding for interpreting associations between environmental factors and children's development. This research depends on the twin method that compares monozygotic and dizygotic twins, but key aspects of children's environment such as socioeconomic status (SES) cannot be investigated in twin studies because they are the same for children growing up together in a family. Here, using a new technique applied to DNA from 3000 unrelated children, we show significant genetic influence on family SES, and on its association with children's IQ at ages 7 and 12. In addition to demonstrating the ability to investigate genetic influence on between-family environmental measures, our results emphasize the need to consider genetics in research and policy on family SES and its association with children's IQ."
All those articles claiming meritocracy is a failure actually prove it's a success - smart people have smart kids

Beepocalypse myth busting: Honey bees, not wild species, key for crop pollination—and they're doing fine - "Fearmongers warn of a coming “Beepocalypse.” The media narrative is that bees are dying, humans are responsible, and if bees go extinct, many of our favorite foods will disappear and humans will starve to death. That’s a gross exaggeration.In reality, the western honey bee (a.k.a., European honey bee), which does much of the heavy lifting in regard to crop pollination, is doing just fine. Though there is evidence that some wild bee populations are declining, keep in mind that there are about 20,000 bee species, only a fraction of which contribute meaningfully to crop pollination. A paper published in Nature Communications underscores that latter point... bees are responsible for about 7% of our food supply. That’s a substantial portion; however, a bee extinction would not trigger civilizational collapse."

The Lost Meme - Posts - "Life hack *use of pants to concentrate and split the air output from a fan into two to channel it towards 2 tiers of a bunk bed*"

Algorithmic Extremism: Examining YouTube's Rabbit Hole of Radicalization - "The role that YouTube and its behind-the-scenes recommendation algorithm plays in encouraging online radicalization has been suggested by both journalists and academics alike. This study directly quantifies these claims by examining the role that YouTube's algorithm plays in suggesting radicalized content. After categorizing nearly 800 political channels, we were able to differentiate between political schemas in order to analyze the algorithm traffic flows out and between each group. After conducting a detailed analysis of recommendations received by each channel type, we refute the popular radicalization claims. To the contrary, these data suggest that YouTube's recommendation algorithm actively discourages viewers from visiting radicalizing or extremist content. Instead, the algorithm is shown to favor mainstream media and cable news content over independent YouTube channels with slant towards left-leaning or politically neutral channels. Our study thus suggests that YouTube's recommendation algorithm fails to promote inflammatory or radicalized content, as previously claimed by several outlets."
So much for one of journalists' favourite claims. Also notable, the finding that there is a left wing bias in YouTube's algorithm

Differences Between Currants, Raisins, and Sultanas - "The currants mentioned here are the dark, black currants popular in cakes. You will find them in classic dishes like Spotted Dick or an Eccles cake. They are dried, dark red, seedless grapes often called the Black Corinth grape... The name currant comes from the ancient city of Corinth... Raisins are dried white Moscatel grapes. When they are dried the result is a dark, dried fruit much like a currant, making it dense in texture and bursting with a sweet flavor... Raisins can (unlike currants) soak up other flavors, which is why it is popular to soak raisins in flavored alcohols such as brandy or almond-flavored Amaretto before using in cooking. The raisins can hold the flavor making the finished dish even tastier... A sultana is a dried white grape, but of the seedless variety. Sultanas are golden in color and tend to be much plumper, sweeter, and altogether juicier than other raisins... Also known as golden raisins, sultanas will absorb other flavors, but not as well as regular raisins."

Raffles Girls' School gets new home in Braddell Road, across from Raffles Institution - ""I'm excited to be coming back and I'm glad the new location is near RI - not for any funny reasons, but because it would be more convenient for the girls."She explained that when her daughter, also an RGS alumna, was in school, she had to frequently travel to RI for some programmes."

Local PTA didn't think this one through. : funny - "BJs in your PJs. Come socialize & eat ice cream in your pajamas!"
This matches: BJs in your PJs! - "Come get BJs... in your PJs. Ben and Jerry's that is! Come in your pajamas and get some yummy ice cream sandwiches.    This event is centered around safe sex, healthy relationships, STD's, and everything in between."

Selling My Own Kidney Should Be My Body, My Choice - "in Iran, a living donor compensation model was adopted in 1988 and, by the next year, the long transplant list had been eliminated—those who needed kidneys had received them... we already have markets for plenty of other body parts:
    What about compensating living donors? It should be noted that in the United States we already have robust markets for blood, semen, human eggs, and surrogate wombs...
43,000 people die each year in the United States because of our shortage...
each transplant saves taxpayers about $146,000, because the total lifetime cost for treating a transplant patient is far less than the lifetime cost for a patient receiving dialysis therapy, and the government accounts for most of the spending on both. Thus, the government could afford to compensate a kidney donor up to $146,000 and still save money for taxpayers...
The pro-choice crowd is wrong when they screech about “my body, my choice,” oversimplifying their opponents’ arguments, thinking abortion is a debate of mere bodily autonomy (it’s not). But all those quibbles aside, if they do authentically believe their own rallying cries, presumably every pro-choice person would be in favor of consensual kidney-selling."

Laws Banning Organ Markets Kill Even More People than Previously Thought - "I criticized the "exploitation of the poor" justification for banning organ markets in somewhat greater detail here, including pointing out that it cannot justify banning organ sales by donors who are not poor. The related argument that poor patients could not afford to buy kidneys in a market is also weak. The government can, if need be, subsidize the purchase of kidneys by poor patients, just as it currently subsidizes many other kinds of medical treatment for the poor. It would be far cheaper than the massive cost of paying for kidney dialysis, to say nothing of the cost of premature death, which deprives society of useful labor and the government of tax revenue. Even if we cannot get the subsidies completely right, that surely does not justify consigning thousands of people to death, any more than the absence of perfectly structured food subsidies justifies banning food markets and thereby causing large-scale starvation."

Markets with Just a Few Limits - "many nineteenth and early twentieth Americans opposed the introduction of life and health insurance for children, because they feared it would amount to treating children as if they were mere financial assets. For centuries, it was widely believed that it is wrong to pay teachers for education, because doing so debased the value of knowledge and wisdom. In the 1920s and 1930s, many people even opposed the introduction of parking meters because putting a price on the right to park was considered “un-American.”... many people oppose legalizing organ markets because they believe it would lead to exploitation of the poor. But most of them have no objection to letting poor people perform much more dangerous work, such as becoming lumberjacks or NFL players. If it is wrong to allow poor people to assume the risk of selling a kidney for money, surely it is even more wrong to allow them to take much greater risks in order to increase their income. If you believe that organ markets must be banned because they exploit the poor, you must also argue that the poor should be forbidden to take jobs as lumberjacks and football players. If you believe that such considerations justify banning participation in organ markets even by the non-poor, than we must also categorically forbid monetary compensation for football players. Indeed, the case for banning the payment of football players is actually much stronger than that for banning organ markets. Unlike the ban on organ markets, a ban on professional football  would not  lead to the deaths of thousands of innocent people.Other critics believe that organ markets must be banned because it is inherently wrong to “commodify” the human body. Yet most of them have no objection to letting a wide range of people profit from organ transplants, including doctors, insurance companies, hospital administrators, medical equipment suppliers, and so on. All of these people get paid (often handsomely) for helping transfer organs from one body to another. Perversely, the only participant in the process forbidden to profit from the “commodification” of organs is the one who provided the organ in the first place"

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Links - 26th March 2020 (3)

Rasid Harun - "A few years ago, when my son was still studying at a secondary school in Kuala Lumpur, I received a letter from the school informing me about "Kem Kepimpinan Pelajar Islam" (leadership camp for Islamic students) which was scheduled once a week, for several weeks, after school hours.The letter, however, did not seek my consent as a parent and guardian to send the student under my care to the after school programme. Instead, it was more of an acknowledgement.Knowing very well what takes place in such after school hours religious programmes, I wrote a letter to the school informing them that my son will not attend the programme and had assumed that since the school has been informed, my son would be excused from attending it. But I was wrong.A couple of hours before school ended on the first day of the "kem kepimpinan", my son called me from his school’s public telephone booth. He informed me that the school has rejected letters from parents who did not give their consent for their children to be held back for the religious programme.I advised my son to pack his bags after school hours and make his way to the school gate with other non-Muslim students. I convinced him that no one can stop him if he wanted to leave after school, and I would be waiting for him outside the school like I always do.When I arrived at my son’s school at 1.25pm, the main gate was shut. Only the side door next to the main gate was open, and I saw non-Muslim students walking out through it. I decided to wait for my son.A few minutes later, I received another phone call from my son.“Ma, I cannot come out. They have locked the main gate and informed the guard not to allow Muslim students to leave the school. I tried to leave, but the guard stopped me. I guess I don’t have a choice, I’ll see you after the programme ends at 4pm.”"
"Moderate Islam"!

Effects of a book gifting programme on literacy outcomes for foster children: A randomised controlled trial evaluation of the Letterbox Club in Northern Ireland - "Outcome measures focused on reading skills (reading accuracy, comprehension and rate) and attitudes to reading and school. The trial found no evidence that the book-gifting programme had any effect on any of the outcomes measured"
i.e. All the claims about how growing up with books is good for children may suffer from omitted variable bias

Kavita Puri On Asians In 1980s Britain | HistoryExtra Podcast - HistoryExtra - "‘Which parts of the subcontinent did these migrants typically come from?’
‘Funnily enough, they came from just a handful of places. If you think about the Indian subcontinent it is huge, but the main groups came from primarily the Punjab which had experienced a lot of violence and disruption during partition. So many British Sikhs come from the Indian Punjabi, in fact, they come from just a number of villages, but Muslims and Hindus came as well from the Punjab. And the other places are select [sp?] again, a place that was disrupted by partition, and Mirpur in Pakistan administered Kashmir. A huge dam was built and displaced many people, and so many Mirpuris came in the early 60s. But what's really interesting about those three places, the Punjab, British Sikhs with the British Indian army, Sylhetis, who since the 18th century, were lascars or sailors on the merchant ships, Mirpuris, some of whom worked in the boiler rooms during the Second World War. These were all groups that had relationships with Britain prior to independence. So there were already connections to Britain. And so when in 1948, the Nationality Act was passed, and every member of the Empire or former Commonwealth became citizens, they had people in places in Britain and that's how chain migration happened afterwards… I've been interviewing a lot of my interviewees for over five years and I always ask them, who do you feel you are? Where do you think you come from? And it's really complicated. It's not a quick answer. Because there's the place of your birth from the Indian subcontinent. Now remember, if you lived through partition, you may have had to move from one country to another, but then you also have an identity with the region that you're born. So Punjabis feel very Punjabi, they have their own language, and culture and tradition as do Bengalis, as do Sylhetis, as do Mirpuris, as do the Gujaratis, and they feel that great affinity to their region. And actually, your affinity to your region can sometimes transcend religion, which I found really interesting. But then you have your religious identity too, and then you have your British identity."

27 People Whose Life Hacks Are Pure Gems - "Here’s a parenting tip: Any time can be midnight if you search for last year’s ball drop on YouTube."
“Place 2 chopsticks across the top of a bowl to sit another one on for more space in the fridge.”
"Use a soda lid to put ketchup on."
“If your hotel room requires you to insert your key for power, you can put anything into the slot.”

This Insect Has The Only Mechanical Gears Ever Found in Nature - "The small hopping insect Issus coleoptratus uses toothed gears on its joints to precisely synchronize the kicks of its hind legs as it jumps forward"

What is the male equivalent of “F*ck this, I’ll just be a stripper”? : AskReddit - "The military"

rudy mustang on Twitter - "never forget when i tried to ubereats some thai food and this was their spice level options
White People "Hot"
American "Hot"
Actual Hot"
"The first time my husband (then boyfriend) and I tried Thai food, we were 19. Husband asked the Thai server what “Thai hot” meant. The man looked us over veeeery appraisingly, then said “Thai hot would kill you.”"

an idiot sandwich on Twitter - "This Thai place I went to in Hawaii was fed UP with the white tourists wanting their money back when they ordered their food spicy because they use Frank’s Red Hot at home"

Kin Thai Menu - Kin Thai Kitchen - "PICK YOUR SPICE LEVEL
Mildly Spicy with little or no sting.
Still mild, but will impart a stimulating “kick” to the lips and tongue. Will set tongue and lips tingling. The sensation lingers and spreads to a hearty glow.
The tingling glow is transformedto a raging fire, but the exotic flavors of Southeast Asia comesalive.
Can you take it? This level is for addicts and Thai nationals.
Thai Hot: You will have to order some Thai beer (SINGHA) and a box of tissue with the se dishes.Management accepts noresponsibility for side effects!"

Man forced to fake being gay to keep his job in handbag shop - "A 'humiliated' handbag shop worker forced to pretend to be gay to keep his job because his boss wouldn't hire straight men has won almost £8,000 in damages, it was revealed today.  Daniel Hart, 31, was ordered to keep his real sexuality quiet or face the boot from a boutique in Gateshead, Tyne & Wear.  Daniel, who is bisexual, says he was 'humiliated' because he was told to lie to his boss at Amon, Linda Zhang, who only wanted to hire women and gay men... Judge Tudor Garnon said: 'It is not uncommon for people to believe certain types of shop - those selling ladies accessories or cosmetics - should be staffed by people who understand what women want.'But there is absolutely no reason why an Asian or black woman or homosexual man would have any less understanding than a white woman or homosexual man.'"
The judge seems to be saying that it's okay to discriminate against straight men

Meme - "If you're not getting taken away in an ambulance With sparkle panties, oompa loompas and two crying easter bunnies, you‘re just not living your life."

Cenk Uygur on Twitter (Dec 22, 2018) - "I’ve been saying this from day one of his presidency but apparently most people still don’t get it - there is no way Donald Trump finishes his first term. Mark my words: He is out of office by 2019. He is not bright enough to be able to get himself out of the trouble he is in."
Reply: "This feels like one of those tweets that won’t age well" (Dec 22 2018)
"It's like election night 2016 all over again. I loved your work that night!"
"I liked watching the progression of his 2016 election night coverage from one of jubilance to depression so much I watched it again a couple of weeks ago just for yuks."
"I’m a frequent watcher of Cenk’s hilarious meltdown broadcast also !!  It’s a “must see” !"

Child leashes and harnesses are a legitimate solution to runaway kids. - "Runaway toddlers are a danger to themselves and the world. Leashes are an obvious solution. So why do some parents find them so offensive?... After the 2016 death of the gorilla Harambe, when Cincinnati zookeepers saved the life of a 3-year-old who had wandered into an enclosure by shooting and killing the animal, the internet harassed the child’s mother mercilessly. In this case, the preschooler wasn’t wearing a leash or harness, and the mother was wrangling several other kids. “The idea that we should be able to ‘manage’ our children, as if they are reasonable adults and not semi-feral animals covered in germs and fueled by destruction, is laughable,” Ijeoma Oluo wrote in defense of the child’s mother in the Guardian. “But we perpetrate these myths, and whenever the truth becomes unavoidable, we shame the mother instead of looking at the situation honestly.”  I see it this way: Toddlers are semi-feral, yes, but also, our world is not built for toddlers. I didn’t appreciate this disconnect before I had a child, but now I observe it constantly."

You Can Still Upgrade to Windows 10 For Free, Here's How - "Back when Windows 10 was first released, Microsoft allowed users of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. Microsoft officially ended the free upgrade offer in December 2017, but a method still works that allows you to upgrade an older version of Windows to Windows 10 for free."

Inflation and the Poor - "Using polling data for 31,869 households in thirty-eight countries and allowing for country effects, we show that the poor are more likely than the rich to mention inflation as a top national concern. This result survives several robustness checks. We also find direct measures of improvements in well-being of the poor-the change in their share in national income, the percent decline in poverty, and the percent change in the real minimum wage-to be negatively correlated with inflation in pooled cross-country samples."
i.e. inflation hurts the poor more than the rich

22 Convention Promises to 'Make Women Great Again' - "A group of unapologetic “mansplainers” are promising to “make women great again” with an upcoming convention in Orlando, Florida.Tickets for the May 1-3 event cost $1,999 and are only available to women... The “22 Convention” is billing itself as the “world’s ultimate event for women, by men.” Organized by “legendary manosphere event architect and 1st President of The Manosphere,” Anthony Johnson, the “22 Convention’s” lineup of all-male speakers aim to show women “the truth that unhealthy militant feminists have been hiding from you your entire life.”... Destined “to be the mansplaining event of the century,” the “22 Convention” also pledges to raise female attendees’ “femininity by 500%.”  In one photo on the “22 Convention’s” site, Johnson stands next to an image of a woman with a message that reads: “men prefer debt-free virgins without tattoos.”  Other topics of discussion include beauty and obesity, the war on motherhood, becoming the “ultimate wife” and how to “get pregnant and have unlimited babies.”... The “21 Convention,” a parallel event that teaches men to embrace their masculinity, is set to take place in April."

Alexander J.A Cortes on Twitter - "How to be a Beautiful Woman
- Be thin
- Be able to cook
- Have long hair
- Wear make-up
- Be feminine
- Be graceful
- Be Sensual
- Shave (should without saying)
- Be fashionable
- Wear pink and feminine colors
- Love men
- Listen to men
Stay classy ladies!"

Garbage Human re-follow - Posts - "American Girl sales are plummeting. Can the iconic ’90s brand be saved?"
"American Girl's 2020 'Girl of the Year' is first doll with disability"

Sapiosexualism Is Here to Stay - Rachel Anne Williams - "sexual selection itself shows that being attracted to intelligence is so much more than just being attracted to people that are good at taking intelligence tests. The dynamics of interpersonal mate selection are way more complicated than that. Kindness, humor, empathy, emotional intelligence, charisma, morality, wisdom, patience, creativity — these are some of the traits relevant to sexual selection besides just “quick thinking”. Another problem with sapiosexualism is how it advertises itself within the context of dating profiles: as a sexual orientation.That is, right there beside “gay”, “straight”, and “pansexual” is “sapiosexual”. This positioning misleadingly suggests that attraction to intelligence constitutes an entirely new axis along which we can think about sexual orientation. But this fundamentally misconstrues the domain of sexual orientation, which is about gender"

Economic crash could cost more life than coronavirus, says expert

Economic crash could cost more life than coronavirus, says expert | News | The Times

If the coronavirus lockdown leads to a fall in GDP of more than 6.4 per cent more years of life will be lost due to recession than will be gained through beating the virus, a study suggests.

Philip Thomas, professor of risk management at Bristol University, said that keeping the economy going in the next year was crucial, otherwise the measures would “do more harm than good”.

“I’m worried that in order to solve one problem we’d create a bigger problem,” he said a day after economists predicted we were on course for the worst recession in modern history.

There is a clear link between GDP and life expectancy, in part due to richer countries being able to spend more on healthcare, safety and environmental regulations. This means it is possible to calculate roughly the effect of increased, or decreased, wealth on the health of a population.

In a paper published before peer review, Professor Thomas has offset that figure against the lives saved through going into lockdown for a year while awaiting a vaccine. According to his modelling, just under a million Britons would die if we let the virus run unchecked. Most of those would be elderly and in terms of years of lives lost would equate to the deaths of 400,000 average age adults, roughly comparable to the toll of the Second World War.

“This is not going to be a three-week or three-month problem,” Professor Thomas said of the virus. Assuming our exit strategy is a vaccine, he said, “we’re talking 12 months, and that looks tight.”

This is why he thinks the economy is crucial — not because of a callous belief that lives can be traded for money, but because money and lives are, at some point, the same thing. “We see this very strong correlation between GDP and life expectancy,” he said. In his paper, published on Jvalue.co.uk, he estimates that if global trends can be extrapolated to the UK economy then the “tipping point”, to offset those 400,000 lives, comes when GDP falls by 6.4 per cent.

“If you reduce GDP per head by so much you start to reduce life expectancy considerably. Then what you are doing is cutting back GDP and at the same time shortening all our lives,” he said. “We are facing something very grave and it’s going to be very grave either way.”

The publication of the paper came as business leaders warned of a deep and lasting recession. IHS Markit, which produces the purchasing managers’ index with the Chartered Institute of Management and Supply, found the economy to be contracting at the fastest rate since the index began in 1998. It estimates that Britain’s economy had shrunk by 1.5-2 per cent this quarter, and predicted that following a total shutdown that figure would soon be “dwarfed” by what lay ahead. Some economists estimate we could expect a 15 per cent drop in the next quarter.

For comparison, at the height of the 2008/9 financial crash, the economy contracted by 2.1 per cent in a single quarter. Chris Williamson, IHS’s chief business economist, said, “a recession of a scale we have not seen in modern history is looking increasingly likely.”

The link between mortality and the economy is clear, but not simple. Some studies have suggested that it may be that greater life expectancy itself leads to economic growth, rather than the other way round. Short term effects are also sometimes in the opposite direction. Although suicides are linked to recessions, they can be offset by a fall in deaths caused by pollution and by accidents at work. The strength of the link between increased GDP and longevity also flattens off the richer a country gets.

Mr Thomas said that while the government could well have had no choice but to instigate the current policies, the focus now should be on making the economy work even while much of the country is confined to home.

“It worries me when I hear people saying, ‘Well, vital services can be kept going’. An economist would say that all the services we have are important.

“That’s why people spend money on them.

“The size of the problem is clear. You’ve got to find a way of keeping the whole country working.”

Links - 26th March 2020 (2)

Salon writer loses her mind, calls Hallmark movies fascist - The Post Millennial - "Hating on Hallmark has become an annual right of passage for progressive journalists, and Amanda Marcotte’s Salon piece “Hallmark movies are fascist propaganda” absolutely does not disappoint. Instead of taking the usual tack of calling it basic and boring, Marcotte deems it discriminatorily heteronormative, and authoritarian."

Meme - "You being ashamed to send your tit pic is misogynistic. If you were really a feminist. you would be comfortable showing us your body. Breasts are not sexual body parts. They're something everyone has. Don't let your internal misogyny stop you from sending nudes. Boobs are boobs and you need to learn a thing or two about feminism."
"fuckboys are evolving"

Amanda Ellen Gibbs - "Aldi, a discount grocery chain, is on an aggressive growth spurt in the United States, pressurising Walmart on low food prices"
"Its almost as though capitalism creates incentive among competitors to lower prices for consumers, or lose business to the guy who does!Opposing chains like Walmart and wanting them banned from neighborhoods seems...classist. Low income people should not be forced to spend more on goods because rich people don't want a Walmart in their town.The same "not in my backyard" mentality happens with affordable housing.You get rich people in NDP strongholds like my own, The Beaches, who claim to support more housing for new immigrants & lowering housing costs for all -- yet they are the first to oppose any loosening up on rent control, vocally oppose every high-rise development in our neighborhood, & think zoning should remain for single family homes only.If you can afford to spend more & shop local, awesome, you should voluntarily do it!What you should not do, is try to take away choice for others who don't have the same financial luxury as you. Competition lowers cost, period.Is it ruthless? Sometimes it can seem that way, corporations certainly don't have the charm of independent stores. It also makes life more affordable for all."

J Hus accuses Europeans of ‘forcing LGBT onto’ Africa and ‘weaponising’ homosexuality - "J Hus has accused Europeans of “forcing LGBT onto” Africa and “weaponising” homosexuality in a series of tweets about colonisation.The rapper began tweeting about Europe’s colonisation of Africa on Monday, writing: “STOP FORCING LGBT ONTO US. Live your life I don’t care but don’t force it onto me especially when you don’t wanna recognise these black struggle [sic].”... “They try force Ghana to include LGBT into their education when its not their culture. You can’t tell me they don’t try force it on us.”"
The liberal excuse is that Africans don't really know what they're talking about because they were made homophobic by European colonisation. But then one could say Europeans aren't really to blame either because they were indoctrinated into it by Christianity, which was a Jewish religion

Princess Anne attacks 'risky' health and safety culture - "The Princess Royal has said the
introduction of health and safety rules in sport could actually put more children at risk of harm.  In an interview with The Telegraph, the Princess tells of her concern that children no longer have the “skills” to choose for themselves what is safe because “health and safety” has decided for them, making some activities more dangerous as a result. She also speaks of feeling “cross” that areas of Britain are being condemned as “disadvantaged” to enable charities to obtain funding... “If you don’t allow children to assess their own risk-taking abilities, they never really learn, so they then go off and do things, which inherently they’re not good enough to do, but somebody has said health and safety says this is OK, and they’ve got no way of judging on their own whether or not they’ve got the skills to do it,” the Princess adds.  In her role as patron of the Scottish Rugby Union, she discloses that she once protested over the introduction of padding in rugby shirts to offer more protection against shoulder injuries.  “I did say to Scottish rugby’s doctor, please don’t do that because it’ll only make them hit each other harder,” she says. “They stopped it … because the injury rate had gone up so high.”"

'Gay gene' ruled out as huge study shows environment is major factor in homosexuality - "Genes play just a small role in whether a person is gay, scientists have found, after discovering that environment has a far bigger impact on homosexuality... They found that genes are responsible for between eight to 25 per cent of the probability of a person being gay, meaning at least three quarters is down to environment.  Scientists said it worked in a similar way to height, in which genes are partly responsible, but other factors - such as nutrition - also play a major role, adding or knocking off inches.   In this case, environment could mean anything from being exposed to certain conditions in the womb, to differences in upbringing or education... Commenting on the research, Dr Melinda Mills, of Nuffield Professor of Sociology at Nuffield College, University of Oxford, said: “There is an inclination to reduce sexuality to genetic determinism or to resent this reduction.  “Attributing same-sex orientation to genetics could enhance civil rights or reduce stigma. Conversely, there are fears it provides a tool for intervention or “cure.” "

im cutie on Twitter - "men: female comedians are not funny
sheep: female comedians are funny, you're just sexist
female comedians: vagina vagina vagina big and small vagina fart from vagina haha vagina i have a vagina political vagina got here because of my vagina my loose vagina *makes stupid face*"

A brief history of Quiznos’ collapse - "Between 2007 and 2017, Quiznos shrunk from 4,700 U.S. locations to fewer than 400. We can find no other example of a chain that had grown to that size that has shrunk that much in such a short period of time... Quiznos had a bad business model, a tough competitor, a devastating recession and a leveraged buyout"

The Alternative Left: Right Wing Students: A School Counselor's Rant - "'I work as a counselor at a school where there's a lot of 4chan-esque right wing boys who are coming up. The previous generation a year or two ago wasn't too bad, but this generation coming up now is much more right wing.My question is: how the f**k do I deal with this sh!t?  How am I supposed to honestly give counsel to a kid with a pepe shirt on? How do I talk to these kids who literally come to me and rant about affirmative action? 2 years ago these types barely even existed and now they're everywhere, not only men but women too.  They literally cannot control their right wing beliefs, they talk about it constantly, everywhere. They can't have a discussion about f**king math without bringing up how women hate math and science and that is why they are unsuccessful. They can't talk about english classes without talking about how colleges are wiping away white authors because of cultural Marxism. A kid came to me and ranted that his history classes 'blamed white people too much' for tragedies in the past and that it made him feel uncomfortable.I know my job is that people can come to me with whatever possible problems they want, no matter how controversial. But this is getting f**king out of hand. How do I do this?'...
"A kid came to me and ranted that his history classes 'blamed white people too much' for tragedies in the past and that it made him feel uncomfortable." Again, they learn by example. If blacks and women could go up to guidance counselors and actually blame white people for the tragedies of the past and that it made them uncomfortable, then should it surprise us that white students would eventually turn this on its head and otherwise do the same thing?... Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.  It's really that simple. My only question to our guidance counselor is: what the f**k did you think was going to happen? Are you honestly so naive and stupid as to believe that the white males you demonized for a lot longer than 4 years now would be content to simply hang their heads in shamed obedience and let the postmodern critical theory establishment horde the deconstructionist and identity politics goodies all to themselves?"
Ironically, liberals like to say that if you can't do your job, you should quit - when it comes to medical personnel who don't want to perform abortions, since they consider this "healthcare"

Trump held private meetings with Navy SEALs to discuss Afghanistan war - ""I don't want any generals in here. I don't want any officers," Trump added, according to Bergen's book, which was sourced from dozens of interviews with current and former White House officials and military officers. "I just want enlisted guys."... Enlisted service members are typically viewed as the lifeline of the military — they are the men and women who conduct the specific tasks given to them by their officers, whose primary purpose is to lead. Compared with their commissioned counterparts, enlisted troops are also unencumbered by the day-to-day politics of the military and may have given an unfiltered assessment of the war in talks with their commander in chief... Trump was said to have met with senior US military officials in the Situation Room at the White House. In the meeting, Trump said the US service members he spoke with knew "a lot more than you generals," and added that "we're losing" in Afghanistan.  Trump also compared the senior military leaders to a consultant for a Manhattan restaurant from the late 1980s. Instead of heeding the advice of the consultant, who merely suggested expanding a kitchen for renovations, Trump reportedly argued it would have been more prudent, and cheaper, to solicit the advice of waiters from a restaurant."
Presumably he just wanted to talk to the "white supremacists"

America has no good military options to use in Afghanistan - "The reasons why such outside support is critical are all too clear. Afghan forces are not getting better at anything like the rate required. The police lack paramilitary capability, army retention rates are dropping, and the Afghan air force is still largely a hollow shell. Afghan forces have only defeated major Taliban attacks on population centers because the American air force has increased the number of manned and remotely piloted aircraft sorties that release munitions... there are no good military options. Slashing the total military and contractor personnel or security aid as part of any peace process creates a potential power vacuum that the Taliban can exploit, since there is no practical way to disarm an irregular force that does not maintain heavy weapons. It also means trusting the Taliban to become the major Afghan counterterrorism force. Staying the course militarily, however, means supporting the Afghan forces indefinitely with no clear path to lasting victory. Leaving the country without a concrete peace settlement also means the probable collapse of the government and a Taliban takeover.  The civil options for leaving or staying are no better. The World Bank governance indicators show that Afghanistan still has one of the worst and most corrupt governments on the globe. The World Justice Project rates it as having the fourth worst justice system of any country rated, and no one has suggested that the coming election will unify the country behind Afghan President Ashraf Ghani or any other political leader.  The economy is an explosively divisive force"

Nicholas Kristof on Twitter - "My own realization that we were over our heads in Afghanistan came when I interviewed farmers who pretended to set up Taliban camps that the US would then bomb. The farmers would collect the remnants of millions of dollars worth of bombs and sell them for $100 as scrap metal."

U.S. officials misled the public about the war in Afghanistan, confidential documents reveal - Washington Post - "A confidential trove of government documents obtained by The Washington Post reveals that senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable... U.S. officials tried to create — from scratch — a democratic government in Kabul modeled after their own in Washington. It was a foreign concept to the Afghans, who were accustomed to tribalism, monarchism, communism and Islamic law.  “Our policy was to create a strong central government which was idiotic because Afghanistan does not have a history of a strong central government,” an unidentified former State Department official told government interviewers in 2015. “The timeframe for creating a strong central government is 100 years, which we didn’t have.”  Meanwhile, the United States flooded the fragile country with far more aid than it could possibly absorb.  During the peak of the fighting, from 2009 to 2012, U.S. lawmakers and military commanders believed the more they spent on schools, bridges, canals and other civil-works projects, the faster security would improve. Aid workers told government interviewers it was a colossal misjudgment, akin to pumping kerosene on a dying campfire just to keep the flame alive... The gusher of aid that Washington spent on Afghanistan also gave rise to historic levels of corruption... By allowing corruption to fester, U.S. officials told interviewers, they helped destroy the popular legitimacy of the wobbly Afghan government they were fighting to prop up. With judges and police chiefs and bureaucrats extorting bribes, many Afghans soured on democracy and turned to the Taliban to enforce order... A U.S. military officer estimated that one-third of police recruits were “drug addicts or Taliban.” Yet another called them “stealing fools” who looted so much fuel from U.S. bases that they perpetually smelled of gasoline...   “We stated that our goal is to establish a ‘flourishing market economy,’ ” said Douglas Lute, the White House’s Afghan war czar from 2007 to 2013. “I thought we should have specified a flourishing drug trade — this is the only part of the market that’s working.”"
So much for "universal values" and dismissing those who think not all cultures are suited to democracy as racist

Chain sub sandwiches ranked from worst to best - "The thing about Subway is that it tastes exactly like Subway. It has that distinct smell of the bread, which you almost can't shake off your very clothes after a visit there. The meat here is not great quality, which is a major blow."

Harvard’s tenure decision exposes the battle for legitimizing ethnic studies - "Ethnic studies programs work by challenging the “Euro-American studies curricula” that has permeated universities since their inception. As such, the programs often cross over into other humanities fields like history, literature, gender, and sociology, allowing students to study the power and effects that white supremacy and colonization have had on various cultures and communities — and to ultimately better understand the social structures in place because of it... Perlow pointed out that ethnic studies departments aren’t being taken seriously because they have risen out of that same neglect. “Why would we expect the academy to be different when the academy itself has been a hotbed for racist, sexist theorizing, research, and practices since its inception, and especially elite institutions such as Harvard, which were quite literally made possible by slave labor?”"
Of course, by defining themselves in opposition to "whiteness" ethnic studies is just re-inscribing and reifying it - and magicking a justification for its own existence, of course
Ironically, the universities put up with or even encourage grievance studies - and then get whacked by them for it. It's a classic study in masochism and unintended (?) consequences

Libertarians in Pandemics

B: Will the pandemic kill off libertarianism? - UnHerd

A: Why would it? Multiple governments and super-government agencies have absolutely dropped the ball, meanwhile private entities were the first to start implementing quarantine tactics weeks in advance of the government.

I think my case is stronger than ever.

Me: Doomsday cults see their predictions fail but cultists double down

Why would cognitive dissonance differ here?

A: The only thing I predicted incorrectly was the severity of the virus. I never doubted it would be mishandled at every level.

Me: Libertarians are powerless against irresponsible spring breakers

US students party on spring break despite coronavirus - BBC News

A: I seem to believe that they went on spring break despite the government issuing quarantine orders. What would you prefer? We start lining up college kids and executing them with a shot to the back of the head?

Me: "defying recommendations from the federal government and Center for Disease Control (CDC) over the coronavirus outbreak"

Recommendations aren't orders

Besides which you seem to be unaware that governments have many ways of enforcing rules besides execution by shooting squad

You don't seriously believe that if you exceed the speed limit by 10kmph, you're going to get shot?

A: If get a ticket and I refuse to pay it, men with guns come to my house and try to take me away and if I refuse to go with them, they almost certainly will shoot me. So yes, they are willing to shoot me over a speeding ticket aren't they?

And you seem to have missed my point. This isn't exactly a libertarian wonderland. They went on government's watch. I don't know how you can say that's a failure of the small government crowd.

C: I think this thread makes you the one who is right. Well spotted.

D: God, I hope so. Quicker than Ayn Rand rushing to her mailbox to get her Social Security check.

The original article is pretty good (which is why libertarians ignore its points):

Will the pandemic kill off libertarianism?

"What does it say about human nature that despite repeated urging and warning, despite a bombardment of information, people continued to congregate and mix in ways that put them and others at non-trivial risk of a potentially fatal disease?

And what, in turn, will the necessity to ban such congregations mean for our future understanding of the way the state should view and treat people as they go about their economic lives?...

Free marketeers, explicitly or otherwise, tend to rest their argument for unfettered market interactions on the idea that these are dealings between rational actors. In markets, as in life, people left to make their own decisions will, in aggregate, make spending choices that benefit themselves, thus allowing markets to price and allocate resources in the most efficient way.

This is the ‘rational agent’ theory of economic behaviour and it’s one of the most fundamental ideas of our age. It’s the basis for most economics teaching and the foundation of most ideas of market operation, regulation and consumer law (even if there are quite a few people who argue, quite persuasively, that it’s wrong).

Now let’s go back to the people, in London and elsewhere, who last week continued to crowd into pubs and gyms.

Why did they do it? Why was it necessary for Boris Johnson, instinctively liberal, to order the pubs to close? You only need to take such measures if people are either not nice or not rational. Neither explanation bodes well for libertarianism or free markets.

How rational were the choices made by those pub-goers or the folk crowded into parks and markets? Were they coolly assessing the pleasure they would derive from a few drinks or a stroll with friends, and assigning it a value that outweighed the risk they and others would face resulting from their choice?

If so, I think that raises a significant problem for libertarian views of human nature as benign. People who think their enjoyment of a pint of lager justifies risking the lives of others do not measure up to that nice idea that, left to our own devices, we generally do the right thing.

Or here’s another explanation for pub-going in a time of coronavirus. Maybe the people who continued to mingle were being neither good nor bad but merely inaccurately estimating the consequences and costs of their actions. Here we get to those other economists, the behavioural ones, who argue that we make our allocative choices not on the basis of neat, orderly mental spreadsheets weighing cost and benefit, but because of messy, complicated human frailty.

The decision to keep going to the pub during a pandemic looks a lot like an illustration of what Daniel Kahneman called the availability heuristic, the tendency of people to over-state the probability of familiar things they can easily imagine, and underestimate the chance of hard-to-concieve things happening.

How many of us can easily conjure up a simple mental picture of an invisible virus spreading exponentially through a population of tens of millions, and be clear in our minds about who we might be harming by popping down the local for one last pint or a walk in the park? I don’t think the Londoners who continued to go out drinking or strolling were callous. I think they just couldn’t easily conceive the potential consequences or the probability of those consequences.

The choice to go on going out was, in other words, hard to describe as rational, even in the narrow terms of rational choice theory. And if people aren’t rational about a situation that risks tens of thousands of lives and deep damage to our society and economy, how much weight should we put on the idea of rational actors in future?

Arguably, this shouldn’t even be a debatable point. There’s a good case to be made that the 2007/8 financial crisis should have put more of a dent in the idea of rational economic actors.

When no less a figure than Alan Greenspan admitted that markets did not work the way he had believed they did and that he had “made a mistake in presuming that the self-interest of organizations, specifically banks and others, was such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders” then policymakers the world over should have shown more scepticism about ‘rationality’."

While obsessed with simplistic economic claims, libertarians don't just want government non-interference in markets

This can be applied to other contexts too, e.g. mandating seatbelts

Has Alan Greenspan been disowned by libertarians yet for not blaming the 2008 financial crisis on government regulation?

Links - 26th March 2020 (1)

Unlike Most Millennials, Norway’s Are Rich - "Best known for its Viking history, snow sports and jaw-dropping fjords, Norway is making a new name for itself as the only major economy in Europe where young people are getting markedly richer... Young Norwegians have enjoyed a 13 percent rise in disposable household income in real terms compared to Generation X (those born between 1966 and 1980) when they were the same age... Norway’s youth unemployment rate (among 15- to 29-year-olds) is also relatively low at 9.4 percent compared to an OECD average of 13.9 percent... A huge part of young Norwegians’ fantastic lifestyle is down to the country’s rapid economic growth... it is not just how much money Norway makes that’s significant, but what it does with it.“It has managed the oil [money] well in that it is saving, and using a portion of that to put back into society,” she says. “So rather than a few getting a lot, many people have access to this wealth.”... taxes are kept high and the country has a compressed wage structure, which means minimum salaries are negotiated by unions... rising inequality has been a core factor in driving down disposable incomes for millennials in other strong economies such as the US, UK and Germany. In these countries, where there are wider wage bands, young people bear the brunt of a lack of pay growth and job mobility.By contrast, Bjørnland argues that an egalitarian approach – distributing wealth between generations – has contributed to strong life satisfaction and a lack of social unrest in Norway."
The same people who mock the idea of never ending economic growth bemoan the fact that young people are worse off than their parents

How Crisco toppled lard – and made Americans believers in industrial food - "Instead of dwelling on its problematic sole ingredient, then, Crisco’s marketers kept consumer focus trained on brand reliability and the purity of modern factory food processing.Crisco flew off the shelves. Unlike lard, Crisco had a neutral taste. Unlike butter, Crisco could last for years on the shelf. Unlike olive oil, it had a high smoking temperature for frying. At the same time, since Crisco was the only solid shortening made entirely from plants, it was prized by Jewish consumers who followed dietary restrictions forbidding the mixing of meat and dairy in a single meal."

What Is the Perfect Temperature for Sleep - The Atlantic - "Anyone complaining about it being too hot in the bedroom is not just being “a whining loser.” People who sleep in hot environments have been found to have elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol the next morning. Researchers also recently posited that patients sleep so poorly in hospital ICUs in part because the rooms are too warm. Those who sleep in cold environments, meanwhile, tend to fare better. A study of people with a sleep disorder found that they slept longer in temperatures of 61 degrees Fahrenheit versus 75 degrees. The cold-sleepers were also more alert the next morning. The basic physiology is that your body undergoes several changes at night to ease you into sleep: Your core and brain temperatures decrease, and both blood sugar and heart rate drop. Keeping a bedroom hot essentially fights against this process. Insomnia has even been linked to a basic malfunctioning of the body’s heat-regulation cycles—meaning some cases could be a disorder of body temperature. In light of this physiology, sleep experts unanimously suggest keeping your bedroom cooler than the standard daytime temperature of your home"

My Marriage Has a Third Wheel: Our Child - NYT Parenting - "I would never have predicted that the hardest part of parenting would be that our only child would come to fully believe she is the third person in our marriage. This arrangement began roughly as soon as she learned to talk... only children often feel like one of the adults. As with our tripartite system of government, they view the daily running of the household as a three-way power-sharing agreement... our child feels insulted if Tom and I go out to dinner alone. If we’re on vacation, she balks at being “dumped,” as she puts it, in the Kids’ Club. She would be happy to Photoshop her picture into our wedding photos. If Tom and I give each other a hug, she has gotten in the habit of jumping in between us. At least she doesn’t referee when we fight, as she did when she was smaller. A couples’ counselor put a stop to that when he advised me to put a photo of Sylvie in a drawer by my bedside table. Whenever I was about to lose my temper with Tom, he told me, I was to run to the bedroom, pull out the photo, and say to it: I know that what I’m about to do is going to cause you harm, but right now, my anger is more important to me than you are. I only had to repeat that brutal phrase a couple of times... Sylvie may be comfortable around adults, but she is still a child, one who lacks the reasoning abilities and experience of a grown-up — so I must catch myself when I absently reply to her questions about money, or other parents, before realizing, whoops, shouldn’t have told her that.  As Newman advises, “Before you allow your child to weigh in, take a pause and ask yourself, ‘Is this really a topic or an issue that a 9-year-old should be involved in, or is this a decision for adults?’ ”  Sylvie needs time away from us to be a kid — time to act silly and make jokes about butts and drone on about the intricacies of Minecraft. She has a group of good friends, but I do see her picking up on her middle-aged parents’ habits, such as calculating how many hours of sleep she got every morning."

(1) \_( .__.)_/ on Twitter - "Black Americans comprise 13% of the population, but they make up 40% of the prison population. Need even more evidence that systemic racism is real?"
"@benandjerrys Men make up 49% of the US population but make 90% of the prison population. Need more proof systemic sexism is real "

Universal Basic Income Wasn't Invented by Today's Democrats - Bloomberg - "Since the late 18th century, UBI hasn’t been seen as a form of welfare so much as a way to get rid of welfare entirely. That may explain why it has attracted such an eclectic group of supporters over the centuries — and may account for its renaissance today. The UBI is premised on the idea that every member of society is entitled to cash payments that will enable them to subsist. The key here is subsistence: Most proposals emphasize that the payment should be minimal, so small, in fact, that it would be an incentive for the poorest recipients to seek work. Thomas Paine, the Founding Father and all-around 18th-century revolutionary, was among the first to propose some version of the idea... Although proponents of the idea in the 20th century, including members of the British Labour Party, were unapologetic statists, the same could not be said of another convert to the UBI idea: the libertarian economist Friedrich Hayek. Like his predecessors, the Nobel laureate believed the UBI should be a bare minimum; anything more would require “controlling or abolishing the market.”... Friedman believed the level had to be “low enough to give people a substantial and consistent incentive to earn their way out of the program.” All other public assistance would be abolished... Perhaps there’s room for a grand compromise of the kind envisioned by Mill, Friedman, Galbraith and others"
Some libertarians who denounce UBI claim that Friedman's negative income tax was not the same. But at most that'd qualify the universal bit - most components of UBI would still be there, and people would still get money for nothing (which seems to be the biggest objection to UBI - bigger than how to pay for it)

Rio+20: a tyranny of green do-gooders - "By winning whatever passes for the hearts and minds of the political establishment, environmentalism has been installed throughout political institutions without ever having won a democratic contest of its ideals. Such is the extent of this insidious colonisation that any public debate about the future, especially of energy policies, is already prefigured according to environmental precepts. Party-political debates about the environment in the UK have consisted of no more than oneupmanship: who is taking the climate issue most seriously. Similarly, debates in the wider public sphere consist of little more than terrifying stories about our imminent demise... Nowhere is environmentalism more protected from scrutiny than at conferences such as Rio+20. They are held well beyond the reach of democratic politics and far from critics. Yet some are not convinced that such institution-making is put far enough outside our control. Just as the basis for political environmentalism is seemingly justified on ‘what science says’, so resistance to environmentalism’s political projects is explained by its advocates in pseudoscientific terms: that we are all addicted to consumer society. This assumption that the masses are suffering from consumption addiction allows world leaders to step in and make the big decisions about the future on our behalf. Yet conferences like Rio+20 are not about protecting us plebs; these shindigs are really about protecting the elites. The real reason Huhne couldn’t build ‘environmentalism in one country’ is because nobody in that country wanted it. The way around such stumbling blocks is to establish a basis for political institutions internationally, away from such troubling concepts as democracy... The desire to organise society according to ‘scientific’ principles inevitably treats humans like trash, without exception. Prejudices are smuggled under cover of science. A proper perspective on the context of Rio gives us many more clues about what it is really intended to achieve than The Science does. Hollow politicians escape their domestic problems to pose in front of cameras as planet-savers. Morally bankrupt and self-serving NGOs appoint themselves as the representatives of non-existent future generations and the poorest people in the world, while campaigning for a form of politics that puts political power beyond the reach of democratic control. Sociopathic public-health control freaks and weirdo Malthusian scientists – the rightful heirs of the eugenics movement – get to parade their anti-human hypotheses as virtues. A supine media, in search of drama, declares this the final opportunity to save us from ecological Armageddon."

Games With Words: Which English? - "Is Throw me down the stairs my shoes a good English sentence?The answer depends on where you live. Many people in Newfoundland find that sentence perfectly grammatical.By taking this quiz, you will be helping train a machine algorithm that is mapping out the differences in English grammar around the world, both in traditionally English-speaking countries and also in countries like Mexico, China, and India.At the end, you can see our algorithm's best guess as to which English you speak as well as whether your first (native) language is English or something else."

At What Age Does Our Ability to Learn a New Language Like a Native Speaker Disappear? - "researchers from three Boston-based universities showed children are proficient at learning a second language up until the age of 18, roughly 10 years later than earlier estimates. But the study also showed that it is best to start by age 10 if you want to achieve the grammatical fluency of a native speaker... There are three main ideas as to why language-learning ability declines at 18: social changes, interference from one’s primary language and continuing brain development. At 18, kids typically graduate high school and go on to start college or enter the work force full-time. Once they do, they may no longer have the time, opportunity or learning environment to study a second language like they did when they were younger. Alternatively, it is possible that after one masters a first language, its rules interfere with the ability to learn a second. Finally, changes in the brain that continue during the late teens and early 20s may somehow make learning harder... Perhaps even more important than when one learns a language is how. People who learned via immersion—living in an English-speaking country more than 90 percent of the time—were significantly more fluent than those who learned in a class. Hartshorne says that if you have the choice between starting language lessons earlier or learning through immersion later, “I'd learn in an immersion environment. Immersion has an enormous effect in our data—large even relative to fairly large differences in age.” In what could be the most surprising conclusion, the researchers say that even among native speakers it takes 30 years to fully master a language. The study showed a slight improvement—roughly one percentage point—in people who have been speaking English for 30 versus 20 years. The finding is consistent for both native and non-native speakers... The enthusiasm for the study is not shared by everyone in the field. Elissa Newport, a professor of neurology at Georgetown University who specializes in language acquisition, remains a skeptic. “Most of the literature finds that learning the syntax and morphology of a language is done in about five years, not 30,” she says. “The claim that it takes 30 years to learn a language just doesn’t fit with any other findings.”"

Grève des transports : deux fois plus de vélos que de voitures sur un boulevard de Paris
Great data on the underutilisation of cycle lanes. Despite the promotion of cycling, it takes a public transport strike for bicycles on the road to exceed cars. Under normal conditions there're almost always more cars as bicycles on the boulevard Voltaire (and cars transport 1.1 people on average). Often there're twice as many cars as bicycles.

Gov. Cuomo Vetoes Bill To Let Judges Officiate Weddings, Blames Trump - "New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing criticism from both sides of the political aisle after he vetoed a bill to allow federal judges to officiate weddings in his state because some of them were appointed by President Donald Trump."... "I cannot in good conscience support legislation that would authorize such actions by federal judges who are appointed by this federal administration," Cuomo said when he vetoed the bill that had passed through both side of the state house with bipartisan support... Albany Law School Professor Vincent Bonventre, who has supported the governor in the past, called Cuomo’s reason for the veto “utterly unpersuasive,” according to the New York Post.“It’s hard to imagine a more petty, small action from a sitting governor, but that’s Prince Andrew in a nutshell’’"
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