"I love your "Malaysian Accent", can you say it again?"
"几够力一下有没有"

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Monday, June 01, 2020

Links - 1st June 2020 (2)

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Fantasy, fiction and food - "‘There's a thing that we talk about in science fiction and fantasy about providing the familiar and the strange. Sweets are a familiar coveted thing to every child. And so taking that familiar activity and then adding in this touch of the strange. That the liver and spinach and tripe Jelly Bean, the frog that can move and jump. That gives this idea that it's like, well, this is school but it really is Magic School.’
‘Giving us something we're familiar with - chocolate - and giving it a twist means we can all relate to and understand this wizard world. The sweets act as a bridge from our reality to Harry Potter's, and it's this that helps us suspend our disbelief’...
‘My dad would say that you are what you eat. And you learn a lot about people from their table manner. And in the culture where I come from the African culture, food becomes important as a unifying factor, somebody visits you, the first thing you do is offer them food or drink. And in a culture also where there are some taboo subjects like sex and very publicly show of affection, you find food becomes what I would call a subtle way of showing intimacy. So if two people are going out and they eat, and the way in, the manner of the eating will tell you that they become intimate without actually showing kissing, you know, culturally, that's become part of how we tell stories.’"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Why is wheat making people sick? - "‘If you don't have a problem with gluten or wheat, you probably shouldn't be avoiding it.’
‘If you have to go gluten free because of medical necessity, you don't have an alternative. So you got to do that. But while you do that, of course, you pay some price. You know, the major things that you deprive your body from are fibres, that is a big issue. I believe that some of the major problems that we face with the westernization lifestyle is because we eat less fiber we're supposed to, and fibres are extremely important for healthy microbiome. And then minerals and vitamins and so on and so forth. So, definitely you pay a price’...
'If you start to use and indulge on, you know, gluten free counterparts of bread, pasta, cookies and so on and so forth. You know, not only you break the bank because they are definitely more expensive, but sometimes it to make them palatable, they are enrich in fat and sugar, and so hypercaloric, they are not the healthiest choice that you can make in terms of food.'"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Wednesday's business with Dominic O'Connell - "[On rail renationalisation in the UK] The operator of last resort has basically told the government I don't think we can wave a magic wand, things will get better. The problems remain exactly the same. We can't make the new trains come more quickly. We can't run the services we're being asked to run unless you do some work on the tracks. And we can't negotiate with the staff any better than the team's negotiating now. And in fact, I've just had a message literally pop up while we've been talking, somebody’s threatening to jump under a train in the middle of Manchester. And all the trains have stopped and network rail have said, trespass and suicide are the biggest single cause of delay to Northern services. There's not a lot that Northern can do about that either"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Tuesday's business with Dharshini David - "Demand for alternative milks may be on the rise, but sales of cow's milk has been declining for years. Milk consumption in the US has plummeted 40% since 1970, and American farmers have been bearing the brunt of the decline. In the last decade 20,000 US dairy farms have closed"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, Baffled in Brittany - "Raman [sp?] was kicked so hard his spleen ruptured. An investigation into his death is now underway. But the beating itself does not surprise those who are familiar with Russian prisons. The prison service officially reported 2700 deaths in custody last year. The assumption is that many were from natural causes. But accusations of beatings and torture are commonplace. A notorious video emerged in 2018 of guards laying into an inmate in the prison in Jaroslava while he was pinned face down to a table. A year later, several inmates in the prison in Karelia near the Finnish border talked of beatings and abuse, which resulted at least one death. And the prison's previous director was jailed last year for torturing inmates. This and many other stories often only become public months or years later, once the witnesses have been released. If there's a really big scandal, some prison officers may end up in court. Authorities say lessons have been learned, but similar incidents keep happening. The incident in Jaroslava was unusual because there was footage from cameras which are supposed to be worn by guards on duty. Most of the times though something happens to the cameras, they just stop working"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, Jacob Zuma's Sick Note - "‘It was not the most convincing sick note. Better than a schoolboy’s attempt to copy his mother's handwriting, but not that much better. For a start, it was on entirely the wrong form. The date had been crossed out, it didn't bother to mention any illness or diagnosis. And there was no way of telling if the doctor who'd signed it was actually a real doctor. In other words, there was something shoddy, something deliberately contemptuous about it. Welcome back to The Jacob Zuma show. A shoddy, contemptuous South African soap opera that will, it's becoming soul bruisingly clear, never, ever end... The judge like so many judges before her rejected Mr. Zuma’s latest work of courtroom theatre with thinly disguised contempt. And this time she went a little further. If Mr. Zuma didn't show up for his next appearance, his actual trial in May, he would be arrested. Within hours Mr. Zuma, presumably from his sick bed, was tweeting a photograph of himself brandishing some sort of rifle, not the subtlest message to South Africa's judiciary’"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, Putin Forever - "Erin did reveal that she doesn't feel comfortable telling people she voted for Trump. Because people call you names and say you're racist. And that's one of the starkest things about America at the moment. The depth of political division makes calm, civilized discourse, difficult, if not impossible. Elle, a teaching assistant who comes to the diner every week for the same order: eggs, bacon and hash browns, explain the new rules of conversation in this polarized climate. You keep your opinions to yourself. That way you don't have an argument with anyone. It's not that I’ve become apolitical she says, I just need a break from it all. All the shouting is emotionally exhausting. And then she adds despairingly, it's become what defines us as a nation, and we are so much more than that. Tony's menu offers something called the Trump Tower. The sandwich predates the presidency, and Leslie tells me customers joke about how its ingredients - a combination of lunchmeat, cheese and coleslaw - also include Russian dressing"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, From Our Home Correspondent 16/02/2020 - "His other suggested cause of our burgeoning rat population did take me by surprise. It's about diet. Ours and their’s. In particular, the rise of the humble tomato. In 2017 more tomatoes were produced globally than any other fruit. The seeds of a tomato are among the most nutritious things you can eat. Rats love them. And because our digestive system doesn't process them properly there's plenty in human sewage to keep them fed. I think since Murray’s visit, I have been buying fewer tomatoes. I love a salad. But I don't much fancy sharing it with a rat."

Mitt Romney drinks chocolate milk during the impeachment trial - "Sen. Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican, was caught drinking chocolate milk out of a bottle on the Senate floor on Tuesday afternoon — a breach of the Senate impeachment trial rules.Under those rules, senators are only allowed to drink milk and water, and the beverages must be consumed out of a glass.A Senate aide informed Romney that he was in violation of the rules and the senator left the chamber with the bottle, returning with the chocolate milk in a glass... Romney has been known to enjoy chocolate milk. His wife, Ann Romney, revealed that the drink is his "guilty pleasure" in a 2012 interview, and the then-presidential candidate was photographed sipping chocolate milk on his campaign bus. Normal Senate rules prohibit food and drink on the floor, but the body has imposed additional rules for President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, including barring iPhones and prohibiting talking or standing. Water is served to lawmakers by pages, who give them the option of still or sparkling. Milk is allowed via a precedent that dates back to 1966. Riddick's Senate Procedure states: "Senate rules do not prohibit a Senator from sipping milk during his speech." Though food is not allowed on the Senate floor, an exception has long been granted to the so-called "candy desk."At least four other senators — Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin, Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton, North Carolina Republican Richard Burr, and Texas Republican Ted Cruz — have been spotted drinking milk in the Senate chamber during the impeachment trial"

Utah woman pleads guilty to lewdness for being topless in her own home - "A Utah woman who faced charges for being topless in her own home in front of her stepchildren has taken a plea bargain.The stakes were just too high for Tilli Buchanan to take the criminal case to trial... Richards called the ending of the case “ludicrous,” noting that his client pleaded guilty to essentially being topless in front of her husband... West Valley City prosecutors say the situation wasn’t quite that innocent. They accuse Buchanan of stripping down in front of her stepchildren after making a statement about how if her husband could take off his shirt, then a woman should be able to as well.They further allege that Buchanan, while “under the influence of alcohol,” had told her husband that she would only put her shirt back on if he showed her his penis.The police became involved in the situation after the Division of Child and Family Services began an investigation involving the children that was unrelated to Buchanan. Though it was not the focus of the initial investigation, prosecutors say in court papers, the children’s mother reported the incident to authorities."

Moscow police seize homemade 'Batmobile' - "The "Batmobile" owner faces fines for numerous violations before being allowed to get his car back.Police said on Tuesday that the vehicle was assembled illegally at a private workshop, is not registered as a vehicle and does not adhere to road safety standards, as well as being supersized for a standard car at six metres long.The car was built in the United States, then customised in Russia at an auto tuning workshop called Fast Boom Pro, whose logo is visible in a police video, Russian auto sites reported. The workshop turned it into the spitting image of the vehicle featured in the 2016 film "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice".The replica car was reportedly put on sale in Russia in October last year for 55 million rubles (US$842,100).It was described as armoured and equipped with a night-vision camera, a thermal imaging camera, a laser-aiming device and a model gun that imitates the sound of shooting."

Zara/Vikky RW Storm (Vee/Vem/Veyr) ️🤠🥀 on Twitter - "When you think of it, units of measurement are pernicious and harmful bullshit which never should've been invented and any proper communist movement should seek to abolish them.
Like, the act of measurement itself is an inherent problem. It is the transformation of the subjective into the objective, and that's a path with horrible results we should avoid.
Lengths of time, temperature, distance, volume, etc, all of these are subjective experiences, not objective things which can be reduced to objective measures."

checkyourfact.com/2019/02/15/fact-check-wealth-billionaires-government-8-months/ - "“If we confiscated 100% of the wealth of every billionaire in America, we’d have enough money to run the federal government for less than 8 months……Our problem isn’t how much billionaires have… It’s how much politicians spend,” the Feb. 3 meme read.
Verdict: False
The claim was based on figures produced by Forbes in 2016, when U.S. billionaires were estimated to have a combined net worth of $2.4 trillion. It cost $2.6 trillion to run the government for eight months in fiscal year 2016.The estimated number and collective net worth of billionaires has increased since 2016, and their combined wealth could now run the government for nine or so months. Although Turning Point isn’t far off the mark, the figure is no longer “less than” eight months."
"Fact checkers"

China Isn't Sending Giant Duck Army to Fight Pakistan's Locusts - "“There are not enough ducks, and they cannot eat enough desert locusts to have a significant impact,” Cressman said.And not to further ruin your dreams of an epic battle royale in the desert, but ducks don’t even normally chow down on these bugs. Ducks are aquatic, and they typically eat wetland bugs they scoop up with their beaks from the water, Michael Eichholz, an associate professor of zoology at Southern Illinois University who specializes in waterfowl ecology, told Earther. This not only keeps ducks fed; it keeps them hydrated.And that’s why they generally hang out in ponds, lakes, and rivers, not in the freaking desert where the locust swarms have been congregating. When I asked Eichholz if ducks could hypothetically feast on locusts if they were dropped in the middle of a swarm, he laughed at first"

Roman persecution of paganism

"In A.D. 337 Constantine warned a town in Italy that a temple there to his family 'should not be polluted by the deceits of any contagious superstitio. Within a Christian frame of reference this would imply that there were to be no pagan sacrifices at the temple, but Constantine was writing to non-Christians, who might interpret him as ruling out (for example) only illicit divinatory types of sacrifice. Constantine may in fact have deliberately played upon the ambiguities of the term, which might usefully evade any very precise definition...

From A.D. 357 all divination (with the exception of that performed by state haruspices) was assimilated to indubitably noxious magic and banned. The new conflation of divination and magic helped to generate a spate of trials and an atmosphere of fear and suspicion. Accusations of magical practices were levelled in the highest circles; those who had achieved untoward prominence were wide open to accusations of having employed occult arts. Pagans were doubly vulnerable. Christians, who 'knew' that they worshipped demons, could easily and incontrovertibly suggest that they manipulated them to gain vain knowledge and for illicit purposes...

Until the sixth Century emperors ordered that Roman temples be preserved. Only then was a tem­ple in Rome (the so-called Temple of Romulus) converted to Christian usage, and for this imperial permission was needed. Elsewhere, by contrast, from the mid fourth Century on emperors ordered that temples should be closed (perhaps from fear of their use for illicit divination), thus giving implicit sanction to zealous Christian bishops who sought actively to destroy them...

The practice of sacrifice also fell under an imperial ban. Since Constantine, sacrifice had been in disfavour in imperial circles — but he and his successors took action directly only against magic and private divina­tion. So, for example, nocturnal sacrifices, long characteristic of magic, were prohibited; but Vettius Agorius Praetextatus, a well known traditionalist and governor of Achaia at this time, immediately persuaded the emperor not to enforce this ban in Greece - thus permitting the Eleusinian mysteries to continue; and in Rome and other major cities of the empire official sacrifices were for a time left untouched. However, in A.D. 391 the emperor Theodosius prohibited all sacrifices, closed all temples, and threatened Roman magistrates with special penalties if they broke the ban. The following year the prohibitions were repeated and made more specific. Sacrifice for the purpose of illicit divination was to be severely punished, even if it had not involved an enquiry about the welfare of the emperor. The forbidden curiosity that we saw alleged against Apuleius in chapter 5 became part of the rationale for a general prohibition on pagan sacrifice.

The effect of Theodosius' prohibitions in Rome was, however, limited. The ban of 391 was promulgated throughout the empire, but by 392 Theodosius was no longer in control of the west, and the western emperor Eugenius attempted to conciliate the pagan aristocracy by restoring the endowments that had been removed by Gratian - not to the priests directly, but to leading pagan Senators, who would put them to their proper use. As we shall see, some traditional cults of Rome continued into the fifth century, but repeated imperial enactments continued to clamp down on the practices of paganism. We cannot tell how far the repetition of these bans on traditional religion was a consequence of widespread disobedience; how far the series of different laws addressed subtly different aspects of traditional cult; or how far the point of the legislation was the public declaration of the emperors support for Christianity. But the overall message is clear enough: true (that is, now, Christian) religion was to be promoted and those addicted to superstitio punished...

Christianity did, however, pose a critical threat to the restructured traditional cults of Rome. When state funding of public rites in Rome was abolished and the altar of Victory removed from the senate house in A.D. 382, Symmachus as Prefect of the city of Rome wrote a lengthy memorandum to the emperor arguing for the restoration of the status quo. The traditional religious customs had served the state well for centuries; the altar of Victory was where Senators swore oaths of loyalty to the emperor; the ancestral rites had driven the Gauls from the Capitol (an argument used also by Livy); the imperial confiscation of funding had caused a general famine in the empire. Symmachus' arguments were directed not so much against Christianity, as in favour of toleration of the traditional cults: every people had their own customs and rituals, which were different paths to the truth. His memorandum was countered by two letters from Ambrose, bishop of Milan, to the emperor, which argued forcefully that it was the Christian duty of the emperor to fight for the church. After A.D. 382 with the partial exception of the (brief) reign of Eugenius (A.D. 392-394), the traditional cults did not receive the toleration Symmachus urged; and even Eugenius, himself a Christian, made only limited concessions to 'paganism'. There was now only one true religio.

The argument between traditionalists and Christians extended to other contexts. One (Christian) poem, which probably dates either to the period of Symmachus' memorandum or to the period of favour for traditional cults under Eugenius, attacked an unnamed Prefect of the city of Rome and consul for his participation in a wide range of pagan rituals, from Etruscan divination to the taurobolium. According to the poem, he supplicated Isis and mourned Osiris, he celebrated the festival of Magna Mater and Attis, with füll trappings, including lions to draw the image of Magna Mater through the city, he held the festival of Flora, and his heir built a temple to Venus. For some, eclecticism was the way of truth; for others, like the author of this poem, it illustrated the vacuity of paganism. After the fall of Eugenius, Theodosius' ban on sacrifices was more effectively applied, and the secular implications of the old calendar revised... Some Christians went on the offensive, destroying pagan sanctuaries, including sanctuaries of Mithras...

Emperors through the fifth into the sixth century elaborated Theodosius' ban on sacrifices"

--- Roman Religion and Christian Emperors in Religions of Rome, Volume 1. A History by MARY BEARD, Lecturer in Classics in the University of Cambridge, and Fellow of Newnham College, JOHN NORTH, Professor of History, University College London and SIMON PRICE, Fellow and Tutor, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford

Links - 1st June 2020 (1)

Ontario government partially backtracks on expanded high school class sizes - "Thursday’s announcement does not return maximum class sizes to 22 — the level in place before the Tories launched sweeping education reforms in March.Lecce described the offer to set average class sizes at 25 as a gesture of good faith towards the OSSTF, one he said the union has spurned by pursuing measures that could put members in a legal strike position."
Meanwhile in Singapore's GEP in the late 90s, the class size was 28, which in turn was less than Express which in turn was less than in neighbourhood schools

Class Size: What Research Says and What it Means for State Policy - "The current fiscal environment has forced states and districts to rethink their CSR policies given the high cost of maintaining small classes.  For example, increasing the pupil/teacher ratio in the U.S. by one student would save at least $12 billion per year in teacher salary costs alone, which is roughly equivalent to the outlays of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the federal government’s largest single K-12 education program... it appears that very large class-size reductions, on the order of magnitude of 7-10 fewer students per class, can have significant long-term effects on student achievement and other meaningful outcomes. These effects seem to be largest when introduced in the earliest grades, and for students from less advantaged family backgrounds.When school finances are limited, the cost-benefit test any educational policy must pass is not “Does this policy have any positive effect?” but rather “Is this policy the most productive use of these educational dollars?”... There is no research from the U.S. that directly compares CSR to specific alternative investments, but one careful analysis of several educational interventions found CSR to be the least cost effective of those studied.The popularity of class-size reduction may make it difficult for policymakers to increase class size across the board in order to sustain other investments in education during a period of budget reductions... The average U.S. pupil/teacher ratio in the public schools is currently 15.3... The tradeoff between class size and teacher salaries needs to be very carefully considered.  Effects on student achievement related to differences in teacher quality are very large... an increase in average class size by 5 students would result in an across the board increase of 34 percent in teacher salaries if all the savings were devoted to that purpose. Higher salaries would likely draw more qualified people into the teaching profession, and keep them there."
Of course, you could just have an infinite education budget, which would solve the problems, especially since people always complain when taxes go up

MOE 'cautious' on issue of smaller class sizes: Ong Ye Kung - "He then brought up various international studies, which concluded that there was no major impact on students' performances when they were in smaller class sizes. One of these was a 2009 study done in Hong Kong. In a pilot involving 700 classes which were varied in sizes along the way, researchers found "no significant differences on performances compared to the territory-wide average".Instead, they discovered that an experimental school or class performed better because they have experienced principals, who played an active role in the curriculum and developing teachers as well as encouraging parental involvement. Another study in Israel, the finding was that there was no significant relationship between class size and achievement.A 2011 study in the United States turned out similar findings, and a key reason was that with smaller classes, many new, inexperienced teachers were hired and they have yet to be effective in classrooms.The report also stated that class-size reduction policies can also be "expensive and represented wasted opportunities to make smarter educational investments". Tens of billions of dollars were spent across states, especially in California and Florida... In Singapore, there are 29 students per class in primary schools and 33 to 34 for secondary schools on average.Comparatively, for countries under the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the overall average class size in primary and secondary education stands at 21 and 24 respectively... "There is sometimes still the perception that students study in one class and it is of a certain size. The reality is that students now regularly move around and join different groups and there is no single class size."... the teachers in Finland would "rather not have the rigidity", saying that the focus should be on giving schools the teaching resources and the flexibility to configure class sizes for different groups of students, for different subjects."This is what Singapore has been doing""

City of Santa Monica Is Rather Upset Over Porno Filmed in Public Library - "Eilish was the on-camera participant in a 10-minute long porn video that was filmed in the Santa Monica Library's Ocean Park Branch during its regular business hours. The video, which was posted in December but has since been removed from most porn-hosting sites, also allegedly featured Eilish flashing her genitals to the camera "outside [on] Santa Monica streets and even outside John Muir Elementary."...  Sex acts performed in public are a popular genre on adult video sites; as of this writing, there are almost 55,000 videos in the "Public" category on Pornhub, which far outnumbers the offerings in the Bondage, Role Play, and Webcam categories.But making those videos in actual public places can have consequences for the performers and for the filming locations. The 35th Hometown gas station in Milwaukee, Wisconsin could be stripped of its license and permanently closed by city officials after amateur porn actor Frederick Allen recorded himself having sex right there in its snack aisle"
Video: Tiny Teen Sis Ellie Eilish Caught Fucking in Crowded Public Library - Pornhub.com

Is Juice Worse For You Than Soda? - "When fruit is stripped of its skin, pulp, flesh and other fibrous parts, it’s distilled down to its sweet essence. That means that orange juice has roughly the same amount of sugar as the demon of the nutritional world, soda — about 5 to 8 teaspoons per cup. Add to this: the sugar in pure, natural juice and the sugar in sugar-sweetened beverages are both densely packed with calories, say Naveed Sattar, MD, PhD, a professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow. In a recent article in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal, Sattar points out that eating whole fruit is associated with a reduced (or neutral) risk of diabetes, but drinking fruit juice is associated with an increased risk."

If Sugar Is so Bad for Us, Why Is the Sugar in Fruit Ok? - "Evidence shows that the health risks from sugars, such as tooth decay and unhealthy weight gain, are related to consuming too many free sugars in the diet, not from eating sugars that are naturally present in fruits or milk... Eating large amounts of dried fruit is also not a good idea if you are limiting your sugar intake. Through the process of removing water from the fruit, nutrients are concentrated, such that dried apricots, for example, contain about six times as much sugar (40g per 100g) as fresh apricots (6g per 100g)...  Unlike many foods that are high in free sugars, fruits are packaged with lots of nutrients that help provide us with a balanced diet for good health.For starters, fruit is an excellent source of fibre"

Bending the Law to Avoid Deporting Criminals - "Federal law mandates deportation of aliens who are convicted of “aggravated felonies”—defined to include certain state misdemeanors carrying a sentence of a year or longer—whether or not they are in the country legally. But some judges, prosecutors and legislators are playing games to get around this law... Lawyers ask judges to alter their clients’ criminal records and spare them from deportation. Convictions and sentences are then “vacated,” “expunged,” “modified” or altered using other jargon. As in Mr. Thompson’s case, this can happen years after the fact during deportation proceedings. All this is barred by the Immigration and Nationality Act. Deference to judges’ alterations of criminal records is a judicially invented loophole. Prosecutors in some cities, including New York and Chicago, have special programs to help criminal aliens avoid deportation by offering them leniency. It’s the sole duty of one lawyer on Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s staff. When Jose Ramirez-Diaz committed felony assault with a beer bottle, Mr. Krasner’s office entered into a plea bargain in which the defendant was sentenced to 11 months in jail, below the deportation threshold... Some state legislatures are also working to undermine federal immigration law. At least seven states—California, Colorado, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Utah and Washington—have enacted “364-day laws” limiting sentences for certain state misdemeanors—including both violent and property crimes—to one day short of a year, to prevent them from being classified as aggravated felonies for immigration purposes."

'Mad Mike' wasn't trying to prove 'flat Earth' theory on ill-fated rocket launch - "Following this tragic accident, a common notion has reemerged in the media. People are saying that Hughes was launching to "prove" the Earth is flat, as Hughes is openly a believer in a number of conspiracy theories, including the flat Earth theory. But, according to Hughes, there was no tie between these conspiracies and his love for launching rockets.In a 2017 documentary about the daredevil entitled "Rocketman: Mad Mike's Mission to Prove the Flat Earth," Hughes stated, "I'm not going to take anyone else's word for it, or NASA, or especially Elon Musk with SpaceX," he said. "I'm going to build my own rocket right here and I'm going to see it with my own eyes what shape this world we live on."However, in the interview with Space.com, Hughes clarified, "although I do believe in the flat Earth, this was never an attempt to prove that.""This flat Earth has nothing to do with the steam rocket launches, it never did, it never will. I'm a daredevil!" he added. He additionally shared that he wanted to launch "to inspire people.""
Of course, most news outlets rather promote fake news

Will Chamberlain 🇺🇸 on Twitter - "Capitalism didn’t sell you a worthless education for $250,000 The universities did"

Dispropaganda on Twitter - "Natalie Portman wears @Dior Haute Couture on the #Oscarsred carpet, with a cape embroidered with the names of all of the female directors who were snubbed of an Oscars nomination."
"Funny thing is that Natalie Portman's production company, "Handsomecharlie Films", has never hired a single female director in the 11 films it produced except the one which was directed by Portman herself.
Sew that in your fucking Dior cape Padme."

Lisa Britton on Twitter - "A problem with the feminist version of history is that they fail to acknowledge that the vast majority of men had no power at all. Men went out and worked dirty, difficult & dangerous jobs. They were sent off to war... They died to provide."

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Wednesday's business with Dominic O'Connell - "‘We're seeing the nature of stock exchanges changing completely. So you know, we, our standard image is open outcry markets, so, you know, men standing on floors in red bracelets… really that doesn't happen anymore. You know, these are electronic exchanges, high tech platforms that are, that do all sorts of things, whether it's futures trading, foreign exchange, settlement, clearing houses, all sorts of things, but it's all about facilitating trade of all kinds.’
‘And we were talking earlier, you came up with a fascinating number. What’s the average length of time a share in London is held for?’
‘So it's now eight seconds’
‘Eight seconds. London, the home of long term investors’"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Tuesday's business with Dominic O'Connell - "‘90% of our companies in the world claim to be passionate about inclusion. Yet, only 4% really consider disability. So I call that the inclusion delusion. So that needs to be fixed.’
‘Well what, what does success look like in this area? How do you judge whether a company is actually doing it? What are the hard and fast metrics’
‘Well, if you look at… [Valuable 500] the Sustainability Index. And it's saying that only 39% of the companies that have entered, well they do disability confident [Ed: employment?], and that's great, but none of them are reporting on the disability pay gap, none are reporting on disability and leadership, and only 9% of them are talking about proportional representation with a disability within their business… When we talk about the diversity inclusion agenda, disability’s the poor cousin. It’s always, always forgotten about’"
So if a person who suffers from epilepsy is paid less than someone who doesn't because he can't work as efficiently, this is, apparently, evidence of discrimination

Why Americans save so little

B: Middle-class Americans queue at food banks as US unemployment hits 38 million - BBC News - YouTube

Americans should have a habit of saving money rather than alway spend lavishly in daily life. Even the middle-class rely on food bank in recession.

A: The reality is, it’s not easy to save in America if you have low or lower middle class income. Here’s why in my opinion: although household goods are China price cheap, everything else is very expensive such as housing, taxes, medical, education, transportation. Transportation is expensive because you need a car and in most cases 2 in America. If you analyze the income of lower middle class, they have not kept up with inflation. By maintaining a middle class lifestyle such as home ownership, it has invariably pushed many into debt. Any crisis such as a pandemic can crash their finances. So, please don’t think Americans live lavishly, most middle class savings capabilities can not be measured the same way to Asian countries’ like Singapore...

public transport is only economically viable in densely populated cities. Therefore, subways exist only in major cities like Boston, New York, San Fran, Washington DC. and a few other metro cities. Most America population live in a term known as suburban sprawl which makes public transport expensive, inefficient and unpopular. Most people own a car and quite often another one for spouse or backup transport. Just a rough guide, it’s $0.58 per mile cost to operate a car and most people commute on average 2 hrs to and from work.

Me: Tax rates and take home salaries for 40 countries - Business Insider

USA: Practical tax rate: 18%
Average post-tax salary: $52,344

Denmark: Practical tax rate: 56%
Average post-tax salary: $28,227

Netherlands: Practical tax rate: 41%
Average post-tax salary: $30,562

Household Saving Rates 2018 | Global Finance Magazine

Household Saving Rates 2018
USA: 3.72%
Denmark: 5.90%
Netherlands: 6.14%

Clearly taxes are not the reason Americans save so little

List of countries by GDP (PPP) per capita - Wikipedia

When you correct for purchasing power parity (the cost of goods and services), the US by IMF estimates is ranked 10th in GDP per capita

The Netherlands is #12 and Denmark is #16

Clearly the cost of goods and services isn't the reason why Americans save so little

Your claim about a 2 hour commute is wrong too

"in the U.S., the average, one-way commute time is 26.1 minutes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau" (Study: States with the longest and shortest commutes)

That is under 1 hour a day for the average commuter

A: if you compare US tax rates to Euro countries, then it’s obviously the Euro rates are going to be higher than US because Europe’s healthcare, Education and overall welfare benefits are also better. Compare the US tax rate to Asia, it is significantly different.

I’m not sure if you live in the States and in anyone of the metro centers. I’ve worked in most of the metro cities and I know commute is easily one hour if you have a family and have to live outside the city limits. If you’re fortunate enough to live within a 1/2 hour commute, you’re either single and spend all your money on rent/mortgage or you are in the upper middle or higher class income bracket. Any decent size apartment in Boston starts at $1M USD, most families prefer to move out to the suburbs where you get more room for your money with the trade off for longer commute.

Cost of goods in US are not that expensive compared to some Asian countries because of the China prices as I have mentioned, but services are extremely expensive. Childcare for example can easily eat away a large portion of a low income earner’s salary. Then there are car services can be very expensive depending on the brand/model you drive.

Me: so why are us savings rates lower than in most of Europe despite lower taxes?

Do you think census bureau data is wrong?

Do you know what ppp gdp is?

A: I am not a professional economist who claims a deep understanding of the correct interpretations and usage of ‘ppp gdp’ and I am sure you’d agree that most people have a cursory understanding at best but claims to be subject matter experts with their faded high school economic lessons or google searches.
I am reflecting on the notion that the American saving rates are low is not due to a nationalistic character flaw like being spendthrift. This is highly inaccurate. Americans savings are low is because most families from the lower middle class on down have very little savings left after non-discretionary expenses.

Me: and I have provided data showing that that claim is wrong

A: What I want to clarify here is that the assumption that an American characteristic has a spendthrift inclination is wrong. We can certainly go down a 'rabbit hole' and get into a senseless argument of your interpretation of some site's data as to whether average commute is half hour or one hour and thus my 'claim is wrong' is a moot argument. At the end of the day, it is the understanding the phenomenon that is important, not a one dimensional view of data that you are basing your entire conclusion on. A misinterpretation can lead to misconception if you do not evaluate arguments and facts from multiple angles.

Me: If anyone else is interested, the cost per mile of a car varies depending on your assumptions

The True Cost of Owning a Car

If you buy a 2018 model,
If you drive 10,000 miles per year, a small sedan costs 55 cents per mile
If you drive 15,000 miles per year, a small sedan costs 42.3 cents per mile
If you drive 20,000 miles per year, a small sedan costs 37.1 cents per mile

However, this assumes you buy a new car. If you get a used car, it is much cheaper - consider that according to the AAA "depreciation “remains the single biggest cost of [auto] ownership, accounting for more than a third [36 percent] of the average annual cost” (How Depreciation Affects Your Car’s Value)


Editor's note:

I did try to look at some research on impulsivity/instant gratification and was unable to find cross-cultural research on the topic.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Links - 31st May 2020

Ford government pitches new law to reduce Toronto transit delays - "Doug Ford’s government returned to Queen's Park on Tuesday after an extended winter break with a proposed law to help push through four Toronto-area transit projects championed by the Progressive Conservatives.The new law is meant to fast track transit builds. And one of the ways it is going to do it is by allowing work to proceed before environmental assessments have been completed. The proposed Building Transit Faster Act would grant more power to the provincial transportation minister and the Metrolinx transit agency to override objections from the City of Toronto and neighbouring municipalities, utility companies and other property owners to a $28.5-billion plan to upgrade the city’s transit infrastructure.At the centre of that plan is the Ontario Line, a downtown relief subway line Ford is hoping to get built by 2027 at a cost of $10.9 billion. It also includes a three-stop Scarborough subway extension, a light-rail extension to the city's west end and future plans to extend the Yonge subway north to York Region. The bill will make it easier for the province to acquire the land needed to build the projects, and forces utilities and telecommunication companies to move out of the way at their own cost. It also requires other projects, such as condo developments and municipal road maintenance projects, to win the approval of Metrolinx and align with its construction schedule.Related draft regulations published by the environment ministry on Tuesday call for early planning to move forward before environmental assessments are complete. Such work could include station modifications, bridgework, expansion of rail corridors and utility relocation.“We’re not going to spend 12 months getting approval to cut down a tree”... Transit in Toronto has for years been plagued by construction delays and the vagaries of a shifting political landscape"
Of course, in the comments on Facebook people were slamming this. Of course, they also complain about projects taking a long time

Shuteye and sleep hygiene: the truth about why you keep waking up at 3am - "Lifestyle changes can make a big difference, even for people suffering from sleep apnoea (although that should be treated by a specialist). It is hackneyed to point the finger at caffeine, but people tend to underestimate how long its effects can last – Fischer says to stop consuming it by 2pm or 3pm. Water intake during the day is also a factor: “Even going to bed mildly dehydrated can disrupt our sleep.”Similarly, although people commonly turn to alcohol to help them fall asleep – Fischer says one in 10 use it as a sleep aid – it has a disruptive effect beyond the initial crash, causing spikes in blood sugar and cortisol levels. Diet can function in the same way, with “anti-sleep foods” that are high in sugar or cause flatulence or heartburn (such as broccoli and cabbage). A “pro-sleep” bedtime snack is a small amount of complex carbohydrates and protein, such as wholegrain cereal with milk, or toast with peanut butter, says Fischer. An “anti-inflammatory” diet favouring fruits, vegetables, lean protein, nuts, seeds and healthy fats (and limiting processed foods, red meats and alcohol) has been shown to improve sleep apnoea.As for exercise, although being active during the day aids sleep, anything strenuous is to be avoided before bedtime. A lot of advice for preventing night-time “awakenings” falls under the umbrella of what has come to be known as “good sleep hygiene”: restrict the bedroom to sleep and sex, ban screens emitting blue light, keep to regular bedtimes and so on... she “really cannot bear” fitness trackers, which monitor sleep, for focusing people’s minds on often inaccurate data. It is wrong to assume that you must sleep through the night, every night, she says. “We all have blips in our sleep – it’s never going to be that you sleep brilliantly all the time.”"

Normalization of plus sizes feeding obesity epidemic, study shows - "“While this type of body‐positive movement helps reduce stigmatization of larger‐sized bodies, it can potentially undermine the recognition of being overweight and its health consequences,” states the author of the study, titled “Normalization of Plus Size and the Danger of Unseen Overweight and Obesity in England.” The study suggests that the increase in advertising of “plus-size” models is contributing to the obesity epidemic by normalizing the social stigma surrounding it. This comes at a time when body-positivity and size-acceptance are being pushed heavily by feminists and many left-leaning organizations, trends capitalized on by the retail and fashion industries... the percentage of overweight people who underestimate their weight has increased from around 48 percent to 58 percent in males and 24 percent to 30 percent in females. Additionally, the study shows that 40.8 percent of overweight people are underestimating their weight and only 51.8 percent of them are trying to lose weight. What’s more, this normalization of plus sizes is eerily similar to the campaign that sought to normalize smoking... “This new study suggests that the normalization of obesity — and especially by deliberately choosing to feature models who are obese [‘plus size’] in magazines and in other ads — contributes to our current epidemic of obesity which costs the American economy about $150 billion a year; more than the total cost of Obamacare”... “Pointing out a study which suggests that, departing from long established custom by featuring models who are obese may, despite arguments for it, have adverse consequences, does by no stretch of the imagination constitute fat shaming, any more than a suggestion that the models should not be shown smoking necessarily constitutes smoker shaming”
Glorifying obesity has costs. Which is why we have gaslighting by the 'health at any size' people

Priti Patel says it is 'right' that UK only accepts people who speak English
Naturally this is "racist" even though many other developed countries do this (e.g. Germany)

Soon we’ll all enjoy supermarkets more – once the crowds of low-skilled migrant staff have been deported
Comments (from elsewhere): "Sounds a lot like "who will pick the cotton if we get rid of the slaves". Author should be ashamed of himself."
"Why does the left like to use blacks and illegals as their slave labor? They will never change."
Ironically, leftists are very keen on high minimum wages - while proclaiming that without illegal immigrants who are paid below the minimum wage (or who are otherwise exploited), life will be very hard. Almost as if there's a connection between high minimum wages and illegal immigration...


Why so many of the world’s oldest companies are in Japan - "Back in 2008, a Bank of Korea report found that of 5,586 companies older than 200 years in 41 countries, 56% of them were in Japan. In 2019, there were over 33,000 businesses in Japan over a century old, according to research firm Teikoku Data Bank. The oldest hotel in the world has been open since 705 in Yamanashi and confectioner Ichimonjiya Wasuke has been selling sweet treats in Kyoto since 1000. Osaka-based construction giant Takenaka was founded in 1610, while even some global Japanese brands like Suntory and Nintendo have unexpectedly long histories stretching back to the 1800s... Japanese companies’ emphasis on sustainability, rather than quick maximisation of profit, is a major reason why so many of the nation’s businesses have such staying power. “In Japan, it’s more: how can we move [the company] on to our descendants, our children, our grandchildren?”... “More generally, we could say that it is because of the general long-term orientation: the culture of respecting tradition and ancestors, combined with the fact that it has been an island country with relatively limited interaction with other countries,” she says, pointing to people’s desire to make the most of what they have for as long as possible by preserving local companies in the community. Many of these oldest companies are medium or small family-owned organisations focusing on hospitality and food, like Tsuen Tea. Several companies have even benefited from the widely-accepted Japanese practice of adopting adult male workers into the family bloodline to ensure an unbroken succession for the business, something even huge firms like Suzuki Motor and Panasonic have done... Hara also points to kimono companies struggling to stay in business as fewer Japanese women wear the traditional garments. One Kyoto-based kimono manufacturer dating back to 1688, Hosoo, has expanded into carbon fibre production for materials companies. “The core competency is the same: 3-D weaving”... Japanese businesses value this high-level customer service, known as omotenashi, and try to anticipate what customers need because they fuel the sustainability that Japanese companies value... Yet this admiration for longevity does have a downside, particularly when it comes to the nation’s start-up scene, which has been criticised as sluggish in comparison to elsewhere, although that characterisation is changing... “While in other countries, founders are praised for transforming their failures into valued experiences, in Japan, the dominant mindset towards risk and failure is a battle many entrepreneurs have to overcome.”... “Closing a company or selling it is also considered something of a failure and shame in Japan, and this feeling goes back centuries. So these cultural issues also seem to encourage families to keep firms going,” he says. “Japanese society, and the economy, is not as flexible as the US, and so Japan does not generate big new firms so easily. The tendency is to preserve what they have.”... “I was born here by chance. My ancestors continued the tea business and I’m taking over,” Tsuen says. “My goal is not to make the company bigger or expand sales or go worldwide. What’s most important is to just continue this.”"

'No Malaysian donations ever reached us, except from Mais' - "Palestinian ambassador to Malaysia Walid Abu Ali yesterday dropped a bombshell, claiming donations raised by Malaysian non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had failed to reach the Al Aqsa Mosque fund for years.Only donations raised by the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) had been accounted for3

Nine Ways You’re Cooking Pasta Wrong - "1. You use a small pot.
“Even if it looks way too big, grab a large pot,” Robbins says. “And add more water than you think you need. There should be enough space for the pasta to move around so that it cooks evenly in water that’s at a rolling boil. If it looks like your pasta is crammed in a hot bathtub of simmering water, you were too skimpy with your pot and your water. And remember that heavily salted water is essential.”
2. You add oil to your cooking water.
“Here’s the short reason why: It prevents sauce from sticking to the pasta"...
3. You grab a colander.
“If you’re draining your pasta in a colander in the sink, you’re losing all the cooking water—and that water is an important ingredient for a great dish...
5. You pour sauce on top...
If you’re serving a sauced pasta, you should always add the pasta to a pan of sauce and finish cooking it there. These last few minutes are crucial: They ensure that the pasta absorbs more flavor. Allow for that additional time by undercooking your pasta a little bit in the boiling water. And add spoonfuls of the pasta cooking water you reserved to the sauce as you stir the pasta; it will be a little bit thick from the starch of the pasta and help thicken and flavor the sauce.”
6. And you use too much sauce...
"There should be next to nothing in your bowl or on the plate when you serve it"...
7. You believe pasta belongs on a plate.
“I use bowls to serve almost all pastas, from long strands of spaghetti, fettuccine, and mafaldini to short shapes like rigatoni and gnocchi. Pasta is more comfortable in a bowl, it’s more fun to eat, and there’s less chance of cooling down quickly. The exceptions to my rule are flat-bottomed pasta, namely ravioli but also varieties like the coin-shaped crozetti, which can get broken up if they’re jumbled in a bowl.”...
9. You throw out the leftovers.
“Almost any leftover pasta, with the exception of stuffed ones, can have a second life as a very delicious frittata or baked dish. Add a few beaten eggs, a lot of grated cheese, and any other ingredients that sound tasty such as cooked sausage and bake in a 350F oven in a baking dish or heatproof skillet.”"

You’re Doing it Wrong: The Guide to Making Perfect Pasta - "Over the past few decades, pasta has been given a bad reputation by many low carb fad diets such as the original Atkins diet. On the flip side, the touted Mediterranean Diet includes pasta as a staple. Part of the confusion over the merits of eating bread draw from the conflation of durum wheat, which pasta is traditionally made from, and wheat used for baking bread. Durum pasta has a low glycemic index(GI) of about 25-45. To compare, white bread has a high GI of about 75 and potatoes have a GI of about 80, as do many breakfast cereals. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating foods with a low GI has been associated with higher HDL-cholesterol concentrations (the “good” cholesterol), a decreased risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. And, case-control studies have also shown positive associations between dietary glycemic index and the risk of colon and breast cancers. Pasta made with even healthier grains, such as whole grain and spelt, do add additional nutrients but do not necessarily lower the GI. The way pasta is cooked also affects its healthiness. For the healthiest and tastiest way, you want to cook the pasta al dente, which means “to the tooth” or “to the bite.” If overcooked, the GI index will rise...
Make sure the water is boiled: For all the impatient cooks out there, just wait that extra minute until the water is boiling with big bubbles. The boiling temperature is what prevents the pasta from getting mushy. That first plunge into the boiling water is critical to the texture of the final product. It will also help you time the pasta better.
Stir: Do not forget to stir. It may sound obvious, but this simple step can easily be forgotten through everyday distractions and the rush of cooking dinner. Without stirring, the pasta will for sure stick together and cook unevenly...
Don’t rinse cooked pasta: Adding oil to pasta is not the only culprit to preventing the sauce and pasta from harmoniously mixing. Rinsing the cooked pasta under water does just the same. According to Giada de Laurentiis in her cookbook Everyday Pasta, “the starch on the surface contributes flavor and helps the sauce adhere.” If you rinse the water, you rinse away the starch."
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