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Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Links - 12th January 2021

The Japanese Roots of Taiwanese Rice (And Its 30 Years of R&D) - "Rice has been cultivated in Taiwan for a long time. In fact, grains of rice have been found in prehistoric sites dating 3000-5000 years ago. But the story of the rice that we eat today starts with settlers from China in the 18th century and the long-grain, non-sticky rice that they brought with them and cultivated.Unlike farmers in many other parts of Qing China who practiced subsistence farming, these farmers made a surplus, which they then sold back to the mainland. Taiwan became known as a “regional grain storehouse” 「閩粵穀倉」for this reason. In 1752, farmers in Pingtung (southern Taiwan) even developed a kind of rice with a shorter growing season, so they could grow it twice a year — double the annual yield! However, this kind of rice is not the main one Taiwanese people eat today at mealtime; it is used to make traditional rice-based snacks, such as radish cake 蘿蔔糕. The rice that people eat at meals (and the kind that is used to brew Taiwan Beer) is actually short-grain sticky rice, similar to the kind Japanese and other northeast Asian people eat. This rice grows in temperate climates.Apparently, these are THE two subspecies of rice. In other words, ALL types of rice fall under these two categories 🤯 So Basmati rice, Jasmine rice, Mexican rice are all long-grain Indica rice 秈米 (Indica for India), and Japanese, Korean, and northern Chinese rice are all short-grain Japonica rice 粳米 . In Taiwan, these subspecies take the form of “the original rice” 在來米 and Ponlai rice 蓬萊米... why was there a need to grow Japanese rice in Taiwan?
Just as the industrial revolution in Europe was made possible by agricultural surpluses, Japan was then in the process of industrializing and needed people to move from farms to factories, which meant they needed other people to grow their rice– Taiwanese people. This division of labor was called “Agricultural Taiwan, Industrial Japan” (農業台灣,工業日本)
In the 1890s-1900s, rice shortages in Japan led to widespread riots. It seems that rice shortages occurred when Japanese troops were sent abroad (with large amounts of domestic rice). While the Japanese government tried to appease the people with rice from Korea, it wasn’t enough and also led to riots in the Korea. And the only other option was to spend huge amounts importing rice from Thailand. Clearly, an alternative, cheaper source of rice was needed...  In Japan, apparently, the more affordable Taiwanese rice flooded the local market, driving already suffering Japanese farming families bankrupt. (This was the time period when a lot of Japanese started immigrating to the Americas in search of a better life.)And in Taiwan, farmer incomes did rise, but still not enough to afford the rice they were growing. I wonder if this was a factor in making it the rice so desirable after the Japanese left? (Apparently, the reason food in Tainan is so sweet is because the people who grew sugar cane under brutal, exploitative conditions could not actually afford it, so sweet food was a luxury.)"

What is snow-washing? — End Snow-Washing" - "Snow-washing is a type of money laundering. It was coined by The Toronto Star to describe the flow of dirty money entering the Canadian economy for the purposes of tax evasion or terrorist financing, and the term is now being used internationally... An expert panel convened in B.C. has estimated that $46 billion is laundered or “washed” into Canada in 2018. Other experts have even pegged that figure to upwards of $100 billion... Canada has tied with South Korea for the weakest corporate transparency rules among all G20 nations, according to analysis undertaken by Transparency International in 2017. Shell companies are often associated with sleepy tropical locales such as the British Virgin Islands and Seychelles but it is just as easy in Canada to set up an anonymous untraceable company... Money laundering contributes to artificial price bubbles and makes housing unaffordable for Canadians. For instance, the expert panel in B.C. indicated that money laundering through B.C. real estate has contributed to a 5% increase in the price of housing. This is a big problem as vacancy rates are already quite low in major Canadian cities such, and it doesn’t take much money laundering to affect the price of real estate.Snow-washing also leads to greater opportunities for political and other corruption"

The not-so-sweet taste of hypocrisy about anti-Semitism - "When you become a funder of a group like the Women’s March, whose leaders have openly embraced and defended one of the country’s most notorious hate-mongers and anti-Semites, it’s clear that your claim to be working for a more equitable society is bunk. That ought to be obvious in the wake of the Oct. 27 synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, perhaps the worst act of anti-Semitic violence in the history of the United States... Two of its leaders are open supporters of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and of notorious anti-Zionists.Women’s March co-president Tamika Mallory attended a “Savior’s Day” address in Chicago given by Farrakhan and was among those cheering him as he spouted his usual litany of anti-Semitic smears, in which he blamed Jews—whom he accused of controlling Hollywood and the media—for harming women. Afterwards, a smiling Mallory posed for a picture with the hate-monger.Just as bad is the fact that another key leader of the Women’s March is Linda Sarsour, the Palestinian-American activist who is a prominent supporter of the BDS movement targeting Israel. Sarsour has made it clear that Zionists, even those who are fellow liberal Trump-haters, aren’t welcome at the group’s marches. She is also a big fan of Farrakhan, but neither that nor her hate for Israel and those who support it haven’t prevented her from becoming a darling of the political left and its media cheering section. When confronted about their support for Farrakhan, the Women’s March refused to back down or to get rid of Mallory or Sarsour. To the contrary, they remain the faces of a group that is not only lauded for their anti-Trump activism, but now also has the support of Ben & Jerry’s—the moral equivalent of the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” for the left.When asked about Mallory and Sarsour, the ice-cream company was agnostic about their support for anti-Semitism... can one really dismantle anti-Semitism by supporting a Jew-hater like Farrakhan, and by championing a cause that advocates for denying to the Jews that which no one thinks to deny to any other people on the planet? Sarsour has been a hypocrite about anti-Semitism, and now the same can be said for Ben & Jerry’s.Some progressive Jews have already spoken out about disassociating from the Women’s March while Mallory and Sarsour remain at its head. But the message from Ben & Jerry’s is that it’s OK to hate Jews as long as you are “resisting” Trump. If liberal Jews, even those blaming Trump for Pittsburgh and act as if anti-Semitism is limited to the right, blithely accept this outrageous proposition, then they have lost their moral compass.After Pittsburgh, zero tolerance for Jew-hatred must be a given. The only thing people of conscience, whether liberal or conservative, should do is to “resist” Ben & Jerry’s new bitter taste."
Anti-semitism is only bad when it can be used to attack the right

Linda Sarsour & Farrakhan: For Liberals, The Ends Justify the Means - "There is almost nothing new in his latest hate-filled accusations. Farrakhan in the past has praised Hitler and derided Judaism as a gutter religion. Yet I say “almost nothing new” because the 84-year-old Farrakhan is now empowered by a new generation of leftist, minority, and feminist activists such as Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Linda Sarsour, who coordinate marches with Farrakhan or ardently praise him.Not long ago, Representative Danny Davis (D., Ill.) spoke up in behalf of Farrakhan, calling him  “an outstanding human being.” Davis went on to use an unfortunate choice of words: “The world is so much bigger than Farrakhan and the Jewish question.”“The Jewish question”?The “Jewish question,” of course, refers to a 19th-century pan-European debate over whether Jews would ever assimilate into European countries. The debate quickly descended into abject anti-Semitism. And by the 20th century, in the German Third Reich, the phrase “Die Judenfrage” was to become the signature Nazi euphemism for the Final Solution. Davis is either ignorant or shameless or both.Even weirder was a recent revelation that in 2005, at a Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) event, a smiling Barack Obama, then a newly elected senator, had posed in the basement of the U.S. Capitol for a photo alongside a smiling Farrakhan... "[Obama] had people from the Nation of Islam working on his staff and in his office in the Chicago, his Senate staff,” Muhammad recently told Fox News’s Tucker Carlson in an interview. “The members of the Nation of Islam helped him in his Senate campaign and on the South Side of Chicago.”... Certainly, if a Senator John McCain or former governor Mitt Romney had posed for a photo-op in the U.S. Capitol with David Duke, while hiring members of the Klan to work on their staffs, they would have been disgraced and their careers quickly aborted. In the old days, anti-Semitism was more the domain of white rednecks railing against supposedly sneaky, rich, Eastern bankers and New York traders. Today it is the “intersectional” collection of black extremists, Palestinian nationalists, and radical feminists. They apparently feel immune from charges of anti-Semitism, on the premise that minorities cannot themselves be bigots and that leftists can loathe and single out Israel for inordinate venom, but not be anti-Semitic.In sum, the octogenarian Farrakhan is now a mainstream identity-politics activist and an apparently integral part of the new Democratic party’s “inclusion” agenda. Why else would Representative Jim Clyburn (the third-ranking Democrat in the House) have shared a stage with him? Or why would DNC vice chairman Keith Ellison (former Nation of Islam member) shrug off his relationship to Farrakhan with the assertion, “I am telling you, no one cares.” And if one looks to the Democratic hierarchy, he’s apparently right... Opponents of gentrification use the same old tactics of vandalizing newcomers’ property and attempting to destroy their businesses. In the old days, liberalism defended the efforts of “the other” to integrate into neighborhoods of the majority. Not now.Instead, it is okay for anti-gentrification activists to use racist language (“Be wary of white men” is a talking point in Los Angeles) to harass so-called yuppies, who wish to move into their traditional barrios. What would happen if there were like-minded bigots in Palos Verdes who organized patrols to stop Mexican Americans from buying homes in their neighborhood, as they marched with placards saying “Be wary of brown men”?So is the argument both that it’s fine for Latinos to be racist and that others are racists (which is not fine) for suggesting that Latinos are racists? Or is the defense that others were racist in the past, and so some now have a few more years in which they can be racists before we dial back the needle on the racist meter? Or is it weirder still: Whites are racists either for wishing to move into minority neighborhoods or to stay in their own white-majority neighborhoods?... Speaking of Russian colluders, we already know that British subject Christopher Steele was paid by the Hillary Clinton campaign to find dirt on Donald Trump and to thwart his candidacy. Steele did not register as a foreign agent of any sort. But unlike the Russians, he is easily extraditable from the United Kingdom. Why hasn’t he been indicted?... Other new disclosures show that Russian oil-money interests with ties to Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin may well have funded and subsidized the efforts of multiple American green groups to retard American fracking... Sometimes the efforts of foreigners to warp U.S. elections are even more overt, at least in the case of foreign progressives in service to kindred American progressives. During the 2016 election, former mayor of Mexico City and often-mentioned Mexican presidential candidate Marcelo Ebrard was the subject of a flattering New Yorker profile. The puff piece (“How a One-Time Political Star in Mexico Ended Up Campaigning for Clinton”) praised Ebrard, a Mexican citizen, for “working on Latino get-out-the-vote campaigns on behalf of Hillary Clinton.”... Progressives are not much upset about the notion of foreigners meddling and warping U.S. politics. They indeed seem to approve of the idea that an American campaign would hire a British subject who, colluding with Russians, could help their candidate, Hillary Clinton, derail Donald Trump. And Russians aiding American greens to shut down fracking? Progressives shrug. A major Mexican politician moves to the U.S. to help Clinton organize Mexican-Americans voters to stop Trump — more shrugging."

CT Scan Reveals Mummified Monk Inside Ancient Buddha Statue - "Researchers brought a millennium-old statue of the Buddha, which had been on loan to the Drents Museum in the Netherlands, to the state-of-the-art hospital in the hopes that modern medical technology could shed light on an ancient mystery. For hidden inside the gold-painted figure was a secret—the mummy of a Buddhist monk in a lotus position. Shown outside of China for the first time last year, the statue had been the centerpiece of a recently completed exhibition at the Drents Museum that featured 60 human and animal mummies from around the world... The body inside the statue is thought to be that of Buddhist master Liuquan, a member of the Chinese Meditation School who died around A.D. 1100. How did Liuquan’s body end up inside an ancient Chinese statue? One possibility explored by the Drents Museum is the gruesome process of self-mummification in which monks hoped to transform themselves into revered “living Buddhas.” The practice of self-mummification among Buddhist monks was most common in Japan but occurred elsewhere in Asia, including in China. As described in Ken Jeremiah’s book “Living Buddhas,” monks interested in self-mummification spent upwards of a decade following a special diet that gradually starved their bodies and enhanced their chances of preservation. Monks eschewed any food made from rice, wheat and soybeans and instead ate nuts, berries, tree bark and pine needles in slowly diminishing quantities to reduce body fat and moisture, which can cause corpses to decay. They also ate herbs, cycad nuts and sesame seeds to inhibit bacterial growth. They drank a poisonous tree sap that was used to make lacquer so that the toxicity would repel insects and pervade the body as an embalming fluid. After years of adhering to the strict diet and nearing starvation, a monk was then buried alive in an underground chamber. Breathing through a bamboo tube, the monk sat in a lotus position and chanted sutra in the darkness. Each day he rang a bell inside the tomb to signal that he remained alive. When the peals finally ended, the air tube was removed and the tomb sealed. After three years, followers opened the tomb. Had the body mummified, it was taken to a nearby temple to be venerated. If the body did not mummify, an exorcism was performed and the monk reburied. To some practicing Buddhists, mummified monks are not dead but in a deep meditative state known as “tukdam.” Odds were low that the self-mummification process would work, but in rare cases it did. Just this January, a mummified monk in a lotus position, believed to be around 200 years old, was discovered wrapped in cattle skin in a house in a remote province of Mongolia."

The Death Toll of the Rwandan Genocide: A Detailed Analysis for Gikongoro Province
Rwanda's population in 1994 was 5.9 million. Estimates of the death toll range from 500,000 to 1 million, i.e. 10% to 20% of the population. Clearly genocide can successfully target at least as much as 10% of the population, or even 20% of it. In 1991, Tutsis made up 8.4% of Rwanda's population. With population projections that would be 11% of the population in 1994. However, moderate Hutus were also targeted by the genocide. I have not found numbers for how much of the population they would have accounted for.

History (HRW Report - Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda, March 1999) - "Believing the Tutsi to be more capable, they found it logical for the Tutsi to rule Hutu and Twa just as it was reasonable for Europeans to rule Africans. Unaware of the “Hutu” contribution to building Rwanda, the Europeans saw only that the ruler of this impressive state and many of his immediate entourage were Tutsi, which led them to assume that the complex institutions had been created exclusively by Tutsi.Not surprisingly, Tutsi welcomed these ideas about their superiority, which coincided with their own beliefs... Once the Belgians had decided to limit administrative posts and higher education to the Tutsi, they were faced with the challenge of deciding exactly who was Tutsi... The very recording of the ethnic groups in written form enhanced their importance and changed their character. No longer flexible and amorphous, the categories became so rigid and permanent that some contemporary Europeans began referring to them as “castes.” The ruling elite, most influenced by European ideas and the immediate beneficiaries of sharper demarcation from other Rwandans, increasingly stressed their separateness and their presumed superiority. Meanwhile Hutu, officially excluded from power, began to experience the solidarity of the oppressed."
The Tutsis also benefited from Tutsi privilege. But of course those who mock the possibility that white genocide could ever occur in Western countries don't care

Bloomberg Tried to Ruin Me for Speaking Out on China Reporting - "my story shows the lengths that the Bloomberg machine will go to in order to avoid offending Beijing. Bloomberg’s company, Bloomberg LP, is so dependent on the vast China market for its business that its lawyers threatened to devastate my family financially if I didn’t sign an NDA silencing me about how Bloomberg News killed a story critical of Chinese Communist Party leaders. It was only when I hired Edward Snowden’s lawyers in Hong Kong that Bloomberg LP eventually called off their hounds after many attempts to intimidate me."

Tom Chivers has a theory about the latest Dawkins kerfuffle - "Richard said eugenics would “work” in the sense of changing population means in humans, but immediately added that he was against it... there are two types of people: the “high-decouplers”, which, in a statement like Dawkins’s, can easily separate the “is”s from the “ought”s. They can see that he’s making a statement about the malleability of human traits to artificial selection and, at the same time, realize that this doesn’t mean Dawkins favors such intervention.Then there are the “low-decouplers”, which couple Dawkins’s “is” statement with his “ought” statement. (I’d prefer to call the groups “couplers” and “uncouplers”.) These people embed Richard’s “eugenics would work” statement in a political and cultural milieu, and are unable to separate them. Ergo Richard, by saying “eugenics works”, is somehow justifying Nazism. That isn’t an exaggeration, as you can see if you’ve followed the pushback.As an example of a low-decoupler, I posted a tweet from a scientist who called Richard a “clown” who was “supporting eugenics” and deserved to be denounced. When I asked in my post if that scientist actually read what Richard wrote, I was denounced by the person (a woman) as a “sexist asshat”. (The exact wording was “So in addition to ‘Fuck eugenics’ and “Fuck dawks,’ I’d like to add, Fuck Jerry Coyne you sexist asshat”.) That, I realized after reading Chiver’s piece, was double “low-decoupling”: not only was the person unable to decouple Dawkins’s “is” from his “oughts”, but was unable to decouple my mild criticism of her from the presumption that I was a “sexist” (and an asshat, too). What would imply I was a “sexist” beyond her own sex?... 'I have a rule that I try to stick to, but which I break occasionally. That rule is “never say anything remotely contentious on Twitter”. No good ever comes of it. Arguments that need plenty of space and thought get compressed into 280 characters and defended in front of a baying audience; it is the worst possible medium for serious conversations.'...
They were angry because they deliberately misinterpreted what he said—either that or they couldn’t read or were just thick. What puzzles me is why so many people were and are so eager to demonize Dawkins. Jealousy is one reason, I suppose, but I don’t think that quite covers it. After all, there are psychological reasons for a seeming inability to decouple that the theory doesn’t cover.Chivers argues that it’s easier for scientists to decouple because they’re “used to taking things apart,” but I don’t buy that, either. It is those who are enraged by Dawkins—and they include many scientists, who have demonized him for his tweet)—or are determined to bring him down, who can’t decouple in this case. How bright do you have to be to understand that Richard was talking about the efficacy of artificial selection and not that it should be used in humans? Is that so hard—especially when Richard immediately explained what he meant in other tweets?"

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