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Saturday, March 18, 2023

Links - 18th March 2023 (2 - Diversity)

Barbara Kay: In the progressive era, even literary critics aren't safe - "In 1981, Toni Morrison wrote, “If there were better criticism, there would be better books.” Better can mean negative — sometimes even harsh — criticism. There was a time when that was received wisdom. No longer. John Metcalf, a transplant to Montreal from England, has for 55 years toiled in Canada’s various literary vineyards: teaching, editing (300-plus books), publishing (Porcupine Press and Biblioasis, where he has his own imprint) — and, of course, writing. Metcalf is an accomplished novelist and short-story writer. He has personally published some 18 books. He received an Order of Canada in 2004. In 2014, he was voted editor of the year by the Canadian Booksellers Association. Metcalf has been a writer-in-residence at the University of New Brunswick, McGill, Concordia and the University of Bologna. As a critic, Metcalf sets a high bar for excellence, so he has numerous enemies, but also many fans. Of Metcalf’s criticism, University of Toronto English Prof. Sam Solecki testifies: “You must admit that it’s better written … and simply more interesting than almost anything written on Canadian literature within the academy.” Nobel Prize-winning short-story writer Alice Munro said he is “bracing and encouraging,” and that, “Praise from him, you feel, is real gold.”... oth Metcalf and Cohen regard their critical vocation, in T.S. Eliot’s words, as “the common pursuit of true judgment and the correction of taste.”  Taste? That’s so over for progressive ideologues. Today, the critic’s function is the “correction” of colonialism, racism, LGBTphobia and historic under-representation. For 20 years, Metcalf has been on contract with Humber College in Toronto as a mentor in its School for Writers. In mid-December, he received a formal letter from Guillermo Acosta, senior dean of Humber’s faculty of media and creative arts, which informed him that one of the three students he was mentoring (“from an equity-seeking group,” according to Humber’s communications director, Andrew Leopold) had complained to the dean regarding remarks Metcalf made about the writing of Giller-winning Canadian novelist M. G. Vassanji, who is of Indian descent, in a 2009 interview with writer and bibliophile Nigel Beale. Acosta wrote: “Your opinions in this interview can be interpreted as race-based discrimination … I find your remarks on Mr. Vassanji’s writing problematic given your position.”  The word “problematic” is woke-speak for “unacceptable.” I find a few things about this pretty “problematic” myself. I listened to the 2009 interview. Metcalf’s critique of Vassanji’s writing was indeed damning: “He cannot write English, (it) reads like a translation,” Metcalf avers, and says it is “laughable” that Munro and Vassanji could have both been granted a Giller Award. But the discussion with Beale was wide-ranging. In the same interview, Metcalf opines that (white, old-stock Canadian) Ann-Marie MacDonald’s novel, “Fall on Your Knees,” was “so grossly written,” he needed two bottles of scotch to finish it, and describes (white, old-stock Canadian) Robertson Davies as “one of the biggest windbags I have ever come across.” Metcalf explains this vituperation as a visceral response to bad writing, which he experiences as “almost an assault on everything I hold most sacred.” For Metcalf, good writing is wine; bad writing is vinegar. In his letter, Acosta — who has an extensive background in information technology and administration, none in literature — asked if, since 2009, Metcalf’s views had changed and “whether or not you are approaching your work with a broader EDI (equity, diversity, inclusion) lens.” He invited Metcalf to call or write if he wanted “to have a conversation about this issue.”  Metcalf attempted to initiate such a “conversation” in multiple letters between December and early March, primarily to explain that he had criticized Vassanji’s writing, not Vassanji personally. But he did not receive a response from Acosta or, when finally appealed to, from Humber president Christopher Whitaker. Metcalf resigned from his gig at Humber on March 6...  If Acosta had taken the time to probe a bit before rushing to judgment, he might have discovered that Metcalf has praised another Indian writer, V.S. Naipaul, as “one of the ornaments of prose writing in the 20th century.” He might also have discovered that Metcalf is the adoptive father of two Indian children, a strange life choice for someone who allegedly holds racist views of Indians...   Even more ironically, as critic Andy Lamey noted in a balanced 2017 article on Metcalf in the Literary Review of Canada, Metcalf was once a pariah in Canada for championing style over the prevailing cultural nationalism in this country that privileged old-stock writers, however fusty their output, an attitude Metcalf sought vigorously to change. “We take it for granted today that immigrant literature is a central part of Canadian literature,” Lamey wrote, “while the notion of the Canadian duty read has gone into a long decline.” Metcalf played a large role in this change"
EDI (DEI) means that "minorities" can never be criticised

Facebook - "I used to think diversity was neutral - that only diversity for the sake of it, forced, was bad. But I'm beginning to think otherwise. It objectively hinders productivity and is a distraction from business goals.  Consider the rise of Asian corps - Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese, Chinese, Indian firms. All homogenous nations that have outcompeted America in many industries such as cars, electronics, software engineering, and IT. What happened to American dominance? If diversity was our strength, how did Japanese and Korean automakers beat multiracial Detroit?  The US still has an edge in software(but China and India are catching up) - but "Silicon Valley's" workforce is almost entirely white and Asian, often very homogenous based on department or team. The DEI racketeering industry is frothing at the mouth to undonthis. Not to mention, the SW/engineering indistry and has a ton of outsourcing and manufacturing in... Asia and India.  The US did have global dominance. When it was much less diverse, and industries were much more segregated. The "West" has doubled down on unchecked immigration and multiculturalism as a virtue. Expect to see more losses and the inevitable rise of Asia. Diversity/multiculturalism always leads to a low trust society and petty squabbles that ultimately distract fro  work. Microagressions? Its much easier to aaavoid walking on eggshells with coworkers by simply getting rid of that scenario altogethe than any number of DEI classes. You cant realistically screen every candidate for being "based""

The Alleged 'Happiest Countries On Earth' Are Also All White

FischerKing on Twitter - "For every white guy denied an academic post, a tech job or a government position, there are several more who don’t go down such career paths b/c they observed this. Lack of meritocratic hiring has downstream effects, so lack of competence will get steadily worse for some time."

Meme - "Liz Truss's cabinet is Britain's first without white man in top jobs
First time no white man in any of four most senior posts
Kwarteng takes finance portfolio, Cleverly to foreign office
Diversity now 'normal' in Britain, says expert
Liz Truss resigns after six weeks as UK prime minister"

Clifton Duncan (She/Her) on Twitter - "Audiences don't hate diverse characters. What they hate is being slammed as bigots for rejecting bad work from pretentious, unskilled activists posing as writers. If the demography of your characters becomes more important than the story, your story will probably suck."

Meme - "Science doesn't care who is running the experiment. Anyone can di science.

Why Do We Want What We Can’t Have? - Freakonomics - "DUCKWORTH: “Dear Stephen and Angela, I am a full-time Ph.D. student. I’m also a Black-Latina mother. Being immersed in academia, I am constantly having conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). I feel like I’m speaking or emailing or zooming every day with someone about how I can feel included and valued as a graduate student, as a parent, as a person of color — almost to the point of virtue signaling. The thing is, despite all these conversations, I still feel like I get ostracized. And, ironically, it is by the people who are supposed to be part of my small communities. It’s the women that make snarky comments about my availability in light of the fact that I have a baby. I’ve been shamed by the Black community for having a lighter skin tone and by the Latinx community for not being fluent in Spanish. Yet we all band together in front of the majority, be it men, Caucasians, et cetera. My question is, why is it that even in communities that are considered minorities, do we feel it necessary to still pick on the “other” person? Why do we need to form groups within these small communities and establish an even smaller group of acceptable people? Why do people who have been “othered” decide to “other” their own people? Is this deeply rooted in our biology and/or are we just inherently cliquey?” ... I think it is a deep-rooted tribalist instinct, a kind of “we” versus “them.” And I think this increasing fragmentation — as she says, it’s not only that there’s “we” versus “them,” it’s that even in the “we” group, then all of a sudden there becomes a subgroup, and on and on. I think that’s because we come from a primate line, evolutionarily. And primates are, like many other animals, tribal. You know, there is territory, and there’s, kind of, “we” versus “them” built into survival...
One of the studies I remember learning about is called the robbers cave experiment... The study was done in the 50s or 60s by Sherif, a psychologist whose name I never knew how to pronounce, and therefore could never remember his first name. But the study itself is so clever. You’ve got prepubescent boys — like, 10, 11 years old. And they’re at a summer camp. The group of boys is divided into two. And unbeknownst to each other, there are two adjacent summer camps that are physically isolated enough that when you go off to your camp, all you know is the boys that you’re assigned with, and you don’t even think about other boys at an adjacent camp. They do all these kind of, like, in-group exercises, or these interventions, to actually consolidate your identity with your group of campers. You pick a mascot, and then you make T-shirts with the picture of your mascot on it. And in this very famous study, one group of campers decide they’re going to be the eagles, and the other one pick the rattlesnakes. And they pick colors, and they do all these things to consolidate a kind of “we” identity. And then these boys are told about each other. Like, “Did you know that there’s a camp really close to here? And they have a different name and they have different colors?” And then they put these boys into conflict situations like, “Let’s do tug of war.” “Let’s tell one group that the other group doesn’t like them.” What the scientists behind this wanted to know is, what is the nature of tribalism, and what is the nature of conflict? And also, how do we actually figure out how to resolve this kind of tribalistic conflict when it comes about? And the intervention that seemed to be the most effective, in a series of studies that were done with this camping paradigm, is that: you tell the boys that they have a common enemy. You tell the boys that there’s another group: vandals. And they are sabotaging the drinking water. And then, what you find is that people band together — at least in this very, very small sample, the boys put aside their differences, and now they’re just trying to defeat the common enemy. And so the conclusion is that one of the ways that we can deal with this tribalism is to find some kind of superordinate goal that we can all be loyal to, and now to expand the circle of “we” to be both of us, both of our groups, and then to make some common enemies the “them.” When the pandemic hit, I did wonder — because, of course, our country was already fast on its way to being extremely polarized. It was hard to imagine that we could be any more polarized than we were. And I remember thinking, this is like a science fiction movie where the aliens attack Earth, and finally we set aside our differences and we take up arms together to fight the common enemy. I mean, what was [more] common than a global pandemic?...
I actually thought to myself quite explicitly, “This is gonna create a ‘them’ so that we can all be an ‘us’ together.” And it did not happen. In fact, maybe you could argue the opposite happened, you know, with mask-wearing, with vaccines, with pretty much everything that could go wrong politically, with our response in terms of lack of unity."
DEI will never end, because liberals will always look for new enemies - new "bigots" to virtue signal against

Meme - Niche Gamer @nichegamer: "Final Fantasy XVI won't have or POC characters, as its game world is modeled after medieval Europe"
Shock to the System @nooulives: ""He notes he understands this might disappoint some fans, but states that their diversity goes beyond appearance, noting the characters are "diverse in their natures, backgrounds, beliefs, personalities, and motivations.""
Ah, so ACTUAL diversity"

‘Friends’ creator apologises for show's lack of diversity with $4million pledge - "Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman has pledged $4million (£3.2million) to African American studies as an apology for the show’s lack of diversity... Kauffman said she had a change of heart on the diversity criticism against the show following the death of George Floyd in 2020 by Minneapolis police – which sparked worldwide protests... Co-creator David Bright has previously addressed the show’s lack of diversity, saying they did not intend to have an all-white central cast... "Obviously, the chemistry between these six actors speaks for itself.”"

How Much Does Discrimination Hurt the Economy? - Freakonomics - "HUBER: Jews were generally very well integrated into the top levels of the German economic system. They ran all types of firms, firms that we still know today. B.M.W., Daimler-Benz, Allianz — these are all firms that had important Jewish executives. Deutsche Bank, still the largest bank today, had a Jewish C.E.O. called Oscar Wassermann...
The Jewish population share in 1930s Germany before the Nazis came to power was just under one percent, around 0.8 percent. But Jewish individuals held around 15 percent of senior management positions in 1932, so way larger than their population share. In Berlin, about five percent of the population were Jewish, but Jews paid over 30 percent of the taxes in the city...
DUBNER: You Germans and your record-keeping, it really comes in handy, doesn’t it?
HUBER: Yes, it’s somewhat sad to say, because obviously the purpose of this record-keeping was very evil. But it did help us for scientific purposes later on... In the paper, we analyze firms that were directly harmed by discrimination because they lost their Jewish managers. And we show that firms were unable to replace the top characteristics of dismissed managers. In particular, the number of managers with a lot of experience in the firm, the number of managers with higher-education degrees such as a master’s or a Ph.D., and the number of managers with many connections to other firms fell significantly when the Jewish managers left the firms... Share prices of companies that expelled Jewish managers fell sharply once they dismissed the managers and stayed low for at least 10 years... We find that profits went down. We find that efficiency of the firms went down. And to give you a number, the share price of the average affected firm declined by about 10 to 12 percent after 1933, which is a huge effect.
DUBNER: You write that German G.N.P., gross national product, fell by 1.8 percent as a result of this Jewish removal — which, on the one hand, is huge. On the other hand, how relevant was G.N.P. during a war like this?
HUBER: When the Nazis came to power, the war was still relatively far away. The Nazis came into power on an economic agenda. People wanted unemployment to go down. They wanted to achieve recovery from the Great Depression that had plagued the global economy. And so, economic factors were relatively important at the time. And so, our paper, in a sense, goes to show that the Nazis harmed their economic agenda by expelling some of the best people in the economy... We think of our setting as an extreme case of taste-based discrimination, where people just forgo all economic logic and just really dislike a group and therefore exclude them from the economy.
DUBNER: Is there any sense of whether taste-based or statistical is more damaging?
HUBER: These are very sensitive questions that you’re asking me. In the U.S., all types of discrimination is illegal. And so, even if you believe for good reasons you are discriminating, you’re not allowed to do that. People have sometimes sold statistical discrimination as a softer or rational form of discrimination, but neither of them are okay. I’m hesitant to put a good versus bad label on them because for moral reasons — and for legal reasons, in fact — they’re both very dangerous. It’s just that there’s an economic motivation to one and a non-economic motivation to the other...
The student population was a relatively diverse mix of men and women from various ethnic and racial backgrounds. Calder-Wang found that when students could choose collaborators for themselves, the groups were significantly less diverse than when the algorithm created intentionally diverse groups. Given how human beings work, you probably don’t find this surprising. So how did the organically chosen groups perform, compared to the randomly assigned groups — or what Calder-Wang calls the “forced diversity” groups?
CALDER-WANG: What we find in a randomly assigned cohort, one standard deviation increase in diversity leads to about 15 percent degradation in their performance, whereas in the organic formation teams, one standard deviation increase in diversity is only about three to five percent degradation in performance... When people were allowed to choose on their own, diverse teams performed just fine. The problem lies when you are forced to work together in the diverse team. And that’s why I’ve manufactured this word “forced diversity,” as opposed to organic diversity. We always have this notion that diversity might lead to better performances and we were actually fairly annoyed because we found the coefficient to be negative...
In an analysis of venture capitalists — and that’s a field that is overwhelmingly male — she found that “parenting more daughters leads to an increased propensity to hire female partners.” She also found that greater gender diversity — not forced by an algorithm, but driven by the experience of having a daughter — “improves deal and fund performances.”"
Jewish privilege means the Holocaust was good because it was punching up
Looks like diversity was a losing strategy in Nazi Germany, since forcefully making management reflect the makeup of the general population better made them perform worse

Diablo IV devs work long hours, bracing for June 6, 2023 release date - The Washington Post - "Several current and former employees also found the representation and depiction of women in “Diablo IV” to be uninspired, particularly the game’s antagonist, Lilith, Queen of the Succubi. Some women in the game are relegated to traditional gender roles, or undermined by their proximity to a man.  “The story is just mid when it comes to diversity topics,” said a current Blizzard Albany employee, using slang meaning mediocre. “It doesn’t really do anything special there at all, or much of anything. I had complaints about the way we handle Lilith, I think we’ve turned her into someone who’s less interesting as a villain than she could be, if handled by a better writer.”"
They don't care about pushing a political agenda. Looks like it's going to be a good game

Genesis messing on Twitter - "Audiences don't hate diverse characters. What they hate is being slammed as bigots for rejecting bad work from pretentious, unskilled activists posing as writers. If the demography of your characters becomes more important than the story, your story will probably suck."

Racism and Self-hate: Why Africa Is Not Innocent, By Majeed Dahiru - "in expressing solidarity and support for black Americans against racism in America, black Africans appear to be conveniently forgetting their own problems of broken intra-race relations, which has manifested in the form tribalism; a problem that is no less prejudicial than racism. While, there is no denying the reality that America has a big problem of institutional racism on its hands, Africa has a even bigger problem of entrenched tribalism. And tribalism is worse than racism because the latter is hate for others, while the former is hatred for one’s own self. Whereas the white race appears united in its racism against other people of colour, the black race is divided along tribal lines in acrimony, prejudice and hate for each other, as expressed in the most bestial form of discrimination ever known to man. The problem of tribalism in Africa, which predates the coming of the white man to the continent, has been at the core of a weakness that served as enabler of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, colonialism and neo-colonialism... The evil trans-Atlantic slave enterprise was a joint venture between white merchants and black African tribal chieftains. The culture of slavery in Africa predated the trans-Atlantic slave trade, as black Africans had been enslaving their fellow black Africans of different tribes from time immemorial. And as the demand for human cargo exported to work the plantations of the new world increased, so did the ceaseless wars of black African tribal chieftains against their neighbours escalate in order to capture more people for sale to the white man. Therefore, the guilt for the trans-Atlantic slave trade is a shared one between the white slavers and their collaborating black African tribal war lords. This tribal division among black African peoples wto be further exploited by Europeans in the colonisation of most of continental Africa.  Just as it was an enabler of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and colonialism, tribalism has also manifested in post-colonial Africa in the form of divisive, exclusionist, conflicting and destabilising politics of ethno-geographic identity, which has proven to be an anathema to the collective development of black African states in the contemporary world. Identity politics has left many a black African state divided and destabilised due to acrimony, discrimination and marginalisation arising from ethnicity, and resulting in violent armed conflicts across the continent. The tribal wars between the Dinka and the Nuer in South Sudan; Hutu and Tutsi in Rwanda; Hawiye and Marehan Darod in Somalia; Luo and Kikuyu in Kenya; the Fulani, Tiv, Jukun, Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, etc. in Nigeria, have resulted in the slaughter of more black Africans than the white racists have done in the entire history of America.   As a direct consequence of the social instability brought upon black African states by the entrenched culture of tribalism, not much economic progress has been achieved in post-colonial Africa. Tribalism has bred nepotism, cronyism, favouritism, influence peddling and all other forms of corrupt practices, thereby reducing the region and its peoples to a dark condition of socio-economic destitution. This situation has created a huge army of economic refugee out of black Africa, desperately trying to escape the impossible living conditions back home, through the land, air and sea, into the more prosperous Europe and North America. In addition to colour differences, the economic destitution and prevailing conditions of social savagery in black Africa is robbing off negatively on the image of black people all over the world.   A people steeped in self-hate will stand on a weak moral ground and be pointing accusing fingers at other people for hating them. When the Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Itsekiri, Ijaw and Urbobo tribesmen hate each other, it is in reality black African people hating themselves... many black African countries are retrogressing from inter-tribal to intra-tribal conflicts. While America has extended civil rights to descendants of freed slaves and immigrants, black Africans of the ancestral slave heritage are still socially ostracised, derogated, demeaned, discriminated, marginalised, excluded and treated as outcasts in the most inhuman manner in their home continent. Whereas America achieved a major milestone as a leading racially inclusive nation in the world, when in 2008 Barack Obama, a black American, was elected president of the United States, black African states are still plagued by indigene/settler dichotomy and minority/majority tribal supremacy. That is why it was easier for Obama, a black American, to be elected president of white majority America, than would have been possible for Obama, an ethnic minority Luo, to be elected the president of his majority ethnic Kikuyu native country of Kenya. Racism is bad but tribalism is worse, as there is no greater tragedy that can befall a people than self-hate.   Due to the low level of integration and assimilation of the people of Black Africa, Ilhan Omar had to take refuge in faraway America, following the destabilisation of her native Somalia due to protracted intra-tribal/clan wars, where her success story as a refugee-turned-congress-woman is only possible. The story of Sesugh Uhaa, the black American wrestling superstar who was born to Nigerian parents of Tiv ethnicity in America, where his talents and potentials have been nurtured to success, may have been different if he was born in Taraba State in Nigeria. In that place, where ethnic Tiv people from neighbouring Benue State are regarded as non-indigenous settlers with very limited political and economic rights, his accomplishments in life would have been severely hampered. And that is if he is not mowed down in the perennial Tiv/Jukun tribal wars. Black Africa must begin to take full responsibility of what has become of its pitiable socio-economic conditions of strife in the midst of poverty. Africa is not innocent of its own problems and there has to be a shift from “how Europe underdeveloped Africa” to “how Africans are under developing Africa” as the theme of confronting this monster of self-hate. The inability of many black African states to outgrow their primitive tribal territorial stratifications into more inclusive nationhood has secured for the African continent a permanent place at the bottom of the pyramid of human evolution."
Clearly it's the fault of colonialism. Before colonialism, Africa was a paradise
We kept getting told that Africa is very diverse (which is why they can't live in the same nation with people from other tribes). So does it make sense to group them all as "black African people"?

Revealed: Rotherham rape gangs cover-up councillor holds senior diversity and inclusion NHS role - "A former Labour Party politician who resigned his cabinet position at Rotherham Council in 2015 amid reports that he 'pushed back' discussions on the ethnicity of grooming gangs now works as a senior diversity and inclusion manager in a major NHS body, GB News can reveal.  Mahroof Hussain was embroiled in the Rotherham grooming gangs scandal in 2015 when Dame Louise Casey’s review into the council named him and went on to conclude that the authority was in 'denial' and warped by a culture of bullying, sexism and cover-ups... Casey’s report named Hussain and then Deputy Leader Jahangir Akhtar as it criticised senior Pakistani members of the council for wielding “disproportionate influence”. The inspection found that Hussain and Akhtar both rebuffed a police officer when he proposed an initiative to target abusers after a pattern emerged that the abusers predominantly worked as taxi drivers and were from the Pakistani community. That pattern was borne out showing that males from Pakistani backgrounds were vastly over-represented in group localised child sexual exploitation.  In 2015, Times reporter Andrew Norfolk wrote that Hussain was involved in another incident of deflecting attention away from predominantly Pakistani rape gangs when he made a false allegation of racism against a fellow Labour councillor “with the aim of preventing a discussion about sexual exploitation of children.” The Casey report found that council staff felt that Hussain had “suppressed discussion” of the issue.  From 1997 to 2013, which includes the period that Hussain and other councillors were found to have stifled investigation, a “conservative estimate” of 1,400 girls were sexually exploited, trafficked, raped and tortured. Some of the victims were as young as 11. The National Crime Agency has since revised the number of victims during this period to 1,510. Hussain, who was a Rotherham councillor from 2002 and was almost selected as the Labour candidate for the 2012 by-election that Sarah Champion went on to win, resigned his cabinet role and his public office with immediate effect when Casey’s report was published. From May 2005, Hussain had been the cabinet member for Community Cohesion.  GB News can now reveal that Hussain’s role in the Rotherham cover-up has not denied him a career in the public sector, with the disgraced politician now working as the National Diversity, Inclusion & Participation Manager for Health Education England... GB News has uncovered footage of Hussain repeating anti-semitic stereotypes that Jewish people exert control in society due to their “financial resources” while appearing on an Urdu-language news network since he resigned in disgrace from his Rotherham council role.  On the Noor TV network in 2016, Hussain discussed the claim that “Jews control this and that,” responding to himself by saying “but why not?” adding that Jewish people have ‘control’ because “they have the ability, financial resources and the capability and the brains and the strategy.” Mahroof, who was made a Member of the British Empire by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2008, was previously appointed as an advisor to a Home Office working group on “Tackling Extremism and Radicalisation.”  But Hussain has cultivated relationships with extremists since he was forced out of local government politics in 2015, with the CEO of Iman FM Mohammed Shabbir attending his daughter’s wedding in Sheffield in 2016. Iman FM was suspended and then banned by Ofcom in 2017 after it broadcast a series of speeches by Al-Qaeda preacher Anwar Al-Awlaki advocating violence against non-Muslims.  Since his resignation from Rotherham, Hussain has also rebranded himself as an Islamophobia activist, describing himself on his LinkedIn as a consultant to charity Faith Matters and appearing at several events hosted by Tell MAMA, an organisation that monitors anti-Muslim hate... Labour did not confirm if Mahroof Hussain was still a Labour Party member."

The Failure of Democrat’s Identity Politics to Catch Fire Among the Electorate - "all six of those making their pitch were white—#debatesowhite, as the hashtag called it. Worse yet, half of those Caucasians are old enough to be carrying Medicare cards. As Frank Bruni wrote in last week’s Sunday column, “for a party that celebrates diversity, pitches itself to underdogs and prides itself on being future-minded and youth-oriented, that’s a freaky, baffling turn of events.”... all the nonwhite candidates—except Yang, who has explicitly disavowed identity politics—are either going or gone...  By the logic of identity politics, this shouldn’t have happened. Blacks make up 21 percent of the Democratic party. That should be enough, some might think, to guarantee substantial support for at least one of the black candidates, but it hasn’t worked that way. Joe Biden is the favorite among black Dems... Latino voters, making up 12 percent of the party, have proved even more indifferent than blacks to the rules of identity politics... Harris, who dropped out of the race due to lackluster fundraising and falling poll numbers, is the most striking example of the failure of identity politics to catch fire among the electorate. No one drank from the diversity well more deeply than Harris... in the end, her diverse identity and policy ideas appealed more to political and media elites than the Democratic hoi polloi... “Even at her campaign’s peak, polls showed she held more support from white liberals than from black voters”... And what about the much-hyped women’s vote? The Tao of identity politics teaches us that women should feel a sense of solidarity with their sisters, but that’s not the way they’ve been acting. Kirsten Gillibrand, the campaign season’s star avatar of women’s issues, was best known for her fight for paid leave and against sexual abuse in the military and on college campuses. Those efforts didn’t help her in a national campaign. Though almost 60 percent of self-identified Democrats are women, Gillibrand could never break 2 percent support, and she failed to meet the donor threshold for September’s debate. She ran as a “white woman of privilege,” telling voters, “I can talk to those white women in the suburbs and explain to them what white privilege actually is.” Evidently, women of color were unimpressed, while white ladies were not amused; her candidacy deflated like an old balloon... There’s little evidence that women as a group gravitate toward female candidates... “What looks like women voting for women is usually just women voting for Democrats”... Even women avowing a strong sense of shared gender identity were no more likely to come through for [Hillary]... And what about Andrew Yang, the candidate who, in a last-minute save, helped the Dems escape a dreaded optics of white supremacy at the Democratic debate? Ironically, the political establishment has been hellbent on ignoring Yang’s impressive candidacy even though he is nonwhite. MSNBC and CNN have “forgotten” to include the Taiwanese-American in graphics and polls on several occasions, even as he was polling better than other minority candidates who producers were able to remember. Other outlets got his name wrong, an error that would have given competitor networks chyron material for days if he were a black or Latino or female candidate. Does anyone doubt that Yang’s invisibility is because he is Asian, an uncomfortably ambiguous status within the metaphysics of identity politics?  Because Asians, particularly the Taiwanese, have been immensely successful in America, they cloud any simple narrative of crushing white power and racism.  Finally, we come to Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay person to make a serious showing in a presidential primary season. That has not been enough to protect him from attacks from progressive Democrats, some gay, who are ordinarily the most vociferous supporters of LGBT causes. Progressives have been enraged with the mayor of South Bend for his stint at McKinsey, the global consultancy firm. They have been equally incensed about a photo of Buttigieg raising money with members of the Salvation Army, in their view a homophobic organization. He has been canceled from some homosexual circles for not being “gay enough.” Nation contributor David Klion retweeted a thread accusing the mayor of showing off a “token black woman” at campaign events. “Mayor Pete is an exploitative twerp” is the sort of description popular in Twitter’s more progressive precincts."
From 2019. Minorities care less about narcissistic diversity than liberals claim

Jesus in 1934 / Lebensraum / Swastika False Alarm

"IT'S 12 O'CLOCK. AUGUST 2, 1934"
"Revenge. Don't stop half-way"

"Tonton @dolf en juin 1941
Adolf Hitler: J'ai décidé d'étendre mon Lebensraum.
Joseph Stalin: "Bien ! Vers quel pays d'Europe de l'Ouest ?"
Adolf Hitler:
Joseph Stalin: "Tu vas l'étendre vers l'ouest, hein ?"

"Is that a swastika ?!"
"*stick figure* Whoops, false alarm."
*stick figure holding a Nazi flag*

Links - 18th March 2023 (1)

Humans Make Wild Animals Less Wary - Scientific American - "regardless of evolutionary lineage, the animals react in a similar way to life among humans: they lose their antipredator traits. That pattern is especially pronounced for herbivores and for social species.   This behavioral change is perhaps unsurprising when it’s intentional, the result of domestication and a controlled breeding paradigm. But it turns out that urbanization alone results in a similar change, though much more slowly—around three times more slowly... What the researchers now wonder is whether the mere presence of tourists in less urbanized areas can instigate similar changes in wild animals. If so, serious questions exist for the notion of ethical, welfare-oriented ecotourism. If we wish to help animals retain their antipredator defenses, the researchers say, we might have to intentionally expose animals to predators—or at least to predator-related cues."
But many vegetarians would say that exposing animals to predators traumatises them and is unethical

Singaporean ex-lawyer who quit her job at 29 and retired at 38 shares how you can do the same - "When Jean Voronkova decided to quit her $120,000-a-year job as a mid-tier lawyer in a Big Four law firm close to 10 years ago, her dad didn't speak to her for two years...  "Once our monthly passive income coming in could cover our all-in monthly living expenses in our target retirement destination of Bali, which is about US$1,500 (S$2,098) per month for both of us, off we went."  So how were they able to do it? Jean credits it to four main factors — planning, luck, what she calls geo-arbitrage, and sacrifice.  In fact, she shared these tips on how to achieve her goal in a YouTube video published in June this year.  "It took only four years of dedicated investing and financial planning to get to my target amount," Jean told AsiaOne, which we agree is a modest sum by most standards.   Rental fees from overseas properties that the couple had purchased contribute to the bulk of their passive income of between US$1,500 to US$2,000 each month.  Jean counts herself lucky that the couple's surf school business in Vietnam and their investments had been profitable...   "Living in Vietnam allowed us to take advantage of the modest costs of living whilst still making money from our business in US dollars, which accelerated our savings rate," Jean shared."
You can do the same if:
1) You start off rich so you can build passive income
2) You earn money in a first world country and spend it in a third world one
3) You don't spend a lot

Your Bones May Never Be The Same Again After Having Children - "Following the birth of a child, female macaques show significantly lower calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium concentrations in their bones compared to those who haven't experienced pregnancy... During human pregnancy, evidence suggests the mother's body can actually pull calcium from her bones where insufficient quantities of the nutrient are eaten, decreasing the mass, makeup, and density of her skeleton for a while. When lactating, a mother's bones are actually 'resorbed' into her blood stream to make enough calcium-rich milk. The lost minerals are easily restored once lactation ceases, but even then, there could be a way for scientists to notice the momentary lapse."

GP patients sent ‘aggressive lung cancer’ diagnosis instead of merry Christmas text - "The surgery sent out an apology text including the original festive message, but one patient, Becky Werrett, said: “I’ve had Merry Christmas three times so far.”"

Group of travellers walks back to the US after Air Canada flight cancellation - "A video is making its way around social media showing a group of travellers stating they are walking back across the American border after an Air Canada cancellation. The video says they are “walking across the border back into America since Air Canada couldn’t help us.” The caption says they are never coming back to Canada again after this travel experience. Now before you worry about people just walking across the border, they explained in another video that they took an Uber to the border and then walked through border security. “Even Border Patrol laughed at our story”... In true Canadian fashion, many took to the comment section to apologize for their travel woes while taking some digs at Air Canada."

VR sex festival in japan cancelled due to overcrowding - "the akihabara district in tokyo is known for being a shopping area for manga and anima, computer goods, household electronics and video games. so, it’s no surprise that it was the site of the world’s first adult virtual reality sex festival in june. but, while it was inevitable that adult VR fest 01 would draw crowds, event organizers underestimated the number of people who would be aroused by the idea, and were forced to shut down the venue because of overcrowding."
From 2016

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, How to enjoy eating with your own children - "‘She came to research and write the best selling book. French children don't throw food, an exploration of the differences between North American and French parenting styles.’
‘Anglophone parents are more likely to go into meals, seeing them as a battleground. And I don't think the French tend to do this. Meals and the varieties of food are from the very beginning talked about as something that's pleasurable, that's an opportunity. I read somewhere recently that American parents will say to their children, eat this. It's good for you. Whereas European parents will say to their children eat this, it's delicious. And I thought that was a very good kind of summary of the French approach to teaching children about food and different flavors. I mean, of course, there are French children who are difficult. And, of course, some French children throw food. But for the most part, they're taught that the table is a place to enjoy for the whole family to be together. And they use all kinds of little tricks, techniques to gradually make children get into the rhythm of dining of their parents… The first flavors that French babies eat when they switch to solid foods is not what I was taught to do in America, and what I think is often done in Britain, kind of bland, oatmeal, French kids are immediately given pureed carrot, pureed courgette, very strong, flavorful foods with the idea that from the beginning, you show kids that there are these wonderful flavors in the world. And then as quickly as parents can, the goal is to get them on a three meal a day schedule, plus a sort of afternoon snack, which is, the French call it gouter. And the idea for kids here and for adults, is that you don't snack between meals, except for this late afternoon snack, the gouter. And what that means is that when a child comes to the table, he or she is actually very hungry. So he's much more likely to be motivated to eat whatever is put in front of him. And that gets you to the second trick, which is you serve food in courses with vegetables first. So you have a hungry child who comes to the table. And the first thing he sees, is a bowl of steamed broccoli with Parmesan cheese on top of, something that you've tried to make fresh and delicious. But that is nevertheless a vegetable. And then there's a kind of third principle which kicks in, which is a kind of saying that I heard French parents repeat again and again, which is you don't have to eat it all. But you do have to taste it. Because the idea is that you might not like a food on the first second or third try. But if you prepare it different ways, and you keep gently bringing it back, not forcing the kid to eat a whole bowl of asparagus, but to at least taste the asparagus over and over. Eventually the child starts to develop an appreciation for it and starts to like it… taking the kids shopping for the food, letting the kids from a very early age help prepare the food makes a very big difference…
One thing that tends to happen at dinners with Anglophone kids is that the meal is focused on the kids and the kids are allowed to talk and tell stories and, you know, stop to put on shows, and it really does revolve around the children. And the adults kind of think, you know, in a few years, we'll get to have a conversation again. But there's also something you know, there's something lovely about that, about the total focus on the children and and the sense that, you know, whatever they do is fascinating... I have to admit I do more and more see friends, kids on their parents’ phones at restaurants to sort of keep them busy, which wasn't as much the case when my daughter was sort of throwing tantrums and that seaside resort. But for the most part, the idea is that mealtime is a time to be with other people.’...
‘Did your own children learn great table manners, in the end?
‘Once they figured out my book was called French children don't throw food, they would throw food just ironically’."

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Selassie Atadika: My life in five dishes - "‘When I was doing work in Liberia, there were a lot of tensions in some of the the response areas because the food that was being donated was bulgur wheat, where the population actually preferred rice. I remember actually having to talk to social workers, who were caring for these children who were having riots because they were waiting for rice. You know, so food just was something that you could see was the pulse of society’"
They must not have been very hungry"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, The chef who took on hospital food - "‘As with many big institutions, the kitchen's main provider was a large food service company. And most of its products came from sizeable farms and factories all over the world. Ingredients were competitively priced. But for Joshna, that didn't mean they were cheap.’
‘We're not actually getting the value from the money that we're spending. Because it's one thing to say yes, technically, this processed food is cheaper than paying somebody to stand at a counter and chop vegetables and make a soup. But the impact of those two different purchases are very different. I don't understand how this notion of writing a check that goes far away to some other community, is the best use of public money when I am talking about spending money locally to support our local agriculture, to support local small business, and to keep the money that a community generates within that community and taking care of that community.’
‘Ultimately, Joshna says when it comes to procurement, the local food movement is up against a well established global industrial food system. And so it's not going to be cheaper. But that's not the point.’"
I wonder whether the patients rather pay more for local food - which probably is worse for the environment and may taste worse

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Lockdown food fails - "‘It's very convenience in Vietnam, you know, to eat out. So we, most of us is our all the time and many people that leaving alone, they don't bother cooking because eating out is cheaper and more convenient, and actually tastes better too.’...
‘When Vietnam went into lockdown in March street food, which makes up a huge chunk of the nation's diet was off the menu. Everything except for supermarkets and wet markets was shut down’
‘During the lockdowns people that never cook because they eat out all the time, they have to start to learn how to cook, you know, to keep them from starving. But for people who like me, I can cook but we don't cook three meals a day, we cook once a day maximum.’"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, What's food got to do with destiny? - "‘I asked john T the same question. Is she superstitious when it comes to food?’
‘Yeah, I mean, it's silly, but I don't hand anything spicy or salty to a friend like somebody, if a neighbor comes in to borrow a few chilies. I would never hand it over to her in her hand because apparently it, it causes a fight between people. So I just joked saying that we know if we end up having a fight. I won’t at least blame the pickle for it. So. So that's my logic. But there are other things which I find silly, which is not lending anybody milk after sunset, the pastor in community used to say that the buffalo, the cow that you milk the next morning will not give you enough milk if you lend milk to someone. Which just sounds completely ridiculous. I definitely don't follow that. But there are some people who still don't do it. And if they want to lend milk to someone, they take one rupee or something like that, saying that I'm selling it to you. I'm not actually lending it to you, you know’
‘So there are ways to get around that obviously.’
‘Oh, yeah, we have ways to get around most things... We never serve rice first. I have no idea why. We serve vegetables or lentils or whatever. And then we put the rice on our plate’"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Too many cookbooks? - "‘I love looking at joy of cooking, I had it from 19, the first published publication all the way up to the current one. And I would look through the different volumes and see how our cooking styles and tastes have changed. One of the things I noticed is we've gotten much sweeter. Like if you take a snickerdoodle recipe from 1940 and snickerdoodle recipe from 1980. It's much more sugar in it. And so the flavor is different. And the texture is different. It's amazing. In America, not in my European books’"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Divided by drink: A tale from dry America - "‘Das [sp?] also believes that allowing alcohol sales will help reduce drug use and drink driving. In a dry county people who want to buy alcohol or drink in a bar or restaurant have to travel out of their local area to do so. It's often argued that this increases the likelihood that they will drive under the influence or DUI.’...
'Unfortunately, in some places, it's easier to get heroin than it is beer. In dry counties, there's actually more alcohol in the homes than in wet counties because people tend to hoard it up, when they go to get it they buy more of it at a time.'"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Has coronavirus changed school meals for ever? - "‘Children that are not in school lose the access to services, not just to meals but to vaccinations, to supplementation with vital micronutrients like iron and other things that they need. And all of these things really affect their ability to learn. It's been a stark reminder that this is the largest safety net in the world for children. When it wasn't there, all of a sudden we noticed we noticed its absence.’
‘Carmen tells me that the longer children don't attend school, the less likely it is that they'll ever return. And that's particularly the case for the world's poorest children.’...
'One of the solutions is to give them incentives to come back. And one of those incentives, which has proven to be probably the strongest is school meals. Before the pandemic, we already knew that school meals represent somewhere between 10 and 12% of the monthly income of a poor family'"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Alice Waters: My life in five dishes - "‘I wanted to give the diners that experience that I had had in Paris, I wanted them to be surprised how much they liked it. And if they didn't like it, I'd always bring them something else or give them an extra dessert for free’
‘You were just 27 at the time and and your parents stepped in to finance the restaurant, they, they mortgaged their house to lend you the money, they must have had a lot of faith in you.’...
‘I think that the most important thing is not thinking about making money. I never ever have thought about that. Even-’
‘That's a very privileged position to be in isn’t it? A lot of restaurateurs have to think about it.’
‘Well, I think that that has come as an idea from our fast food culture. The idea that more is better. The time is money has been really detrimental to our self empowerment, following our passions and our interests. When we eat, the fast food, we eat the values that come with that food. We are not smelling. We're not tasting, we're not seeing the beauty. We're not using our senses, which are our pathways into our minds. And so we're kind of imprisoned in these values that are inhuman’
‘But there are restaurateurs who run wonderful restaurants who still have to have to make money, have to think about the bottom line, have to think about how they're going to make the rent and feed their families and kind of aren't in a position not to care about the money, they have to care enough to stay afloat’
‘I do believe that when you have a restaurant at human scale, it becomes a way of life. Rather than a business. You focus on taste, and if there's good taste, you. Will. Be. Successful. Without any question, I know that that that is what happens.’
‘It was eight years before Chez Panisse turned a profit.’"
If she goes bankrupt, her parents can mortgage their house again

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, How to love chillies - "‘Chili peppers. One way to keep a young child quiet. That burning sensation caused by a chemical called capsaicin can come as a shock if you're not used to it. Chilies can be hard to love at first, but they're integral to the cuisines of many countries and eaten by a quarter of the earth's population every single day. So what do you do if hot peppers are at the heart of your food culture, but your child can't stand the heat?’"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, The man taking on fast food - "‘What can the consumer do? What do you want individuals to do to achieve this?’
‘I don't really like to use the word consumers, but rather citizens. Why? Because the concept of consumption is a very recent one, it's only three centuries old. It started with the Industrial Revolution. And the concept of consumer also means to consume ourselves, as a sort of illness. Instead, we are responsible citizens. And therefore, we need to consider how we can be the real players through responsible choices. Because as far as food is concerned, I can be an active player in defending a local economy, or in defending the interests of a large multinational... So we need to become responsible and create this relationship between the city and the countryside, between the citizens and the farmers and therefore, turn citizens into co producers’"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, The blind cooks - "‘Through the competition, I think how I turned my vision loss into an advantage was that I could only pay attention and focus on my own cooking. And I think a lot of times, you see what your neighbor’s cooking or another contestant and then you change up your game plan and what dish you try to, you end up wanting to cook, halfway through the challenge’."

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, What's the appetite for gene edited food? - "‘There may be nothing more divisive in agriculture than genetic engineering.’
‘What we don't understand is the obsession about technological fixes to the problems in agriculture, many of which can never be solved by just technological solutions. More accurate does that mean less to fear, because we don't really know’...
‘She uses the example of the Cavendish banana, a variety that's come to dominate global exports of the fruit. It's under serious threat from Panama disease and the Philippines, one of its biggest producers, has already lost 10s of 1000s of hectares of the crop at a cost of more than 400 million US dollars. Scientists say that it's almost impossible to use conventional breeding techniques to eliminate the disease. And so gene editing is the only way to protect the plant and help farmers. But Neth says the benefit is not reaching the most vulnerable’
‘Panama Disease is a problem of plantations, of intensive growing or cultivation of banana. So will that help small farmers, small scale farmers, backyard growers have bananas that sell their bananas um, locally, don't plant Cavendish. Cavendish is not even fed to people. The good ones are exported, the bad ones are fed to pigs.’
‘And Neth tells me smallholders may actually suffer if the Cavendish is protected.’
‘The expansion of banana plantation actually started in the 60s and 70s, all dependent on Cavendish. And the expansion of banana plantations in the Davao region is actually caused displacement of small scale farmers whose land are not protected by titles. And if somehow gene editing would address Panama disease in Cavendish, we'll see much more of that expansion, we’ll see much more of that incursion on fragile ,areas in mountain areas’
‘It sounds like it would be almost impossible to convince you that a gene edited products was safe. Now, of course, there are some unknowns, but there are risks in almost everything, in life, if we didn't take risks, nothing would change. Isn't gene editing worth the risk when we have so many problems in agriculture?’"
When the "problem" is not safety but a reflexive dislike of the "unnatural", as well as solutions that can help feed the world (instead of government intervention to enforce Ludditism), of course technology can't fix anything. And when they're open about their left wing ideology, it's clear that enhancing food supply isn't the primary aim. Too bad for poor people in other countries who don't have cheap local bananas and rely on imported Cavendish bananas - they don't count. It's more important to screw companies by letting their bananas be destroyed

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Do we need to talk about ‘ultra-processed food’? - "‘We brought 20 men and women to the NIH Clinical Center where they spent a continuous month with us. Seven days a week, 24 hours a day. And we exposed them in one period to a diet that was very high in ultra processed foods. And in the other group, we exposed them to a diet that was absent, they had no ultra processed foods. And the diets were matched for the amount of calories that were presented, the carbs, the fats, the sugar, the sodium and the fiber. And we basically just asked them to eat as much or as little as they want. And we basically measured every morsel of food that they ate over the next month. After two weeks on each of those diets, people were swapped to the other diet, so that every person experienced both diets… when people were exposed to the diet that was high in ultra processed foods, they consumed more than 500 calories per day, on average, than when they were eating the unprocessed diets. And that led them to gain weight and gain body fat. Whereas when they were on the unprocessed diet, they spontaneously lost weight and lost body fat.’
‘Would it be fair to say that these results didn't support your hypothesis?’
‘Yeah, it's fair to say I was surprised by these results. I thought, you know, if it really was about these nutrients, then these diets that were matched for the nutrients of concern, the salt, the sugar, the fat, and the fiber, should result in very similar calorie intake. And yet these two diets generated these huge differences in calorie intake that led to, you know, really measurable differences in weight gain and loss, respectively.’
‘So how do you feel about the term ultra processed foods? Now you must think there's something in it.’
‘There's definitely something going on here. There's some causal relationship. The real question in my mind now is, you know, what is it? I would definitely say that our research has helped support the idea that there's more to nutrition science than just the nutrients in the foods, that we do need a broader perspective’...
‘Do they [the industry] accept the term ultra processed foods?’
‘No, of course not. They won't accept the term because it really vilifies their whole portfolio of foods, they're still pushing the old line, which is just about the nutrients. And it's just about the high salt, sugar and fat foods. And they're very comfortable with that, they can work with that, because they know they can manipulate the salt, sugar and fat content of foods. And they can say, Oh, look, it's only a portion of our foods that are high in salt, sugar and fat. And we have reformulation policies in place to reduce, you know, sugar in our products by 10% by the year such and such. And on we go. And, and governments too are complicit with this as well, because they’re often very close with the industry. And so what we have by and large passes for regulation is really reformulation policies, but they can't otherwise work with this ultra processed food concept because there's no way of reformulating your way out of our ultra processed food other than actually producing real foods.’
‘Well, let's hear a food industry perspective. Not an easy thing to do. We did approach a number of food companies including some of the world's largest multinationals, but none of them wanted to talk about ultra processed foods. Kate Halliwell though did agree to speak to me. She's Chief Scientific Officer at the Food and Drink Federation, a UK body that represents food and drink manufacturers.’"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Raymond Blanc: My life in five dishes - "‘Then came his big mistake, one that would alter the course of his life. The mere waiter told the chef, how he should improve his dishes’
‘And the chef was a two metre tall Vosgien, with mustache like that, and brown dark eyes and so I told him his sauce is maybe a bit too rich or too fatty. And he took a copper pan and slammed it at full force in my face. And I was in hospital. And I remember the boss coming close to me and telling me Raymond, you cannot do that. The chef is a, is a king, but I couldn't talk because it was, so it was a monologue and then he ended up saying so you cannot work in France anymore, but I'll find you a place in Grand Britain.’...
'He was shocked by the gastronomy in 1970s Britain. Everything he says came out of a jar or freezer'...
‘His next dish, an apple and blackberry crumble, uses ingredients from his orchards. For Raymond, this British dessert is one of the world's greatest dishes. And one he was eager to showcase in 2012 when he was asked to cook for 50 Top French chefs as part of a TV show’
‘And none of them knew, none of them knew what crumble is. What is that? No, Raymind, what is that? No other French word. It is not their culture? They really question it in a very negative way. You know, especially when you talk about English food, it says an English speciality. So I did two crumble. I did a chocolate reverse crumble, that means a crumble, I put it at the bottom, put a beautiful chocolate fold on the top and baked it. So the crust was underneath and added upper a traditional apple crumble, I cooked the crumble separately. So you don't have that soggy layer. When the apples are cooking and steaming up the crumble. I was very happy with my crumble was amazing. Really, really. The crunch was extraordinary. They had a little portion of both. You could hear silence and you could only hear mmm, mmm. And then they all stood up and said, Raymond, it was amazing, long live England. And they sang La Marseillaise… That is 50 chefs couldn't believe that such a desert could exist as they call it the crimble. Crumble they cannot understand. Crimble, they can’
‘It's a very English dish. Why have you chosen England as your home?’...
‘What I love about your culture is that you are humble. You can listen whilst as I speak, and that's a great quality. If you listen to French radio, everyone speak at the same time. It’s a cacophony. How can you be coherent or understand what is being said because you cannot listen at the same time as you speak? I also love my British friends who are able to laugh about themself’"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Should 'junk food' sponsor sport? - "‘Young children, even as young as six months of age can start to connect a brand with a food. We know that advertising continues to change and manipulate our behaviors and preferences across life. It's very hard to undo habits formed early.’
‘Sandro believes the only thing that will remove this influence is government intervention.’...
‘Typically a contract when you are doing with a fizzy drink or any kind of a drink, and it could be for any other category as well. You are expected, and most of the times it is part of the contract that he or she shouldn't be seen with a rival brand.’
‘That must make it incredibly difficult for some of these really, really high profile athletes, you probably don't have an awful lot of privacy.’
‘Yeah, so sometimes it can be a little tricky. But if an athlete really believes in the brand and the product, then that athlete is also very, how do I say, loyal to the way he or she is behaving with the brand. If it is a deal, which is just for the heck of money, then yes, those slip ups can also happen. You know, so it's all a function of how symbiotic the whole relationship is.’"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, How a new cuisine is born - "'She says a lot of Cape Malay dishes have that Eastern sweet and sour tang, but not the same punch.’
‘We don't put chili into the food. Our Dutch masters’ palates couldn't take the chili, so they removed the chili from the recipe. So that's our food, is a mixture of spices: cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom. All these spices all go into one dish’
‘A popular fusion of flavors. But in 1948, when South Africa became segregated along racial lines, Cape Malay food fell out of favor with the ruling white minority.’
‘They enjoyed it until apartheid came about, when this food was regarded as slave food. And Chicken a la King and beef stroganoff and lasagna became the right way to do it.’...
‘She learned dish after dish and in time developed a real taste for Cape Malay food. Soon she was delving into its history and collecting recipes. There was chicken curry biryani, lamb curry, all with a perfect blend of spices, and crunchy onion, pickled fish with a delicious shiny sauce, coconut dusted doughnuts. It was eventually enough for a book, one of the first ever written about Cape Malay food.’
‘That book was the highest selling cookbook in South Africa at one time. Until now, Nelson Mandela's Walk to Freedom appeared.’
‘Did Nelson Mandela knock you off the top of the bookselling list?’
‘Yeah. Sorry, and the Bible'...
‘Vietnamese people have contributed so much to the food scene here in Houston, that a lot of the chefs that I talked to think of Vietnamese dishes as Houston dishes. So for instance, pho. A lot of people grew up with eating that because it was inexpensive and it was easily accessible. And so now, pho, the dish, there are more restaurants selling that than McDonald's here in Houston. And Viet Cajun cuisine evolved from those things being accepted and from people embracing this type of cuisine.’"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, How not to feed a dog - "‘What are Indian pet dogs eating in general?
‘Well, interestingly, even though we have a large culture of packaged dog food in our country, most people in our country prefer to feed their dogs home cooked meals... In India, we have a culture of overfeeding, whether it's a guest that comes to your house, or the dog that lives in your house. And in India, actually, if you had a slim dog and you walked it out in a public place, you'd actually have people coming up and saying, that's cruel, your dog’s so thin, he needs to be nice and round because that's a, it's a way of, you've shown love to your dog.’...
‘What do you observe about the stray dogs that you see where you are in Mumbai? I mean, is that right? Do they, do they seem okay? And and how are they eating?’
‘They're thriving, and they are eating what they can get. When you go back and you see some of the dogs living in our villages. They eat what they, probably their ancestors got a few 100 years ago with men, that's the same thing. And if you look at those foods, a lot of those today would be labeled as bad for dogs or it contains gluten. What some of those dogs just get to eat maybe something like a chapati, maybe some milk, maybe meat when and as there is something to have as meat. But those dogs are the healthiest of dogs. They will walk about 10 miles a day, every day. Have no health issues, no skin conditions.’...
‘Indian dogs, I don't think would live on bland food. They like the spices. And I think maybe that means they've adjusted to it really well, because they enjoy that kind of food from time to time.’"

Brit tourist's disgust at China Eastern Airlines' 'hilarious' ham and cheese sandwich

Friday, March 17, 2023

Links - 17th March 2023 (2)

How Australian English Grew Its Wings - "Modern linguists have tentatively agreed on there being roughly three forms of the Australian accent: Broad Australian, General Australian and Cultivated Australian. All three differ from the British accent and lie on a spectrum with “Broad” being the most removed from the British accent, and “Cultivated” being the closest comparison...  1855: Reports from school inspectors in the various colonies (and later, states) reported mispronunciation of vowels and diphthongs by the younger students. A diphthong is a sound formed by the combination of two vowels in a single syllable, where the sound begins as one vowel and moves towards another (as in coin, loud, and side). There are diphthongs in every English accent, but they are very pronounced in the Australian accent.  Documents accused settlers of mispronouncing “maountain” for “mountain,” “taown” for “town,” and so forth. Another common criticism levied against the settlers was the “corruption” of -ing words, pronouncing them with the ending -en instead of -ing. Instead of saying writing, fishing, reading, the words more closely resembled a pronunciation of written, fishen, readen."

Could Washington D.C. Become an Official U.S. State? - "Residents of neighboring states Maryland or Virginia are not interested in annexing the district of Columbia and D.C. residents prefer the full autonomy of their own statehood... Republicans have generally opposed D.C. becoming a state for several reasons, the main being that it is likely to be a Democratic state and would hand the Democrats more electoral votes... "Procedurally, the reform would require a constitutional amendment, and because D.C. is so overwhelmingly liberal, it would ensure more Democrat representation in both the Senate and the House. That's a non-starter for Republicans, who have limited incentive to help their opponents secure a greater voice in Congress"... Gift said that advocates of statedom often fail to mention that D.C., because of its special status, also obtains huge federal benefits that shore up its operating budget.  "This includes hundreds of millions of dollars a year in help from Uncle Sam for capital expenses related to its public subway system, Metro""

A woman raised as white wanted to trace her ancestry. She discovered her father was Black and she was probably conceived at a swingers party. - ""It was the '50s and '60s, and my parents were liberal progressives," she said. They would often put her to bed without a babysitter and then head out to listen to jazz in Harlem. Sometimes they'd tell her they were having "friends sleep over," sending her to the home of a neighbor or cousin, she said.  In her mid-teens, Jacobsen realized that the sleepovers were swingers parties — events at which married or partnered people have casual sex with others, with their spouse in attendance. "I knew, but it was never discussed"... Traditionally, a swinging couple "is supposed to be in the swinging event together, and it's supposed to cement or unify their relationship," Jacobsen explained. That makes the lifestyle different from open relationships or polyamory, in which one member of the couple builds a relationship outside their primary partnership.  But Jacobsen said that when she was a teen, her mother broke the rules of swinging by having a relationship with another participant. Her mom's lover and confidant would "hang out" at their home, Jacobsen said, calling it a "stressor for my father and me."  One night in 1968, she had a fierce argument with the man, whom she recalls exclaiming: "What do you know? You don't even know that your father's Black!" Jacobsen said her mother started screaming. "Oh my God, you promised you'd never tell""

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Inside the mind of a kitchen gadget - "‘Some people like to characterize the sorts of people that use lots of kitchen gadgets as being a bit lazy. And when it comes to products like the the stir that you described earlier, that's received a bit of flak. Are kitchen gadgets for lazy people?’
‘You're talking about two things though. So if a lazy person is using it because it's easier, then it's also going to be easier for somebody that maybe has arthritis and can't use a product that's difficult to use, for example. You know, it's two sides of an argument there. And you could say great, yeah, I'm glad it's being  used by lazy people because it means it's easier, more efficient, works better.’"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Is it time to kill the calorie? - "‘When you look at the calories listed on a food label, or in a diet plan, you see the total number the food contains, not the amount your body will actually extract through digestion and metabolism’
‘Let's just take protein. So for every 100 calories of protein that we actually eat, we will only ever absorb 70 calories, seven zero. So 30% of the protein calories we eat, are expended taking apart protein so we can absorb the calories. So you can look at the back of every pack, and all the protein calories will be 30% off, will be 30% wrong. Fat, on the other hand, is very, very energy dense. And actually, it's a very efficient store of fuel, which is why we use it as our long term energy store. And so it costs us nearly no heat in order to break down fat. So for every 100 calories of fat that we eat, we pretty much get 98 to 100 calories of fat.’
‘Put simply, if you eat 100 calories of chips, you'll absorb far more calories than if you'd eaten 100 calories of carrots. So calorie counting as a diet plan, Giles argues, makes no sense unless you take into account the type of food you're eating. And the complexity doesn't end there. How much energy any of us will extract from a particular food will be affected by a dizzying array of individual variables: our age, the amount we sleep, our gut bacteria, our hormones, and how much we chew our food to name just a few. You won't find any of that on a food label. And then there's how food is processed.’
‘So cooking helps you extract calories from food because it does some of the breaking down. I'll give one example. A medium sized stick of raw celery, it's really only worth about six calories to us, which is nearly zero. However, if you cook the celery, you suddenly increase the caloric availability of the salary to 30 calories.’"
To all the internet experts, it's as simple as calories in and calories out

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, OCD, the kitchen, and me - "One of the most common is that it's somebody who's just what we call a neat freak, they're just trying to be clean, or the big one is just somebody needs things to be in order. A lot of people will say, you know, I don't think this person has OCD, I didn't realize they have OCD, because well, their room looks like almost a tornado’s hit it. And there's mess everywhere. And that's a massive misconception. A lot of times, my place also looked like a mess. But in that mess, I had my own order, I knew where certain things went, where certain things had to go, and they couldn't be moved at all. I think a lot of people also will say something like, I'm so OCD, in one trying to be clean, or two that I just like to sometimes do things my way. When you know, somebody with OCD, is not about just doing it their own way, there's severe anxiety, if they don't do it in that way"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Why I chose to live on rations - "[On the UK in WWII] ‘Fish was never rationed. And neither was fish and chips rationed, curiously enough, but it was very difficult to get hold of. And the reason it wasn't rationed is they thought that it would actually keep the sort of nation sort of like spirits up if their national dish wasn't rationed. But the reason it was so difficult to get fish is because most of the trawlerman and fishermen were called up for coastal defense duties. So there weren't an awful lot of fishermen left for fish'...
'1943 rations… in 1943, what I figured it out to be was… about 75 to 100 grams of cheese. Or if you were vegetarian, you had an extra three ounces of cheese but no meat obviously'"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, China's New Rules for Society - "[On the Australian submarines] Because of France's revolutionary past and its self conception as a beacon for human rights over the last few centuries, the French left never developed an intrinsically anti military standpoint. Certainly the officer classes tended to be on the Catholic right. But from Napoleon on, the armed forces can be seen positively by the left too as spreading the Enlightenment. Colonialism in France was a left wing cause for many years. All this means that the French off whatever political strike celebrate their military past. The other reason is more sensitive. The French are prickly about their military because they know that in the historical record of wins and losses, they don't necessarily come out on top. In two world wars, they were saved by the Allies and then there were the humiliations of Indochina and Algeria, not to mention Napoleon himself, of course. Not for nothing were the French papers for this week of references to the new Trafalgar, Trafalgar to us. In the Indo Pacific once again as 216 years ago the French had been bested by the Anglo Saxons. The fact that today as opposed to back then the French are supposed to be allies with the Anglo Saxons only makes things worse, because the episode answers to all the atavistic fear and envy that the French harbor to the English speaking world. They love it in one way and admire it and emulate it, but they also know they're not of it. And when things go badly that rankles"

Baked Tonkatsu 揚げないとんかつ - "Cut off the extra fat and make several slits on the connective tissue between the meat and remaining fat. Tip: Red meat and fat have different elasticities, and they will shrink and expand at different rates when they are cooked. Making a few slits will allow the Tonkatsu to stay nice and flat and prevent the cutlets from curling up."

Stiffy 2.0 - Posts | Facebook - "A female employee got an expensive pen as a gift from her boss. She sent him a 'Thank you note' by email. Boss’s wife read the email and filed for divorce. The email said: Your penis wonderful and I enjoyed using it last night. It has extra ordinary smooth flow and a firm stroke. I loved its perfect size and grip. Felt like I was in heaven when using it. Thanks a lot.!
Moral: A "space" is an essential part of English grammar!!"

Meme - "Public Fleshlight"

Can you help me find an old article? - "So, You Want Realism in D&D? by Brian Blume
We at TSR have heard several people express a desire for a system which gives more realism and variety to the method for determining the natural abilities of player characters in D&D. After minutes of exhaustive research, we have come up with an optional system which is designed to replace the old method of rolling three dice for each of a player’s abilities. This system is guaranteed to make a player character conform more to the abilities of the actual person owning them and will provide a great variety in these abilities from person to person.
STRENGTH — To determine strength, go to a gym and military press as much weight as you possibly can. Divide the number of pounds you lifted by ten; the result is your strength rating.
INTELLIGENCE — To determine your intelligence, look up the results of the most recent IQ test you have taken and divide the result by ten. This number is your intelligence rating.
WISDOM — To determine your wisdom, calculate the average number of hours you spend playing D&D or working on your D&D Campaign in an average week. Subtract the resulting number from twenty and this is your wisdom.
DEXTERITY— To determine your dexterity, go down to the track at the local High School and run 440 yards. Subtract your time in seconds from eighty, and the result is your Dexterity rating.
CONSTITUTION— To determine your constitution, figure out the number of consecutive number of months you have gone without missing a day of school or work due to illness. The number of months is equal to your constitution rating.
CHARISMA — To determine charisma, count up the number of times you have appeared on TV or have had your picture printed in the newspaper. Multiply this number by two, and the result is your charisma rating."

Kwells Kids 150 microgram tablets - 12 tablets - "Warning: This medicine may make your child feel sleepy. If this happens they should not drive or use tools or machines. Children who have been given Kwells should not be left unattended or be allowed to drink alcohol."

Meme - Charlton Police Department: "Does your meth contain unhealthy gluten, sugar or MSG? Not sure? Bring it down to your local police station and they will test it for free! No appointment necessary."
"Yeah so I went down there and told them if they could find the bag I shoved deep up in my ass they could test it all they want. During the search procedure I climaxed 3 time and each time I did I got all emotional with the police officer who was performing the search. I asked him to cuddle and stuff but he got furious and kept on going. It took him about an hour to realize there was no bag. Best evening ever. 10/10, will definitely visit again"

New York continues to lead nation in population loss as Florida, Texas gain - "New York saw the steepest population decline in the nation over a one-year period ending in July, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.  The wave of departures is continuing a pandemic-era trend that has also shaped political arguments on the best policies for the future of the state, including how to stem the mass exodus... Population loss emerged as one of the top issues during the gubernatorial campaign for U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-Long Island, who like many other Republicans has attributes the exodus to high taxes, increasing government regulation and spiking crime rates."

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, Face to face with Abiy Ahmed - "[On money printing] The demise of cash has long been predicted some countries like Sweden have gone a long way towards it. But in fact, in the Eurozone, demand for banknotes is rising, just as it is for Sterling in Britain. In part that's the result of population growth, and because many people still like cash as a store of value. But, financial lives and indeed financial crime are moving online. And now reports with depressing regularity about life saving stolen by crooks operating over the internet... without any irony, there's a ban on bringing in your own money. Taking in notes could confuse matters if you're found to be taking cash out"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, The salt and sugar reformulation tax - "‘Now, you say you would use some of the money raised from this new tax in order to for example, pay to prescribe fruits and veg to people. Now would that work? A GP saying to you, you know, what you need is a basket of broccoli?’
‘Yeah. So there are some fascinating programs that have been trialed in Washington and in Ohio, in the States where basically people who have diet related disease can be prescribed literally fruit and veg. So instead of giving them drugs, you give them fruit and veg, and cookery lessons and visits to the store to help them change the way they shop. And these have had extraordinary results, you know, BMI down five points, blood pressure down 20 points, and actually have over time saved money on drugs. So we need to start trying to rather than mopping up everything in the NHS, we need to be spending a bit more money to stop people getting to the NHS because not just money, it's their health. It's their, it's their life, it's their ability to enjoy their grandchildren.’"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, North Korea cracks down on outside influences - "*Something*’s voice dropped to a whisper as she described how she'd once been forced to watch a man in her North Korean village being tied to a stick and shot. He'd been caught with some DVD copies of a South Korean drama. The entire neighborhood was ordered to watch his execution. If you didn't, it would be classed as treason, *something* told me. She was only 11 years old at the time and her eyes were fixed on the blindfold. I can still see his tears flew down. The blindfold was completely drenched in tears, she said. The Pyongyang regime has always handed out harsh punishments to those caught selling or watching foreign films, music or drama, especially if the material was South Korean. But now leader Kim Jong Un has clamped down further, introducing a sweeping new law against what the government calls reactionary thought. Anyone caught smuggling in large amounts of South Korean media over the border from China could face the death penalty. Those simply caught watching can be sent to a prison camp for up to 15 years. And it's not just about what people watch. Recently, Mr. Kim wrote a letter published in state media, calling on the country's Youth League to crack down on unsavory, individualistic anti socialist behavior. He wants to stop the spread of foreign speech, South Korean slang in particular, along with foreign hairstyles and clothes, which were described as dangerous poisons. All this is because Mr. Kim is engaged in a war that doesn't involve nuclear weapons or missiles. He is trying to stop outside information reaching the people of North Korea, as life in the country becomes increasingly difficult. Millions are thought to be going hungry there. But Mr. Kim wants to ensure it they're still fed more of the state's carefully crafted propaganda, rather than gaining glimpses of life elsewhere, especially the sort of life pictured in glitzy K dramas set south of the border in Seoul, one of Asia's richest cities… The harder life becomes in the north, the harsher the regulations, and the punishments become too. Psychologically, when your belly is full, watching a South Korean film might just be a bit of relaxation. But when there's no food there, and it's a struggle just to live, people get more annoyed. He said he believes that more than half of the country's labor camps are now full of young people who've watched foreign media"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, Thailand's youth protest movement stalls - "‘After MPs backed changing the law, women in the Czech Republic may soon be able to take non gendered versions of their surnames. By the traditional rules of Czech grammar, the ending ová is added automatically to almost all female surnames, and can only be dropped in very limited circumstances. It's been this way for centuries. But, says Rob Cameron in Prague, the old restrictions may not hold for much longer.’
‘Take three tennis players. Petra Kvitová, Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova. Now let's pretend I'm a Czech tennis commentator. Petra’s surname stays the same as she's Czech. She was born in North Moravia. Venus would be Venus Williamsová, her sister would be Serena Williamsová and in their time they've played not only Petra Kvitová, but also Lindsay Davenportová, terroir, Naomi Osakaová, and so on. You get the idea. Finally, we come to Maria Sharapova. It's actually pronounced Sharapova in Russian, but let's not split hairs. In Czech, however, she is and I'm not making this up, Maria Sharapovaová. She literally gets two ovás to denote her gender, the original Russian and a second in Czech. Just so we get the message. Petra Kvitová is called Kvitová because she's the daughter of a Mr. Kvit. Mr. Kvit’s wife is also Kvitová . Pavla Kvitová, actually. If Petra Kvitová got married, if she weren't one of the most famous tennis players in the world, that is, she'd most likely take the surname of her husband. So if he was Pan Novak, Mr. Novak, she'd become Ani [sp?] Novaková. Mrs. Novak. It's just the way things have always been done. And, say the great guardians of Czech grammar, it makes lexicological sense. One could argue that that's the same in many cultures, a woman usually takes her husband's surname, as do their children when they're born. And when his daughters marry, they're more likely than not to take their husband's name. However, there's an added problem for Czech women. Ová’s a suffix that's used in grammar to denote not only gender, but possession of female nouns, including female people. To some the ová ending creates the impression of possession of the woman by the man. Grammar purists insist furiously this is not the case. It would be true if it was the short vowel sound ová, but it's not true when it's the long vowel sound ova [sp?]. Linguistic nitpicking aside, a woman who gets married in the Czech Republic is only allowed to dispense with the ová for three reasons. If she's a foreigner, if she's marrying a foreigner, or if she's planning to live abroad. If she doesn't meet any of those three criteria, the famously inflexible officials who run the registry offices will say no, or ne, to be more precise. I dimly remember having to fill in a form in the same registry office when my daughter was born. To prevent her becoming Cameranová  by default. Occasionally, a teacher will add the ová anyway, it's clearly a hard habit to break. Now, however, this could be about to change... in some quarters, the original form is now a sign of worldly sophistication, even wokeness’"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, What electric vehicles mean for consumers - "‘A few years ago, we were being told that self driving taxis were set to transform transportation these Robo taxis would be so cheap, it wouldn't be worth owning a car anymore. Well, the automated car revolution hasn't happened. In fact, in last few months, both Uber and Lyft have sold off their driverless car research divisions.’...
‘Getting cars to drive themselves is a much trickier computing conundrum than we realized. Which is why Uber and Lyft got out of the game. The thing is, human beings are actually rather good at driving. So Sam Abu Al-Samed, an autonomous vehicles analyst with the research company Guidehouse Insights’
‘You often hear the statistic that 94% of crashes involve human error. That's absolutely true. But on the flip side, most of the time when we drive, we don't make mistakes that cause crashes. In the US, we've been averaging about 3.2 trillion miles a year of driving. And within that we were averaging about six and a half million crashes a year. And that works out to about one crash every half a million miles. So your probability of getting into a crash. It's about once every 30 years. So that's actually pretty good.’
‘Nevertheless, some companies are still insisting driverless cars are just around the corner.’"
I was told confidently by someone that Uber would become rich once they introduced self-driving taxis

Best of Today: Wednesday's business with Dominic O'Connell (10 Mar 2021)
"It's a an issue that properly reflects the almost impossibility of making profits from the last mile delivery model. The CFO of Domino's Inc, in the States, two or three weeks ago, said that in the 60 years that Domino's has been going they haven't made $1 from the actual delivery of the product. It's all comes from actually selling the product. So delivery itself is, the last mile delivery component is incredibly difficult to make money out of."

Best of Today: Exam results day 2021 (10 Aug 2021)
‘You're not doing kids any favors, are you, by giving them a higher marks than they deserve? Because they could end up in, doing a much more difficult course than they're able of carrying out’
‘Absolutely, I mean, the whole point of these assessments and the whole point of doing both GCSEs, A levels, and BTECs is to go on to the next stage. So it's all about progression. There's no point in progressing onto a course halfway through university where you're paying to find that actually, you don't have the skill set required to do that difficult course.’
Liberals want to abolish grading. Then when minorities do worse, they blame racism. When you take a signal as a talisman, and think giving everyone the talisman will magically make them brilliant, you push lots of people into university, then when a university degree no longer gives one a good life, you complain that "Capitalism has failed"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, MI5 boss and former PM Tony Blair on 9/11 anniversary - "‘911 was for some communities, obviously devastating and for other communities actually, was the beginning of a new, more prosperous period. The government slashed interest rates in order to prop up the economy from 911. And that created this enormous growth in the financial industry and Wall Street and the businesses that surrounded it. It also created huge growth in places like Washington, DC, where I live, I mean, between 2002 and 2010 the amount of money coming into Washington for lobbying and public relations tripled, and it was mostly fed by financial firms that it kind of described and also defense contractors and also the new internet economy. The effect was that there was this period after 911, in which just in sheer financial terms, the economy was being transformed in America to a degree that people didn't appreciate in their day to day lives. But the net effect over 20 years has been transformative.’
‘Perhaps the central enemy that America fights these days is itself. The no greater example exists of that than the fact that millions of Americans believe things that are not true. About life, about themselves, and incredibly about 911... I’ve sort of traced that really to some of the people who then ended up on the steps of the Capitol on January the Sixth protesting about the stolen election. Because there's a habit now of thinking, the worst of America and its own government that I find utterly baffling, having seen what I did on 911.’"
Of course, no mention of BlueAnon

Kampong Glam restaurant apologises to Muslim community for belly dance by 'almost naked' dancer - "Belly dancing is believed to originate in Egypt.  A Turkish restaurant in Singapore has apologised to the Muslim community for a belly dance performance in Kampong Glam.  The apology was in response to a Dec 24 post by Facebook user Abu Jalal Sarimon, who said the restaurant in Bussorah Street next to Sultan Mosque organised belly dancing by an "almost naked" dancer in her "revealing attire".  "Where (is) the respect to the Muslim community and the Holy Mosque?" he asked in the post, which included two photos of the belly dancer. because Muslims are offended?... he said that the restaurant owner is a non-Muslim Singaporean and added: "So sad our own Singaporean has no respect and intolerable towards our religion."  The next day, Derwish Turkish Restaurant made a few clarifications on its Facebook page before apologising.  The restaurant said: "The dance was organised by a regular patron as a gesture of appreciation for a party hosted for them at our restaurant a week ago. It was not our intention to disrespect the mosque or the Muslim community.  "Our patron who had performed had, in fact, worn a fitted skin-coloured vest that was draped on the outside in a belly-dancer costume. It would be unthinkable for us to allow a scantily-dressed dancer in front of the shops knowing our proximity to the mosque.  "Derwish Turkish Restaurant has always had a Muslim owner. The Singaporean non-Muslim colleague mentioned by Mr Abu Jalal is our restaurant manager of 11 years and not the owner of the business. He, at no point, claimed to be the owner of the restaurant and there was a clear misunderstanding regarding this point.  "As a Muslim-owned business that has been operating a restaurant in the vicinity for many years, we unreservedly extend our sincere apologies to all Muslim patrons and the Muslim community at large should any offence be taken. "We wish to further make assurances that this will not occur again and we will do better in gauging the sensitivities to the community in the future.""

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Nasa’s Artemis mission and the future of space travel - "One thing which astronomers are aware of more than most people is that the future is at least as long as the past. Educated people are aware that we're the outcome of 4 billion years of biological evolution but they tend somehow to think that we humans are the top of the tree, the culmination. No astronomers could believe that, because they know the sun is less than halfway through its life. It's got 6 billion years before its fuel runs out, and the universe can go on for longer, maybe for an infinite length of time. And therefore we could be nearer the beginning than the end of the emergence of wonderful complexity in the universe. We're not the culmination and that I think is a most inspiring vision"

Katie Horneshaw on Twitter - "Yearly reminder that drug dealers aren't to blame for your loved one's banned drug-related problems. Quite the opposite: dealers often act as community elders, keeping an eye out for regulars and providing a stigma-free community connection point. Blame prohibition."
Now drug dealers are good. "Stigma" is to blame for everything

Eggs And Bacon Shaped Like Sperm Swimming Towards The Egg

In Bee Shortage, Bubbles Could Help Pollinate - Scientific American - "Miyako and his team tried to mimic the pollinating prowess of honeybees by retrofitting a two-inch-long toy drone with brushes made of horsehair. They loaded the device with pollen suspended in a sticky gel. But the tiny flyer was tough to control. And its hairy little applicators ended up damaging the delicate floral targets.  After spending some time blowing bubbles with his son, Miyako started thinking more seriously about these soapy little marvels. He figured bubbles would be sticky enough to carry and deliver a pollen payload but soft and flexible, so they shouldn’t hurt a blossom when they land and then pop."

Paired Comparisons Could Mean Better Witness Identifications - Scientific American - "“There are now hundreds of cases in which individuals have been exonerated based on this post-conviction DNA analysis.”  Most of these innocent people were sent to prison because witnesses misidentified them...   “If somebody tells us that they saw something, we figure, well, it must be true. They saw it with their own eyes.”  Lineups typically show witnesses photos of six faces—five of innocent people and one of the suspect.   “The eyewitness is simply asked to identify any person that they remember from the crime scene.”  But only having them pick their top choice doesn’t account for how well the witness remembers that face. This issue can result in errors.  Albright’s team thinks there’s a better way—by tapping into the strength of the witness’s memory...   “So on each pair, the witness will vote for one or the other of the faces: Which one looks more similar to the person you remember from the crime scene? We then tabulate that vote. And the face that has the largest number of votes is the winner.”  Compared to traditional lineup techniques, the two-faces-at-a-time method led to a less biased and more accurate identification of the fictional perpetrator."   “People are far better at making relative judgments than they are at making absolute judgements.”"
The power of personal experience!

White Rhinos Eavesdrop to Know Who's Who - Scientific American - "Rhinos have notoriously poor eyesight, so they mostly rely on their noses to understand the world around them. But there’s one interaction in which sound plays a key role. Southern white rhino males can either be dominant or subordinate. And only the dominant males hold and defend territories. New research finds that they eavesdrop on the calls of other males to know who is who.  “We found that contact calls carry information about the dominance status of the males. It means that only by listening to the calls, you can say if the male is territorial or subordinate.”"

Play Helped Dogs Be Our Best Friends - Scientific American - "Evolutionary biologist László Garamszegi of the Institute of Ecology and Botany in Hungary. He says that our playing with dogs is a key component of the human-canine bond. But breeds vary in their degree of playfulness. For example, a breed called the Vizsla is very playful.  “On the other hand, the Chihuahua doesn’t like to play at all. Of course, you can train a little bit, but the average level of playfulness will be always lower than in the Hungarian Vizsla.”  Garamszegi and his colleagues analyzed the playfulness of more than 89,000 purebred dogs across 132 breeds, from Pomeranians to Great Danes. The dogs were all given a test measuring their degree of enthusiasm for a game of tug-of-war with people.  “We were interested in whether breeds could be distinguished by their average level of playfulness and what are the evolutionary forces that makes different breeds behave differently.”  The researchers found that after controlling for the degree of genetic relatedness between breeds, dogs bred for herding and sporting were more playful on average than dogs that had been selected for other purposes like the nonsporting and toy breeds.   “For some functions, like hunting or herding, you need trainable dogs and the very strong owner-dog relationship. So if you have a playful dog, it’s easy to train. One way to train a dog is to play with the dog.”  By tracing playfulness back genetically through canine evolution, the researchers showed that the ancestors of today’s dogs already possessed an intermediate level of playfulness...   Toy breeds were originally meant to be fashion accessories for the aristocracy, so playfulness could be a liability.  “They need to match with your clothes; they need to match with your traveling habits. But they do not need too much attention. And in this particular situation, if you have a playful dog, it just creates a problem for you.”"

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