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Sunday Reading

Written By: - Date published: 9:26 am, November 17th, 2013 - 55 comments
Categories: interweb - Tags:

My semi-regular Sunday piece of interesting, longer, deeper stories I found during the week. It’s also a chance for you to share what you found this week too. Those stimulating links you wanted to share, but just didn’t fit in anywhere (no linkwhoring).  This week: science vs the internet, the UK public is wrong about everything, Russell Brand, feminism and austerity from a golden throne.

The magazine Popular Science has shut comments on its website after scientific studies showed they were bad for science. A fractious minority of commenters with personal insults makes readers take the downsides rather than the upsides. Something to think about for all of us in our tone of writing…

Staying with Science, and that most political of science topics, climate change: a look at computer geek and hockey stick creator Michael Mann and how politics came to him. It’s still personal even though there’s now a whole hockey team. And could even Carl Sagan have saved climate science from partisanship?

The BBC looks at how we can save the planet with Share Tactics.

The Independent in the Uk reveal that the British public is wrong about almost everything.

Benefit fraud: the public think that £24 of every £100 of benefits is fraudulently claimed. Official estimates are that just 70 pence in every £100 is fraudulent – so the public conception is out by a factor of 34. […]

Among the other surprising figures are that 26 per cent of people think foreign aid is in the top three items the Government spends money on (it actually makes up just 1.1 per cent of expenditure), and that 29 per cent of people think more is spent on Jobseekers’ Allowance than pensions.   In fact we spend 15 times more on pensions – £4.9 billion on JSA vs £74.2 billion on pensions.

The public’s opinions also differ vastly from the facts on immigration, ethnicity and crime. Who’s to blame? The media and politicians.

The Guardian have a great piece from Russell Brand in the wake of his “don’t vote” Newsnight interview:

When I was poor and I complained about inequality people said I was bitter, now I’m rich and I complain about inequality they say I’m a hypocrite. I’m beginning to think they just don’t want inequality on the agenda because it is a real problem that needs to be addressed.

He sees the political parties in the UK as interchangeable: “Whatever party they claim to represent in the day, at night they show their true colours and all go to the same party.” And wants revolution.

Which one can understand when you see David Cameron preaching austerity from a golden throne.

And the British State, despite multiple scandals on everything from undercover policing to GCHQ, still trying to spy on those who ask questions of it.

A good worker should blame his tools: not only have wages not remotely kept up with productivity improvements in the last 30 years, the blame for most poor productivity should go on the lack of capital investment, not on labour. Employers need to look at themselves, not blame their workers.

Whilst employers are looking at themselves, they may also want to look at Helen Kelly’s excellent speech to the Labour Party Conference.

While we have continuing fall-out around the so-called “Roast Busters” gang, the BBC looks at a study reported as showing that 1 in 4 Asian men admit to rape. It’s probably an overstatement, but the facts are still scary enough.

Meanwhile our own stuff looked at how women are made over – into disney princesses and into magazine covers. They also mentioned Swedish cinemas starting to use the Bechdel feminist test for film ratings.

google, twitter, yahoo lobbying against usa: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/11/nsa-bills-google-facebook-yahoo-twitter-lobbying

From smbc:


Bonus links: rewriting the rules of Chess to get fewer draws. How our brain creates personality. Nazi legacy for our medical knowledge. Valuing the polymath in the age of specialists.



55 comments on “Sunday Reading”

  1. Adrian 1

    Not exactly reading but I was privledged to talk to the grandmother of the bride at a wedding yesterday. I was congratulating her on a fabulous little speech, on marriage of course , she had only just lost her husband a few months ago after 64 years of marriage and her mind and speech were as sharp as a tack. Most fascinating was her telling me about being flown with her children on a TEAL Solent flying boat in 1950, Auckland to Suva and onwards on a copra boat to Tarawa to join her husband who was a meteorologist up there. Apparently the Solents weighed 34 tons and took one and a half minutes to get off the water. She said the whole time that was happening she was terrified as there was so much spray she thought that they had gone underwater.
    Now that’s history.
    And the marriage advice by the way, as she reminded her grand-daughter and new husband. ” It’s a marriage, not a takeover!”.
    She is 90 today. Happy Birthday to an amazing woman.

    • Anne 1.1

      Did the lady’s husband perchance work at the now defunct Auckland Weather Office Adrian? Many of my former colleagues from the 70s and 80s (senior to me of course) began their meteorological careers during WW2, and had fascinating stories to tell of their adventures in the Pacific arena during the war years. I can think of several I once knew that it could have been…

      They were good people and they didn’t have over inflated opinions of themselves like some of their later contemporaries.

    • Murray Olsen 1.2

      The Solent had a lot more power than the Sunderland, which had real trouble getting off smooth water. Sometimes they’d get a boat to go out and make a few waves, which would give them a bit of help to get unstuck. I would have loved to go round the Pacific on a flying boat, but not in the cyclone season.

  2. greywarbler 2

    Interesting smorgasbord Bunji. The Swedish Bechdel test –
    To get an “A” rating, a movie must pass the so-called Bechdel test, which means it must have at least two named female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man.

    “The entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, all Star Wars movies, The Social Network, Pulp Fiction and all but one of the Harry Potter movies fail this test,” said Ellen Tejle, the director of Bio Rio, an art-house movie theater in Stockholm’s trendy Sodermalm district.

  3. Rogue Trooper 4

    Martin Seligman, on Happiness

  4. Draco T Bastard 5

    From the article on polymaths:

    Of course, the rest of us are very adept at pretending to be specialists. We doctor our CVs to make it look as if all we ever wanted to do was sell mobile homes or Nespresso machines. It’s common sense, isn’t it, to try to create the impression that we are entirely focused on the job we want?

    Was on a phone interview the other week and the person doing the interviewing kept mentioning my career as if it was a given and every time she did I kept wanting to say: I don’t have a career, I’ve never had a career and never will have. I’m not that boring.

    What we’ve actually been seeing over the last few centuries and especially over the last three decades is the march to conformity. And it’s a conformity enforced by the rich and powerful – the employers.

    • Rogue Trooper 5.1

      “It gives me great pleasure to see the stubborness of an incorrigible nonconformist warmly acclaimed” – Albert Einstein 😛

    • TheContrarian 5.2

      “I don’t have a career, I’ve never had a career and never will have. I’m not that boring.”

      That great Draco, fantastic for you.

      I have a career, I like my career and my life is anything but boring.
      Once again you paint everything black and white with your broad brush.

      • Draco T Bastard 5.2.1

        You didn’t read the article did you?

        • TheContrarian

          I’m responding directly to your comments about A) a career being ‘boring’ or making a person boring and B) that employers are the ‘rich and powerful’ and want everyone to conform.

          • felix

            That’s the most boring comment you’ve ever written.

          • Draco T Bastard

            You didn’t do B) at all. In fact, all you did was say that your life wasn’t boring.

            • TheContrarian

              “Once again you paint everything black and white with your broad brush.”

              In reference to your comment that employers are the ‘rich and powerful’ and want everyone to conform.

              Sorry I wasn’t clearer,

              • felix

                I must say I admire your steadfast and unwavering rejection of any and all contrarian viewpoints.

                • TheContrarian

                  Yes but it is contrary to Draco.

                  Hugs and kisses – signed Anon.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    You’ve contradicted me – all you’ve ever done is make asinine remarks that follow neither logic nor evidence.

                    • TheContrarian

                      How ironic you speak about evidence given our latest little back and forth. You know, when you cited an admitted supposition as conclusive evidence of something can never know. Ho ho ho….

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      I used evidence – the evidence of what was happening before the sale of Telecom. And, in all of that, you still failed to address my logic. You just kept going round and round in circles. In fact, your last comment in that was almost identical to the first one.

                      Again, it seems that we’ve come to the end of this conversation due to your inability to actually carry a conversation.

                      EDIT: First part of my previous comment should read: You’ve never contradicted…

                    • TheContrarian

                      “And, in all of that, you still failed to address my logic”

                      I did that multiple times. A supposition cannot, by definition, be conclusive proof. It isn’t my inability to have conversation – it’s your inability to actually accept you have no conclusive proof, you have a supposition and that’s that.

                      Your logic is flawed. You ignore all other outcomes and assume the outcome you have supposed to be the only other option. That is a logical fallacy.

                    • Rogue Trooper

                      must have been a crossed party-line 😀

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      I did that multiple times.

                      No, you didn’t. Not once have you ever addressed the logic that I used. You just said that I didn’t have conclusive proof which I agreed with.

                    • TheContrarian

                      Jesus fucking Christ…

                      Your logic was flawed in that A) You cited a supposition as a proof and B) your supposition was based upon on the assumption there was only two possible outcomes. Therefor C) it is irrelevant what logic you used to get there because it complete supposition with no predictive power based entirely on the fallacy that there are only two outcomes.

                      Fucking hell – it’s like talking to a creationist.

                    • TheContrarian

                      And another fucking thing – all I was trying to make you see was that it wasn’t a conclusive proof and you should stop addressing it as such. So now that you have said so you can stop fucking saying it is and we can get on with our lives.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      The logic is relevant because it is indicative of the dead-weight loss of profit.

                      B) your supposition was based upon on the assumption there was only two possible outcomes.

                      No it wasn’t. It was, and is, based upon the assumption that Telecom would continue as it was prior to the sale with all the surplus ($17b) going into the network. And, yes, there are only two possible outcomes.

                      Nothing you’ve said has applied to that logic.

                    • TheContrarian

                      It is indicative of the dead weight of profit in the scenario you have decided is the only scenario. Jesus man, you are committing even more logical errors. You are pretth much saying – The scenario I have decided is the only conclusion predicts that my scenario is the only conclusion.

                      Followed up with: no my conclusion wasn’t based on only two possible outcomes but there are only two possible outcomes.

                      Fact remains Draco – you can’t have a conclusive proof based on your supposition. There are no two ways about it. Secondly – you did say there were only two possible outcomes to which I provided several other outcomes that you dismissed out of hand.

                      Christ man, get your shit together.

                  • felix

                    Actually your boring comments are largely irrelevant in the context of what Draco wrote.

                  • Rogue Trooper

                    all started out so lovey-dovey…

              • Draco T Bastard

                Go to a WINZ “course” and they will tell you that you need to conform to get the job. You have to be dressed as they want you to dress, not have any visible tattoos, be enthusiastic about the company and have all the right qualifications and experience (even for entry level jobs). None of these are optional.

                So, is it black and white? Yeah, pretty much but it’s not my broad brush doing the painting.

                • TheContrarian

                  So dressing smartly, being keen on the job and having the experience/qualifications for a particular position is a bad thing?

                  Do you reckon a person rocking up to a job interview in shorts and jandals while not giving a fuck about the job and having no experience or desire to be experienced should be as considered for the role as someone who actually takes the effort to dress appropriately and sharply, is excited about the role and/or business and has a qualification in the industry?

                  • felix

                    That’s a nice dichotomy. Pity it’s a false one.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    Nothing wrong with shorts and jandals in the correct circumstances. As an old mentor once told me: It doesn’t matter what you turn up in just so long as they’re clean. But that was 20+ years ago and he was the type of employer who would have bought the new employee a suit if it was required for the job.
                    I didn’t say anything about giving a fuck about the job or the area of work.
                    Qualifications? Well, that’s what on the job training is for.
                    Generally, entry level doesn’t have experience so why do people now demand it for such roles?

                    All you’ve done is reinforce the conformity.

                    • TheContrarian

                      It isn’t a matter of conformity Draco. If there is one role open at an accountancy firm (just for example) and you roll in with no accountancy experience or enthusiasm for the role but someone who has enthusiasm and demonstrates they have sort to understand what accountancy requires through either higher education, internships or other such avenues who do you think will be hired?

                      “Qualifications? Well, that’s what on the job training is for.”
                      Yeah maybe however we live in a world where many people might apply for a single job some of which will have better skills.

                      The world we are in has social conventions that apply. I’m sorry you find it unnecessary.

                    • karol

                      As an old mentor once told me: It doesn’t matter what you turn up in just so long as they’re clean. But that was 20+ years ago

                      Ah… so much easier for some men.

                      20+ years back, I used to be told – you need to wear a dress. And that usually meant a very nice and reasonably fashionable sort of dress.

                    • felix

                      “If there is one role open at an accountancy firm (just for example) and you roll in with no accountancy experience or enthusiasm for the role but someone who has enthusiasm and demonstrates they have sort to understand what accountancy requires through either higher education, internships or other such avenues who do you think will be hired?”

                      You really are stuck on that false dichotomy. Which you invented. And which is irrelevant to what Draco wrote.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      What he writes never does.

                  • Murray Olsen

                    Apart from the lack of experience, that sounds like how I got my job. Well, I was also asked if I wanted it, I didn’t rock up to an interview, but I was wearing shorts and jandals. I was smoking and half way drunk as well. The guys in suits hadn’t impressed.

    • Rogue Trooper 6.1

      “Giving style to one’s character- a great and rare art! It is exercised by those who see all the strengths and weaknesses of their own natures and then comprehend them in an artistic plan until everything appears as art and reason and even weakness [ infants ] delights the eye”.
      -Friedrich Nietzsche 😎

  5. Draco T Bastard 7

    Federal Reserve Whistleblower Tells America The REAL Reason For Quantitative Easing

    I can only say: I’m sorry, America. As a former Federal Reserve official, I was responsible for executing the centerpiece program of the Fed’s first plunge into the bond-buying experiment known as quantitative easing. The central bank continues to spin QE as a tool for helping Main Street. But I’ve come to recognize the program for what it really is: the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time.

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