August 9th – International News Round-Up (Part I)

Religion

The Immanent Frame

On the politics of Islam in America, caught between the appropriation of the Liberal and the Conservative spheres.

Tech

The Daily Dot

Boycott Google or Ban Google isn’t working out apparently. They’re pointing out the obvious here, which is that there is no way to get around using Google. Though in my head, all this article serves to do is bring up the fact that there is such an enormous amount of data that Google is able to process and use. Thing is, the fact that you don’t have a choice in the matter, and that they’re big enough for competition to be irrelevant should be reason enough for more anti-trust lawsuits, right?

Finance

Center for Financial Inclusion

CFI Blog post on ICICI bank in India and how they hooked up with Stellar, to create a product for their customers. ICICI customers can transfer money using a mobile wallet. This money is process in a cryptocurrency, the unit of which is lumens. It’s not very clear if you can export this cryptocurrency out of its environment. Probably not.

Society

Vox

The firing of the Google engineer who wrote the now infamous memo might not be open to arbitration. Google engineers are not unionized and the United States apparently offers no protection to employees at their workplace (in the private sector).

Gizmodo

An alternative to the anti-diversity google memo. Article on how science has always been used to justify the men over women argument, apart from various other things.

Timeline

Fascinating article on an article who explores Greenwich in New York City and how the forces that forced the young, black, gay and homeless of Stonewall now own it. Did they win?

Cherry Lane Theater in Greenwich Village (Image Source: Wiki Commons)
Cherry Lane Theater in Greenwich Village (Image Source: Wiki Commons)

United States

Vox

Article on the unprecedented ethical concerns that affect Trump and this administration.

War

USA Today

Blackwater will receive more contracts going forward. I’m not sure why every time it gets reported, they open with a shocking line like: “The United States is considering a plan to entrust security to private contractors…”.

They’ve been doing it for a minute now.

The exact nature of their work is not clear, but apparently, they will serve in an advisory role.

July 28th – International News Round-Up (Part I)

Psychiatry

Slate Star Codex

Clozapine is widely accepted as one of the most effective drugs when it comes to treating schizophrenia, which is notoriously tough to treat. Apparently, it also does well at treating refractory schizophrenia. I don’t really understand a lot of these terms, but I guess it’s good research to keep track of. Author speculates as to what the exact mechanism is that allows Clozapine to be so effective, and how do you replicate the therapeutic properties without the list of side effects (and it’s a fairly large list). He also speculates that it might be possible to achieve the two separate effects that Clozapine provides, with two separate substances, instead of using Clozapine and subjecting people to the side-effects. None of this is conclusive.

Argentina

The Bubble

Buenos Aires City has something called the “Netflix Tax”. The Mayor of the city, back in 2014, levied 3% on the final sales prices of Netflix services in the city. There’s a whole lot to unpack here and it is pretty interesting stuff. Since governments have less and less brick and mortar business to tax each year, they’re going to have to find a way to recover some of that shortfall. Thus far, they’ve only managed to try to tax the hell out of them. The above linked article also talks of how Pasadena, California was considering a 10% tax back in February of 2017. Not sure what the state of that is. Internet services such as Netflix are notoriously tough to tax. I mean, the internet and internet services have been around for quite a while now, but nobody has found a way to get around the confusion of not having a physical entity to tax. Another way to potentially move around this problem is to ask Netflix to create a certain quota of Indian based content for a set portion of International content. This would offset some of the potential loss in taxation. This might also come down to how strong Television lobbies are in various countries. I’m assuming TV channels are the losers if Netflix wins over more subscribers?

Netflix Headquarters (Source: Wiki Commons)
Netflix Headquarters (Source: Wiki Commons)

Society

Understanding Society

Blog posts on the natural of social process and how they contrast with closed systems (which is often what we see in the physical sciences). We can isolate phenomenon in closed systems and engineer outcomes. Social science on the other hand is concerned mainly with open systems (the real world where there are an infinite number of moving parts). It becomes tough to come up with causal mechanisms. We can of course theorize causal processes when it comes to macro-phenomenon, but every theory has to be understood contextually. He uses the 1967 Detroit race riots as a way to illustrate his point.

Vox

I shelved this under society because I think that the effects of drug addiction spread through society in a manner that we really have not witnessed thus far. Vox’s video on the page says that drug overdose kills more people in America than guns. I’m not sure if they included deaths from alcohol abuse in those stats, I know that some agencies do count deaths from alcoholism as deaths from drug abuse. Regardless, I think literally everybody would agree that the pharmaceutical industry is to blame for this. I don’t know how complicit doctors were in prescribing OxyContin, but there was obviously enough evidence to suggest that Opioid based painkillers were addictive. It took the US about 27 years to come to this stage. I don’t know if it’s a generation that is addicted and that as time passes, the numbers will just decrease or if the Opioid addiction cuts across different age groups. The next stop is something called Carfentanil, which is an elephant tranquilizer.

FiveThirtyEight

A Pew survey of Muslim Americans was conducted and findings were presented at a conference. There’s nothing enormous shocking, except for one small detail. 41% of American Muslims identify as white. That is an amount I did not expect. It’s also something that I can’t explain. It can’t be Albanians. Additionally, foreign born American Muslims all came from countries that have a negligible Caucasian population. Are the 41% of white Muslims all second-generation converts?

Financial

Zero Hedge

I think Zero Hedge is a website that is a great counterpoint to what we have to come to call “Mainstream News”. By this, I mean mainstream financial and economic news. I generally do not agree and cannot condone a lot of their social commentary (though I still read it). I tend to agree with their general viewpoint that the financial system of the present day is a lot more unstable than we would give it credit for, although I am not completely sold on the doomsday scenario that they posit. Article is an interesting read on what the author considers to be the current scenario and why every market peak is different. The amount of easy money that we have in the world economy has gone towards fueling a bunch of the world’s biggest players and this has inflated stocks to a point where they have to eventually correct themselves. Or so the reasoning goes. I’m not a finance guy, but this seems like reasoning that I can accept. Among other things, Zero Hedge also speaks of the Silicon Valley culture and the litany of strange massive IPOs that have come out of it. Everything from Snapchat to the really expensive juicer and how they hold absolutely “no value” and that eventually the fact that these kinds of companies exist will force the world financial market to lose value and achieve a mean.

Religion

RT

Seyran Ates, a Turkish-born German lawyer who was involved with opening a liberal muslim mosque in Berlin is looking to open one in the UK. There have been death threats to those involved with the one in Berlin, as they accept various different Islamic faith, as well as LGBT Muslims.

Ates said there was a need for liberal mosques in the UK as Sharia courts are allowed to operate. “Sharia is a war against women’s rights, nothing else,” she told the Guardian. “The UK has helped Islamists to bring women under Islamic Sharia law and its patriarchal structures.”