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  1. kalenjin shared this story from Alpha Architect.

    One of the popular investing truisms is the following (inspired by Bill Sharpe): For somebody to beat the market (win) […]

    The post Will ETFs Destroy Factor Investing? Nope. appeared first on Alpha Architect.

  2. kalenjin shared this story from Quartz.

    President Donald Trump takes a question during a news conference, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

    Towards the end of his press conference today, Donald Trump took a question from Jake Turx, a Hasidic Jewish reporter for a small US-based weekly magazine that caters to the international Orthodox Jewish community. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Turx covered Trump favorably; most Hasidic Jews voted for Trump in the election. Trump called on Turx after scanning the crowd for a “friendly reporter.”

    Turx started his question by signaling sympathy for Trump, defending him from allegations of anti-Semitism “despite what some of my colleagues may have been reporting.” Then he asked Trump for a comment on the uptick in anti-Semitic incidents in the US since the election.

    Trump responded as if Turx had accused him personally of anti-Semitism. He cut him off mid-question, told him to sit down, and called his question “very insulting.” When a different reporter followed up on the question, Trump claimed that many reported anti-Semitic incidents are actually the work of Trump’s opponents, who do them to get a rise out of the media.

    Watch the clip above for the entire exchange.

  3. kalenjin shared this story from Quartz.

    Gay rights activist Chi Chia-wei waves a rainbow colored flag during a march calling for the legalization of same-sex marriage in Taipei, Taiwan, 11 July 2015.

    Taipei, Taiwan

    In 1986, in the twilight of Taiwan’s four decades of martial law known as the White Terror, 28-year-old Chi Chia-wei did what for many was unthinkable: he came out publicly as gay. He spent 162 days in prison, released only after a lenient and ashamed judge pardoned him, with tears in his eyes.

    During the 30-plus years since Chi challenged Taiwan’s then-authoritarian government, he has been a constant force pushing for societal—and legal—acceptance of his LGBTQ comrades. Now Taiwan’s constitutional court is preparing to review a lawsuit filed by Chi nearly two years ago, setting the stage for what could be a tipping point in the the push for marriage equality here.

    Chi said he learned the court would review his case earlier this month when a journalist contacted him with the news.

    “The court doesn’t want me to appear,” the energetic Chi, 59, said with a smile. “Once I show up, they’re in for a real headache.”

    This is not the first time Taiwan’s courts have had to deal with Chi’s persistence. 16 years ago it ruled against Chi, who sought a constitutional review of Taiwan’s marriage laws so that he could marry his partner. The couple have been together since 1988. In 2015, Taiwan’s Supreme Court ruled against Chi once more.

    This time around he is confident of victory, not in small part to the fact that the Taipei City government is also requesting a constitutional interpretation of Taiwan’s marriage laws, which he said was the impetus for the court taking up the case.

    On December 26, Taipei’s Bureau of Civil Affairs began issuing non-legally binding same-sex partnership certificates, which resemble ID cards. These cards permit couples to sign medical consent forms for each other or apply for family leave. As of the end of November 272 couples had registered under the scheme.

    “Look, Taiwan is a democracy, it has rule of law,” he said. “We’re on the same path as the US, France, and the UK.”

    The hearing for Chi’s newest case will be held on March 24. Supporters and opponents of marriage equality will be allowed to make their case to the Council of Grand Justices, as the court is officially known. Additional oral arguments may take place afterward, if the court sees fit, after which it will have a month to reach a decision.

    Before same-sex marriages can be legally recognized, a decision by the court’s 15 justices in favor of the constitutionality of same-sex unions would need to be followed by new laws passed by Taiwan’s legislature, the Legislative Yuan. Chi said that if the court rules in favor of marriage equality, new laws would be a foregone conclusion.

    “The Legislative Yuan can’t negate the court’s ruling,” he said. “They’d only be able to delay legislation.”

    Concurrent to the judicial review, proposed same-sex marriage legislation is currently working its way through the Legislative Yuan.

    Unlike previous hearings of Chi’s cases, the court has decided this time to make the same-sex marriage debate a very public event by broadcasting court proceedings live online.

    Participants in the hearing who oppose marriage equality in Taiwan, a movement that has been spearheaded by a small group of highly organized conservative churches, are likely to be out in full force. Taiwanese same-sex marriage opponents have recently acquired new allies in their fight: the right-wing American group MassResistance.

    But Taiwan’s LGBTQ community is more organized—and more mainstream—than ever before.

    Last October Chi was honored with the Pioneer Award at the first annual Queermosa Awards. “Chi is a pioneer in Taiwan’s gay rights movement,” said Jay Lin, the founder of the awards who is himself a vocal advocate for LGBTQ rights in Taiwan. “To this day, you can see him at rallies and parades waving his large rainbow flag—his presence alone inspires the new generation.”

    Legal same-sex marriage in Taiwan is not a matter of if, but when, Chi said. Once it happens, however, he said he will still have plenty to fight for. He worries that same-sex marriage legislation, should it arrive, might not cover the rights of same-sex couples to raise or adopt children.

    “I never tire,” Chi said. “Every morning when I wake up, it’s like my first day of doing this 30 years ago.”

  4. kalenjin shared this story from FlowingData.

    For Excel users getting started with R, pain oftentimes finds its way into the learning process. Gordon Shotwell feels your pain and provides a primer to shifting to a different approach to your data.

    At the beginning, when you are trying to accomplish simple things like balancing a budget or entering some data by hand, R is definitely harder to learn than Excel. However, as the task gets more complex, it becomes easier to accomplish in R than Excel, because the core structures of Excel are designed for relatively simple use cases and are not the best for more complex problems. This isn’t to say that you can’t solve a lot of complex problems with Excel, it’s just that the tool won’t make it easy for you.

    Worth that little bit of extra effort in the beginning IMHO.

    Tags: ,

  5. kalenjin shared this story from Quartz.

    I'm for it.

    In the US, drivers stick vanity license plates on their cars to express support for everything from national parks and veterans to breast cancer awareness—and anti-abortion clinics. Twenty-nine states offer “Choose Life” license plates that cost anywhere from $25 to $70, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

    In 1997, Randy Harris, a county commissioner in Florida, started the organization Choose Life to promote the creation and sale of these license plates across the country. He wanted to use sales to fund “pro-life pregnancy centers” and “other life affirming agencies,” according to the organization’s website. In 2000, Florida became the first state to pass legislation that allowed the sale of these specialty plates.

    Proceeds from those sales were initially passed on to counties in Florida. Then, in 2011, Choose Life successfully lobbied for a statute that would allow the organization to administer the funds and distribute them to pregnancy care centers, maternity homes, and non-profit adoption agencies.

    After their victory in Florida, the organization pushed for similar programs in other states across the country. From 2000 to date, the number of states that allow Choose Life license plates grew to 29; anti-abortion groups are currently working on pushing through legislation to allow Choose Life plates in an additional 16 states.


    (In Montana, the sale of anti-abortion plates was approved, but is currently suspended because of administrative problems, according to Choose Life. A local affiliate of Choose Life is working to get the plate re-approved this year.)

    The plates are sold by local affiliates of Choose Life and proceeds are used for all sorts of things; in 18 states, a portion is used to fund adoption organizations. In Iowa, funds raised by the plates go to pay for roads and road repairs.

    But in others, they are used to fund crisis pregnancy centers—which reproductive health organizations say is an unconstitutional mixture of church and state.

    According to Guttmacher, in 15 states, a portion of the proceeds go to funding anti-choice or crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), which often provide biased and medically inaccurate information to women who are seeking family planning services.



    Reproductive rights activists have challengedthe approval of Pro Choice plates on the basis that it’s unconstitutional for a state to endorse political viewpoints or fund agencies affiliated with churches or religious organizations. Often, CPCs espouse overtly Christian beliefs.

    In 2015, the pro-choice organization NARAL carried out an undercover investigation in 10 states to document the scare tactics used and lies disseminated by CPCs. They found that the centers used misleading advertising—such as “Pregnant? Need Help? You have options”—to suggest inaccurately they were family planning centers. The centers also gave NARAL’s undercover investigators false health information, saying that getting an abortion can cause breast cancer, cervical incompetence, infertility, and mental health complications—none of which is true.

    The US government doesn’t regulate CPCs, and so the information provided at each center varies greatly. “In some it is what you might call ‘benign’—it generally meets medical standards,” says Elizabeth Nash, the senior state issues manager in the Guttmacher Institute’s Washington, DC office. “In other cases the information given to women is rife with inaccuracies or is misleading in some way.”

    Legal efforts to stop the Pro Choice plate programs have, to date, been unsuccessful. “Typically the plates have withstood a legal challenge and they have been able to go forward in part because they argue that this is free speech—the people who want to put this on their plates are exercising their first amendment rights,” says Nash.

    Reproductive health advocates are trying to even the balance in other ways: States like Virginia, Pennsylvania and Montana also have plates to support family planning, and the funds raised from these plates tend to go to family planning providers.

    There’s a sizable amount of money at stake. Choose Life says that the organization has raised over $24 million as of Dec. 31, 2016 and the total reported number of choose life license plates sales and renewals nationally is over 1.1 million.

  6. kalenjin shared this story from Quartz.

    U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan looks at U.S. President Donald Trump as he signs H.J.Res. 41, providing for congressional disapproval of a rule submitted by the Securities and Exchange Commission relating to "Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers." at the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., February 14, 2017.

    US president Donald Trump is already clashing with his own party over their plan to overhaul the corporate tax code, in part because their strategy to tax imported goods is causing indigestion at major American companies.

    Trump has called for tariffs on certain imports, but House Republicans have a different plan in mind: They want to flip the US corporate tax system from one that taxes profits to one that taxes domestic consumption. To do this Republicans hope to implement a border adjustment tax (BAT) to keep jobs from fleeing overseas, as we’ve explained in some detail.

    Proponents of the tax say importers shouldn’t fear the plan because the dollar will strengthen under this new tax, easing their losses. Others are skeptical that currency exchange rates would simply adjust to a level that would offset the higher price of imports, regardless, the tax would likely create major incentives for companies to make costly changes to where they obtain their products.

    Yesterday, Trump met with a bunch of retailers, including the CEOs of Target, J.C. Penney, Best Buy, Gap and AutoZone. Doubtless they pointed out what the chart below confirms: Their businesses selling clothing, electronic goods and auto parts depend significantly on imports, and they’d rather not see the effective cost of these key goods increase.

    So far, Trump has a shown a remarkable deference to businesses concerned that policy changes will raise the cost of doing business. That’s one reason that Wall Street analysts argue that there is little chance of moving the tax overhaul forward. The White House, led by national economic council chair Gary Cohn, is putting together its own tax reform plan that relies on closing loopholes and lowering rates to create efficiency, and likely including a “repatriation holiday” that would give companies avoiding taxes on overseas profits a brief window to bring home money at ultra-low tax rates.

    The problem with these ideas is that they have been tried: Base-broadening tax reform has been something of a non-starter because it preserves many of the same problems in the current tax system; few loopholes are likely to be closed and the incentive to hoard money overseas remains. When president George W. Bush tried a repatriation holiday in 2004, very little money was invested in the US and profit-shifting only increased.

    That’s why House Republicans are convinced that their radical overhaul is the only way forward.

    “I don’t know any other way to do it. We’ve long looked at this. We’ve had exhaustive hearing after hearing after hearing for eight years,” Republican Rep. Devin Nunes told CNBC on Feb. 14. “The only way we can get our tax code into the 21st century and make America the most competitive place on the planet is to move to a full consumption-based system,” which means border adjustment.

    House Speaker Paul Ryan has embraced Trump’s presidency, chaos, warts and all, because he needs a president who will sign off on Republican priorities that were dormant during the Obama administration. But his putative ally in the White House might not be on the same page.

  7. kalenjin shared this story from FlowingData.

    When you search for datasets on The White House site, you get nothing. So yeah. That’s where we’re at.

    Tags: ,

  8. kalenjin shared this story from TaxVox.

    The other day, a high-powered group of former senior Republican policy advisers and business executives proposed replacing regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gases with a...
  9. kalenjin shared this story from Quartz.

    Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama eats a piece of a cake to celebrate his birthday at Drepung Loseling Monastery in Mundgod, in the southern state of Karnataka, India,

    Chinese students are joining their peers on American campuses in getting woke. Their cause? Defending the official line of the Communist Party.

    On Feb. 2, the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) formally announced that the Dalai Lama would make a keynote speech at the June commencement ceremony.

    The announcement triggered outrage among Chinese students who view the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader as an oppressive figure threatening to divide a unified China.A group of them now plans to meet with the university chancellor to discuss the content of the upcoming speech.

    The awkwardness doesn’t end there. As the aggrieved students have trumpeted their opposition, their rhetoric has borrowed elements from larger campus activist movements across the United States. The upshot: What Westerners might perceive as Communist Party orthodoxy is mingling weirdly with academia’s commitment to diversity, political correctness, and other championed ideals.

    Opposition to the Dalai Lama among Chinese authorities is nothing new, of course. Less recognized in the West is that many Chinese citizens feel the same way as the government. At UCSD, the Chinese-student opposition to the invitation came instantly. Just hours after the announcement, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) issued a lengthy, Chinese-language note on WeChat saying it had communicated with the Chinese consulate about the matter.

    UCSD is a place for students to cultivate their minds and enrich their knowledge. Currently, the various actions undertaken by the university have contravened the spirit of respect, tolerance, equality, and earnestness—the ethos upon which the university is built. These actions have also dampened the academic enthusiasm of Chinese students and scholars. If the university insists on acting unilaterally and inviting the Dalai Lama to give a speech at the graduation ceremony, our association vows to take further measures to firmly resist the university’s unreasonable behavior. Specific details of these measures will be outlined in our future statements.

    Comments from Chinese students on Facebook were also couched in rhetoric commonly used to rally for inclusivity on campus. One simply read #ChineseStudentsMatter. Some argued that the invitation goes against “diversity” and “political correctness.” Others contended the university was acting hypocritically by inviting an “oppressive” figure like the Dalai Lama while fostering a climate of anti-racism and anti-sexism.









    In a letter addressed to the university’s chancellor, the UCSD Shanghai Alumni Group used similar rhetoric, evoking “diversity” as a justification of its opposition.

    As Chinese alumni, we are proud to be part of the growing UC community because of its diversity and inclusiveness. When addressing such a diverse community, there is a greater responsibility to spread a message that brings people together, rather than split them apart. During the campus commencement, there will be over a thousand Chinese students, families, and friends celebrating this precious moment with their loved ones. If Tenzin Gyatso expresses his political views under the guise of “spirituality and compassion,” the Chinese segment of this community will feel extremely offended and disrespected during this special occasion.

    This is not the first time that overseas Chinese students at US colleges have voiced opposition to certain campus events perceived as disrespectful to China. In 2008, hundreds gathered at the University of Washington to rally against the Dalai Lama’s acceptance of an honorary degree. But typically, criticism is couched in familiar tropes like “hurting the feelings of the Chinese people,” rather than failing to account for diversity.

     “There is a borrowing of rhetorical strategies.” “If there were an objection to the Dalai Lama speaking on campus 10 years ago, you would not have seen the objection from Chinese students being framed within the rhetoric of diversity and inclusion,” says professor Jeffrey Wasserstrom, who researches modern Chinese history at theUniversity of California, Irvine. “There is a borrowing of rhetorical strategies.”

    Tsering Topgyal, a Tibetan native who received his master’s degree at UCSD and now lectures at the UK’s University of Birmingham, called diversity “an expedient notion to latch onto given its importance in both rhetoric and substance in the US and academia.” But he questions its appropriateness as a framing device for this specific grievance:

    If the Chinese students wish to exploit diversity, they would come across as more convincing if they were more committed and supportive of this principle back home. If they are so committed to diversity, it behooves them to be more accepting of the Dalai Lama’s talk, especially since I am sure that many of the non-Chinese student community would wish to hear the Dalai Lama.

    John Li, a UCSD student and principal member of the CSSA who requested Quartz not use his real name, says the chancellor invited a group of overseas Chinese students for a meeting on Feb. 15. According to him, the group won’t ask the chancellor to disinvite the Dalai Lama. But it will request that he “send out statements that clarify the content of Dalai Lama’s speech,” “make sure his speech has nothing to do with politics,” and “stop using words like ‘spiritual leader’ or ‘exile'” to describe the Dalai Lama.

    None of professors Quartz contacted in the UCSD Chinese Studies program replied to requests for comments.

    Holy man, or terrorist?

    Tibet and the Dalai Lama remains one of a handful of topics where the Communist Party of China espouses a specific orthodoxy, inside and outside of China. It will counter or suppress opposing views in academia and the media, and retains control over Tibet’s depiction in history textbooks. Consequently, most native Chinese hold views that conform with the party’s preferred narrative.

    Central to many objections in China toward the Dalai Lama is the perception that he advocates for separatism. He fled to India during the 1959 Tibetan uprising against Chinese forces. For decades, he advocated for Tibet’s full independence. He has since moderated his stance, advocating for a “high degree of autonomy” as a region that’s still part of the People’s Republic of China.

    In China, the government and a majority of citizens view the Dalai Lama as a relic of the country’s feudal past. Says professor Topgyal:

    The Chinese view is that before the Chinese ‘liberation’ of Tibet, Tibet used to be a backward feudal society where the Dalai Lama held most of the Tibetans as slaves. This is a blatant misrepresentation of Tibetan history. Tibet did practise a variant of a feudal system complete with serfs of different levels of social status and degrees of landownership. It was unequal and exploitative just like in any other feudal society, but it was definitely not a slavery system. No society, including China’s own by the way, is without a dark and abusive past.

    Chinese critics call the Dalai Lama a “terrorist” (which explains the frequent comparisons to Osama bin Laden) and blame him for inciting the self-immolations that aggrieved Tibetans continue to commit. The Dalai Lama blames the Chinese government’s “cultural genocide” and oppressive rule over the region.

    These views stand in stark contrast to how the Dalai Lama is portrayed in the West—primarily as an advocate for religious freedom and human rights.

    Li, the CSSA member, says that he hasn’t engaged with any non-Chinese student in person regarding Tibetan history and the nature of the Dalai Lama’s politics. But he’s nevertheless frustrated by a lack of consideration toward the arguments his Chinese peers share on Facebook.

    “They are basically rejecting every evidence we provide” of historical slavery in Tibet, says Li. “How can we argue about it if the other side refuses to listen to your points?”

    A sizeable minority

    The Chinese students’ objections to the Dalai Lama’s graduation speech sits at the junction of several trends taking place across American universities. Campus activism in the US has swelled in recent years, as students stage movements intended to provide more voice and representation to groups that have historically faced institutionalized or culturally entrenched discrimination.

    Just this week, students at Yale successfully completed a campaign to change the name of Calhoun College, named after a 19th-century senator and strong advocate of slavery. It will now be named after Grace Hopper, a black computer scientist who served in the US Navy. A similar campaign was defeated at Princeton last year.

    Data suggests that Asian students have typically remained the least politically active of all student groups on US campuses. According to a survey by the University of California, Los Angeles of first-year students across nearly 200 universities, students who identify as “Asian” remain less likely to participate in protests compared to whites, blacks, and Latinos.

    Yet several factors could cause Chinese overseas students to grow more vocal in expressing their opinions in matters of politics, which at times may or may not conform with views held by most Westerners.

    For one thing, more overseas Chinese students are studying in the US than ever before. According to the Institute of International Education, more than 304,000 international students were attending university in the US during the 2014-2015 academic year, marking a nearly fivefold increase from a decade prior.

    UCSD, along with other public universities in California and in the Midwest, has seen some of the highest uptake in admissions from Chinese international students. Data published in the fall of 2015 placed the school’s total overseas Chinese student population at 3,569—marking 10.6% of the total student population, and 55.7% of the international student population.

    These students also tend to pay full tuition. Indeed, some of the complaints among Chinese students on Facebook center around how they find it unfair that that their monetary contributions to the school aren’t reflected in the choice of the speaker.

    In addition, xenophobic sentiment that has increased since Trump’s victory has evidently affected at least some Chinese college students. In early February, Chinese students at Columbia University reported that their name tags were ripped off the doors of their dorm rooms. The news prompted Chinese overseas students to create a wildly successful viral video, in which they explained the meaning of their given Chinese names.

    Indeed, some xenophobic sentiment has spilled out in online discussions about the speaking invitation. In addition to accusations that Chinese students are “brainwashed,” others trumpeted the familiar “if you don’t like it, you can get out” refrain.


    Topgyal, who lived and studied with mainland Chinese students at UCSD in the early 2000s, believes that inviting the Dalai Lama back then wouldn’t have stirred up such controversy. While many Chinese students would have felt discomfort privately, he says, “they were certainly not as organized as they are today, or [as emboldened] on account of their country’s rise in the global hierarchy.” He adds that social media has played a role in this empowerment, as it “enables even Chinese students in other universities and countries to join the conversation on a single platform.”

    There’s also suspicion among some academics that CSSA, which represents students at UCSD and dozens of other US universities, sometimes serves as a conduit for Chinese consulates to promulgate Communist Party orthodoxy on overseas campuses. Last week, an official at the Chinese embassy in London reportedly phoned Durham University’s debate society, urging it to cancel an appearance by Anastasia Lin, a Chinese-Canadian beauty queen and vocal human rights activist. The school’s CSSA issued a statement also condemning Lin’s appearance.

    In its initial statement opposing the Dalai Lama’s appearance, UCSD’s CSSA wrote that it had “been in contact with the People’s Republic of China Consulate General in Los Angeles at the earliest opportunity since the matter arose,” and “was waiting for the advice of the Consulate General.”

    Li tells Quartz that this part of the letter is “a mistake.”

    “We only worked with the Chinese consulate on cultural events such as spring festival gala. Besides that, we don’t have any relationship with the consulate,” he says. “Lots of people believe that we are the consulate’s agent, but we are actually not. We are a 100% student-run organization.”

    The need for nuance

    While the CSSA and other Chinese students have expressed opposition to the Dalai Lama’s appearance at commencement, views on his invitation are not uniform among the Chinese student community.

    Lisa Hou, a sophomore studying math and computer science, says that of her Chinese peer group, about 60% oppose the Dalai Lama’s invitation, and 30% support it, while 10% have no opinion. She says that when she first heard of the speaking invitation, she felt motivated to conduct her own research about him, which led to her view on him becoming more nuanced.

     “We were kind of all taught to be against the Dalai Lama.” “We were kind of all taught to be against the Dalai Lama,” she notes. “And then I searched online, and I realized I didn’t know why I was against him. Although he is a political person, he did so many good things.” She says her schedule will determine whether or not she attends his commencement speech.

    Hou and Li’s main objection to the Dalai Lama’s invitation stems primarily from the fact that the Dalai Lama remains a divisive figure, who will speak at the most important annual campus-wide event in front of thousands of Chinese people. Many attendees will be parents, who will travel thousands of miles to celebrate their child’s graduation.

    “My focus is never who Dalai Lama is and the political philosophy that Dalai Lama stands for. As long as this decision upsets my Chinese peers and their parents, I believe there is probably something wrong,” Li says. “Since my parents and my grandparents are coming, I will not attend his speech under any circumstances.”

    It’s not clear whether the Chinese students against the speech will take further action beyond meeting with the chancellor—say, staging a public protest, the kind ubiquitous across UC campuses. Li believes that a CSSA protest will be unlikely, and if it were to happen, he wouldn’t participate despite his objections to the Dalai Lama’s upcoming appearance, he says. “I don’t believe I have the obligation or capacity to challenge the mainstream belief of Western societies,” he says.

    But Hou says that even though she might attend the Dalai Lama’s speech, she would also willingly participate in a protest if one were organized. “Chinese students have spoken out a lot but haven’t done anything. If we don’t do anything, that really makes us a minority,” she says. “China is kind of defined in Western culture as a brainwashed society: People are totally brainwashed, and we don’t have self-judgment. So we want to use this as an opportunity to clarify this.”

  10. kalenjin shared this story from WIRED.

    The Nerdy Charm of Artisanal, Hand-Drawn Infographics
    Computers? Pah. These designers craft beautiful infographics by hand. The post The Nerdy Charm of Artisanal, Hand-Drawn Infographics appeared first on WIRED.