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Thursday, August 21, 2014

On being Swindled in Burma

Pris Yeo - It's easy to lose yourself in Bagan, along dusty roads...

"It's easy to lose yourself in Bagan, along dusty roads where thousands of pagodas along the huge river stretch as far as the eye can conceive. There's practically no Internet, no connection with the outside world, no politics and no one who seems to care or know what's going on beyond the bubble of the city. Slowly though, you begin to realize how artificial it all is, that every outwardly friendly person only wants something from you, as tourist dollars feeds the beast.

You're ever the outsider, so they stiff you on prices, or give you inferior products, and send the children begging you to buy their goods so they can go to school. Everyone attempts to speak the same few words in French after finding out where you come from, with identical accents, only to badger you to buy a painting or souvenir. Canned answers and speeches attempt to garner your trust and sympathy, only so you pay exorbitant amounts for what amounts to garbage, or end up overcharged after the fact, insisting that they offered you more than what was originally agreed. You are offered the history of the place, only to be guilt-tripped into buying afterward. People pretending to wipe the same spot over and over, just so they can ask for a cleaning donation as you pass. Shameless, shameless pandering, and ever a sense of falseness. In the land full of dusty sand and ancient stupas, garbage covers the streets and fields, plastic and styrofoam are indiscriminately thrown out of windows and blown along the streets. Unsustainable tourism at its worst, and I can't imagine how it'll turn out in 5 years with no intervention.

My iPhone was stolen in a moment of distraction, and the greatest annoyance are the lost photos and inability to communicate with friends. Then I tore my ligament again, coming over a particular bumpy road where the bike heaved and threw me off in protest. A few new scars to show, and no longer guided but the trusty google maps or a clock, we lost sense of time and place. We meandered away from the tourist populated areas, to quiet pagodas, some left to mounds of dust and it's own ruin.

The sunrises and sunsets were amazing, and perhaps the saving grace was a night spent on top of an unguarded pagoda, the Milky Way slowly blinking into view as we made new friends and drank and smoked and laughed about all kinds of weird adventures along the way. Our guesthouse was another bright spot, manned by the most lovely genuine ladies that we'd met, so different from all the artificial smiles and manufactured sad faces.

Naturally, the night we leave was the one where the sky decided to paint a show, and we had to miss it to catch our transport. Perhaps we should have miss edit anyway. The bus ride back to Yangon was a new kind of horrifying, ear splitting pop-techno songs played at full volume, only interspersed by screeching soap dramas. The road was so bumpy, three locals even sicked up, one unfortunately just right next to us. All I felt when the plane left and touched down in Bangkok is relief.

Myanmar, I'm glad to be out in one piece, but if I ever see you again, it'll probably be too soon."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Links - 19th August 2014

Arab leaders, viewing Hamas as worse than Israel, stay silent - "After the military ouster of the Islamist government in Cairo last year, Egypt has led a new coalition of Arab states — including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan — that has effectively lined up with Israel in its fight against Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip. That, in turn, may have contributed to the failure of the antagonists to reach a negotiated ceasefire even after more than three weeks of bloodshed. "The Arab states' loathing and fear of political Islam is so strong that it outweighs their allergy to Benjamin Netanyahu," the prime minister of Israel, said Aaron David Miller, a scholar at the Wilson Center in Washington and a former Middle East negotiator under several presidents. "I have never seen a situation like it, where you have so many Arab states acquiescing in the death and destruction in Gaza and the pummeling of Hamas. The silence is deafening."

Gaza: Palestinian Rockets Unlawfully Targeted Israeli Civilians | Human Rights Watch - "“Palestinian armed groups made clear in their statements that harming civilians was their aim,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “There is simply no legal justification for launching rockets at populated areas”... Human Rights Watch has repeatedly condemned indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli population centers, as well as Hamas' failure to hold anyone accountable for those attacks"

Trivia Quiz Proves Liberals Smug, Anti-American - "Only 71% of the readers of the New Yorker or The Atlantic could name the House majority party or the Secretary of State. So who scores highest? Viewers of conservative shouting head Sean Hannity on Fox News and radio host Rush Limbaugh. The only question the liberals got right more often? The name of the leader of one of those foreign countries."

Complex cab fares enough to drive you crazy - "There are some 30 types of cabs in Singapore, in at least eight different colours, across seven brands. If that is not enough to make commuters dizzy, there are close to 10 different flagdown fares, three different metered fare structures, more than 10 different types of surcharges, and eight types of phone booking charges. Mix and match each of these types of charges to the various types of taxis and you will get combinations that rival the Rubik's Cube in complexity. Marketing professional and regular taxi customer Lau Sau Kuen probably echoed the sentiment of other commuters when she said: "It's terrible we have so many types of cabs and so many different rates. I don't know the rates any more. Just as I don't know the different surcharges any more. I'm resigned to paying whatever the cabby tells me to at the end of a ride." And if locals like Ms Lau find it confusing, what chance do visitors have? It does not help one bit that operators are now allowed to adjust fares at will. So, even if you managed to memorise the dizzying permutations of fares, you would need to be eagle-eyed to spot the perpetual changes... With about 28,000 taxis on the road, Singapore has a higher cab-to-resident ratio than most developed cities. Despite that, frequent complaints of "can't get a cab when you need one" recur. To be fair, it would be tough to get a cab anywhere in the world sometimes, such as on Saturday nights and rainy days. But macro figures suggest that taxi usage here is less than optimal. Hong Kong's 18,000 taxis make about one million trips per day. Singapore's 28,000 cabs do slightly under a million trips. On fares, Hong Kong also seems to have a more efficient system. Its cab fares are government-regulated. The market is tightly controlled too, with no new taxi licence issued since 1994. Taxis are instantly recognisable, with three basic colour schemes (red being the most prevalent). The fare structure is a lot less complex. The flagdown rate is a uniform HK$20 (S$3.20), with every 200m or one minute of waiting time charged at HK$1.50. Surcharges are few and low. For instance, phone booking is HK$5 (S$0.80), but many taxi operators will waive this. A 10km cab ride in Hong Kong costs slightly more than a ride in a normal taxi in Singapore without surcharges and booking. But with surcharges or booking, the ride here costs more - with one in a newer or fancier cab being even more expensive. Costs aside, commuters in Hong Kong seem better served than those in Singapore, as many visitors will attest."

Singapore has more taxis (absolute number and per capita) than Hong Kong. So why is it easier to get a cab in Hong Kong than Singapore? - Quora - "while HK on paper has a lower population density than Singapore, the hub density is far higher (fewer people living on HK's islands and in the New territories). With property prices at these hubs sky high, the investment in transport analysis before new complexes are built is astonishing. Companies like Arup and Swire Properties invest millions into carefully forecasting the footfall, walking times and usage of these hubs to maximise convenience and the ROI on their investments. While taxi ranks are built in the right places, they also want to ensure the reliance on taxis is reduced by providing a selection of viable alternatives."
"Total cost of owning a taxi (ie. the car itself PLUS the taxi license) is so high in HK ($MM), so majority of the cars are running on the road 7/24 daily so to get a chance to make a profit out of the car's operating life."
"2. There are more people in Hong Kong than in Singapore, and they are more densely packed
3. HKG, and the places people go to in HKG are closer together than they are in Singapore"

2,300-year-old false tooth discovered inside an Iron Age skeleton in France - "Scientists believe the iron spike was pounded into the pulp canal of nerves and blood vessels to make sure it stayed in place. The procedure would have been excruciating had the lady been alive when it was performed. Iron corrodes inside the body, and one theory is that the lack of sterile conditions may have led to an infection that ended the young lady’s life. Another possible scenario is that the dental implant was fitted after her death for aesthetic reasons. In the journal Antiquity, Mr Seguin, along with co-authors from the University of Bordeaux, wrote that the burials ‘convey the image of a social elite concerned about their appearance’. They also note that the date of the burials coincides with a period when the Celtic Gauls were in contact with the Etruscan civilisation of northern Italy, who were known for their dental mastery. The implant is 400 years older than one from another grave in France, found in the 1990s at Essonne... Five thousand-year-old prosthetic teeth used to improve the appearance of the dead have also been found in Egypt and the Near East."

Pornhub study: Anal sex porn ‘more popular in Russia than any other country’ - "It came as Russia was condemned by the veteran campaigner Bob Geldof for its anti-gay laws, which have been used to make it illegal to provide education to children about homosexuality."

Higher education levels linked to increased nearsightedness

The Character Factory - - "Nearly every parent on earth operates on the assumption that character matters a lot to the life outcomes of their children. Nearly every government antipoverty program operates on the assumption that it doesn’t... both orthodox progressive and conservative approaches treat individuals as if they were abstractions — as if they were part of a species of “hollow man” whose destiny is shaped by economic structures alone, and not by character and behavior. It’s easy to understand why policy makers would skirt the issue of character. Nobody wants to be seen blaming the victim... The problem is that policies that ignore character and behavior have produced disappointing results. Social research over the last decade or so has reinforced the point that would have been self-evident in any other era — that if you can’t help people become more resilient, conscientious or prudent, then all the cash transfers in the world will not produce permanent benefits... measures of drive and self-control influence academic achievement roughly as much as cognitive skills. Recent research has also shown that there are very different levels of self-control up and down the income scale. Poorer children grow up with more stress and more disruption, and these disadvantages produce effects on the brain. Researchers often use dull tests to see who can focus attention and stay on task. Children raised in the top income quintile were two-and-a-half times more likely to score well on these tests than students raised in the bottom quintile. But these effects are reversible with the proper experiences."

Paul Rolly: Blogger fired from language school over 'homophonia' - "when the social-media specialist for a private Provo-based English language learning center wrote a blog explaining homophones, he was let go for creating the perception that the school promoted a gay agenda."

Why ice cream sandwiches don’t melt, and why that’s OK - "The latest food panic sweeping the internet is that Walmart’s ice cream sandwiches don’t melt even after 12 hours in the sun. They must be packed with dangerous chemicals, right? Don’t listen to the hype — this is just chemistry in action."

Hold the Phone: A Big-Data Conundrum - - "If the perception that your phone is slower is attributable to the psychological effect of hearing about a new release, it should be there for both Android and Apple phones. A new phone of either kind should make you focus on your existing one. The conspiracy theory, however, should apply only to one platform... Every major iPhone release coincides with a major new operating system release. Though Apple would not comment on the matter, one could speculate — and many have — that a new operating system, optimized for new phones, would slow down older phones. This could also explain the Samsung-iPhone difference: Because only 18 percent of Android users have the latest operating systems on their phones, whereas 90 percent of iPhone users do, any slowdown from a new operating system would be naturally bigger for iPhones.
The important distinction is of intent. In the benign explanation, a slowdown of old phones is not a specific goal, but merely a side effect of optimizing the operating system for newer hardware. Data on search frequency would not allow us to infer intent. No matter how suggestive, this data alone doesn’t allow you to determine conclusively whether my phone is actually slower and, if so, why... we see a big limitation: This data reveals only correlations, not conclusions. We are left with at least two different interpretations of the sudden spike in “iPhone slow” queries, one conspiratorial and one benign. It is tempting to say, “See, this is why big data is useless.” But that is too trite. Correlations are what motivate us to look further. If all that big data does — and it surely does more — is to point out interesting correlations whose fundamental reasons we unpack in other ways, that already has immense value."

How Scarcity Trap Affects Our Thinking, Behavior : NPR - "VEDANTAM: After lots of research, Mullainathan and Shafir have concluded that when you don't have something you desperately need, the feeling of scarcity works like a trap. In a study looking at poor farmers in India, for example, the researchers found that farmers tended to be better planners and thinkers when they were flush with cash. But right before harvest, when they were strapped for cash, Mullainathan says their brains focused only on short-term goals.
MULLAINATHAN: When you have scarcity and it creates a scarcity mindset, it leads you to take certain behaviors which in the short term, help you manage scarcity but in the long term, only make matters worse.
VEDANTAM: Poor farmers, for example, tend to weed their fields less often than wealthy farmers. It's the same with being super busy. The busier Mullainathan got, the harder it became for him to make time to get his car sticker. In fact, there was a short-term reward for not getting the sticker. On each day he didn't get the sticker renewed, he saved a little time to devote to other pressing demands. But each delay made things worse the next day. Scarcity, whether of time or money, tends to focus the mind on immediate challenges. You stretch your budget to make ends meet. People in the grip of scarcity are tightly focused on meeting their urgent needs, but that focus comes at a price. Important things on the periphery get ignored."

Brainstorming Doesn't Work; Try This Technique Instead - "Sharing ideas in groups isn't the problem, it's the "out-loud" part that, ironically, leads to groupthink, instead of unique ideas. "As sexy as brainstorming is, with people popping like champagne with ideas, what actually happens is when one person is talking you're not thinking of your own ideas," Leigh Thompson, a management professor at the Kellogg School, told Fast Company. "Sub-consciously you're already assimilating to my ideas." That process is called "anchoring," and it crushes originality. "Early ideas tend to have disproportionate influence over the rest of the conversation," Loran Nordgren, also a professor at Kellogg, explained. "They establish the kinds of norms, or cement the idea of what are appropriate examples or potential solutions for the problem." Because brainstorming favors the first ideas, it also breeds the least creative ideas, a phenomenon called conformity pressure. People hoping to look smart and productive will blurt out low-hanging fruit first. Everyone else then rallies around that idea both internally and externally. Unfortunately, that takes up time and energy, leaving a lot the best thinking undeveloped. We've all been in meetings like this: Some jerk says the obvious thing before anyone else, taking all of the glory; everyone else harrumphs. Brainstorm session over. To avoid these problems, both Thompson and Nordgren suggest another, quieter process: brainwriting. (The phrase, now used by Thompson, was coined by UT Arlington professor Paul Paulus.) The general principle is that idea generation should exist separate from discussion. Although the two professors have slightly different systems, they both offer the same general solution: write first, talk second."

Leave It to a Laxative Brand to Make the Year's Most Uncomfortable Ad | Adweek

No war an island: Israeli-Palestinian conflict a stage for expression of clashes in Arab world - "It's amazing how much of the discussion of the Gaza war is based on the supposition that it is still 1979. It's based on the supposition that the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is a self-contained struggle being run by the two parties most directly involved. It's based on the supposition that the horror could be ended if only deft negotiators could achieve a "breakthrough" and a path toward a two-state agreement... What's happened, of course, is that the Middle East has begun what Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations has called its 30 Years' War - an overlapping series of clashes and proxy wars that could go on for decades and transform identities, maps and the political contours of the region... In 1979, the Israeli-Palestinian situation was fluid, but the surrounding Arab world was relatively stagnant. Now the surrounding region is a cauldron of convulsive change, while the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a repetitive Groundhog Day. Here's the result: The big regional convulsions are driving events, including the conflict in Gaza. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become just a stage on which the regional clashes in the Arab world are being expressed. When Middle Eastern powers clash, they take shots at Israel to gain advantage over each other... They also closed roughly 95 percent of the tunnels that connected Egypt to Gaza, where the Brotherhood's offshoot, Hamas, had gained power. As intended, the Egyptian move was economically devastating to Hamas. Hamas derived 40 percent of its tax revenue from tariffs on goods that flowed through those tunnels. One economist estimated the economic losses at $460 million a year, nearly a fifth of the Gazan GDP. Hamas needed to end that blockade, but it couldn't strike Egypt, so it struck Israel. If Hamas could emerge as the heroic fighter in a death match against the Jewish state, if Arab TV screens were filled with dead Palestinian civilians, then public outrage would force Egypt to lift the blockade. Civilian casualties were part of the point. When Mousa Abu Marzouk, the deputy chief of the Hamas political bureau, dismissed a plea for a cease-fire, he asked a rhetorical question, "What are 200 martyrs compared with lifting the siege?" The eminent Israeli journalist Avi Issacharoff summarized the strategy in The Times of Israel, "Make no mistake, Hamas remains committed to the destruction of Israel. But Hamas is firing rockets at Tel Aviv and sending terrorists through tunnels into southern Israel while aiming, in essence, at Cairo.""

49 Celebrities And Their Pornstar Doppelgangers (Part 1 of 2) - 9GAG

(More) Death Threats From Christians | Awkward Moments (Not Found In Your Average) Children's Bible - "Of course, many in the religious community will be quick to claim, “He’s obviously not a true Christian” or “He’s obviously mentally ill.” But, isn’t that always what they say the day after the school shooting, the day after a mother kills her child? What about the day before? “He is highly spiritual teen,” or, “She is a wonderful example of a Christian mother.” I wonder what acquaintances of God’s Little Helper would say about his or her faith, knowing nothing of their practices of mailing Biblical death threats to complete strangers – today, tomorrow?"

#BBCtrending: Jeremy Bowen and the Twitter conspiracy - "At the end of July, Bowen wrote a piece in the New Statesman about the ongoing crisis in the region. In the article he said he'd seen "no evidence" that Hamas had used Palestinians as human shields. Some days later he disappeared from our screens, and yesterday a rumour began circulating that the BBC had pulled Bowen out of the country in response to a complaint from Israel... Few spotted Bowen's own explanation, posted on Friday. When asked why he'd stopped tweeting, he replied "because I'm on holiday"."

Will captured Hamas manual on using human shields help Israel block war crimes trials? - "The IDF said that in a section called “Limiting the Use of Weapons” the manual explains that IDF “soldiers and commanders must limit their use of weapons and tactics that lead to the harm and unnecessary loss of people and civilian facilities. It is difficult for them to get the most use out of their firearms, especially of supporting fire”... The manual also shows that Hamas itself believes that the IDF is trying to follow the rules of armed conflict to such an extent that it inculcates in its fighters tactically and concretely how to exploit this to gain certain military advantages. To the extent Hamas would be the complainant before the ICC, the manual could be a powerful part of a general defense supporting Israel’s overall claim to following the laws of armed conflict when a judge has to decide to believe Israel about whether Shejaia civilians were killed by mistake or deliberately."

QLRS - Criticism : Indecent Exposure | Vol. 13 No. 3 Jul 2014 - "Evidently, Jolene Tan is reasonably well-read, but there is a huge difference between having read hundreds of millions of words and having actually worked through writing those first million words. Consequently, the accident investigation of the novel that is A Certain Exposure faces the difficulty of deciding where to start: the flaps were up, the rudder pedal had been applied, and the plane began too far up the runway. What didn't go wrong?... there remains a suspicion that the characters are smugly navel-gazing on behalf of the author... So, if the language isn't great and the style is clumsy and there's no story to speak of, what would anyone read A Certain Exposure for? Without putting too fine a point on it, I suppose there might be an audience that enjoys being moralised to, or perhaps that believes it is already on the right moral high horse. How many issues can a writer cram into one novel? Let's do a count: there's the racism issue, the elitism issue, the capitalism issue, the Christian issue, the teenage intimacy issue, the rape issue, the bullying issue, the misogynist issue and, for good measure, both the gay and lesbian issues. Chia Thye Poh is namechecked, along with Vincent Cheng and the Marxist conspiracy (by one of the novel's teenagers, no less). Tan clearly disapproves of many of the positions taken up by her characters on these issues and wishes to satirise them, but if it is possible to stereotype characters, it's as easily possible to stereotype issues, and the upshot is that many of these come across as so dull ("And then, of course, the newspaper cuttings…") as to be not worth attention. Overall, this makes the novel feel like an attempt to assert left-wing liberal credentials for the sake of being left-wing and liberal, not because of having anything urgent or original to say. "Sometimes people are their own worst enemies", says one of the civil servants in an especially bad set piece. Indeed: this has gone beyond preaching to the converted to the point of preaching to inadvertently unconvert the converted — it made this Guardian reader feel a little queasy, only stopping from reaching for a copy of the Times of London by wondering if the novel is quintessentially Singaporean because of that Singaporean inability to get the chip off the shoulder. "

"Slut" Is The Swedish Word For "End", So This Happened

7 Swedish words that English speakers shouldn’t be confused about - "One of the funniest situations is when you take the bus or train for the first time in Sweden and see this word “Slutstation”"

Giant anteaters kill two hunters in Brazil

How the Ottoman delusions of 1914 shaped the modern Middle East - "Dating the problems of the Middle East from 1918 is to start the story’s clock running too late. One hundred years after the first of 770,000 Ottoman troops and as many as 2.5 million of the empire’s civilians lost their lives in the First World War, it is worth remembering that, as cynical architects of their own downfall, the Turkish leadership was complicit in the calamitous map-making that followed."

The Amazing, Untrue Story Of A Sept. 11 Survivor : NPR - "Tania Head had one of the most tragic and inspiring stories to come out of the Sept. 11 attacks... Head became the face of the Sept. 11 survivors movement, telling her story to the media and to tour groups at ground zero. There was just one problem: Not a word of it was true."

The changing combat rules of engagement: What is one American life worth? - "To the American people an American military life is worth far more than the life of an Afghan soldier or civilian. For the current occupants of the White House and the Administration’s staff it seems to be just the opposite. It appears that to them Afghan civilian’s lives are more highly valued than American soldier’s lives, though this could never be publicly voiced in the politically correct game of semantics that combat commanders are forced to play these days... An Afghanistan soldier walks into an American headquarters. One of the American officers doesn’t like the Afghan’s looks and starts to draw his weapon. The senior American officer present says, “You know the new rules of engagement; put your gun away. We are to trust members of the Afghani military unless they draw a weapon or show other signs of overt hostility.” The American officer returns his weapon to its holster. The Afghani soldier smiles, draws his pistol and shoots both Americans dead... Saving his own life and the life of his men is more important than saving the life of a civilian who may later turn out to be an enemy; such is the carnage of war. To the best of my knowledge the military’s newly weakened, politically correct rules of engagement were introduced during the Iraq War. Since then U. S. casualties have more than doubled... Starting with the war in Vietnam, America’s rules of engagement have been slowly changing from doing whatever it takes to win; toward soft rules of engagement such as trying to be politically correct at all times, even if it unnecessarily costs American lives. These soft new rules inevitably get our soldiers killed. If the situation is such that a U.S. Commander is forced to disobey these new rules of engagement and replace them with common sense rules, he will be court martialed, imprisoned, drummed out of the service, or all of the above."

On Marco Polo bringing back pasta from China

"Dried pasta, the kinds made with durum wheat, is found in Italy from about A.D. 800. It was, in fact, the Muslim occupiers of Sicily who spread the manufacturing and drying technique. By the twelfth century, pasta produced in Sicily and Sardinia was being exported to mainland Italian territory and northern Europe, where it was marketed by the powerful maritime republics of Genoa and Pisa. Documents exist to prove this, should there be anyone left—and it appears that there is—who still believes that Marco Polo introduced noodles into Italy in 1296 on his return to Venice from China. In reality, by that time, people throughout Italy had been eating pasta for at least a century. Marco Polo does relate an encounter with the Chinese noodle and uses the word pasta to describe it, clearly being already familiar with both term and concept. The notion that spaghetti began in the Far East seems to have originated as recently as 1938, in Minneapolis, as a marketing gimmick in an article by one L. B. Maxwell in the trade publication Macaroni Journal."

--- Encyclopedia of Pasta / Oretta Zanini De Vita

History Of Pasta

"Pasta is an ancient food—not so ancient that it predates written records, but no one was taking notes when this popular food first came onto the scene. Scholars credit the Chinese with making pasta from rice flour as early as 1700 B.C.E. The pasta-centric Italians believe pasta dates back to the ancient Etruscans, who inhabited the Etruria region of Italy (the central western portion of Italy, what now are Tuscany, Latium and Umbria) from the Iron Age into Roman times (from the 11th century B.C.E. to the 1st century B.C.E.). Around 400 B.C.E., they began to prepare a lasagna-type noodle made of spelt. The Romans who followed made lagane, a kind of lasagna, from a dough of water and flour. However, both the Etruscans and the Romans baked their noodles in an oven, so boiled pasta had yet to be born in Italy.

According to the American historian Charles Perry, who has written several articles on the origins of pasta, the first clear Western reference to boiled noodles, is in the Jerusalem Talmud of the 5th century C.E. Written in Aramaic, it used the word itriyah. By the 10th century, itriyah in many Arabic sources referred to dried noodles bought from a vendor, as opposed to fresh ones made at home. Other Arabic sources of the time refer to fresh noodles as lakhsha.

Credit for the invention of boiled pasta is given to the Arabs. Traders from Arabia packed dried pasta on long journeys over the famed “Silk Road” to China. They carried it to Sicily during the Arab invasions of the 8th century."

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Links - 14th August 2014

Logo design: SG Tipsy Trivia | just random designs - "SG Tipsy Trivia is Singapore’s only regular Singapore-themed pub quiz, voted by TimeOut Singapore as the Best Pub Quiz for Local Trivia. They meet every last Thursday of the month, and are a roving event, so each pub quiz is held in a different location.
I was approached to design a clean logo that reflects the pub quiz’s equal parts of booze, brains and hipsterness."

The book rustlers of Timbuktu: how Mali's ancient manuscripts were saved

Richard Dawkins, what on earth happened to you? | Eleanor Robertson | Comment is free | - "Dawkins has been arrogant for years, a man so convinced of his intellectual superiority that he believes the one domain in which he happens to be an expert, science, is the only legitimate way of acquiring or assessing knowledge... Dawkins’ narrowmindedness, his unshakeable belief that the entire history of human intellectual achievement was just a prelude to the codification of scientific inquiry, leads him to dismiss the insights offered not only by theology, but philosophy, history and art as well. "
Comments: "The anger Dawkins' comment provokes just shows how much we still expect to be able to argue and protest things on emotion and insistence alone (when reason really is a better approach to most things)"
"He was good friends with Douglas Adams and married an actress. I think it's doing him a slight disservice to say that he believes "the humanities are expendable window dressing". The man loves to flog a dead horse, but this journalist is clearly determined to attack him for any imagined thing."
"A lot of the attitudes Ms Robertson assigns to Mr Dawkins have never been expressed by him. Therefore either she is, herself, psychic or her conclusions result from misunderstanding as John suggested. No need to read minds to come to that conclusion."
"But he has dared to disagree with the Highest Dogma of Feminism and must therefore be castigated and outlawed."
"This article should have been better titled: 'I Hate Richard Dawkins: My Feeble Attempt to Gain Notoriety By Attacking Someone More Famous Than Me.'"
"So the author decides to write an article about Dawkins' tweets and then refuses to actually engage in any critique of tweets themselves but instead continues with a long winded, poorly though-out personal attack.
And to top it off she takes to Twitter to tweet "your a dick" (her misspelling, not mine) at Richard Dawkins.
Anyways, I think I will go eat a bag of scrabble tiles because whatever is excreted will make for more pleasant reading."

Man jailed 30 months for underage sex with teen - "He told her that he had a girlfriend and practised polyamory - the philosophy of being romantically involved with multiple individuals at the same time. He also told her that he had a fetish for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism, and encouraged the girl, then a virgin, to read up on this group of erotic practices, called BDSM in short. She complied. The girl turned up at his home on Aug 1, 2012 when he had sex with her for the first time. He also had kinky sex with her by slapping her face and buttocks a number of times and choking her lightly... She agreed with the prosecution that Chee had morally corrupted the girl."
BDSM is morally corrupt in Singapore

20 Honest Slogans Reveal The Truth About World’s Biggest Brands - 9GAG

Mississauga moves to cut off 'vexatious' complainers - "“I get five calls a day from one individual — that’s a record”... “I had a resident call me once and tell me not to let a rooster (in a nearby farm) wake them up at 5 a.m. “To the resident making the complaint, it is very valid. It’s very delicate. The resident has to feel that I’m going to listen to their issues.” But like other councillors, Saito says that too often, residents just won’t accept the answer they’re given. “It starts to become frivolous. It can use a tremendous amount of staff time. My staff are on the phone for hours, we do site visits, but they keep coming back on exactly the same issue.” She said often a resident’s issue is actually a private dispute with a neighbour."
Taxpayers love to waste taxpayers' money

Justin Cremer's answer to Relationship Advice: I have to pick between my girlfriend, whom I absolutely love, and my dream job, which pays five times as much as I currently make. What do I do? - Quora - "I had this choice once. I chose the girl.
It is the only regret I have in my life.
The job was on a NASCAR pit crew.
The girl is long-gone. As was the NASCAR opportunity by the time that was sorted out.
The most important thing that stands out to me from here, now, is "why did I perceive these to be mutually exclusive choices?" That was a false problem. If she really loved me, the job wouldn't have stood in the way. We could have worked it out together."

Could you give up sex for a year? This man did - "His flatmate bet $2,000 (£1,100) that Lynagh - who had slept with 20 women the previous year and was known to friends as “Ireland’s horniest export” - would not be able to see out this period of celibacy... According to the rules drawn up by Lynagh and his flatmate, he would be allowed to kiss women but all further physical contact was banned. Lynagh almost lapsed two months in with a woman he had been seeing. He said the experience was “frustrating for both of [them]” and he decided they should stop dating. Instead he channelled his energy into Free to Shine, the charity that would receive the proceeds of the bet, which aims to bring young Cambodian girls out of the sex trade and into schools... Since winning the bet earlier in the year, Lynagh has started a relationship with a woman he met through his fundraising page."

Man Sends Wife Spreadsheet of All Her Excuses For Avoiding Sex - "A husband emailed his wife a spreadsheet of all the reasons that she gave for not having sex with him over the last seven weeks. According to the relatively young husband (26 years-old), he only had sex with his wife (also 26) three times out of 27 asks over that time period."

Exposing militant leftist propaganda - "In a story headlined "Israeli Politician Declares War on the Palestinian People," Resnick actually suggested I compared Palestinian children to “little snakes,” and accused me of fomenting Palestinian genocide. This vilification was later picked up by several bloggers and reporters, all of whom were convinced of this frightening notion, without even a scrap of fact or truth. Let's start with my July 1 Facebook post. It was written some 12 years ago, but never published, by a dear man, the recently departed journalist Uri Elitzur. The gist of his article was that once one side in a war attacks the other side's civilians, they can no longer morally claim a special status for their own civilians. Go ahead, ask a Hebrew speaking friend to translate it for you, they'll confirm this is what my Facebook post was about. But you'll find not a trace of that in Resnick's account. Perhaps it's his own ignorance of the Hebrew language. After all, he got the text from Electronic Intifada, a website dedicated to daily and hourly vilification of my country. All Resnick had to do to make Elitzur's sober, legally minded discussion sound like a speech made by Hitler himself, was to cherry pick words out of context. A call for the indiscriminate killing of children is a terrible thing. But what if the statement was that any time you kill our children, you're exposing your own children to the same fate? Still unsettling, but rational when you consider that they purposely use their kids as human shields. It's not a call for indiscriminate murder. And then Resnick turned to character assassination. He cited an attack on me by Haaretz. They said I was “representative of an ideology unembarrassed by its racism.” Haaretz, unfortunately, may look like The New York Times, but it is far from being a liberal, curious newspaper in the Anglo Saxon tradition. Expecting Haaretz to write about a political opponent like myself in an honest, informative—if critical—manner, is a little like expecting Gideon Resnick to offer an unbiased, honest citation from a pro-Zionist post. And so, when Haaretz, read by a mere 30,000 Israelis, give or take, says I'm racist – I'd look for a more reliable source."

Chinese shopping mall provides bigger parking spaces for female drivers - "Some women think the move is offensive, while others think it is helpful. “I think this is very convenient. Other parking spaces are too narrow,” said Yong Mei, who took advantage of the new spaces. Mei added that the new parking spaces weren’t “gender biased," but went on to say that “women have a few issues with vision when parking”... The driving spots were created after women found parking in the standard slots difficult."
I'm sure the women who enjoy the larger spaces are upset with the feminists

When Do Chefs And Doctors Buy Generic? - "When it comes to food, chefs buy generics for baking (baking soda, brown sugar baking mix) much more often than the general public. Also, interestingly, tea. But chefs buy name-brand yogurt, cereal and ice cream more often than the rest of us. Maybe that fancy ice cream really is worth the extra money. Doctors and pharmacists buy generic pain medicine more often than laypeople do. But they're much less likely than the rest of us to buy generic Alka-Seltzer. Is there something we should know about generic Alka-Seltzer?"

Bistro cat feeder and health monitor identifies cats using facial recognition
How to prevent one cat bullying the others

Promoting fist bumps could deal a blow to infectious disease, study says - "fist bumps, where two people briefly press the top of their closed fists together, transferred about 90 per cent fewer bacteria than handshakes... High-five slaps transferred about half the amount of bacteria as shaking hands."

Why Hoboken is Throwing Away All of its Student Laptops - "It began five years ago with an unexpected windfall of stimulus money from Washington, D.C., and good intentions to help the district’s students, the majority of whom are under or near the poverty line, keep up with their wealthier peers. But Hoboken faced problem after problem and is abandoning the laptops entirely this summer. “We had the money to buy them, but maybe not the best implementation,” said Mark Toback, the current superintendent of Hoboken School District. “It became unsustainable.” None of the school administrators who initiated Hoboken’s one-to-one laptop program still work there... Screens cracked. Batteries died. Keys popped off. Viruses attacked. Crocamo found that teenagers with laptops are still… teenagers. “We bought laptops that had reinforced hard-shell cases so that we could try to offset some of the damage these kids were going to do,” said Crocamo. “I was pretty impressed with some of the damage they did anyway. Some of the laptops would come back to us completely destroyed”... “There is no more determined hacker, so to speak, than a 12-year-old who has a computer,” said Crocamo. All this security software also bogged down the computers. Teachers complained it took 20 minutes for them to boot up, only to crash afterwards. Often, there was too little memory left on the small netbooks to run the educational software... The $500 laptops lasted only two years and then needed to be replaced. New laptops with more capacity for running educational software would cost $1,000 each, Toback said. Additionally, licenses for the security software alone were running more than $100,000 and needed to be renewed every two years. And the final kicker: the whole town was jamming the high school’s wireless network. “A lot of people knew the username and password”"

Srini Kasturi's answer to Begging: Should you or should you not give alms to a beggar? - Quora - "Anyone who is approaching this question as a moral one has no clue about begging in India. Especially anyone who thinks beggars aren't hard working is patently wrong and ignorant. Begging is a profession with a career just like any other. Begging is usually an organised industry with begging spots territorially marked across gangs. Have you never wondered why all beggars don't crowd to the same lucrative high traffic begging spots? Because begging spots are bid and paid for."

The divided culture of the Deaf - "Outrage in the deaf community over comments made by Dr Dimity Dornan, Queensland's Business Woman of the Year, has prompted Simon J. Green to dig a little deeper into deaf culture, and ask why not everyone wants their disability cured. "It [deafness] is a scourge in our world but it can be almost completely eradicated..."... I have cystic fibrosis, a chronic genetic disease. I'd love a cure for CF, so when I read the angry backlash against Dr Dimity Dornan, who'd just won the Queensland Telstra Business Woman of the Year Award for her work with deaf children, I was surprised and confused. Why were sections of the deaf community railing against this woman?... It's fair to say that, overall, the disability sector is striving towards two things: seeking cures and solutions to the afflictions within their fold, and raising awareness, acceptance and support for those affected - cures and advocacy. The desire to keep afflictions and shun cures, to not even see a disability as a disability, but rather just another way to be, seemed unique to the deafness community... Perplexed, I turned to Moncia Lay, genetic counsellor at Cystic Fibrosis Victoria. She hadn't really heard of these attitudes elsewhere. Ms Lay suggested that in cases of chronic illness like CF, which can lead to death as a direct result, or something that can affect intellectual ability like cerebral palsy, the instability and severity of the disability meant a cure was actively sought. These problems affect the family and community, whereas deafness can result in a full-length life, with satisfying communication among family members. She'd heard of deaf people told, "You can find a cure for deafness, when they don't think they need to be cured from it because they don't think it's a problem." The key points of the deaf community that advocate this non-disability perspective, or the culturally deaf, is that they have a unique language (AUSLAN, or Australian sign language), activities, support and culture. They aren't a disability like cystic fibrosis. They are a culture, like being Aboriginal or Texan or Jewish. This is reflected in the language being used: genocide, eradication... If deafness is not a disability, but a cultural marker, what happens to how we've traditionally looked at deafness? Is restoring hearing akin to changing religion? Should deaf societies be removed from the disability sector and placed elsewhere? Why is deafness a cultural marker, but cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy or blindness not? As a CF patient, should I feel guilt for wanting to be rid of my unique element?"

No, I wasn't abused by priest, says Vincent - "Dr Wijeysingha, 44, first made public the "sorry incident" in a Facebook post on June 23. In it, he had referred to a priest "who would engage me in play wrestling and attempt to touch my crotch in the process". He also claimed that the priest took a stack of pornographic magazines from his wardrobe in his bedroom to show him. However, in his latest post on the issue on Saturday, Dr Wijeysingha, Singapore's first openly gay politician, said: "It was an attempt without any conclusion and therefore I consider myself neither to have been abused nor damaged subsequently." Referring to the incident as an alleged molestation attempt, the Church had suggested that Dr Wijeysingha either report to the police or to the Catholic Archdiocese Professional Standards Office (PSO)... Associate Professor Eugene Tan from Singapore Management University said Dr Wijeysingha's allegations, and then his reluctance to follow up on them, make it difficult for people to take him seriously. "For him now to effectively avoid the matter damages his standing and his credibility," he said. He added that Dr Wijeysingha should be well aware of the serious allegations he made against a respected institution, and that he owes the Church an apology."

Christians Who Watch 'Game of Thrones,' Nudity Are 'Recrucifying Christ,' Says John Piper - "For all the believers who view nudity in entertainment, Piper asks, "Am I recrucifying Christ?" "Christ died to purify his people. It is an absolute travesty of the cross to treat it as though Jesus died only to forgive us for the sin of watching nudity, and not to purify us for the power not to watch it," he states. The Reformed theologian and author also calls on believers to ask themselves "do I care about the souls of the nudes?"... "When will I tear out my eye, if not now?" Piper asks. Seeing a naked person causes one to sin with their minds and their desires and often with their bodies, he says, pointing to the New Testament verse on tearing out one's eye if it causes one to sin."

Dangerous Liaison: Sexually Transmitted Allergic Reaction to Brazil Nuts. Issue 3, Vol 17, 2007. JIACI - Journal of Investigational Allergology and Clinical Immunology - "Brazil nuts are the second most frequent cause of nut allergy in the United Kingdom. We report the case of a 20-year-old woman with documented Brazil nut allergy who developed widespread urticaria and mild dyspnea after intercourse with her boyfriend who had earlier consumed Brazil nuts. Skin prick testing with the boyfriend’s semen after Brazil nut consumption confirmed signifi ant reactivity whereas a sample before nut consumption was negative. We believe this to be the first case of a sexually transmitted allergic reaction."

The Global Divide on Homosexuality | Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project - ""In the Asia/Pacific region, where views of homosexuality are mostly negative... 54% in Japan agree [that homosexuality should be accepted by society]... Elsewhere, majorities in... China (57%) also say homosexuality should not be accepted by society [and 21%] say it should be accepted... Russia receives low scores on the religiosity scale, which would suggest higher levels of tolerance for homosexuality. Yet, just 16% of Russians say homosexuality should be accepted by society. Conversely, Brazilians and Filipinos are considerably more tolerant of homosexuality than their countries’ relatively high levels of religiosity would suggest."
Attributing all opposition to homosexuality to Abrahamic religious conservatism is widely off the mark

NSW judge Garry Neilson suspended from criminal cases over incest remarks - "The NSW attorney general, Brad Hazzard, referred Neilson to the commission earlier on Friday and called for him to be removed from overseeing any criminal trials... Neilson's comments this week about the taboo falling away from incest sparked outrage. He reportedly said the community might no longer see sexual contact between siblings as "unnatural" or "taboo", just as homosexuality is now widely accepted. "A jury might find nothing untoward in the advance of a brother towards his sister once she had sexually matured, had sexual relationships with other men and was now available, not having [a] sexual partner" he was reported as saying by Fairfax media. He said the only reason incest was still a crime was because of the high risk of genetic abnormalities in children born from consanguineous relationships. "In my view the community would be rightly appalled at his reported comments," Hazzard said in a statement. "Incest is completely reprehensible, unacceptable, disgusting and criminal." Neilson's comments outraged child protection advocates. Dr Cathy Kezelman, president of adults surviving child abuse, said his comments were archaic and "beyond belief"... Hetty Johnston, from child protection group Bravehearts, called for the judge to step down from the bench for his "ludicrous and obscene remarks"."
Maybe 100 years ago homosexuality would've been "completely reprehensible, unacceptable, disgusting and criminal". And isn't it progressive rather than archaic to recognise that there's nothing wrong with incest?

The Palestinian Textbook Fiasco | The Tower - "The report is not only flawed, but also dishonest. It systematically exaggerates the faults in Israeli textbooks and downplays those found in the Palestinians’. Its methodology tends to distort the raw data rather than analyze it, usually to the detriment of the Israeli education system. Put simply, it makes every possible effort to create the impression that Israeli and Palestinian attitudes toward each other are the same, even when this is demonstrably untrue—according to the study’s own research data. It is no surprise that the State Department, which funded the study in its early phases, has endorsed neither the composition of the committee nor the report’s findings... Victims of Our Own Narratives? they claim, simply ignores passages from Palestinian textbooks that are breathtaking in the danger they represent in an educational context... the authors not only ignore passages from Palestinian textbooks that are hostile toward “the other,” they ignore cases of outright anti-Semitism, hatred, and incitement to violence... while the report places such importance on the Haredi system, it also completely ignores the Hamas-run school system in Gaza... One of the main findings of the report is, indeed, that Israel’s state school system textbooks are in fact less problematic than Palestinian texts... “the other” is portrayed in positive or neutral terms in 51 percent of Israeli textbooks, but only 16 percent of Palestinian textbooks. “The other” is portrayed in negative terms in 49 percent of Israeli textbooks, but a stunning 84 percent of Palestinian texts... the examples taken from Israeli textbooks deal with concrete actions taken by the modern State of Israel in the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In contrast, the Palestinian text deals with actions taken approximately 1,300 years ago by a Muslim ruler who was not a Palestinian. (Omar hailed from Mecca.) It’s impossible to see how this is related in any way to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, let alone the Palestinians’ portrayal of their own society. Indeed, the reader can be forgiven for thinking that, if better examples had been found, they would have been cited instead. And if this is the best the Palestinian education system can do, one would think the authors of the report would note it. But they don’t... When one puts the media hype aside and examines the Victims study in full, one almost gets the feeling that the authors didn’t read their own report. In the face of overwhelming data, collected by the authors themselves, the report reaches the baffling conclusion that both sides embrace “unilateral and exclusive national narratives” and that “both Israeli and Palestinian school books forcefully and consistently establish distinct unilateral and opposing narratives.” Throughout, they claim, the textbooks show “a lack of recognition of the presence and absence of information about the other.” Contradicted by report’s own data, these conclusions are simply unsupportable."
Kumbaya ("we are all equally responsible and equally virtuous") doesn't gel with reality

Arlington National Cemetery and Yasukuni - "Not every soldier is a war criminal. Some are lucky enough to live in times of peace. Others are unlucky enough to be ordered to commit war crimes. But in addition to committing war crimes under orders of Class A war criminals (typically political leaders), some soldiers commit war crimes despite explicit orders against doing so. Such individual war crimes typically are killing civilians and killing prisoners of war. The traditional don't ask, don't tell policy about these extra-legal killings means almost anyone buried at Arlington could be a war criminal... As to the atrocities of the Philippines, several soldiers directly connected to them are buried at Arlington (and given the genocidal nature of the conflict, probably most U.S. soldiers who served there were complicit or participants in war crimes). We have the leader, General Arthur MacArthur himself, in grave 856-A, Section 2. Colonel William Henry Bisbee, who was told not to report his destruction of civilians to his superiors, lies in grave 1872, Section 3. Edwin Glenn, convicted by a courts martial of torturing civilians, suspended from duty for one month, and fined $50, lies in 3103-ES"

'Disgusting!,' Cry Legal Experts: Is This The Lowest A Top U.S. Law Firm Has Ever Stooped? - "In what is surely one of the most controversial civil suits ever filed in the United States, the Los Angeles office of Chicago-based Mayer Brown is trying to prove that the so-called comfort women – the sex slaves used by the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II – were no more than common prostitutes. The suit has been filed on behalf of two Japanese-Americans, Michiko Shiota Gingery and Koichi Mera, plus a corporation called GAHT-US (a bizarre entity whose involvement must be a particular embarrassment to any decent person at Mayer Brown – more about this in a moment). At the center of the controversy is a Korean-funded memorial to the comfort women which was recently established in a park in Glendale, California. The suit suggests that the above named Japanese-Americans will suffer “irreparable injury” from “feelings of exclusion, discomfort, and anger” if the memorial is not remove"
The politics of identity and offence strike again

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

No means no. Maybe means no.

To help solve the issue of rape should there be a legally defined consent standard? - Quora

California Debates 'yes Means Yes' Sex Assault Law

California is considering making it mandatory for colleges and universities that receive public funding to set a standard that defines clearly what consent is; this standard is to help when investigating rape cases on campus.

My answer:


Consent is nebulous and contested and trying to micromanage it legally is not wise.

Currently most US states require proof of force or a threat of force (California Debates 'Yes Means Yes' Sex Assault Law) - which is at least reasonably objective. Requiring panels to judge consent through "vague cues and body language will open the door for more lawsuits".

Another issue is that consent is not a straightforward state. Besides yes and no there is also... maybe. This intermediate state (or, perhaps, spectrum of states) is often ignored (III. Wanting and Not Wanting Sex: The Missing Discourse of Ambivalence). Sometimes women aren't enthusiastic about sex until it has already started (Why women go off sex: What happened when 100 couples kept a candid diary about their bedroom antics) - mandating that an unequivocal yes be necessary for sex to begin would make many people sadder.

Even if one is committed to the stance that only yes should mean yes, one might shift from yes to maybe to no (or vice versa, or any combination thereof). Not just once, but multiple times during a session of sexual activity. Would one therefore have to initiate sex, pause, then re-initiate it? This is a recipe for severe awkwardness and broken rhythmns.

Yet another problem is that the requirement for a "affirmative consent standard" flies in the face of what people actually do (Sexual Consent in Heterosexual Relationships: Attitudes and Behaviours of University Students): different people have different understands of what signifies consent (the only thing people agree on is that no means no). If you believe that your partner is affirmatively consenting and have sex but your partner thinks he is being neutral or ambivalent, are you guilty of rape? Indeed, an "affirmative consent standard" might worsen the problem of rape: as we saw earlier, today people agree that no means no - however if tomorrow some people think that maybe means no, then there's going to be more miscommunication; in order for no to really mean no, only no should mean no - eliding maybe into no weakens the force of a no.

An "affirmative consent standard" would also worsen people's sex lives. As perthe previously mentioned study, 65% of respondents believed that "verbally asking for sexual consent" (necessary to protect oneself from a charge of rape) was "awkward" and significantly, those who had had sex were more negative about the necessity of formally obtaining verbal consent than virgins, presumably as they knew how things worked and saw how it'd hinder the sexual experience.

Furthermore, the text of the draft bill (SB-967 Student safety: sexual assault.), as of 13th August suggests that one needs "an affirmative consent standard" which is "affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity". Since this "affirmative consent" has to be "ongoing" and "can be revoked at any time", both parties presumably have to continually monitor the other for signs of "ongoing" consent instead of concentrating on getting it on. If the other party goes silent (contemplating his credit card bill, perhaps, or maybe just tired - or even enjoying the action in silence), one would presumably have to stop. At least if someone says no, at least that is a somewhat objective sign that there is a withdrawal of consent. Having to anxiously monitor one's partner continuously for signs of ongoing consent is not just un-sexy - it is also very tiring (and potentially dangerous if one misinterprets signs).

In addition, consent is not valid, among other reasons, if the other party is "incapacitated due to the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medication, so that the complainant could not understand the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual activity".

So if both parties are drunk, technically both are raping each other.

In reality, of course, if this is a heterosexual sexual encounter the man will be the one accused of rape.

Given that a not-insignificant number of sexual encounters take place due to alcohol (or, indeed, drugs), this risks opening up a minefield of legal confusion and lawsuits.

In conclusion, this is a disturbing step towards governmental regulation of the bedrooom and individual's sex lives - which is also unnecessary; a better solution to the issue of rape would be to stick to no meaning no (even if no sometimes means yes: Do women sometimes say no when they mean ... [J Pers Soc Psychol. 1988])  and educating everyone about the need to communicate and respect rejection of sexual activity (i.e. no-s).

One of the measures of social progress has been the human individual's increased autonomy in choosing his or her own partner based on personal preferences as against the claims of family, property, and convention. Seen in this light, the attempt to legislate 'communicative sex' as the new norm for legal consent, like the attempt to closely regulate sexual relations in school and workplace, is a throwback to the days of excessive state regulation of the private sphere, the days that gave us prohibitions against interracial marriage and sodomy. It is but one more step into the past, now brought to us by feminism as it claims to be leading us into a better future.

Heterophobia: Sexual Harassment and the Future of Feminism / Daphne Patai

A form one should sign every 3 minutes when having sex


California Debates 'yes Means Yes' Sex Assault Law

""It seems extremely difficult and extraordinarily intrusive to micromanage sex so closely as to tell young people what steps they must take in the privacy of their own dorm rooms," the newspaper said. Some fear navigating the murky waters of consent spells trouble for universities. "Frequently these cases involve two individuals, both of whom maybe were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and it can be very tricky to ascertain whether consent was obtained," said Ada Meloy, general counsel of the American Council on Education, which represents college presidents... John F. Banzhaf III, a George Washington University's Law School professor, believes having university disciplinary panels interpret vague cues and body language will open the door for more lawsuits. The legal definition of rape in most states means the perpetrator used force or the threat of force against the victim, but the California legislation could set the stage in which both parties could accuse each other of sexual assault, he said. "This bill would very, very radically change the definition of rape," he said."

And now we are legislating "enthusiastic consent"

A Campus Dilemma: Sure, 'No' Means 'No,' But Exactly What Means 'Yes'?

"Carefully crafted legal definitions are one thing, Gerberg says, "but knowing what that actually means in their life on a Friday or Saturday night is different." A clear definition is critical not only to educate students, but also for the adjudication process. Just ask Djuna Perkins, a former prosecutor who now consults with colleges as an investigator of complaints and is the one left trying to sort through the murky question of whether a student's actions amounted to a nonverbal "yes." "The fact of the matter is that consent is very tricky, and you're getting into minutiae of what happened in a particular event," she says. "It will sometimes boil down to details like who turned who around, or [whether] she lifted up her body so [another student] could pull down her pants. "There have been plenty of cases that I've done when the accused student says, 'What do you mean? [The accuser] was moaning with pleasure. He was raising his body, clutching my back, exhibiting all signs that sounded like this was a pleasurable event.' " Perkins says schools are being asked to define consent more narrowly than even most state criminal laws do. And the stakes couldn't be higher; those who get it wrong risk not only lawsuits and bad press, but also the loss of federal funding. The federal government is already investigating at least 55 schools for complaints that they're too soft on sexual assault. "Some [schools] feel like they want to throw up their hands," Perkins says. "I know of colleges who are trying to revise their policies literally every summer. In this climate, I don't think there's a single school out there that really, truly feels like it's under control."

Comments: "Some consenting women are incredibly uncomfortable with expressing verbal consent, in many cases thinking it would make them "slutty"."

"If a person can't consent because they are afraid of what people might think then they are not mature enough to have sex."
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