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Goatse Fa Cai

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Tuesday, July 07, 2015

The Appeal of Hard Rock

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Friday's business with Simon Jack:

Peter Mensch: Hard Rock used to appeal essentially to your average 15 year old male.

He had bad skin, he didn't like his parents, he couldn't go out- girls didn't like him, and he was an angry kid... frustrated. Frustrated *something*

And lo and behold, there were 10,000 other frustrated people, like yourself.

The problem is, interestingly in hard rock, is we ask this all the time: where is the new Metallica?

Please, anybody out there who's in a Hard Rock Band under the age of 25, call me, we need you

Monday, July 06, 2015

"我很委屈"

我跟我的女朋友吵架。

她说, “我很委屈,你知道吗? 我很委屈”

然后,我看我手机。

然后,她都跑了。

我说,“你去哪儿?”

她说, “我们吵架,你看你手机。”

我说,“我不知道‘委屈’是什么意思!!"

(via Freakonomics » Is It Okay for Restaurants to Racially Profile Their Employees? A New Freakonomics Radio Episode)

Links - 6th July 2015

Ad featuring wombat in songkok retracted after Muslims mistake it for a pig - "News portal Mynewshub said the billboard by Australia-based company Servcorp, a serviced office and virtual office provider, that featured a Selamat Hari Raya greeting by the company’s mascot, Sydney the Wombat, could “confuse” Muslims even though the animal featured was not a pig... Some Facebook users also slammed Servcorp Malaysia on its Facebook page, with one called Ajoy Yusof saying: “do you know that pig is haram (forbidden) to Malay/Muslim....please change it or we will report your company to authority and sue your company for making fun of the Muslim and Malays”... The Friends of BN — Barisan Nasional Facebook page said today that the Servcorp billboard was “disrespectful” to Muslims and posted that the advertisement has been retracted."

NDP Parade Commander practises by shouting in car

Re: The “Privileged” should “Shut Up” - "isn’t there a strange tension between the statement “no member of a majority group can ever have anything valuable to say about minority issues” and the assumption that I think we both share: “it is always wrong to assume to know something about an individual or group based on a set of narrow characteristics”?... The second reason I object to Prof. Koh’s note, and the more egregious error in her writing (to my mind), is her angry claim that members of minority groups should never be asked by members of majority groups to “justify their thoughts and for facts, statistics, data, argument.” This is completely unacceptable. It should go without saying that it is one thing to ask for lower burdens of proof because of existing inability to procure such proof (e.g. difficulties involved in accusing a court system of racism if none of the judges appears willing to explicitly invoke racist statements in their written judgments) or to argue that the way in which evidence is assessed is unfavorable to minority groups (e.g. feminist groups which believe that methodologies in various academic fields could use improvement to incorporate the viewpoints of women), and another thing altogether to hysterically demand complete exemption from the basic duty of civilized discourse — the need to be able to back up what you are saying... no evidence at all, no logic, no argument, nothing — is required to prove a point made, as long as it comes from a member of a minority group... Perhaps one is an academic, teaching a class about feminist perspectives on Shakespeare. Would one be justified in telling a male student who is interested in offering his view on the depiction of women’s rights in The Taming of the Shrew to “shut up”, because he is a male, cannot have anything worthwhile to say about the issue, and therefore should instead “listen” to his female friends? If Prof. Koh was teaching that class, would she tell that student that “your point of view is not important?” Would male students be barred from taking the course altogether, since it is a class about women’s issues? I hope that Prof. Koh would agree that such conduct would be disgraceful coming from any academic deserving of the name."
Sadly he is a Chinese Male, so he will get scornfully dismissed

The double captivity of ‘Chinese privilege’ - "Koh and Thanapal are dependent on external sources for the formulation of the term Chinese privilege while at the same time they criticize Singapore for its ‘White is better’ mindset. So we have the captive talking to the captive in a conversation framed by assumptions and illusions of its emancipatory and mobilizatory potential, not to mention originality. This is what is meant by double captivity... Koh and Thanapal prefer to discuss Singapore Chinese privilege in connection to white privilege rather than Malay privilege right next door in Malaysia which, paradoxically, has produced a class of successful minority Chinese Malaysians who are, at the same time, victims of institutional discrimination. To bring Malaysia into the discussion might have been more meaningful politically, socially and academically because Malaysia provides the opportunity to study the intersectional effects of privilege that Singaporeans should closely engage with considering Singapore and Malaysia’s shared border, similar ethnic composition and common historical past... Forty-one years have gone by since Alatas’ Captive Mind thesis, but Koh and Thanapal have shown us that we are still in the era of the captive mind, one that seems much harder to emancipate because not only is it unconscious of its own captivity, it is also unconscious of the captivity of its captor. As Singapore turns fifty this year, double captivity invites us to interrogate the real nature of Singapore’s presumed intellectual and creative independence."
Luckily she is a non-Chinese female, and the daughter of a famous sociologist to boot, so she is (largely) insulated from ad hominem cries about 'privilege'

The sad state of English in Malaysia - "We have also met Malaysian diplomats who cannot carry a proper conversation in flawless English and we know some of them even shy away from social functions, which is a shame as these are where they can pick up nuggets of information for their intelligence reports. A few generations are paying the price - inability to speak and write in proper English - because of our education system. At best, they may have some semblance of communication in English but without proper foundation in grammar, many are unable to even string a sentence together correctly. Because English is just a subject, there is hardly any opportunity to use and practise the language on a regular and extensive basis within the school system. That is how low we have sunk. Forget about the occasional use of Latin words to make the language more refined, if not, more classy. Getting through the basics is tough enough."
Some might say that Malaysian non-standard English is as valid as "Standard" English, which anyway is an outdated colonial construct

Chinese Companies With No Heir Apparent - "Many of China's first-generation entrepreneurs are influenced by their experience of China's mid-century upheavals, prior to the country's shift towards a market economy. The worldview of the fuerdai, by contrast, has been shaped by wealth, privilege, and, quite often, overseas education that lends them a different perspective on the Chinese economy. In China, it's common to meet young Chinese who reject a life in business because they "don't like dealing with the government" - a thin euphemism for the graft that many Chinese entrepreneurs price into their transactions. Elsewhere in the world, family-owned businesses deal with these kinds of succession problems by seeking out professional management. But that's an unlikely option in China, where scepticism of outsiders is firmly rooted in the culture's business traditions. (The Harvard Business Review recently reported that nearly three-quarters of all companies in Taiwan, and 69 per cent in Hong Kong, pass down to family heirs.) It doesn't help matters that China has a serious dearth of well-trained professional managers."

Race Traitor | Journal of the New Abolitionism - "The existence of the white race depends on the willingness of those assigned to it to place their racial interests above class, gender, or any other interests they hold. The defection of enough of its members to make it unreliable as a predictor of behavior will lead to its collapse.
ACE TRAITOR aims to serve as an intellectual center for those seeking to abolish the white race. It will encourage dissent from the conformity that maintains it and popularize examples of defection from its ranks, analyze the forces that hold it together and those that promise to tear it apart. Part of its task will be to promote debate among abolitionists. When possible, it will support practical measures, guided by the principle, Treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity."
Wut. And why does he put up a cartoon exposing systemic hypocrisy that he has his job at Harvard, when someone saying one should abolish the black race wouldn't?

The Philosopher's Beard: Does Peter Singer's 'Utilitarian' Argument for Vegetarianism Add Up? - "Singer's book has influenced many people,including myself. Yet, reading and rereading it, I have come to wonder whether it is really good philosophy. Its rhetorical effectiveness relies on pathos - an appeal to the sentiments of the audience. Despite multiple revised editions, Singer's official argument, his logos, is far from clear or compelling... Singer is trying to make a practical argument here about how to bring about a better world, but it glides frictionlessly and uselessly from desire to conclusion. Without consideration of the social logistics of collective action problems - "elementary economics" - it amounts to no more than wishful thinking... who will notice that you are boycotting meat and stock less? Is it the same people who notice when you go on holiday, or when someone dies?... The utilitarian calculus developed by Bentham – his famous ‘Greatest Happiness Principle' - counts both the pain and the pleasure of each individual and then ranks different possible states of the world in terms of the sum total of pleasure minus pain they contain. Singer appears to retain the hedonic focus of Bentham while asserting that the only thing we should count is suffering... it is not clear to me why we should follow Singer in only taking human induced suffering seriously. Utilitarianism as a doctrine is supposed to be focused on realising the state of the world one considers best, without consideration of how that state is brought about... Singer's disinterest in wild suffering or that indirectly produced by cereal agriculture seems to reflect widely shared but non-utilitarian intuitions about a moral hierarchy of means... The irony of this reading of Singer is that, if he does consider suffering deliberately caused by "the tyranny of human over nonhuman animals" to be of special moral significance, that undermines his central claim about the equality of suffering as well as his credibility as a utilitarian... Singer denies that plants have interests because, like stones, if they don't feel pain then there is nothing there to have them. But this seems a distinctly circular - arbitrary - way to draw a categorical distinction between those whose lives matter equally and those whose lives matter not at all... The charge of spinism comes from this arbitrariness, which closely resembles that of the speciesists whom Singer criticises so sharply for excluding non-human animals from moral consideration. Singer supposes that the problem to overcome is that humans have tended to draw the categorical distinction the wrong place, but he insists that the only solution is to draw it in the right place. He refuses to consider that moral significance can be gradualist and multi-dimensional rather than binary...
Is it wrong to act from sentiment rather than reason? Yes, if you are a utilitarian or a Kantian. No, if you are something else, like a virtue ethicist... Most people are natural virtue ethicists, even if they don't know it, because it more or less reflects our commonsense understanding of moral psychology. It was central to scholarly work on moral philosophy for a very long time, up until the rationalism of the Enlightenment – the influence of thinkers like Kant and Bentham – made its lack of rigour unfashionable."

Vegetarians and vegans - a philosophical look into whether they can rightfully adopt a moral high-ground. • A Tippling Philosopher - " to claim the ethical high ground in being a vegetarian, it begs the question of why stop at this ethical decision, why not go further? Why not think about where every single product that you buy is bought and change your shopping habits accordingly? Why not ensure that your electricity provider gives you green tariffs, or that you bank with the Co-Op Bank? However, the logical conclusion of this is to end up something like a Jain who sweeps the road in front of them so as not to tread on an ant. This, though, is where a vegetarian should end up unless they draw an arbitrary line somewhere in their decision making. Yet this is an entirely subjective and effectively random line if not followed through to its logical Jainist conclusion... a Jain takes into account the value of life right down to an ant. But even then, what is to separate an ant (philosophically) from an amoeba or a bacterium? And a plant?... Driving along the road in a car in the Summer months, the vegetarian accepts collateral deaths of hundreds of flies and insects hitting the car and windscreen as par for the course"

Abraham Lincoln - the Unsung Racist

Judge leaders by the standards of their time

Abraham Lincoln pondered greatly what to do about Negroes, as they were called in the 19th century.

In the 1850s and 1860s, before and during Lincoln’s presidency and the Civil War, race issues tore the United States apart. Lincoln understood that slavery was morally wrong, but still he believed whites and Negroes would always have difficulty living together. Negroes, he felt, were less capable than whites.

Lincoln wondered if some other place outside the United States could be found for Negroes who wanted to leave. He wrote about the idea and discussed it with Negro delegations who visited him in the White House, but Negro colonies never happened the way he thought they should.

Lincoln turned out to be the Great Emancipator, but his views of African-Americans, as Negroes are now called, could never be called progressive. He freed the slaves but he did not free himself, let alone his country, from certain prejudices.

Should these attitudes be held against Lincoln now? Should he be judged today by yesterday’s standards? And what about his treatment of America’s Indians?

Lincoln volunteered, but barely saw action, in the 1832 Black Hawk War against the Sioux in upper Illinois and what became the Wisconsin and Michigan territories. As president, he authorized the collective hanging of 38 Sioux after Union armies put down the Sioux rebellion in 1862 in a particularly violent fashion in the new state of Minnesota. More than 300 names had been forwarded to him for execution; he authorized the deaths of 38.

Pressures were placed on Lincoln – as great pressure was put on Sir John A. Macdonald in Canada after the trial of Louis Riel – to hang them all, pardon them all or something in between. No decision would please everyone; any decision would inflame many.

Lincoln believed the Indian way of life to be doomed. The government had a duty to move them toward the “arts of civilization” through “moral training” that would “confer upon them the elevated and sanctifying influences, the hopes and consolations, of the Christian faith,” he said.

Indians needed to become farmers. “Pale-faced people are numerous and prosperous because they cultivate the earth, produce bread and depend upon the products of the earth,” he wrote, “rather than wild game for subsistence.”

By the standards of the time, Lincoln, was not as bloodthirsty as others toward Indians, which is damning with faint praise. He, like Macdonald, wanted to change them for what they considered high-minded reasons, principal being their own welfare. He and Macdonald, flawed by today’s standards, were men of their time.

Today, native American polemicists and historians have little good to say about the most revered U.S. president. The same can be said of aboriginal writers, and present-day advocates of Canadian aboriginal causes in the universities and beyond, about Macdonald, whose 200th birthday we celebrate this week. He was a contemporary of Lincoln’s until the president’s assassination.

Lincoln preserved the union of his country; Macdonald created and built a country. Obviously, they did not accomplish these mighty tasks alone. Lincoln had to forge a “team of rivals” within his own party. Macdonald had to negotiate compromises among conflicting political factions, especially between English- and French-speakers.

Without them, the United States and Canada might not exist today in their contemporary forms. By the standards of history, their accomplishments lie in the fact that their countries endured. More than that, their countries became two of the most successful in the world.

Each man was flawed, and these flaws have been extensively noted. To judge them through the prism of their flaws is to deliberately minimize their accomplishments and engage in historical “presentism,” the application of today’s standards to those that prevailed long ago.

“Presentism” always deforms history because it reads back today’s mores and beliefs and assumptions into a time in which we did not live. It presumes that today’s decisions should take into account how the world would want and expect such decisions to be taken a century or more from now.

This approach is always popular with those for whom history is a stick with which to beat today’s drums of injustice and to read their particular narratives into the past.

Fortunately, the country-building visions of Lincoln and Macdonald remain as enduring today as they were in their time. We understand their weaknesses, but we appreciate more their strengths.


Keywords: judging contemporary standards, historical chauvinism

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Dickens on the Follies of Mountaineering

"Now what, one asks, is the inducement which leads to the essaying of these perilous feats? One would gladly find a reasonable motive ; but none is either found or offered. A late secretary to the Alpine Club leaves unanswered the very natural question, "What is the use of scaling precipitous rocks, and being for half an hour at the top of the terrestrial globe?" alleging that these are questions of sentiment, and do not admit of conclusive arguments on either side. But if it once be conceded that life is risked for no earthly use whatever, most people will think that the admission settles the matter most conclusively.

What is the motive of foolhardiness ? We have said before, and again say, that the only one discoverable is brag. The common-place sport of steeple-chasing is eclipsed and extinguished by pinnacle-chasing. But it is time to be instant in urging that the first ascent of an unclimbed peak, in which only a single life (whether of guide or friend) is lost, confers, not fame, but a painful notoriety, which is a punishment instead of a reward of the exploit.

We shall be told that " mountaineering" is a manly exercise. It is so, inasmuch as it is not womanly. But it is not noblemanly when it is selfish. Is it manly to expose a parent, a brother, or a wife, to the chance of quite un- called-for sorrow ? To lead them into danger perhaps for the satisfaction of recovering our remains ? To tempt hardworking guides, mostly family men, to expose their lives for no adequate object; bringing them, for our amusement, to the condition of Roman gladiators, who might exclaim, " Morituri te salutamus," " We take off our caps to you, on our way to destruction ?"

Is gambling manly ? A gambler, for the sake of temporary excitement, takes his chance of worldly ruin ; but he is led on by the expectation that he will one day make his fortune- perhaps that very day or night. Reckless mountaineering is greater folly than gambling ; because, for the sake of overstrained emotions, it risks all, with nothing to win but an empty boast.

When Alpine Clubbists hold that it is "a question of sentiment," we may ask whether it be not rather a question of duty. The great argument against' suicide urged by moralists is, that a man has not the right to dispose of his life as he pleases. Life is a precious gift, not to be lightly thrown away. It is not a man's own, but a trust conferred upon him by his Maker, to employ to the best of his ability. Has, then, a man the right to cause the wanton sacrifice (even in his own proper person) of a useful member of society, by the snapping of a rope, the slipping of a stone, the failure of a grapnel, or the imperfect freezing of a bridge of snow?

When sensible people discover that they are on a wrong track, they confess it, and retrace their steps. Our climbing enthusiasts may do the same, without exposing themselves to the slightest reproach as to want of courage. Nobody will say or believe that our countrymen (whether Irish, Scotch, or English) are afraid to face danger. But danger should be nobly faced. Compare the man who ascends Mount Cervin, "prepared to conquer the mountain or die," as reported in the newspapers, with him who braves the cholera, or visits typhus patients."

--- All the Year Round, No. 327 July 1865, after tragedy on the Matterhorn in 1865Dickens on the Follies of Mountaineering:

"Now what, one asks, is the inducement which leads to the essaying of these perilous feats? One would gladly find a reasonable motive ; but none is either found or offered. A late secretary to the Alpine Club leaves unanswered the very natural question, "What is the use of scaling precipitous rocks, and being for half an hour at the top of the terrestrial globe?" alleging that these are questions of sentiment, and do not admit of conclusive arguments on either side. But if it once be conceded that life is risked for no earthly use whatever, most people will think that the admission settles the matter most conclusively.

What is the motive of foolhardiness ? We have said before, and again say, that the only one discoverable is brag. The common-place sport of steeple-chasing is eclipsed and extinguished by pinnacle-chasing. But it is time to be instant in urging that the first ascent of an unclimbed peak, in which only a single life (whether of guide or friend) is lost, confers, not fame, but a painful notoriety, which is a punishment instead of a reward of the exploit.

We shall be told that " mountaineering" is a manly exercise. It is so, inasmuch as it is not womanly. But it is not noblemanly when it is selfish. Is it manly to expose a parent, a brother, or a wife, to the chance of quite un- called-for sorrow ? To lead them into danger perhaps for the satisfaction of recovering our remains ? To tempt hardworking guides, mostly family men, to expose their lives for no adequate object; bringing them, for our amusement, to the condition of Roman gladiators, who might exclaim, " Morituri te salutamus," " We take off our caps to you, on our way to destruction ?"

Is gambling manly ? A gambler, for the sake of temporary excitement, takes his chance of worldly ruin ; but he is led on by the expectation that he will one day make his fortune- perhaps that very day or night. Reckless mountaineering is greater folly than gambling ; because, for the sake of overstrained emotions, it risks all, with nothing to win but an empty boast.

When Alpine Clubbists hold that it is "a question of sentiment," we may ask whether it be not rather a question of duty. The great argument against' suicide urged by moralists is, that a man has not the right to dispose of his life as he pleases. Life is a precious gift, not to be lightly thrown away. It is not a man's own, but a trust conferred upon him by his Maker, to employ to the best of his ability. Has, then, a man the right to cause the wanton sacrifice (even in his own proper person) of a useful member of society, by the snapping of a rope, the slipping of a stone, the failure of a grapnel, or the imperfect freezing of a bridge of snow?

When sensible people discover that they are on a wrong track, they confess it, and retrace their steps. Our climbing enthusiasts may do the same, without exposing themselves to the slightest reproach as to want of courage. Nobody will say or believe that our countrymen (whether Irish, Scotch, or English) are afraid to face danger. But danger should be nobly faced. Compare the man who ascends Mount Cervin, "prepared to conquer the mountain or die," as reported in the newspapers, with him who braves the cholera, or visits typhus patients."

--- All the Year Round, No. 327 July 1865, after tragedy on the Matterhorn in 1865

Links - 5th July 2015

40 Tourist Scams to Avoid This Summer

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - "Meat is murder. Vegetarianism is genocide."

'Game of Thrones' star defends the show's female violence scenes - "“I’ve always been quite clear about my attitude toward gender equality and female empowerment.” Christie said. “And a lot of this show is inspired by actual historical events, and that’s what’s occurring with the women. Women have been treated appalling in history. Men have too. Human beings have. What this show is doing is shining a light on women and has an exploration of female characters that has rarely been approached before—and I applaud that. Yes, those scenes are difficult, and they should be difficult. They should further illuminate human consciousness about how we interact as human beings.” There is also, Christie noted, some broader context for the most debated events in the show"

'Game of Thrones' star Maisie Williams speaks: The ultimate Arya interview - "Rule number one is to not read what people think about you on the Internet, because it makes you sad...
Thrones fans can be super intense. What was your weirdest encounter?
People love asking me to say the [list of characters Arya wants to kill] with their name in it. It’s quite creepy. It’ll be like “Joffrey, Cersei, Alan…” Just, like, a strange suburban dad’s name in the middle. Then they’re recording it and they’re just like, “Thank you.”"

Why the right side of your brain doesn't like Arabic - "If you've ever struggled to learn Arabic or felt overwhelmed just looking its symbols, now you can blame science. Researchers from the University of Haifa in Israel say intricacies in Arabic script are so complex that the right hemispheres of learners' brains don't even bother getting involved. The university's department of psychology and the Edmond J. Safra Brain Research Center for the Study of Learning Disabilities conducted a series of studies on why Arabic might be more difficult to learn than other languages. Some Arabic characters look exactly like others but with different meanings and sounds -- and with only slight variations such as lines or dots, the university said. To add to the confusion, some sounds are represented by a variety of different symbols."

Cosplay Gone Wrong: Fat Chicks Dressed Like Yuna! - "no videogame or anime character has been more frightening in the cosplay world than Yuna from Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2."

Brewing For Success: How KOI Cafe broke through competition

Freakonomics » How Many Doctors Does It Take to Start a Healthcare Revolution? Full Transcript - "medical training bypassed the Enlightenment almost altogether. So if you look back in the roots of medicine as training, as a pedagogy, it goes back to Greek tradition. And in that Greek tradition it was a lot of memorization, and it was fealty to authority. It was a tradition that was passed down through the generations. It was almost like a priesthood. And med school is really like being inducted into a priesthood of power, money and influence. And the Enlightenment was really about self-critical thinking, and about use of rational thought and the scientific method to prove and disprove things in an objective way. And very few physicians really understand the scientific method. So you don’t necessarily have a science degree to go to med school. And when you’re in med school, most of med school is just memorization. So you know, if you look at how medicine is taught, the first two years are mostly memorization. And then the second two years are rounding on patients with senior physicians in a very steep hierarchy where you learn to do what you’re told and you don’t challenge or embarrass the senior physicians... the most dangerous thing in America is an empty hospital bed... you better worry if you go to one of those emergency rooms, because the chances of being admitted to the hospital when there are empty beds upstairs that they need to fill are going to be much, much higher than when all the beds are full–whether there’s medical necessity or you need it or not. So I’d be very worried if you live in Princeton that there are now two $1 billion hospitals waiting to be filled by you."

▶ This Ain't Ghostbusters XXX-trailer - YouTube

England football stars photo tells up about race in Britain today - "in Britain at least, does part of the reason lie in multiculturalism? This fashionable dogma is obsessed with instilling respect for diversity and celebrating different groups’ beliefs and traditions. The result has been not, as was hoped, a society in which people of various backgrounds mix freely but one made up too often of separate communities. Could it be that in the process of respecting the differences between us all, we are — inadvertently — quietly reinforcing cultural barriers which separate black and white? That, in my view, is what we are seeing in the football pictures; the result of multiculturalism in microcosm, allied to the natural human impulse to gravitate towards what is familiar and therefore reassuring."

Freakonomics » Diamonds Are a Marriage Counselor’s Best Friend Full Transcript - "You know, everyone has seen Mad Men on television. Well they were a hundred times better than Mad Men. They actually understood that what a woman wanted was a tangible measure of love. So they made the diamond into the tangible symbol. They also introduced diamonds into Hollywood. They opened an office in Hollywood to put them in films. And its entire business was creating a liaison between movie producers and De Beers. Songs like Marilyn Monroe singing “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” you know, didn’t come out of thin air."

Freakonomics » Making Sex Offenders Pay — and Pay and Pay and Pay Full Transcript - "DUBNER: Joseph is bothered by this notion. She points out that some people who might be offended by the notion of “rewiring” say, homosexuals, might firmly believe that a sex offender’s sexual urges can be fundamentally changed.
JOSEPH: I think it is a contradiction. I’m one of those believers that… without getting into some big, political discussion about this that if you’re born gay, you’re gay. You can’t and shouldn’t be rewired to think a different way. Well, if we can’t rewire our sexuality, why do we think we can rewire the sexuality of a child predator, or a man who is aroused by being violent with women? Why do we think we can?... the irony of the [sex offender] registry is that by making the information so public, it probably, potentially, maybe it doesn’t, it depends, it might reduce the amount of recidivism. But one thing it does for sure is it raises a level of fear, and so much of the costs of crime are the fear, not the fear of the actual victims or the pain of the victims, but it’s the fear of everyone who imagines they might be a victim. And the registry does exactly the wrong thing in that regard, in making everyone feel like they’re constantly under threat... I’ve known guys in prison who said I had a 15-year-old girlfriend when I was 19, and I really would have been better off if I had just killed her instead of having sex with her. Because then I would have done, you know, 15 or 20 years and I would have gotten out and gotten to move on with my life. But being labeled a sex offender, I will permanently be punished by all of these laws."

There Goes the Neighborhood? Estimates of the Impact of Crime Risk on Property Values From Megan's Laws - "Houses within a one-tenth mile area around the home of a sex offender fall by 4 percent on average (about $5,500). We also find evidence that the effect varies with distance within this range -- houses next to an offender sell for about 12 percent less while those a tenth of a mile away or more show no decline. We combine our willingness-to-pay estimates with data on sexual crimes against neighbors to estimate the costs to victims of sexual offenses. We estimate costs of over $1 million per victim -- far in excess of estimates taken from the criminal justice literature. However, we cannot reject the alternative hypotheses that individuals overestimate the risk posed by offenders or view living near an offender as having costs exclusive of crime risk."

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Islamic State Recruitment
Amusingly the first witness is okay with people going off to join ISIS because this supposedly doesn't threaten Britain or its allies' interests, despite ISIS proclaiming that it wants to conquer the world in the name of the Islamic Caliphate. And when grilled he starts ranting about Israel

ISIS and the Spanish Civil War - "The Spanish Civil War, however, does offer a lot of problems when it comes to comparisons. For starters, with whom do we compare IS? It was the anti-fascist side, the Republicans, who attracted the swarms of foreign volunteers. Apart from that single fact, it’s hard to compare the Republicans and IS. The Republicans were a loose coalition of leftists and anarchists, receiving some support from Stalin’s Soviet Union. They were barely united and sometimes fell to fighting (and purging) one another. At the same time, unlike IS, they did not look to expand beyond the borders of Spain, merely to stop the fascists from winning the civil war... But what really makes the Spanish Civil War so relevant in comparison with IS isn’t the details related to troop dispositions or the national origin of the soldiers on either side: it’s the symbolism of the war, the perception at the time (and still today, almost 80 years later) that it was a symbol, a metaphor, for the forces gathering to fight the Second World War. It was a place where fascism might have been stopped if the democracies hadn’t been in the throes of appeasement. It was a stage upon which the first act of a huge, enormously destructive war was played out. And that, surely, is what makes it comparable with the Islamic State of today"

Barack Obama says the N-word in Marc Maron's podcast - ""I always tell young people, in particular, do not say that nothing has changed when it comes to race in America, unless you've lived through being a black man in the 1950s or '60s or '70s. It is incontrovertible that race relations have improved significantly during my lifetime and yours"... The White House released a statement saying that this is not the first time the President has used the N-word. "Truth is he uses the term about a dozen times in Dreams from my Father," White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said."
If you need to issue a press release about the usage of the word "Nigger", it's clear people have the wrong priorities

Remember the Professor Who Said ‘White Males’ Are ‘the Problem’? Take a Look at What She Was Doing Online in 2007 - "She’s already gained national media attention for her fiery rhetoric, having tweeted that:
- “white college males” are a “problem population” and “white masculinity” is “THE problem for America’s colleges.”
- “Deal with your white s***, white people. slavery is a *YALL* thing.”
- “Every MLK week I commit myself to not spending a dime in white-owned businesses. And every year I find it nearly impossible.”
Meanwhile Tim Hunt gets fired for making a joke

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Euthanasia and the Slippery Slope (links)

The role of nurses in physician-assisted deaths in Belgium - "By administering the life-ending drugs in some of the cases of euthanasia, and in almost half of the cases without an explicit request from the patient, the nurses in our study operated beyond the legal margins of their profession."
Slippery slope is a logical fallacy, they said.
Amusingly, some people claim that because in almost half of cases there was some form of discussion of the patients' or relatives' wishes, involuntary euthanasia is not an issue


Physician-assisted deaths under the euthanasia law in Belgium: a population-based survey - "208 deaths involving the use of life-ending drugs were reported: 142 (weighted prevalence 2.0%) were with an explicit patient request (euthanasia or assisted suicide) and 66 (weighted prevalence 1.8%) were without an explicit request"

Euthanasia: the horrifying slippery slope - "In Belgium, which legalised euthanasia in 2002, there has been a 500% increase in euthanasia deaths over ten years between 2003 and 2012. High profile cases include Mark and Eddy Verbessem, the 45-year-old deaf identical twins, who were euthanised by the Belgian state, after their eyesight began to fail; then there is Nathan/Nancy Verhelst, whose life was ended in front of TV cameras, after a series of botched sex-change operations. His mother said she hated girls, found her child 'so ugly' at birth and did not mourn his death. And then there is Ann G, who had anorexia and who opted to have her life ended after being sexually abused by the psychiatrist who was supposed to be treating her for the life-threatening condition... Already in parts of Belgium one in three cases of euthanasia is involuntary and half go unreported. And there has been not one prosecution for abuses in the last ten years – perhaps because the one of the lead euthanasia practitioners – Distelmans – chairs the very committee that is meant to regulate his activity... Dignitas has attracted much criticism in recent years over accounts of discarded cremation urns dumped in Lake Zurich, reports of body bags in residential lifts, suicides being carried out in car parks, the selling of the personal effects of deceased victims and profiteering with fees approaching £8,000 per death... notable are two people with cancer – Randy Stroup and Barbara Wagner – who were told that the Oregon Health Authority would not pay for their chemotherapy but would happily pay for their assisted suicide – which was of course much cheaper... We have seen this already with abortion. We began with a very strict law which allowed it only in limited circumstances. Now there are 200,000 cases a year... And only one conviction for illegal abortion in 45 years."

Boer: I was wrong — euthanasia has a slippery slope - "In 2007, I wrote that “there doesn’t need to be a slippery slope when it comes to euthanasia. A good euthanasia law, in combination with the euthanasia review procedure, provides the warrants for a stable and relatively low number of euthanasia.” Most of my colleagues drew the same conclusion. But we were wrong — terribly wrong, in fact... Under the name End of Life Clinic, the Dutch Right to Die Society NVVE founded a network of travelling euthanizing doctors. Whereas the law presupposes (but does not require) an established doctor-patient relationship, in which death might be the end of a period of treatment and interaction, doctors of the End of Life Clinic have only two options: administer life-ending drugs or send the patient away... Whereas in the first years after 2002, hardly any patients with psychiatric illnesses or dementia appear in reports, these numbers are now sharply on the rise. Cases have been reported in which a large part of the suffering of those given euthanasia or assisted suicide consisted of being aged, lonely or bereaved. Some of these patients could have lived for years or decades. Whereas the law sees assisted suicide and euthanasia as an exception, public opinion is shifting toward considering them rights, with corresponding duties on doctors to act. A law that is now in the making obliges doctors who refuse to administer euthanasia to refer their patients to a “willing” colleague. Pressure on doctors to conform to patients’ (or in some cases, relatives’) wishes can be intense"

Belgian serial rapist will not be euthanised - Telegraph - "The Belgian serial rapist and murderer will not be killed later this week after doctors pulled out of of the euthanasia procedure. Frank Van den Bleeken was to be granted his wish to die by a medical euthasia procedure in the infirmary of Bruges prison on Sunday until doctors withdrew, it is thought, on legal grounds... Following Van den Bleeken’s successful demand for euthanasia on the grounds that his life sentence was causing him “unbearable psychological suffering” Belgium is to introduce a special institution for long stay prisoners... It is known that 15 other Belgian prisoners had also demanded euthanasia on the same grounds... Belgium has seen a fast growth in the number of cases of euthanasia, and has expanded the practice beyond terminally ill adults. It can now be used in cases of intense pain and psychological distress, while last February the right to euthanasia was extended to terminally ill children, as long as their parents gave consent. In 2013, the last year for which full records have been published, the number of euthanasia cases in Belgium rose to 1,807, up 27 per cent on the year before. More than a third of euthanasia cases are in those under 60, and although the vast majority of approvals are given to those in unrelievable physical pain or terminally ill, 67 cases last year cited psychological grounds, including dementia and psychosis"

Belgium’s insane right-to-die laws - "We have here a peculiar inversion of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. In the novel, a self-diagnosis of insanity demonstrated sanity; in Van Den Bleeken’s case, though he was declared insane and therefore not responsible for his actions, his wish to kill himself is somehow seen as sensible and reasoned. This is despite the fact that he himself argues that he is too mentally ill ever to be freed from prison. Carine Brochier, a project manager with the Brussels-based European Institute of Bioethics, is surely right to say that if the original sentence was correct, Van Den Bleeken should not be allowed to die but should instead receive proper treatment... What does it say about the Belgian justice system when prisoners may singlehandedly overturn the will of parliament, which has decided that particular sentences fit particular crimes? The motivation behind supporting Van Den Bleeken is ostensibly compassion, but the outcome of Belgium’s liberal experiment is death on demand – for anyone, and for any reason. Even if you’re clinically insane! Because once you admit that death is an appropriate treatment for some, how can you deny it to others? Jaqueline Herremans, president of Belgium’s right-to-die association and government-appointed member of Belgium’s euthanasia commission, said of Van Den Bleeken’s request: ‘Regardless, he’s a human being; a human being who has the right to demand euthanasia.’ So slippery is the slope, it seems, that euthanasia has become a right to be extended to all human beings. The problem at the base of these disturbing events is the collapse of authority in Belgium. As the German daily Die Welt noted after the decision to extend euthanasia to children of any age, Belgium is now a ‘failed state’. A handful of moral entrepreneurs have pushed at an open door allowing situations whereby a prisoner – who has been declared insane and still insists he is insane – both diagnoses himself as incurable and pronounces his own sentence, overturning a ban on executions implemented by parliament. Prepubescent children, whose parents ordinarily tell them what clothes to wear, can now decide they wish to die, and, if they can argue for it consistently, they, too, will be executed."

Quarter of Dutch doctors would provide assisted suicide to those 'tired of living' - "Almost 20% would consider the request even if the patient had no medical grounds for suffering, apart from their lack of enthusiasm for life"

GPs back euthanasia for old people 'tired of life' - "ONE in three GPs in major cities believe people older than 70 who feel "tired of life" should have the right to professional help in ending it, according to a poll conducted for Philip Nitschke's Exit International. More than 33 per cent of 500 doctors surveyed in Sydney (35 per cent), Melbourne (36 per cent) and Adelaide (43 per cent) agreed with the provocative question. In Perth, 28 per cent endorsed it, according to The Australian."

Agra dad wants euthanasia for 6 kids suffering from rare neuro disorder - "In a rare case of a debilitating neurological disorder affecting six kids in the same family, a 42-year-old man, unable to afford treatment for his children, has written to the district collectorate requesting that he be allowed to end the lives of his kids, aged between 8 to 18 years. The daily wage labourer, who earns Rs 5,000 per month, says that even though doctors have told him the disease is curable, he can't afford the expensive treatment and is therefore contemplating the extreme step for his children."

"Female scientists 'too concerned about how they're perceived'"

BBC Radio 4 - Today, 12/06/2015, Female scientists 'too concerned about how they're perceived':

Prof Dame Valerie Beral, director of Oxford University's Cancer Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford:

There's been a lot of research of a certain sorts on that, and it's completely clear that one major reason is that women do not apply for senior jobs.

Women who are equally qualified as men will not apply. And I think there's some truths in what, possibly truths, I mean what I've said so far is factual, but I think that some of the things Tim said have to be thought about, and I think that even though he said them awkwardly and have been misinterpreted, I think, I think they are directly relevant to *something*.

I think women find, I mean very exciting to work in a lab out of university with all these very bright people doing interesting work. But things happen in that context.

As he said, people fall in love, out of love, have affairs, criticise each other - often very intensely. And I think, and I think this is something we really should be thinking about quite seriously, that maybe women really find that sort of environment too difficult to cope with - not intellectually, not intellectually, not work-wise, but emotionally.

I think women are much more likely to take criticism personally, think that there's something wrong with themselves, rather than with, y'know, the work which might've been criticised, and I think this is the problem that we really should be thinking about...

There is this, to me, problem that women don't feel, they're too concerned about the way they're perceived rather than the way their science is perceived...

Caroline Criado-Perez: If it was literally just because of these comments, no I don't think that resigning was absolutely the, the only thing that could be done. I think that we could've, they could've perhaps reviewed the decisions that he was taking, and the positions where he had authority over women's careers.

I think that there is, I do feel slightly concerned over a, the sort of progressive section of society that seems to leap from someone making a comment that we disagree with to immediately they are cast out and ostracised.

Host: It's hounding.

Caroline Criado-Perez: It is hounding.

And I do worry about, well, for two reasons.

One is that, the idea that it is just a couple of bad apples actually I think takes away from what is a structural problem and I don't think it's just about getting rid of a few sexist men.

But also this idea that people can't learn and they can't change and that we can't educate people. And I think that's really what we need to be doing is changing people's minds rather than just saying "You are no good, get out of here"...

Prof Dame Valerie Beral: I've read a lot of things in the last 24 hours and the one thing you really cannot accuse Tim Hunt of being is sexist.

He's very supportive of women in the lab. There's been a lot of online comments of how, how much he's liked and has always been supportive of women.

And it's just, he said very odd things which I absolutely agree sounded terrible and he stood by them in the sense of saying, of honesty. He's sort of scrupulously honest, he said: "Yes, I did say that"...

He just said they're things that happen and that's what happened to me and I confirm that's what happened to me and I think that anyone in any field where there are intense, lots of bright young people working together, it could be in the City, it could be anywhere - have seen these sorts of things happen.

And I just think women take these intense environments a bit too seriously, and if something goes wrong, they take it too personally"

Links - 4th July 2015

For Some, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Falls Short of Expectations in Myanmar - NYTimes.com - "human rights advocates and even members of her political party are raising questions about her performance in the broader political arena. In the four years since she emerged from house arrest as a world-famous champion of democracy, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, 69, has hesitated to take on many of her country’s biggest issues, critics say, and has failed those who expected a staunch human rights advocate. She has instead emphasized a general call for rule of law, a critical issue for a country emerging from a half-century of dictatorship but one, they say, that falls short of addressing particular grievances... Perhaps most surprising of all, she has refused to admonish the government for its harsh policies against the Rohingya Muslim minority... In public comments, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi has equated the plight of the Rohingya with that of the region’s Buddhists, saying that it was important “not to forget violence is committed by both sides.” Human rights advocates, who argue that most of the violence has been committed by the Buddhist majority against the Rohingya minority, say they are astonished that she has abdicated what they see as her moral responsibility to shine a light on obvious human rights abuses"
It is harder to be a politician than an activist

The Gallup Poll - FAQ - "People generally believe the results of polls, but they do not believe in the scientific principles on which polls are based. In a recent Gallup "poll on polls," respondents said that polls generally do a good job of forecasting elections and are accurate when measuring public opinion on other issues. Yet when asked about the scientific sampling foundation on which all polls are based, Americans were skeptical. Most said that a survey of 1,500-2,000 respondents -- a larger than average sample size for national polls -- cannot represent the views of all Americans... Common sense - and sampling theory - tell us that a sample of 1,000 people probably is going to be more accurate than a sample of 20. Surprisingly, however, once the survey sample gets to a size of 500, 600, 700 or more, there are fewer and fewer accuracy gains which come from increasing the sample size. Gallup and other major organizations use sample sizes of between 1,000 and 1,500 because they provide a solid balance of accuracy against the increased economic cost of larger and larger samples. If Gallup were to - quite expensively - use a sample of 4,000 randomly selected adults each time it did its poll, the increase in accuracy over and beyond a well-done sample of 1,000 would be minimal, and generally speaking, would not justify the increase in cost... Anyone using the Gallup Poll can do so with assurance that the data were obtained with extremely careful and reliable sampling and interviewing methods"

Stressed and Depressed, Koreans Avoid Therapy - The New York Times - "“Talking openly about emotional problems is still taboo,” said Dr. Kim Hyong-soo, a psychologist and professor at Chosun University in Kwangju. “With depression, the inclination for Koreans is to just bear with it and get over it,” he said. “If someone goes to a psychoanalyst, they know they’ll be stigmatized for the rest of their life. So they don’t go”... Meanwhile, the suicide rate in South Korea is nothing short of alarming, nearly three times higher than in the United States. The rate here doubled in the decade between 1999 and 2009. Suicide pacts among strangers who meet online is a growing phenomenon. Suicides by drinking pesticides, hanging or jumping from tall buildings are the most common... Consulting a shaman is still common among many Koreans, usually when they come down with the blues, the odd illness or a run of bad luck. Indeed, shamanism has made something of a comeback in South Korea in recent years, with an estimated 300,000 shamans ministering to clients. Many shamans, known as mudang, even operate sophisticated Web sites these days (complete with online fortunetelling), even as they continue to strangle chickens, walk barefoot on razor blades and commune with dead relatives whose spirits reside in trees, chimneys or woodland creatures. “More Koreans see fortunetellers than psychiatrists,” said Dr. Yoon Dae-hyun, a psychiatrist at Seoul National University Hospital and an official with the Korean Association for Suicide Prevention. “Our biggest competitors are fortunetellers and room salons. They certainly make more money than us.” Room salons are after-work clubs frequented by hard-drinking businessmen who select from a bevy of personal hostesses who ply them with expensive drinks and listen to their problems over the course of an evening... Young people in South Korea are certainly unhappy, even chronically so, in part because of ferocious academic pressures that begin early on. A recent survey here found that young Koreans — for the third straight year — were the unhappiest youngsters in a subset of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries."

Are Male Executives Too Nervous to Mentor Younger Women? - "A 2010 study from the Center for Talent Innovation (formerly the Center for Work-Life Policy), found that nearly two-thirds of men in senior positions pulled back from one-on-one contact with junior female employees because of fear of being suspected of having an affair. Meanwhile, half of junior women reported being nervous about one-on-one contact with senior men for the same reason."
Actually, the report says: "Interestingly, sexual politics are less of a barrier to sponsorship in the UK. While 64 percent of senior men in the US are hesitant to have one-on-one contact with junior women for fear of gossip or lawsuits—a sentiment reciprocated by 50 percent of junior women—only 38 percent of senior men and 26 percent of junior women in the UK feel the same way."


Opinion: Obama comment sexist? I call it a compliment - ""Thank you, Mr. President, you're not such a bad-looking guy yourself." That would have been my response if I were California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who finds herself in the middle of a media dustup after President Obama introduced her as: "by far the best-looking attorney general in the country," at a fundraiser earlier this week... President Obama's observation is not a major offense to women around the globe. Ridiculous flaps such as this one have always made me uncomfortable with calling myself a feminist, especially if that means I have to fly into a fit each time a man makes an awkward comment about a woman... Luckily, sometimes life isn't serious. Sometimes, we can laugh at ourselves and know that not every man is out to hold us down"

Nude Photography by Leonard Nimoy - The Art History Archive - " In addition to being a movie director, producer, author and actor (Spock from Star Trek), Leonard Nimoy has been a professional photographer for 40 years. His topic of choice? Nude women."

Giuliani: 93 Percent of Blacks Are Killed by Blacks - "Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani says that the media focusing on the Ferguson, Missouri grand jury should spend more attention on why white police officers are in black neighborhoods to start with. "I find it very disappointing that you're not discussing the fact that 93 percent of blacks in America are killed by other blacks," Giuliani said Sunday on "Meet the Press." The case of white police officers killing blacks are the exception rather that the rule, he said. "We are talking about the significant exception," Giuliani said... Giuliani said 70 percent to 75 percent of crime in New York City takes place in predominantly black areas, and that's why there is a large police presence in those places. "The white police officers wouldn't be there if you weren't killing each other," Giuliani said."

Female Thor Is What Happens When Progressive Hand-Wringing And Misandry Ruin A Cherished Art-Form - "Thor a woman? It’s hard to believe the most macho, overtly masculine character in the comic canon could possibly be reimagined as a broad. But that’s almost certainly precisely the reason Thor was chosen: as a screw-you to so-called nerdbros from the achingly progressive staff of today’s comic book establishment. This has led to some questions from comic book fans. Questions such as: will Wonder Woman turn out to be a tranny? Is the Incredible Hulk only incredible because he endured cruel fat-shaming as a teen but didn’t let his size define him? And shouldn’t Spider-Man be a gay latino?... We’re told “erasure,” whereby people’s pasts are scrubbed out by those in authority, is a social justice issue. Well, right now there’s erasure going in the basic, canonical biographies of some of Marvel’s most cherished superheroes... What sticks in the craw of the fans I’ve spoken to about female Thor is how utterly transparent the political posturing is behind the change. No one likes their thunder stolen but there is simply no good literary justification for making Thor a woman, they say–and the results have been execrable. You can write intelligent satire about masculinity without making a classic masculine icon into a girl, an observation that seems to have escaped Marvel’s writers...
'If I was directly addressing the Thor creative team and editors who seem to want gender equality in the Thor line, this is what I’d say. Make a damn effort to promote Thor’s female support cast; Jane Foster, Roz Solomon, Lady Sif, Valkyrie, hell even Angela since you’re bringing her in (and I have the feeling Angela is going to be the new Thor now.) Believe me when I say female characters need more promotion and treatment in comics but make them new characters or flesh out the old ones you have. Don’t shoe horn a female character into a male hero’s position as, at the end of the day, she’s still defined by the male character, not her own legacy. I know Marvel are going for the “anyone can wield the power of Thor, even women” approach but this is ultimately detrimental to the female hero. Why? Because making a female version of a male hero demeans the male hero and leaves the superheroine being solely defined as a female replacement of the male hero."

Vox Popoli: Men in women suits - "I have three main objections to strong female characters. First, the basic concept is a lie. Barring mystical powers or divine heritage, the strong female character is simply nonsense. They don't exist, they aren't convincingly imagined or portrayed, and they're essentially nothing more than token feminist propaganda devices. Freud would, in this case correctly, put the whole phenomenon down to penis envy. Second, it is tedious. As both women note, strong female characters are neither new nor interesting. If you're blindly copying a trope that hasn't been new for three decades, you're just boring the reader. And third, it is dreadful writing. Most "strong female" characters observably are not women, they are simply male characters dressed in female suits. They don't talk like women, they don't act like women, and when we're shown their interior monologues, they don't think like women either. They're about as convincingly female as those latent serial killers who like to wear those bizarre rubber women suits. They are, in fact, the literary equivalent of those freaks... Ironically, men tend to write more interesting "strong female characters" because at least they know what men think like when they are writing about men in women suits. When women do it, they're writing what they imagine the man the female writer is pretending is a woman would think like. It's convoluted, it's insane, and it should be no surprise to anyone that most stories based on such self-contradictory characters don't turn out very well... the behavior of the character and its interior monologue is so haplessly inept and unrealistically bland that the reader cannot even ascertain something as intrinsically basic to human identity as the mere sex of the character. Can you imagine if you couldn't tell from their behavior if Anna Karenina was a woman or if Aragorn was a man? Would that inability improve or detract from the story?"

leesjuanpat world: The difference between Joshua B.Jeyaretnam and Kenneth Jeyaretnam. - "Due to KJ unreasonable leadership, a mass resignation began when about 10 RP members resigned enbloc when the GE 2011 was drawing near. Two scholars in Hazel Poa and husband Tony Tan were in the mass exodus. So, RP was crippled for good... KJ got to swallow his own medicine as the most incompetent Secretary-general to be so disgraced by nobody but himself! With that, National solidarity Party (NSP) gained by the exodus when many ex-RP members including Nicole Seah joined NSP. Suddenly NSP was a 'force' to reckon and RP sank deep into the abyss. To this day RP is so mediocre and devastated. The party is almost a shell only !"

Startling dating graphs reveal what ages men and women find the most attractive in a partner - "Women who are, say, 28 find guys who are also 28 about the most attractive, and so forth. Up until about 40, when that’s getting too old”... But the male version is very, very different... So women over 22 are disregarded when it comes to men on dating sites?"
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