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Valar Qringaomis

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Friday, May 06, 2016

The history of consumerism and Chinese philosophy

The history of consumerism and Chinese philosophy | Podcast | History Extra

"The sheer volume and the consequences of consumption on the environment, on people's well-being, on society and politics. But at the same time this debate is very focused on the present, as if this is a phenomenon that really only got going after the Second World War in the era of high growth. And I think that's wrong. Factually wrong and also politically and socially a little bit irresponsible. And we need to get to grips with this much longer history...

A very simple view that many people carry about history and the past... today we are a society blessed or cursed by affluence and that consequently people in the past must have been poor and lived miserable lives. So there's a very characteristic idea, popular, not just the social sciences but many commentators which contrasts our current society where we have a lot of discretionary income, we can spend on frivolities if we want or luxuries, to compare that with earlier societies which are marked to be traditional societies where people just are pre-occupied with satisfying their needs. So putting food on the table and having a roof over the head. That's of course a very very simple and naive view of history and the historical process. So in the late Middle Ages and Early Modern period, we already have - not just very rich people but also artisans spending on items that are not strictly speaking necessary. So, musical instruments, paintings, books, ornaments, fine tableware, comfortable bedding and things like that. So traditional society is really a misnomer. In the sense that we see the desire for material possessions much much earlier...

Commentators and people who think about these questions haven't been exposed to history... Germans tend to be seen as extremely clean and tidy people but one generation ago, men and women only changed their underwear every 2 or 3 days...

[On Chinese philosophy] It wouldn't even have been on talent, it would have been on hard work and effort, like how much you studied. In fact, the last philosopher in the book, Shunzi, was explicitly about not about assuming that everything is natural but everything can be worked on, including yourself and your own capabilities. So the exams, the exam system in China really was a measure of how hard you worked at studying to prepare for the exam... it was about testing how well you can sense certain different ethical situations. But basically how good a human being you were at understanding that there's no sort of black and white set of rules that, or an ethical code of conduct that everyone must follow. But that life is complex and human relationships are complex. And that the best bureaucrat is someone who can sense all this and work with it in an effective way...

'Buddhism and mindfulness, which is very popular now, they really are about this doctrine of no self, and yet in the West it's often been appropriated in the service of the self. In the service of finding yourself. And our book, the message of our book is explicitly against the modern day mantra to find yourself and look within and be true to yourself because for these Chinese philosophers that would have been the very opposite of what you needed to do to become a human being who's growing and cultivating yourself and becoming a better person all the time'

'And do you think in a way that Buddhism that perhaps many of us might know in the West is really a product of Western culture in the post-war period rather than actually of India 2.5 thousand years ago?'

'I think it very much is. I think there's also a sort of dangerous tendency to romanticise a lot of aspects of non-Western cultures and especially Buddhism has been exoticised and romanticised in a way as sort of, it's seen as a sort of antidote to the avaricious West. And that's not really seeing it as what it is or what it was. Of course we can adapt philosophies but we have to know, I think, we're doing that. We have to know what we're working with and not pass it off as something true to what the original ideas were'


So much for the Marxist conceit of Late Capitalism

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Links - 1st May 2016

Some Hong Kong women would rather die alone than date Hong Kong men - "In recent years, the fearful message has spread: Hong Kong is running out of men! So ladies, if you don’t want to end up as an old maid and die alone, you must hurry and “get real.” Don’t be picky and only go after men who have a “good package.” Cure your “princess syndrome” and stop being a spoiled brat. Don’t become one of those gold-digging, delusional Kong nui (a derogatory term for Hong Kong women) or a successful career woman. This stigma toward single women has become the central narrative of Hong Kong’s dating culture. The message to women is clear: Lower your expectations, even though you might deserve better... Hong Kong women have long been accused of being materialistic and eyeing money, but there is a reason for it. According to Fan Lai, a professional counselor who deals with relationship problems and family issues, few Hong Kong women are looking to marry a scion of a property tycoon. But, she added, many do aim for a man with a monthly income somewhere between HK$80,000 and HK$100,000 (roughly US$10,300 to US$12,900). That’s because they want a man who is financially independent and won’t turn around asking them for money or take advantage of them. “They are women who have a great education, a successful career, and a pretty face and just don’t want to settle for less,” Lai said... “Kong men are not gentlemen at all,” said Lung. “If you go on a date, you pick up the girl, open the door for her, pick up the bill, and send her home. That’s very basic. And yet I’ve never seen a Kong man who has done it. But Western men do. I’m an international man eater, so I aim at a global market.” Twenty-year-old university student Diana Lam described Kong men at her age as “toxic”... Kong men may also have little to offer in the bedroom. According to a 2014 survey released by the Family Planning Association of Hong Kong, nearly 60% of the 2,100 women aged between 21 and 40 reported at least one sexual problem that lasted over three months to one year—which could be attributed to a partners’ lack of expertise. Nearly 32% said they had no desire. A similar percentage said they had problems getting aroused. Some 40% said they fail to attain orgasm."
No wonder Hong Kong men go for foreign women

George Osborne's national living wage is a 'con job', says Tim Farron - "George Osborne’s ‘national living wage’ is a “con job” that will leave people at least £8,700 worse off by 2020 than they would have been under the ‘real’ living wage, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has claimed. Mr Farron said that research carried out by his party meant the living wage, as defined by the Government, was “utter fantasy”."

Chinese father hires virtual hitman to 'kill' son in online games - so he will get a job - "in his 25 years experience he had come across players who dedicated up to 14 hours a day gaming. But he said it only has a detrimental affect if it impacts on their work or family life."

Wi-Fi won't travel through your house? It might be the wire in the walls - "Plaster-and-lath walls - specifically when the lath (or base structure) of the wall is chicken wire or similar corrugated wire, to which the plaster is added to create the wall. Such walls are sometimes internal, often external, but always death to Wi-Fi signals because the wire acts as a Faraday cage, killing the signal."

Woman disguised as man 'betrayed victim's trust' - ""I didn't suspect at all. When Zunika was menstruating, she told me it was because she had a stomach tumour. She was also taking a lot of hormone pills but she told me those were to control the growth of her beard," she said... Zunika's two "wives" also found out her real gender. Till then, Zunika, who had a fake Indonesian passport under the identity of a man, had told them that they must not touch or see her private parts - for superstitious reasons - while performing sex acts."

One Way of Being An Independent Woman You Should Avoid With Guys - "I remember going out on a date with a girl who at first appeared soft and kind. When we walked into a bar, I said “Let’s sit there”, to which she responded “No, let’s seat on the other side”. I followed her without assuming based on just one instance that she was that kind who would do the opposite just for the sake of doing the opposite. However, after a few more episodes of that behavior on the same date, I had to ask her whether she was refusing to do what I asked on purpose. She proudly admitted that she was on purpose acting that way, because “no one can order her around” and because I was not her dad. Considering that this kind of attitude is one personal pet peeve of mine, I cut the date short a few minutes later. I have not done my research yet, but I am pretty sure that many other guys will find that kind of “independent woman” attitude a major red flag, and a sure sign of ultra-feminism to stay away from. When your actions are governed by the desire to prove that you are free and independent, rather than by the actual freedom itself, that’s exactly the point where you show very clearly that you are not at all free or independent. A truly free and independent woman does not need to prove anything to anyone, just like a truly confident guy doesn’t have to prove anything to any woman he is dealing with."

Toilet fees flushed: New bill blocks airplane lavatory charge - "A new bill has been introduced in Congress that hopes to prohibit airlines from charging passengers to use the on-flight toilet. Though the facility is taken for granted by many, it is actually not guaranteed by law... Such charges were first considered by European low fares airline Ryanair in 2009 when the idea was floated that passengers be charged £1 ($1.51) to use the toilet on flights of less than one hour duration"

Skinny jeans and other hidden health risks in your wardrobe - BBC Newsbeat - "Skinny jeans have been given a health warning after a 35-year-old woman had to be cut out of a pair because her calves "ballooned in size"... A study of zip injuries over eight years showed that among adult men, zips were the most frequent cause of penis injuries... One small study suggested that men who wear ties too tightly could be at a greater risk of Glaucoma. It's thought this is because they are restricting blood flow to the brain. Tight ties can also restrict movement, causing tension in the muscles of the back according to a study of workers in a South Korean Journal... Aside from the danger of wearing earrings while playing sport (they can catch and cause your earlobes to tear) wearing heavy earrings can cause ear lobes to sag over time... G-string underwear can damage the skin and cause infections. If you wear pants that are too tight or that are badly-stitched the friction can cause genital irritation and lead to infections."

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Mary Magdalene - "In the order of Christian sanctity, a forgiven sinner, especially a spectacular sinner, is a more fascinating figure than somebody who's been good all the time. One of the energies that drives the cult of Mary Magdalene in history is her contrast and her similarity to the Virgin Mary. If you had to choose the two female figures who are closest to Jesus, it's those two, and in Western tradition, the imaginative power of the idea that someboy who had been a sexual sinner could get pretty well as close to Jesus as someone who was virginal: that's a very powerful notion imaginatively...
[On the Gospel of Philip] It's a (sic) early 2nd century text that is coming from an oral tradition. And still very connected wit the Church in Palestine in fact, and is conscious of different ideas and is countering different iedas and one of these different ideas is that Mary Magdalene should be marginalised and in this text, she is the closest person to Jesus and that the other, the male disciplines feel they don't have that special relationship. The kissing... is not necessarily as we would configure it as some sort of sexual or marital kiss in terms of the Gospel of Philip it is about intimacy, a spiritual intimacy with Christ. And... that is also quite historically accurate because we know when Jesus was betrayed he was betrayed with a kiss from his close disciple Judas and no one is suggesting that Judas and Jesus had an intimate relationship. It just indicates that among his close followers, they had a very touchy-feely, kissy kind of relationship. In fact when in the story of the Repentent Sinner, Jesus says to the Pharisee: 'Well, you didn't kiss me when I came into my house, but look at her: she's kissing me'. So he was encouraging people to kiss... I don't think the New Testament attempts to marginalise Mary. When Mary goes to the disciples and tells them that Jesus is written (sic), they don't believe her. And the Evangelist tells us that. He's not, he believes her, but the disciples don't. One doesn't need the sort of Dan Brown world to have an image of genuine, I think, historical image of this woman who had an extraordinary closeness to Jesus"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Eleanor of Aquitaine - "Like all marriages it was annulled on the grounds of consanguinity. So they were closely related to one another... all aristocratic marriages at this time were in theory annulable because it was very difficult to find marriage partners who weren't in some way related to one another... She is really at this stage, she's sort of a walking title deed. She is the jackpot that they're all after. They want these rich lands of Southern France and Henry marries her a matter of weeks of her divorce from Louis"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Behavioural Ecology - "Every biologist has got a certain sense of shame that they can't do maths and game theory was a way of getting round that... HIV, the AIDS virus... that's foraging for prey. We're the prey. So it has to... alter its behavior insofar as viruses behave, to ensure that it has a chance to move on to the next prey once it's depleted the resources of the first prey. Now, since the epidemic began, when there was for a time confined to homosexuals, there was of course a lot of promiscuity, people weren't aware of this and the virus was extremely lethal. In the last 5-10 years, it's gotten much less lethal, because it - we, because people are aware of the dangers, people are much more careful about their behavior. So the virus can't afford just to take the maximum out of its first victim in the assurance that it's going to get another one. It has to be kinder to its victims. So here we see exactly that analogy of hunting behavior in birds seen in a medical context. So it is actually quite a powerful way of thinking... The idea that everything is driven by simple kinship is wrong. But like everything in biology, unlike in physics, it's not pure, it's not simple"

Suicide Bomber Funeral Ends In Catastrophic Explosion As Explosive Belt Detonates [Graphic Video] - "The catastrophic detonation happened in the midst of a large crowd of his supporters, killing and maiming multiple individuals in the process. The cheers of the crowd quickly changed to chants of “Allahu Akbar” as disoriented people wandered about in the devastation, searching for friends and relatives. The entire video was captured on a low resolution video and contains graphic images resulting from the devastation. According to Live Leak, the suicide bomber was shot by Israeli forces and died from his wounds. His Muslim brothers took his body and prepared it for a funeral procession where hundreds of his supporters gathered to lay his body to rest. Unknown to the supporters, the individuals that prepared his body for the funeral forgot to remove his suicide belt. As the body was carried toward his final resting place, the belt exploded, killing multiple individuals and harming many more."

A slur is a knife - You don’t get to decide how sharp it is but the person at its tip - "somewhere along the way, people were using these terms with an intention to hurt. How a word was said with a knowing sneer or spat out with contempt... There’s a simple rule actually. If someone who is not from your community thinks that a word is a slur, then stop using it, no matter if some other person from that community claims otherwise. Ask yourself why it is necessary for you to use such a tarnished and contentious word when other words with much less baggage are available. A slur is a knife—if you’re the one holding the handle, you don’t get to decide how sharp it is—this is the sole and sovereign right of the person at its tip."
Looks like we can't call homosexual men gay because at some point in history that word was a slur, and that as long as one person from a community says a word is a slur, no one can use it; this is even more powerful than the veto one EU nation can use to block something the other 26 want done - one person in a community of one billion has the power to censor everyone else

The Impact of Divorce Laws on Marriage - "after the adoption of unilateral divorce, marriage rates declined significantly and permanently in adopting states. This decline accounts for half of the initial gap in marriage rates between adopting and non-adopting states. The effect of unilateral divorce law is greatest for marriage rates amongst younger age cohorts, those marrying for the first time, and whites. The duration of marriages that take place under unilateral divorce is also found to be significantly greater than those that occur under mutual consent. Taken together the results suggest unilateral divorce law reduces incentives to marry, but those couples that do marry are better matched than under mutual consent. This is argued to be consistent with a model of search in marriage markets, where individuals learn the true gains of marriage over divorce before and during marriage"
People respond to incentives

The dating gap: why the odds are stacked against female graduates - "there is still a stigma, says Genevieve Zawada, who runs a matchmaking service, particularly for women over 40. She says a potential partner’s education level is “usually the first thing any woman specifies. I think people think that if someone is not educated to the same standards they are, they won’t have anything in common, which is absolute nonsense. People think, ‘I’ve dedicated my life to my career and I’m not going to settle for anything less than I am’. Funnily enough, men hardly ever discuss it.”"

Bhutan PM casts doubts over Gross National Happiness - "The concept is overused and masks problems with corruption and low standards of living... recently some critics have taken to referring to GNH as "Government Needs Help"."

Daisy Ridley Just Nailed A Problem With #NoFilter #NoMakeup - "As a person scampering around in the world, seeing all these beautiful people with #NoMakeup can be quite daunting. In fact, all these “filtered, most carefully chosen and cleverly edited moments of their lives,” can make us all—even beautiful celebs such as Ridley—scared to share the reality with the Internet. Thank her for having the guts to raise her hand and admit that it happens to her."
Be the change you want to see in the world. Post lots of pictures of yourself looking awful

Former surgeon general calls for marijuana legalization - "Former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders told CNN Sunday she supports legalizing marijuana... "We have the highest number of people in the world being criminalized, many for non-violent crimes related to marijuana""

You may hate Donald Trump. But do you want Facebook to rig the election against him?

Face Swapping With Ancient Statues Makes Museums Fun Again

Use This Website to Make Obama Say Anything You Want - "Have you ever wondered how those clever YouTubers get Obama to sing and rap entire songs? They usually spend countless hours carefully splicing together individual words taken from footage of the president, but you can now do the same thing in just seconds with a new website called Talk Obama To Me."

Islamic terrorism and Western foreign policy

Me: If Islamic terrorism is a response to Western foreign policy, why did they attack Jakarta?

D: Because Indonesia is a western stooge.

C: they hate indonesia's freedom, their way of life and their democracy!!!

B: Saying "blame Western foreign policy" is a platitude.

There is no singular "foreign policy" that is agreed across all Western countries, nor across different regimes within them. Go from Lisbon or Copenhagen and their policies towards various external matters will be different from the US. Even within the US, the foreign policies do change over time and across administrations.

A: That's why people like Noam Chomsky is so way off base in their analysis. In his zeal to blame everything on US imperialism, he actually is what exhibiting signs of bigotry (only white guys have the ability to screw up the world so badly!)

B: Chomsky has made a reputation for a brilliant linguist.

He should have stayed there, and out of geopolitics.

I completely agree with you A - in Chomsky's worldwide, everyone is a passive entity except the US; that the whole world would be in perpetual and sublime peace if it wasn't for the West/USA constantly poking it with a big imperialist stick.

While it's perfectly legitimate to criticise the US for what it does do/ fails to do around the world; he often forgets that there are other powerful actors which have their own, sometimes converging, sometimes contrary, interests.

Two perfect illustrations of that is how Russia has (1) basically outflanked the USA in its annexation of Ukraine, and (2) and in its support of Assad which allowed the Syrian civil war to continue, and then vetoed the UN when the US tried to have Assad referred to the ICC.

Of course, there are those on the internet that say that the CIA is behind both the annexation of Crimea (and shot down the Malaysian airline), and the Syrian civil war.

Geopolitics is super complex because there are always so many actors involved, and not many of them make their ultimate goals or intentions publicly known.

For many, it is simpler and easier to accept an omniscient and omnipotent USA as the root cause of ALL global problem because the reality is so much more complex and quite depressing.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

First Cologne, Now Sweden: How Left-Wing Apologism Is Fueling Right-Wing Populism

First Cologne, Now Sweden: How Left-Wing Apologism Is Fueling Right-Wing Populism

"All over Europe, merely condemning right-wingers as bigots will neither quell popular fears nor win the argument. Liberals must look in the mirror. And then we must make some concessions.

Since reports of the Cologne attacks emerged over a week ago, accusations of police and government cover-ups have flourished in a kind of perfect storm of liberal conspiracy narratives. Sadly, it’s not hard to see why... an initial police press release claimed the night had “passed off peacefully.” Then, after revelations, days of insistence that there was no evidence for asylum seeker involvement followed, with Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker even branding any suggestion of refugee involvement “impermissible,” an internal police report emerged last Thursday. German magazine Der Spiegel claims to have seen the report and said it revealed that some of the attackers asserted they were Syrian refugees. One reportedly told an officer: “You have to treat me kindly. Mrs. Merkel invited me.” Another apparently ripped up residence papers in front of officers, shouting defiantly: “You can’t do anything to me. I can get a new one tomorrow”...

When political correctness reaches the point in which people are — never mind being afraid to express opinion — afraid to report police memos, then we know sanity has been left behind. This sort of obfuscation is dangerous not just because it makes detection of the actual perpetrators more difficult, but also because it is driving otherwise reasonable people away from the left and all too often into the arms of right-wing populism. Now, German police have publicly confirmed that more than half those questioned so far are indeed asylum seekers, and the right is doing its victory dances. Scroll down any comment thread and amidst the growing calls to leave the EU, you’ll find “Libtards” and “the left” named as the personae non gratae in this whole affair. And for American readers, understand, this is exactly the sort of thing that Trump and his cronies can seize on, a perfect “Europe is being cowed” cautionary tale. In the words of an anti-racist Cologne protester on Saturday: “It’s not good to ‘protect’ us, it just makes the racism worse.”

Frankly, we on the left must wake up and become more willing to describe the world as it is. To confront the fact, for example, that some dangerous undesirables will indeed have found their way into the EU amongst all the decent and deserving refugees. If not, we face the prospect of being ruled for the foreseeable future not only by those on the right who want to “stoke up anti-immigration rhetoric,” but also who will happily dismantle our public services. Right-wing populism finds a perfect ideological punchbag in a woolly liberalism that often fails to stand up for liberal principles... Channel 4 News broadcast an interview with a Tunisian refugee who said with a straight face: “It is not the fault of the refugees — the couple of refugees who were there, who might also be culprits. It’s the fault of the laws and bureaucracy in Germany that say you have to wait six months or one year for the day when you can find a legal job.” I’m sorry, what?

Recently, two activists I know freshly returned from work with migrants and admitted sheepishly to me that their time on the front line had led them to consider — briefly — that perhaps Germany should close its borders. They told me that most of the migrants they had seen were not actually refugees. And then they looked at me as though they expected I would roundly accuse them of being Nazis. Unsurprising, since nuance and pragmatism are frequently becoming trickier in the ideological battle trenches of the digital era. Perhaps because of the constant demand for brevity in tweets and Internet comment pieces, a popular, and often false, thought association ensues: if you think this, then you must also think that. Suppressing debate and dissent within the left itself, this phenomenon has become a kind of digital McCarthyism. And it is driving people away from the very political associations that would protect their public services and democratic rights. Suggest last week that any asylum-seeker sex attackers be deported, for example, and sit back and wait for the Hitler comparisons to be pelted at you faster than you can say “no platform.”"

Links - 30th April 2016

Heavy Mobile Device Use May Interfere With Children's Social, Problem Solving Skills - "while mobile device use by children can provide an educational benefit, the use of these devices to distract children during mundane tasks may be detrimental to the social-emotional development of the child. The researchers ask "If these devices become the predominant method to calm and distract young children, will they be able to develop their own internal mechanisms of self-regulation?""

Loss of Pigmentation Due to Scarring - "Hypopigmentation of areas of the skin often occurs after any sort of inflammation or injury to the skin, SkinSight.com explains. When the skin is damaged, the surrounding area often becomes inflamed as the body attempts to repair the damaged area. The inflammation can damage healthy cells, however, including melanocytes. Damaged melanocytes produce less melanin, which can result in hypopigmentation around any area which has become scarred... Although the hypopigmented skin around a scar may eventually regain its original pigmentation, the actual scar tissue may persist in having a different color than the surrounding skin. This is because scar tissue is different than normal skin and has no melanocytes"

NSA employee spied on nine women without detection, internal memo shows - "A National Security Agency employee was able to secretly intercept the phone calls of nine foreign women for six years without ever being detected by his managers, the agency's internal watchdog has revealed. The unauthorised abuse of the NSA's surveillance tools only came to light after one of the women, who happened to be a US government employee, told a colleague that she suspected the man – with whom she was having a sexual relationship – was listening to her calls. The case is among 12 documented in a letter from the NSA's inspector general to a leading member of Congress, who asked for a breakdown of cases in which the agency's powerful surveillance apparatus was deliberately abused by staff. One relates to a member of the US military who, on the first day he gained access to the surveillance system, used it to spy on six email addresses belonging to former girlfriends... it raises the possibility that there are many more cases that go undetected. In a quarter of the cases, the NSA only found out about the misconduct after the employee confessed... a woman employee of the agency confessed that she had obtained information about the phone of "her foreign-national boyfriend and other foreign nationals". She later told investigators she often used the NSA's surveillance tools to investigate the phone numbers of people she met socially, to ensure they were "not shady characters"."
Privacy is not needed. If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear!

UK sperm bank has just nine registered donors, boss reveals - "Scarcity in demand does not stop families being demanding, Witjens added. “We get asked for six-foot tall donors, when the average height is 5ft 7in in Britain, so you are effectively ruling out 90% of the donors. And they all want doctors or barristers, but the reality is the majority of those professionals have not got time. So you actually get young guys with flexible jobs.” Donors receive just £35 per session but Witjens said better advertising was key, not giving donors more money: “We might get more donors if we paid £50 or £100 per donation. But money corrupts. If you feel you can make £200 a week for four months, you might hide things about your health.”... “We can stop people having to go to Denmark where donors might have 150-200 offspring. Then it’s always a very real fear for the donor-conceived, running into a half-brother or sister.”"

No anonymity means less sperm donation in UK

3:38 - Parents report the man with an Arnold Schwarzenegger cardboard cutout in his window is making them nervous.

Fray Diego de Landa: A Contradiction - "Diego de Landa was tireless in his efforts to walk the entire Yucatán peninsula and spread the Catholic religion. He went where others would not go, and made it his mission to learn as much about the Mayan culture as he possibly could; probably with the motive that it would be easier to later destroy it. He was welcomed and esteemed at first, and the Mayan people showed him some of their sacred writings. But to Diego de Landa, the very fact that these writings existed was evidence of diabolical beliefs. He was relentless in the pursuit of his goal: to convert as many souls as possible and eliminate pagan practices, thereby allowing the Second Coming of Christ to arrive sooner. Many Mayas did not embrace the new religion, and in many cases continued to worship their own gods and idols. Diego de Landa chose a route of physical aggression and abuse, which was seen as excessive by other Catholic Church members. In 1562 he ordered an inquisition in Maní, burning at least 40 Mayan codices. Dozens of Mayan nobles and commoners were put in jail, interrogated, and tortured. The violence was such that many Mayas escaped into the forests to avoid the extreme abuse. Diego de Landa is believed to have said: “We found a large number of books, and as they contained nothing in which were not to be seen as superstition and lies of the devil, we burned them all, which they (the Maya) regretted to an amazing degree, and which caused them much affliction.”Fray Diego de Landa is famously known for his book “Relación de las Cosas de Yucatán,” written in 1566. It is speculated that he eventually repented of his cruelty and destruction of the Mayan people and their codices, and decided to write their history himself. The book is widely considered to be a complete and accurate summary of the Mayas and their culture, religion, and way of life. His intimate knowledge of the people and villages allowed him to describe their social organization and daily life in a way that no one else could do... Most ironically, some scholars believe that it is partly because of Fray Diego de Landa’s attempts to destroy Mayan culture that it had the opposite effect, and has survived to this day."

Neandertal–Human Trysts May Be Linked to Modern Depression, Heart Disease - "The researchers suggest that some Neanderthal genetic variants might have provided benefits in modern human populations as they first moved out of Africa thousands of years ago. However, those variants may have later become detrimental in modern, Western environments, the scientists said. One example is Neanderthal DNA that increases blood clotting; while this can help seal wounds and prevent germs from entering the body, it can also increase the risk for stroke, miscarriage and other problems, Capra said."

Parliament: Representation of Singapore's history is objective, says Grace Fu
Hurr hurr

Dating website reveals the age women are most attractive to men - "While the age of men that a woman finds sexually attractive, broadly speaking, increases with her own - a 20-year-old woman is attracted to a 23-year-old man; 30-year-old women are interested in 30-year-old men; and 50-year-old women are attracted to 46-year-old men - there's a change when the genders are flipped. Rudder says: "This isn’t survey data, this is data built from tens of millions of preferences expressed in the act of finding a date, and even from just following along the first few entries, the gist of the table is clear: a woman wants a guy to be roughly as old as she is." When it comes to women that men find sexually attractive, Ruddr's data shows that, while men at 20 go for women of the same age, men at 30 are also interested in women at 20. And at 40, men are interested in women at 21. At 50, the data reveals, men are interested in women of 22."

Dolphins hold secret of how to keep boats barnacle-free - Telegraph - "HIGHLY toxic paints that coat ships' hulls to stop them being fouled by marine organisms could soon be replaced with an environmentally friendly alternative copied from dolphin skin."

Are outdoor smoking bans scientifically justified? - "At distances larger than 2 m, levels near single cigarettes were generally close to background"

The Power of 'Good Enough' - "If you ever aren't sure if you attended the very best party or bought the very best computer, just settle for "good enough." People who do this are called "satisficers," and they're consistently happier, he's found, than are "maximizers," people who feel that they must choose the very best possible option. Maximizers earn more, Schwartz has found, but they're also less satisfied with their jobs. In fact, they're more likely to be clinically depressed in general. The reason this happens, as Schwartz explained in a paper with his Swarthmore colleague Andrew Ward, is that as life circumstances improve, expectations rise"
The downsides of perfectionism and never settling for less than perfect

How Singapore is fixing its meritocracy - "These policies may start to free up the institutional rigidities that hinder social mobility and restore a public sphere disenchanted by elitism, mistrust and envy. The polarization of the public sphere in the United States has to some extent been the result of such disenchantment. A much smaller and younger country, Singapore cannot afford to be paralyzed by permanent cleavages."

'Mental block' against Singapore food impossible to overcome: Violet Oon - "“The way that the hawker would actually survive, honestly, is maybe if they go to London, Paris or New York. Because there, they're judging as a dish compared to other dishes that they're used to paying for. They'll just judge it as a lovely dish.” Chef Violet Oon’s philosophy is that Singapore food – whether it’s hawker food, family recipes or well-loved landmark dishes – should be among cuisines at the top of the food chain. Singapore cuisine, said Oon, deserves the best treatment, environment and respect. For her, the recently-opened National Kitchen by Violet Oon at the National Gallery is a reflection of this...
Bharati Jagdish: Now we're in an era where half the world is bemoaning the loss of heritage food in Singapore. Everything from, say, rojak to char kway teow. And some of your fellow food aficionados have written books about this. What is your stance on it though?
Violet Oon: I actually try do it and not write about it. Let's say, I'm serving rojak in my restaurant. We're doing it the way it should be done, the way a lot of hawkers cannot afford to do. For example, our dried chilli, we actually soak it and grind it ourselves. A lot of hawkers have to buy it from the supplier. Now there are preservatives in that.
Bharati Jagdish: And why do hawkers have to do that? Because people are not willing to fork out money for hawker food, even for good hawker food and the hawker has to keep his costs down."

Priest holes, the secret rooms that were custom-built to hide your Catholic priest during the Protestant Reformation - "Secret rooms and hidden doors are generally considered features of haunted houses, but in 16th-century England, they were integral in keeping Catholic priests, and Catholicism itself, alive. With the Protestant Reformation ramping up and Catholicism under attack, a system of safe houses equipped with cleverly hidden “priest holes” kept fugitive clergymen safe from persecution."

Singapore women spend more than $200k on shoes in their lifetime: Survey - "a third of women in Singapore buy shoes to celebrate a success, while 49 per cent admit to rushing out to buy a pair when their pay cheque arrives. The size of the heels also speaks volumes about the image being portayed. While nearly one in three women in Singapore wear up to a two-inch heel, 44 per cent go higher for a job interview and more than 40 per cent increase their height to supermodel proportions for a date. It may be worth considering, since nearly a third of respondents (27 per cent) admit to forming their first impression of someone based on their shoes."

A Study on Fats That Doesn’t Fit the Story Line - NYTimes.com - "There was a lot of news this week about a study, published in the medical journal BMJ, that looked at how diet affects heart health. The results were unexpected because they challenged the conventional thinking on saturated fats. And the data were very old, from the late 1960s and early 1970s. This has led many to wonder why they weren’t published previously. It has also added to the growing concern that when it comes to nutrition, personal beliefs often trump science... more people died on the linoleic-acid-rich diets, although the results were not statistically significant. Even in a sensitivity analysis, which included more studies, no mortality benefit could be found with a diet lower in saturated fats."

Unexpected Honey Study Shows Woes of Nutrition Research - The New York Times - "Almost everything we “know” is based on small, flawed studies. The conclusions that can be drawn from them are limited, but often oversold by researchers and the news media. This is true not only of the newer work that we see, but also the older research that forms the basis for much of what we already believe to be true. I’m not ignoring blockbuster studies because I don’t agree with their findings; I’m usually just underwhelmed by what I can meaningfully conclude from them... The reason that we have to rely on small, poorly designed trials is because that’s often all we can get. Study after study has shown that people, even those trying to lose weight, cannot stick to diets for long periods of time. And that’s the research looking at highly motivated people who have taken it upon themselves to change what they eat. If they can’t stick to a certain regimen, how can we expect study participants, who aren’t as invested, to follow strict instructions for months at a time?... some of the most powerful research on nutrition comes from prisons or mental hospitals, where we can control what people eat more directly. But this comes with its own ethical concerns... The study on honey I discussed earlier was funded by the National Honey Board, and I’m guessing they weren’t thrilled with the result. When industry does fund research, people tend to view it with great skepticism anyway, making it a losing proposition."

The Ferguson Effect / Malay 'Oppression' in Malaysia

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, Black Lives Matter

"Our members don't have any aggression towards any race or ethnicity... Our members have aggression towards crime.

Some of the worst neighbourhoods in our country are a stone's throw from where we are right now. He's worried that Black Lives Matter fuels something that's been called the Ferguson effect. That's where officers, scared of being accused of racism, don't pursue the bad guys. The result: unsafe streets and higher crime...


[On Chugra {sp?} a band in Kuala Lumpur] Their email address contains the word 'Antichrist' and the numbers 666. The guitarist's T-shirt is covered with axes and a slogan about National Socialism. The lead singer's Facebook page is an odd mix of nostalgia for the pre-colonial sultantes, Holocaust denial and posts about Japan's glorious role in World War II. There are 14th century weapons and state flags with the logo 88. That's code in far right circles for "Heil Hitler", since H is the 8th letter of the alphabet. And for good measure there are some Malay Pride stickers decorated with swastikas.

Why though would young Malays want to take on the trappings of European Neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups from the US?

Jugra's [sp?] songs 'The Rise of our Race', 'Blood and Honour' and 'Snatch Back Our Rule' provide some clues.

'We're not treated with respect' says the vocalist Andika [sp?]. The others nod in agreement. What does that mean in practice? They fall silent for a moment, then talk of gangs of Indian men trying to pick fights at petrol stations or of being exploited by Chinese bosses. Ethnic Malays are the majority here, around 60% of the population... yet some Malays act as if they are a minority under siege. The mustachioed guitarist says he's worked for a long time as a bedroom furniture designer at a Chinese-owned company, but he's never got a salary rise. 90% of promotions go to their people first, he says...

[On the Bumiputra policy] this supposedly temporary measure is still going strong nearly 50 years later, but Andika isn't grateful. The stupid government just created more problems, he says. When you have special treatment, then people look down on you. They don't believe you can make it on your own.

Zairil Khir Johari one of Malaysia's youngest opposition politicians, believes what we calls a perverse inferiority complex has ingrained itself in the Malay psyche. Perverse, says Zairil, because it not only contradicts the sense of entitlement in the nationalist slogan Ketuanan Melayu or Malay Supremacy, but also because of the Malays' demographic dominance and their constitutionally enshrined privileges."

Friday, April 29, 2016

Bosnia and Memory / Gun Culture in America

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, A Man Dies Twice

"In Višegrad, it's as if the recent past never happened at all.

At the Muslim cemetery the local authority used an angle grinder to remove the word 'genocide' from the memorial to the dead. They also want to demolish a house where more than 60 people were burned alive by Serb militiamen.

The International War Crimes judge who sentenced 2 of the massacre leaders to life in prison remarked: "In all the long, sad and wretched history of man's inhumanity to man, Pionirska Street and Bikavac fires must rank high".

But when the international community carved out a peace deal in Bosnia, the Serbs were handed Višegrad and with it the right to control memory. The town now wishes to be seen as a tourist destination...


You would think, reading the news about guns in America, that everyone over here is locked and loaded at all times.

But even though there are just about as many privately owned guns as there are Americans, most Americans do not own a gun. Not even close. The best estimates are that only about a quarter of Americans own guns. It's not surprising then: the overwhelming majority of Americans tell pollsters they favor increased regulation of guns.

For instance, if I were to go to my local gun store to buy a gun, I'd have to produce identification and wait for a background check to make sure, among other things, I do not have a criminal record. Or, I could go to a gun show and buy one from a private citizen. No background check required.

Most Americans favor background checks for all gun sales. You would think, with that kind of overwhelming public support, such changes to gun laws would be an easy matter. But then, you don't understand how important money is in making laws in America.

The largest pro-gun group here is the National Rifle Association. Forget for a moment that overwhelming majorities even of its membership favor universal background checks. The NRA leadership staunchly opposes those or any other restrictions on gun owners. And they have the money to back it up. In the last 2 years the NRA has spent nearly $30 million lobbying lawmakers and contributing to their political campaigns. The money is spent telling gun owners that the government wants to take their guns away, and it works. Lawmakers are terrified of getting on the wrong side of the NRA. They've all seen candidates who got on the wrong side of the NRA and were defeated.

To give you some comparison about how effective the gun lobby is, consider this. In 1960 in America, guns killed about 16,000 people. Traffic accidents, on the other hand, killed more than twice that many. Through the 1970s and the 1980s, traffic deaths kept rising, reaching 50,000 a year. Americans were alarmed at that vehicular carnage and, over the strenuous objection of auto makers, one of America's signature industries, tough safety standards were enacted. Airbags, stronger frames, lower speed limits and more. And it worked. Even though the population has increased, the number of traffic deaths is lower than in the 1960s. Gun deaths, meanwhile, have almost doubled.

Guns now kill more Americans than traffic accidents. But so far, regulating guns has resisted similar legislative efforts, with Republicans, who are staunch NRA allies, firmly in control of both houses of Congress, any sort of meaningful tightening of gun laws seems unlikely. It's all about money.

If America were to limit the role money plays in electing public officials, a wide array of issues with wide public support would be dealt with. Anything from climate change, to healthcare, to guns"

Links - 29th April 2016

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, The Showdown Summit - "Successive British Prime Ministers have been openly dismissive, disparaging, even hostile at EU summits, playing to their Euroskeptic gallery at home, EU suits say knowingly, sotto voce, with a nod and a wink. But then in meeting rooms behind the garish stage curtains, we really do value you British, Spain's former minister for the EU told me. You have humour, a no-nonsense approach and you think outside of the boxes, he added, whispering that these virtues were not always so frequently found amongst other EU colleagues. We see Britain as a mother or a father figure in Europe, a politician in Angela Merkels' CDU party explained to me last week, and we can't imagine you leaving the family. Even though you're always clamouring for extrawurst he said. Extra sausage, you know. I think you call it cherry-picking . The UK always has to be the most special among EU equals"

My Name Got Me a Job! - "Research on the name pronunciation effect from the Journal of Experiential Social Psychology shows that easy-to-pronounce names are judged more positively than difficult-to-pronounce names... The popularity of a name also has an effect on how that person is perceived. A study by Marquette University found people with common names were more likely to be hired compared to those with unique or unusual names. Separate research by Mehrabian, A. & Piercy, M. (1993) also identified names that were unusual or that had unconventional spelling (e.g. Nicky as Nikki) were perceived by hiring managers as being less successful, less popular and even less cheerful than their traditional counterparts."
Given that minorities have less popular names (sometimes on purpose) and harder to pronounce names...

Burma’s Rohingya Muslims Targeted By Buddhist Mob Violence - "Paradoxically, democratic reforms have fed the jingoistic chorus. Over the past year, Burma’s new government has dialed back the heavy press and Internet censorship of the previous military regime, allowing journalists greater independence and web users nearly limitless access to sites. But freedom of speech has unleashed pent-up prejudices. Online forums contain rafts of posts referring to the Rohingya in expletive-filled terms, and Burmese newspapers have shown the Rohingya no quarter. Eleven, one of Burma’s largest-circulation newspapers, has focused its coverage of Rakhine State on slamming the Rohingya. Ho Than Hlaing, their correspondent in Sittwe, says the “Bengalis” living in relief camps are quarrelsome freeloaders who receive better care than displaced Buddhists—in fact, conditions in camps for the much smaller number of displaced Buddhists are markedly better than those in Rohingya camps, some of which are blocked by authorities from receiving international aid. The rhetoric has carried over into daily life. A recently launched campaign urges Burmese to only patronize shops that display “969” signs—a code referring to Buddhist teaching—in their storefronts"
When one Burmese person (who was condemning racism in Singapore) was asked what he thought about the plight of the Rohingya, he said: "the rohingya issue started with them demanding voting rights even though they are migrant refugees..it was denied..I'm sure you won't allow foreigners to vote here too..
The situation got worse when a girl was raped and murdered by a group of rohingyas in rural burma..the family of the murdered girl tracked down the group (notice only the perps yeah?) And gave them some mob justice..i understand 1 or 2 of the group died from their injuries..but of course the rohingya community started to say that they are targeted based on theit race/religion and incited others to take revenge..and that's where we are now..perhaps if you've been in the country for 21 years like I've been in singapore, you might know a little more of what ur talking abt... they are migrant refugees and at any point of time are subject to be sent back..sure the ruling junta is fucked up towards them..but they're fucked up towards burmese citizens too..at the end of the day, the girl is talking abt how she is treated by local population in general rather than the policies the govt imposes on her...don't get those 2 mixed up..if a rohingya was to say that they get less food at a shop, or get racial slurs used on them then sure we have a similar situation..otherwise don't mix up policies set in place by the corrupted govt and the way people treat each other.."


When Self-Censorship Norms Backfire: The Manufacturing of Positive Communication and Its Ironic Consequences for the Perceptions of Groups - "Do norms compelling self-censorship of negative communication work? An attributional analysis suggests that awareness of self-censorship norms causes people to be suspicious of other people’s positive communications about groups, thus causing the norms to backfire. Three studies tested this informational contamination hypothesis. Participants read stories in which they imagined that some friends’ conversations painted a particular fraternity in a good light. Results from all three studies revealed that when participants were exposed to a cue encouraging self-censorship—the presence of a member of the talked-about fraternity—this self-censorship norm backfired, instead leading them to talk disparagingly about the fraternity in a different context... Counterintuitively, those very things that are intended to discourage negative stereotypes can in fact end up leading to their increase. Just as the direct command of a business authority figure to engage in a consensual behavior can lead people to reject the behavior (Conway & Schaller, 2005), self-censorship cues can ultimately lead to more communication of the censored belief... it may help us better understand why social movements like political correctness do not appear to be entirely succeeding"
Self-censorship to prevent offence doesn't work

North Carolina governor wants to change 'anti-gay' law - "Major companies such as Bank of America and Apple have criticised the law and others vowed to curtail their businesses in the state because of it.
The fallout included:
Pay Pal dropped plans to open an operations centre in the state that would have employed about 400 people
Deutsche Bank stopped plans to add 250 jobs to the state
Rock singer Bruce Springsteen cancelled a concert in Greensboro
A TV production for the streaming service Hulu relocated to Canada
Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau said five groups have cancelled conventions with 16 others considering"
Should companies boycott countries that are anti-gay? If boycotting anti-gay institutions is alright, how about boycotting pro-gay ones?

Why can’t world leaders ever admit they were wrong? - "when political leaders admit error, however, that’s a moment that can cause even pure partisans to doubt their loyalties. And although opponents of that political leader might be happy to see that kind of candor, they are not going to switch their vote just because a president they dislike acknowledged being wrong. So from a political perspective, even if a leader knows that he or she is wrong, a public admission of error generates zero political upside and risks alienating one’s base. But what about someone like Putin, who operates in a more authoritarian political system? Actually, the incentive not to admit error is even stronger in these countries. Authoritarian or semi-authoritarian leaders always have to worry about civil uprisings, and will go to great lengths to communicate that all is well and that they are super-competent leaders. That is part and parcel of how they stay in power and demoralize any opposition into believing that resistance is futile. Even memes that mock authoritarian leaders can be viewed as a political threat."

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Pornography and the Internet - "[On pornography normalising certain sexual behaviors] Is it the case then that these young people are completely living in a bubble? Because it seems to me that young people could look at, for example, the beheadings of people on the internet and they could go: Oh. it's normal to go around beheading people, I must go and do that. They could look at a whole range of violent imagery and say: Oh, I'm going to go and shoot everyone. Oh look everyone's taking heroin, I'll take it...
[On the idea that the Sun should not have Page 3 because of the message it sends to kids] On my way to Broadcasting House this evening... I saw a number of women wearing miniskirts or T-shirts, whatever. I'm sure if I was a 13 or 14 year old boy I would have looked at those women - reasonably scantily clad - and it would have formed certain thoughts in my mind in terms of my own desire, in terms possibly the availability of women, in terms possibly the message those women were subliminally sending me about their own status. Is that an argument for saying that women should cover themselves up?... if there's a harm associated with it, if it's leading young men to misunderstand, to think women are sex objects?"
Ahh, the monkey see monkey do theory of human behavior

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Food and Nostalgia - "90% of what we call taste is really smell. So for instance if you hold your nose and eat chocolate, it tastes just like chocolate has no taste at all. If you hold your nose and eat and an apple and onion or carrot and potato, they taste the same... the quickest way to induce recall of a pianist (?) quicker than with any other sensory modality, is with smell, because the part of the brain that we think smell or the olfactory lobe is actually part of the limbic system or the emotional brain. So you smell a smell and you need to decide: I like it or I don't like it. And then you figure out what it is... which is totally different than all the other sensory spheres. For instance you see a picture of a cow or tree or horse, you identify t, and then you decide if you like it or not. With smell it's the exact opposite. It's a pure affect of our emotional sense. And hence when you have memories for food, emotions are laid down concurrent with those memories. So when you're eating food you're not just eating food that you're tasting or smelling at that time, you're eating all the memories that are associated with that food... What odours made people nostalgic for their childhood. We looked at 989 people from 49 states and 39 countries. We found the Number One odour that made people nostalgic for their childhood was that of baked goods but after that it depended upon where you grew up and when you grew up. So if you grew up in the East Coast of the United States, the smell of flowers... in the South, it was the smell of fresh air. In the Midwest it was the smell of farm animals. In the West Coast it was the smell of meat cooking or meat barbequing. And it depended on your country of origin as well. from England, they described fish and chips. From Africa, many people described the smell of maize. From Scandinavia, herring. From Canada, from Quebec, something called tourtière, a meat pie like substance. So what we found is that your nostalgia for childhood... is so often the food you're exposed to as a child."

Can the Pedestrian Be at Fault in a Car-Pedestrian Accident? - AllLaw.com - "imagine a driver was operating a vehicle while intoxicated. A pedestrian, who has a "Walk" signal, enters an intersection while texting. The driver’s vehicle hits the pedestrian, causing injuries. The pedestrian sues the driver, and the jury determines that the driver was 75% at fault for the accident while the pedestrian was 25% at fault (because an alert pedestrian could have seen the driver coming and avoided the accident). The pedestrian's total damages (medical bills, lost income, etc.) amount to $10,000. In states that follow a "pure comparative negligence" rule, the pedestrian's damages award would be reduced to $7,500, or the total award minus 25%, which accounts for the pedestrian's share of the fault."
Victim blaming!

Thomas Friedman's answer to What should be done to promote peace in Middle East? - Quora - "I wish I could tell you I see any way, but other than in Tunisia I really don't... right now, other than Tunisia, it seems that, as an Israeli analyst once pointed out, there are now just two governing paradigms in the regime: SISI and ISIS. Sisi or the Islamic State."

Cafe owner ordered to remove extractor fan in case smell of frying bacon offends passing Muslims - "Planning bosses acted against Beverley Akciecek, 49, after being told her next-door neighbour's Muslim friends had felt 'physically sick' due to the 'foul odour'. Councillors at Stockport Council in Greater Manchester say the smell from the fan is 'unacceptable on the grounds of residential amenity'."

Pedestrians with right of way 'must still share responsibility' - "Even if the lights are in their favour, pedestrians still have to check for oncoming traffic. This was held in a rare 2-1 Court of Appeal decision in which the Chief Justice dissented. Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Justice Quentin Loh, who were in the majority, explained their reasoning by highlighting a Highway Code rule that requires pedestrians to be on the alert. "Pedestrians should take charge of their own safety," the court said in judgment grounds issued on Thursday, and decided the injured victim in the case before it was 15 per cent to blame despite having the right of way."
Singapore has a car accident culture! Victim blaming!

Film and race: How racially skewed are the Oscars? | The Economist - "as our analysis of film casts and awards shows, the number of black actors winning Oscars in this century has been pretty much in line with the size of America's overall black population. But this does not mean Hollywood has no problems of prejudice. As the data show, it clearly does... The numbers indicate that, whereas the film industry most certainly fails to represent America’s diversity, the whitewashing occurs not behind the closed doors of the Academy, but in drama schools (shown in the SAG membership) and casting offices. For most of the past 15 years, the Academy has largely judged what has been put in front of them: minority actors land 15% of top roles, 15% of nominations and 17% of wins. Once up for top roles, black actors do well, converting 9% of top roles into 10% of best-actor nominations and 15% of the coveted golden statuettes, a bit above their share of the general population."

Transgendered people and National Service

Transgender woman facing military service as a man can stay in UK

"A transgender woman has been granted sanctuary in the UK to protect her from doing compulsory military service as a man in Singapore.

In the first case of its kind, two judges ruled that she should not be forcibly returned to her home country, where she would be forced to do two weeks of military service a year for the next eight years...

She completed military service as a man in Singapore between December 2001 and June 2004 and has said she felt uncomfortable when serving with men.

Women in Singapore, including transgender women who have undergone reassignment surgery, are not expected to participate in military service. The student has been living as a woman for the past 10 years but has decided against having the full gender reassignment procedure and would therefore face calls to serve."


There was a trans gendered person in my camp. The person was PES E and got to stay out.

They give gay guys PES C and they get to stay out too - for similar reasons.

This is to protect transgendered and gay men from the other soldiers, rather than vice versa.

Interesting question: would it be good to make gay men do full NS? Today gay men are not downgraded unless they declare that they are gay, so gay men actually have the best of both worlds.

"She completed military service as a man in Singapore between December 2001 and June 2004 and has said she felt uncomfortable when serving with men"

If I am uncomfortable when serving with Malays, or uncomfortable sharing a toilet with a transgendered person, what would people say?


A Doctor who has served in the SAF: There are several factors involved.

There is some evidence that in all-male fighting units, the presence of a homosexual has a negative effect on unit morale. This directly affects combat effectiveness.

Further, as noted, a lot of them suffer from social rejection which leads to a much higher risk of psychological issues. A risky proposition for people handling weaponry.

As Gabriel noted, there is also significant risk of teasing. Not only might this lead to psychological distress, it might also result in the dreaded Complaint Letter or even Parents' Complaint Letter

Joshua Chiang critiques Privilege Theory

Via Joshua Chiang - Because she was oppressed by facts. Not sure if... (I do not think the other person's comments are very interesting and anyway you can tell what they are by Joshua's responses):

"I have always, even before she came on the scene, made it clear there is Chinese hegemony which whether intentionally or not makes the system benefit Chinese people more. In fact when I was CE of TOC I felt it was an important angle to write about and had - though unsuccessfully - tried to rope in Malay and Indian writers to write about their experiences. What I had disagreed right from the start is the rhetoric of privilege and the obnoxious white-knighting ways in which Adeline Koh came along and told everyone else to shush - which reflects the very problem of privilege rhetoric in that its proponents find it very easy to deflect any valid crictisms as people speaking from a privileged position. Without realising they are using their scholarly 'privilege' to shut discourse.

Two - just because we are having this conversation, and only because I give a shit, doesn't mean that a lot of people are. What they are discussing however is how obnoxious Sangeetha is. I'm sorry to say that if she had any issues and agenda to champion, she has pretty much derailed it and made it only about her."


""A critical change is whether the issue is being discussed or not at all - and right now, more people are starting to try and understand what the fuss is all about. This, believe it or not, is progress."

Just like how Sept 11 got everyone talking about terrorism and the West's culpability in meddling in the Middle East?"


"My main objection has always been on using 'privilege' theory as a form of advocacy and Sangeetha being a terrible advocate. You think her style has led to some progress even in the discourse, I beg to differ. If anything she is totally unreliable as someone you can trust or work with; the penchant of her judging who should be her 'allies' and then turning against them is the stuff of legend among civil society circles now.

And again, you make the assumptions that we know very little of the 'unknown-knowns', since TOC days, we've already known how thick skulls are with regards to stubborn resistance to change on a whole range of issues. The whole of Singapore is NOT ready to abolish DP. It is NOT ready for LGBTQ rights. It is NOT ready for Migrant Workers' right. Heck it is NOT even ready to consider a day without the PAP.

So how? Scream and shout oppression at every damn thing? Do you see an LGBTQ advocate going around scolding straight people for 'het privilege'?"


"Dude. Don't assume. Because I can get started on your non-colorblind privilege. And then we can compete on who experiences more oppression on a daily level... Do not even assume I am not offended by your constant assumptions of my experiences... The moment u start talkimg about pain, u begin to assume I have never experienced some form of daily "oppression"... Also do not forget your experiences even if they are a result of institutionalized racism is not a universal experience - I've spoken to minorities who don't feel the way you do. So how? It doesn't mean institutionalized racism doesnt exist but we can't take your pain as a yardstick to action. And when u start making your pain the most important thing in this discussion and start going into things like oh go and be academic with people who lost a child, you are being offensive to my experiences of losing someone and knowing what it is to lose someone. I seldom bring these up because we are talking about ideas and whether this and that work. Not our own subjective pain."

"i think u need to a) check ur binary thinking b) stop mansplaining what is privilege as if I never did my research (you on the other hand appear not to know any of the criticisms against privilege theory) and c) find a safe space if you think discussing on an academic level is very triggering."

"You also need to check the microaggression. Don't forget i am technically disabled because of my color blindness."


"the only reason why you can't even address my points on grounds of logic IS because privilege theory and rhetoric has no legs to stand on. At the end the only position you can take is that of righteous outrage based on some assumed 'victim/oppressor' relationship we have and claiming my moral inferiority to yours based on the 'privilege' I have in making statements you claim offence at, claiming some pain in the unique position you know I cannot reasonably say to experience but at best approximate because hey, I am HUMAN and I know what it is like to feel hurt, rejected, insulted etc.

THAT is the shaky ground in which privilege theory has made you stand on. This chasm that I have been trying to build a bridge across but you steadfastly refuse to close because you want to claim the moral high ground that privilege theory offers you.

It's bullshit and I am sick of it.

And I'm OFFENDED. I'm offended because folks like us, we do our best to right the wrongs which we had no part in, but we're never good enough. Boy did we listen, did we listen hard, but fuck. You're just not happy unless you get some bleeding confession of guilt some fucking pound of flesh. And guess what? At the end, we folks will stand up for you - and do not presume there is no personal cost in sticking our necks out, sometimes further than what you do for yourself, and yet you'll still call us oppressors by virtue of the color of our skin, unless we acknowledge to some intellectually bankrupt theory.

But I don't think you know how that feels. This pain. Even though I'm pretty sure you know what being wronged feels like. Because hey, you're a minority. You cannot feel what I feel, right?

And since according to the same theory and reasoning, anger is a legit response, then here's my most legit response. FUCK YOU. FUCKING FUCK YOU."


"my exasperation has nothing to do with my race or yours. When we have a discourse, the only tools we bring to the table are our knowledge and our brains. Whatever class, race, gender advantage you or I have over each other, that exists in the real world, they have an impact on our lives, that's true, I have never denied that. But here, my IQ, yours, my knowledge, yours, it is not coloured by race. It should not even be coloured by experience. A discussion on a theory based in social science, however hard to empirically study compared to physical science, need necessarily be based also on more or less logical principles.

I lay it on the table, why I think privilege theory is a very bad articulation of social facts that we can agree on. You did not address the issue. You did not give me reasons why you think it is a good theory, or better than a lot of existing theories out there that studies the power relationships between groups of people, e.g. Foucault's theory of hegemony.

Instead you keep bringing the privilege card whenever you can. And then you think it's some kind of truimph when I let loose my exasperation and you're like 'hey that is exactly how we feel everyday in a racist world!" Wow. Breaking news. Like none of us have ever done thought experiments before. Like you cannot bloody see the reason why we want to make things better is because we know this anger this injustice and it is unconsciensable. But see where this goes? Nowhere. I keep saying, I see your point, I feel your burn. Do you see mine? Do you recognise the frustration of being judged everyday as some oppressor merely by the color of our skin? Maybe the injury you suffer from is a left hook to the face. The one I get is punch to the stomach. Different places, same hurt.

So we do have things in common. Pain. And the desire to improve things. But all I'm getting from you is - NO HEAR ME ROAR HEAR MY PAIN MY PAIN IS MOST IMPORTANT. Well, then where were you when I was standing alone against the police and MCYS officers taking a real risk of being arrested for getting in the way of police procedures because they want to evict a group of homeless Malays and Indians - OPPRESSED MINORITIES - from the beach?"


"you simply have no end goal, because privilege theory doesn't propose any. It's just this fuzzy thing that you think describes your situation, from your perspective, without consideration of the perspective of those you frame 'oppressors'. And instead of seeing how we can bridge that gap with those who want to, you just stand on your pedestal and shout "you won't understand one!" "
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