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Friday, October 31, 2014

Links - 31st October 2014

Joy Behar sees racism in “Black Friday.” Can “White Christmas” be far behind? - "We’re not sure what’s worse about this video clip. Was it Joy Behar questioning the hidden racist meaning in the term “Black Friday” or Whoppi Goldberg revealing that she was “going commando”?"

Homebuilders scrap 'master bedroom' because of racist, gender-biased connotations

Idioms need not apply - "In discussing Jeremy Lin’s playing vulnerabilities, an on-air ESPN announcer used the phrase “chink in armor” and it was repeated in an ESPN web headline early the next morning. The announcer has been suspended and the headline writer fired because the idiom was deemed offensive... 'He said he has used the phrase “at least 100 times” in headlines over the years and thought nothing of it when he slapped it on the Lin story'"
Comment: "I’m still working on Santa Claus’ brazenly racist AND sexist catch phrase “Ho ho ho!”."

Saturday Night Card Game (Mitt Romney Gives Race Card Players The Rope With Which To Hang Him) - "The latest example is the nontroversy over Mitt Romney’s play of the common phrase to “hang an albatross around his neck.” That metaphor was used frequently during the 2008 campaign as commenters throughout the left-blogosphere wanted Democrats to hang George W. Bush around John McCain’s neck. Romney used this metaphor yesterday in New Hampshire when referring to our economic misery index, which he substituted for the word albatross, and then applied it to Barack Obama. You can guess the rest, media buzz and cries of racism because in the games of the race card players, hanging the misery index around Obama’s neck or hanging Obama with it, just like it was hung around Carter’s neck, is exactly the same thing as saying “let’s lynch the black guy.”"

The Death of David Reimer - "Money had been a leading exponent of the theory that children were born psychosexually neutral and could be assigned to either gender in the first years of their life... Money's meetings with Brenda were a darkly comic study in how a scientist could refuse to see the evidence he didn't want to see, and how a subject can gradually learn to respond to his cues... For much of his career, Money's admirers saw him as a bold pioneer fighting puritanical reactionaries. This was his self-image as well. He touted himself as a defender of sexual liberation: for the rights of gays and other sexual minorities, for legalized pornography, for breaking down social taboos. But this seemingly libertarian attitude obscured an authoritarian core. When the truth about the Reimer case was exposed, the sexologist suddenly seemed much more repressive than the conservatives he hated. Not that he acknowledged this. He told Colapinto that the press's embrace of Diamond's exposé was a product of right-wing media bias and "the antifeminist movement," insisting that "they say masculinity and femininity are built into the genes so women should get back to the mattress and the kitchen." By this time, though, his critics were emerging not just from the right but from the community of open intersexuals—people born with mixed or indeterminate gender. It turned out they don't like to be coerced by social engineers any more than they like to be coerced by the party of rigid sex roles."
Science (and reality) is misogynistic and anti-feminist!

Where Online Social Liberalism Lost The Script « The Dish - "social liberalism was once an alternative that enabled people to pursue whatever types of consensual personal behavior they wanted, and thus was a movement that increased individual freedom and happiness... the public face of social liberalism has ceased to seem positive, joyful, human, and freeing. I now mostly associate that public face with danger, with an endless list of things that you can’t do or say or think, and with the constant threat of being called an existentially bad person if you say the wrong thing, or if someone decides to misrepresent what you said as saying the wrong thing. There are so many ways to step on a landmine now, so many terms that have become forbidden, so many attitudes that will get you cast out if you even appear to hold them. I’m far from alone in feeling that it’s typically not worth it to engage, given the risks... I cannot tell you how common it is for me to talk to 19, 20, 21 year old students, who seem like good people, who discuss liberal and left-wing beliefs as positive ideas, but who shrink from identifying with liberalism and feminism instinctively... The culture is one of attack, rather than of education. And the claims, typically, are existential: not “this thing you said is problematic from the standpoint of race,” but rather “you’re a racist.” Not “I think there’s some gender issues going here that you should think about,” but “you’re a misogynist”... Everything that you like is problematic. Every musician you like is misogynist. Every movie you like is secretly racist. Every cherished public figure has some deeply disqualifying characteristics. All of your victories are the product of privilege. Everyone you know and love who does not yet speak with the specialized vocabulary of today’s social justice movement is a bad, bad person. That is no way to build a broader coalition, which we desperately need if we’re going to win"

Engaging The T - "Kevin Williamson notes how Laverne Cox, appearing as a trans person on the cover of Time, nonetheless refused to answer a question about whether she had had her genitals reassigned as too “invasive.” Sorry, Laverne. But if you’re out there explaining yourself, you’ve gotta explain all of it. And the elaborate and neurotic fixation on language – will writing “transgender” rather than “transgendered” reveal my inner bigot? – is now so neurotic even RuPaul has been cast aside as politically incorrect... politics has eclipsed the English language here and that language itself has become enmeshed in a rigid ideology:
'The obsession with policing language on the theory that language mystically shapes reality is itself ancient — see the Old Testament — and sympathetic magic proceeds along similar lines, using imitation and related techniques as a means of controlling reality'...
the insistence of many transgendered people on the need to permanently reconcile their physical bodies with their mental states is in some ways a rather conservative impulse. There’s a reason that Iran’s theocrats allow for sex-change operations but not gay relationships. The transgender desire not to be trans-gender but to be one gender physically and mentally is actually quite an affront to queer theorists for whom all gender and sex are social constructions. Many of these people want testosterone and estrogen and surgery to end their divided selves. And it doesn’t get more crudely biological and not-social than that. Which means that there are also divisions within the trans world between those who might be able to pass completely as another gender, after reassignment surgery, and those whose visual ambiguity or androgyny will remain"

Is “tranny” a slur or an identity? Who decides? - "Tranny, the highest-profile of these words, is both a slur and a term of endearment, a brand that can sting and a badge that can be worn with pride. And when some people cherish a word that others despise, who can be said to own it, to possess the authority to declare it fair or foul? It’s a vexing question, but one that we must consider, because the answer will go a long way in determining what the LGBTQ liberation movement—and liberation is the key word—looks like after gay marriage... RuPaul’s comments have joined impassioned missives from trans artist Mx. Justin Vivian Bond, trans author and artist Kate Bornstein, and drag performer Lady Bunny, all of whom in their own ways echoed RuPaul’s view that “banning” tranny was an example of a conservative minority speaking on behalf of—and doing a certain kind of violence to—those for whom the term is, in the words of Bornstein, a “valid, vibrant, and vital identity”... you will see self-identified trannies accusing their critics of PC tyranny, while the other side accuses them of internalized transphobia... it does not seem inaccurate to me to interpret some transgender people’s insistence on transitioning seamlessly from one gender to the other—to reinforce the gender binary, in effect, by eschewing the conceptual friction that third-way terms like tranny and even she-male engender—as a conservative impulse... I am troubled by how, in our zeal to create a so-called “safe space” for ourselves, safe can so easily become code for ideologically pure. As history has borne out time and again, that’s not a space that’s safe for anyone"

Sydney's Best Banh Mi Pork Rolls - "An authentic banh mi has no less than 10 ingredients, each playing a part in balancing sweet, savoury, sour and spicy flavours... For Ngo, gourmet banh mi, for which some places are charging more than $8, is against everything banh mi stands for." [Banh mi] is for the everyman. It's street food, it's cross-culture. It's not about separating people by class, by taste or by gourmet knowledge," Ngo says. "That's why I'm against banh mi for $8.50 … It's about egalitarianism and accessibility.""

Blasts from the past: The Soviet ape-man scandal - "IT WAS the story with everything: secret papers, an evil Soviet dictator and a zealous zoologist hell-bent on breeding a creature that was half man, half ape. When details of Ilia Ivanov's attempts to create an ape-human hybrid emerged in the 1990s from the newly opened Russian archives, they prompted a rash of lurid headlines. Ivanov became the "Red Frankenstein". His proposed liaisons were invariably dangerous. There was even the suggestion that he had been ordered to breed super-strong hairy warriors for what The Sun in London dubbed "Stalin's mutant ape army"... Ivanov headed home with 20 chimps to stock a new ape nursery in the subtropical Soviet republic of Abkhazia. He knew now that his best chance of creating his hybrid was to find Soviet women willing to carry half-ape babies in the interests of science. In the event, only four chimps made it to Abkhazia and so while the nursery set about acquiring more apes, Ivanov looked for volunteers. At least five women volunteered... When Ivanov put his proposal to the Academy of Sciences he painted it as the experiment that would prove men had evolved from apes. "If he crossed an ape and a human and produced viable offspring then that would mean Darwin was right about how closely related we are," says Etkind. When Ivanov approached the government, he stressed how proving Darwin right would strike a blow against religion, which the Bolsheviks were struggling to stamp out. Success would not only bolster the reputation of Soviet science but provide useful anti-religious propaganda to boot... There is a third possible motive - that Ivanov's research was part of an ambitious plan to transform society. The high-ranking Bolsheviks who backed Ivanov were intellectuals who saw science as a means of realising their dream of a socialist utopia. "Politicians could change the political system, nationalise industries and turn farms into vast collectives - but the task of transforming people was entrusted to scientists," says Etkind. "The aim was to match people to the socialist design of Soviet society.""

GamerGate: A Closer Look At The Controversy Sweeping Video Games - "What it boils down to is many people feeling upset that the video game space has been so heavily politicized with a left-leaning, feminist-driven slant. I’ve heard from many readers claiming they have no problem with more women and gay people represented in games; they simply don’t want every game to be critiqued based on these factors... [there's] a strong reader backlash because many readers don’t want to be told what’s good or bad about a game’s social politics, they just want to hear about the game itself... we have a glimpse at just how much each side of the equation loathes the other, how each side has labeled the other in order to dehumanize them. Whatever truth belongs to each label, simply utilizing these sorts of terms in any debate is more about propaganda than it is about digging for answers... Whether or not some people are capitalizing on a culture of victimhood is a matter largely of opinion, and not something that can simply be stated as fact any more than alleged, unverified death threats against anyone ought to be reported as fact. So much of this is mired in speculation and partisanship at this point that it’s almost impossible to see the forest for the trees. Anyone selling you simple answers is likely ripping you off."

Gender Stereotypes That Don't Get Protested

The crowd and furore accompanying some cases of "gender stereotyping" (which among other things conflates descriptive and prescriptive statements and takes everything too seriously) is, strangely, absent in some cases.

For example, take this Singapore Police Force ad I saw at the bus stop opposite Park Mall on Wednesday:


"I don't chase after profits and bottom lines.

I PURSUE JUSTICE FOR THE DEFENCELESS

When your bottom line is to bring protection and relief to those in need, you know it's more than just a job. In the Singapore Police Force, you will be a figure of leadership and empathy for those facing adversity. Every day is filled with opportunities to do work that makes a difference.

Join us for a challenging and rewarding career at MoreThanJustAJob.spf.sg"


A "critical" look at this poster might problematise it so, using gender as a lens:

- The presumed abuser is male (Men make up more than 40% of domestic violence victims in the UK, and in Singapore making some assumptions from a New Paper poll with no context the figure seems to be 41%)
- The presumed victim is female
- The police officer tending to the victim is female, which perpetuates stereotypes of women being more caring and sympathetic to (female) victims of domestic violence


Of course, those who jump at trivial infractions such as Scoot's ad campaigns and Focus on the Family Singapore's Sex Education are not going to say anything, since Gender Stereotypes are only bad when they 'hurt' women (I actually did a search for anyone talking about this and came up blank, much less finding anything from the usual suspects).


That said, perhaps this does indeed have something to offer feminists, since according to this poster, women join the Police Force to protect the Defenceless and the Needy

One could compare this to the general stance of the "More Than Just A Job" advertising campaign in general. For example:


"MORE THAN JUST A JOB.

A career that transcends the daily grind. That's not about endless hours in a cubicle, but about the security of Singapore. Where real lives are at stake, and threats are real and constant. No other job is quite as exciting and rewarding."

This general ad (evidently not positioned particularly at women) emphasises not care for others or protecting the needy, but excitement, National Security, saving lives and fending off unspecified threats.


If one were so inclined, one could also critique women being showcased in 'softer' and/or subordinate roles in other ads in the campaign.

So perhaps they might say something about it after all.

But I wouldn't count on it.

Does Competition Eliminate Discrimination? Evidence from the Commercial Sex Market in Singapore (2/2)

(Continued)

"Empirical findings suggest that the sex workers’ discriminative behavior is largely profit-driven and also reflects a high degree of taste preference. The discussion on the nature of price discrimination in my case study is twofold. First, I investigate the sex workers' treatment of the Caucasians and the Bangladeshis, in which I argue that there is a strong presence of statistical discrimination. Second, I argue that the sex workers practice taste-based discrimination against Indians...

Sex workers are 17 percent more likely to approach Caucasian clients compared to Chinese clients, and impose an 18 percent premium on the initial price for Caucasians. The bargaining process with Caucasians is slightly less likely to fail than the bargaining process with the Chinese. However, the difference in failure rates is not statistically significant...

The small difference in the bargaining outcomes between the two ethnicities could be due to a violation of these assumptions. Firstly, Chinese men are more familiar with the local market. Knowing this, sex workers are more likely to suggest an initial price that is closer to the men’s true willingness to pay. This results in higher bargaining success rates with the Chinese clients even though they are only willing to pay lower prices. Secondly, Chinese clients are more accustomed to and are more capable at bargaining, or at least this is what the sex workers have reported. The sex workers cherry-pick Caucasian men because they are more likely to seal the deal with Caucasian clients at a higher rent rate with an equal amount of bargaining effort. Hence, heterogeneity in the bargaining behavior of the clients could potentially contract the gap in the bargaining outcome between the two groups. Therefore, I conclude that sex workers exercise statistical discrimination against Caucasian clients.

Recall that the more attractive sex workers are popular among both Chinese and Caucasian clients, especially for the latter. Over 90 percent of Caucasians are attached to beautiful sex workers. Hence, the observed results are mainly driven by the behavior of these more attractive sex workers. Attractiveness grants sex workers more market power. The more attractive sex workers are able to demand a 22 percent premium on the initial price proposed to Caucasians, which is 4 percent higher than what the less attractive workers ask for. Assuming both types of sex workers are providing the same service, this 4 percent margin can be considered as a form of beauty premium.

The more attractive sex workers rate Chinese high at 4.13, which is half a point more than the rating for Caucasians, even though they expect a higher transaction profit from Caucasians. I believe that this higher rating is based on their intrinsic preference for Chinese clients, because they believe Chinese men are more likely to be repeat customers.

Recognizing that the matching between Caucasians and less attractive sex worker is low, I briefly comment on these sex workers’ behavior here. Although the less attractive sex workers cannot compete with more attractive sex workers in appearance, they make up for it by being more proactive in approaching potential clients. They are 28 percent more likely to approach the Caucasians than the Chinese.

It is worth mentioning that the enumerators hired for the survey are Asians, and presumably, they rank the sex workers’ beauty by Asian standards. There is a level of subjectivity involved, as some sex workers who appear to be less attractive to the Asian enumerator (or clients) may be considered attractive to Caucasians. If the less attractive sex workers are aware of this subjectivity, then it is not surprising to find that they approach Caucasians more proactively. In short, this is also a full and precise demonstration that the sex workers’ discriminative actions are deliberate. They discriminate statistically based on wealth indicators (the client’s ethnicity) and their asset endowment (beauty)...

Both attractive and less attractive sex workers propose lower initial prices to Bangladeshi clients with a discount of 24 percent and 20 percent, respectively. This is somewhat expected because the majority of Bangladeshis in Singapore are hard laborers and earn only 20 Singapore Dollars (17 USD) a day. Thus, the fact that Bangladeshi clients have the lowest willingness to pay is not private information in this market, and is likely to have contributed to the lower initial prices. Moreover, both the attractive and less attractive sex workers experience a higher likelihood of bargaining failure when dealing with Bangladeshis, which is 30 percent and 19 percent, respectively...

The fact that over 90 percent of the transactions with Bangladeshis are conducted by the less attractive sex workers sheds some light on this seemingly puzzling finding. Active engagement with Bangladeshi clients implies less attractive sex workers face gloomy market prospects and are forced to take the less profitable and less favored share of the pie to survive. In order to secure less desirable but much-needed clients, they approach Bangladeshis as often as they approach the Chinese even though Bangladeshis are not able to match the prices that the Chinese are able to pay. Thus, it is clear that less attractive sex workers positively discriminate against Bangladeshis.

Lastly, I assess the possibility of taste discrimination. As mentioned, the sex workers find clients with dark skin tones distasteful. Both Bangladeshi and Indian men are usually regarded to have darker skin. However, intriguingly, every pimp and sex worker interviewed insisted that they can distinguish between Indian and Bangladeshi men, and claim that Bangladeshis are fairer than Indians. We are not able to confirm whether their judgment is accurate. But, what we can conclude is that they have a way to identify Bangladeshis and they do not have any distaste towards the characteristics that the identified Bangladeshi men possess...

We do recognize that the sex workers have a sense of the expected service duration for each ethnic group, and may set prices that incorporate this expectation. In my sample, the average service duration with the Caucasian men is about twice as long as that with the Chinese men and Indian men, and three times longer than that with the Bangladeshis and Malays. This suggests that service duration could be a key determinant of the initial price differential observed between the Chinese and Caucasians, as well as between the Chinese and Bangladeshi.

Different sexual acts are sold as a combo in most of the transactions. On average, 2 types of sexual acts are sold in each transaction. Only 18 percent of transactions involve solely vaginal penetration and only 1 percent involves solely oral sex.* Sex workers may require a higher compensation for the client group they deem to be more demanding during the transaction.

* - Among all transactions, 77 percent involves vaginal penetration, 35 percent involves anal sex, 50 percent involves oral sex and 1 percent involves only a handjob...

Sex workers’ price discrimination against Caucasians (relative to Chinese) is primarily due to their demand for longer service duration. Such price discrimination is neither associated with intensity of sexual acts performed during the transactions nor where and when the transactions occurred...

After sexual acts are taken into account, discrimination is more pronounced with a 20 percent (see column(4) in Table 10) higher price for Caucasians which indicates that Chinese clients could be more demanding compared to Caucasians. When all the service characteristics are controlled in column (5), the price disparity between the Caucasians and Chinese disappears. Nevertheless, my argument about the sex workers’ statistical discrimination against the Caucasians remains intact, because the sex workers use the potential client’s ethnicity as an indicator of the expected service time. They know that Caucasians are more likely to buy longer services. Thus, they are willing to approach Caucasians more frequently. Because competition among the sex workers is severe and waiting is costly, it is not surprising to observe that sex workers prefer selling their services to Caucasians. They are able to make a higher profit from transactions with Caucasians than with the Chinese through a slightly inflated price and longer service duration.

For Bangladeshis, the argument of statistical price discrimination stands firm, except the price discount for Bangladeshi drops from 18 percent to 13 percent (see column(5) in Table 10). This consistently reflects the shorter service duration and lower labor intensity for transactions with Bangladeshi...

The sex workers’ behavioral responses towards Indian men forms an interesting case of taste-based discrimination. Recall the reasoning behind sex workers' distaste towards Indian men: body odor, dark skin tone, less wealthy, more demanding/rough and bargain a lot. While the accusation regarding the body odor and dark skin tone can be clearly viewed as sex workers’ pure taste preferences, the other reasons could arguably be interpreted as either labor cost boosters or taste preference determinants...

Facing high demand, beautiful sex workers are less constrained to achieve max profit and have the luxury of avoiding disliked clients. They minimize contacts with Indians, which is shown by their significantly lower tendency to approach Indian men (24 percent less likely as compared to their rate of approach to Chinese men). They demand a high premium of 16 percent on the initial price from potential Indian clients to compensate for the expected utility loss from the transaction (if they decided to sell), as well as to discourage the Indians from further negotiation (if they do not intend to sell)...

The situation holds even with the less attractive sex workers, except that they do not impose inflated initial prices on Indians. Similar to the argument I presented in the case of Bangladeshi men, the equal pricing is due to the fact that the less attractive sex workers are less desired and possess less market power...

Median bargaining time with Indians is as long as that with Chinese, and it is longer than that with Bangladeshis. In comparison with Bangladeshis, the price inflation placed on Indians dropped from 20 percent to 17 percent after taking differences in bargaining time. This implies 3 percent of price disparity could be explained by the longer expected bargaining time with Indians. It is weak evidence supporting the fact that sex workers demand higher compensation from Indians for the prolonged bargaining...

That Indians are more demanding or rougher is a clear indication of high expected transaction cost with Indians...

Data confirms 14* percent of all transactions involving anal sex are associated with Indians, whereas only 8 percent are associated with Bangladeshis. Among all transactions Indians clients have, 49 percent of them involve anal sex, which is close to the 53 percent rate of anal sex with Chinese clients, but is much higher than the 13 percent rate with Bangladeshis.

* - 56 percent of all transactions with Chinese involve anal sex, the largest proportion among all ethnic client groups...

Sex workers are 15 percent (see column (2) in Table 14) less likely to approach Indian men on weekdays (Monday-Thursday) and this likelihood is further reduced by an additional 23 percent (p-value=0.06) over the weekend. It is very clear that sex workers are inclined to avoid Indians, but they implement this preference strategically. They aim to strike a balance between minimizing work disutility and maximizing monetary returns. Therefore, they approach Indian men less often over the weekend when they have more demand...

While the preference against dark skin tone is a clear taste preference, one may argue that serving a smelly client is like working at a dirty job, therefore it increases the cost of service and is not entirely a taste preference. This is a debatable assertion, just like some researchers believe people should not even call statistical discrimination as discrimination. What I want to point out is that if even there is some marginal effect of such cost, it is not expected to be large enough to absorb such large price dispersion...

There is no price discrimination found between the Chinese and Malays. Bargaining with Malays is 22 percent more likely to fail. They are less likely to be approached, but this difference is not statistically significant. It seems that the Malay clients are less favored because the sex workers are not able to extract as much profit from them as from the Chinese. However, there is no convincing evidence to support either statistical discrimination or taste-based discrimination...

Survey feedback shows that the client’s outfit is the third most important indicator that sex workers use to decide whether or not to approach the client and in setting the initial price. I did not find that the client’s outfit has any influence in motivating street walkers to make the first move, but I do find that better dressed men received a 9 percent (see column (4) in Table 8) higher initial price compared to the less well-dressed men. It may be because the outfit of the client is a noisier and hence less reliable signal compared to ethnicity. It makes perfect sense for the situation in the street market where most of clients are less well-off compared to the men in the high-end market and who mostly dress casually*.

* - 76 percent of the clients have a dress rating of below 4; 68 percent of the Bangladeshi clients have a rating of 1...

The sex workers’ taste-preference for the client’s appearance matters only to the extent that attractive-looking men spur more proactive action from street walkers. An above average looking man is 19 percent more likely to be approached by the sex workers. The street walkers’ preference for looks maintains a monotonic impact across all client ethnicities. This tendency to approach does not vary by the client’s ethnicity. Given the distaste that the sex workers possess for the Indians, being an attractive Indian client can significantly improve the probability (see Column (3) in Table 14) of being approached by sex workers (in comparison to the Chinese). The more attractive clients do not receive any preferential asking price, nor do they have a better chance of closing the deal. Thus, sex workers also have a moderate preference for looks, but the preference has limited financial impact.

Leveraging the advantage of rich self-collected data from the commercial sex market in Singapore, I successfully show that discrimination can prevail in a highly competitive market. The finding supports Diamond’s prediction that an infinitesimal amount of search cost of client can grant sellers the monopoly power which results in equilibrium price discrimination...

Statistical discrimination allows sex workers to maximize profit, while taste discrimination allows them to minimize the disutility from working with disliked clients by cutting the contact with them. The findings are consistent with the sex workers’ self-reported preferences and beliefs."

From a newer version (which appears to have a bit more data):

"They earn an average of somewhat more than S$3,200/month from sex, substantially more than they earn at home. About one-third of the sex workers report income from sources other than sex."

"Except for Indians and Bangladeshis who comprise the vast majority of the clients of the Indian sex workers, there is surprisingly little matching between the ethnicity of clients and sex workers (see table 2 ). In particular, Chinese clients are no more likely to frequent Chinese sex workers than are other clients"

"On a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is dress very badly and 5 is dress very well, sex workers tend to think that their clients dress rather poorly (mean equals 2.4) and on a similar scale find their customers unattractive (mean equals 2.0)"

"sex workers make the first move almost three-quarters of the time. However, they are almost always the first mover with whites... while bargaining almost never fails with whites and rarely fails with Chinese potential clients, there are significant failure rates with both Bangladeshis (24 percent) and Indians (26 percent)."

"Sex workers view whites as willing to pay high prices. They therefore are more likely to approach them, ask for a higher price and are more likely to reach a deal, while the opposite is true of Bangladeshis. The results for Indians compared with Bangladeshis are consistent with our findings of animosity towards Indians. On the other hand, Indians are charged lower prices than are Chinese customers, suggesting that sex workers also believe they have a lower willingness to pay than Chinese or white customers.With respect to the claim by some sex workers that their dislike of Indian clients is objective rather than subjective, we see that contrary to claims that some of them make, Indians do not have high service duration, do not get an unusually large price reduction from the initial offer (suggesting that they do not bargain harder) and do not have an unusually high rate of demand for anal sex, our only proxy for roughness... it is skin tone rather than objective factors that drives many sex workers’ dislike of Indians"

"Chinese and white clients are most likely to have oral sex. This is somewhat less common among Indians and much less common among Bangladeshis. On the other hand, anal sex is most common with Whites and less common with other ethnicities."

"It is not clear whether it should be advantageous to engage in “sweet talk.” On the one hand, sex workers may prefer clients who tell them they are beautiful. On the other, such cheap talk may be perceived as an indication of higher willingness to pay. The mean of this categorical variable (from 1 to 5) is highest for whites and lowest for Bangladeshis."

Observation: no sex workers had a 1/5 rating for Beauty

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Links - 30th October 2014

Talking white: Black people’s disdain for proper English and academic achievement is a myth. - "Racialized stigma against high achievement exists. But it requires specific circumstances, namely, predominantly white schools where few blacks attend advanced classes. There, black and white students hold racialized perceptions of educational achievement, and black students are often isolated by stigma from both groups... By contrast, “acting white” accusations were least common at the most segregated schools, a finding echoed by a 2006 study from Harvard economist Roland Fryer, who found “no evidence at all that getting good grades adversely affects students’ popularity” in predominantly black schools."
Increased integration isn't always a good thing

Social media schadenfreude is real, say researchers. - "when people aren’t feeling their best, they tend to be more interested in social media profiles of those they consider less attractive, successful, or just generally well-off."

Why the rise of cosplay is a bad sign for the U.S. economy - "When you're disillusioned with the reality of your early adult life, dressing up like Doctor Who starts looking better and better. It's not to say that all or even most cosplay aficionados are struggling to find work. It's only to say that any rise in people fleeing reality for fantasy suggests problems with our reality."

You Should Probably Stop Using A Loofah In The Shower. Sorry. - "Every time the loofah gets wet and does not dry properly, the organisms grow and grow. "You spread the bacteria that you washed off your body the last time,"Dr. Michele Green, M.D., New York-based board-certified dermatologist, tells HuffPost. "The loofah is spreading yesterday's dirt back on your body." When you're sloshing that lavender-scented body wash all over yourself to get clean, you're really scrubbing with lavender-scented bacteria."

#NotYourShield Hashtag Shows Multi-Cultural Support For GamerGate - "#NotYourShield was a collective movement of minorities of all ages and types, stating that they were not oppressed by a straight, white male patriarchy; that they had their own voice and that they were not a shield to be silently used in order for gaming media – and those that gaming media represents – to push an agenda... those supporting the GamerGate movement within the gaming community are not all straight, nor are they white, and they aren't all male. However, all of us are gamers"

Today’s “No News” Item: Another supplement, glucosamine, bites the dust - "Our study found no evidence that drinking glucosamine supplement reduced knee cartilage damage, relieved pain or improved function in individuals with chronic knee pain"

Malala, survivor of Taliban, resented in Pakistan hometown - "She has won the European Union's prestigious human rights award and was one of the favorites to win the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, but in her native Swat valley, friends and neighbors reacted with a mixture of resentment, fear and jealousy... In a nation thriving on conspiracy theories, some have even doubted the sincerity of her campaign, claiming it is part of her family's ploy to move to Britain or that she is just an attention seeker. Social media sites are brimming with insulting messages. "We hate Malala Yousafzai, a CIA agent," says one Facebook page... "Malala is a talented girl, no doubt," said Zahid Khan, head of the Swat Peace Jirga, an anti-Taliban body who has survived three attempts on his life for his work. "I have been attacked. Shot. Almost killed. But no one is honoring me. The state hasn't given me a cent in compensation.""

AK-47s at Peace Hero’s House Show Why Malala Prefers U.K. - "A rally two days ago for Yousafzai, who shared the award with Indian child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi, attracted only several dozen people... Yousafzai’s book was banned from being placed in school libraries by the All Pakistan Private Schools Federation in Lahore, which says it represents 152,000 schools nationwide. “The book is meant to damage the ideology of Pakistan and Malala was used as a tool,” Mirza Kashif Ali, the federation’s president, said by phone. “We’ve banned not only the book but also any activity related to Malala, and if any of the school’s administration tries to violate it, we can file a police report.”"

Does smoking increase sick leave? Evidence using register data on Swedish workers - "Smoking was found to increase the annual number of days of absence by 10.7 compared with never smoking. Controlling for risk factors at work, and thereby accounting for some of the selection of smokers into riskier jobs, reduced the effect to 9.7 days, corresponding to 38% of all annual absences due to sickness. Moreover, controlling for health status further reduced the effect of smoking to 7.7 days. The effect of smoking on sick leave was similar for men and women... The estimates should be viewed as upper bounds of the effect of smoking on sick leave, since smoking is potentially an endogenous variable."

When everyone shuts up, we will have reached the “safe space” - "The Petition is a thing to read. It focuses on the campus concept of “safe space,” which means control of speech so that others are not offended... I’m deeply offended by the attempt of those U. Chicago students to regulate speech to the extent that we can’t even mention the word we are analyzing and discussing. Because I know to a certainty it will not stop there. It never does. Think of all the words which are not on their face even slurs that we cannot say, like Black List, Baa Baa Black Sheep,Rejigger, Providence Plantations, Black Friday, Gobbledygook, Illegal Immigrant, Undocumented Immigrant, Master Bedroom, Chink in the Armor, and even the use of white copy paper. You better be careful how you pronounce “did you” and around whose neck you want to hang an Albatross... 'What happens wheen kids who demand to be 'safe' from scary words enter the work force? My prediction: Hilarity.'
I understand his point, but it’s optimistic. My prediction: Employers cowering under the threat of lawsuits, people accused of being insensitive losing jobs, and a reign of linguistic terror where every word is a potential career-ender. It will be the opposite of a safe space. Unless everyone shuts up."
I'm sure many fundamentalists are offended that they are called 'fundies'. This hate speech should be banned!

RuPaul: 'I Love the Word Tranny' - "RuPaul Charles has broken his silence regarding his current view on the use of the word "tranny." The world’s most famous drag queen defended his use and love of the word... “It’s not the transsexual community who’s saying that. These are fringe people who are looking for storylines to strengthen their identity as victims. That is what we are dealing with. It’s not the trans community. ’Cause most people who are trans have been through hell and high water. And they’ve looked behind the curtain at Oz and go, ‘Oh, this is all a fucking joke.’ But some people haven’t and they’ve used their victimhood to create a situation where, ‘No! You look at me! I want you to see me the way you’re supposed to see me!’” “If your idea of happiness has to do with someone else changing what they say, what they do, you are in for a fucking hard-ass road”... don’t you dare tell me what I can do or what I can’t — say or do. It’s just words, like, ‘Yeah, words hurt me!’ [Whiny inflection] Bitch, you need to get stronger. If you’re upset by something I said, you have bigger problems than you think.""

Sydney drag queens fight trans-gender warrior Indiana Kelly Edwards over right to use the word tranny - "“In Australia there are few negative connotations attached to the word ‘tranny’, unlike in America,” he says. “I think the campaign is being waged by people who are trying to involve American activists in an Australian debate. “We have events in the gay community called Poof Doof and Fag Tag. “There’s nothing wrong with that. Look, I was called ‘gay’ every single day at school and I’ll turn to the first person who yells it out to me in the street and say ‘I’m bloody gay and I’m proud of it’”... “We are transsexuals or transvestites and ‘tranny’ is our word to use if we choose to use it.” He claims the campaign is being led by a “small group of people who are making a lot of noise. But if you do the research there’s not a lot of support behind it”. He says the activists argue that when drag queens remove their costumes, they can easily blend into society. “Well, guess what, when we remove our wigs we become gay boys who have faced homophobia our whole lives,” insists Penny Tration. “It’s not a contest to see which group has been more picked on or put down.”"

Met Police ban the word 'blacklist' over claims it is racist - "Police chiefs have banned the word ‘blacklist’ over fears it is racist. They have also struck out its opposite – ‘whitelist’ – which is used by IT workers for a list of acceptable email contacts. Scotland Yard employees have been told to use ‘red’ and ‘green’ instead"

Congressman Mark Kirk comments, "jigger" secretly recorded, made public - "Lyle, a Democratic Committee member and an Alexi Giannoulias supporter, and others were offended by Kirk's use of the verb "jigger" when talking about regions heavily populated by black voters. The Merriam-Webster dictionary says "jigger" does mean "to alter, re-arrange, or manipulate" and has been used by many politicians to describe election fraud. "The problem I had is that it sounds so much like another word," Rev. Albert Tyson said. Kirk, who is in a tight race for the U.S. Senate with Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, says he is offended that anyone would think he would use a word that offends African-Americans. "I'm actually offended that they would say that. I think that every vote should be counted and that we need to make sure that it's a free and a election," Kirk said. "

Planting doubt about Rhode Island’s name - "Rhode Island may be tiny, but its official name is the longest in the country. However, an upcoming state referendum could strip away that quirky distinction. It’s been 30 years since scholars began excavating Rhode Island’s historical embroilment in the slave trade, and, since then, the term “Providence Plantations” has engendered controversy among some historians and African-Americans... “In the 17th century, the term ‘plantations’ was used to describe all of the colonies and settlements all over the place,” says Stan Lemons, a historian of Rhode Island and former professor of history at Rhode Island College. “So the term referred to, basically, towns. An agricultural town, by and large, but still referring to the town. It has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with slavery.”"

Meg Lanker-Simons, UW Student, Accused Of Threatening Herself With Rape In Facebook Hoax - "University of Wyoming student Meg Lanker-Simons was outraged earlier this month when an anonymous user on the Facebook page “UW Crushes,” described wanting to perform threatening sexual acts with her. Underneath the since-deleted post, she commented that the description was “disgusting, misogynistic, and apparently something the admins of this page think is a perfectly acceptable sentiment,” according to Buzzfeed. Now, police allege that she wrote the original post herself in a social media hoax. Lanker-Simons, 28, who is an award-winning liberal blogger, was issued a citation Monday for interference and is facing up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000... The post led to a campus protest against “rape culture” and an investigation by university police"
"In 2005, after Lanker-Simons was fired from a radio station in the fall, she returned and pulled a Glock 22 .40 caliber handgun from her purse. She waved the semi-automatic pistol around. She pointed it at the man who sacked her. He testified that he was “in fear for his life.”

Does Competition Eliminate Discrimination? Evidence from the Commercial Sex Market in Singapore (1/2)

Does Competition Eliminate Discrimination? Evidence from the Commercial Sex Market in Singapore

"The canonical discrimination model in economics, Becker (1957), predicts discrimination cannot survive in a competitive equilibrium. In contrast, Diamond (1971) implies the opposite: discrimination can prevail in a competitive equilibrium even when the search cost is small. In this paper, I test these two competing theories in the highly competitive sex market of Singapore and find that discrimination persists. Moreover, sex workers engage in both statistical and taste-based discrimination, with the former being the most dominant force. They discriminate based on the client’s willingness to pay by using ethnicity as an indicator. They also practice taste-based discrimination against ethnic groups with darker skin tones and odor.

Becker argues that discrimination cannot survive in a competitive equilibrium because competitive forces will drive prejudiced participants out of market. Applied to my setting, sex workers who discriminate would lose out to other sex workers who are willing to sell their services at a lower price...

I examine equilibrium discrimination in a unique real market setting: the commercial sex market in Singapore. It is an ideal setting due to the presence of a large number of nearly identical sex workers selling homogeneous services to clients who search at negligible cost, thus forming a highly competitive market...

This study also contributes by distinguishing the sources of discrimination. During the interviews, the sex workers revealed that they price services differently based on the client’s ethnicity, which they take as a signal of the client’s willingness to pay. They tend to actively approach Caucasians, Japanese, and Koreans, which are the ethnic groups whom they believe to be wealthier. Thus, the sex workers inflate the prices quoted to these clients. On the other hand, sex workers express animus towards ethnic client groups who have darker skin tones and who are perceived to be more sexually violent (such as Indians). They report that they avoid these clients or ask for higher prices to compensate for the disutility from working with them. The former hints at statistical discrimination (Arrow, 1971; Phelps, 1972) while the latter suggests tastebased discrimination...

The largest portion of the commercial sex industry consists of illegal brothels and illegal sex workers who come mainly from China, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines (Agency France Press, 2008). The business follows a seasonal trend with peak months in June, September and December following Singapore’s tourism industry. Business is slowest during the Chinese New Year period when both supply and demand are low. This study presents several prominent features of the commercial sex industry in Singapore. First, the supply of sex workers is highly diversified in terms of country of origin, while domestic supply is low. Concurrently, the demand for prostitution is also diversified in the sense that clients are of different ethnic backgrounds. Second, the legal and illegal segments coexist within the flourishing underground market. Third, the illegal market consists of low-, middle-, and high-end market segments featuring sex workers of varying quality and targeting different segments of demand.

Singapore has one of the best educated populations in the world. 95 percent of its female population are literate and 63 percent of female residents have secondary or higher educational qualifications (Ministry of Statistics, Singapore, 2013). Therefore, there is less incentive for a local female to be a sex worker. Moreover, being a prostitute in the small conservative island is threatening to a woman’s reputation. Thus, the Singaporean sex industry is populated by sex workers from poor neighboring countries who travel to Singapore to sell their bodies after being attracted by the high returns. The high returns appear even more attractive due to the high income differential between Singapore and poorer neighboring countries. Furthermore, working as a sex worker away from home mitigates the risk of being judged by one’s own society. For these reasons, girls from poorer neighboring countries are willing to accept the high risks that come with being a sex worker, although it is also possible that they are not fully aware of the risks in the first place. However, it is worth noting that not all of these sex workers work permanently in Singapore. Most of them are on short-term visitor passes. They visit Singapore from time to time not only to seek lucrative earning opportunities but to pursue marriage opportunities with Singaporean men and Western males. The low domestic supply and high foreign supply is consistent with Edlund and Korn (2002) who predict that the number of the domestic sex workers will decrease as domestic income rises...

The demand for prostitution stems from both locals and expatriates of different ethnic backgrounds. Over the years, female undergraduates in Singapore have outperformed males in many professions. The existence of 300,000 white-collar male workers in Singapore who cannot find wives made headlines around 2005. Few women are willing to marry men below their education and economic status. At the same time, Singapore has a large population of expatriates... The majority of the non-PMET workers who are in the construction and manufacturing sectors are men. Bangladeshi construction workers in particular are frequent visitors to the Geylang red light district, representing a sizable demand for affordable sexual services. In addition, Singapore is a popular tourist hub. In 2011, it attracted 13.2 million tourists and generated S$22.3 billion in tourist receipts (Singapore Tourism Board, 2012). It is fairly common for tourists to visit an international destination in order to seek sexual services. According to the US ambassador Harry Thomas, 40 percent of male visits to the Philippines are for sex (Australia News Report, 2011). Thus, the influx of male tourists, to a certain extent, creates a stream of demand for prostitution in Singapore as well.

Besides the legal brothels in Geylang, there are three main segments in the illegal market. When defining the segments by the quality and price of the service, we can categorize the best-known red light areas Geylang (even-numbered lanes) as the low-end segment, the renowned Orchard Tower Bars as the mid-tier segment and the nightclubs as the high-end segment of the market. The sex workers in Geylang and Orchard Tower Bars are mostly freelancers operating with tourist passes. Many of the Geylang streetwalkers are associated with pimps who are backed by gangs. They are full-time sex workers with no other source of income. In contrast, many women working in the nightclubs are hired by the clubs as artistic performers (i.e dancers, singers and hostesses) under a legal work permit. They make money as sex workers on a part-time basis. Sex workers solicit only within their own segments. For example, a Chinese street sex worker in Geylang will not solicit in Orchard Towers. The Thai and Vietnamese girls who solicit in the bars inside of Orchard Towers will not go over to Geylang for business either. This is because they fall into the different segments based on their own characteristics and networks. Trespassing across the segments may risk their safety and earnings. Sexual services typically take place in venues like motels and hotels, as well as in cars or the client’s residence. A full-time sex worker will return to her original venue immediately after finishing with a client. Any costs, such as taxi fare and hotel room charges are usually borne by clients.

Other, more scattered forms of illegal prostitution typically operate as KTVs, massage parlors and social escort. KTVs are entertainment pubs where clients can book rooms to sing songs with friends and be entertained by friends or by the hostess. Prostitutes in the KTVs are managed by the KTV manager, and therefore have less freedom to decide work hours, prices and which customers to take. The owner of a KTV is subject to a jail sentence if he or she is caught running a prostitution business. Massage parlors are also popular places to seek sexual services. Massage girls offer massage service followed by sexual service for a “tip” Massage girls enjoy the benefit of an “earlywarning” system, where a warning will be given to the parties involved when the police are on their way, so that they can dress before the police arrive. There are hundreds of massage parlors throughout the city with entrance fees ranging from 28 to 80 dollars. Most of them are licensed business premises with a Public Entertainment license. Also, there are other social escorts who advertise their services on the Internet and on flyers. Some social escorts can be very expensive. Together, sex workers from these venues represent a relatively small portion of the total sex worker population in Singapore.

This paper focuses solely on the low-end market (Geylang). Geylang stands alone as the largest market in Singapore’s commercial sex industry, as its size and popularity make it a top destination for prostitution. The services found venues like Orchard Tower Bars and nightclubs are not perfect substitutes for those found in Geylang, because services offered in the higher-end venues are more diversified and target wealthy individuals. The Geylang market is highly competitive. Prostitution activities are concentrated in a small zone of 25 lanes. Within it, large numbers of nearly homogeneous prostitutes publicly solicit on the streets and sell similar services. Differences in sex workers’ characteristics may make one more desirable than the other. Nevertheless, they are nearly perfect substitutes in the clients’ eyes. On the other hand, clients bear a negligible search cost in the red light district. First, there is zero risk of being penalized for patronizing the prostitutes. Second, there is minimal social cost in terms of reputation loss by walking in the red light district, because Geylang is a popular tourist and dining destination. Most importantly, clients are able to easily locate a match within 2-5 minutes due to the high density of prostitutes on the street.

Chinese and Vietnamese sex workers dominate the scene and are patronized by mostly Singaporean men, Caucasian men and Bangladeshi construction workers. As a place for cheap sexual services, it is a favorite destination for construction workers and other less wealthy clients. The plentiful supply of Chinese women also makes Geylang the preferred choice for Chinese clients who desire a “girlfriend” kind of experience with the sex worker. It is also a particularly attractive venue for elderly single men who desire companionship. Sex workers in Geylang start work late in the afternoon or early evening and finish work in the morning. Because the initial engagement of the prostitutes and clients takes place on the public street, flirting and negotiation time are relatively short in this segment of the market, as both parties prefer to maintain minimum public exposure. All the sex workers solicit within the areas of even-numbered lorong (lanes) between lane 1 and lane 30. There is little differentiation in the services offered and the large number of the suppliers make this micro-market close to a perfectly competitive market. The service rate is set to float around S$30-S$200 with a median price of $60 and standard deviation of $35. Freelance street sex workers solicit independently but are collectively overseen by pimps, depending on the areas of their business. Each lorong (lane) is controlled by a pimp who oversees the business (protects the women from abnormal clients), provides the girls’ accommodation, and protects them from being arrested in the event of police raids. In return, they ask for a cut of the unit service price (normally about 30 -40 percent) as compensation and $10 a day for accommodation and transport services...

The enumerators had a higher chance of interviewing less attractive sex workers, as they have longer unemployment periods during each shift and are more tempted by the gift voucher we offer...

The sample consists of 177 street sex workers from Geylang with a total number of 805 transactions. The average number of transactions the sex workers reported is 4. There were 674 transactions where the sex workers initiated the price and 131 transactions where the clients initiated the price. The latter 131 transactions are used as a basis for checking the clients’ pricing behavior and consumption capability.

Singapore has a rich composition of sex workers in the illegal market. My sample includes street sex workers from Thailand, China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore (see Table 5). Sex workers from Myanmar, Cambodia and Sri Lanka are less common but are also active and concentrated in the low-end market. As expected, the sex workers in my dataset have low educational attainment. 72 percent of the sample completed only primary education, and 21 percent of these women are illiterate. Less than 10 percent of the sample have been educated beyond high school. The average age of the sex workers is 20, with the youngest aged 18 and the oldest aged 39. The majority of the sex workers in the sample are single (82.5 percent) and 23 percent have at least one child. Over half the sample have at least 2 years’ experience as a sex worker prior to working in Singapore. The average sex worker works in Singapore for about 2 years.

Sex workers on Geylang Street are full-time sex workers. It is reported that they work 6-7 days a week (see Table 6). The average daily working hours are 9 hours on weekdays and 11 hours over the weekends. The average number of customers the sex workers have a day is about 4. Earnings from providing sexual services are a major source of the sex worker’s income. Other forms of income are tips or earnings from being booked by the clients for a whole day. The average unit price for sex is S$70 with lowest rate of $30 and highest rate of S$200. The average service duration is around 55 minutes when excluding overnight services...

The Chinese, Caucasians, Indians and Bangladeshis are the major consumers of adult services in Geylang (see Table 7). Together, the Chinese and the Caucasians represent 50 percent of our client sample. One out of five clients in our sample are regular customers, and about 30 percent of the total clients are tourists. Most of the transactions take place in either motels (70 percent) or hotels (22 percent). Only about 6 percent of the transactions occur in the client’s residence. There is very high awareness of contraception among both clients and sex workers in Singapore. Over 99 percent of the transactions in my sample involve the use of condoms.

Price differentials in adult services among racial groups were documented by Levitt and Dubner (2009) in Super FreakEconomics. They report that white people pay $9 extra per sexual service than black customers, while the Hispanic customers lie somewhere in between in Chicago’s prostitution market. A similar type of price discrepancy is observed in Geylang. Sex workers ask Caucasians for an extra S$17 per sexual service relative to the Chinese. Bangladeshi clients are asked for S$25 less than the Chinese. The final price that Caucasians will pay for sexual service is S$13 higher than what the Chinese pay, while the final price the Chinese pay is S$25 higher than what Bangladeshis pay (see Table 1)...

The sex workers reveal distinct attitudes towards clients of different ethnicities. They consistently favor Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Caucasian clients. On a scale of 1 (dislike) to 5 (like very much) with 3 being “like”, these three client groups earn an average rating of 4 (see Table 2). The sex workers collectively express their fondness towards these clients for the following reasons: (1) Chinese clients are more likely to be returning customers; and, (2) the Caucasian, Korean and Japanese clients are more willing to pay. This observation is uniform even across the more attractive and less attractive sex workers, as well as across sex worker’s country of origin (see Table 2). However, the less attractive sex workers rate Caucasian, Korean and Japanese more highly by a magnitude of one, as compared to the more attractive sex workers.

In contrast, the Malay and Indian clients earn low average ratings of 2.74 and 2.07, respectively. The rating disparity is more exaggerated among Indian and Bangladeshi clients. Bangladeshis receive a higher rating than both the Malays and the Indians at 3.10, despite having the lowest reservation price. It turns out their rating is inflated by the preference of the less attractive sex workers who give them a rating of 3.29. Attractive sex workers give the lowest rating of 1.77 to Indians.

To understand the motivation behind sex worker’s preference against Indians, we asked “Given the same price and equally attractive client, do you prefer ethnic X to ethnic Y and why?” and “What is the reason for a failed bargain?” in the survey. 24 subjects on Geylang Street responded to the former question with a combined total of 66 responses from all the venues (street, bars and nightclubs). Based on these responses and informal conversation with sex workers and pimps, we firmly believe Indian clients are less popular among sex workers mainly because of their body odor, dark skin tone, less expected wealth, and to a lesser extent, because they are more demanding/rough and bargain a lot. The characteristic of being demanding/rough could take the form of requesting a longer or more strenuous service or more adventurous activities during the service. Many sex workers make direct comparisons between seemingly similar groups like Bangladeshis and Indians, and voiced their preferences for the former over latter specifically because Indians take more service time and are often not able to match the price for it. Some interviewees justify their distaste towards Indians by claiming that Indian men have a higher probability of being sexually violent*.

* - According to Survey International Men and Gender Equitable Survey (IMAGES) by the Centre of Research on Women, US, 24% of Indian men have committed sexual violence at some point in their lives and 20% admitted to having forced their wives or partners to have sex. In contrast, only 2% of Brazilian men and 9% of men in Chile, Rwanda, Croatia and Mexico have committed sexual violence.

The sex workers’ distaste towards dark skin tones places the Malays, Indians and Bangladeshis at a disadvantage...

There are moderate degrees of matching between sex workers and the clients. Over 80 percent of transactions (see Table 3) involving the perceived wealthy client groups (Caucasian, Korean and Japanese) are associated with more attractive sex workers. Most of the less attractive sex workers are attached to less desired clients (Bangladeshis, Malays and Indians). In particular, 93 percent of all Caucasians are attached to more attractive sex workers and 93 percent of Bangladeshis are attached to less attractive sex workers. Singaporean Indian sex workers, the least favored group because of their dark tone, are mainly attached with either with Indian men or Bangladeshi men. Nevertheless, every sex worker has Chinese clients. Half of Chinese men in my sample deal with more attractive sex workers and the remaining half go with less attractive ones. No specific sex worker type is matched to a particular clients’ age group.

In addition, sex workers have a set of criteria that determine whether they will approach potential customers and how they set the initial price. The top three factors influencing such behavior are: “the money the client spends on them”, “Ethnicity of the client” and the “Looks of the client”. It is evident that sex workers rely on the client’s ethnicity as a critical signal to make business decisions...

The sex workers place an 18 percent premium on services with Caucasians and a 18 percent discount for Bangladeshis in comparison to the Chinese (see column (3)-(5) in Table 8). More attractive sex workers place 16 percent higher initial prices on Indians as compared to Chinese... On the other hand, no significant initial price disparity is observed between the Chinese and the Malays for any identical sex worker.

Price discrimination is often observed in markets where the customers have identifiable traits and services are not resalable. In my study, in addition to ethnicity, these traits include the client’s outfit and whether the client is a tourist. But, the most important factor is the client’s ethnicity. Ethnicity alone explains 46 percent within variability in price differentials... better-dressed customers are quoted prices that are 9 percent higher than those who are less well-dressed. Tourists also pay a 7 percent price premium compared to local customers."

(Continued)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Links - 29th October 2014

How to Develop Your Attraction to the Right Person - "Many others only date people on the high end of their attraction spectrum, because they believe that’s where real love and passion lie. With someone who is a “high number” on your attraction spectrum, you can tell that you’re attracted in a fraction of a second. This can be achingly exciting, but it’s rarely comfortable or secure. In my experience, people who only date those on the high end of their attraction spectrum are much more likely to remain single. By contrast, however, attraction to people in the middle of our spectrum is rarely immediate; it usually takes more time to get a sense of how interested we really are in such people. People who are willing to date in the mid-range are more likely to find real and lasting love. It’s not a matter of selling out, because immediate attraction isn’t the best forecaster of future passion. Intense immediate attractions can blind us to the actual quality of our interactions with others, and to the actual characters of the people we date. Attractions can grow—and many of us have had the experience of becoming more attracted to someone as we got to know him or her better."

Too Much Air in Potato Chip Packets? Students Make a Boat to Prove It - Korea Real Time - WSJ - "Ever get that feeling when you open a bag of potato chips that you’ve mostly paid for air? A group of South Korean college students have, and to prove their point, on Sunday they used a raft made of unopened potato chip packets to traverse Seoul’s main river. Two male students crossed the Han River on a boat made with 160 unopened bags of potato chips bound together near 0.8-mile-long Jamsil Bridge in the city’s east."

Elliott Chen's answer to Why is Chinese fashion less attractive and elegant than Korean and Japanese fashion? - Quora - "Chinese aesthetic tastes are a bit backward and uncouth... However there are some innate cultural differences in aesthetics. The Japanese in comparison have put a lot more attention and thought into visual aesthetics than the Chinese, who tend to favor more bold and gaudy sensibilities"

Secrets of the sushi shops: 10 tips and tricks the chain restaurants don’t want you to know - "Do you want your egg fresh from the frying pan, or straight from the freezer? Tamago-yakishould have a slightly uneven, hand-cooked appearance, says Mr. Kawagishi. If it’s the same yellow shade all over, it’s probably been made with liquid egg from a bottle, too... Judge on appearances. Without even entering a restaurant, you can tell a lot about it. If the shop’s outside is clutter- and garbage-free, and if the staff uniforms look clean and well looked-after, the kitchen will probably be clean too. And you’ll never get tasty sushi from a dirty shop, says Mr. Kawagishi."
You can judge a sushi shop from its exterior

Burning Question: Does Reading in Dim Light Hurt Your Eyes? - WSJ - "Turns out, our parents were wrong. "There is no reason to believe nor evidence to support that any long-term damage to the eyes or change in the physiology to the eyes can be caused by reading in the dark," Dr. Sheedy says. That is not to say that nocturnal page-turning won't lead to discomfort or fatigue"... "The predominant determinant of myopia is genetics." No link to long-term damage has ever been conclusively shown, says Dr. Sheedy. "It's an old tale, a ploy used by moms to get kids to go to sleep when they wanted them to," he says. Reading on a tablet device won't damage your eyes, Dr. Sheedy says. His team has studied various fonts, computer displays and pixel resolutions, and found the difference in effect on the eye between reading e-ink and the printed word to be negligible... "Ever wonder why a pirate wears patches? It's not because he was wounded in a sword fight," says Dr. Sheedy. Seamen must constantly move between the pitch black of below decks and the bright sunshine above. Smart pirates "wore a patch over one eye to keep it dark-adapted outside.""

Meet the 3-boobed woman - "A woman has spent $20,000 on surgery to get a third breast, and her dream is to become a celebrity... Tridevil said that while she wanted fame and fortune, this was not why she had the surgery. “I got it because I wanted to make myself unattractive to men. Because I don’t want to date anymore,” she said."

Pirate Bay fools the system with cloud technology - "Today The Pirate Bay has 21 “virtual machines” (VMs) scattered around the globe with cloud-hosting providers, and the new setup works just fine, reported TorrentFreak, having anonymously questioned the Pirate Bay team. The cloud technology made the site more portable, eliminated the need for any crucial pieces of hardware and therefore made the torrent harder to take down. Costs have decreased and better uptime is now guaranteed."

Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule for deliberate practice is wrong: Genes for music, IQ, drawing ability, and other skills. - "Deliberate practice left more of the variation in skill unexplained than it explained. For example, deliberate practice explained 26 percent of the variation for games such as chess, 21 percent for music, and 18 percent for sports. So, deliberate practice did not explain all, nearly all, or even most of the performance variation in these fields. In concrete terms, what this evidence means is that racking up a lot of deliberate practice is no guarantee that you’ll become an expert. Other factors matter... Wouldn’t it be better to just act as if we are equal, evidence to the contrary notwithstanding? That way, no people will be discouraged from chasing their dreams—competing in the Olympics or performing at Carnegie Hall or winning a Nobel Prize. The answer is no, for two reasons. The first is that failure is costly, both to society and to individuals. Pretending that all people are equal in their abilities will not change the fact that a person with an average IQ is unlikely to become a theoretical physicist, or the fact that a person with a low level of music ability is unlikely to become a concert pianist. It makes more sense to pay attention to people’s abilities and their likelihood of achieving certain goals, so people can make good decisions about the goals they want to spend their time, money, and energy pursuing... Pushing someone into a career for which he or she is genetically unsuited will likely not work. The second reason we should not pretend we are endowed with the same abilities is that doing so perpetuates the myth that is at the root of much inaction in society—the myth that people can help themselves to the same degree if they just try hard enough. You’re not a heart surgeon? That’s your fault for not working hard enough in school! You didn’t make it as a concert pianist? You must not have wanted it that badly. Societal inequality is thus justified on the grounds that anyone who is willing to put in the requisite time and effort can succeed and should be rewarded with a good life, whereas those who struggle to make ends meet are to blame for their situations and should pull themselves up by their own bootstraps"
The tablua rasa myth need not result in blaming people for their failures - one could always blame discrimination (i.e. blame other people)

What do SAT and IQ tests measure? General intelligence predicts school and life success. - "The SAT does predict success in college—not perfectly, but relatively well, especially given that it takes just a few hours to administer. And, unlike a “complex portrait” of a student’s life, it can be scored in an objective way. (In a recent New York Times op-ed, the University of New Hampshire psychologist John D. Mayer aptly described the SAT’s validity as an “astonishing achievement.”) In a study published in Psychological Science, University of Minnesota researchers Paul Sackett, Nathan Kuncel, and their colleagues investigated the relationship between SAT scores and college grades in a very large sample: nearly 150,000 students from 110 colleges and universities. SAT scores predicted first-year college GPA about as well as high school grades did, and the best prediction was achieved by considering both factors. Botstein, Boylan, and Kolbert are either unaware of this directly relevant, easily accessible, and widely disseminated empirical evidence, or they have decided to ignore it and base their claims on intuition and anecdote—or perhaps on their beliefs about the way the world should be rather than the way it is... test score (SAT or ACT—whichever the student took) correlated strongly with cumulative GPA at the end of the fourth year... Test scores also predicted whether the students graduated... A 2007 Science article summed up the evidence succinctly: “Standardized admissions tests have positive and useful relationships with subsequent student accomplishments”... SAT scores even predict success beyond the college years... the SAT in fact goes a long way toward leveling the playing field, giving students an opportunity to distinguish themselves regardless of their background. Scoring well on the SAT may in fact be the only such opportunity for students who graduate from public high schools that are regarded by college admissions offices as academically weak... Research has consistently shown that prep courses have only a small effect on SAT scores—and a much smaller effect than test prep companies claim they do... it is clear that SES is not what accounts for the fact that SAT scores predict success in college. In the University of Minnesota study, the correlation between high school SAT and college GPA was virtually unchanged after the researchers statistically controlled for the influence of SES... The content of the SAT is practically indistinguishable from that of standardized intelligence tests... Synthesizing evidence from nearly a century of empirical studies, Schmidt and Hunter established that general mental ability—the psychological trait that IQ scores reflect—is the single best predictor of job training success, and that it accounts for differences in job performance even in workers with more than a decade of experience. It’s more predictive than interests, personality, reference checks, and interview performance. Smart people don’t just make better mathematicians, as Brooks observed—they make better managers, clerks, salespeople, service workers, vehicle operators, and soldiers. IQ predicts other things that matter, too, like income, employment, health, and even longevity... the bottom line is that there are large, measurable differences among people in intellectual ability, and these differences have consequences for people’s lives. Ignoring these facts will only distract us from discovering and implementing wise policies... disregarding IQ—by admitting students to colleges or hiring people for jobs in which they are very likely to fail—is harmful both to individuals and to society... the policies of public and private organizations should be based on evidence rather than ideology or wishful thinking"

EU Right to be Forgotten: 5 random NYT stories removed from Google search results. - "The harm to people mentioned in newspaper stories that are searchable online is relatively easily demonstrated. In contrast, the harm inflicted to the public at large by removing those stories via an opaque and seemingly arbitrary process is impossible to gauge."

Cellphones at gas stations: Mythbusters debunk one of the biggest myths in tech. - "it’s not the cellphone, but static sparks created when drivers rub themselves on the car that cause most of these fires. A lot of times, the drivers talk on their phones when the spark happens, so it just looks as if the cellphone is the cause of the fire, when it’s actually irrelevant."

George Spencer Millet, kissed to death in 1909 - "Lost life by stab in falling on ink eraser, evading six young women trying to give him birthday kisses in office Metropolitan Life Building"

Did the pro-life movement lead to more single moms? - "In conservative communities, the hardening of anti-abortion attitudes may have increased the acceptance of single-parent families. And by contrast, in less conservative communities, the willingness to accept abortion has helped create more stable families... This creates the dilemma Douthat identified for those who see abortion as immoral. The Christian right preaches that contraception is not perfect, sex inevitably risks pregnancy, and abstinence provides the only solution. Indeed, as the number of abortions has dropped, the rate of unmarried women giving birth has increased. And nonelite young women often give their opposition to abortion as an explanation for why they went ahead and had the child, even if in other ways religion has not influenced them much. In their book Premarital Sex in America, sociologists Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker report on a conservative, moderately religious young couple who have a child without marrying: “Some semblance of Christian morality may have prompted Andy and his girlfriend to keep their baby rather than elect abortion,” they write, “but beyond that, the evidence of religious influence on sexual decision-making is slim.”"

Finishing Your Food


"ENVision Food Waste Video"

Observations - 29th October 2014

“It is the personality of the mistress that the home expresses. Men are forever guests in our homes, no matter how much happiness they may find there.”- Elsie de Wolfe

***

Chinese Privilege means minorities get to go off early for Chinese festivals, but Chinese can't go off early for minority ones.

"Show off your Chinese privilege to a makcik and you will get 1/8 of an egg with your mee rebus, and it will still cost 50 cents more."


It's not necessarily a bad thing to lose closed-minded, intolerant friends.

The next time someone asks me a question, I'm replying IT'S NOT MY JOB TO EDUCATE YOU!!!

If it's so bad for your achievements to be dismissed because you're a beautiful woman, why is it okay for them to be dismissed because of "privilege"?

"When the majority complains about the minority, it's called intolerance. When the minority complains about the majority, it's called being brave and standing up for what's right or something like that."

If healthcare is a human right and there needs to be universal coverage, why don't people call for intervention in the food and housing markets? In other words, provide people with food and housing for free.

Maybe deaf activists need to start critiquing auralnormativity and surduphobia.

Perhaps those who keep mistaking descriptive statements for prescriptive ones do so because they are the ones with an agenda. Example: Focus on the Family's Sex Education.

If sex does not mean a woman has implicitly consented to have a child, why do fathers have to pay for child support?

"victim blaming" is that fun buzz phrase people turn to when they're burning with self-righteous rage and don't understand the concept of culpability

If we should let babies be breastfed in public view should we let them pee in public too?

If you can compel doctors to give abortions against their morals, can you compel them to euthanise people?

If Singaporean fairy tales about fertility produced with government support mean that the government is sexist, does the government funding arts group which make works with anti-government messages mean that the government is anti-government? And if the government funds two groups which produce material with contradictory messages does it mean that the government is incoherent?

It's very telling that feminists always assume that those who disagree with them don't understand. This arises from the assumption of infallibility and is also why dissenters are so easily dismissed as trolls or evil.

Maybe the next time feminists accuse me of male privilege I'll say they're forbidden from commenting on NS.


"i don't get it, why do people gleefully declare that they didn't read the article
and then proceed to make snap judgments"

"It's interesting how said readers "hadn't the time to read the article in full", but had the time to be outraged."

Use a unique password for each site… and forget it, be unable to sign in and waste time resetting it.

I hate sites that turn perfectly good text into an image (e.g. Parents Send Son To Catholic School To Get Better At Math. Then This Happens.)

RT @ShunfuMart: I hereby pledge never to use any product that has an ad which delays my youtube video viewing by more than 5 seconds.


The best approach to controversial issues is apathy - because you alienate neither side.

Illegal Ice Cream

Useless Information Podcast #76 - A Life Forgotten:

"And I hope you'll find this next story as amusing as I did.

It's dated October 15th of 1963 and deals with the House of Representatives overturning a law of Critical National Importance. It has to be really really important right, for them to deal with it?

Believe it or not, for 42 years prior, it had been illegal to sell ice cream in cones, sandwiches and cups anywhere within our Nation's Capital.

That means that some of our most trusted citizens were in direct violation of this law. That includes teachers, church groups, small businesses and small children - thrown all in jail.

At the time it was a misdemeanor to keep or serve ice cream in anything but the authorised units. Those were one half pint, a pint, quart, half gallon, gallon, two gallons, two and one half gallons and any multiple of the gallon. Anything else was not allowed.

So you're probably wondering why they'd have such an absurd law. Well it wasn't absurd when President Woodrow Wilson signed it into law on March 3rd of 1921. You see, back then modern refrigeration was rare, so it was not considered possible to package small quantities of ice cream without it spoiling.

In other words this law was put into place to protect the consumer."

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Links - 28th October 2014

WATCH: CNN asks, 'Does Hamas use human shields?' - "KAYE: Another of the group's political leader said this about their tactics during a 2008 battle between Israel and Gaza.
FATHI HAMAD, FMR. HAMAS INTERIOR MINISTER: They have formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly, and the Mujahideen in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine...
Listen to what a spokesman for Hamas said on AL Aqsa TV in July.
MUSHIR AL-MASRI, HAMAS SPOKESPERSON: Stay in your homes as we promised you and do not comply with the war of rumors and psychological warfare the Zionist enemy is waging on you.
KAYE: The IDF released this video of Israeli military firing a warning shot. Then moments later, civilians emerge on the rooftop acting according to the IDF as human shields.
In Gaza, believing Hamas' word could mean the difference between life and death."

Why Freud Still Matters, When He Was Wrong About Almost Everything - "Freud’s legacy has transcended science, with his ideas permeating deep into Western culture. Rarely does a day go by where we don’t find ourselves uttering a term drawn from his work: Mommy and daddy issues. Arrested development. Death wishes. Freudian slips. Phallic symbols. Anal retentiveness. Defense mechanisms. Cathartic release. And on and on and on."

How (Not) To React to Anti-Feminist Women | The Vagenda - "I began to feel if we were being too shouty, too quiet, too victimising, too forceful then we have already started to fail and I hated it. On the ‘Women Against Feminism’ blog I can see posts by people saying that have received hate messages from ‘feminazis’. There is so much about that sentence that is sad. All I can think as I scroll through the fast accumulating likes and posts is: how the fuck how did this happen? I feel like I’m spinning on the spot, arms outspread, looking at my fellow feminists and asking – seriously guys, where the hell were we? Then I remembered where I was. Back at the party. “I am not a feminist.” After this calm, totally genuine admission from this woman I went on what can only be politely described as a tirade. Pummeling with facts and figures, trying to convince her that she was wrong, that she was mistaken, that she just didn’t understand what feminism was. Slowly as I began to tire and my face melted from determination to utter disbelief, hers hardened in quiet confidence that she had just been proven right. That we feminists were all the same. Shouty, elitist and actually a little bit mean. Men haters and blamers, women victimisers and blamers. I pawed at her with words, desperately trying to persuade her she most definitely was a feminist because (here comes my moment of glory) “you’re a woman, how could you not be?” Ugh. She got up and walked away and on reflection I would probably have done the same. What an epic fail. People shouldn’t feel they have to tip toe around feminism for fear of angering the beast. In order for feminism to be truly powerful it needs to be accessible and engaging, to everyone, and at the moment it’s just not, not yet"

Wine tasting is bullshit. Here's why. - "In 2001, researcher Frédéric Brochet invited 54 wine experts to give their opinions on what were ostensibly two glasses of different wine: one red, and one white. In actuality, the two wines were identical, with one exception: the "red" wine had been dyed with food coloring. The experts described the "red" wine in language typically reserved for characterizing reds. They called it "jammy," for example, and noted the flavors imparted by its "crushed red fruit." Not one of the 54 experts surveyed noticed that it was, in fact a white wine... he served wine experts a run-of-the-mill Bordeaux in two different bottles:
One bottle bore the label of a fancy grand cru, the other of an ordinary vin de table. Although they were being served the exact same wine, the experts gave the bottles nearly opposite descriptions. The grand cru was summarized as being “agreeable,” “woody,” “complex,” “balanced,” and “rounded,” while the most popular adjectives for the vin de table included “weak,” “short,” “light,” “flat,” and “faulty”... In 1996, research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology concluded that wine experts cannot reliably identify more than three or four of a wine's flavor components. Most wine critics routinely report tasting six or more...
In 2008, a survey comprising more than 6,000 blind tastings found a positive correlation between price and enjoyment – for individuals with wine training. In other words: if you're a wine expert, there's a chance you'll enjoy expensive wines more than cheaper ones... among amateur wine drinkers (which, let's face it, you are), the survey found the opposite, i.e. a negative correlation between price and happiness, “suggesting that individuals on average enjoy more expensive wines slightly less.” This lead the researchers to conclude that "both the prices of wines and wine recommendations by experts may be poor guides for non-expert wine consumers.""

Just how 'gay' is anal play, really? - "In 2012, one-year before what is called a “watershed moment” for LGBTQ folks in America by many due a burst in progress, Esquire magazine asked 500 men another question: “During foreplay, what’s the one thing that you want more of from your current partner?” Blowjobs, apparently on the wane, were mentioned by 46% of the men surveyed; “a little rough play” sat at 6%. And rim jobs – or, to the unfamiliar, the act of having your anus stimulated orally – came in at 14%, which is quite surprising because straight men and their own behinds are rarely talked about in the same breath ... unless they’re used in the same breath as a homophobic slur."

‘Gone Girl’ misogyny claims reflect an attitude that is the enemy of art - "Given my choice between allowing portrayals of women who are sexually manipulative, erotically aggressive, fearless in a deranged kind of way, completely true to their own temperament, desperately vital, or the alternative – wallowing in feminist propaganda and succumbing to the niceness plague – I’ll take the former. If Gone Girl is sending the wrong message about women, then Emma Bovary should have gone to medical school instead of cheating on her husband, Anna Karenina should have been a train engineer rather than throwing herself on the tracks, and Eve Harrington should have waited her turn. The idea that every portrait of a woman should be an ideal woman, meant to stand for all of womanhood, is an enemy of art – not to mention wickedly delicious Joan Crawford and Bette Davis movies. Art is meant to explore all the unattractive inner realities as well as to recommend glittering ideals. It is not meant to provide uplift or confirm people’s prior ideological assumptions. Art says “Think” not “You’re right”."

Horrifying: Teen Kills Mother, Has Sex With Corpse to 'Lose Virginity'

Feminist hysteria is causing the infantilization of women - "Dunham told NPR that the phrase “too much information” — “TMI” for short — is a sexist phrase that “trivializes female experiences”... TMI is just the latest word or phrase being flagged as sexist. In 2012, the Women’s Media Center created a list of more than 100 words and phrases that are harmful to women, including “aggressive” and “complain.” Singer Beyonce and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg added a new word to that list in March — “bossy.” Suddenly women were told they were being marginalized if they were called bossy, even though some men are called far worse (far too colorful to mention here)... Women are even being told flat-out that they aren’t making their own decisions but are following a path set for them by a patriarchy. When challenged on the wage gap, a common response from those pushing this myth is that the only reason women choose less lucrative, more flexible careers such as teaching and nursing is because society pushes them toward those jobs. As if no strong woman would willingly choose a path that defies the feminist vision. Add this all up and you have today’s “thought leaders” telling women they need to be spoken to gently, need the government to guard them from harsh words and uncomfortable topics, that their setbacks are always someone else’s fault and that they aren’t in control of their own lives."

Let's repeal reality - "There's plenty to resent about nature. Why do only women get pregnant and give birth? Some men would like the chance, and some women would gladly change roles. Why are men bigger? Why are some people unattractive and others boring? That doesn't seem fair. And why must we die? These mortality assignments are a terrible form of oppression. If we declared ourselves "death neutral," would that make it so?"

Bacon: Why America's Favorite Food Mania Happened - "For years, fast-food outlets had been offering extra-lean burgers and sandwiches. At the same time, they were responding to the increased liability from food poisoning lawsuits (especially after the deadly 1993 E. coli outbreak at Jack in the Box) by cooking all their burgers to well done. Lean hamburgers tended to taste like dry cardboard. “Remember when McDonald’s came out with the McLean? Well, that was a flop. It was a burger that had zero flavor,” says Leathers. “Now, if they were to put bacon on that, it would have been a huge success.” Adding a single slice of bacon to those sandwiches not only improved the taste and mouthfeel by multiples, but bacon’s low cost meant that they could be sold at a premium, tacking a healthy profit margin—Leathers estimates 50 percent to 60 percent—onto burgers."

Tipton Laffin Few pub ignores its own anti-drugs message - growing cannabis in the ladies' toilet

New research on plant intelligence may forever change how you think about plants - "The new research, he says, is in a field called plant neurobiology — which is something of a misnomer, because even scientists in the field don't argue that plants have neurons or brains. "They have analagous structures," Pollan explains. "They have ways of taking all the sensory data they gather in their everyday lives ... integrate it and then behave in an appropriate way in response. And they do this without brains, which, in a way, is what's incredible about it, because we automatically assume you need a brain to process information." And we assume you need ears to hear. But researchers, says Pollan, have played a recording of a caterpillar munching on a leaf to plants — and the plants react. They begin to secrete defensive chemicals — even though the plant isn't really threatened, Pollan says. "It is somehow hearing what is, to it, a terrifying sound of a caterpillar munching on its leaves." Pollan says plants have all the same senses as humans, and then some. In addition to hearing, taste, for example, they can sense gravity, the presence of water, or even feel that an obstruction is in the way of its roots, before coming into contact with it. Plant roots will shift direction, he says, to avoid obstacles. So what about pain? Do plants feel? Pollan says they do respond to anesthetics. "You can put a plant out with a human anesthetic. ... And not only that, plants produce their own compounds that are anesthetic to us.""

Glut of postdoc researchers stirs a quiet crisis in science - "The life of the humble biomedical postdoctoral researcher was never easy: toiling in obscurity in a low-paying scientific apprenticeship that can stretch more than a decade. The long hours were worth it for the expected reward — the chance to launch an independent laboratory and do science that could expand human understanding of biology and disease. But in recent years, the postdoc position has become less a stepping stone and more of a holding tank. Some of the smartest people in Boston are caught up in an all-but-invisible crisis, mired in a biomedical underclass as federal funding for research has leveled off, leaving the supply of well-trained scientists outstripping demand."

Sperm-Producing Cells Coaxed to Produce Insulin - "Researchers have been able to prod human cells that normally produce sperm to make insulin instead and, after transplanting them, the cells briefly cured mice with type 1 diabetes."
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