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Valar Qringaomis

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Off to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Back 31st May.
The atheist and the creationist: Can't they just get along?

Q: He has been asked by his church's school (where he is an active participant) to teach "young earth" creationism. Moreover, they want him to teach this in science class as the predominant theory of life on earth...

As my wife put it, we consider teaching young earth creationism (in any sense other than as a theology, if it must be taught at all) to be a form of child abuse. It seems bad enough that he has raised his two children with a belief system that he himself has acknowledged has serious holes in it, but it seems far worse that he is now thinking seriously about helping other children drink the Kool-Aid.

He repeatedly asks for my help in "weighing the evidence" and asks me not to judge him. The problem is that I am so blinded by anger and disappointment that he would even consider teaching, as science, such a blatantly anti-scientific concept

A: What would a true scientist do when confronted with this situation?... Would a true scientist experience revulsion and nausea at the scenes of our culture that you describe? Would a true scientist observe the teaching of mythology to children and label it child abuse? Would a true scientist refuse friendship with another person because that person engaged in the teaching of these strange and wondrous mythologies to children?

If a true scientist came upon a pre-modern culture living right in Manhattan, would he be revolted and nauseated? Would he claim that in transmitting its mythology to its children this pre-modern culture was committing child abuse?

... What is more important in a country, freedom of expression or the dissemination of correct views?... If what we value in our private lives is the dissemination of correct views, that is the value that is likely to take root in government. And that is the view that leads to tyranny, in my humble opinion.


Given this mystical, irrelevant and relativist fudge (considering that there was no refusal of friendship; that teaching pre-modern myths in a modern society would be considered irrevocably wrong; and that the view of tolerance here is very warped: there are very big differences between valuing the dissemination of correct views, condemning people who have incorrect views and using coercive power to force correct views upon others), the following comments were much more enlightening:


Allie_: Your nausea is there for a reason. It's the same thing as what he calls Grace, or conscience... How do people who truly believe in God dare to act like this? Don't they have any sense of shame?

lurker2209: It seems to be an easy answer. The Bible is right and the scientists are wrong and when you're outside science that's a very easy answer. But the further I got inside science the more I realized that evolution was not a conspiracy theory. Scientists love nothing more than proving other scientists wrong and if there was convincing evidence that evolution was a fatally flawed theory, someone would be digging it up in hopes of winning a noble prize! So do I believe in a God who created the world in one way and then left a bunch of confusing evidence to make everyone think he created it another way? What kind of weird deceptive God is that?

kuhnigget: What is more important in a country, freedom of expression or the dissemination of correct views?

What if one of the ways that "expression" took form was in the engineering of a bridge, say a new span across San Francisco Bay? And what if some Bible-literalist "scientist" decided to ignore reams of engineering data that suggest his load bearing steel isn't quite up to task and instead states unequivocally that his bridge won't collapse because his belief in it is strong enough to hold it up?

Would you drive across that bridge?

Allie_: There's a passage in one of the Epistles where Paul states in so many words that he's not speaking by inspiration, merely giving his own personal opinion since the church he's writing to asked for it. I pointed this passage out to a Fundie who had insisted that every word of the Bible was directly inspired by God. And he told me, in all seriousness, that Paul was mistaken when he said he wasn't speaking by inspiration, that he really was but didn't know it. So, wait, God inspired him to put a mistake in the infallible Bible? Isn't that, like, a paradox of the same sort as saying "This sentence is a lie"? Unfortunately the Fundie wasn't able to see a problem with his reasoning.

No, it's really not possible for rational humans to co-exist with Fundamentalists. Forcing oneself to believe a lie that one knows to be a lie is a cancer that rots the soul all through.

jebldmm: Let's say he wanted to teach children ...

...that 2 + 2 = 5. Would that be acceptable? Probably not. Yet there are no moral implications in that calculation. It's simply wrong. Now, throw in some morality. Should he be able to teach children that African's are not as intelligent as Europeans? Perhaps he should be able to teach them that genetics is a myth, and we all were brought by the stork. Or that AIDS is a disease only of gay men and is punishment from God.

Reality is Reality. Myth is Myth. Only the writer can decide where to draw the line, but it's wrong to teach children things that are undeniably not true.

KayWWW: Cary asked why we get upset at teaching children "colorful myths". If they were being taught as myths, I wouldn't mind. But they're being taught as science, and taught in place of real science based on evidence. It's no different than teaching kids that 2+2 is 5...

What it teaches these kids is, if there is physical evidence in front of you, and it doesn't fit with your belief system, then you should deny the physical evidence. Don't try to find the truth, or ask questions, or look for more evidence, because those things don't matter. All that matters is whether the "facts" correspond to what the Bible says. If the facts don't seem to fit, rearrange them until they do.

That's a mindset that goes far beyond evolutionary theory. And it goes against any definition of science. Of course, not every kid is going to swallow this view entirely, but if you're teaching science, you should at least try to teach the fundamentals of the scientific method - which is ask questions, look at the information, and figure out what's happening. Not, take the facts you like and fit them in with your belief system. I don't think you can call that "science".

domini: Trivializing abuse

Beating a child into the hospital is abuse. Starving them, leaving a small child alone unsupervised is abuse. Molesting a child is abuse. Teaching them creationism is NOT abuse. It's not right, but it's not abuse.

I know people who were abused. There are distinct issues and pain there. A child mistaught is a very different thing.

When you trivialize abuse, you look like a fanatic.

Allie_: There's abuse and there's abuse, domini. I know of a child who had lighter fluid poured over him and was set on fire. That he exists doesn't mean a child who was given a black eye wasn't abused. Shoplifting and murder are very different but both are "crimes." Calling shoplifting a crime doesn't trivialize murder.

Yes, knowingly teaching lies to children is a form of abuse.

sorenreport: LW could always quote the Dalai Lama . . .

Who wrote:

"If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change. In my view, science and Buddhism share a search for the truth and for understanding reality. By learning from science about aspects of reality where its understanding may be more advanced, I believe that Buddhism enriches its own worldview."

wildmarjoram: I didn't understand Cary's answer at all. We teach children about science because we're teaching them a process and a discipline for understanding the world. Science is a tool, or a toolbox. A way to approach questions in a way that allows us to find answers that can be verified and built upon to find other answers to new questions.

Science is not a belief system to be tossed into a hat and randomly drawn out interchangeably with santa claus and fairies.

... Let your friend know, once, preferably in a phone call, not in writing, what your thoughts are. And then don't be drawn any more. Respond with friendliness and flippancy, not with argument or critique after that.

lee_sf: The scientific creationism movement alleges to apply scientific principals to the argument and claim that young-earth teaching is correct and noble because it's scientifically valid. It's not- it's just bad, corrupted, incomplete science (I think destroying the reputation of science must be part of the point). You risk damaging someone's understanding of the rational scientific process, and impair their ability to make rational choices later, by teaching a fake science as the real thing.

J. Tarrou: I tolerate wrongheaded views like creationism by not going and burning their holders' houses down. The social contract doesn't ask anything further of me. I am not obliged to embrace it or to accommodate it in any way.

You ask why belief is different from skin color? I have a question of my own: Why are right-thinking, tolerant individuals repulsed by white supremacists? Surely those poor racists are just as oppressed by their own odious beliefs as brown-skinned people are by them! Beliefs can be demonstrably wrong, and moreover they can be harmful; skin color and other superficial human differences would be irrelevant but for the beliefs of people who erroneously attach importance to them. If sizable minority of people weren't getting their children the routine childhood vaccination schedule because their reading of the Great Sloth God's Book of Wisdom told them that disease was a curse from the Great Sloth and that to try to thwart the Great Sloth's will was blasphemy, would you be so understanding of their right to believe whatever the hell they wanted? Would a few yearly Mumps deaths be a reasonable cost to pay for tolerance?

... Some beliefs should be ridiculed. Simple as that. There's no love or engagement in it.

rayinkorea: As a person working in the sciences, it constantly amazes me how even people capable of distinguishing between fact and conjecture, evidence and myth still apply the logic of post-modern moral relativism to problems best suited for the cold reason of empiricism. Someone's feelings about a particular scientific concept are of absolutely no relevance in the science classroom, unless the topic becomes the ethics of science. You want to talk about the morality of animal experiments? Fine. Otherwise, it's facts, hypotheses, experimental tests, rinse, repeat.

Living overseas overseas for several years has led me to believe that this inability to not view everything as being relativistic is mostly an American disease. We've been trained for so long to talk about our feelings that we can't realize that, sometimes, that's not the topic. This is a big part of why the US has lost much of its lead in science fields. We don't prepare students to do science; instead we prepare them to discuss their feelings about science. In conclusion, I think actually the debate in the US about evolution is not interesting. It's actually shameful. Nobody else in the post-industrial world is engaged in such stupidity. This reminds me of the lead citrate hypothesis about the fall of Rome. (You know: the Romans used lead to make goblets [fact], then the wealthy started drinking orange juice [fact], which reacted with lead in the goblets to produce lead citrate [logical supposition supported by experimental evidence], which is a highly soluble neurotoxin. While it generally doesn't kill you, it does seriously impair brain function. Thus, Rome fell because its leaders drank themselves stupid [unprovable]. My question is, what the hell are we drinking?)

rayinkorea: If I say that Moby Dick is the greatest work of American fiction, you may disagree, put forward The Sound and the Fury and then we might calmly and logically discuss our difference of opinion. Because that's what they are, opinions. If however, I say that smoking cigarettes is bad for you, and someone else says that they're perfectly safe, I should not STFU and listen politely, because they're demonstratably wrong. That's what I mean when I say that post-modernist relativism is a disease affecting our society. Sometimes "opinions" are just stupidity, and it is sometimes necessary to fight against it. This is one such case.

kritireads: I am physically revolted by racist and imperialist beliefs and behaviors, for example, and I couldn't imagine having to listen to someone over and over say racist things and then ask me to help them work through my racism. What I would do with such a person, however, if I cared for them, would be to (a) kindly explain that I'm unable to talk with them about the topic because it's harmful to me, (b) explain what it is about what they're saying that's harming me, preferably by explaining as vividly as possible the experiences that led me to the beliefs I currently hold about race and racism, and (c) if possible, refer them to resources (like books) that I found helpful and meaningful, and to people who ARE willing and able to talk with them about the issue.

scslat: Geez, Cary. You really blew this one

You discuss the right for people to think whatever crazy things they want in their personal lives, and I generally agree. This sort of mythological diversity is at the core of our right to privacy. But once you cross over into inflicting those crazy views on kids who trust you and who have no ability to critically rebut your arguments, you cross the line. Young earth creationism is demonstrably wrong, and saddling some kid with these ideas will cripple him/her for a very long time (perhaps for a lifetime). All of modern medicine and biology rests firmly on the evolutionary model. It's far more elegant, instructive and beautiful than creationism can ever hope to be, and it actually reflects reality. The LW needs to follow his instincts and pull his friend back from the precipice before he spirals these poor students down from education to indoctrination in pure fantasy. I feel for those poor kids, even if they won't understand the damage done for many, many years.

Magritte's pipe: [I] agree with your post on the absurd application of moral-relativistic standards when discussing science. American education just operates in a different paradigm when it comes to science. Students are encouraged to categorically accept whatever they are taught rather than to question, understand or examine scientific concepts. Blindly accepting what they are taught lets students accept what others are taught and discuss feelings rather than trying to distinguish between knowledge and belief.

All of this begins in grade school. Take for example the comparison between the AP system and the IB system, which is the prevailing standard for top-notch secondary school curriculum in Europe and international schools elsewhere. In IB science classes, students need to design their own experiments and test a specific concept. They write exams graded by actual examiners where they have to explain theories and apply them to hypothetical situations. In AP, students are evaluated solely on a final, multiple-choice, standardized exam.

Until schools change the way they teach science and emphasize scientific reasoning and the methods in acquiring scientific knowledge, people will continue to argue that teaching creationism is valid.

Bollinl: But they will vote to fund science--or not

We live in a democracy, and those children will grow up to participate in the franchise. If they grow up believing that science is a fraud perpetrated by "them" on the "us" who have the God Given Truth, then they will vote against all sorts of candidates and issues where science is involved.

So, Cary, no--it's not all the same what they believe... I recently went on a dinosaur-themed field trip with my son's 2nd grade class, where dino fossils were handed around for the kids to feel. My son got into an argument about the bones with another boy, whose answer was "But that's not real, it's just science."

*That's* the outcome of teaching creationism/ID in church, much less church schools. Science =/= real. Science is a fraud. And when a kid like that grows up to vote--it's a bit scary. More than a bit scary.

cjackb: I almost appreciated what you've done here: thinking about fundamentalists as a primitive tribe. Fundamentalists have a word for your philosophy: moral relativism. In conceding that fundamentalists have their own definition of the word "science," and that this should be tolerated, you have conceded the Enlightenment principles that have done us very well for the past 400 years or so. Well, at least one of those principles -- the one that says, "People are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts."

lesleypalmer: I think the author of this essay is not only wrong, but fails to see that there is more at stake in this "difference of opinion". While he rhapsodizes about cultural plurality, the creationists are steadfast in their determination to drag this country backward into the 16th century. Creationists are not interested in discussions, respecting differences of opinion, or singing Kumbaya with people who do not believe as they do. They want to impose their will, their morality, their beliefs, and secure control of public policy in this country. This is facism in the making, under the guise of evangelical Christianity. The author might want us to just get along, but it is clear, at least in this author's estimation, that the radical Christian right will not stop with a mere rewriting of our educational textbooks.
Passages from Darwin's "The Descent of Man" used to support Social Darwinism and slime Evolution:

The reckless, degraded, and often vicious members of society, tend to increase at a quicker rate than the provident and generally virtuous members. Or as Mr. Greg puts the case: “The careless, squalid, unaspiring Irishman multiplies like rabbits: the frugal, foreseeing, self-respecting, ambitious Scot, stern in his morality, spiritual in his faith, sagacious and disciplined in his intelligence, passes his best years in struggle and in celibacy, marries late, and leaves few behind him. Given a land originally peopled by a thousand Saxons and a thousand Celts—and in a dozen generations five-sixths of the population would be Celts, but five-sixths of the property, of the power, of the intellect, would belong to the one-sixth of Saxons that remained. In the eternal ’struggle for existence,’ it would be the inferior and less favoured race that had prevailed—and prevailed by virtue not of its good qualities but of its faults.”...

With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment...Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind.


And one that is always ignored:

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly the result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as a part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered in the manner indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself while performing an operation, for he knows he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were to intentionally neglect the weak and the helpless, it could be only for a contingent benefit, with overwhelming present evil. We must therefore bear the undoubted bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"There must be more to life than having everything." - Maurice Sendak

***

Bizarre comment on chivalry:

"Apparently in the United States, it has gotten too far and dangerous, especially when it comes to online dating. Any chivalrous act that a man does towards a woman, he ends up taking advantage of her such as drugging and raping her for instance. It was in an article about rapists in this month's issue of the US version of Cosmopolitan.

If any of you women on here live or even visit the United States, you'd better watch out for any guy you meet that acts chivalrous towards you. Even if you meet guys on the Internet. It can deceptive sometimes. When you meet a guy, here are some things to remember:

-Don't let him get anything for you to eat or drink for you at a social event, restaurant, etc. Get it yourself. He might have put date rape drugs in the food or drinks, or he could do other dangerous things.
-Hold every door open yourself. Sometimes guys may follow you and attack.
-Don't let him walk you to your vehicle, hotel room, house, etc. Don't even give him your keys, either.
-Pay for your own date if you must. The guy shouldn't always pay for the date.
-When checking your coat at a nightclub or bar, for example, please keep your claim ticket. Don't give it to the guy or else he might lose it or tear it up.
-Don't even let him offer you his arm when walking, not even his hand when you need to get up from your seat.
-Of course, as for the sitting and standing parts, you need to take care of that yourself, not him.

Please don't let a guy you just met act like a "gentleman" towards you. Let him do it when you fully know him and trust him.

I know, that happens a lot in the modeling industry and there are situations in which women are being taken advantage of by chivalrous men that they don't know and trust well but it can happen elsewhere, not just the modeling industry. Sometimes a male friend or boyfriend can get involved as well."


Considering that it takes a long time to fully know and trust someone, it's no wonder chivalry is dead.

Cosmopolitan is such a great source of life tips.
"Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job." - Douglas Adams

***



"For 9 years I taught at the Political Science department of MIT, teaching the quantitative courses. Those were the days of mathematical models and statistics, those were the days, I think it still is true, when Social Science was trying very hard to justify the word 'Science'.

One way you do that is by introducing jargon which nobody can understands (sic). This young man expresses himself in terms too deep for me, then what is he *something* what a deep young man he must be.

The other is to use mathematics, and that's what they were trying to do, and I think there are some people who are still labouring under this delusion in Social Sciences. Any way that you can make it into a science.

However, so I wrote this song, this parody called 'Sociology'. Now, MIT did not have a Sociology department, they hadn't sunk *that* low, but they - Sociology was included in Political Science and that was a better title for a song, so, this is a song about that phenomenon of trying to mathematicise Social Science. It's called 'Sociology'"


Lyrics:

Sociology
Tom Lehrer

Strange
Is the change
They're trying to arrange
Today in sociology

Fanatics
In their attics
Are learning mathematics
Just for sociology

Persuasion
By equation
They all feel it's much more satisfactory
They, in an ivory steeple
Far away from all people
They do research in sociology

Guys
Who wrote lies
Now present them in disguise
A cinch in sociology

A tract
Quite abstract
Without one single fact
Disblended sociology

Birds
Who used words
Now all talk in terms of X and Y and Z
They can take one small matrix
And really do great tricks
All in the name of sociology

Joes
Who wrote prose
Now write algebra, who knows
It may be sociology

They're
Everywhere
Full of Sigma and Chi squared
And full of sociology

They consult
Sounding occult
Talking like a Mathematics PhD
They can snow all their clients
By calling it science
Although it's only sociology


Hal Varian Answers Your Questions

"Q: Do you feel that more traditional economic models do an adequate job of representing what economists would like them to? Do you think that emerging fields of study, like behavioral economics, will become increasingly important and/or potentially integrated into the core of economic focus? Given the assumptions we make in economics with respect to human rationality, optimal decision making, and large-scale generalizations, how can anyone in the field feel confident that a theoretical conclusion/result/finding is truly significant?

A: I think that the “traditional model” is a good starting point for economic analysis, but I don’t think that it is necessarily the ending point. You have to explore different alternatives to see which model seems to explain the data best. However, I will say that I think that formulating a model mathematically is quite important, as it serves as a check for internal consistency. Furthermore, a mathematical model allows you to draw out the consequences of an assumption that often allows for better understanding."
"Life being what it is, one dreams of revenge." - Paul Gauguin

***

Someone: i think emotional/romantic relationships can be quite separate from physical relationships what.
men or women... hmm... ithink after trying both women better lah.

therein you see the problem.. you can't have real relationships with other women. they are so emotionalyl complicated.

and demanding


Someone else: (what were the pple thinking?! lipstick in an exam welfare pack??
"I need to look my best for the exam! Hey this lipstick will come in handy"


Someone: i tell people i used to read Gray's anatomy in RI library when i was free.

they ask me "huh. got book already?"


JB: you're nice?

haha i was going to say 'don't delude yourself'
but you really are


My Toy: wad does LDPVTP stands for

Me: lying deluded psychotic vindictive treacherous person

My Toy: wah

Me: see
'my toy' isn't so bad after all haha

My Toy: omg

Me: how do you know it's a girl :P

My Toy: cos u only label girls as psychotic

Me: AAHHAHAHAAH


LDPVTP on the above: if she becomes my girlfriend i'll have the last laugh ;)

Me: wth
why would she become your girlfriend

LDPVTP: exactly.

Me: ???
non sequitur

LDPVTP: nothing is eternal.

Me: !@#$

I'd call you LDPVTIP
I for Irrational
but that doesn't add much value, considering how many women are irrational ;)


Someone: my boyfriend ordered [a stuffed toy] from ***
then when it arrived... he thought it would be fun to mail it to me again

Me: .........................

are you impressed?

Someone: eh.. it's a birthday present

i think it's a bit silly, but i'm impressed he did all that just because he thought it would impress me haha

Me: that warrants half of a "... women"

Someone: dont understand

Me: ... women
is my traditional expression of disdain

you are impressed
but you think it's a bit silly
so you get a reduced amount of disdain :P

Someone: i think under normal circumstances i would think it is very silly

but it's my boyfriend and it's kind of romantic
plus it's a great waste of money

Me: shouldn't you be upset then

Someone: but romance is dumb anyway

i dunno

i am torn between being upset and happy haha
but i decided to be happy since it's my birthday

Me: gah

Someone: you are very unromantic

hahahahhaha
i shall say that once and for all

Me: well I'm not attached
so I have the prerogative to scorn the silly things lovers do

Someone: yah go ahead

i used to do that too

i used to say i'll end up one of those grumpy old ladies in parks who throw bricks at amorous couples


Someone else: i have FOUR RI badges
hahahhaha

Me: HAHA
wth
why

Someone else: i have an RI obsessionhave the exercise book, pe shirt and badge

but only today i find
that i have FOUR badges

Me: did you hook up with an RI boy? :P

Someone else: no i did not.
RI boys make lousy bfs

Me: lol
why

Someone else: toooo ego

challenging to sustain conversation
not on a friendly basis of course

non-romantic convo is one of the best i've got actually
hahah

Me: hahahahaha
cos they know how to do stuff
but not how to charm women

Someone else: hahaha how true


SUG: it's not good manners to compare cup sizes with a girl
there's no comparison
"Misquotations are the only quotations that are never misquoted." - Hesketh Pearson

***

A short followup to the last post on Singapore and North Korea:

More scope for S'pore-North Korean economic cooperation

"Singapore has also agreed to provide IT training to North Korea... Mr Yeo also brought a letter and a gift from Singapore President SR Nathan to present to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il."


1) Considering how the Internet is highly restricted in North Korea, with most network access limited to an internal intranet, our providing IT training is like giving prosthetic limbs to someone who has blown his legs off.

2) Consider a country that:

- Invaded and overran a neighboring country and was driven out by an international coalition with UN backing
- Acquired and tested Weapons of Mass Destruction
- Pussyfooted with UN weapons inspectors ("The DPRK authorities covered all surveillance cameras and pointed them to the wall")
- Defied resolutions of the UN Security Council
- Was subject to sanctions by the International Community
- Murdered loads of its own citizens

North Korea?

Yes, but also Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

Yet, contrast the reaction from the Singaporean government to North Korea now (friendly cooperation) and support for the War in Iraq then:


Sending troops to Iraq is in Singapore's interest: Goh: "Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong has said it is in Singapore's long-term national security interest to send troops to Iraq in support of U.S.-led forces even though the mission will be dangerous... the U.S. is the only country able to defeat terrorism in the short, medium and long term... ''If small countries like Singapore don't support the U.S. in Iraq and Washington were to fail in its mission there, terrorism would be the winner,'' he said, adding that this outcome will leave small countries like Singapore at the mercy of terrorists... ''The terrorists will see that they are able to defeat the world's greatest power. Then will the U.S. and countries like Portugal and Singapore be safe? The answer is no.''"

Singapore Reaffirms Commitment to War on Terror: "Singapore's deputy prime minister reaffirmed his county's commitment to the war on terror and vowed to continue working closely with the United States "to uproot this menace to modern society" after a meeting today at the Pentagon."

Speech by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew at the Southern Methodist University Tate Lecture Series on 19 October 2006, at SMU, in Dallas, Texas: "The Singapore Government on Iraq was and is in firm support of President George W Bush and his team... The President was right to invade Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein and remove the weapons of mass destruction that all intelligence agencies in Europe and America assessed Iraq to have."


This, given that North Korea has wreaked and is wreaking a lot more havoc than Saddam Hussein's Iraq ever did.

Presumably, supporting countries that try to destabilise the region and the world and which pursue Weapons of Mass Destruction is in the interests of small countries like Singapore.

We did act as a weapons shipment/manufacture hub during the Iran-Iraq war - but at least that was the fault of private companies.
"There is no greater impotence in all the world like knowing you are right and that the wave of the world is wrong, yet the wave crashes upon you." - Norman Mailer

***

Quotes:

Some essays are very well written, or brilliant. I gave them A Zero or A +.

equivalate to (equate)

Although the neo-liberals say the markets fail. No no. Neo-liberals say markets do very well.

Any other views or comments? *silence* I think it's controversial but [there are] no views at all.

[California Girl on me: He claims that I Orientalise myself.] But you do.

[Illustrating the iniquity of the Bell Curve] Oftentime in class you ask: 'Any problems?' No one has any problems. Then after the class, everyone has problems.

10000 - 100 is what. 9 something. [Me: *sotto voce* The more economics you do, the worse your maths gets.]

All of you are participants in the game. The prize is ego points. So if you win you feel good.

Things are not always what people claim. Even for things published in AER.

[On a girl's computer troubles] Would you have helped her if she was a guy? [Me: Of course.] But if she was a guy she would have known [how to do] what you helped her to do. (had been)

[On exchange rates] Floating system is not a punisher (panacea]

f'rare'k'were'nt financial crises (frequent)

[On the final lecture] What should be done in the future. Before that, I'll tell you what should be done for your exams.

Women face disproportionate rights to safety, mobility and privacy as compared to men (threats)

[On our curriculum] It could have been better if you had to learn about Social Science methodology in Year 1 or Year 2... We do not have it. That is very regrettable.

It was Marx who claimed that capitalists even go to the hell in their pursuit of profit (hell)

[On foreign aid] There is an old saying that poverty cannot be rescued by anybody except you... If you need outside help... You have to show them [you are worthy] (relieved)

[On the failure of south-south cooperation] Even if you have emotional solidarity with your neighbors, when you get into business it's different.

[On her buying a jar of peanut butter] I'm desperate and lonely.

Tuna crosscent (croissant)

[On my scribble sheet] Is it English?

[On Fann Wong and dinner plans] She's so pretty. But I want to eat hor fun.

If you're middle class in Singapore, you have a car. [Me: Obviously you're bourgeois, cloistered] ... Most of the people around me have cars. [Student 2: Your social circle...] [Me: In 2000, 31.7% of households had cars.]... Now it should be higher. The COE went down... [Me: That means the Demand went down. What sort of econs student are you?] A lot of my friends are like, 'COE is down. Let's get a car. [Me: Your friends are in the top 31.7%.]

You need the strength for CPR - 'Crushing People's Ribs'.

[On Ben and Jerry's] I was thinking 'Bukkake Berry' would make a good name for an ice cream, but never mind.

[On Sarah Scott's Millenium Hall in her Women Novelists module] This eight year old girl. She's well brought-up... He brings her up. You think he's very benevolent... He wants to marry her and rape her [and wanted to from the time she was 8]. Who would do that?... [Me: That's why you only find it in literature] Not in literature. Only in feminist women stories, where they're trying to create a separatist woman colony.

[On the Women Novelists module] I'm not going to do it. I like men. [Me: You can't take this class if you like men meh?] If you like men, you acknowledge that you are being submerged into the patriarchy.

[Guy on 99% chocolate] It's true that this thing is possibly better than sex. [Female Student: You've just never had sex... {To me} Like you]... [Me: So what's better than sex to you?] [Female Student: Err. Nothing.]

It's so obvious. I've noticed her since year 1. [Me: Who?] I don't know her name. But I recognise her by her breasts.

[Me on Sharukhan Bhangra: This is so funny] This isn't funny. This is nice. [Me: So why are you laughing?] Because of happiness

I realise ah, 70% of KL guys suck in some way or other

[Female student: Can someone please check the guys' toilet tap? It's on again.] [Me: Just go in. No one will care.] You should say 'no one will know'.

She refused to complete FFVII, because she likes the main bad guy, so she refuses to kill him

[On Singapore men] That's what they think... They have subservient wives, then they become very bored, then they go and have extramarital affairs

He's like a bearded lady... He has a lot of stubble... He's on the limbo. He's not moving back or forward... He ties his hair in a ponytail, but not as stylishly as yours... He's not [taking pills]. That's why I say he's not moving... He's a transsexual feminist lesbian... He or she is a misandrist... That's what he says. He hates guys... If I were a psychologist and published his case, it'd be in a major journal. [Me: What's he studying?] I'm not sure. I sure hope it's not gender studies

[To me] How many groups of people have you offended?

He keeps introducing me as 'My Toy'. Then people think I'm Thai - 'Muoy Thai'.

When we were wee little lads, Sec 1... I was in the crippled bunch, but there was one person I could run faster than - the Fat Superman. Did you wear the number tag around your neck?... [Someone: You were bullied so much when you were young, no wonder you're like that now]... You were the only one I could lap

My mom told me, 'real women eat chili... the more chili you eat the bigger your breasts get... [Someone: So do you eat chili?] No, I don't like chili. [Me: Yes, I can tell]

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"The theory of the nonalienated original condition has come to seem familiar in Marxism, thanks to Engels, who develops it at length in his wellknown work, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. After having described the social constitution of the Iroquois, he com- ments: "And this gentile constitution is wonderful in all its childlike sim- plicity! Everything runs smoothly without soldiers, gendarmes or police; without nobles, kings, governors, prefects or judges; without prisons; without trials. All quarrels and disputes are settled by the whole body of those concerned - the gens or the tribe or the individual gentes among themselves... Those concerned decide, and in most cases century-old custom has already regulated everything. There can be no poor and needy - the communistic household and the gens know their obligations towards the aged, the sick, and those disabled in war. All are free and equal - in- cluding the women. There is as yet no room for slaves, nor, as a rule, for the subjugation of alien tribes ... And the kind of men and women that are produced by such a society is indicated by the admiration felt by all white men who came into contact with uncorrupted Indians., admiration of the personal dignity, straightforwardness, strength of character, and bravery of those barbarians

A similar conception can be found in H. Lefebvre, who enthusiastically writes about the primitive man: "In his reality he lived and realized all his potentialities. With no deep discord in himself he could surrender - in this wonderful equilibrium of the village community - to his spontaneous vitality."

Thus some Marxists think that man was originally nonself-alienated, "uncorrupted," that he successfully realized all his possibilities.

Marx himself thought that man had been thus far always self-alienated, but that he, for this reason, need not always remain so. Like Engels, he thinks that man can and ought to come into his own. In this sense, Marx, in his Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts, speaks about communism as a society which means "the positive supersession of all alienation and the return of man from religion, the family, the state, etc., to his human, i.e., social life (existence)"

Such a conception of communism as a negation of alienation forms the basis of the later works, of Marx. Although he always emphasizes that slavery, feudalism, and capitalism are not irrational states, but states which were necessary at a certain stage of man's development, he never reduces the difference between those states and communism simply to the difference between an earlier and later necessity, and not even to the difference in the degree of realized humanencess. He clearly contrasts the contemporary and the future society as the alienated and the nonalienated one, as the inhumane and the really humane one."

--- Marx's Theory of Alienation, Gajo Petrović

***

"Marx, like the pre-mils (or "millenarians"), went further to hold that the reign of evil on earth would reach a peak just before the apocalypse ("the darkness,before the dawn"). For Marx as for the millenarians, writes Ernest Tuveson,

The evil of the world must proceed to its height before, in one great complete root-and-branch upheaval, it would be swept away ...

Millenarian pessimism about the perfectibility of the existing world is crossed by a supreme optimism. History, the millenarian believes, so operates that, when evil has reached its height, the hopeless situation will be reversed. The original, the true harmonious state of society, in some kind of egalitarian,order, will be re-established.'
"

--- Karl Marx: Communist as Religious Eschatologist, Murray N. Rothbard

Monday, May 12, 2008

"It is well that war is so terrible - otherwise we would grow too fond of it." - Robert E. Lee

***

Annals of Anthropology: Vengeance Is Ours: Reporting & Essays

"When I asked Daniel how the war that claimed his uncle’s life began, he answered, “The original cause of the wars between the Handa and Ombal clans was a pig that ruined a garden.” Surprisingly to outsiders, most Highland wars start ostensibly as a dispute over either pigs or women. Anthropologists debate whether the wars really arise from some deeperlying ultimate cause, such as land or population pressure, but the participants, when they are asked to name a cause, usually point to a woman or a pig. Any Westerner who knows the story of Helen and the Trojan War will not be surprised to hear women named as a casus belli, but the equal importance of pigs is less obvious. However, New Guinea Highlanders, whose main food staples are starchy root crops like sweet potato and taro, are chronically starved for protein, of which the island’s dark, bristly pigs traditionally furnished the only large source. As a result, pigs are prized symbols of prestige and wealth. Peaceful competition and ostentatious displays involve pigs, and they are also used as currency for buying women. Pigs are individually owned and named, and, as piglets, they are sometimes nursed at one breast by a woman nursing an infant at her other breast...

It’s true, of course, that twentieth-century state societies, having developed potent technologies of mass killing, have broken all historical records for violent deaths. But this is because they enjoy the advantage of having by far the largest populations of potential victims in human history; the actual percentage of the population that died violently was on the average higher in traditional pre-state societies than it was even in Poland during the Second World War or Cambodia under Pol Pot...

A striking feature of New Guinea’s history is that New Guineans traditionally practiced unchecked violence against each other, yet they offered only limited resistance to the imposition of state government and the ending of that violence by European colonial powers. That wasn’t just because Europeans had guns and New Guineans didn’t; the number of armed Europeans involved in “pacification” was often absurdly few. Daniel’s view points to another reason: as more New Guineans were exposed to the benefits of state-administered justice, they saw that they were better off living without the constant fear of being killed...

In the eighteenth century, the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau argued, without any empirical evidence, that state government arose historically through a voluntary social contract: people foresaw the benefits of state government, and they freely agreed with each other to subordinate their own individual rights to those of the state, in order to obtain the hoped-for benefits. Through the writings of Western travellers who have observed states arising de novo in various parts of the world during the past six hundred years, and through the deductions of archeologists, we now have abundant empirical evidence that Rousseau was completely wrong. No people has ever freely organized itself into a state in the absence of external pressure, and people have always been understandably reluctant to cede power over themselves to some other entity...

We regularly ignore the fact that the thirst for vengeance is among the strongest of human emotions. It ranks with love, anger, grief, and fear, about which we talk incessantly. Modern state societies permit and encourage us to express our love, anger, grief, and fear, but not our thirst for vengeance. We grow up being taught that such feelings are primitive, something to be ashamed of and to transcend."


So much for Noble Savages.
"We rarely think people have good sense unless they agree with us." - Francois de La Rochefoucauld

***

Is it just the shoes?

"Detractors deride it as little more than women obsessed with men and shoes. But this does it a disservice. Kate Smurthwaite says that as a feminist and comedienne, she is a big fan. "In fact I would go so far as to say that if you enjoy Sex and the City, you ARE a feminist.

"If you can watch the amount of sex Carrie, Charlotte and Miranda have without shouting 'harlot' at the screen; if you're not horrified by the idea of women having professional jobs, living alone, talking about sex, drinking alcohol, having children out of wedlock, experimenting with lesbianism, owning vibrators and all the other stuff they do, then you support a level of freedom for women that is a very long way off for a majority of women in today's world."...

What does ring true for him is the time and effort New York women put into grooming, from their pedicured toes to their Brazilian waxes to their blow-dried hair.

"It made it seem sexy and normal, rather than mind-numbing, to spend hours painting your nails. Its sleight of hand is to make this seem like a post-feminist choice, rather than sexual enslavement. As a man, I shouldn't really object - go right ahead, make yourselves look gorgeous for me and my leery mates."

And Tate, of Time Out London, also covets its portrayal of a job very like his own. "Endless brunches and very little work. If that's what life is like as a magazine journalist, I'm working for the wrong publication."

Perhaps it's like that in Time Out's New York office."


The comments are even better:

"Yawn. Let me sum up EVERY episode of Sex and the City:
- Pretentious woman has self-obsessed issue.
- Pretentious woman discusses self-obsessed issue with equally pretentious friends (assuming they aren't too busy with their own self-obsessed issue)
-Pretentious woman has experience that either confirms or disproves self-obsessed issue and writes about it.
- Kim Cattrall gets them out.
And that's pretty much it. Oh, and with lots of shoes.
Stuart, Margate

Isn't SATC anti-feminist? Although these women are all independent with careers and are sexually liberated etc, the show is mainly about how these women relate to men. They seem to be all obsessed by men and the need to pin one down. The thread through the show is how these women need the perfect man to complete their lives. It always comes across as quite sad and desperate to me.
Steve, Oxford

Anyone who's watched the show will know that binge-drinking and casual sex are cool - thanks Sex In The City for contributing to Modern Britain.
Bob, Southampton, UK

Men should beware of SATC women. After watching this programme, my wife's internal frame of reference became SATC. Her obsessive comparison was "Why is my life not like SJP's?" She spent all our savings funding a SATC life and we eventually separated with her moving to London to pursue her fantasy.
Jim, Edinburgh

I have often wondered what it is I like about it because I can honestly say I despise each of the four women. In contrast, I quite like the male characters. There is obviously a lot of male influence over the show. Why else would the women be completely self absorbed/neurotic messes while the men are charismatic and relatively sane? And feminist? I think not. If this show is intended to empower women by encouraging irresponsible behaviour, then it has certainly succeeded. I wonder how many young women out there have bought an impractical and overpriced pair of shoes because Carrie wore them on SATC. They seldom address the issues that come along with overspending. I have never seen Carrie tear open a credit card bill and collapse on the bed in despair.
KL, London

I'm a man and I live in NYC. I watched the show and found it funny at times, irritating and silly at other times. Still I watched it. The only thing that bothered me was where did they get all that money and great apartment locations? I was a single man making good bucks and living in a hovel in Brooklyn and could barely afford much more than a few dinners a month on the town with the shoe obsessed gals I knew.
Phil, Brooklyn, NY

It was refreshing to see strong, independent women like that on TV. A feminist show, probably, but what disappointed me the most about it was the absolute cop-out at the end. After all the episodes and seasons of these women being independent, strong and well able to take on the world on their own terms, they end it the way they did, with the soppiest of nods to romanticism and conformity. The most unfeminist ending they could have thought of. Bah, humbug.
David, Ireland

I know nobody who watches it. My female friends tell me it is bereft of any humour, even if you are a woman. I don't think watching Sex And The City makes you a feminist at all, it just shows that you have no sense of humour and will tolerate any old drivel, nothing more.
Russell Lambert

Whatever spin feminists put on it, it's just not normal behaviour for women to act like they do on this show - women trying to be men. What needs to be stressed is that women are biologically different to men. They don't naturally look to "spread the seed" as men are programmed to do. Also, it is not sexy for women to act this way. Personally I wouldn't ever want my daughter to watch this show and therefore be influenced by perceiving this sexually deviant & promiscuous attitude as normal. With the world gripped by STD epidemics and single parents, this is the last show that should be on TV. It's unbelievable how much TV can mould a generation's values.
Conor Smith, Dublin, Ireland

My partner despises this show and "doesn't get it" - I feel very alone in the female world in that I totally agree with him. I cannot stand this programme. I can't exactly say why I don't like it as I enjoy comedy and good storylines (which SATC apparently has) but something about it makes me dive for the remote control whilst shouting obscenities as to why people watch it.
Helen Preston, Swindon

Personally I think SATC is very sad. It has created the idea for women to seek satisfaction in material items. The idea that any hardship in life can be fixed by purchasing a pair of $300 shoes is pathetic. Girl power, yeah right.
Andy, London, UK

"....if you're not horrified by the idea of women having professional jobs, living alone, talking about sex, drinking alcohol... then you support a level of freedom for women that is a very long way off for a majority of women in today's world." Fascinating how if you reverse these and apply them to us men, you are left with a stereotypical laddish, uncaring, selfish, immature character that we unfairly spend our modern lives apologising for. But it's OK if you're a feminist - it's a positive thing. Ridiculous.
Scott, Oxford, England

I find SATC a bit boring and shallow and never really got into it. I think it's because I don't identify with any of the characters. You don't have to be a cocktail glugging, shoe worshipping sex maniac to be a feminist and I find Kate Smurthwaite's comments as ignorant and as shallow as the show itself.
Rachel, London

I think Brian Griffin (Family Guy) summed it up best after watching it with some gay friends: "... so it's a show about three hookers and their mom?"
Neill, Plymouth, UK"


The question is begged: who's the strawfeminist here?

I also learnt something new today: SATC ended 4 years ago (doh!)
"Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them. There's many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher." - Flannery O'Connor

***

Group sex and prostitution on Flickr « Not about everything - "Dear internet user, My photos on flickr must be a disappointing experience for you. They often are just not exactly what you were looking for. I apologize, but I have to say that I was not aware of the problem. Until yesterday. Flickr opened up the referrer statistics for views on photos. Now I can see what you were looking for when you opened one of my photo pages... And also you have been searching for “group sex”, and must be totally disappointed by my photo of four couples of damselflies, sitting on a branch. They are having sex. But I don’t think that damselfly sex will turn you on. However, maybe you find it interesting. Somewhere else I have written some explanation about Dragonfly Sex. Just read it, it is fascinating stuff."

Judge Dismisses Case Against Art Professor - "A professor of visual studies at the University of Buffalo, Kurtz has been living a nightmare for the past four years. On May 11, 2004, Kurtz’s wife had a heart attack. He called 911. The police arrived, and even though his wife was dying, they became suspicious of his artwork, which included Petri dishes with transgenic bacteria—part of an exhibition that he was entering at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. The cops called the FBI, and agents nabbed him the next day as he was going to the funeral home. Eventually, Kurtz, a founder of the Critical Arts Ensemble, was charged not with bioterrorism but with mail and wire fraud. The government alleged that he illegally obtained $256 worth of bacteria from Robert Ferrell of the department of genetics at the University of Pittsburgh, who had ordered it for him... on April 21, Federal Judge Richard Arcara dismissed the indictment against Kurtz."
They should just have given him a stern warning from the police.

dribibu.xs4all.nl - Comics archive - Dilbert from 1989 to the present (!) and a few other archived comics. They are supposed to have Garfield from 1978, so I wanted to confirm the hypothesis that Garfield used to be funnier funny, but 1978 to 1999 was empty when I checked, so.

Who has killed more, Satan or God? - "In a previous post, I counted the number of people that were killed by God in the Bible. I came up with 2,391,421, which, of course, greatly underestimates God's total death toll, since it only includes those killings for which specific numbers are given. No attempt was made to include the victims of Noah's flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, or the many plagues, famines, fiery serpents, etc., with which the good book is filled. Still, 2 million is a respectable number even for world class killers. But how does this compare with Satan? How many did he kill in the Bible? Well I can only find ten, and even these he shares with God, since God allowed him to do it as a part of a bet. I'm talking about the seven sons and three daughters of Job."

VASSAL Engine Web Site - "VASSAL is a game engine for building and playing online adaptations of board games and card games. It allows users to play in real time over a live Internet connection (in addition to playing by email). It runs on all platforms, and is free for personal use."

Al-Qaeda accuses Iran of 9/11 lie - "Al-Qaeda's deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has blamed Iran for spreading the theory that Israel was behind the 11 September 2001 attacks. In an audio tape posted on the internet, Zawahiri insisted al-Qaeda had carried out the attacks on the US. He accused Iran, and its Hezbollah allies, of trying to discredit Osama Bin Laden's network."
It's all part of the conspiracy.

I have pubic lice in my mailbox - "Remember the crazy guy who claims he has specially bred giant Japanese crab lice that don’t bite? And that they make great pets? (“Like Sea Monkeys in Your Pants!”)... The LoveBugz.net website offers to send you your very own “pets” if you send them your address and a buck. The reporter wanted to buy some lice and have me look at them... And then: An envelope DID show up. (Sealed with duct tape, too!)"

WTF Costumes: The Crazy & Sexy Halloween Costume Archive - "A gallery of the best, worst, sexiest, funniest and weirdest Halloween costumes on the internet. Before you plan your next sexy Halloween costume make sure you visit our funny & sexy Halloween costume archive."
I like the Smurfette costume

Elcerdo, nose to tail eating at Werner's Place - ""Did you know that pork is an 'excellent' source of thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, phosphorus and protein and a 'good' source of zinc and potassium?"
popagandhi: "kl restaurant where you get lots and lots of pork. german, of course." The pent-up demand in Bolehland is very palpable. And the menu is a taste of heaven: (almost) everything has pork in it.
nw.t: btw the german pork restaurant popagandhi mentioned is freaking zhai
i stared at it in awe for 10 minutes becuase it brazenly said "pork restaurant on the signboard"
"I have often depended on the blindness of strangers." - Adrienne E. Gusoff

***

Coming from the same person who says that "Singaporeans sometimes get upset" because "foreigners... make friends with our girls":


Possibilities for S'pore businesses strong if Korean relations are better

"Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo has said that possibilities for Singapore businesses would be stronger if relations between North and South Korea are better.

Mr Yeo was speaking in the North Korean capital Pyongyang where he is on an official visit.

Mr Yeo noted that if North-South Korean relations are better, the potential for the development of Kaesong Industrial Park will be enormous.

That's because North Koreans are smart, hardworking, highly-disciplined and competitive in international wages.

He said that based on what he had seen, North Korea has witnessed progress, though it is encountering some difficulties."


I love how they make North Korea sound like a normal country you can just walk into to invest in. Singapore may be Disneyland with the Death Penalty, but North Korea is Disneyland with the Mandatory Death Penalty

Considering that North and South Korea are still technically at war (55 year old truce notwithstanding), and that the former was still kidnapping citizens of the latter just 8 years ago (and probably more recently too), 'better relations' is a great euphemism.

Compared to us ungrateful and spoilt Singaporeans, North Koreans sound like model workers:

- Smart (because, not allowed to have long hair, their men experience positive effects to their "human intelligence development")
- Hardworking (because otherwise they're sent back to the fields to eat tree bark and mud)
- Highly-disciplined (it's all the parades) and
- Competitive in international wages (because anything is better than eating worms, and US$1.83 gets you an executive suite at a North Korean hotel)

It's not hard for North Korea to have witnessed progress, and the park to have enormous potential considering how screwed up North Korea's economy is (thanks to "some difficulties" all imposed by its wonderful regime).

Perhaps the most disgusting bit is that this is a regime that starves and murders its own people, and all we can think of is "possibilities for Singapore businesses"?!

No wonder people don't like us.

Then again, we've already done business with drug money (while hanging the small fries), so what's new?


"It was Marx who claimed that capitalists even go to the hell in their pursuit of profit" (I can't find a citation - if anyone has one I'd be very happy to have it)

[Addendum: It is suspected that North Korea was responsible for the disappearance of five young Singaporean women in August 1978, which makes this all the more shocking.]

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Why do so many RI boys think I'm the Bishan gay?!

They sure don't make them like they used to...



"Evidence of Bishan Gay taking pictures of RI boys"
"The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums." - G. K. Chesterton

***

Ernst Mayr on Race: The Biology of Race and the Concept of Equality

"There are words in our language that seem to lead inevitably to controversy. This is surely true for the words "equality" and "race."... There is a widespread feeling that the word "race" indicates something undesirable and that it should be left out of all discussions. This leads to such statements as "there are no human races."

Those who subscribe to this opinion are obviously ignorant of modern biology. Races are not something specifically human; races occur in a large percentage of species of animals. You can read in every textbook on evolution that geographic races of animals, when isolated from other races of their species, may in due time become new species. The terms "subspecies" and "geographic race" are used interchangeably in this taxonomic literature.

This at once raises a question: are there races in the human species? After all, the characteristics of most animal races are strictly genetic, while human races have been marked by nongenetic, cultural attributes that have very much affected their overt characteristics. Performance in human activities is influenced not only by the genotype but also by culturally acquired attitudes. What would be ideal, therefore, would be to partition the phenotype of every human individual into genetic and cultural components.

Alas, so far we have not yet found any reliable technique to do this. What we can do is acknowledge that any recorded differences between human races are probably composed of cultural as well as genetic elements. Indeed, the cause of many important group differences may turn out to be entirely cultural, without any genetic component at all. Still, if I introduce you to an Eskimo and a Kalahari Bushman I won't have much trouble convincing you that they belong to different races...

In the eighteenth century, when America's Constitution was written, all our concepts were dominated by the thinking of the physical sciences. Classes of entities were conceived in terms of Platonic essentialism. Each class (eidos) corresponded to a definite type that was constant and invariant. Variation never entered into discussions because it was considered to be "accidental" and hence irrelevant. A different race was considered a different type. A white European was a different type from a black African. This went so far that certain authors considered the human races to be different species.

It was the great, and far too little appreciated, achievement of Charles Darwin to have replaced this typological approach by what we now call population thinking. In this new thinking, the biological uniqueness of every individual is recognized, and the inhabitants of a certain geographic region are considered a biopopulation. In such a biopopulation, no two individuals are the same, and this is true even for the six billion humans now on Earth. And, most important, each biopopulation is highly variable, and its individuals greatly differ from each other, thanks to the unique genetic combinations that result from this variability...

At the same time, nothing could be more meaningless than to evaluate races in terms of their putative "superiority." Superiority where, when, and under what circumstances? During the period of the development of the human races, each one became adapted to the condition of its geographic location. Put a Bushman and an Eskimo in the Kalahari Desert and the Bushman is very much superior; put a Bushman and an Eskimo on the Greenland ice and the Eskimo is by far superior. The Australian Aborigines were very successful in colonizing Australia around sixty thousand years ago and developed local races with their own culture. Yet they could not defend themselves against European invaders...

When dealing with human races we must think of them as the inhabitants of the geographic region in which they had originated. Presumably each human race consists of individuals who, on average and in certain ways, are demonstrably superior to the average individual of another race. Eskimos, for instance, are superior in their adaptedness to cold. In the last four or five Olympics there were always six to eight contenders of African descent among the ten finalists in the sprinting races, surely not an accidental percentage...

When comparing one race with another, we do find genes that are on the whole specific for certain populations. Many individuals of Native American descent have the Diego blood group factors, and people of Jewish descent have a propensity for Tay-Sachs disease. Some of these characteristics are virtually diagnostic, but most are merely quantitative, like the description of the human races in older anthropology textbooks describing skin color, hair, eye color, body size, etc. An ensemble of such characteristics usually permits classifying an individual in the relevant race. All these characteristics are nevertheless highly variable...

In a recent aptitude test administered in California, students of Asian descent did conspicuously better than students of African descent. Researchers evaluating these results subsequently discovered that in the year preceding the test, the Asian-American students had spent a daily average of three hours on homework, while the African-American students had done virtually no homework at all...

So what, if anything, does biology, and specifically the biological understanding of race, have to teach us about the concept of equality?

In the first place, the biological facts may help to remind us just how new the political concept of equality really is. When we look at social species of animals, we discover that there is always a rank order. There may be an alpha-male or an alpha-female, and all other individuals of the group fall somewhere below them in the rank order.

A similar rank-ordering has long marked many human societies as well...

As a historian of science, I am inclined to believe that the scientific revolution of the eighteenth century helped to promote new ways of thinking about equality. From the perspective of Newtonian essentialism, all samples of a chemical element are identical and, as modern physics assumes, so are nuclear particles. Equality of this sort is a universal phenomenon. Perhaps it was only a small step from Newtonian essentialism to the moral proposition that all human beings are essentially equal, and therefore should have equal rights...

No two human individuals are genetically the same. Paradoxically, it is precisely because the human population is genetically and culturally so diverse that we need a principle of civil equality. Anybody should be able to enjoy the benefits of our liberal society in spite of differences of religion, race, or socioeconomic status...

When Thomas Jefferson proclaimed that " all men are created equal," he failed to distinguish between the civil equality of individual human beings and their biological uniqueness. Even though all of us are in principle equal before the law and ought to enjoy an equality of opportunity, we may be very different in our preferences and aptitudes. And if this is ignored, it may well lead to discord."
"Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without any proof." - Ashley Montague

Too bad it's not just Creationists...

***


"Jap Rice for 50c" - Cathay basement
I shall add this example of blatant racism to my 'Jap' post. Amazingly the Wikipedia article has not been reverted yet, so I added it in as well.


"Bouquets of non-degradable, exclusively natural materials"
This was a bit of a puzzle. How come natural materials can't degrade? They must be quite environmentally unfriendly.


Bizarre plumber - "Plumbing choke
WC! Toilet bowl water leaking? PUB bills 2 high? Call N Save $.
Hee hee. What the woman's doing in the men's toilet. 1 Size 36 red high heel shoe choke the w c but the woman missing."



Lindt 99% chocolate. It was disgusting and tasted like panadol. Even 2 friends who are crazy about chocolate aver that anything above 70-80% is disgusting.


"Exam stress collage" - the people at the benches outside the Box. It was more colourful and took up more space by the end of the exams. I don't know how they stood the double whammy of the heat and the humidity. Maybe it was why they were flirting through these papers hurr hurr.


"If e dustbin is full/overflowing, Pls take initiative and throw your trash outside. A little walk wouldn't harm, would it? A communal place is a communal responsibility - Brandom"


"What do we do if the dustbin outside is overflowing? - kimberly"


"NUS Students' Sports Club. Chairpersons of Member Clubs. WARNING: Anyone caught stealing any photos will be handed over to the police."
There're only 2 photos I'd want to steal anyway... This is almost as bad as chaining up the furniture to stop people stealing it, but not as sad as threatening police action on people who steal cans from recycling bins

[Addendum: Someone pointed out maybe the best ones have already been stolen. Assuming every subclub is represented, that's a lot that have been taken.]


"An English Tutor is need!
Wants to make a new friend?
Wants to help her a bit on her English?
Native English Speaker is a must (American English speaker preferred)
Tutor Fee: also, would like to discuss personally"
Given that when Singaporeans say 'Native English Speaker' they mean 'Ang Moh', this just sounds like a way to meet Ang Moh men. Hurr hurr.


Unextinguished flame from Sichuan steamboat at disposal point


"The house wasn’t nearly large enough for so many people, and life was extremely uncomfortable for them all. There were only two rooms in the place altogether, and there was only one bed. The bed was given to the four old grandparents because they were so old and tired. They were so tired, they never got out of it... The four old people, two at either end of the bed, propped themselves up on their pillows and
stared with anxious eyes"


Someone got Hand Foot and Mouth Disease (probably from exchanging bodily fluids with multiple children) so we sunned the stuff he lay on. The idiot went swimming but luckily they changed the pool water the next day.


They went to sun the stuff - ON THE GRASS?! We don't have European grass...


Queue on Labour Day


Queue on a Saturday


Mega BJ


Pringles - "No artificial colours". i.e. It has artificial flavourings and preservatives.


"'ORD LOH!!' 'What the'"
Library etiquette talkback corner. I forgot to note what most of the good ones said, but there's one about how NTU students should be allowed in since they have a lot of Nanyang University Library books.


"Combined Halls Post IHG Bash. The Arena. Free flow all night, free entry - Girls. Guys - $18, free flow 9-10:30pm."
Even Hall Bashes are sexist. Though as I pointed out, the guys can get the girls to get them drinks.


Necklace made from stickers


I'm a breast man, so I got an ass man, a leg man and an arm man together for:


$10 Sheares Hall supper chicken. I'm glad I didn't graduate before having this (twice!)




Not as nice when ta pao-ed for lazy people



Throwing Balls - exam stress relief. The peril of including stress balls in exam welfare packs. At least they relieve stress.

Various circus tricks performed by someone who is dearly loved and has now departed:










"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me. " - Hunter S. Thompson

***


"AIBI Hang ups. Anti-Aging. Reduces the effects of aging caused by gravity."
Even if this snake oil worked, you'd probably have to spend half the night in this position.


The old Oohtique homepage adult warning: "Please leave this section immediately if you are below 21 years of age... Are you over 18 years old?"


"Terry Katong Laksa... We brewed the soup for countless hours, and all you do is just stare?" - At the temporary Chinatown hawker centre, the only one I've seen with no Halal stores.


Pancakes with liquid gold. They were a little thin. Maybe I need an egg pan or somesuch.

[MFTTW: orh your leavening is from the egg whites
yeah that deflates with time too]


Sourpuss's favourite place: "Sour Puss" Cafe. Sourpuss: "Right. Why would anyone name their cafe Sourpuss?" This used to be 2hot Cafe, at the Esplanade. Maybe it's changed name again.



"black__? blackcurrent black__?"
I don't get it either


'Cunning Linguist'


Creative Engin Canteen tea: "Victorious Black Tea. Longevity Black Coffee. Wish Fulfilling Tea. Prosperity Tea"
I wanted to take a picture of the silly Chinese New Year hats they were wearing, but I think the Aunty suspected something


"Exam Welfare Packs... DO NOT fish from the packs. You are not a homeless vagrant."


"God's word. Soak it up" - Spongebob Squarepants ripoff. This isn't quite as bad as "God is the Potter, not Harry".


Just how much Kiwi there is in the Arts Kiwi Juice. I'm told that this is not such a good illustration - I should try to get the picture of 3 Kiwis in a blender filled with ice, but that is hard to capture and I would look suspicious.


Hurr hurr demonstrates why lockers aren't safe - you can still remove laptops from them


"Are Buddhists idol-worshippers?"
Actually, depending on your definition of idol-worship, almost all or almost no theists could be considered idol-worshippers. As such, the reflexive shunning of the label is problematic.


Free canned drinks offered in return for returning the empty cans. Rag is such a sham.


More snake oil: "Lip Trainer Patakara". Supposedly it can help you with "Sore throat, Phlegm, Snoring, Sleep apnea (OSAS), Bad breath, Blocked nose(Sinus), Bleeding from gum(Periodontal disease), Mouth ulcer(Stomatitis), Temporomandibular disorders(TMJ/TMD), Teeth grinding, Bell's palsy, Stroke, Phlegm, Saliva(Drooling), Eating Swallowing & Speech disorder (Dysarthria) , Aphasia, Down syndrome, Autism, Alzheime, Dementia for long time, Hypertension, Diabetes, Rheumatism (arthritis), Headache in the morning, Stiff neck, Constipation, Toilet late at night(1~3 times per night), Sleep disorders, Dry mouth, Sjogren's syndrome" and more by training your lip strength. It has been used medically, but cunningly this is just for training lip strength in stroke patients (and the like) so teeth grinding, snoring and the rest are a big question mark.


Masterful balance - soft toys on a swing


"Her strong arms cradled him as he laid back in panicked excitement, helpless in rapture"
This is some condom-related ad. It's been a while, but IIRC it's about forcing your guy to wear one.
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