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Valar Qringaomis

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

"Sometimes I worry about being a success in a mediocre world." - Lily Tomlin


A tidbit from 2004:

Veil could cut cancer risk, says doctor

RIYADH — Veiled women are protecting more than their modesty — they are also less prone to nose and throat cancers because their veils screen out viruses, a Canadian doctor was quoted yesterday as saying.

Professor Kamal Malaker said women in Saudi Arabia, many of whom wear a full face-covering veil, suffered a low rate of the Epstein Barr Virus which causes nasopharyngeal cancer.

“The hijab (veil) is a protection against upper respiratory tract infection,” the Saudi Gazette quoted Malaker as saying.

“In the kingdom, nasopharyngeal throat cancer ailment is very low among women as compared to men.”

“It is interesting how a very simple social custom can have a profound effect on a human’s life,” said Malaker, head of radiation oncology at King Abdul Aziz hospital in the kingdom.
An Entrepreneurial Life

"I am not having a midlife crisis. My whole life has been a series of crises...

Here are some words that I believe describe many successful entrepreneurs: independent, intense, strong-willed, obsessive, competitive, intolerant, thrill-seeking, adventurous, visionary, crazy, self-absorbed. With short attention spans. Perhaps some of these characteristics are necessary to be successful.

Now, suppose we were to make a list of words that would describe a good or easy-to-live-with spouse or parent. Would any of the same words be on this list? Hmmm. I don’t think so. Suffice it to say that the traits that make someone successful at work can be challenging at home. Can someone be different at home than at work? I think so, but only to a degree. I’ve come to believe that a real hero is someone who figures out how to leave his problems at work...

I wish it were as simple as just deciding to put the family first — and maybe it should be. But entrepreneurship is not always about our wishes... once the business is successful, it is no longer about providing for the family. It becomes more about ambition, ego and competition. We all make choices, some conscious, some not.

Everyone talks about balance. There is no balance. Balance is perfect. There is nothing perfect in work/life balance. It is about compromise, choices and, often, regret. Here is the irony of ambition: The same ambition that drives people to be successful won’t let them enjoy being successful. They pay a terrible price for their success, as do their families, but they are never successful enough"

To a large extent, many similar principles apply to work in general also.

Friday, November 06, 2009

"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people." - Orson Welles


Rational and Irrational Thought: The Thinking That IQ Tests Miss:

"I coined the term dysrationalia (analogous to "dyslexia"), meaning the inability to think and behave rationally despite having adequate intelligence, to draw attention to a large domain of cognitive life that intelligence tests fail to assess. Although most people recognize that IQ tests do not measure important mental faculties, we behave as if they do. We have an implicit assumption that intelligence and rationality go together - or else why would we be so surprised when smart people do foolish things?...

We tend to be cognitive misers. When approaching a problem, we can choose from any of several cognitive mechanisms. Some mechanisms have great computational power, letting us solve many problems with great accuracy, but they are slow, require much concentration and can interfere with other cognitive tasks. Others are comparatively low in computational power, but they are fast, require little concentration and do not interfere with other ongoing cognition. Humans are cognitive misers because our basic tendency is to default to the processing mechanisms that require less computational effort, even if they are less accurate.

Are you a cognitive miser? Consider the following problem, taken from the work of Hector Levesque, a computer scientist at the University of Toronto. Try to answer it yourself before reading the solution.

1. Jack is looking at Anne, but Anne is looking at George. Jack is married, but George is not. Is a married person looking at an unmarried person?
A) Yes
B) No
C) Cannot be determined

More than 80 percent of people choose C. But the correct answer is A. Here is how to think it through logically: Anne is the only person whose marital status is unknown. You need to consider both possibilities, either married or unmarried, to determine whether you have enough information to draw a conclusion. If Anne is married, the answer is A: she would be the married person who is looking at an unmarried person (George). If Anne is not married, the answer is still A: in this case, Jack is the married person, and he is looking at Anne, the unmarried person. This thought process is called fully disjunctive reasoning - reasoning that considers all possibilities. The fact that the problem does not reveal whether Anne is or is not married suggests to people that they do not have enough information, and they make the easiest inference (C) without thinking through all the possibilities.

Most people can carry out fully disjunctive reasoning when they are explicitly told that it is necessary (as when there is no option like "cannot be determined" available). But most do not automatically do so, and the tendency to do so is only weakly correlated with intelligence...

Large numbers of highly select university students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton and Harvard were cognitive misers, just like the rest of us...

My goal in proposing the term dysrationalia is to separate intelligence from rationality, a trait that IQ tests do not measure. The concept of dysrationalia, and the empirical evidence indicating that the condition is not rare, should help create a conceptual space in which we value abilities at least as important as those currently measured on IQ tests - abilities to form rational beliefs and to take rational action."

He also talks about the egocentric fallacy, the base rate fallacy, the failure to understand the scientific method (hypothesis testing and controls) and confirmation bias.
"2 is not equal to 3, not even for large values of 2." - Grabel's Law


More Asian women going for boob jobs - "More Asian women are making their boobs bigger through plastic surgery as the techniques used are increasingly simpler and much safer than before. Boobs can be made bigger within 20 minutes by a competent plastic surgeon and the patient can get back to work within 24-48 hours with a massive boost in her self-confidence. Renowned Swedish plastic surgeon Dr Charles Randquist speaking to Bernama from Victoriakliniken, Stockholm via Skype, said breast augmentation is something that lots of women in Asia desire at present "because it is all about quality of life"... While Asia has many breast surgeons it is unfortunate that it lacks scientific data or numbers on breast augmentation"

Sex for survival: Study shows male fiddler crabs will protect female neighbours - at a price - "Male fiddler crabs will happily defend a female neighbour against intruders - partly because the females will dole out sex in return... In 21 trials involving male intruders, the researchers found that male crabs would scuttle over to fight off the invaders on a female neighbour's territory 95 per cent of the time. But in 20 trials involving female intruders, the males crabs only fought off the invaders 15 per cent of the time"
Patriarchy extends its insidious claws into the crustacean world!

ChefsBest - Award Winners - "Expert independent judging results for America's best food products in hundreds of categories"
This award has standard. Otis Spunkmeyer muffins - which won in their category - are VERY nice. And they use sugar, not corn syrup. BAGUS!

The Straight Dope: What's the story on jury nullification? - "Jury nullification generally refers to a jury’s decision to acquit a defendant even though the jurors believe the accused to be factually guilty of the crime. This decision can arise from a desire for leniency or sympathy with the accused or from distaste for the particular law being enforced... It’s the job of the jury to sort out who is telling the truth about what, and agree upon a set of facts. In contrast, the judge’s job is to rule on questions of law... During the Civil War, the Fugitive Slave Act mandated the return of runaway slaves to their owners and prescribed penalties for those who didn't comply, but juries often refused to convict those accused of this crime; in the decades that followed, all-white juries in the south routinely refused to convict white defendants accused of acts of violence against blacks"

Millions want to swap nations - "SOME 700 million people worldwide, or more than all the adults of North and South America combined, think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence and want to permanently move to another country... The most popular destination was the United States... In joint second were Britain, Canada and France... The least likely to want to emigrate were Asians"

Startup Love: Starting a relationship is like launching a business - "In both matters of the heart and matters of the mind, on average, only one-in-ten startups survive in the long run. You need to be willing to go all-in at the beginning but to be able to cut your losses if things don't work out. Embrace the concept of failing fast and frequently. That is, try lots of things and keep what works. This is the secret sauce of Silicon Valley. Entrepreneurs know that the worst outcome occurs when you inhabit the land of the living dead, where your company stumbles along, just waiting for someone to put it out of its misery. So be willing to gracefully extract yourself when it's clear that things won't improve. Write off the losses on your emotional tax return, and move on to your next investment."
Similarly, not everyone is cut out to start a business, and you can possibly go bankrupt.

Uncovering Steve Jobs' Presentation Secrets - "1. A headline
2. A villain
3. A simple slide
4. A demo
5. A holy smokes moment
One more thing…sell dreams"

10 things you need to stop tweeting about - "#2 Social Media. "It's all about crowdsourcing in the social media web 2.0 twittersphere!... You sound like a douchebag with no real job skills"

Pew Internet Project: Social Isolation and New Technology - "People who use modern information and communication technologies have larger and more diverse social networks... “There is a tendency by critics to blame technology first when social change occurs,” argued Prof. Keith Hampton"

The Straight Dope: Is there any difference in quality between name-brand drugs and generics? - "The key issue in name brands versus generics is quality control. Branded drugs are tested extensively for effectiveness, side effects, and drug interactions — a slow, expensive process — and before the Waxman-Hatch Act of 1984, so were generics. The new law lowered the bar... One study found generic versions of the heart disease drug digoxin were 40 percent more likely to have “adverse events” than branded digoxin... research suggests generic versions of the blood thinner heparin are so different they can’t be safely substituted for one another."

Texas Lawmaker Suggests Asian Names Be "Easier to Deal With" - "Is Texas State Rep. Betty Brown (R-Terrell) extremely out of touch with national demographics, or is she the unfortunate scapegoat in a voter registration debate?... she asked, "Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese-I understand it's a rather difficult language-do you think it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?" But Brown's comments don't end there, and most accounts don't include the second part of that statement. She continues, "I'm not talking changing your name. I'm talking about the transliteration, or whatever you refer to it, that you could use for us."... her suggestion was a way to make it easier for Asian Americans to be identified in the voting process, since their legal transliterated names and the more common names used on their driver's licenses don't always match up... suggesting that someone of any nationality should use the same name on their legal voting documentation that they use on their driver's licenses or other forms of I.D. seems pretty logical"

Woman is allergic to her husband's sperm - "A new wife was given a nasty wedding night surprise when she discovered she was allergic to her husband's sperm. Mike and Julie Boyde had been going out for two years when they got married and decided to have unprotected sex for the first time that evening. But almost immediately the bride was in unbearable pain"

Google Opens Google Invite to Invites - "As with Google Wave and Google Voice, Google Invite invites are a hot commodity"
"If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things." - Rene Descartes


The Straight Dope: Why does Heinz ketchup say "57 varieties"? I only see one variety

Q: In case you're not aware, you've uncovered another Illuminati agent in Henry J. Heinz. Let me expand briefly. The Illuminati are an extremely secret sect, and have been among mankind practically from the beginning, originating, it is believed, in the Lost Continent, Atlantis. Being a secret, powerful, occult sect, the Illuminati gathered great mystical power from their use of the number 5. Five is an extremely strong number, still used in the worship of Satan, the power of our military, the logic of our digits, the points of our extremities, our senses, and a great many other things rooted in our collective psyche. Also important, and perhaps more powerful, is the combination of the numbers 2 and 3, equalling 5, of course. Two is the symbol for symmetry, and three, the divinity and others. It is a blatant game that the Illuminati are extremely fond of, flaunting their symbols to each other — the more bizarre the better, the more flagrant the waste of money, the better yet. Keeping this in mind, think again of the giant pickles, the man whose "mysterious" number is 57. (Remember, 7 is simply the repeating 2 + 3 cycle, i.e., 2 + 3 = 5 + 2 = 7 + 3 = 10 or 5 x 2.) Now observe the phone number — 237-5757. Ergo, buying Heinz products finances the Illuminati.

P.S.: Notice how many letters in his first and last names.

A: Very interesting, Dan, and just the kind of thing we expect from a Baltimorean. I should point out, by way of amplification, that by using the digits 2 and 3 in appropriate combinations you can generate every integer (including 1, if you allow subtraction). In other words, the very foundations of mathematics are infected with Illuminism. Those guys are everywhere.
In defence of Singapore exceptionalism:

"THERE are three ways to respond to critics: ignore them, rebut them or engage them." - Chua Mui Hoong.

She forgot: "sue them".

Mr Wet: "The best suit one can wear is a defamation suit"
While on Encyclopedia Dramatica I made the mistake of clicking on a link that took me back to the late 90s.

It did this by doing something I didn't think was possible on modern browsers: opening millions of windows at once (luckily I managed to terminate my browser and email client processes in Task Manager).

The URL in question:
(NSFW, do not click unless you want to crash the browser; I'm even leaving out the hyperlink)

I'm using Firefox 3.5.3.

A friend on a 1-2 week-old build of Chrome was not affected. Nor was one on the iPhone.

One on Safari 4.0.3 was not spared, though.

Someone suggested disabling Flash, since it was using Flash to generate the popups. When I did so in IE 7, there was no issue (except for my window jumping about for a few seconds). But then again the person on Chrome had Flash enabled, so.

A: I was also getting some js errors so the page may be trying multiple ways to generate the popups

B: wah shit
it detected a trojan

my AV detected
now my nod32 keeps popping
though the window closed long ago

C: if you want the html just wget the page

i think it uses irc protocol
to do something weird

not sure

Also, thanks to Encyclopedia Dramatica I have FINALLY seen something more disgusting than Breast Rash Larvae.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

"Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless." - Thomas A. Edison


"In Arabic, as in most European languages, the word 'Slavs' was becoming, by the tenth century, increasingly synonymous with human cattle.

Nothing, indeed, in the fractured Europe of the time, was more authentically multicultural than the business of enslaving Slavs. West Slavs captured in the wars of the Saxon emperors would be sold by Frankish merchants to Jewish middlemen, who then, under the shocked gaze of Christian bishops, would drive their shackled stock along the high roads of Provence and Catalonia, and across the frontier into the Caliphate.

Few opportunities were neglected in the struggle to obtain a competitive edge. In the Frankish town of Verdun, for instance, the Jewish merchants who had their headquarters there were renowned for their facility with the gelding knife. A particular specialization was the supply of 'carzimasia': eunuchs who had been deprived of their penises as well as their testicles. Even for the most practiced surgeon, the medical risks attendant on performing a penectomy were considerable - and yet the wastage served only to increase the survivors' value. Exclusivity, then as now, was the mark of a luxury brand"

--- The Forge of Christendom / Tom Holland

Luckily Slavs have better things to do than complain about how they are oppressed by language.
"It had only one fault. It was kind of lousy" - James Thurber


"Il préférait les passes rapides, anonymes, impersonnelles. Mon cul,
ton cash, bye-bye...

'Tu crois vraiment ce que tu dis?'
'T'as l'air bizarre...'

Graham informa Grégorie que l'assassin n'avait pas sodomisé Romain

'Il a éjaculé sur ses fesses'
'Ciboire! Il a joui en l'étranglant! C'est un hostie de malade!'"

--- C'est pour mieux t'aimer, mon enfant / Chrystine Brouillet

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

"Food is an important part of a balanced diet." - Fran Lebowitz


Via Siew Kum Hong, Eddie Teo's Defending Scholarships but not all Scholars speech was making the rounds on the Singaporean Twitterverse earlier.

A short while ago, Acidflask came up with an Annotated Guide to Eddie Teo's Speech, which I felt was not entirely fair. As an aside, I will note that Siew Kum Hoong and I were broadly approving of the speech, while most of those who disliked it were/are scholars.

A summary of Acidflask's guide:

1) Bond-breakers are evil because they waste taxpayers' money (FALSE)
-> He says that Eddie neglected to mention that Liquidated Damages exist. Bond breakers are thus not immoral and irresponsible, since they earn their organisations money.

2) Bond-breakers are evil, but rare (O RLY?)
-> He accuses Eddie of setting up a false dichotomy between Good scholars (???/791) who finish their bonds and Bad scholars (9/791) who don't serve a single day, meanwhile ignoring Disappointing ones (!!!/791) who break their bonds having served them partially.

3) Quitters are evil, and I will bash the one who got me started
-> He says Eddie launched a "scathing ad hominem attack on a bond breaker" (Yu-Mei) by saying, based on an essay she wrote for s/pores, that "She should never have been selected for teaching [as] she showed no interest in, or passion for, teaching".

4) The practice of divination
-> He says that the scholarship panel selected Yu-Mei wrongly since they didn't know she (in his opinion) had "no interest in, or passion for, teaching".

5) Daddy knows best. Now sit down and shut up.
-> Scholars are not treated as independent, intelligent agents, but rather as pawns.

6) Not all fast tracks run at the same speed
-> It does not make sense to have a multi-track public service

Acidflask: "That was not my point at all, merely that the existence of multiple tracks is likely to breed arrogance for those on the fastest tracks, and resentment for whose who are not."

7) Postscript - let's learn to behave at the level of a ten-year-old
-> Eddie is excoriated for praising a scholar's presumably learning to reason like a ten-year-old.

Now, in general speeches are not the same as essays, so we should bear that in mind when reading them.

More specifically,

1) Bond-breakers are evil because they waste taxpayers' money (FALSE)

This is indeed a nonsensical claim, and I always get upset when people make it.

If I get enough capital, I plan to set up my own scholarship agency which will give out scholarships and make the recipients suffer so much that they will break their bonds and I will receive a return well above the market rate.

Woo hoo!

Eddie *did* say that those who leave without having served one day are what Acidflask calls "evil", but I do not think it is unreasonable to assume that the vast majority of such cases do not leave for reasons similar to Acidflask's. For example, Acidflask's is the only case I know of with such special circumstances, whereas the other bond breakers I know of who did not serve a single day got bought out by investment banks or consultancies, or wanted to stay on in their countries of study to work.

All generalisations are false, and this is even more so for a speech, so quibbling about semantics is churlish.

2) Bond-breakers are evil, but rare (O RLY?)


Eddie Teo's classification of quitters

* GOOD (??? of 791): Those who finish their bond as contractually agreed upon, then leave the civil service - Not bond-breakers. Lots of good reaons for doing so. Now run along, kiddos.
* EVIL (9 of 791): Those who do don't serve a single day of their bond and leave the civil service - Bond-breakers. Thankfully, only 1% of the apples rot.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are looking at an excellent specimen of the common logical fallacy - the false dichotomy!

And here is the missing middle, the case that was glibly elided over:

* DISAPPOINTING (??? of 791) - Those who serve part of their bond, but not all of it, before they leave the civil service...

Not even the most astute and attentive audience member could have been expected to remember that [this sort of scholar] was alluded to ten paragraphs prior!

Eddie does not leave out "those who serve part of their bond, but not all of it, before they leave the civil service", nor does he call all of them "disappointing".

Although he did not give any numbers, he did acknowledge "attrition", and say that not all "attrition" is bad. In other words, "good attrition" (his words) is not "disappointing" (Acidflask's word):

Do we expect 100% of our scholars to stay throughout their bond period? No... Attrition figures... hide many things... I often ask them if the attrition is a good attrition or a bad attrition. What I mean is "Are you losing the right people or the wrong people?" If the best officers leave, and only the mediocre remain, the public service is in big trouble. We need enough of our best people to stay and provide a continuous flow of leaders. Likewise, with scholars.

And yes, he talked about this under the "Bond Breaking & Attrition" section of the speech, one paragraph before the statistic that 9/791 PSC scholars quit without having served a single day.

So no, there's no false dichotomy or glib elision.

The most you can accuse him of is leaving out the number of scholars who fall into this category, and of conflating attrition due to scholars quitting before they serve a single day of their bonds and attrition due to their quitting while serving their bonds. So, like a bikini, this part of his speech conceals more than it reveals.

3) Quitters are evil, and I will bash the one who got me started

He is not the first person who objects to Eddie's characterisation of Yu-Mei as having "showed no interest in, or passion for, teaching".

Yet, if you read Yu-mei's essay, it is notable that she:

i) Says that "the main reason I had applied for the government scholarship in the first place was to try to save my parents from having to pay for [an overseas] education"
ii) Does not mention her classroom experience, which is presumably the central part of one's work life as a teacher.
iii) Does not mention that she had an "interest in, or passion for, teaching". Indeed, she says that

"I applied for a teaching scholarship because the only thing that I was interested in studying at the time was English literature, and the only thing I thought people did with university degrees in English literature was to become teachers (or journalists)... if teaching was my likely career path, I might as well try for the government scholarship and be done with it"

Now, if I wrote a long essay titled "My Family" and I did not mention my father at all, it would be eminently reasonable to assume one or more of the following:

i) I was an orphan
ii) I was an illegitimate child
iii) My father abandoned me when I was young
iv) I was on bad terms with my father
v) I was conceived by Zeus in the form of a golden shower

Silence speaks volumes.

Similarly, to write an essay about one's experiences as a scholar without mentioning the work that one did and whether it was to one's taste invites the not-unreasonable conclusion that one had no particular passion for it.

Of course, one could always say that Yu-mei's essay was about the scholarship system, and not about the work that she did while in it, but the omission is still puzzling. Furthermore, we still have points i) and iii) which lay out why she applied i) for a scholarship and specifically ii) for a teaching scholarship.

Why this is considered "a thin veneer of civility... [below which is] a scathing ad hominem attack on a bond breaker" is beyond me. Just because someone "should never have been selected for teaching" does not mean that he is a "bad" person. For example, I would definitely not be selected for Medical School, but if someone were to comment that I "should never have been selected for Medical School", this is not an ad hominem attack.

Indeed, the "evil" scholars (i.e. those who quit without having served a single day of their bonds) were separately identified in Eddie's speech, as were those who "those who lack commitment and have little interest in the public service" and thus break their bonds after serving for a while. He even goes so far as to say, of the latter, that "we should be disappointed that we failed to sieve them out earlier, but we should not be unhappy". Note too that Yu-mei falls into neither category as she served out her bond fully.

Acidflask says that there was a lack of evidence, and that:

Evidence as to whether or not she was actually a good and successful teacher - student feedback, principal's evaluations, etc. - is apparently not necessary to justify such a deduction [that she should not have been awarded a teaching scholarship]

Yet, if Eddie had gone to said lengths and dug out her file to present this information in a speech made during the Singapore Seminar, attended by 350 public service scholars - the text of which was put online, no less - reaction would rightly be outraged at this outrageous violation of privacy, public shaming and abuse of power (for a speech, no less). Furthermore, the ideal scholar is not just someone who does his job properly, or even does his job well; the ideal [PSC] scholar is "outstanding" and has "a strong conviction and passion to serve Singapore and Singaporeans a fulfilling and rewarding career in the Public Service" (sic), and this is something that Eddie talks about.

The fact is that talking about Yu-mei took up 2 paragraphs of a 35 paragraph speech, and served as a casual anecdote to contextualise discussion and serve as a springboard for the rest of the speech. Mountains should not be made out of molehills.

In truth, both Eddie and Yu-mei's texts make for good reading, and both address separate, though related, aspects of the scholarship system.

Of course, Eddie is missing important points. Yu-mei is definitely not the only scholar who takes/took up a scholarship despite lacking interest and passion for it. There are more scholars who lack those attributes than he would care to admit (at least in public) and so should presumably never have been given their scholarships, but then we all know that lots of people lie to the scholarship panel. There're also the other points Yu-mei's essay raises: about gullible 19 year olds being conned and other big questions about the scholarship system as a whole.

One can also say that his speech lacks more than token empathy for Yu-mei, but this is, after all, a speech to 350 scholars and not a personal (or even open) letter to her.

4) The practice of divination

Eddie's point is not that the scholarship system could not see that she would be an able and willing scholar when starting her bond - it is that she was not able and willing when she was 19.

To wit, the line was:

PSC should not have awarded her a teaching scholarship when she showed no interest in, or passion for, teaching

and not

PSC should not have awarded her a teaching scholarship when she showed that she would not turn out to be interested in or passionate about teaching

There are certainly criticisms of the scholarship system in that it is impossible to foresee at 19 what a scholar will be like at the age of 23 (or 25, for those who have to be Slaves) and at least until they finish their bonds, but this is not what Eddie was regretting - in the case of Yu-mei. He *does* make the mistake of assuming that those who are (or at least seem to be) "suitable for public service" at 19 will still be that way when they start to serve their bonds, but that is a separate point.

5) Daddy knows best. Now sit down and shut up.

Acidflask says scholarships take advantage of innocent and gullible 19 year olds, and that it is deplorable that scholars have little say over their career development.

The former is true, and I don't disagree with the last, yet the Civil Service's Management Associates scheme seems modeled after (or is at least packaged to resemble) similar schemes in many large private-sector organisations. The difference is that a [foreign] scholar's bond lasts 6 years, while private sector Management Associate programmes last 1-2 years, but the programmes differ in degree - not in kind.
(I am skimming through many things, like the MA Programme being different from but related to both scholarships and the Administrative Service, but the idea remains the same)

Acidflask also posits a hypothetical situation:

The supposed response to scholars desiring information about their career trajectories in reality does not address the fundamental issue.... Could you imagine a vice president of a large company whom, after years of work at the helm, to be absolutely ignorant of what he or she wants in the next 5 or 10 years, and have no roadmap for attaining such goals? Would you pick such a vice president to be the next CEO?

Yet, even with a Fast Track, a scholar would not reach such levels of seniority within a mere 6 years (as far as I know). Furthermore, Eddie is not asking scholars to be ignorant of what they want - he is just telling them to suck it up when they are posted. The former concerns choice desire and the latter agency; it is my understanding that scholars are not totally powerless when it comes to steering their career path.

I cannot imagine the vice president of a large company who, after years of work at the helm, is absolutely ignorant of what he wants in the next 5 or 10 years, and have no roadmap for attaining such goals, but equally I cannot imagine the vice president of a large company who is told that in 10 years time, he will definitely become the CEO. The Indonesians have a term for this sort of occurrence. It's called KKN - Korupsi, Kolusi dan Nepotisme (Korruption, Kollusion and Nepotism).

6) Not all fast tracks run at the same speed

I agree with this critique. I still agree with this critique.

7) Postscript - let's learn to behave at the level of a ten-year-old

Yes, it is disappointing that scholars have to be reminded of what ten year olds know. But it is heartening to know that scholars learn that their positions are not god-given rights and that they cannot lord it over everyone else - which are criticisms which have been leveled at them.

"If two men agree on everything, you may be sure that one of them is doing the thinking." - Lyndon B. Johnson


What Are Women Fighting About? - "So I become, once more, the kind of person I can't bear: the female critic who despises any female writer who doesn't project what she feels is the accurate or ideal vision of modern womanhood. This critic believes it is her job to tear down women who are "off-message" because there is only so much publishing space allotted to women, and so more attention for them is less attention for her and other worthy types... Maybe it is time to acknowledge that this is not some conspiracy on the part of the publishing industry or of the patriarchy and admit to ourselves that writers like Joanna Smith Rakoff are giving women what they want... It is tempting to feel resentful when we don’t see ourselves or our stories or our ideals reflected in the prevailing narratives of femaleness"
One comment: "The irony of this article is that she says not to tear apart other women's work and illustrates this by tearing apart another woman's work."
Another: "Women are mean to Women... Just remember, everyone wants universal brotherhood, but, no one is his right mind, wants universal sisterhood"
And a last: "The biggest single overlooked feature in our society is women competing with women. This is the feminist elephant in the room."

YouTube - Vader conducts Icelandic orchestra Háskólabíó - "Darth Vader assumes command of the Icelandic Philharmonic Orchestra as they play the Imperial March."

Islam 4 UK Home page - "Islam4UK has been established by sincere Muslims as a platform to propagate the supreme Islamic ideology within the United Kingdom as a divine alternative to man-made law. Our aim is simple: Izhaar ud Deen (Domination of Al-Islam worldwide). As submitters to Almighty God we wish to establish His Sharee’ah (Divine Law) on the earth for He has said in the Qur'an: [EMQ 5: 45] “Those who rule by other than what Allah (SWT) has revealed are the oppressors.”"
This sounds like a joke, but isn't. The videos of Non-Muslims embracing Islam are particularly funny

Muslim woman held in slay try of husband; he made her wear sexy skirts and eat pork - "She also claimed that his favorite author is Salman Rushdie, reviled by devout Muslims after writing the prophet-bashing "The Satanic Verses.""

Dirty elections: To the rigger the spoils | The Economist - "“Dirty elections are bad for economic growth by skewing politicians’ incentives.” This is because, they find, good economic performance makes a huge difference to an incumbent’s chance of re-election whether the vote is free or rigged, adding about three years’ to his or her tenure. Although economic success wins rewards in both systems, in clean ones, it adds 40% to a president’s time, whereas in dirty ones, the rewards of growth are swamped by those of rigging, which more than doubles the time in power. So rigging makes the economy less important to a president’s future—a rejoinder to the Chinese claim that in developing countries “managed democracy” is better for growth than an electoral free-for-all"

Schumpeter: The three habits... of highly irritating management gurus | The Economist - "The first is presenting stale ideas as breathtaking breakthroughs... The second irritating habit is that of naming model firms... The third irritating habit is the flogging of management tools off the back of numbered lists or facile principles... the most irritating thing of all about management gurus: that their failures only serve to stoke demand for their services"

YouTube - Balls Out Jeans! - "Hey guys! Are you tired of women showing off their junk while you can't say a thing? Wouldn't it be great to walk down the street with your junk hanging out? Well, now you can say goodbye to the old and welcome the new!... New Balls-Out Jeans!"

Strippers or Counter-Strike — Which Gets a Gamer's Attention? (title from elsewhere)

The internet has done for Scientology. Could it rumble the Christians, too? - "In France, Scientology is deemed a sect as opposed to a religion, which is why they are required to produce evidence for their claims, where recognised religious leaders are not. For those of us who believe that all religions are full of tall tales, this might seem slightly unfair... Clearly, Scientologists should be forced to justify their doctrinal lunacies – the only sadness is that other religions are apparently exempt from having to do the same"

Women with male names do better in legal careers: study - "A female "Cameron" is about three times more likely to become a judge than a "Sue," while a female "Bruce" is five times more likely... women with male names are more likely to make more money than their more femininely named counterparts"

Thinking negatively can boost your memory, Aust study finds - "Being sad make people less gullible, improves their ability to judge others and also boosts memory... People in a bad mood were also less likely to make snap decisions based on racial or religious prejudices... sad people were better at stating their case through written arguments"

Spore workers frustrated - "29 per cent of employees in Singapore feel frustrated in their jobs while 35 per cent feel detached. Only 16 per cent feel effective"

China looks to export censorship - "The festival organisation was subjected to an intense campaign of threats, intimidation and disruption, although it is not clear who - if anyone - orchestrated the campaign... Some notes to the organisers contained messages threatening Mr Moore's family... Chinese film-makers withdrew their movies from the festival... "China is using its economic influence to threaten its trade partners in order to censor what they don't like""

10 of the World’s Greatest Jobs - "The Chilean lothario has beat all of us by holding the type of fantasy job that just sounds too good to be true: Quality Control in a brothel... The applicants are whittled down to a final six, who are then fucked one after the other in a single day by Jaime. He takes diligent notes on, say, how they moved their hips and whether their groans were adequate, and makes recommendations to the madam. There is even paperwork involved. The strain of the job is actually such that he can only do it once a month, testing around seventy girls or so a year"
Most of them are either unpaid or very lowly paid.

Disney Princesses, Deconstructed » Sociological Images - "Sleeping Beauty: Betrothed at birth to solidify a political position, she is killed by another woman out of spite. Her owner... ahem... fiance, saves her with a kiss. Again, sex is her only salvation
What Disney princes teach men about attracting women: Be rich, charming, famous, and good looking (x6)"
One comment: "it has nothing to do with Disney, guys. These stories have been around forever. Everyone knows that."

Sartre's "No Exit" - by Hhhalek - "Man’s overwhelming predilection to define himself through the perception and opinion of others and his unwavering tendency to assume that he, accordingly, acquires being-hood, is inherently false... Man is inherently and fundamentally incapable of accepting that the only certitude in life is death... Persistent in his determination to forge bonds with others and to find meaning from without, man becomes what he assumes others want him to be and, thus, damns himself to an eternal void"

The Sex Diaries - A Critical Reading of New Yorkers’ Sexual Habits & Anxieties - "1. The anxiety of too much choice.
2. The anxiety of making the wrong choice.
3. The anxiety of not being chosen.
4. The anxiety of appearing overly enthusiastic.
5. The anxiety of appearing delusional.
6. The anxiety of appearing overly sincere.
7. The anxiety of appearing prudish.
8. Internet-enabled agoraphobia
9. Separation anxiety
10. The anxiety of being unable to love."

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

"Tradition is what you resort to when you don't have the time or the money to do it right." - Kurt Herbert Alder


"Until about forty years ago, many economists besides Marx believed that the capitalist process tended to change relative shares in the national total so that the obvious inference from our average might be invalidated by the rich growing richer and the poor growing poorer, at least relatively. But there is no such tendency. Whatever may he thought of the statistical measures devised for the purpose. this much is certain: that the structure of the pyramid of incomes, expressed in terms of money, has not greatly changed during the period covered by our material—which for England includes the whole of the nineteenth century...

The capitalist engine is first and last an engine of mass production which unavoidably means also production for the masses...

Verification is easy. There are no doubt some things available to the modern workman that Louis XIV himself would have been delighted to have modern dentistry for instance. On the whole, however, a budget on that level had little that really mattered to gain from capitalist achievement. Even speed of traveling may be assumed to have been a minor consideration for so very dignified a gentleman. Electric lighting is no great boon to anyone who has enough money to buy a sufficient number of candles and to pay servants to attend them. It is the cheap cloth, the cheap cotton and rayon fabric, boots, motorcars and so on that are the typical achievements of capitalist production, and not as rule improvements that would mean much to the rich man. Queen Elizabeth owned silk stockings. The capitalist achievement does not typically consist in providing more silk stockings for queens but in bringing them within reach of factory girls in return for steadily decreasing amounts of effort."

--- Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy / Joseph Alois Schumpeter
Someone: *[nickname] would like a rhett butler*


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If you want a Rhett Butler...

Free Image Hosting at must be a Scarlett O'Hara

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If you are a Calypso...

Free Image Hosting at'll get a Davy Jones

Someone: I'm sure Davy Jones was better looking before he was ruined.

(with input from PPBI)
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Jon: When I was ten, I thought girls were weird

But now that I'm older...

I know they're weird

Garfield: With maturity comes great wisdom, my son

Monday, November 02, 2009

Japanese women and the appearance of submission

"Before a war military science seems a real science, like astronomy; but after a war it seems more like astrology." - Rebecca West

How about recessions and economics?


On "patriarchy" in Japan:

"Few Westerners are aware that Japanese women have any kind of domestic power at all. In publications produced by Japanese women’s groups. I have also read the surprising figure that 70 percent of married women with teenage children now work outside the home, but that even women who do not work for wages are usually the ones who decide how much a family saves or spends...

Many Japanese companies actually pay a man’s wages directly into his wife’s bank account. I’ve heard male professors joke about how they only give speeches around the country on the condition that they be paid discreetly and directly, a way of getting their hands on some cash their wives don’t know about and can’t control. Many Japanese wives handle all the family income and give their husbands allowances. Men frequently complain among themselves about their stingy wives. It’s a familiar topic of comedy on television, the hardworking saraiiman whose wife won’t let him have enough money to go out drinking or to play pachinko, the pinball game that’s a national obsession. In fact, the beauty of the company bar is that one’s tab is usually picked up by the company or deducted directly from one’s salary, before it lands in the wife’s account.

You would not know from observing popular culture that women are Japan’s primary consumers, however. Most Japanese ads cater to male fantasies, as if men were the potential customers who had to be persuaded.

“But isn’t that typical in Japan?” one of my friends responded when I asked her about this. “We women pretend that men have all the power—and then we go about our own lives. As long as the men feel they are in control, we can do what we like.

The difference between the appearance of submissiveness and the reality of control is something Ted noticed almost immediately, especially since he kept meeting foreign men with Japanese girlfriends or wives. Not all gajin fell into this category, certainly, but Ted joked that there were some gajin men who looked cocksure when they were dating Japanese women, happily anticipating the Western fantasy of the totally deferential Oriental wife. Yet there was a perplexed look of lost illusions that unmistakably marked those who had learned, too well, that there could be an iron will and enormous capability behind the demure smile of the “submissive” Japanese wife...

Yet the stereotype of the submissive Asian woman never goes away. Every English-language publication in Japan is filled with desperate personal ads, like this one from an English-language magazine published in Kobe:

OBEDIENCE. An American man who is sensitive but strict seeks a woman of a delicate and docile nature who is interested in exploring the full range of the meaning of this word. What do you think of the ancient Chinese statement “He who rules, truly serves and she who serves, truly rules”? All who are interested should write to...

The pathetic author of this advertisement was partly right; in Japan, the person who has the power frequently is the one who acts the most powerless. This appearance of submission may be one way that Japanese women survive in a system that, by tradition and law, grants men a superior position. Again I think of Mrs. Okano. I doubt that she would find any contradiction between selecting and arranging the financing for a house that in our suburb could easily cost a million dollars, and making sure she’s always there, rice cooker at the ready, when her husband comes home from work or from after-work barhopping. In our conversations, she always refers to her husband with the old-fashioned term teishu: "My Master."

If she’s really typical, Mrs. Okano also spends part of her day reading financial reports and phoning her broker. Women actively participate in the Nikkei, the Japanese stock market, and Japan’s astonishing 20 percent savings rate (one of its biggest weapons in the trade wars) is due almost entirely to the pecuniary habits of Japanese women."

--- 36 views of Mount Fuji: on finding myself in Japan / Cathy N. Davidson

Everyone Hates Prokofiev

"On September 5 Prokoflev’s name once again attracted the attention of St. Petersburg’s musical circles. The occasion was the première of the Second Piano Concerto, which took place at Pavlovsk under the baton of Aslanov. The Concerto left the audience in a state of open bewilderment. Miaskovsky, who attended the concert, reported that the audience "hissed and often did not behave quite properly."

... "He seats himself at the piano and begins to strike the keyboard with a dry, sharp touch. He seems to be either dusting or testing the keys. The audience is bewildered. Some are indignant. One couple stands up and runs toward the exit. ‘Such music is enough to drive you crazy!’‘What is he doing, making fun of us?’ More listeners follow the first couple from various parts of the hail. Prokofiev plays the second movement of his Concerto. Again the rhythmical collection of sounds. The most daring members of the audience hiss. Here and there seats become empty. Finally the young artist ends his Concerto with a mercilessly discordant combination of brasses. The audience is scandalized. The majority hiss. Prokofiev bows defiantly and plays an encore. The audience rushes away. On all sides there are exclamations: ‘To the devil with all this futurist music! We came here to enjoy ourselves. The cats at home can make music like this!’"

Most of the critics could not find words to describe this violator of musical canons. Of the twelve reviews in the press, eight were sharply negative. Yu. Kurdyumov called the Concerto “a Babel of insane sounds heaped one upon another without rhyme or reason.” N. Bernstein found it “a cacophony of sounds that has nothing in common with civilized music.. . . Prokofiev’s cadenzas, for example, are unbearable. They are such a musical mess that one might think they were created by capriciously emptying an inkwell on the paper.”...

The hostile reaction to Prokofiev’s Concerto is easy to understand. To the Pavlovsk audience and the critics who reflected its tastes, this music was a tonal “slap in the face,” an unpertinent, anarchic assault. Exactly the same reaction was evoked by the daring utterances of the young futurist poets, who maliciously mocked their listeners."

--- Prokofiev / Israel V. Nestyev
"I am returning this otherwise good typing paper to you because someone has printed gibberish all over it and put your name at the top." - An English Professor, Ohio University


UMN Dept of Psychology: Labs: Minnesota Twin Family Study

"Similarity in twins reared together is due to genes and environment. Similarity in twins reared apart is due only to genes because they don't share experiences together. Most people would guess that twins reared together would be more alike than twins reared apart. But are they?..

[Identical] twins reared apart were about 50% similar in personality... [Identical] twins reared together are also about 50% similar in personality...

Similarities between twins are due to genes, not the environment... the environment, rather than making twins reared together alike, makes them different...

1. The spouses of [Identical] twins are no more alike than the spouses of [fraternal] twins and hardly more alike than random pairs of people!
2. When we asked male twins how they felt about their co-twin's spouse, two-thirds of the twins said they were indifferent to their twin's mate or actively disliked her!

Our choice of mate is one of the most important choices we ever make and yet it seems to be a random affair, not strongly influenced by genes or upbringing. The person that we end up with is determined by a kind of lottery, by whom we happen to be near when Cupid's arrow strikes!...

By asking twins about divorces in their families, a divorce risk was calculated according to which family member was divorced...

Identical (MZ) twins thus have very similar personalities.

We believe their similar divorce rates are due to their having genetically influenced personality characteristics that contribute to marital adjustment...

As twins grow older, do they become less similar to one another?

MZ (identical) twins become less similar in terms of physical traits like looks and weight over time. However, we recently found that MZ twins become more similar with respect to abilities such as vocabularies and arithmetic scores...

As DZ (fraternal) twins get older, as they leave their rearing home, marry, start careers and families, and develop their own circle of friends, they become less similar with respect to vocabularies and arithmetic scores."

Ah, the power of socialisation!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Profile writing FAIL!

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"Featured Delegate Profile: Singapore - Valerie Lim
Written by Woman of the Earth

Age: 24 years old
Height: 179 cm
Weight: 158 kg
Body: 34-26-36 in
Eye Color: Dark Brown
Hair Color: Dark Brown
Occupation: Behavioral Therapist
Birthplace: Singapore"

One thing I've always wondered: if your profile describes your hair colour and you change it, is the profile amended?


"It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument." - William G. McAdoo


"This section deals with the technical aspects of officespeak, such as passive voice, circular reasoning, and rhetorical questions. These are the nuts and bolts of the Rube Goldberg contraption that is the language of the office. Obscurity, vagueness, and a noncommittal stance on everything define the essence of officespeak. No one wants to come out and say what they really think. It is much safer for the company and those up top to constantly cloak their language in order to hide how much they do know or, just as often, how much they don't know...

Passive voice: The bread and butter of press releases and official statements. For those who have forgotten their basic grammar, a sentence in the passive voice does not have an active verb. Thus, no one can take the blame for 'doing' something, since nothing, grammatically speaking, has been done by anybody. Using the passive voice takes the emphasis off yourself (or the company). Here [is an] few example of how the passive voice can render any situation guiltless:

'Five hundred employees were laid off.' (Not 'The company laid off five hundred employees,' or even worse, 'I laid off five hundred employees.' These layoffs occurred in a netherworld of displaced blame, in which the company and the individual are miraculously absent from the picture)...

Circular reasoning: Another favorite when it comes time to deliver bad news. In circular reasoning, a problem is posited and a reason is given. Except that the reason is basically just a rewording of the problem. Pretty nifty. Here are some examples to better explain the examples:

'Our profits are down because of [a decrease in revenues].'

'People were laid off because there was a surplus of workers.'...

Rhetorical questions: The questions that ask for no answers. So why even ask the question? Because it makes it seem as though the listener is participating in a true dialogue. When your boss asks, 'Who's staying late tonight?' you know he really means, 'Anyone who wants to keep their job will work late.' Still, there's that split second when you think you have a say in the matter, when you believe your opinion counts. Only to be reminded, yet again, that no one cares what you think...

Hollow statements: The second cousin of circular reasoning. Hollow statements make it seem as though something positive is happening (such as better profits or increased market share), but they lack any proof to support the claim.

'Our company is performing better than it looks.'

'Once productivity increases, so will profits.'...

They and them: Pronouns used to refer to the high-level management that no one has ever met, only heard whispers about. 'They' are faceless and often nameless. And their decisions render those beneath them impotent to change anything. 'They' fire people, 'they' freeze wages, 'they' make your life a living hell. It's not your boss who is responsible - he would love to reverse all these directives if he could. But you see, his hands are tied.

'I'd love to give you that raise, you know I would. But they're the ones in charge.'

'Okay, gang, bad news, no more cargo shorts allowed. Hey, I love the casual look, but they hate it.'...

Obfuscation: A tendency to obscure, darken, or stupefy. The primary goal of the above techniques is, in the end, obfuscation. Whether it's by means of the methods outlined above or by injecting jargon-heavy phrases into sentences, corporations want to make their motives and actions as difficult to comprehend as possible."

--- Officespeak / David W. Martin

Also from the book:

"As a grown man I see emoticons as the domain of teenage girls and the mentally deficient"
So degrading to wash cars topless while others watched - "WHAT really happened at the topless car wash? Were the models really topless? Were they misled into taking part, or did they go in with their eyes open? All four models and their freelance agent have challenged the organiser's version of the event.... All four girls said they took off their bikini tops but kept their nude-coloured nipple tape on throughout... Mr Chen insisted all the models took off their nipple tapes. To prove it, he showed The New Paper on Sunday one uncensored low-resolution picture showing Cara's exposed breasts. But she said: 'I swear, I never never took it off. It must have been edited to look like I wasn't wearing anything.'"
Right. How come no one asks the participants (i.e. drivers)?

Britons Weary of Surveillance in Minor Cases - "A report in 2007 by the lobbying group Privacy International placed Britain in the bottom five countries for its record on privacy and surveillance, on a par with Singapore... It is legal for localities to follow residents secretly. Local governments regularly use these surveillance powers — which they “self-authorize,” without oversight from judges or law enforcement officers — to... investigate reports of noise pollution and people who do not clean up their dogs’ waste. Local governments use them to catch people who fail to recycle, people who put their trash out too early, people who sell fireworks without licenses, people whose dogs bark too loudly and people who illegally operate taxicabs... the localities and agencies can film people with hidden cameras, trawl through communication traffic data like phone calls and Web site visits"

Animal welfare in Nazi Germany - Wikipedia - "There was widespread support for animal welfare in Nazi Germany and the Nazis took several measures to ensure protection of animals. Many Nazi leaders, including Adolf Hitler and Hermann Göring, were supporters of animal protection. Several Nazis were environmentalists, and species protection and animal welfare were significant issues in the Nazi regime. Heinrich Himmler made efforts to ban the hunting of animals. Göring was an animal lover and conservationist. The current animal welfare laws in Germany are more or less modification of the laws introduced by the Nazis."
PETA would approve.

Women and shoes: A love affair in pairs - "Actress Penelope Cruz confesses: "I have never been able to study a new role until, alongside the director, we choose the shoes which the woman we are about to bring to the screen will be wearing. Everything starts down there." More than anything else, women's shoes speak the language of sex. You don't have to be a moralist or an anthropologist in order to understand the message transmitted by a girl in a pair of rubber-soled loafers versus one wearing noisy stilettos... A high-heeled shoe is the object of apparel that - more than any other - marks the difference between men and women... "Sometimes, when we're about to shoot a closeup, the director will say to me that I can take off my shoes as my feet won't be in the frame," said actress Sarah Jessica Parker. "But I've never done it. The expression of a woman in flats is totally different from one in heels.""

False Sex Abuse Accusations Lead to Revision of Theories - "The research showed that between 23 percent and 33 percent of child sexual abuse cases involved false allegations, between 2 percent and 8 percent of cases involved deliberate lies by children, and the majority of reported cases were unfounded"

The Truth of Interracial Rape in the United States - "Like Ahab's search for the Great White Whale, liberals' search for the Great White Defendant is relentless and never-ending. When, in 1988, Tawana Brawley's and Al Sharpton's then year-old spectacular charge that several white men including prosecutor Steven Pagones (whose name Brawley had picked out of a newspaper article) had abducted and raped the 15 year old was shown to be completely false, the Nation said it didn't matter, since the charges expressed the essential nature of white men's treatment of black women in this country. When the Duke University lacrosse players were accused of raping a black stripper last year, liberals everywhere treated the accusation as fact, because... the rape charge seemed to the minds of liberals to reflect the true nature of oppressive racial and sexual relations in America... In the United States in 2005, 37,460 white females were sexually assaulted or raped by a black man, while between zero and ten black females were sexually assaulted or raped by a white man"
The figures sounded like inflammatory lynch mob material, but when I checked the figures for 2006 they were similar to the quoted ones for 2005. Of course one can pick on the "Perceived race of offender", but that won't explain the large discrepancy. You can't blame underreporting either since this was from the National Criminal Victimization Survey (i.e. people saying if they'd been a victim of crime).
Another interesting finding: not only are White people incompetent interracial robbers, they are violent AND incompetent interracial robbers

What Do You Have Against Women? - "One obstacle to gender equality are those women who demand equal treatment in public, while demanding unequal treatment in private... It is an objective fact that most serial killers are men. To hide this fact is to mislead the public about a matter of public concern... women have no hesitation in saying the most rapists are men. The reason? It's an objective fact — most rapists really are men. But if I say that most false accusers are women, someone will certainly complain that I am saying most women are false accusers... As a general rule, men don't make ridiculous accusations of bias. Editors know this, so they publish virtually anything if it's only offensive to men, not women. Before you ask "where's your evidence?", a request to which you have every right, here it is: "All men are rapists, and that's all they are." — Marilyn French, in "The Women's Room" (1977) The book was published without hesitation and still sees brisk sales... I've had many conversations like this over the years. They follow this general pattern:
* "You can't say that about women!"
* "Can I say it about men?"
* "Uhh ... sure, why not? Men are animals.""

not martha - Meat Hand

Giant breasts shock China - ""The park used to be a great place for families, but now what attracts my son the most is the huge breasts. "I have tried to educate him with some scientific knowledge, but all he thinks when he sees the statue are smutty thoughts"... "The little girls were scared and cried loudly, asking me if they would grow those huge things""

Man sues over lack of 'Lynx effect' - ""The company cheated me because in its advertisements, it says women will be attracted to you if you use Axe. I used it for seven years but no girl came to me."... "There is no data to substantiate the supposition that unattractive and unintelligent men don't attract women. "In fact some of the best looking women have been known to marry and date absolutely ghoulish guys""

Living in a cage in Hong Kong - "Chung lives in a 625 square foot (58.06 square meter) flat here with 18 strangers... The 19 occupants share two toilets"
There is actually something to the government's statement: "People choose to live in bedspace apartments and cubicles because these apartments, apart from commanding a low rental level, are mostly conveniently located in the urban area"

A Pretty Face or a Hot Body? - "If you were interested in pursuing a partner for a short-term relationship which would you be most interested in…their face or their body? And for a long-term relationship?... They asked 375 college students to pick whether to date someone based on either seeing just their face or their body. Nearly all participants chose to see the face. Except for one of the sexes in one situation... "We found that everyone was more interested in the opposite sex person’s face than their body—except for men in the short-term mating condition."... Freud famously asked, what do women want. I guess it was clear to him what men wanted."
This explains "cover the face, bang the base" (or bomb the base). The explanation is not a very strong one (maybe they'll firm it up when they write a paper), but the results at least have been replicated elsewhere

The SuperFreakonomics Global-Warming Fact Quiz - Freakonomics Blog - "Our question, at noted above, is what is the cheapest, fastest way to quickly cool the Earth... But that is not the question that Al Gore and the climate scientists are trying to answer. The sorts of questions they tend to ask are “What is the ‘right’ amount of carbon to emit?” or “Is it moral for this generation to put carbon into the air when future generations will pay the price?” or “What are the responsibilities of humankind to the planet?”"

Goodbye GeoCities: 7 Retro Things We'll Miss Forever - "1) Under Construction GIFs
2) HTML... HTML makes it harder to add a hyperlink than to make text scroll horizontally across the page. That’s where priorities were in the Netscape days.
3) Guestbooks
4) FAQs
5) Webmasters
6) Take me to the top
7) Visitor counters...
We’ll miss the impossible to remember URLs. We’re going to miss hand-coding our pages in Notepad. We’ll even miss the ridiculously invasive ads"

Giz Explains: Why Every Country Has a Different F#$ng Plug - Worldwide electric plugs

Daddies be damned! Who are the British women who think fathers are irrelevant? - "Having reached the age of 38 without meeting Mr Right, Karen Shefras decided to become a mother by using donated sperm... According to one gynaecologist the Mail spoke to this week, as many as 50 per cent of patients being given sperm at his clinic are single women or are in same-sex relationships... In the end, perhaps the truth is that, for complete fulfilment, women need both a partner and children. The most worrying question of all is why the most natural thing in the world has become so seemingly difficult to achieve, and why a generation of women have fallen foul of their dreams."

The Kids Are All Right - "Many people claim that all the graphic imagery and information floating around the internet will warp young minds and stunt the maturity of our children. Maybe. Maybe not. Older generations always bemoan the morals of those who come after them. People thought my generation would turn out to be a cohort of criminals, deviants and slackers. That happened to some of us sure, but most people my age are well into careers, raising families and just as confused about life as their parents before them. And when it comes to sex no single generation can claim the moral high ground... The kids of today will inherit their own particular set of problems, especially regarding sex. But they’ll develop their own coping skills and muddle though"
I was wondering why Malay and Indian food was always so expensive (for example, Malay rice costs more than Chinese rice).

One person complained to me about $7.20 Nasi Padang with 2 meat dishes and 1 vegetable dish, while 1 meat dish, 1 vegetable dish and 2 extras cost me $6.20 (Chinese caifan would have cost $2.80 for the equivalent). On the Indian side, the cheapest Briyani I've had was $3.50, and then the piece of mutton was small and mostly bone.

Even if you ignore possible racial discrimination and factor in sometimes slightly bigger pieces of meat, this is a large price difference.

Someone said it was because pounding spices takes time, but I think the captive market is a better explanation.
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