"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Links - 25th May 2010

"None but a coward dares to boast that he has never known fear." - Ferdinand Foch


Male defendants to be granted anonymity in rape cases - "Feminists, campaigners and conservative critics of the rape laws all protested that the anonymity offer will hinder justice... 26-year-old chef Peter Bacon... [was] accused of rape by a lawyer following a drunken one-night stand. He has since changed his name and left the country... 'I'd say it is worse even than murder, because there can be circumstances where you can attempt to justify murder. Personally, I'd have preferred to be in that dock accused of murder than rape'"

Did Britain really need to give millions to the wealthy state of Singapore? - "The kind of charity doled out by the overseas aid budget is often fundamentally ill-directed, or worse... Britain has given £8.7 million in development aid to Singapore, whose gross domestic product per capita is the fourth highest in the world, and 46 per cent higher than our own... DFID also paid £40.2 million last year to the economic superpower that is China, now officially classified by the World Bank as a "middle-income country". Among the items funded were "storytelling projects" to encourage Chinese children to campaign against climate change... even as well-meaning Whitehall liberals have poured in the aid, Africans themselves have started to reject it... "It is hard to find a single example of an African NGO that is actively campaigning for aid increases". The unfortunate truth is that, like those Bob Geldof pop concerts, an awful lot of aid spending is actually for our benefit, not the Third World's. All too often, its main effect is not to help the poor – but to make rich people feel good about themselves"
Addendum: Singapore didn't get British public aid. Ben Bland digs up the details of the "aid" here.

Somtow's World: Don't Blame Dan Rivers - "When you watch a red shirt rally, notice how many English signs and placards there are, and note that they they are designed to show that these are events conforming to the archetype. The placards say "Democracy", "No Violence," "Stop killing innocent women and children" and so on. Speakers are passionately orating, crowds are moved. But there are no subtitles. What does it look like?... the red TV station has a perfect right to exist, but if foreign journalists actually understood Thai, they would realize that much of its content went far beyond any constitutionally acceptable limits of "protected speech" in a western democracy. Every civilized society limits speech when it actually harms others, whether by inciting hate or by slander... Arisman threatened to destroy mosques, government buildings, and "all institutions you hold sacred" ... a clip widely seen on youtube, without subtitles. Without subtitles, it looks like "liberty, equality, fraternity""

Secrets Between the Sexes - "Men found women who covered up too much of their bodies to only be half as attractive as those who displayed around 40% of their skin. The most interesting part of the study, though, was that men felt women who showed more than that were “too available,” and were often overlooked for those who seemed a little more modest... Men want someone who’s hard for anyone to get, but they don’t want a woman who is hard for them to get... while men are largely in agreement about who they find to be attractive, women have no consensus with one another. While men would largely agree about how attractive a given image of a woman was, the scores from women would be all over the board."
Re: the last - Freud was right!

Blind Justice? Attractive Get Breaks with Juries - "In serious cases with strong evidence, there was little difference in the conviction rate between attractive and unattractive defendants. But in more minor cases, with ambiguous evidence, jurors were more biased toward the good-looking"

Now hiring in China: Only whites need apply - "Observers estimate that two in five in the 230,000-strong foreign student community here have taken up such race-based jobs at some point... And for schools teaching English, being white has almost become the standard prerequisite for prospective teachers... One school he taught at passed over Asian Americans who spoke English as their first language for an Eastern European who spoke English 'with a heavy accent'... 'It's a ludicrous hiring standard and it's wrong,' he says. 'But unfortunately, that's the reality we're dealing with in China - a culture that is consumed by appearances and stereotypes'... Some locals who think the trend is harmless say stereotypes exist in nearly all societies - some are just better than others at hiding them... 'Till today, discrimination against Chinese peasants remains rampant among Chinese urban folk. So if we haven't even learnt to look at our own people without prejudice, how much longer will it take to change our views about foreigners?'"

Dostoevsky images on metro ‘could cause suicides’ - "On one wall, Rodion Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment brandishes an axe over the elderly pawnbroker Alyona Ivanovna and her sister, his murder victims in the novel. Near by, a character from Demons holds a pistol to his temple... Ivan Nikolaev, the artist behind the murals, is unapologetic. "What did you want? Scenes of dancing? Dostoevsky doesn't have them," he told Izvestia. "I tried to convey Dostoevsky as a man, an artist, a philosopher.""

Minks pose threat to pets, farm animals - "Released farm minks often end up killed on highways because they are attracted to the sound of traffic. "It sounds like food carts to them. If they do manage to survive, it's a very tough life; they have to get through the cold winter and hot summer. They will cannibalize their own little tails just to survive." Platt questions the motives of activist animal rights groups. "They're willing to burn your building down to force you to embrace their cause. I would think that if you were that committed to protecting animals, you'd be vegan, but we know that they are not. Cars that have been involved in these incidents have been littered with old hamburger wrappers. I think their purpose is to cause great financial harm and stress to the (farming) families. But is it the 'cause,' or the thrill and adrenaline rush of the vandalism?... The individuals who broke into our farm should have been charged with animal cruelty... "When people let animals go from the farms, what do they think they're going to eat? Do they think they're going to get food handouts in the wild like they've been getting all their lives? It's ridiculous that those people think they are doing animals a favor""
This is reminiscent of leftists who beat up Neo-Nazis; ST: "Compassion without wisdom can do more harm than good"

Death wish pair find love - "A broken-hearted fiance planning to throw himself off a bridge found love again - with a girl who was about to jump to her death from the same spot... "I shouted, 'Stop' and ran over to her. She fell into my arms sobbing and I began crying too. We held each other and talked, and talked and talked. That night saved my life - and hers," said Andriej"

The Way We Live Now - Metric Mania - "Consider those ubiquitous articles with titles like “The 10 Friendliest Colleges” or “The 20 Most Lovable Neighborhoods.” Such articles would be more than fluff if they answered critical questions. Are there good reasons the authors picked the criteria they did? Why did they weigh the criteria in the way they did? If changes in the criteria were made, would the rankings of the friendliest colleges or most lovable neighborhoods be vastly different?... No method of measuring a societal phenomenon satisfying certain minimal conditions exists that can’t be second-guessed, deconstructed, cheated, rejected or replaced. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be counting — but it does mean we should do so with as much care and wisdom as we can muster"

Female circumcision and HIV infection in Tanzania: for better or for worse? - "The authors sought to explain an unanticipated significant crude association of lower HIV risk among circumcised women... A lowered risk of HIV infection among circumcised women was not attributable to confounding with another risk factor in these data"
Amazingly, at least one source claims that this study showed the opposite result.
Keywords: HIV female circumcision, female circumcision reduces hiv

Travellers to be searched for porn - "Australian customs officers have been given new powers to search incoming travellers' laptops and mobile phones for pornography... “Is it fair that customs officers rummage through someone's luggage and pull out a legal men's magazine or a lesbian journal in front of their children or their mother-in-law?” she said. "If you and your partner have filmed or photographed yourselves making love in an exotic destination or even taking a bath, you will have to answer 'Yes' to the question or you will be breaking the law.""

Shape-Shifting Battery Smooshes To Fit Sizes AA-D

Cleavage Diver - Bird loves boobs

A steamy calamari: trans-species eroticism and disgust (Practical Ethics) - "Is there really anything wrong with having sex with a dead cephalopod? Or having pictures of the act?... the most common moral arguments against zoophilia are that it is disgusting (invoking the "wisdom of repugnance") and against the natural order. But the former is culturally variable, and the latter is a form of the naturalistic fallacy and refuted by the existence of various trans-species sexual relations in nature... cephalopods are very unlikely to have a concern for their posthumous state, so they would not even be harmed if they knew what would happen to their bodies. Squids do not appear to have a higher-order desire for privacy or modesty... Where is the distinguishing line between erotic uses of vegetables, sausages, pieces of meat or squids?... erotic uses of (say) cucumbers should be proscribed *as strongly* as squids: trans-kingdom sex is an even greater upset of any natural order... and would seem to be an even greater challenge to human dignity - and maybe even the dignity of plants!... To a large degree the dignity and natural order arguments seem to be driven by disgust reactions ("that is not supposed to go there!") that we have come to recognize as being of little value when judging other sexual practices such as homosexuality... If we allow appealing still lifes of meat or pictures of people pleasing themselves with sausages, then it seems hard to argue that it is immoral to have pictures of sex with dead cephalopods"
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