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Valar Qringaomis

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

"Every composer knows the anguish and despair occasioned by forgetting ideas which one had no time to write down." - Hector Berlioz

***

The Truth Wars

"Among the traditional theories, what is called ''correspondence theory,'' going back to Aristotle, encapsulates what is taken to be the common-sense understanding of truth -- that truth consists of correspondence in some form between thought or language and reality. This sounds trivially correct, but usually founders in attempts to say precisely what form such correspondence could take. It is partly as an extremist reaction to those difficulties in the idea of correspondence that postmodernist cynicism about the notion of truth has taken hold of a few intriguing, if misguided, intellectuals...

The enemies of truth, for example, often fall afoul of what the Australian wit and contrarian philosopher David Stove (who died in 1994) called ''the Ishmael effect.'' Melville's Ishmael in ''Moby-Dick'' quotes Job's ''I only am escaped alone to tell thee'' and then spins a tale of adventure nobody could have survived to tell. Just so, relativists must beware of claiming, among other things, that all beliefs are subjective, except the belief that all beliefs are subjective...

[Lynch] argues that caring about truth is necessary for happiness because of the roles in our lives of authenticity and integrity, and that valuing truth for its own sake is an essential part of democracy...

''The phrase 'it is true for me but not for you' is most often just shorthand for: 'I believe it, you don't, so let's talk about something else.' '' Saying that something is a matter of opinion, Lynch writes, may just be a way of getting out of a debate one doesn't want to be in...

Perhaps the saving grace of the sort of extreme relativism that some conservatives fear may sap our civilization is that it is so hopelessly daft as to be impossible to put into practice. Indeed, despite the apparent popularity of subjectivist and deconstructionist ideas in parts of the academy, it is hard to find a significant contemporary controversy -- political, moral or environmental -- in which either side appears infected with such notions. People never think there is no truth of the matter; rather, they think the other side is wrong."

Friday, January 29, 2010

"Don't you wish there was a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence? There's one marked 'Brightness,' but it doesn't work." - Gallagher

***

The International Labour Organisation's report on Singaporeans having the world's longest hours was quite widely reported, but I was a little concerned as its sample size was just 13 countries:

Singapore, Iceland, Cyprus, Japan, South Korea, Ireland, New Zealand, Taiwan, Canada, Denmark, Spain, United Kingdom, United States
(in descending hour of work hours)

Now, a broader study reveals that when the sample size is extended to 51 countries, the same finding holds. Given that productivity has fallen drastically in "GDP per employee terms" (rather than, as I thought, "GDP per employee per hour terms"), this is even more telling of the Singapore model.

We've had "Teach less, Learn more". Now we need "Work less, Do more" (or "Live more").

Instead of Cheaper, Better, Faster, we need Fairly-Paid, Smarter, Fast-Enough.


Singapore sweats away the hours - and productivity

"Clocking 2,307 work hours in 2009 - a number that apparently has stayed constant since 1992, according to The Conference Board's data - the average Singaporean surpassed the other East Asians, the most hardworking globally.

Going by The Conference Board's Total Economy Database - which carries 'annual working hours' for 51 countries dating from 1950 - the South Koreans had been the undisputed workhorse world champions for three decades, ever since they overtook the previous leaders, the Taiwanese, in 1975. The Koreans and Taiwanese were clocking well over 2,700 hours a year for years.

But - as is the trend worldwide - annual working hours have fallen over the decades, including Korea's...

Apart from the East Asians, virtually everyone else (except Greece, Chile and Mexico) put in fewer than 2,000 hours a year, with many well under.

For Singapore, the long hours - especially in a year of poor output such as 2009 - would explain its recent poor productivity figures...

With productivity 'growth' of minus 14.2 per cent in 2009 (in GDP per employee terms), Singapore has the poorest number not only in Asia but worldwide. Average productivity growth across East Asia and the Pacific in 2009 was 2.4 per cent, and minus one per cent worldwide...

Singapore's TFP growth plunged from 3.9 per cent in 2007 to minus 4.9 per cent in 2008.

Still, just on the working hours measure, Singaporeans can have some consolation. Apparently, back in 1950, people here used to clock 2,520 hours a year, when total output was far lower. Annual work hours have fallen steadily through the years, down to 2,307 by 1992"
Two statisticians are out hunting when one of them sees a duck.

The first takes aim and shoots, but the bullet goes sailing past six inches too high.

The second statistician also takes aim and shoots, but this time the bullet goes sailing past six inches too low.

The two statisticians then give one another high fives and exclaim, "Got him!"

Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Thirty-five is a very attractive age. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years." - Oscar Wilde

***

Flying R2-D2, you are doing it wrong - "Using these values, the mass of R2 is 0.1 kg. Yes, 100 grams... If this mass is so low, I think R2 doesn't even need thrusters. He would just float... I was originally thinking that maybe R2 was made of styrofoam - but that has a density of about 40 kg/m3. So there. Pre-emptive comment: I know someone is going to say "hey, chill man! It is just a movie. Don't ruin it by bringing in all your physics stuff." My reply, someone has already ruined the Star Wars movies, his name is George. Just kidding, I still like Star Wars."

Mary Karr on the Vocabulary of Desire - "'A twelve-year-old writing a boy’s name on her notebook over and over doesn’t want to get boffed into guacamole. She wants the boy to bring her a valentine and put it in her lunchbox... It’s as powerful as a sexual urge but it’s not so genital. It’s somewhat about being seen – what feminist critics might call a longing for the male gaze. Being looked at in this culture invents you as a woman long before you’re getting laid. It was about love more than sex – about beauty, desire' This last bit of hers was an epiphany for me, though I wonder if it won’t be controversial, considering how many feminist women I know will disclaim ever having Cared About Men, even as teenagers"

Poole — the town with a Christmas tree that you can wipe your feet on - "When is a Christmas tree not a Christmas tree? When it is a giant cone covered in what appears to be green doormats... The 33ft structure turned out to be their Christmas tree, designed according to the principles of health and safety, circa 2009. Thus it has no trunk so it won’t blow over, no branches to break off and land on someone’s head, no pine needles to poke a passer-by in the eye, no decorations for drunken teenagers to steal and no angel... Christmas trees are one of the most hazardous objects in the home, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. In 2002, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 1,000 people needed hospital treatment for injuries inflicted by trees. They ranged from being poked in the eye to back injuries caused by moving the trees around"

The PC Decrapifier - "The PC Decrapifier is a program designed to remove or uninstall a specific list of unwanted software in an unattended fashion. It can be used to clean off most of the annoying software that is typically shipped with new PCs."

Low-slung, baggy pants often trip up thieves - "Young men and teens wearing low-slung, baggy pants fairly regularly get tripped up in their getaways, a development that has given amused police officers and law-abiding citizens a welcome edge in the fight against crime"

World's 'most expensive' ham leg on sale in London - "The leg of Iberico ham, which costs £1,800, went on sale at the food hall in the retailer's flagship store in Oxford Street, central London. The 7kg (15lb) ham leg comes with its own DNA certificate as proof of authenticity"

The ice-cream parlour with 860 different flavours - "You might imagine that the shop selling the largest number of ice-cream flavours in the world would be in Italy or perhaps the US, but in fact it is in the Venezuelan city of Merida... "What is the house special?" I ask Jose. He chuckles and says "pabellon criollo" - a traditional Venezuelan meal of beef, rice, plantain, cheese and black beans, which Coromoto has replicated in ice cream"

SHENIS - About - "It's the female answer to standing to pee for ladies!... The Shenis is gold and twelve inches long. In other words, it really is the Equalizer. It also gives us girls a chance to pee on road trips"

Chicago Economists on the Crisis - "Some come across as obtuse; others as arrogant; and some oblivious, or uninterested in evidence. Time and again I was surprised at how readily the interviews slipped from careful insight into personal ideology and dogmas"

Big hopes from little Singapore - "Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman told the Herald a pilot scheme was being proposed to lure Singaporeans wanting to work and study in New Zealand. Would-be migrants will be told of comparatively cheaper housing and car ownership, and the relaxed lifestyle. Those interested in becoming New Zealanders will be invited to register their interest online... Last year, only 114 Singaporeans became permanent residents in New Zealand"

How To Get Rid of Loan sharks and Opposition Politicians. - "This poor woman is being harassed by loan sharks. Despite numerous reports and calls to the police, nothing seems to be working as the loan sharks are still harassing the poor woman. Apparently loan sharks have some kind of magical powers that renders them immune to the police and our laws... Dr Chee seems to attract police like flies to shit. So here’s my brilliant solution to everything-
1. Make all loan sharks register as a political party...
2. Dr Chee and his political party needs to get into the loan sharking business because the police always likes to tell us they can’t do anything about loan sharks harrassment"

Teenagers hospitalised by extreme chilli sauce

The Practice of Domination in Everyday Life - "Amidst the many images of hostility, conflict, and destruction that come out of the occupied territories in Palestine, this one is truly shocking... 'In Hebron, a Jewish settler threw wine at a Palestinian woman'"

Fight the Bull - Why Business People Speak Like Idiots - "If you think you smell something at work, there's probably good reason -- Bull has become the official language of business. Every day, we get bombarded by an endless stream of filtered, jargon-filled corporate speak, all of which makes it harder to get heard, harder to be authentic, and definitely harder to have fun. But it doesn't have to be that way. The team that brought you the Clio Award-winning Bullfighter software is back with an entertaining, bare-knuckled guide to talking straight. Grab your cape and sharpen your sword. It's time to fight the bull!"
The Plain English Campaign is fun too

Homoeopathy sceptics plan mass 'overdose' - "More than 300 people who style themselves as "homoeopathy sceptics" will each swallow an entire bottle of homoeopathic pills in protest at the continued marketing of homoeopathic medicines by Boots, the high street chemist chain... In England, an estimated 470,000 people use homoeopathic remedies every year. Branches of Boots carry shelves of remedies including arnica, nux vomica, pulsatilla and rhus tox in the "complementary medicine" section. The Queen, David Beckham and Geri Halliwell are among those said to swear by them"

Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Voltaire - "Voltaire believed that through education and reason man could separate himself from the beasts while Rousseau thought that it was precisely all this which made men "unnatural" and corrupted... Like many intellectuals, Rousseau was a great lover of mankind as a collective but singularly unable to appreciate or get along with any individual persons who he encountered in his life"

The 4 Big Myths of Profile Pictures - "For women, a smile isn’t strictly better: she actually gets the most messages by flirting directly into the camera... Men’s photos are most effective when they look away from the camera and don’t smile. Maybe women want a little mystery... for both genders, self-shot pictures are more successful than average... In terms of getting new messages, the MySpace Shot is the single most effective photo type for women. We at first thought this was just because, typically, you can kind of see down the girl’s shirt... For women in their late teens and early twenties, body pictures are the most popular type of shot; outdoor pictures are second. This ordering is reversed by the mid-twenties"

Pigeon: Impossible - "Pigeon: Impossible is the tale of Walter, a rookie secret agent faced with a problem seldom covered in basic training: what to do when a curious pigeon gets trapped inside your multi-million dollar, government-issued nuclear briefcase."

Our Vanishing Ultimate Resource - ""Those who fear overpopulation share a simple insight: People use resources," Harvard economist Greg Mankiw wrote in 1998, summing up the argument. "The rebuttal to this argument is equally simple: People create resources"... Increased immigration doesn't seem to be the answer... Many immigrants, it turns out, quickly adopt the fertility patterns of their new country... fertility levels among native-born white Americans also remain higher than among native-born Europeans, and the U.S.'s overall fertility outpaces that of other countries with a high percentage of foreign-born residents... fertility rates have remained stable in the U.S. even as they have plummeted in religious fundamentalist countries... some scholars are now positing the distinctive nature of the U.S. economy and its labor market as a principal reason why Americans are having so many kids... In America employers and workers have also proved far more innovative in designing work schemes that afford parents better reentry into the job market, including flex-time arrangements"

Woman tried making love to burglar

Parasite of the Day

Second pregnant man Scott Moore due to give birth to baby boy next month - "Scott Moore - thought to be only the second ‘pregnant man’ to go public - is due to give birth to a boy in February, with husband Thomas by his side. The couple were both born girls and have undergone surgery to transform their sex... "No pregnant person should be denied healthcare just because they are a man""
SPOING!

Employer told they can't advertise for 'reliable' workers... because it discriminates against 'unreliable applicants - "When she ran the ad past a job centre, she was told she couldn't ask for 'reliable' and 'hard-working' applicants because it could be offensive to unreliable people. 'In my 15 years in recruitment I haven't heard anything so ridiculous,' Mrs Mamo said yesterday... 'Even the woman at the jobcentre agreed it was ridiculous but explained it was policy because they could get sued for being dicriminatory against unreliable people. 'She told me they'd had lots of problems with people taking them to court for adverts stating something like "would suit school leaver"'... 'I had to battle to have "must speak English", which they also said was discriminatory. 'In the end, I had to write "must speak English due to health and safety reasons" because they're dealing with hazardous materials.'"

CHRISTOPHER BIGGINS: Will they lock me up for playing Widow Twankey? - "During the dark days of Soviet oppression, there was a joke that did the rounds in Russia. ' Homosexuality is a crime and the punishment is seven years in prison locked up with other men. There is a three-year waiting list.' Don't laugh too loudly. It could soon be illegal to repeat a joke like that. I'm not kidding. In the name of challenging 'homophobia', the Government is planning to push legislation through Parliament that will make it a serious crime to use any language which could be construed as offensive to gay men and women... Supporters of this change like to pose as the protectors of the gay community, but they are nothing of the sort. The idea that we are all such enfeebled victims that we cannot take a single joke is actually an insult. Most gay men and women love self-deprecating humour and camp exaggeration of stereotypes. That is why drag artists are so popular on the gay scene... The politically correct bigots should not be allowed to have it both ways. They cannot say, on one hand, that gay lifestyles should be accepted as a perfectly normal part of life, and then, on the other, demand special treatment for gay people to shield them from everyday humour. We are more grown up than that"

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"The gambling known as business looks with austere disfavor upon the business known as gambling." - Ambrose Bierce

***

msvindicta: Which position do you find yourself waking up in?



Me:

Monday, January 25, 2010

"Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally." - Abraham Lincoln

***



Singaporeans for Haiti

"Well, if the government only wants to donate US$50,000 for Haiti, and we Singaporeans think it's too little, then how about we do something about it and donate so that we hit at least US$100,000?

Every little bit counts, so do you part, and show the MFA and government just how generous we Singaporeans can be. It's not only about us, it's about the world.

If we can donate S$7 million for Ren Ci, a fraction of that at US$100,000 isn't such a big deal no?

Remember, 100% of your donation goes towards helping, there are no hidden administration fees or telephone charges that are usually found in those television donations.

Help today!"

(HT @longadin)


Information about the organisation receiving the funds:

"Since 1948, Direct Relief International has worked to improve the quality of life for people in need. We focus on health by providing essential material resources to locally run health programs in poor areas around the world and during times of disaster.

Direct Relief International is a nonprofit, nonpolitical, and nonsectarian organization that provides assistance without regard to race, ethnicity, political or religious affiliation, gender, or ability to pay. A full 100 percent of your support goes to our programmatic work."
"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny ...'" - Isaac Asimov

***

"The [new] game of courtly love is an elaborate blueprint for the building of desire, as opposed to the quenching of it. The higher it builds without fulfillment, the more perfect a lover the knight proves himself to be...

Consummated or not, courtly love is by definition adulterous. The knight who jousts on horseback, sword in hand, competes against other knights for a highly desirable lady. But they're not fighting for her hand in marriage, or even for the privilege of courting her. She already has a husband. Initially, at least, they're not even fighting for the privilege of sleeping with her. They're fighting for the privilege of loving her - synonymous with serving her...

In 1154, Henry, Duke of Normandy, captures the English throne as Henry I, making his wife Eleanor [of Aquitaine] a queen for the second time - and [through her] bestowing upon the English court a resident expert on the rules of the game. From there the ideal of love... will be converted into the middle-class ideal of marriage: the melding of two minds, bodies, and hearts into one... Eleanor and her kin would find it next to unimaginable that the heady quality of adultery would one day converge with the dutiful, dispassionate quality of marriage as they experience it.

Maybe that's what finally enables the convergence: Love enters marriage through the extramarital back door. As [Christian author] C.S. Lewis noted in his study of courtly doctrine, Allegory of Love, 'Any idealization of sexual love, in a society where marriage is purely utilitarian, must begin by an idealization of adultery'...

What troubadors bring about is the reinvention of love. They make its pursuit desirable, even admirable. Previously, epic tales of sexual desire ended in mutually assured destruction for all concerned... [Now], to gamble all you have, even your life, on romantic rapture becomes the route to transcendence. The most memorable romantic lovers of courtly literature - Tristan and Isolde, Lancelot and Guinevere, Troilus and Cressida - meet tragic ends, but noble ones. They martyr themselves for the glory of the faith. The new religion of love is a wedge to the future"

--- I Don't: A Contrarian History of Marriage / Susan Squire


And from Daniel Goleman's Social Intelligence:

"Neuroscientist Jaak Pansepp... finds a neural corollary between the dynamics of opiate addiction and the dependence on the people for whom we feel our strongest attachments. All positive interactions with people, he proposes, owe [at least] part of their pleasure to the opioid system, the very circuitry that links with heroin and other addictive substances... Even animals, he finds, prefer to spend time with those in whose presence they have secreted oxytocin and natural opioids, which induce a relaxed serenity - suggesting that these brain chemicals cement our family ties and friendships as well as our love relationships."
"Reality continues to ruin my life." - Bill Watterson

***

I came across an ad for this site called EliteMeeting:


"Rich Women South Africa: Meet & Date Real Wealthy Women. Exclusive Elite Photo Personals!"

I was intrigued because:

i) Usually it's rich men who're advertised
ii) How would they ensure that the women were really wealthy?

So I logged on to the website and created an account.

Presumably for better matching, the website makes you specify your State/Province and Closest Major City. However, someone neglected to fill in the values for all the countries in the world (or at least for Singapore):



Strangely enough, though, Provinces and Cities for Somalia were available:



Piracy must be even more profitable than I had thought (on the up side, they let transsexuals onto their site).

Then, I was asked to fill in my occupation, educational level, income and net worth. The upper bound on options for the latter two were quite amazing:




Once I created an account, I found out that they actually verify your details, allowing you to fax in your photo id, income tax return, bank statements and professional certifications.

There're lots of complaints about fake profiles, though.
"The only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work." - Harry Golden

***



Someone claimed that Alliance Française was full of SPGs, but given that the students in this Confucius Institute advertisement are all - to a fault - female, I think I'll just ascribe it to women's natural affinity to languages.

Then again, this could be a carefully posed picture to lure men into signing up (the same reason why we have Ladies Nights)

I shall follow Viadero, who is described as saying that "Girls predominate in advanced English courses and in foreign-language and arts classes"

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Feminist Analysis of Salsa

"The reason there are so few female politicians is that it is too much trouble to put makeup on two faces." - Maureen Murphy

***

Sunday entertainment; a hilariously problematic piece:


"The unequal relationship between the male and female dancers in the salsa coupling incarnates gender dynamics that stand apart from the wider social context. Since the Quiet Revolution in Quebec, which lasted from 1960 to 1966, the province has sought, in both legislation and practice, equality between men and women. Women may “submissively” follow the male dancer’s lead in salsa, but they also direct the production and distribution of the dance in the city... many instructors promote salsa as a dance privileging masculine authority...

Although the fact that men lead in salsa remains an unchanging characteristic of this dance, how salsa produces male and female identities does not correspond to fixed essences. Consequently, the subversive potential of salsa dancing in Montreal lies in how different modes of masculinity and femininity are both produced and promoted by teachers in order to sell the dance. Most teachers do not consciously try to subvert cultural constructions of gender by demonstrating how identity is artificially fashioned. Nonetheless, through their teaching and promotion of gender identity as a performance, salsa dancers in Montreal inadvertently show that sexual identities are cultural constructions... The teaching of male and female identities in salsa dance classes shows how gender identities are contrived, but unlike the intellectual focus of postmodern dance, most salsa instructors are not interested in objections to stereotyped gender fabrications in their classes. My concern with uncovering and analyzing asymmetrical relationships between men and women in salsa did nor seem to be of primary interest to most salsa club goers...

Most people view the leading and following in salsa as simply part of the rules of the dance. They are dispassionate about the male domination and female submissiveness that they recreate as they perform steps and turns. Nonetheless, salsa dance provides a concrete example of how gender identities can be formed and fashioned and how, through repeated performance, they can pass for “natural” differences between men and women. The footwork, stylized figures, and bodily gestures in Montreal salsa classes are taught as those of a man or a woman. These gendered patterns are reiterated and practiced to such an extent that they become automatic and may ultimately be experienced by the dancers themselves and those observing their movements as natural corporeal expressions. This exploration of the production of the gendered body in salsa dancing draws on a feminist postmodern perspective that posits embodiment not as a fixed and natural given but as a construction that is continuously open to flux and therefore a site of possibility...

Adapting Michel Foucault’s theory, Judith Butler claims that the performance of masculinity and femininity, which is considered natural, conforms to the dictates of heterosexual hegemony or compulsory heterosexuality, a term first coined by Adrienne Rich. The system of compulsory heterosexuality is both produced and kept hidden through the creation of bodies as distinct sexes with “natural” demeanors and “natural” heterosexual habits and temperaments...

Power is at work in the creation of distinct gender identities. Butler’s understanding of the construction of gender as a stylized repetition of acts is vividly demonstrated by the fact that salsa’s male and female movements are learned through the repeated practice of contrived dance moves. Gender is brought into being through the stylisation of the body and consequently must be comprehended as the manner in which varied corporeal gestures, movements, and performances institute the deceptive appearance of a conforming gendered identity (Butler, 1988: 270). Gender is not a fact that refers either to an actual essence or to an ideal. Rather, the repeated corporealities that constitute gender itself create the notion of gender; without these performances there would not he gender (273). As Judith Butler states, “Gender is, thus, a construction that regularly conceals its genesis” (273)... When men and women perform their sex according to heterosexual criteria of natural and ideal sexual behavior and through adherence to gender norms, each individual is participating in the production of sexual stereotypes...

Both the man and the woman can find fulfillment on the dance floor by moving together as one, which mediates the predominant position of the male dancer, or they can jointly yield to masculine dominance, sharing in the enjoyment of this power dynamic. The two models of heterosexuality that Richard Dyer identifies in the coup1e dances of the musical are analogous to the two prevailing ways that Montreal dance teachers interpret gender differences in salsa. He cites the “Jane Ausen model,” in which male and female partners achieve equality and joy in dance through the blend of their opposite roles. On the other hand, the pleasure that dancers experience in what Dyer refers to as the “Barbara Cartland model” lies in the performance of inequality. The woman revels in her relinquishment of power to the male dancer, who in turn luxuriates in his mastery over her...

Vermay argues that competitive Latin American dance embodies a contrived and extreme image of heterosexuality. In training to compete in the Latin American dance competitions, female dancers are taught to be sexy and feminine. Male dancers emulate a macho, masculine, and butch demeanor. The dancers forge these stereotyped gender distinctions through overstated choreographed gestures, excessive facial expressions, and over done costumes (Vermay, 1994: 5S). Performances stress images such as a “dynamic sex kitten,”“a high-class prostitute,”“a sophisticated romantic,”“an animalistic undulating look,” and “a gypsy look”...

The pantomimic and potentially racist performance of Latin American dance also becomes apparent in how dancers cover their faces with makeup to appear darker. Juliet McMains argues that the “darkening” of Latin dancers evokes the racist performance of blackface minstrelsy...

Another heterosexual narrative that conveys inequality between the sexes is a visual display of the female body being manipulated by the male dancer. This demonstration of feminine passivity through spectacle is found in competitive Latin American dance and at some dance schools in Montreal. Seeking more equality between men and women in Latin dance, Ruud Vermay decries the objectification of the female form: To some, indeed many people, the portrayal of women as mere objects of sexual desire, thrown around by men, treated as men’s pleasure is wholly distasteful today. It still strikes me as incredible that during the final heat of a competition the ‘announcer’ can ask the audience to show its appreciation of a female competitor’s look (never a male’s) by applauding accordingly when [her] number is called” (Vermay, 1994: 99).

Various Montreal dance teachers promote a dance style that focuses on the male dancer using turns to display the woman, thereby transforming her into an object of spectacle. The male concentrates on maneuvring the female and consequently dances less; his body is not exhibited to the same extent as the woman’s. The man’s leading facilitates displaying the woman’s body... Marcus views the exhibition of the female dancer as an element of the dance that balances out the male leadership, as women derive pleasure from being led through steps and spins that transform the female form into an object of beauty to be flaunted and exhibited. He says, "There always has to be someone who follows. That is not sexist... if we look at it from another angle, we see that the woman is the spectacle of the dance. It is the man who displays the woman. The man makes the woman move. Then it’s the woman who is displayed. And it’s the woman who always follows” (my translation).

There is a certain degree of truth in what Marcus says. Many female salsa dancers luxuriate in being observed and admired as the male dancers display their bodies. Many women revel in how their dancing enables them to be appreciated and desired. The overt objectification of the female form is one element that draws both women and men to salsa clubs and schools. Both in clubs and in dance classes, some women actively participate in the metamorphosis of their bodies into objects of spectacle. They dress in alluring and revealing clothes that draw attention to their legs, breasts, and navels. In contrast, men’s bodies are usually completely covered...

Proponents of the politics of pleasure may argue that female salsa dancers are not simply at the mercy of the male gaze when their bodies are exhibited, but also able to obtain power as the gesticulations of the dance and their enticing attire mold them into objects of male desire. Nonetheless, the power that women might attain in salsa never transgresses the male leadership in the dance. Jane Cowan illustrates that any supremacy that women attain in the dance is always circumscribed by masculine control... “Any sexual or gender complementarity—like women’s powers generally—that may be observed in particular sites and moments must always be seen in the context of a broader asymmetry of male dominance and of the androcentric and patriarchal institutions through which it is manifested”...

[Ballet] transforms the female body into an obcct of pleasure for the male gaze. The dancer, rendered ethereal and frail by her pointe shoes and her lithe frame, is supported and lifted by the male dancer. This dynamic of female subordination and male dominance transforms the ballerina into something to be looked at, or an object of the male gaze... Stephanie Jordan and Helen Thomas... refigure, for instance, Daly’s interpretation of the “drag step,” in which she claims “the man literally carries the ballerina on his back” (Jordan and Thomas, 1998: 247; Daly, 1987: 9). Jordan and Thomas propose this step as a means by which the female dancer increases the movement of the male by “clinging aggressively to his back”...

Ruud Vermay writes, “In Latin dance, despite the emphasis on the notion of the ‘male lead,’ successful partnering is the result of the equal flow of energy between two people, two people dancing with each other. If the energy flow is unequal, manipulation results. The manipulator dances at the partner, the manipulated dances for the partner”... Viewed from the perspective of body dynamics, accomplished male leading does not apply strength and force kit concedes to gravity and the woman’s energy"

--- Salsa and its transnational moves / Sheenagh Pietrobruno


From elsewhere:

"I am very happy if a man knows how to lead and lead well. I am a feminist, but somethings just work better when you don't try to lead. I don't want to lead--I don't know what I'm doing. And the rules of hand-to-hand (contact??) dancing are that the man leads. Some feminists will argue that the rules of dancing need to be changed, but I am not one of these. I don't want to change the Bible so that God is referred to as a woman. I don't care. It doesn't matter to me. What matters to me in terms of feminism is gender equality before the law and in society. Domestic abuse (although either gender can be abused), prostitution (ditto), equal legal rights, equal working rights, freedom from sexual harassment etc are far the more serious issues that feminism should deal with. Not dancing.

It's dancing for God's sake, not war."
"But in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." - Benjamin Franklin

***

Blowjob With Braces? FAIL! - "A mid 40s Taiwanese couple went to doctor, complaining that his penis was bleeding and was painful... while the wife was doing the job, the wire on braces somehow cut and torn his foreskin, and it started bleeding."

The day I decided to stop being gay - "I once attended the nuptials of a gay male friend to a girl with whom he had unexpectedly fallen head over heels in love. It was a curious affair: the wedding party was peopled with his ex-lovers — including me, the best man and even the vicar... At the BBC, where I worked for seven years, homosexuality was very nearly compulsory... It seems highly perverse that gays should fight for freedom from the bonds of heterosexual morality and then set to copying their oppressors by creating similar contracts of their own... The late jazz singer, art critic and gay-straight convert George Melly... told me about his Damascene transformation. He was 30 years old, on a country bicycle ride with a group of friends, when it happened. Floridly gay, he suddenly noticed that he was staring at the girls, rather than the boys, and declared to himself, “Oooh, you’re heterosexual now, dearie.” He went on to enjoy a long and happy marriage."
Apparently sexual orientation is not all that fixed for men (at least not for all men) either (we already know that women, as always, are complicated and change their minds). Of course people are trying to silence him in the comments.

Web 2.0 Suicide Machine: How to Quit Facebook, Twitter

Pretty women 'anger more easily' - "Researchers found women who rated themselves as pretty displayed a war-like streak when fighting battles to get their own way... they found how attractive other people rated the women also tallied... In men, they found a similar link but with physical strength rather than attractiveness per se"

Asia Carrera FAQs - "How can I get into porno movies?
This is one fantasy that's better left as a fantasy. There's a reason why you always see the same guys over and over in every movie. It's because there are very, very few guys who can perform on command under the demanding, grueling circumstances of shooting a movie. Imagine: it's 5am, you're exhausted, 15 crew guys are grouchy and waiting on you to perform so they can go home. They're giving you nasty looks while you're trying to get hard in the freezing cold, buck naked, on your aching knees on the cold metal hood of a car. The girl, who isn't even very attractive close up, is off set with her boyfriend, smoking a cigarette until you're ready. You're wanking in the cold with an audience of 15 impatient guys, knowing that if you don't get hard, word will spread instantly that you are not reliable. And if you don't come on cue, forcing them to reshoot the scene, you will never be hired again. Directors can't afford delays or failed scenes - so they simply refuse to hire new guys. The way to get around this is by bringing a hot new girl with you, and saying she'll only work with you. Fresh meat is worth its weight in gold around here"

France's Proposed Burqa Ban: Why Americans Might Want to Consider It Too - "Sarkozy has declared that in a country where women enjoy equal rights, he does not want to see those rights debased. Only several thousand French women wear the garment, most coming from communities made up of Muslims who emigrated from former French protectorates... when visiting countries such as Egypt and Morocco, where native women cover all but their faces, I am not likely to go out in public in shorts and a T-shirt, as I do here at home. Some culturally tone deaf Western tourists do dress as if they're touring Disneyland, but most have the presence of mind to cover up somewhat, out of respect for another country's culture, beliefs and tradition. I often wish Muslim immigrant women would repay the courtesy here in the U.S... many [American Muslim women who cover up I interviewed], seemed to have ulterior motives -- motives based on acceptance into a community or by a man who provides emotional or financial support"

Nazi Analogy Jumps the Slope -- and Maybe the Shark - "How are women ski jumpers today like Jews in Nazi Germany? Or are they?... Fifteen women ski jumpers from five countries, supported by feminists around the world, in 2008 launched a legal effort to force the International Olympic Committee to include women's ski jumping in 2010... B'nai Brith's human rights arm recalled the 1936 Berlin Olympics when the IOC did not protest Hitler's barring of Jewish athletes from the Games... B'nai Brith's allies below the 49th parallel have spent a lot of time recently trying to get conservative Christians and Tea Party Republicans to stop using Nazi analogies and Hitlerian imagery as they battle health care reform and President Obama"

Conversations About The Internet #5: Anonymous Facebook Employee - "We did have a master password at one point where you could type in any user’s user ID, and then the password. I’m not going to give you the exact password, but with upper and lower case, symbols, numbers, all of the above, it spelled out ‘Chuck Norris,’ more or less. It was pretty fantastic."

[CES 2010] RCA Airnergy Charger Harvests Electricity From WiFi Signals - "They were able to charge a BlackBerry from 30% to full in about 90 minutes, using nothing but ambient WiFi signals as a power source."

Secret of genius is sexual chemistry - "The careers of great male scientists, like those of male criminals, are most prolific in the first flush of youth, according to the study. Both groups pursue their chosen paths with greatest panache before the age of 35 and both lose their enthusiasm when they marry. The findings seem to support an observation by Einstein, who in 1942, at the age of 63, wrote: “A person who has not made his great contribution to science before the age of 30 will never do so”... In young and single men, testosterone levels are high, leading to risk-taking and creativity. Once a man settles down, testosterone levels fall and so does his creative or criminal output"

Diagnosing Our National Disease: Trends in Income and Happiness, 1973 to 2004 - "The principal force behind declining happiness has been a decline in the number of working-aged Americans who are married, as well as declining marital satisfaction. These trends, however, have been largely independent of trends in income. In fact, once marital factors are considered, the negative trend in happiness reverses direction, and economic factors emerge as the single most important force underlying growing happiness... perceptions of relative income have increased, despite growing income inequality"

Survey: France one of the most productive countries on earth
This is the same reason why Singaporeans work the most in the world, while their productivity fell

Using Fibonacci Numbers to Convert from Miles to Kilometers and Vice Versa - "If the distance you’re converting can be expressed as a single Fibonacci number, then for numbers greater than 21 the error is always around 0.5%. However, if the distance needs to be composed as a sum of n Fibonacci numbers, then the error will be around sqrt(n)·0.5%."

8-year-old Boy Scout placed on terrorist watchlist - "He shares the same name as a person on a security watchlist. Michael Hicks... was first singled out [when] he was just two-years-old. Since then he has found it hard to get on a flight without being mistakenly targeted as a 'suspicious person' on a government watchlist, which triggers a higher level of security screening... More than 81,000 frustrated travellers have asked for their names to be removed from watchlists by the US Department of Homeland Security, and there are currently 25,000 cases pending"
It's a good bet that many of the same people who find it incredible that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab managed to get through security also protest cases like this - and allege racism when security staff are given discretion to not screen 8 year old boys (there're more than half a million people on the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment).
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