Saturday, October 23, 2010
Interlopers Run Amok: Guys Crash Road Races for Women - ""You take out the testosterone and these events are kinder, cleaner, gentler and sweeter," says Robert Pozo... Men can register for these races, as footnotes on the event websites note. Technically allowing guys to run avoids legal spats, pleases charity sponsors whose fund-raisers are often male and engenders a magnanimous spirit. But these races tolerate rather than welcome male participants... Goodie bags often contain feminine-cut T-shirts, along with swag like perfume samples, chocolates and pink sandals. One race is giving away feather boas and tiaras... Other men see a target-rich environment. "If you want to meet fit young women, it's hard to beat"... "We're making this race so girly that men won't want any part of it""
It's fine to exclude men, but naturally, there is an outcry at the reverse; this is one of the few times I agree with Jezebel
A Thai Region Where Husbands Are Imported - "While the men — many of them retired and living on pensions, many disappointed in their lives and marriages at home — may be seeking an emotional connection, the women are generally motivated by economics, said Mr. Prayoon, who provides counseling for mixed couples. “For some ladies it is just money, money, money,” he said. “Getting married has become a business more than love. People want to improve their social status. Sometimes these ladies spend the husband’s money, use it all, then he’s cut out. There are many cases like that.” Even though many men are retired and living on a fixed income, they are expected to help support their wives’ extended families, beginning with a dowry of several thousand dollars"
Campaign finance: Corporate money and elections - "A 2002 paper by three MIT political scientists... finds that campaign contributions have little influence on candidates' political actions, which are overwhelmingly determined by party and by the convictions of voters in their districts. (They restate a provocative 1972 question by political scientist Gordon Tullock: "Why is there so little money in political campaigns?"...given that an investment of a few million dollars could, one imagines, affect billions of dollars in government spending.) They argue that political giving is not a form of vote-buying, but a form of political participation... senators are very responsive to the views of the richest third of their constituents, somewhat responsive to the views of the middle third, and utterly indifferent to the views of the poorest third"
"Rushdie Rules" Reach Florida - "Shariah... insists that Islam, and the Koran in particular, enjoy a privileged status. Islam ferociously punishes anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim, who trespasses against Islam's sanctity. Codes in Muslim-majority states generally reflect this privilege; for example, Pakistan's blasphemy law, 295-C, punishes derogatory remarks about Muhammad with execution... A 2003 decree ruled the Bible suitable for use by Muslims when cleaning after defecation. Iranian authorities reportedly burned hundreds of Bibles in May. This imbalance, whereby Islam enjoys immunity and other religions are disparaged, has long prevailed in Muslim-majority countries"
When God Sanctions Killing: Effect of Scriptural Violence on Aggression - "Aggression increased when the passage mentioned God, especially among participants who believed in God and in the Bible. These results suggest that scriptural violence sanctioned by God can increase aggression, especially in believers"
"Pro-censorship lobbyists generally ignore that fact and instead claim that it is proven that portrayals of violence in the media cause violence. Frequently, either no evidence at all is cited, or it is incorrect, or highly questionable at best. Of course, this is intended to encourage a belief that the solution to violence in society is to ban depictions of same (although they do not call for banning of the Bible)"
6 Romantic Movie Gestures That Can Get You Prison Time
Beijing, China: What one girl does when it's hard to find parking
Killing Tynt’s “Read More:” Clipboard Copy Hijacker With The Adblock Plus Plug-In For Firefox - "I hate Tynt. If you’ve ever copied text from a Web page, then pasted it, only to find a mysterious “Read More:” link inserted at the end of the text you copied, you just ran headfirst into Tynt... Fortunately, I was able to put an immediate end to Tynt’s “Read More” clipboard copy highjacking in Firefox with Adblock Plus"
Addendum: Tynt is not the only site that does this. Other culprits I found were po.st, so I added a "*po.st/*" filter, and sharethis.com. The Economic Times uses "clipboardupdatescript"
Or just: Disable Clipboard Manipulations in Firefox - this screws up sites like Facebook and Quora though so NoScript might be better
YouTube - Muslim girls collide with Hans Teeuwen - Subtitled - "Everything with a certain status has a certain power. Power always tends to corrupt, and has to be ridiculed. If you can't do that anymore, you get creepy situations - a dictatorship or something... An insult is for some people a truth they do not wish to hear. 'We cannot discuss that because it could be construed as an insult'...You are pretending that sensitivity and aggrievedness is a religious privilege. If I watch TV I feel annoyed, insulted. But you develop a shield for these things. That is what you do in a free society... A moment ago I heard someone say that homosexuality is a sin. A moment ago someone walked away because of a mini skirt. All these things are also very insulting"
The Meat Eaters - "The continuous, incalculable suffering of animals is also an important though largely neglected element in the traditional theological “problem of evil”... The suffering of animals is particularly challenging because it is not amenable to the familiar palliative explanations of human suffering... Suppose that we could arrange the gradual extinction of carnivorous species, replacing them with new herbivorous ones. Or suppose that we could intervene genetically, so that currently carnivorous species would gradually evolve into herbivorous ones, thereby fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy. If we could bring about the end of predation by one or the other of these means at little cost to ourselves, ought we to do it?"
MI6 'used bodily fluids as invisible ink' - "He "heard from C that the best invisible ink is semen", which did not react to the main methods of detection. Furthermore it had the advantage of being readily available."
Why Corporate Leaders Won't Abolish Performance Reviews - "The performance review, a practice that is as destructive and fraudulent as it is ubiquitous. And despite all the evidence — despite the fact that almost every person reviewed and every person reviewing knows it is bogus — corporate bosses do nothing to hasten its demise. They won't even acknowledge they have a problem."
Addendum: Keywords - 'performance review'
Why Companies Should Insist that Employees Take Naps
Jailed, fined for bribery bid - "A SINGAPOREAN was sentenced to a day's jail and fined RM10,000 (S$4,291) for trying to bribe a traffic policeman with RM50... Tay offered RM50 to constable Muhammad Afizi Salleh for not issuing a summons despite the policeman advising him not to do so"
He got caught for bribery in Malaysia because the operation was being monitored by the Anti-Corruption Commission. Too bad he couldn't take a hint
Unhear it - get that damn song out of your head! - "We created this site for those of you that have a song stuck in your head and you can't get it out no matter what you do. Using the latest in reverse-auditory-melodic-unstickification technology, we've been able to allow our users to “unhear” songs by hearing equally catchy songs. So really all we're doing is making you forget your old song by replacing it with another one... sorry"
Hamas claims West Bank killings as direct peace talks set to resume - "The statement from the armed wing of Hamas, a group that opposes any dialogue with Israel, said the “Qassam Brigades announces its full responsibility for the heroic operation in Hebron”... “Hamas blesses the Hebron operation and considers it as a normal reaction to the occupation crime and a proof of the failure … to abort the project of resistance”"
The difference between Hamas and Israel: Israel doesn't celebrate the deaths of Palestinians
S’poreans shedding clothes, and inhibitions - "He gets more requests from women to do nude shoots than men... According to Ian Ong, owner of Mr & Mrs Smith, an upscale sex boutique in Bukit Timah, its workshops teaching people how to please their partners in the bedroom are always fully booked... Some areas are still no-go, though. In the world of media and advertising, it is hard to find Asian models willing to pose in bikinis or lingerie, much less go nude for a magazine photo shoot... “I do find it strange that the models are willing to go out in a skimpy top, sometimes without a bra, but are not willing to go nude for their professional work”"
Shaanxi Normal University Tests Female Standing Urinals
Friday, October 22, 2010
"Goodluck Friends Centre
A Classic Place for Professional Men & Pleasant Ladies
(unlimited introduction till marriage, strictly confidential)
Conditions to be a member with GOODLUCK
* Ladies must be neat and pleasant looking, with good disposition
* Men preferably must be with good income and moral character
** Apology: We sincerely apologise to those who are not qualified to enrol at our centre"
I am wondering which is more important for men: good income or moral character (since these are preferred but not mandatory, presumably at least one can be dropped)
I'm trying to decide if the website is better than the ad, with gems like:
"Mr Horatio Lee, our founder did some research on how to get a good amount of members that have the quality in them. For example, how to attract pleasant looking ladies and successful gentlemen into our pool"
"It's frequent for us to hear members calling us and say:
"Hi ! Mr Lee, the lady you introduced me..... She's so beautiful and cheerful. I really enjoy going out with her."
"Hello Mr Lee, the guy is so successful and gentlemanly. Thank you for introducing me such a nice guy.""
"Below are some references of our available members. The income figures being shown are being rounded off to the nearest figure.
Because of huge numbers, only 20% of our active members are available for viewing online."
(you can search for members by height, weight and income, and the listing shows if they have a car and/or house. Tellingly, all you see about them are statistics - there's no essay feature)
Thursday, October 21, 2010
I can't recall a single instance where a public petition was effective in Singapore (Chek Jawa was positioned as "The government's decision was made after consulting with various government agencies and marine life experts", and nature is a very uncontentious issue). Yong Vui Kong will not be the first. In fact arguably it might even be counter-productive - they do not want to be seen to be bowing to public pressure. In the past when a softer approach was taken (albeit with stronger interests) more leniency was shown - see the banned-but-not-banned book on the death penalty.
Lim Swee Say and other Ministers think their economics is better than NUS's labour economist Hui Weng Tat. Maybe this is because they're paid better than him - QED.
Maybe in Singapore saying "I'm so angry I'm going to explode" means you're a would-be suicide bomber. Likewise, "I'm going to blow you away" (this is all keeping in the theme of burning the PAP). Probably you can also get charged for sedition for accusing Muslim politicians of indulging in pork-barrel politics or labelling them as underdogs.
Addendum: This refers to Abdul Malik Mohammed Ghazali who wanted to "burn Vivian Balakrishnan and the PAP"
Keywords: blow up, joke, violence, threats, ex ri
The NLB has 4 copies of John Loftus's The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails. Sedition!
"The SAF is a microcosm of Singapore society" - Teo Chee Hean. Yeah, i.e. Fucked Up
M. Ravi must be the world's "worst" lawyer. When was the last time he won a case?
The more butchy of a lesbian couple I saw on the MRT had 3 buttons spelling out 'GAY' and was wearing a t-shirt with a rainbow on it reading, 'Smile If You're Gay'. There's something called trying too hard!
I wonder how many of the people railing against foreign talent visit non-Singaporean prostitutes
It seems only women have human telephone alarm clocks ("give me a phone call at 9am to wake me up"). Meanwhile, more than 90% of the time, the ones I see taking cabs are girls. These observations are not unrelated.
Tim The Great's theory: the girls eating in aircon are prettier than the girls eating outside
I was waiting to pump air into my tires, and observed 2 attendants standing by as a boy haplessly tried pumping air into his bicycle tire. He tried a few times but failed and gave up. Later, a woman came to do the same, and before she did anything, one went to help her. Female privilege!
What's with Singaporean [Chinese] girls and fish soup?! Also, there's a mindset gap issue: when in school they prefer Yong Tau Hoo, but at work they love Fish Soup
Is there a point squeezing past people to the back of the bus if no one will follow my lead? I'm told that buses in Coventry are exactly the same.
What passes for food blogs in Singapore: lots of pictures, with barely any commentary (what passes for it is along the lines of "tastes really good", "my all time favorite :)" and "This is yummy"). But then Singaporeans prefer ambience to good food, which is why the general rule for food is that good food becomes bad or goes out of business, and bad food stays around for years.
A lot of Chinese philosophy (possibly even most) seems to be a lot of rhetoric with no supporting arguments
A good way for PRCs to get into the UK, and probably the EU - say they're from Falunggong.
What can one say about a society where the ability to down copious amounts of alcohol is considered an achievement?
I got a spam mail that requested a return receipt. The nerve!
Je suis toujours confus lorsque je vois 'Product of USA. Produit des É.U.'
RT @minyvlz: @gssq let's face it I don't think any singaporean online who cares wldnt know of u
"i think more people will turn up at Mr Brown's wake than the Old Man."
This rather problematic advice from Libba Bray (a writer) to a high school student is currently doing the rounds:
I hear about the thousands of dollars spent on Kaplan tutors in order to pass the tests, to give the answers the colleges seek. This is not learning or thinking. This is regurgitation. (There is also a whole element of socioeconomic advantage at play here that should be acknowledged.) It feels so…programmed. Does it teach you to think? To feel empathy? Does it make you a better person? Can it help you weather tough times or adapt to different circumstances? Or will you stand in the changing tides and say, "But the answer is C. I took the Kaplan course. The answer is C," instead of improvising? My personal opinion is that this leads to a rigidity of thinking, a calcification of process that does not allow for adaptation, for being able to bend. Being able to bend and adapt is important. More on this later.
(Your mileage may vary)
In a very long-winded and indulgent fashion, Bray advises the high school student to pursue her dreams and go to a small school and then become an artist, instead of following her father's advice and going to an Ivy League college and becoming an English professor.
Naturally, Bray's advice (in the midst of all the rambling and the life story) is for the girl to follow her dreams. Equally naturally, I think this advice is problematic.
First though, I must say that the father's advice is quite lousy too. Does he know the job prospects in academia?! In English, no less! And also I am as pissed off with the high school counsellor (who said she should do what her father wanted) as Bray.
My response to Bray's advice can best be summed up with an extended quote; the 2009 film Fame wasn't very good, but it did have a good exchange at the end:
Teacher: I'm sorry, but I can't write you that letter [of recommendation]. Sometimes we get students who are promising, but they never progress past that early promise.
I know you want to be a ballet dancer, but I don't believe that's going to happen for you. Not on a professional level.
Kevin: I work harder than anyone else.
Teacher: I'm sorry, Kevin. You're just not a strong enough dancer. You will never, in my opinion, be able to support yourself as a dancer. It's my responsibility to tell you that.
Kevin, there are students who are going to get picked up by Ailey, City Ballet, Complexions. And there are other students who are going to have to pursue other options. Like, you might make a wonderful teacher.
This is, of course, the case even for people who are "promising". Even for those who have talent, hard work and passion may not be enough - and not all failed artists make wonderful teachers in the end. While loans to get through state college won't take as long to pay off as those for an Ivy League one, it's not clear that a starving artist would be more able to repay them than someone in a "proper" job paying off the Ivy loans.
Sure, "no one knows how your life is going to go", "there is no such thing as "a safe road"" and "you cannot program a life". But nobody knows how the lottery will turn out or whether their houses will burn down either. That doesn't mean a lottery ticket is a possible retirement plan (because hey, who knows, you just might win) or that you shouldn't buy insurance (because your house might not burn down). Sure, life cannot just be gone through with one correct answer to every question, but there are plenty of questions where there are correct answers:
"If someone is having a heart attack, should you perform CPR or the Heimlich Manoeuvre?"
"If I am receiving a client from Rwanda, should I ever use the words 'Tutsi' or 'Hutu'?"
"Have you ever had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky, as that term is defined in Deposition Exhibit 1, as modified by the Court?"
The truth is that depending on your risk profile, some choices might be wise, while others might be less so. In America, the stigma of living with your parents post-graduation is so strong that many college graduates would rather live on their own than buy medical insurance. While I'm sure many of them find this a life-changing experience which is great for personal development, many others are, in a word, screwed.
One common response to this criticism is that working towards goals that are less than likely to be achieved is still a worthwhile endeavor, even if you don't achieve the goals in the end. It is about the journey, rather than the destination. This sounds suspiciously like one of the arguments to justify prayer in the face of determinism and/or an omniscient god - even if prayer does not change what is going to happen, or if your god already knows what you are going to pray for, prayer is still good for personal development. This is assuredly not a coincidence - when you can't justify an imprudent course of action , there is nothing left but to appeal to the mystical and intangible.
Just after graduation, I read this book called The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People. It pointed out that Creative and Unconventional People do not have to work in Creative and Unconventional Jobs: you can do Creative and Unconventional things on the side, as a hobby, or use your "real" job to finance your passion.
For example, take the case of famous 20th century American composer Charles Ives. While a prolific composer, he did not make his living from music - he was an insurance agent/executive, but we don't think any less of him (or his music) for that. Just because some artists are starving does not mean that you need to be starving to be an artist.
Besides these problems, Bray's advice also suffers from the problem of Survivorship bias. If I talk to all of the people who have made a lot of money stock trading who all say good things about it, and conclude that stock trading is a good idea, this is not a wise move on my part - since I ignore the people who have been burnt by the market and leaped to their dooms. Similarly, the high school student needs to go and talk to a failed writer for some perspective.
I would also note that Bray's husband, Barry Goldblatt, is a literary agent. As in the field of stockbroking, where it's much easier to earn a living as a stock broker than as a trader (as a broker, even if your clients lose money you earn it), it is much easier to earn a living as a literary agent than as a writer - as an agent you get paid to send out rejection letters, while as a writer a rejection letter might mean you will miss your next meal. So even if Bray weren't already a successful writer, she could afford to have her husband stabilise the household income (and feed the children).
But then, the high school student is a girl, so she can do the same thing.
Le livre de la vie est le livre suprême
Qu'on ne peut ni fermer, ni rouvrir à son choix;
Le passage attachant ne s'y lit pas deux fois,
Mais le feuillet fatal se tourne de lui-même;
On voudrait revenir à la page où l'on aime,
Et la page où l'on meurt est déjà sous vos doigts
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
No clear definition of outrage of modesty
TOUCHING someone's breasts or buttocks is clearly considered an outrage of modesty - but so can making someone touch you, even if it is on a seemingly innocent part of your body like your shoulders.
Lawyers interviewed said there is no clear definition of outrage of modesty.
But a general rule of thumb is that so long as a man makes a woman feel uncomfortable by his actions, that could qualify as outrage of modesty.
Lawyer Chia Boon Teck said a man can be convicted of molestation even if he does not touch the girl but forces her to touch him.
In most outrage of modesty cases, however, a woman's sensitive areas, such as her breasts, buttocks, inner thighs and private parts, were violated.
In 1993, former chief justice Yong Pung How noted that someone guilty of stroking a woman's thigh on impulse, or making a naughty but harmless nudge, should be fined. But if a victim's private parts or sexual organs were touched, the standard sentence should be a jail term and caning, he said.
Lawyers said the punishment would depend on the body part that was touched, and the manner in which the act was carried out. And when vulnerable children are involved, the law tends to treat the culprit more harshly.
Those convicted of outrage of modesty can be jailed for up to 10 years and caned.
The police yesterday advised parents to ensure that their young children are accompanied at all times. They also called on people to be alert and attentive to their surroundings. If they suspect they are being followed, they should remain calm and proceed to the nearest crowded area or call the police. They can also carry a shrill alarm to call for help. They should also avoid entering a lift with a stranger.
The [lack of] outcry you [will] see proves that people fight harder for their interests than other people's rights.
Monday, October 18, 2010
(from The Female Character Flowchart | Overthinking It)
"Can she carry her own story?
Is she three dimensional?
Does she represent an idea?
Does she have any flaws?
Is she killed before the third act?"
The stated intention is to focus "on the one- and two-dimensional female characters we see over and over again in modern fiction".
But then, with standards such as those in this flowchart, we can ask just how many male characters would similarly qualify as "strong male characters".
"I do think that you think the male characters in, e.g., Christopher Nolan films are more well-developed than they are, though. Take DiCaprio’s character in Inception: emotionally closed-off, hyper-aggressive male who is secretly reliving a trauma. Or Batman: hyper-aggressive, emotionally closed off male who is secretly reliving a trauma. Or Memento: hyper-aggressive, emotionally closed off male (closed off even to himself) who is secretly reliving a trauma."
"i’ll address the chris nolan thing. he’s stated that, for him, noir films should be about addressing your biggest fears and one of his biggest fears is losing his spouse, hence that recurring theme. even still, ariadne in inception is totally non-sexualized and not really subject to much stereotyping. same with ramirez in the dark knight. rachel dawes is killed in the dark knight, but i think that was more of a subversion of the damsel-in-distress trope, underscoring that batman can’t save everyone and that his mere existence is going to have very real costs.
my point is, it’s fun and whatever to make these sorts of lighthearted j’accuse posts and shit, but there could be reasons that a writer does something that has nothing to do with “gender issues.” i could easily say that you’re just another feminist who doesn’t care about minorities, thus you must be a racist. but that wouldn’t be true. would it?"
"A character can be two dimensional and still provide plenty of substance within those two dimensions. Characters can also certainly fit into your categories and still be strong characters. You can’t dismiss a character’s merits simply for exhibiting some of these traits, many of which are actual traits that some women have"
"If Mlawski actually thinks Lady Macbeth, Zoe Washburn, Riply, and Sarah Conner and some others on the chart are somehow *not* Strong (and complex, 3D, well-developed) Female Characters, then I may have misinterpreted the term drastically."
"The constraints of what constitutes a strong character are so unbelievably narrow that I find it difficult to think of a single person getting through. All these labels your sticking onto the characters…those labels can also be thought as flaws in some chases. Flaws that make a character more believable, more human. And some of the pathways to the labels don’t make any sense. Why, just because you’re the token female in a band, must you be useless?... This chart, to me, seems to be just as sexist as what it’s railing against"
"You could have saved time with this: Does she pass the Bechdel Test? Yes, strong female character. No, everything else."
[Reply: "Mean Girls totally passes the Bechdel Test. Does that make them strong female characters? (I actually liked Mean Girls, but its strength wasn’t really in the characterization)"]
"You keep using this word “stereotype.” I do not think it means what you think it means... You have over 70 different possibilities and many characters pictured whom have gone all the way through your opening (or optimal) tree branch. That’s hardly “standardized,” “simplified” nor based on “some” prior assumptions. That’s very, very specific focusing... your argument is actually proving against your case rather than for it"
"This kind of seems like the *opposite* of what you say you’re trying to do. You say you want people to write nuanced female characters, but you reduce all these nuanced female characters into stereotypes. It’s just another way to say that female characters aren’t good enough, no matter how they’re written."
"This list PRETENDS to be feminist, but in fact tears apart tons of really fabulous female characters in order to stuff them into cliched boxes. News flash: ANY role can be torn down to a cliche. (Hamlet = emo boy. Am I wrong? No. Have I told you everything there is to understand about Hamlet? Also no.) You’re claiming to be this red-hot feminist while playing right into the sexist trap of assuming that any female role MUST be cliched or inadequate because, after all, a woman’s playing it. So why care about female characters at all? I’m embarrassed for you."
"From your examples, it seems the only thing a character has to do to fall off the top line is be written with tits. Harley Quinn can’t carry her own story? Mystique can’t carry her own story? Ripley (for God’s sake, Ripley???) can’t carry her own story? Are you even familiar with those characters, or did you just grab images at random to fill your bubbles? (Although they are all two-dimensional, since the first two are drawn on paper and the third is projected on a flat screen)"
"I think it is very, very telling that the makers of this chart didn’t even bother to try to find a character that fit their idea of a Strong Female Character–that makes it look even more like this chart only exists to rip female characters to shreds"
"Had Yoko Ono been any other race, she still would have the same stigma attached to her, whether or not you think that’s fair is an entirely different matter.
Should only white people be able to become symbolic of archetypes? Wouldn’t excluding people of minorities from that simply because of their race be, oh I don’t know, kind of racist? At the very least it is patronizing to people of minorities, as it excludes them from something for the absurd reason that using a person from a minority as a negative symbol might be construed as racist"
"By the way, mlawsk is the only woman listed on the overthinkingit staff. She’s the token female. I wonder if she’s the emotional core, or the useless girl?"