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Meesa gonna kill you!

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Links - 26th April 2011

"There is an evil tendency underlying all our technology - the tendency to do what is reasonable even when it isn't any good." - Robert Pirsig


iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go - "Security researchers have discovered that Apple's iPhone keeps track of where you go – and saves every detail of it to a secret file on the device which is then copied to the owner's computer when the two are synchronised... "Apple has made it possible for almost anybody – a jealous spouse, a private detective – with access to your phone or computer to get detailed information about where you've been... We haven't come across any instances of other phone manufacturers doing this"... Apple had failed to take users' privacy seriously"

A woman to do the job - "Is someone racist? Homophobic? Or misogynistic? You wouldn't have a clue when things are rosy. But when the stakes are high and people get desperate, facades of propriety start to unravel... Will the opposition parties field women in these wards, for example? This will be a key test in whether gender diversity is a priority for them... the current gender diversity in Singapore's parliament is depressing... By not having a larger number of women in parliament, Singapore is missing out on a key source of diversity which could lend it the insight to steer it through any choppy waters ahead... if the opposition parties will not or cannot field the a woman in these contests, will their man on the ground subsequently lean on sexist logic to score points?... all of the above reactions apply only to people who believe that women have an equal status in Singapore. For those who think otherwise, I can only hope they are well and truly outnumbered in this country"
Among the many problematic aspects, it's not clear that being the target of sexist political point-scoring is worse than being the target of normal political point-scoring. Luckily, I don't think his attempt to stir up gender identity politics will work - and the commenters called him out on it, for example:
"If 50% of citizens have less than undergraduate degrees, does it also mean we need 'enough representation' of less educated in the parliament? Get REAL. "
"I think candidates should be judged by whether they have the relevant experience, ability, commitment and empathy to serve their constituents, not by their age, gender, oratorial skills or tv presence"
"The author forgot to mention that in the build up to the 1991 election, Seet Ai Mei was seen scrambling to wash her hands after shaking hands with a fishmonger... don't misrepresent lah, just to push your feminist agenda"
"If we studied the 1991 results... Gender was either a non-issue or a minor issue"
A letter: "it is superficial to judge a person based on race or occupation [or gender]"

Addendum: I just found out that Tan Hui Yee is a woman. It all makes sense now!

Kenan Malik - Test-tube truths - "In his new book, The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values, [Sam Harris] sets out to demolish the traditional philosophical distinction between is and ought... Imagine a sociologist who wrote about evolutionary theory without discussing the work of Darwin, Fisher, Mayr, Hamilton, Trivers or Dawkins on the grounds that he did not come to his conclusions by reading about biology and because discussing concepts such as “adaptation”, “speciation”, “homology”, “phylogenetics” or “kin selection” would “increase the amount of boredom in the universe”. How seriously would we, and should we, take his argument?... The insistence that because it seems obvious that rape and murder are bad, and that wealth and security are good, so there must be objective values seems about as plausible as the argument that because there are gaps in the fossil record, so God must have created Adam and Eve... why should morality self-evidently relate solely to the “wellbeing of conscious creatures”? Why not, as some insist, to the wellbeing of the planet? Or of ecosystems? Or, as others argue, to the wellbeing of humans, as autonomous moral agents, rather than to that of all conscious creatures? I can think of rational arguments that can help distinguish between these claims. But I can think of no empirical test that can do so. Nor does Harris suggest any... The issue is not so much that wellbeing is a fuzzy category as that it can, in specific cases, be well-defined but in a number of different ways that are often conflicting in a manner that science cannot resolve... The difference between a consequentialist and a non-consequentialist view of torture, for instance, cannot be resolved empirically... just as we do not need the false certainty of a divinely sanctified moral code, neither do we need the false certainty of a morality rooted in science... The significance of the Euthyphro dilemma is that it embodies a deeper claim: that concepts such as goodness, happiness and wellbeing only have meaning in a world in which conscious, rational, moral agents exist that themselves are capable of defining moral right and wrong and acting upon it.It is the existence of humans as autonomous moral agents that allows us to act as the bridge between facts and values"

Trends in use of complementary and alternative medicine by US adults: 1997-2002. - "Factors associated with highest rates of CAM use were ages 40-64, female gender, non-black/non-Hispanic race, and annual income of dollar 65,000 or higher"

UK: 'Waste of time and money' - GPs deliver damning diagnosis on fad health-styles of the rich and famous - "more than three quarters (79%) of women use alternative health treatments favoured by celebrities... to try each treatment on the GPs’ list could cost women more than £800* on average – with upgrades to practitioners used by the celebs themselves seeing the costs running to thousands... Seven in 10 (70%) would try alternative treatments rather than visit their doctor"
Interestingly this research was conducted on "over 1,000 full-time UK workers" but there're no results reported for men; women are more into alternative medicine because they reject the racist, patriarchal basis of modern medicine which is run by white men, ignores the ideas of traditional minority medicine and privileges tangible, measurable outcomes like quality-adjusted life years

For Many Bachelors in China, No Deed Means No Dates - "more than 70 percent of single women in a recent survey said they would tie the knot only with a prospective husband who owned a home... “It’s the guy’s responsibility to tell a girl right away whether he owns an apartment,” she said. “It gives her a chance not to fall in love.” With such women on the prowl, even men who do have their own homes have come up with techniques to weed out the covetous and the inordinately materialistic. Liu Binbin, 30, an editor at a publishing house in Beijing, said he often arrived at first dates by bus, even though he owned a car. “If they ask me questions like ‘Do you live with your parents?’ I know what they’re after,” he said... he knew she was the one after passing the three-month mark. “The whole time she thought I didn’t own an apartment and she still wanted me,” he said. “Someone like that is rare.”"

Food Raves Gain in Popularity - "Here, where the food rave — call it a crave — was born, the market organizers sidestep city health inspections by operating as a private club, requiring that participants become “members” (free) and sign a disclaimer noting that food might not be prepared in a space that has been inspected... many friends could not afford to sell at farmers markets, which requires business and product liability insurance (around $250), space rental ($40 to $55 a day), yearly member fees (around $110), and a health and safety permit (about $500). The use of commercial kitchens would cost an additional $45 to $75 an hour, Mr. Rabins noted, and making jam can take eight hours or more"

Diary of A Singaporean Mind: Minister Mah attacks WP's affordable housing plan.... - "Minister Mah calls WP irresponsible for its plan to provide more affordable flats. He says that cheaper flats means more housing subsidies and less money for education and healthcare. Let me ask you a simple question. In the past few years when the price of HDB flats surge by more than 50% , by Minister Mah's logic, the govt should be awashed with more money from selling HDB flats for healthcare and education - if that is so, why did the govt implement means testing to cut subsidies for healthcare and why did they have to raise school fees for universities and cuts subsidies for education of children with special needs etc? The fact is budget has little to do with HDB selling price. If anything, when the HDB prices go up, the HDB actually shows more losses due to "market subsidies" which increase proportionately with price"

Students don’t need protection from ideas - "The University of Westminster had elected [two] linked to the Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir, an organisation that is pretty keen on establishing a global Islamic state... ‘Our rules state individuals or members of organisations or groups identified as holding racist and fascist views are not allowed to stand for election, or go to, speak at, or take part in conferences, meetings or any other events’... [Some] suffer from some sort of Kim Jong Il-esque paranoia that the BNP or Islamofascists are at the gates of our university campuses just awaiting the opportunity to turn the nation’s students racist. This patronisingly assumes that students are an uncritically receptive bunch capable of being whipped into a crazed mob at the merest hint of BNP or Islamist rhetoric. The other camp of students in favour of No Platform, while less obviously hysterical than their fellow no-platformers, is in fact far more insidious. This group talks of creating a safe space to ensure that people do not feel intimidated or feel unable to make their voices heard... The types of student that need protection from such radical views range from the traditional, such as black students or women, right through to the absurd, such as socialist or ‘nervous’. Yet I have seen black, women and even nervous students take the stand, as I have myself at the NUS annual conference, and say ‘I don’t want or need your “protection”’. And they have argued this for a good reason. The idea of ‘protection’ assumes that people have a right not to be offended, that they have a right not to hear students with views influenced by Hizb ut-Tahrir. But there is no right not to be offended. Why should there be? These are students after all; they are at university to experience new and often offensive ideas""
This is a more nuanced issue than he puts it - elected members of the body may be misconstrued as representing it

Given our current technology and with the proper training, would it be possible for someone to become Batman? - Quora - "The genius of Batman is that it pretends to be realistic, it lets us convince ourselves that with enough money and training, we could become Batman, too. But it's still fantasy... The police draw their guns and order you to stop. You turn and grab for the smoke pellet on your belt to help hide your getaway, but unfortunately for you the cops see you reaching for something and open fire... and you suit's armor is already a mess from the shotgun blast earlier. Uh oh. When you wake up in the ICU, your mask and costume are gone, you're in a lot of pain, but the doctors successfully removed the bullets and re-inflated your lung. The downside is the set of handcuffs trapping you in the bed" - "My name is Odongo Baakoo. I am one of the most powerful, and recognized Voodoo Master Priests. “My Powerful gifts have amazed the world”... WARNING: “Ancient African Voodoo Spells” invoke the power of Spiritual Forces which are Real and Powerful. You must consider Ancient African Voodoo Spells very seriously. I will not assume responsibility for the wrong use of my Ancient African Voodoo Spells... 30 Day Money Back Guarantee... Your prices are quite low comparing to others, why? First, I am a real African Voodoo Priest. Most voodoo’s websites are scams."
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