"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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Monday, August 22, 2011

Links - 22nd August 2011

"Drugs have taught an entire generation of Americans the metric system." - P. J. O'Rourke


Long Beach Post: Police Chief Confirms Detaining Photographers Within Departmental Policy - "Police Chief Jim McDonnell has confirmed that detaining photographers for taking pictures "with no apparent esthetic value" is within Long Beach Police Department policy... Sander Roscoe Wolff, a Long Beach resident and regular contributor to Long Beach Post, was detained by Officer Asif Kahn for taking pictures of a North Long Beach refinery"

Transgender Love: When Husband Transitions to Wife
Given female plasticity this is not that dramatic: what would be *really* interesting would be if one member in a homosexual male pairing decided to transition

A Rough Guide to Ordering Local Coffee in Singapore - "Kopi Gau Kosong Peng - Iced Strong Black coffee without Sugar or milk - Iced triple expresso without sugar"

#81. A Country that is Politically Awakened, & her People Care | Tiny Island
This is part of a series - 100 Reasons to be Happy in Singapore. YMMV, but for this one: O RLY?!?!?!

Book Review: The Happiness Equation - "Happiness research makes a powerful case against European-style labor-market regulation... regulation boosts wages; on the other, it increases the probability that you will have no wages at all. From the standpoint of a happiness researcher, however, this is a no-brainer. A small increase in wages has but a small and ephemeral effect on happiness. A small increase in unemployment, by contrast, has a massive and—unlike most other factors—durable effect on happiness. Supposedly "humane" regulations to boost workers' incomes have a dire cost in terms of human happiness... even if Mr. Powdthavee is right about the unhappy effects of income comparison, you shouldn't conclude that redistribution is the solution. Yes, you could fight inequality of income. But you could just as easily fight comparison of income. Instead of praising those who "raise awareness" about inequality, perhaps we should shame them, like the office gossip, for spreading envy and discontent"

The annotated apocalypse: Anthropologists tackle 2012 - "Jesus Potter Harry Christ is... a detailed comparison of Christian myth and the Harry Potter stories, and it comes to the conclusion that, except for the fact that Christian myth has been sanctioned for 2000 years, there’s no difference. Essentially, one could base a whole theology on Harry Potter. And, in fact, I suspect that in the future somebody will. That’s how culture gets created. Myth cycles become the way that people teach morality, values, and behavior. That’s what the Bible does, but Star Trek has that function, too... some very enthusiastic hippies have gone into remote Maya villages, bringing their ideas about the New Age, Buddhism, and theosophy. They are introducing them to the Maya themselves, who are in turn producing a new synchretism. I think there are a lot of places that are reinterpreting shamanism along the lines of what Western academics think shamanism to be. That makes it really hard to understand what those people originally believed. The religous studies scholars call it “The Pizza Effect,” it refers to what happens when a culture reflects back to a foreign influence as though it had always been there. The Hare Krishnas, for instance, were an American interpretation of Hinduism and were exported to India, where it became a religious movement in India that hadn’t been there all along"

'Slut' Walk Feminist Won't Say If She'd Like Her Daughter To Dress Like One - "On Morning Joe, feminist Jessica Valenti, proponent of so-called "Slut" Walks, dodges Mika Brzezinski's question as to whether she'd want her daughter to dress like one"
Addendum: One comment: "I think the classic application is the non-notification of parents when an under-aged girl seeks an abortion. It's interesting to see how many supporters of the non-notification policy can't support it in the case of their own daughters."

Women on Board: Does Forced Diversity Hurt Firm Performance? - "A 2003 Norwegian law requiring all public-limited firms to have at least 40 percent representation of women on their boards of directors by 2005... the researchers found a negative impact of the mandated board changes on firm value... "When firms were free to choose directors before the rule, they tended to choose women that were similar to men directors""

Obama plan: Destroy Romney - "And so the candidate who ran on “hope” in 2008 has little choice four years later but to run a slashing, personal campaign aimed at disqualifying his likeliest opponent"

What Difference Will Obama’s Speech Make? - "Big presidential speeches have almost no systematic impact on presidential approva"
The emptiness of rhetoric

CNN's Amber Lyon Ambushed Craigslist -- But She Won't Talk to The Village Voice - "In cities across America, we are told over and over, like a mantra, that "100,000 to 300,000" underage sex slaves have been stashed away from public view, with more joining them every day... the newest panic is like the ones that preceded it—an emotional reaction, based on good intentions, but grounded in bogus information. The actual data behind this "epidemic" is wanting in the extreme. It involves guesses by activist professors, junk science by nonprofit groups trying to extract money from Congress, and manipulation by religious groups hiding their real agendas about sex work"
"campaigns such as Kutcher's conflate all sex work with child sex trafficking, and child sex trafficking with all trafficking. Approaches that do so not only encourage criminalisation legislation that harms consenting adults, but also obscures the real victims. How? By using vastly inflated numbers for one kind of trafficking, and pretty much ignoring everything else"

Sexonomics: Porn by the Numbers 3: Does porn make men see women differently? - "“We suggest that the way relatively aggressive men interpret and react to the same pornography may differ from that of nonaggressive men.” In other words, the pump is already primed in some people... “If pornography had the impact that many claim it has, you would just have to show heterosexual films to a homosexual to change his sexual orientation"... there are examples where introduction of lap dancing actually correlates with a drop in violent crimes... while the absence of a correlation between porn access and rape doesn’t necessarily prove porn prevents rape, it does tell us that exposure to porn does not cause violence"

Sexonomics: Porn by the Numbers 2: Is pornography violent? - "Less than 2% of films were found to have scenes of non-consensual aggression by men against women... a paper by E Monk-Turner and HC Purcell in Gender Issues looked at 209 scenes from US films. The authors (who in my opinion apply the notion of violence rather too liberally) noted that in adult films “a significant number… had a theme of intimacy.” And while they found much that was objectionable to their sensibilities, the research found one – only one – scene that could be characterised as ‘extreme sexual deviance’, or in other words less than one half of one percent of the material studied... we trust ourselves not to go over the edge when looking at porn, but we don't trust other people... What do the data show porn consumers want? Not women who are passive, submissive recipients of desire, but women who are initiating, involved, and eager. The films mostly do not include women who are forced or cajoled into sex, but women who are willing and who pursue a variety of acts associated with female pleasure. In other words, the films portray enthusiastic, equal partners in sexuality. It says a lot about the difference between what some people claim porn viewers want, and what the viewers really want to watch."
The first study looked at the 50 best-selling porn videos in Australia: "The majority of scenes containing violence came from videos which were explicitly marketed to women"; the effect about trusting that one will not be affected by media but that others will be influenced also applies to political media (and is used to counter calls for censorship) but its name eludes me for now

Sexonomics: Porn by the Numbers 1: Does porn objectify women? - "In the study by Alan McKee and colleagues, 838 scenes from popular porn films were assessed by three separate coders... overall, women in the films talk to other characters more frequently and spend more time doing it. They have more time talking to the camera, and spend longer looking at the camera than their male counterparts. They are not only the focus, but also the central characters in the films. The men are one-dimensional by comparison... “[T]he missionary position – which is generally agreed to provide least direct pleasure to the woman – is by far the least popular form,” the study noted, contradicting the idea that the women are in porn as objects on which sex is performed. Instead, they are active participants"

Sexonomics: To Slutwalk or not To Slutwalk? - "Most of the organisers, and most vocal participants in Slutwalks, are exactly the same people who turned up en masse outside London's new Playboy club to jeer women at work... I became increasingly frustrated with, and then angry at, an interpretation of feminism that victimises women, men, and trans people in sex work using exactly the same arguments and judgments used against women as a whole for so long... I was losing untold time and energy trying to explain to other women why I, too, should be regarded not only as an authentic woman with an authentic sexual self, but as a human being, full stop. There are feminists who dehumanise sex workers in a way that is sickening to read"

Two Views on the British Riots - NYTimes.com - "Their op-ed leaves the strong impression that that we should be wary of cutting government spending not so much because it necessarily improves the prospects of the poor, but because it serves as a kind of contemporary Danegeld: A price worth paying to buy off the young men with track suits and smartphones who would otherwise inflict random violence against their own neighbors and communities. As a judgment on the motives of the rioters, this seems more damning even than O’Neill’s comments. And as a “defense” of the role that government programs current play in British society, it reads as a more devastating critique of welfare state culture than anything that a right-wing author could possibly offer."

London’s burning: a mob made by the welfare state - "The welfare state... has nurtured a new generation that has absolutely no sense of community spirit or social solidarity. What we have on the streets of London and elsewhere are welfare-state mobs. The youth who are ‘rising up’ – actually they are simply shattering their own communities – represent a generation that has been more suckled by the state than any generation before it. They live in those urban territories where the sharp-elbowed intrusion of the welfare state over the past 30 years has pushed aside older ideals of self-reliance and community spirit... The most striking thing about the rioters is how little they seem to care for their own communities... In past episodes of rioting, for example during the Brixton race riots of 1981, looting and the destruction of local infrastructure were largely incidental to the broader expression of political anger, byproducts of the main show, which was a clash between a community and the forces of the state. But in these new riots, smashing stuff up is all there is. It is childish nihilism... [the police] have been paralysed in our era of the politics of victimhood, where virtually no police activity fails to get followed up by a complaint or a legal case"
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