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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Links - 17th February 2013

“It is impossible to be truly artistic without the risk of offending someone somewhere.” ― Wayne Gerard Trotman

***

Profiting From a Child’s Illiteracy - NYTimes.com - "THIS is what poverty sometimes looks like in America: parents here in Appalachian hill country pulling their children out of literacy classes. Moms and dads fear that if kids learn to read, they are less likely to qualify for a monthly check for having an intellectual disability... This is painful for a liberal to admit, but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency... Antipoverty programs also discourage marriage: In a means-tested program like S.S.I., a woman raising a child may receive a bigger check if she refrains from marrying that hard-working guy she likes. Yet marriage is one of the best forces to blunt poverty. In married couple households only one child in 10 grows up in poverty, while almost half do in single-mother households... “If you do better in school, you threaten the income of the parents. It’s a terrible incentive.” About four decades ago, most of the children S.S.I. covered had severe physical handicaps or mental retardation that made it difficult for parents to hold jobs — about 1 percent of all poor children. But now 55 percent of the disabilities it covers are fuzzier intellectual disabilities short of mental retardation, where the diagnosis is less clear-cut. More than 1.2 million children across America — a full 8 percent of all low-income children — are now enrolled in S.S.I. as disabled, at an annual cost of more than $9 billion. That is a burden on taxpayers, of course, but it can be even worse for children whose families have a huge stake in their failing in school... A growing body of careful research suggests that the most effective strategy is to work early on children and education, and to try to encourage and sustain marriage"
People respond to incentives, even if the incentive is a social safety net

Why doctors like me would rather die than endure the pain of treatment for advanced cancer - "The problem of overtreatment is most intense when young people are suffering from very serious illnesses. You get their wives, mothers and other relatives fighting all the way and demanding the doctors do ‘all that they can’. But often, those relatives are fighting for their own sakes rather than the good of the patient. They can’t bear the thought of the loved one dying, so they blind themselves to the futile trauma they are putting them through. Often, the patients themselves would like their treatment stopped, but feel they can’t say this because of the pressure from relatives to keep fighting. So they end up doing everything they can to stay alive, in order to keep everyone happy. In this, they are assisted by medical specialists, whose reflex response is to give one more last dose of drugs or radiation just in case it somehow does do the trick, no matter how unlikely... Doctors are not very good at telling people when it is time to throw in the towel. For us, it is like admitting defeat. Our whole training and instincts tell us to keep promising people that we can do something for them... his wife thanked me for telling them the truth in time. It meant that they did not go on hoping against hope. Instead, they used their remaining time together as best they could. They even drove to Rome together in a Bentley to make a wish of his come true"

ML: Macaulay Library - "The Macaulay Library is the world's largest and oldest scientific archive of biodiversity audio and video recordings"

The Question Dividing Japan: Which Girl Would You Rather Date? - "On the left is “girl I want to look at” or, as written in parentheses, “the girl of my dreams.” She is described with the following characteristics:
- Confident and with a dazzling smile
- Physically fit
- Popular
- Straightforward and has a good time with anything
- All smiles and
- Fashionable and good-looking
- Height: about 165cm (5’5″)
- Athletic
- Strong and kind
Next up on the left is “girl I want to date,” or “girl I want to be with.”
- Dependent
- A little selfish
- Shows emotion
- Thin and soft
- Shy and gets lonely easily
- Pretty, but not too beautiful
- Not too popular with guys
- Height: about 150cm (4’11″)
- Doesn’t have to be strong"
Uhh...

Top 9 Anime Situations That Seem Likely to Happen, but Never Do - "5. Getting slapped by a girl after you walk in on her while she’s getting dressed – 19.8%
As one male Niconico reader puts it: “There were times in high school when we would walk in on the girls as they were changing, but they were too busy covering their underpants with their hands to slap us.” (In Japan, you change into your gym clothes in your homeroom)"

Can non-Europeans think? - "What immediately strikes the reader when seeing this opening paragraph is the unabashedly European character and disposition of the thing the author calls "philosophy today" - thus laying a claim on both the subject and time that is peculiar and in fact an exclusive property of Europe."

Sex education in Minnesota schools - "Here's an "exercise" that's aimed to 15-18 year olds:
For questions 4-5 have the teens focus only on the lists for Vaginal Sex, Anal Sex and Oral Sex.
4. Let's say you are trying to communicate your feelings, desires and boundaries with your sexual partner. If all the above words listed are synonyms for sex, how would your sexual partner understand what specifically you meant if you said "do you want to have sex?" Could the same problems occur that we listed earlier when we talked about styles of communication? What additional problems might we add to the list? How can you be sure that your sexual partner is consenting to the same sexual experience as you if the words you use are vague or if you are using different communication styles?
Well, OK, that's... uncomfortable, and I know it is based on the number of folks who've reacted to hearing Erickson's comments on the radio this morning while their kids were in the car."
Looking at conservative opposition to gay rights as just an anti-gay phenomenon is incomplete - when sex education is seen as sex instruction, sex education with homosexual components is viewed as promoting, teaching and/or encouraging homosexuality. As one quote I read (which I can't find anymore) goes: "I don't want my son to know how nice a penis feels when it is put in a vagina"

Top 3 Reasons Not To Marry a Chinese Woman - YouTube
Revelation: bad jokes offend me more than racist jokes

Reality TV polygamists sue for right to lifestyle choice - gay media repudiates - "The polygamous stars of a TLC reality TV series are planning to challenge Utah’s law against bigamy, arguing that it is a violation of their right to a lifestyle choice consistent with their religious beliefs. Pro-family activists have long warned that redefining marriage to include two men or two women would inevitably lead to legalized polygamy, with polygamists employing the “equality” and “consensual” rhetoric of the gay rights movement. However, gay rights commentators immediately distanced themselves from the polygamists’ suit, with one prominent commentator calling it “a political gift to anti-gay groups nationwide”... Utah attorney general spokesman Paul Murphy told the AP that the state would defend the law, noting, “So far the courts have held that states do have an interest to regulate marriage”. In previous interviews, Kody Brown has pushed for social acceptance of his definition of marriage as a “civil rights” issue. “Part of our reason for ‘coming out’ is it’s a story that needs to be told”"
The oppressed become the oppressors

Wormburger Anyone? Worm Meat More Sustainable Than Beef, Pork, Chicken and Milk: Study

The fashion for gay marriage has nothing in common with the civil-rights campaigns of the 1960s - "The greatest difference is between the agony suffered by those civil-rights campaigners compared with the celebrity and adulation enjoyed by gay-marriage activists today... this is in fact a very elitist campaign. It is underpinned by an aloof and disdainful political outlook. There are three areas in which the gay-marriage issue has more in common with the modern-day politics of elitism than it does with olden-day civil-rights campaigning. The first is in its snobbery towards vast sections of society; the second is in its intolerance of dissent; and the third is in its indifference to the lives and experiences of everyday people... If gay marriage really is a civil-rightsy, freedom-orientated issue, then why are so many of its supporters so hostile to open debate?... We often hear that gay marriage is about elevating gay relationships – but it is far more obviously a denigration of traditional marriages. You can see this most clearly in the government’s proposal to airbrush certain words from official documentation: words like husband, wife, father, mother... What message do we send to mums, dads, husbands and wives when, Orwellian style, we cavalierly cast aside their titles?... Gay marriage is allowing the state to redefine and rename our relationships, to flatten out and homogenise every human relationship and turn us all into “partners” – that soulless word which is never used by normal people to describe their relationships, only by cut-off bureaucrats."

After Connecticut: the myth of America’s ‘gun culture’ - "It isn’t really until the 1960s and 70s, and more notably the 1980s and 90s, that mass school shootings, where the aim is simply to kill a lot of young people for no discernible reason, become more common. Clearly, there’s something other than ‘gun culture’ going on here... School shootings are better understood, not as the end product of American revolutionaries’ insistence on the populace’s right to bear arms, but as part of today’s trend for highly anti-social, super-individuated acts of nihilistic, narcissistic violence - from so-called ‘Islamist attacks’ carried out by British men on the London Tube to Anders Behring Breivik’s massacre of 77 of his fellow Norwegians last year. What such assaults share in common is a profound sense of cultural disconnection... To try to explain mass school shootings through the fact that guns exist is like trying to explain the al-Qaeda phenomenon through the fact that aeroplanes exist: it fetishises the technical means as a way of avoiding grappling with cultural factors."

The burdens that Israel should not have to bear - "there is a great irony to anti-Israel sentiment in the West today: it depicts itself as anti-colonialist, sometimes even as anti-imperialist, but it actually helps to rehabilitate Western and particularly UN authority in global affairs in a new way. The transformation of Israel into a kind of scapegoat for the crimes of colonialism is itself a neo-colonial act, driven as it is by the needs of Western and other powers to assert their post-colonial diplomatic and military authority over so-called deviant states, like those that exist in the Middle East... From re-appraising the Enlightenment to handwringing over the Industrial Revolution to churning out texts on how horrendous exploration and colonialism proved to be, it is now de rigueur for Western intellectuals and activists to be consumed by a kind of self-disgust that dresses itself up as a radical stance... the failure of Enlightenment supporters in the West firstly to work out what is causing anti-Enlightenment thinking today, and secondly to find a way to counter it effectively, is projected on to Israel, so that the modern and profound crisis of Enlightened thinking comes to be explained as a simple case of medieval barbarians (Islamists) attacking a symbol of Enlightenment (Israel)"

SEX, SEX-ROLES, AND IRRATIONAL BELIEFS - "A feminine sex-role orientation is related to irrational beliefs... clinicians are cautioned not to assume there are no sex or sex-role differences related to irrational thinking"
Feminine women - and presumably feminine men - are more irrational
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