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Valar Qringaomis

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Value of Privacy

“I’VE GOT NOTHING TO HIDE” AND OTHER MISUNDERSTANDINGS OF PRIVACY

"The argument that no privacy problem exists if a person has nothing to hide is frequently made in connection with many privacy issues. When the government engages in surveillance, many people believe that there is no threat to privacy unless the government uncovers unlawful activity, in which case a person has no legitimate justification to claim that it remain private. Thus, if an individual engages only in legal activity, she has nothing to worry about. When it comes to the government collecting and analyzing personal information, many people contend that a privacy harm exists only if skeletons in the closet are revealed. For example, suppose the government examines one’s telephone records and finds out that a person made calls to her parents, a friend in Canada, a video store, and a pizza delivery shop. “So what?” that person might say. “I’m not embarrassed or humiliated by this information. If anybody asks me, I’ll gladly tell them what stores I shop at. I have nothing to hide.”

The “nothing to hide” argument and its variants are quite prevalent in popular discourse about privacy. Data security expert Bruce Schneier calls it the “most common retort against privacy advocates” Legal scholar Geoffrey Stone refers to it as “all-too-common refrain.” The “nothing to hide” argument is one of the primary arguments made when balancing privacy against security. In its most compelling form, it is an argument that the privacy interest is generally minimal to trivial, thus making the balance against security concerns a foreordained victory for security. Sometimes the “nothing to hide” argument is posed as a question: “If you have nothing to hide, then what do you have to fear?” Others ask: “If you aren’t doing anything wrong, then what do you have to hide?”...

In order to respond to the “nothing to hide” argument, it is imperative that we have a theory about what privacy is and why it is valuable. At its core, the “nothing to hide” argument emerges from a conception of privacy and its value. What exactly is “privacy”? How valuable is privacy and how do we assess its value? How do we weigh privacy against countervailing values?...

Most replies to the “nothing to hide” argument quickly respond with a witty retort. Indeed, on the surface, it seems easy to dismiss the “nothing to hide” argument. Everybody probably has something to hide from somebody. As the author Alexander Solzenitsyn declared: “Everyone is guilty of something or has something to conceal. All one has to do is look hard enough to find what it is.” Likewise, in Friedrich Durrenmatt’s novella Traps, which involves a seemingly innocent man put on trial by a group of retired lawyers for a mock trial game, the man inquires what his crime shall be. “An altogether minor matter,” the prosecutor says, “[a] crime can always be found.” One can usually think of something compelling that even the most open person would want to hide. As one comment to my blog post noted: “If you have nothing to hide, then that quite literally means you are willing to let me photograph you naked? And I get full rights to that photograph - so I can show it to your neighbors?”2 Canadian privacy expert David Flaherty expresses a similar idea when he argues:

There is no sentient being in the Western world who has little or no regard for his or her personal privacy; those who would attempt such claims cannot withstand even a few minutes’ questioning about intimate aspects of their lives without capitulating to the intrusiveness of certain subject matters.

Such responses only attack the “nothing to hide” argument in its most extreme form, which is not particularly strong... In its more compelling variants, the “nothing to hide” argument can be made in a more general manner. Instead of contending that “I’ve got nothing to hide,” the argument can be recast as positing that all law-abiding citizens should have nothing to hide. Only if people desire to conceal unlawful activity should they be concerned, but according to the “nothing to hide” argument, people engaged in illegal conduct have no legitimate claim to maintaining the privacy of such activities...

Therefore, in a more compelling form than is often expressed in popular discourse, the “nothing to hide” argument proceeds as follows: The NSA surveillance, data mining, or other government information-gathering programs will result in the disclosure of particular pieces of information to a few government officials, or perhaps only to government computers. This very limited disclosure of the particular information involved is not likely to be threatening to the privacy of law-abiding citizens. Only those who are engaged in illegal activities have a reason to hide this information. Although there may be some cases in which the information might be sensitive or embarrassing to law-abiding citizens, the limited disclosure lessens the threat to privacy. Moreover, the security interest in detecting, investigating, and preventing terrorist attacks is very high and outweighs whatever minimal or moderate privacy interests law-abiding citizens may have in these particular pieces of information.

Cast in this manner, the “nothing to hide” argument is a formidable one. It balances the degree to which an individual’s privacy is compromised by the limited disclosure of certain information against potent national security interests. Under such a balancing scheme, it is quite difficult for privacy to prevail...

Many commentators had been using the metaphor of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four to describe the problems created by the collection and use of personal data.48 I contended that the Orwell metaphor, which focuses on the harms of surveillance (such as inhibition and social control) might be apt to describe law enforcement’s monitoring of citizens. But much of the data gathered in computer databases is not particularly sensitive, such as one’s race, birth date, gender, address, or marital status. Many people do not care about concealing the hotels they stay at, the cars they own or rent, or the kind of beverages they drink. People often do not take many steps to keep such information secret. Frequently, though not always, people’s activities would not be inhibited if others knew this information.

I suggested a different metaphor to capture the problems – Franz Kafka’s The Trial, which depicts a bureaucracy with inscrutable purposes that uses people’s information to make important decisions about them, yet denies the people the ability to participate in how their information is used. The problems captured by the Kafka metaphor are of a different sort than the problems caused by surveillance. They often do not result in inhibition or chilling. Instead, they are problems of information processing—the storage, use, or analysis of data—rather than information collection. They affect the power relationships between people and the institutions of the modern state. They not only frustrate the individual by creating a sense of helplessness and powerlessness, but they also affect social structure by altering the kind of relationships people have with the institutions that make important decisions about their lives.

I explored the ways that legal and policy solutions were focusing too much on the nexus of problems under the Orwell metaphor – those of surveillance – and were not adequately addressing the Kafka problems – those of information processing. The difficulty, I noted, was that commentators were trying to conceive of the problems caused by databases in terms of surveillance when, in fact, these problems were different. The way that these problems are conceived has a tremendous impact on the legal and policy solutions used to solve them. As John Dewey observed, “a problem well put is half-solved.” “The way in which the problem is conceived,” Dewey explained, “decides what specific suggestions are entertained and which are dismissed; what data are selected and which rejected; it is the criterion for relevancy and irrelevancy of hypotheses and conceptual structures"...

*author presents a taxonomy of privacy to deal with the plurality of privacy issues*

Many theories of privacy view it as an individual right. For example, Thomas Emerson declares that privacy “is based upon premises of individualism, that the society exists to promote the worth and dignity of the individual. . . . The right of privacy . . . is essentially the right not to participate in the collective life—the right to shut out the community.” In the words of one court: “Privacy is inherently personal. The right to privacy recognizes the sovereignty of the individual.”

Traditionally, rights have often been understood as protecting the individual against the incursion of the community, based on respect for the individual’s personhood or autonomy. Many theories of privacy’s value understand privacy in this manner. For example, Charles Fried argues that privacy is one of the “basic rights in persons, rights to which all are entitled equally, by virtue of their status as persons. . . . In this sense, the view is Kantian; it requires recognition of persons as ends, and forbids the overriding of their most fundamental interests for the purpose of maximizing the happiness or welfare of all.”

Many of the interests that conflict with privacy, however, also involve people’s autonomy and dignity. Free speech, for example, is also an individual right which is essential to autonomy. Yet in many cases, it clashes with privacy...

Etzioni is right to critique those who argue that privacy is an individual right that should trump social interests. The problem, however, is that utilitarian balancing between individual rights and the common good rarely favors individual rights—unless the interest advanced on the side of the common good is trivial. Society will generally win when its interests are balanced against those of the individual.

The deeper problem with Etzioni’s view is that in his critique of liberal theories of individual rights as absolutes, he views individual rights as being in tension with society. The same dichotomy between individual and society that pervades liberal theories of individual rights also pervades Etzioni’s communitarianism...

In contrast, John Dewey proposed an alternative theory about the relationship between individual and community. For Dewey, there is no strict dichotomy between individual and society. The individual is shaped by society, and the good of both the individual and society are often interrelated rather than antagonistic: “We cannot think of ourselves save as to some extent social beings. Hence we cannot separate the idea of ourselves and our own good from our idea of others and of their good.” Dewey contended that the value of protecting individual rights emerges from their contribution to society. In other words, individual rights are not trumps, but are protections by society from its intrusiveness. Society makes space for the individual because of the social benefits this space provides. Therefore, Dewey argues, rights should be valued based on “the contribution they make to the welfare of the community.” Otherwise, in any kind of utilitarian calculus, individual rights would not be valuable enough to outweigh most social interests, and it would be impossible to justify individual rights. As such, Dewey argued, we must insist upon a “social basis and social justification” for civil liberties...

The problem with the nothing to hide argument is with its underlying assumption that privacy is about hiding bad things. Agreeing with this assumption concedes far too much ground and leads to an unproductive discussion of information people would likely want or not want to hide. As Bruce Schneier aptly notes, the “nothing to hide” argument stems from a faulty “premise that privacy is about hiding a wrong.”

The deeper problem with the “nothing to hide” argument is that it myopically views privacy as a form of concealment or secrecy. But understanding privacy as a plurality of related problems demonstrates that concealment of bad things is just one among many problems caused by government programs such as the NSA surveillance and data mining...

Many scholars have referred to the information collection as a form of surveillance. “Dataveillance,” a term coined by Roger Clarke, refers to the “systemic use of personal data systems in the investigation or monitoring of the actions or communications of one or more persons.” Christopher Slobogin has referred to the gathering of personal information in business records as “transactional surveillance.” Surveillance can create chilling effects on people’s conduct by chilling free speech, free association, and other First Amendment rights essential for democracy. Even surveillance of legal activities can inhibit people from engaging in them. It might be that particular people may not be chilled by surveillance – indeed, probably most people will not be except those engaging in particularly unpopular speech or associating with disfavored groups. The value of protecting against such chilling is not measured simply in terms of the value to those particular individuals. Chilling effects harm society because, among other things, they reduce the range of viewpoints being expressed and the degree of freedom with which to engage in political activity...

The NSA programs are problematic even if no information people want to hide is uncovered. In The Trial, the problem is not inhibited behavior, but rather a suffocating powerlessness and vulnerability created by the court system’s use of personal data and its exclusion of the protagonist from having any knowledge or participation in the process. The harms consist of those created by bureaucracies – indifference, errors, abuses, frustration, and lack of transparency and accountability. One such harm, for example, which I call “aggregation,” emerges from the combination of small bits of seemingly innocuous data. When combined, the information become much more telling about a person... Moreover, data mining aims to be predictive of behavior. In other words, it purports to prognosticate about our future actions. People who match certain profiles are deemed likely to engage in a similar pattern of behavior. It is quite difficult to refute actions that one has not yet done. Having nothing to hide will not always dispel predictions of future activity.

Another problem in the taxonomy, which is implicated by the NSA program, is the problem I refer to as “exclusion.” Exclusion is the problem caused when people are prevented from having knowledge about how their information is being used, as well as barred from being able to access and correct errors in that data. The NSA program involves a massive database of information that individuals cannot access. Indeed, it was kept secret for years. This kind of information processing, which forbids people’s knowledge or involvement, resembles in some ways a kind of due process problem. It is a structural problem involving the way people are treated by government institutions. Moreover, it creates a power imbalance between individuals and the government. To what extent should the Executive Branch, and an agency such as the NSA, which is relatively insulated from the political process and public accountability, have a significant power over citizens? This issue is not about whether the information gathered is something people want to hide, but rather about the power and the structure of government...

A related problem involves “secondary use.” Secondary use is the use of data obtained for one purpose for a different unrelated purpose without the person’s consent...

Therefore, the problem with the “nothing to hide” argument is that it focuses on just one or two particular kinds of privacy problems – the disclosure of personal information or surveillance – and not others...

One of the difficulties with the “nothing to hide” argument is that it looks for a visceral kind of injury as opposed to a structural one... [Some] examples aside, there is not a lot of death and gore in privacy law... The purpose of my article was to explain why there is still a harm even though blood is not oozing out of a victim...

At the end of the day, privacy is not a horror movie, and demanding more palpable harms will be difficult in many cases. Yet there is still a harm worth addressing, even if it is not sensationalistic.

In many instances, privacy is threatened not by singular egregious acts but by a slow series of relatively minor acts, which gradually begin to add up. In this way, privacy problems resemble certain environmental harms...

The problem caused by breaches of confidentiality do not merely consist of individual emotional distress; they involve a violation of trust within a relationship. There is a strong social value in ensuring that promises are kept and that trust is maintained in relationships between businesses and their customers... any stated limits become meaningless, and companies have discretion to boundlessly use data. Such a state of affairs can leave nearly all consumers in a powerless position. The harm, then, is less one to particular individuals than it is a structural harm...

The security interest should not get weighed in its totality against the privacy interest. Rather, what should get weighed is the extent of marginal limitation on the effectiveness of a government information gathering or data mining program by imposing judicial oversight and minimization procedures

Friday, April 26, 2013

Against Equality Again

Against Equality Again

"Equality in the present age has become an idol, in much the same way as property was in the age of Locke. Many people worship it, and think that it provides the key to the proper understanding of politics, and that on it alone can a genuinely just society be reconstructed. This is a mistake...

The concept of equality belongs, properly speaking, to the mathematical disciplines. Numbers, lengths, angles, vectors, tensors can be said to be equal to one another without any trace of metaphor. There are some attributes of men where questions of equality can be raised without any conceptual strain. We can ask whether one man is as tall as another, or we may, like Procrustes, seek to establish equality among all men in this respect... most human attributes cannot be quantified without distortion. I cannot have as much education as you, nor as much love, nor as much happiness, because education, love and happiness are not commodities that can be measured and thus compared. One fundamental objection to egalitarianism is that it encourages people to view the good things of life in depersonalised, homogenized terms so that politicians can argue about how much should be assigned to anybody, but nobody can actually engender or enjoy them. It misconceives our human nature to see us primarily as possessors rather than as agents. Although we have feelings of pleasure and pain, and can have possessions, we are first and foremost agents, who do things. We are happy, we love, we are educated, in and by doing things, not in having things done to us or being given them. To talk abstractly of these goods as something that we can have is subtly to misconstrue their real nature and thus prevent our achieving them...

Instead of saying that we shall all die---which is true but not very grandiloquent---we talk of death being the great equaliser. Equality before the law does not mean that the law metes out the same sentence to us all, innocent and guilty alike, but only that we are all under the law and all answerable for our illegal acts...

Discrimination between the sexes has been called in question in recent years `because, it is argued, no one has yet shown good enough reasons for thinking a person's sex relevant to the income he should earn---and the burden of proof rests on the discriminators'. But sometimes a practice is not called in question or is thought to be justified, as Benn goes on to point out: `On the other hand, discrimination according to sex for military service has been generally accepted without much question and is usually considered well grounded: so it is rarely called an inequality'... It is easy to ask questions, and easy not to be satisfied with the answers given. But not all questions ought to be answered, and often merely by asking a question one is committed to waiting for an answer and not dismissing it out of hand. Moreover, without considerable qualification the presumption of equality is bound to prove internally inconsistent. It cannot be a presumption we are always entitled to make...

It is dangerously easy in seeking a rational justification to smuggle in an assumption of omnipotence. In our age of unbelief we tend to be `egotheists' and to assume that we, or the State at our bidding, can arrange everything as seems best. But not everything is possible to the State, nor should it be. If we insist on the State's being answerable for all the arrangements of society, we implicitly concede to it absolute power. Unless we are totalitarians, we must be prepared on occasion to disclaim responsibility, and to refuse to offer a justification in the terms desired of some social arrangement which has attracted criticism. In an imperfect world inhabited by imperfect men, many things will go wrong, which are indubitably wrong, but which cannot be remedied except at the cost of much greater evils. Egalitarian sentiment leads easily to totalitarianism, and if we abhor totalitarianism we must be prepared on occasion to rebut the presumption of the egalitarians, and concede that not everything in our society can be justified...

If the egalitarian is entitled to call any form of discrimination in question, then the anti-egalitarian can reduce the presumption of equality to absurdity by calling in question some form of discrimination the egalitarian is disposed to accept. American advocates of Women's Lib who believe that considerations of chivalry should secure them exemption from the Draft Law are being inconsistent if they base their claim for equal treatment on a general refusal to allow that differences of sex can ever be relevant to the treatment meted out to a citizen by the state. Often in politics criteria of relevance are difficult to determine, and we have to take into account many different considerations based on different facts. The presumption of equality, however, focuses on just one factor, and ignores all the rest. At one time advanced educationalists get hot under the collar about inequalities of opportunity, and ask indignantly why the son of a rich man should be given a public school education while the much abler son of poor parents is denied one. No fluffy answers are accepted, and under the concentrated gaze of public scrutiny it becomes evident that what sort of education you get should not depend on who your parents are. A generation later the centre of indignation has shifted, and advanced educationalists ask indignantly why the education a boy gets should depend on the genes he happens to have inherited from his parents, and left-wing thinkers extol comprehensive schools with the aid of the same arguments that old Etonians used to use against the grammar school brigade in the days of the Butler education act. We may smile ironically, but should recognise that education is being grievously damaged and clarity obscured by a scheme of argument which presents issues in terms of a few arbitrarily selected black- and-white distinctions instead of a multitude of grey ones. The presumption of equality concentrates our attention on one distinction and leads us to ignore all the others. But whether a distinction is relevant or not cannot depend on whether the egalitarian happens to question it or not. It may be that at present no one questions the 18-plus selection for the university on the basis of academic ability. But if egalitarians aver that intellectual ability is no justification for giving one child an academic education denied to another, then I am anxious to know what, should the question of university entrance ever be raised, their answer will be. Ought I to be preparing myself to lecture on Aristotle's Ethics or on First-Order Predicate Calculus to people who know no Greek and cannot do Logic, but have come to Oxford in order to play rugger or row? It is, of course, a rhetorical question. But it shows the weakness of a schema of argument which depends on asking questions that are rhetorical in as much as no serious answer is sought for or listened to. We cannot avoid every sort of distinction or discrimination. If we set out to establish equality in one respect, we shall thereby establish some other inequality in another respect. The free use of the presumption of equality is bound to lead to inconsistency. It must, therefore, be, at best, a principle of only restricted applicability, and before the egalitarian can apply it, he needs to show that the case is a suitable one for its application...

The quotation from J. C. Davies, `I am as good as anybody else; I may not be as clever or hard working as you are, but I am as good as you are'. But this, although a genuinely egalitarian doctrine with characteristically untoward consequences, is not what the principle of proper consideration of interests establishes. What the principle establishes is `I am a man. I am not to be ignored, nor should my interests be systematically discounted'. To go further and to claim that I am as good as anybody else is to divorce goodness from all possible criteria, and ultimately to devalue personality. If I am as good as you no matter what you do and I fail to do, then it does not matter what you do or what I do; similarly, if my view is as good as yours, irrespective of the fact that you are clever and I am not, and you have examined the evidence and considered the arguments while I have just opined, then it means that there is no right or wrong in our thinking, and that any view is as good as any other... To reason is to lay oneself open to the possibility of being wrong, and if the egalitarian is so wedded to the principle of non-discrimination that he cannot entertain the possibility of anybody's being wrong unless everybody else is too, then he is committed to irrationality.

The peer-group argument goes back to Plato. We need to treat some men---colleagues, friends, partners---as equals, peers standing in the same relation to oneself as one does to them. Although not all relations between men need be, or are, reciprocal, groups of fellow citizens, fellow officers, fellow rulers, played a central part in Greek social life, and still meet important emotional needs in our own society. Plato envisaged the rulers of his ideal state being so much of a peer-group that they would have everything, even wives and children, in common, so much so that the use of the first- and second- person pronouns---I, me, my, and you, your--- should be replaced by the first person plural (Republic, V, 451c-469b). Likewise in the sub-ideal community for which he laid down the Laws, he is aware of the importance of fellow-feeling and peer-group behaviour (Laws, VI, 777d5 and XI, 919d7). We may distinguish two strands in the argument: one is that of anti- selfishness. Plato was appalled at the me-firstism rampant in Athenian society, and so he opposed to amoral self- aggrandisement the selfless pursuit of the common good. So, too, many modern egalitarians are moved primarily by a detestation of the profit-motive. But the alternatives are not exhaustive, and the dangers of corporate selfishness are no less great, indeed they are more insidious, than those of simple, individual greed. The first-person plural is still the first person, and in danger of excluding third personal outsiders. Within the group there is total equality: but the group is restricted, and there is no equality between members and non-members of the group. Plato's peers, like the peers of England, are more noticeable for the inequality which separates them from everybody else, than for the equality which does exist among them. So, too, modern denunciations of the profit-motive have been the pretext on which bureaucratic empires have been built up, and have resulted in an inequality of power which is both more unequal and more dangerous than the inequality of wealth to which objection was originally made...

The argument from fraternity to equality fails in two respects. It fails first because we are not all brothers. Half the human race are disqualified by sex from being even metaphorical brothers, and although the advocates of Women's Lib seem to suppose that Sorority should be the watch-word of the Sexual Revolution, it seems to me that the aspirations of most women are deeply unsisterly. Young women give few indications of seeing themselves as sisters or wanting to be treated in a sisterly fashion by the young men of their acquaintanceship, and in later years maternal and grand- maternal affection loom much larger in their life than any desire to gatecrash other people's peer-groups. It is no accident that we find Plato's treatment of sex the most repugnant part of his programme in the Republic. Sexual relations are essentially asymmetric, and the emotions they engender are not only intense but necessarily exclusive. In addition to the exclusive love between husband and wife, many other relationships, both within the family and outside it, are similarly asymmetric. I cannot really regard even all male men as my brethren, without misrepresenting the true state of my feelings for my father, my sons, my ancestors and my possible descendants. Similarly, the regard I have for my teachers and tutors, mentors and benefactors is necessarily asymmetric, as is the concern I feel for my pupils and possible recipients of my advice or benefactions. It is essential to society, and, as I shall argue more fully later, essential to each man's emotional fulfilment that there should be some differentiation in the structure of our society and in our social relations one with another. The full-blooded argument from fraternity to equality fails because it is founded on a premiss which is false in fact. We are not all brothers.

Fraternal feeling is none the less a good thing. It needs to be cherished and catered for, and sometimes calls for some equality in treatment or circumstance. But it neither requires, nor can endure, total equality... It is not equality but justice that is essential if fellow-feeling is to flourish. I can identify with you and enter into your aspirations and purposes so long as I believe that you and I are tied together by bonds of mutual respect, and that each will accord the other a consideration which we both believe will be reasonable. Equality of circumstances may conduce to fellow-feeling, but need not, and will not if in fact it seems unjust. Equal conditions often fail to engender feelings of fellowship: and even in the small, cohesive peer-group there is, and has to be, some recognition of the differences between different members...

The argument from Universal Humanity can be called in aid of inegalitarian, as well as egalitarian, conclusions. Many inegalitarian societies show more respect for each individual man than supposedly egalitarian societies do. Marx saw merit in feudalism, in contrast to the liberal societies of his own day, because in a feudal society each man had his own place, and was respected in that place. It is better to be a bathroom attendant in an Oxford college than to be a prosperous proletarian in an amorphous plebs, because the bathroom attendant, although he occupies a relatively lowly place in the college hierarchy, nevertheless is enabled to feel that he is a valued member of that society, making a real and definite contribution to its well-being. In comparison, a modern egalitarian society can be very heartless, showing no concern for any individual as such. Although the prosperous proletarian has more money than the college servant, and although he is not obliged to regard anyone as his superior, he does not feel that he is valued for himself alone, or that society cares for anything but his cash. A society which accords respect to each man in his place is appreciated because it seems to individuate individuals in a way in which societies committed to the egalitarian ethos are unable to do. If the only social relations are transitive symmetric relations, then I necessarily stand in exactly the same relationship to society as anybody else, and therefore I can have no social position which is peculiarly my own. Since my relationship to the rest of society is the same as yours, it would not make any difference if I were replaced by you; and from this it follows that I in myself am replaceable, and therefore dispensable. In a totally egalitarian society I am always potentially redundant. I am merely a unit, not a unique individual. If I see myself as a man, with a real personality and a real contribution all of my own to make to my fellow men, then I shall reject the ethos of egalitarianism and see positive merit in a social order which acknowledges the distinctiveness of the individual and therefore the differences between men.

A status society does not have to be strictly ordered. It is compatible with there being some ordering-but the ordering does not have to be complete, and, more importantly, does not have to be all important. What is desired is that each man should stand in regard to the rest of society in a relation which other men do not, and that this relation should itself be the ground of respect. The village cobbler performs a different function from the squire or the parson, and one that is needed, and cannot be performed, by them, however wealthy or well educated they may be. Each man wants to be respected. The egalitarian seeks to satisfy this need by ensuring that no man is ever in an inferior position vis-…-vis anybody else, and so insists that all social relations shall be equivalence relations. That fails to meet the need, which is much better met by allowing relations which are asymmetric but securing for each man that there is some relation with respect to which he is superior to other people. No one should be always the underdog...

Two inequalities are better than one. It is better to have a society in which there are a number of different pecking orders, so that a person who comes low according to one order can nevertheless rate highly according to another. One advantage that English society used to have over American was that whereas in America wealth was the only criterion, in England social standing was largely independent of wealth, and could, therefore, act as a corrective. More generally, it is good that there should be an athletic hierarchy besides the academic one, so that boys who are not blessed with brains may nevertheless be, and feel themselves to be, the stars of the football field. A man may not be a great success economically but still can be a big noise in the Boy Scout Association or the pigeon fanciers' club. So long as we have plenty of different inequalities, nobody need be absolutely inferior. It is only if, in the name of equality, we set about eliminating them all, that we shall succeed in eliminating many of them and thereby make those that remain far more burdensome.

Egalitarians are angered when the argument from Universal Humanity is called in aid of inegalitarian conclusions, and produce vehement counter-arguments against it. They will not accept that the college servant is really better off than the prosperous proletarian, however much happier he may subjectively suppose himself to be, because the mere fact that the society recognises a difference in status between the college servant and, say, the fellows is itself an affront to human dignity. If we differentiate at all between one man and another on account of the social functions they fulfil, then we are no longer regarding them as men but merely as performers of certain roles. The bathroom attendant may think that he is valued for himself alone, but he is wrong; he is valued merely as a cleaner of baths and lavatories, merely as a pair of hands, merely as a useful automaton and not at all as a person, a child of God, a human being, an immortal soul, the bearer of an eternal destiny. This argument has powerful emotional appeal, but it is confused. It confuses the minimal and the maximal respect we may pay to a human being... I respect another man's humanity by observing a certain set of minimum conditions towards him---by not killing him, by not torturing him, by not leaving him to starve by not depriving him of civil rights---and it is important to see these conditions as minimum conditions which must be fulfilled rather than as maximum conditions to which we should aim but which we cannot be blamed if we fail to achieve. If we set our sights too high, we shall secure nothing. It may---or it may not---be desirable that I should identify fully with the bath attendant, and seek to enable him to fulfil his potentiality in every way; but it is a fact that most people can, or at least do, identify with most other people only to a very limited extent; and if we want to ensure that there shall be nobody who is not identified with at all, we must accept the consequence that the extent to which identification is achieved will be a fairly minimal one...

Although I may object to being regarded merely as the performer of a certain role, I do not normally object to being regarded as a person who does perform a certain role, or who has carried out certain achievements. The reason is that these roles and achievements are activities or actions of mine, and therefore manifestations of my own personal choices, and so very much part of what I essentially am. What I do is the mark I make upon the world. I am different from everybody else, and one chief way in which my being different from everybody else is made plain is in what I choose to do. Even if what I choose to do is something fairly humdrum, like cleaning baths, it nevertheless is what I have done, my own special contribution to making the world a better place. A society which differentiates between people on the basis of what they do is not denying their humanity, but emphasizing a most important facet of it...

Liberty requires that we let people be different, justice that we treat them differently: the one because it is for them, rather than for us, to decide what they shall do, and different men decide to do different things. the other because all the relevant factors should be taken into account, and these will often be different and demand different sorts of treatment. Radical egalitarians recognise the incompatibility between their ideal and the ideals of liberty and justice, and say, simply, that these ideals are less important and ought to give way when they conflict with the overriding claims of equality. Most egalitarians, however, seek to reconcile the various ideals by claiming that the uniformities they seek to ensure are compatible with the exercise of liberty and positively required by justice. They envisage a society in which each man does his own thing, but important equalities between different people are not upset by the different things they do. It is permissible to hope for this, but not reasonable to expect it. Unless our liberties are so circumscribed that we can make choices on our own account only about matters that are essentially trivial---if we can choose our hobbies and the decor of our flats, but not our jobs or where we are to live some of our choices will impinge on the way important affairs turn out, and will work out well or ill for us not only in our own estimation but in that of others too. Contrary to the belief of some lovers of liberty, our values are not entirely our own but have some tendency to be shared. In any society there must be some shared values, and therefore some shared assumptions about what is to anyone's advantage or disadvantage, and so some common standards of success. This is why, although there is no necessity for social relations to be ordering relations, nevertheless a social order tends to establish itself. Although I may, in accordance with the Declaration of Independence, pursue happiness in my own way, and although many Americans have in fact set themselves idiosyncratic goals of success, nevertheless for most Americans success is to be measured in pecuniary terms. We want to succeed not only in our own eyes but in the eyes of other men too: we are competitive creatures, who value goals not because we have assessed them independently on our own account, but because others do and we want to outdo them. If we allow men liberty in things that matter, they will soon establish inequalities that signify. hence, if we value liberty at all, we cannot abolish all inequalities, but only, at best, reduce their impact by multiplying them...

The argument from justice is more difficult. Whereas most people sense some difficulty in reconciling liberty and equality, many think that justice and equality are not only compatible, but come to the same thing. Nevertheless, justice is not equality, even though it sometimes requires that people be treated alike, as equality always does. We can see that justice is not the same as equality, because we sometimes stigmatize as unjust laws imposing `strict liabilities', although they are evidently unobjectionable on the score of equality, since they apply to everyone without exception. If there were a law imposing the death penalty on the driver of a motor vehicle involved in a fatal accident, it would be unjust in spite of---indeed, because of---its treating all such drivers the same. We fail to do justice to the individual unless we give due consideration to the circumstances of his case. Equality, because it focuses attention on only a few circumstances, may well lead us to ignore some other circumstances that are relevant, and thus to be unjust. Again, justice gives rise to certain procedural requirements, while equality is concerned only with results, not processes. Equality does not insist upon the principle audi alteram partem: audi neutram partem would be just as good so far as equality is concerned. justice is much more complicated than equality...

The divergence of justice from equality is particularly important in economic affairs. Many people have argued against economic equality on the score of expediency, and some weight should be given to the need to provide people with adequate incentives. But for many people, particularly for members of trades unions, the question of expediency looms less large than that of justice. So long as money plays an important part in our way of life, it will be a tangible token of esteem and gratitude which ought not to be withheld from those who have done well by us and deserved well of us. Much of the current concern with differentials is concerned less with incentives than with respect. People ask for more not because there is an imbalance between supply and demand for their services---though this may well have a bearing on the readiness of employers to concede their claims---but because they think existing remuneration does not reflect the real value of what they do, and they are unwilling to acquiesce in other people putting a low valuation on their efforts. Although on occasions, under limited conditions, for set purposes, we may agree on a flat rate irrespective of effort or skill, there remains an obstinate feeling that those who have borne the heat of the day ought to be more handsomely rewarded than those who have laboured only briefly or made only a slight contribution to the success of the enterprise. Economic justice can argue in the opposite direction to economic equality.

Arguments from social expediency can also be urged. The argument from incentives is too well known to need elaborating here. The argument from innovation is not so well known. Professor Hayek and Lord Hailsham point out that inequality has been the means whereby economic progress has been achieved. If there had not been some rich people in the early part of this century who could afford to waste a lot of money on horseless carriages, there would be no production of cars now...

It is difficult and costly to initiate action. If private individuals are to be able to take certain sorts of initiative effectively, they need to be rich. Not all people can be rich. If from this we infer that nobody should be rich, then we are precluding private individuals from starting things on their own, and thus are conferring a monopoly of initiative power on officials. And this is dangerous and illiberal. We want there to be at least some citizens outside the state bureaucracy who not only can resist the official point of view, but can get new ideas off the ground, because otherwise we shall be not only defenceless against the bureaucratic juggernaut but soon as obsolescent as the dinosaur... rich men are useful to have around, because they are easier to persuade to back their fancy than cautious committees or government officials...

I was fighting a motor manufacturer about the exclusion clauses in their guarantees, and my being an Oxford don was of crucial importance in securing the attention of a shareholders' meeting for two decisive minutes. In a finite world we cannot expect people to give adequate attention to everyone, and if everyone is to have equal attention then all will be equally ignored. Freedom of speech generates a lot of `noise' which may well drown the significant signals unless we have some pre-set filtering devices. Many of our social institutions have the important function of telling the world at large who it is they ought to listen to. What is a university degree but this? The university certifies to all those it may concern that Mr John Smith has shown himself capable of thinking for himself, and that his opinions therefore should be treated, if not with deference, at least with some respect. If you opine that I have got myxomatosis, it will not give me pause to think, but if a doctor does, I shall act on it at once. In a world of imperfect information we cannot take everyone for what he is really worth, and since it would be unwise to take everyone at face value, we are bound to rely on distinctions to enable us to discriminate between one man's judgment and another's, which therefore are inherently inegalitarian. It is as foolish to lament this fact as it is to worship it. If, in the name of equality, we attempt to disallow all social distinctions, we prevent people from making up their minds for themselves, and leave them all prey to the manipulators of the admass society. Better an inequality between doctors and the medically unqualified than that we should all be taken in by a plausible charlatan... in the rush of ordinary life we shall go on having to make snap judgments about people we do not really know, and must rely on socially established criteria. When the garage attendant tells me he has discovered a practicable way of obtaining energy from nuclear fusion I shall continue to be much less interested than if a professor of physics had said the same.

We need inequality because we are limited beings only imperfectly informed. If I were God, and could look into each man's heart, I could respond to him fully and totally as the person he was: but since I am only a man, I can know only the outer man, and must of necessity judge by appearances. It makes a great difference if the man at the door is a doctor, a colleague, a former pupil, a business man or an itinerant salesman. In a very small society where everyone knows everybody else, we know who each man is, what role he plays, and therefore what response is appropriate on our part. But we do not---cannot-live all our lives within the confines of a face-to-face society, and are constantly seeking for clues to enable us to address ourselves appropriately to strangers. How many young men on seeing a pretty girl glance at the fourth finger of her left hand to see whether they should be merely chivalrous or should risk rebuff by being something more?... Egalitarians find all such distinctions offensive; and often, indeed, they have their offensive features. But egalitarians fail to recognise the deep social needs that give rise to such distinctions--- our need to classify people in order that we may know what to expect from them and how far it is safe to relax our guard against them. Take away all outward and visible signs of friendliness and trustworthiness, and everyone will be treated as a debt-collector or high-pressure salesman. The effect of egalitarian principles is to ensure that each man is treated as every man's enemy.

Class distinctions enable a man to know where he stands... in some cultures men---like many other animals, according to the ethologists---reserve their enmity for their equals, and are remarkably forbearing to those evidently weaker than themselves.

We return to morality. It is forbearance and consideration of others that we want---not necessarily equal consideration, but consideration suited to the circumstances. The virtue of visible distinctions is that by indicating the sort of consideration that is appropriate they encourage us to give it. We cannot extend maximal consideration uniformly to everyone. If we are all equal, we are all competitors, since each of us, not being ready to merge his identity in Plato's ideal society, knows that sometimes he is seeking his good in rivalry with others. Few men feel willing---or can afford---to be always uncompetitive. If only equal consideration is to be extended to everyone, then everyone must be treated equally guardedly, and there will be no occasions on which it would be reasonable to go the second mile or give the other man the best of the bargain. De Tocqueville ascribed the acquisitiveness he noted in America to the egalitarian tenor of American society; and the connection is due in part to the way in which egalitarian assumptions structure men's concepts, so as to foreclose the possibility of one's sometimes having special obligations to extend extra consideration. Noblesse oblige does not flourish in a climate of egalitarianism. And whatever we may think of the noblesse, we can ill afford to dispense with the oblige.

Noblesse is, in fact, inevitable. The social advantages of inequality are so great that, however equal we try to make society in some respects, there are bound to be other respects, if not money then power or prestige, in which some people are markedly better off than others. If we will admit this, we can control it. We can take steps to prevent classifications being unjust or irrelevant, or becoming obsolete, and we can encourage those who enjoy advantages to take on corresponding responsibilities. We can ensure that degrees are not awarded on a basis of self- assessment or replaced by a form of self-advertisement, and the Queen can ennoble trades union leaders and can confer knighthoods not only on rich businessmen as of yore but on those who have proved their prowess in the field of football battle. The egalitarian, because he will not allow the existence of inequalities, is unable to ameliorate them or make them work out for the benefit of all concerned. It is no accident that in societies supposedly imbued with egalitarian sentiment snobbery abounds and public relations men prosper. Again, if we acknowledge the fact of inequality, we can adjure people to accept an inequality of obligation too. Our society is one that in fact confers great privileges on many men---perhaps deserved, but great all the same. Trades union officials, civil servants, chartered accountants, university graduates and all those in receipt of grants for higher education are very well done by, and do very well in consequence. But the fact and its concomitant obligations are not readily recognised. Pupils are surprised when I point out that a degree now is in effect a patent of nobility. The protagonists of the student movement were unable to see that because they were given advantages denied to other people, therefore their responsibilities were correspondingly different; and the reason why they were unable to see this was that they were so deeply imbued with the belief that privilege was wrong that they could not really accept the fact that they themselves were privileged, or that their being privileged could be a ground of obligation. Egalitarianism induces blindness. It not only leads us to avert our gaze from those inequalities not currently under attack, but it makes us unready to recognise in our own case benefits which perhaps, if egalitarian arguments were valid, we ought not to receive, but which, as a matter of fact, we do receive and enjoy. The rich egalitarian agrees that riches are wrong, and that the whole system ought to be changed; but meanwhile he remains rich, and he is tempted, having decided against riches in principle, not to allow the fact of his still being rich to enter into his moral reckoning. Moral reasoning is best based on facts as they are: and if, for whatever reason, there are in fact significant inequalities in our society, it is well that those who benefit most should operate with a scheme of thought which enables them to come to terms with the facts and recognise the responsibilities they engender...

Equality as a general goal of political endeavour is impossible to achieve, and in any case undesirable. Worse than this, the effort to establish equality everywhere has diverted the energies of many good men from more worthwhile endeavours. Because they have confused equality with humanity or with justice or with equity, men have thought that in endeavouring to establish equality they were ensuring that these other goods would be enjoyed by everyone, and have therefore been blind to the subtle ways in which our society has come to care less for men's humanity, has been less sensitive to considerations of justice, and has been more ready to countenance iniquity. Why is it that over the last thirty years our society has become more uncaring, more impersonal, more brutal? Other factors, no doubt, are also responsible, but one is our obsession with equality. It has blunted our perceptions and diverted our efforts. Instead of considering each man in his own individuality, equality has encouraged us to consider people in the mass, and in regard to those facets of their lives that can most readily be quantified and compared. If we had laboured to secure justice or humanity with half the zeal with which we have secured the more jealous god of equality, things might not have come to their present sorry pass."

--- from Philosophy 52, 1977, pp.255-280.


This has implications for objectification also. Basically objectification need not be all or nothing.

Also, equality, by seeing everyone as identical, objectifies them.


Addendum: See also: Balderdash: There lived a King

Thursday, April 25, 2013

If you don't scream at 'Homophobia', you must be a 'Homophobe'

Earlier this week, a student posted a picture of GP notes from her JC as an example of "homophobia". Naturally, this got heated responses:

I Will Survive:

"Shocking example of homophobia (& dreadful grammar) in the lecture notes for General Paper (GP), from *** Junior College (***) for 17 - 18 year-old students, dated 2012:

"To protect the rights of children, it may be necessary to restrict the rights of the homosexuals."

"A government may also justify discriminatory policies on ground [sic] of social order and stability."

"In fact, under the law Section 377A, homosexual acts are considered a criminal offence although this law has not been enacted [sic].""


This person is not the only one to decry this example of "homophobia".

It seems that many gay activists are so blinded by their pro-gay ideology and hatred of "homophobia" that they are unable to distinguish between description and endorsement.

Let us look at the context (such as it is) of the offending lines:


"*** JC1 GP Notes — Prejudice & Discrimination 2012

- Walmart have also created affirmative action programmes for hiring and selecting supplies at their own initiative. According to Economics Professor Rick van der Ploeg, the policy has been relatively effective in creating a large African-American middle-class. Four decades after the introduction of the policy, the percentage of black households earning over $50,000 a year more than tripled from 9.1% in 1967 to 27.8% in 2001. More people of colour hold top jobs in the public and private sector than anywhere else in the world, although a large black underclass remains.
- Another possible objective is to alleviate social and economic inequality, which may not have been caused by discrimination. For example, under the ‘Bumiputra’ Policy in Malaysia a special quota for the bumiputras or "sons of the soil" is set for places in the university in business enterprises and in public service to help them catch up economically with the other races. (Refer to Poverty Package Pg 59-60)
- Both cases are examples where a particular group receives special treatment favours or opportunities.

2. Discriminatory policies by governments or organisations to safeguard the welfare of the vulnerable. A government may feel obligated to support the kind of family living that it believes is the best.
- For example, in Britain, applications from homosexual couples to adopt children will not normally succeed since it is believed to be in the interest of a child to grow up with two parents of opposite sex. To protect the rights of children, it may be necessary to restrict the rights of the homosexuals.
- Another example could be the upper age limit for women receiving IVF treatment. One key argument by clinics for refusing women above 50 the treatment is the ability of an older mother to care for her child In advancing years. Many argue that it is unfair on the child to have a parent who may die when they are still very young. Clinics that reject older women argue that the welfare of the child is being lost amid the efforts to push the scientific boundaries ever further. Moreover, medically IVF in older women as not without its risks and the older a woman the higher the risk of her developing complications during pregnancy and childbirth. (Note: Supports of IVF for the over 5Os argue that youth is no guarantee of life expectancy and the most important thing is that the child has a loving home, Moreover, women with other traits, such as alcoholism and physical disabilities, which could jeopardise their child’s well-being are not denied motherhood.)
- A government might also justify discriminatory policies on ground of social order and stability. For example, in Singapore, there is no legalisation of homosexual marriages. In fact, under the law Section 377A, homosexual acts are considered a criminal offence although this law has not been enacted. A repeal of the law has been rejected by the
government ground that the relatively conservative and multi-religious society is not ready for the change, and that the government needs to heed the sensitivities of its people.

E. WHO are discriminated against: TYPES OF DISCRIMINATION

1) Discrimination based on race and ethniçity
- Racial discrimination is often called racism, a term coined in the 1930s primarily as a response to the Nazi project of making German judenrein, or ‘clean of Jews’.
- The other group is often viewed as 'worse' than..."


All this puts me in the mind of history texts. Let us take one example:


"In Mein Kampf, [Hitler] explained race as the most important principle of human life, and he tried to show that since the beginning, history was a story of the conflict between the Aryans and the Jews. "The racial question," he wrote, "gives the key not only to world history, but to all human culture." Therefore, civilizations rise and fall depending on how they take care of the "racial preservation of the nation." "In the blood alone resides the strength as well as the weakness of man," so the "resurrection of Germany" depends on "the clearest knowledge of the racial problem and hence of the Jewish problem."

"The "Aryan" race was the champion of "human cultural development." By their nature and their "blood," the "Aryans" were chosen to rule the world. The whole existence of human civilization, then, depended on safeguarding the purity of the "Aryan" race."

--- Hitler's War Against the Jews - The Holocaust: A Young Reader's Version of the War Against the Jews: 1933-1945 / Lucy Dawidowicz


Clearly, this is a vile example of anti-Semitic, racist, Neo-Nazi propaganda. Hell, it even quotes Hitler in his own words approvingly. We must burn this book forthwith! Never mind that Lucy Dawidowicz was not just a Jew but a famous author of books on modern Jewish history, especially on the Holocaust.

Going back to the original GP notes, we can see that the author (and thus, by extension, the school, the Ministry of Education [MOE], the Singaporean government and everyone in Singapore) is also endorsing, besides 377A and the restriction of gay rights:

- Affirmative action in the USA
- The bumiputra policy in Malaysia
- Older women who want to have children
- Anti-Semitism

Nevermind that the sort of people who would endorse affirmative action would most likely be for gay rights - the mere fact that discrimination against homosexuals was mentioned but not immediately excoriated means that the notes are endorsing it.

By now, it will be clear to the objective reader that the JC GP notes in question are written in a very objective, matter-of-fact manner, describing the rationales given for discrimination. Indeed, I would wager that the first page of notes read something along the lines of: "We think that equality is good and that discrimination is bad. However, in some cases people justify discrimination. Let us look at some examples".

This is what comes of the hysterical activism that equates non-condemnatory communication about homosexuality with homophobia.

You're either with us, or against us.

You're either an anti-gay activist, or a homophobe.

Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.

Of course, this sort of Manichean logic gets condemned when George W. Bush voices it, but in the cause of Virtue, it is justified. Nevermind the complexities of the real world, or giving students the facts instead of trying to brainwash them.

A good girlfriend


(A good girlfriend can save 200GB of your HDD - Imgur)

Comments:

"Hard drives are still cheaper."

"Um, if she's a really good girlfriend, you'll need a 2TB external HD because home videos take up a LOT of space."

"She can also save you lots of money....she looks cheap"

"They make 200GB HDD?"

"TIL girlfriends grow on trees."

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Links - 24th April 2013

Find broken links on your site with Xenu's Link Sleuth (TM) - "13. Can I have the source code?
Hahahahahaha!
14. Can I buy the source code?
Sure, make me "an offer I can't refuse".
15. Just for fun, I checked Tilman's web site, and found many broken links. Why?
I check my own web site every week on friday. Nevertheless there are always broken links:
- Links that I know to be broken: I keep them like that to remind me to find these people some day. The web page itself has a notice that the link is broken."

The homepage of Tilman Hausherr - "Jerry Ladd researched about Xenu and came up with a different explanation. According to him, Xenu was good, but an evil guy with the name "Phatmanotoo" framed him to cover up his failure in nuclear science class. He created the Knights of Xenu, a loose community of good people. There's no sign-up, no contract; just affix KoX to your signature and you're in.
How does Xenu look? See Xenu's vacation in Ann Arbor, Michigan (formerly here). There are two other theories. My theory is that Xenu is the monolith from 2001: A Space Oddysey. Scientologists were forbidden to watch the film, because it contains restimulative material. Another theory is that Xenu is Deana Holmes' grey adopted cat. Deana's mom is somewhat anxious about the name. Xenu was pregnant; this didn't keep her from whispering encheferated documents in Deana's ear. Xenu is now a Mom, and gave birth to five kittens! Deana adopted one of the kittens, and gave her the name Zoe. This wonderful story does not end happily for Deana: Xenu is a deadbeat mom.
Steve Fishman's daughter Elysia presented Xenu as work for her creative writing class, but got only a B+ because her teacher considered it unrealistic!"

Relief teacher took student's virginity, promised her marriage - "A district court heard that the two became close after a salad-making competition at the end of July 2009... She treated him as an older brother with whom she shared her problems. He also treated her as a younger sister and asked her out for meals... After taking her virginity, he promised to marry her...
March 14, 2013: A 32-year-old teacher, a married mother of three, was sentenced to a year's jail for having sex with her student, who was then 13. They had sex four times, oral sex once and she committed an obscene act with him once.
Oct 29, 2011: A 32-year-old teacher was sentenced to one-year jail for having sex with her then 15-year-old student. The married teacher in a top school had sex with the boy nine times.
Feb 23, 2009: A former primary school teacher was jailed 10 months for having sex with a 15-year-old boy. She was the first woman in Singapore to be hauled to court for being sexually intimate with an underage boy. She had sex with him six times"
Since he is male he was sentenced more heavily (18 months) than the 3 women

Germans too small for condoms? - "In 1996, in order to promote economic and cultural exchange throughout Europe, the European Union decided upon a standard size of condom — 6.63 inches in length and a range of 1.7 to 2.2 inches in width, to be exact. According to Focus, a study conducted by the German condom manufacturer Condomi found that the standard European condom fell off of half of the men polled. “The average German penis is about 3.5 to 4 millimeters (0.13 to 0.15 inches) too narrow for the standard EN 600 condom”"

Chinese protesters demand a boycott of former Japanese AV star Sola Aoi amid Senkaku row - "At 10:00 a.m. the march reconvened, this time with more placards, one of which read, “Boycott Japanese goods, including AV actress Sola Aoi!” Aoi, who made her name in such classic AV pics as “Big Tits Zombie” and “Revenge: A Love Story,” is a popular figure in entertainment in China. The 28-year-old’s account on Sina Weibo (similar to Twitter) has attracted over 13 million followers. The anti-Sola sentiment is contrary to a slogan that spread through China starting in April, when Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara announced his plan to purchase the controversial outcroppings: “The Senkaku Islands belong to us; Sola Aoi belongs to the world!”"

Why I walked out of Les Miserables - "I wasn’t the only one who hated almost every minute of it. At work the next day, a colleague quietly admitted to having watched it stony-faced as the cinema audience sobbed around her. Anthony Lane, one of the world’s most eminent film critics, also demolished it, saying: “I screamed a scream as time went by.” Les Misérables is about poverty, pain, isolation, frustration, suffering. The songs are, in every way, “big”. And that’s where, for me, it fell so woefully short. Where Hugh Jackman, as the long-suffering central character Jean Valjean, imprisoned for 17 years for stealing a loaf of bread, should have soared in moments of anger or pain, his vocals died. Instead of following through on the long, sustained notes – of which there are many in Les Mis – he cut them off with a weak, nasal vibrato. It was as if Jackman was afraid to go for it... the singing wasn’t meant to be technically perfect, but “raw and real”. Well, I’m fine with raw and real. I don’t believe singing has to be technically perfect but it does need to express emotion. And for me, at key moments in the score, the vocals just weren’t raw and real enough. They weren’t sung from the gut... In [Marni Nixon's] opinion, the Les Misérables film was misconceived. “If you’re making a musical, you should hire singers,” she tells me. “Singers who can act. In a musical, you want singing that’s technically good. It’s cruel to make people who can’t sing, sing.” For Nixon, Jackman wasn’t a bad singer, just miscast... “It doesn’t suit this score to have actors speak-singing it. Les Misérables is written to be sung operatically, with long lines to make it come off.” She chuckles, adding: “Maybe the director told the actors, 'You don’t have to hold the notes that long, because it’s silly. It sounds like you’re singing!’ ” She gives short shrift to Crowe’s “raw and real” defence: “We’re talking about a musical. Is that real? People don’t go around singing 'La la la la’ to each other all day!”"

Top des traductions de merde - la compilation

School Recess Gets Gentler, and the Adults Are Dismayed - New York Times - "No longer could they let off their youthful energy — pent up from hours of long division — by cavorting outside for 22 minutes of unstructured play, or perhaps with a vigorous game of tag or dodgeball. Such games had been virtually banned by the principal, Mark S. Johnson, along with kickball, soccer and other “body-banging” activities, as he put it, where knees — and feelings — might get bruised. Instead, children are encouraged to jump rope, play with Hula Hoops or gently fling a Frisbee. Balls are practically controlled substances, parceled out under close supervision by playground monitors... Many parents are still not satisfied, however, saying that such coddling fails to prepare children for adulthood. “Life is competitive,” said Shari Clewell, the mother of a fifth grader. “Kids compete for attention. They compete for grades. You compete for a job. You compete from the time you’re little all the way to the end.” Pretending otherwise is pointless, she said. “They’re kids. They are competitive. They can play jump rope and jacks and make it competitive”... [Some schools] citing liability concerns, have banned sports like dodgeball, where children are the targets. In Cheyenne, Wyo., one school has banished tag from the playground as being too rough but allows other contact sports, like touch football. Several schools in Colorado have banned tag for the same reason... In Wyckoff, N.J., freestyle recess has become a “midday fitness” class. Student have fewer options for activities and are told to keep moving. By applying recess to the gym requirement, the schools have freed up time for academics... “Children need to engage in games such as this in order to develop social skills, to learn to handle themselves, to avoid obesity, and to get the activities they need, and these are traditional games, going on for centuries,” Dr. Frost said. “It’s just difficult to imagine how a person in education could come up with such a bad idea.” As for playground bullies, he said: “There are ways for teachers to handle bullying without stopping the play for all the children. This is a teacher problem. This is not a child problem.” But to Mr. Johnson, who has been a school principal for five years, it is the lack of structure that places recess out of sync with the educational and moral instruction provided the rest of the day"

Photo : une série d'images qui illustrent le passage du temps

How China's Top Digital Spies Got Outed by Facebook and Twitter

Bad Guy Japan: Our Reporter Stumbles Upon Anti-Japanese Shooting Game in Myanmar Arcade - "the cabinet actually originated from a company called Dragonwin Animation in Guangzhou, China. The game’s obscure title of PK918, meanwhile, is believed to be a reference to the Mukden Incident, which took place on September 18, 1931 in Manchuria, leading to the Japanese invasion of the country"

How to Attract Protesters to Your Wedding - China Real Time Report - WSJ - "The crowd has risen up in response to her widely republished Facebook posting earlier this month: “I’m not opening a charity….If you really only want to give me a HK$500 [US$65] cash gift, then don’t bother coming to my wedding”... nearly 1,000 people said they were planning to attend a wedding-day protest, organized via Facebook, at the hotel where she’s getting married... “What a person wants to give and how much your wedding costs are separate things,” Mr. Lai, a logistics worker, told China Real Time. “You can have these thoughts inside your heart, but you have to keep them to yourself.” Mr. Lai says he is considering attending the wedding protest. “I’ll have to check my schedule first and see if I have the time,” he said"

Housewife Charged In Sex-For-Security Scam | The Onion - America's Finest News Source - "Area resident Helen Crandall, 44, was arrested by Akron police Sunday, charged with conducting an elaborate "sex for security" scam in which she allegedly defrauded husband Russell Crandall out of nearly $230,000 in cash, food, clothing and housing over the past 19 years using periodic offers of sexual intercourse... According to Agee, undercover agents spotted Crandall's husband handing her $50 in cash at approximately 4 p.m., just 30 minutes after the two had sex. Crandall then drove off in her car, returning home two hours later with five bags of groceries. "That's when we made the arrest," Agee said. "After tracking her for years, we finally had proof that she was buying all those goods with dirty money"... Perhaps the most damaging testimony has come from Mr. Crandall himself, who on Tuesday told police that while the couple was dating in 1977, Mrs. Crandall—then known as Helen Steuben—demanded that he buy her a ring worth over $1,000 before he could have sex with her. The first sexual liaison took place some six months later at Bob's Honeymooner Hotel during an all-expenses-paid trip to Niagara Falls. It was also in 1977, Mr. Crandall said, that his wife quit her job at Shippee Shoes in downtown Akron. "Clearly," Summit County prosecutor Andrew Dravecky said, "after quitting her job, the accused began receiving money under the table from some other source: How else could she have afforded to not work? It's now pretty apparent that at that point she began supporting herself by providing a certain service to Mr. Crandall"... The Crandall case is not an isolated incident, said criminologist John Ohlmeyer, who said there are "literally millions" of such cases across the U.S. each year that never come to court. "This kind of thing isn't as uncommon as we'd all like to think," Ohlmeyer said. "A woman finds herself in a situation where she isn't employable. Or maybe she has interests like child-rearing, cooking and home-maintenance that keep her from getting a job. So what does she do? She cooks up a scheme to entrap a man using her body as the bait. It's frightening, but it happens every day in this country.""

"I know my place" - YouTube
On the Class System in the UK

Psy's Gentleman banned from Korean TV due to depiction of anti-social behaviour

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

LOL



"WARNING: To all my fellow Christians, be Wise and Aware!!

We all may have been wrong about "LOL" meaning "laugh out loud."
An image posted is warning everyone that when writing "LOL" means praying to the prince of darkness satan because it actually means "Lucifer our lord."
"Beware, stop using the abbreviation 'LOL'," reads part of the warning. "Satanists end their prayers by saying 'Lucifer our Lord', in short, 'LOL'. Every time you type 'LOL you are endorsing Satan."
From everything we can gather, "LOL" still means "laugh out loud", but if this were the case there are a lot of people who bow down to Satan on the Internet. It's used on the social media site more dozens of times a minute.
Even more Unholy abbreviations:

● YOLO - "Youth Obeying Lucifer's Orders"
● SWAG - Satan's Wishes Are Granted
● ROFL - Rise, Our Father Lucifer
● BRB - Beelzebub Rules Below.
● ASL - All Supreme Lucifer

We are the Children of GOD in heaven and we only belong to Him!!"


Some have said that this might be satire, but viewing the Facebook Timeline of the person who posted it, I'm not so sure (perhaps it's just bad writing skills).

Amusingly the watermark reads "eatliver.com", where one finds "Crazy funny pictures of insane internet".

Monday, April 22, 2013

Correlation and Causation


"There is a strong correlation between hard work and success"
"But is there strong causation?"

(Photo by juleskyim • Instagram)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Links - 21st April 2013

Pakistani man accuses ambassador to U.S. of blasphemy - "According to Pakistan's blasphemy laws, anyone found to have uttered words derogatory to the Prophet Muhammad can be put to death. Those who are accused are sometimes lynched by mobs even before they reach court... Blasphemy accusations are on the rise, according to a report released by the Islamabad-based think tank, Center for Security Studies. At least 52 people accused of blasphemy have been killed since 1990. The charge is difficult to defend since blasphemy is not defined and courts often hesitate to hear evidence, fearful that reproducing it will also be blasphemy. Recent cases have included a teacher who made a mistake setting homework, a man who threw away a business card belonging to a man name Mohammed"

A Devastating 26-Word Challenge to President Obama's Leadership - "Mr. President, what it comes down to is every American has the right to know when their government believes that it is allowed to kill them."

Wow, Someone Invented Mass Effect-Like Medi-Gel - "[Veti-Gel] close any size wound that it is applied to,” Landolina says. “As long as you can cover it, it can close it.”"

Pre-marital sex 'usual' in China - " Research published by the State Family Planning Association showed that in most regions, 60-70% of people had lost their virginity before they applied to get married. The findings underscored a dramatic shift in attitudes towards pre-marital sex in China, where in the 1970s and 1980s, such behaviour was still considered taboo."

Sex before marriage more accepted in China - "2004: Forty percent said they were understanding of and agreeable to the concept of cohabitation, and 30 percent said they had not formed a clear idea. Few would have supported such behavior ten years ago, when the majority of university students were against cohabitation, as it signified moral depravity and immaturity."

Game of Thrones - 1995 Style - YouTube

What's the best office temperature? - "The chief operating officer at Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, has revealed that the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg likes to keep the temperature low, 15 degrees Celsius (60 degrees Fahrenheit). A piece in The Times newspaper over the weekend revealed that people there keep jackets to ward off the cold. Lucy Kellaway, Financial Times management columnist, explained to Today presenter Justin Webb that this is a way to "stop cyber-loafing" and explained that Facebook are "make people so uncomfortable that they have no option but to actually do their work"."

Internet Social Justice Mob Goes Batshit on Activist, Has No Sense of Irony - "Have you ever said something sort of dumb and immature on the internet? When it was brought to your attention, did you own up to it, acknowledge that your saying it was wrong, apologize for the offense and pain it caused, and immediately explain how you've learned from the experience and will make sure it won't happen again? For sex positive educator and internet denizen Laci Green, that very series of events was followed by a deluge of harassment, defamatory gang ups, public humiliation, and, ultimately, death threats — and all from people who were supposedly allies. The world is a rainbow of assholes... After Green issued her apology, Tumblr basically exploded with calls for her to shut up that went from a trickle to the roaring, raging river of vitriol that, from the looks of it, was the result of a hyper-sensitive pissing contest. It seems resentment toward Green had been dammed up for awhile in that community and was just waiting to be set free — the fact that Green's an atheist, and in the past has made comments on how Islam and Mormonism perpetuate sexism and have led to personal strife for her and her family (Green's father is from Iran and his family is Muslim, her mother is Mormon) have led to charges of Islamophobia. Green's also white, a biological female who presents as a feminine woman, able-bodied, and slender, which led to charges of her being ableist, transphobic, ignorant of the strife of people of other races, and an all-around idiot dummy jerk... One message contained a picture of her apartment building and came with text that called her a "stupid transphobic cunt" and told her that they knew where she'd live and that they'd smash her face. Neil Gaiman and John Green lept to Green's defense, which was met with bristling by other people who claim that Laci Green is white and nonwhite people get harassed all the time and no one makes a big deal out of it, so therefore they don't support Laci Green. Someone brought a folding chair into the ring! Everyone weighed in! Clusterfuck city!... This is far from the first time that a group of allegedly peace-loving left wing equality nerds decided to show their ugly side and gang up on another, more prominent person in the digital realm"
The fact that this is on Jezebel is a great exercise in irony.
Gem of a post: Masterpost: Why Laci Green Sucks., calling her Islamophobic, transphobic, cissexist, saying she has internalised misogyny etc


Beer goggles don’t exist - "Being drunk doesn’t make you find ugly people more attractive... “We still see others basically as they are,” she says. “There is no imagined physical transformation – just more desire.” The part of the brain that makes us want to shag is the last to be affected by drinking, and functions until we are ready to pass out. Booze does, however, make you more spontaneous. “Alcohol switches off the rational and decision making areas of the brain while leaving the areas to do with sexual desire relatively intact”"

This Is How Asians Pose (96 pics)
How to ACBC

STOMP - Singapore Seen - Confession: Army life transformed my BF into a pervert

Woman at centre of underage paid sex to testify in-camera - "Deputy Public Prosecutor Kavitha Uthrapathy pushed for a private court hearing, saying the woman is a "very vulnerable witness" and is "susceptible to mental and emotional injury"... defence lawyer Selva K Naidu said it is "difficult to accept she was a victim"... Mr Naidu also pointed out that the girl received S$43,400 from providing sexual services and she kept half (S$21,700) for herself... The prosecution asked Tang why he did not change the girl's age to 18 on the website that promised sexual services, when he found out her real age in 2010. Tang replied that the girl was 17 years and 8 months old, and it appeared logical to him to round up her age. He also claimed that he was unaware that the legal age for a prostitute is 18. Tang was also questioned if he had decided on the rates of S$600 and S$650 for the girl. He explained he obtained the girl's services from her previous escort agency, and she had pressed him for higher rates when she joined him. He said he did not ask for her identity card (IC) on meeting her, and only found out about her true age much later in 2010. But he admitted he had a "nagging thought at the back of his mind" that the girl was below 18 as she would repeatedly bring her older sister's IC to see her clients."

Polyamory May Be Good for You - "an estimated 4 to 5 percent of Americans are looking outside their relationship for love and sex — with their partner's full permission... "People in these relationships really communicate. They communicate to death," said Bjarne Holmes, a psychologist at Champlain College in Vermont. All of that negotiation may hold a lesson for the monogamously inclined, Holmes told LiveScience... So far, studies suggest that polyamorous individuals are well-educated, holding more master's and doctoral degrees than the general population, said Champlain's Holmes, who is conducting ongoing research of an online sample of more than 5,000 polyamorous individuals. Despite their smarts, they're not particularly wealthy. "That tells me that it's probably people who are often more focused on experiences in life," than money"

Girls Who Bash Girls Who Dress Sexy - "Trisha says that because of the way she dresses, women have been calling her a slut for years. She wishes women would be more supportive of each other and stop trying to tear each other down... Kira is a conservative blogger and Internet radio host. “If a woman dresses like a slut, calls herself a slut and acts like a slut, all happily, she shouldn’t be surprised when people treat her like a slut. I’m not a slut-shamer, but I am an advocate for modesty,” she says. Kira says she is concerned for young women who she believes are over-sexualized and seem to be trying to outdo each other with their risqué behaviors. While she doesn't believe young women need to dress like nuns, Kira thinks they should give more thought into the image they are projecting. “Empowerment doesn’t come from saying, ‘I’m a slut,’” she says."
Misogynist: A man who hates women as much as women hate one another.

How to tell if you're still a farang - "You're a farang if you still comprehend satire and sarcasm and find it amusing... If you've got an appointment with a Thai at 5pm, add another 15 minutes. If the meeting is on Friday, you'd better add 30 minutes. If the person you're meeting is a Thai woman, you'd better add an hour. Now you've got the idea... You're a farang if you still expect Thai politicians to resign over offences like committing adultery while in office. The resignation of someone like General Patraeus, a decorated war hero and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency over an admitted affair with his married biographer would be unheard of here... In Thailand we prefer our political and military leaders to be unshackled by high ethical and moral standards, unhindered by the demands of personal accountability and unburdened by the sense of shame that would make lesser men breakdown under the glare of public scrutiny."

Peanut Butter And Jelly Racist? Portland School Principal Ties Sandwich To White Privilege - ""[W]hat's the verdict on grilled cheese? Racist? Sexist?" one person tweeted. "All sandwichs are racist! It's the name "sandwich" the poor tortas are discriminated against!" another wrote. Robb Cowie, the communications director for Portland Public schools, told Fox News that the district was on board with Gutierrez's comments."
EVERYTHING IS RACIST

Massachusetts backs off school bake sale ban - "Cupcakes, brownies and other baked goodies will be spared the chopping block at Massachusetts schools after Gov. Deval Patrick backed down from planned regulations to prohibit the sale of the treats at bake sales during school hours... The regulations, which had been set to take effect Aug. 1, were approved by state health officials charged with overseeing a new school nutrition law aimed in part at battling childhood obesity."

New York Mom Fights Middle School That Banned Her Bike Rides With Son - "Janette Kaddo Marino said their 3-mile rides to and from school in Saratoga Springs have been met with stiff opposition from officials and even a state trooper who claimed it was unsafe — and illegal — for her 12-year-old son Adam to travel on his own pair of wheels"

Marking in red ink banned in case it upsets schoolchildren - "the opposition to using red ink is now a worldwide trend with recent guidelines to schools in Queensland, Australia warning that the colour can damage students psychologically."

Lululemon yoga pants banned at Ottawa high school unless they’re covered up

Schools ban children making best friends - "TEACHERS are banning schoolkids from having best pals — so they don’t get upset by fall-outs. Instead, the primary pupils are being encouraged to play in large groups."

Toronto's Earl Beatty Public School Bans Balls - "The ban was placed by school administrators after a parent suffered a concussion after being hit in the head by a soccer ball."

UGG boots banned in school. Education crisis solved! - "Those "problems"? Cell phone contraband, hidden in the cozy space between the ankle and boot. School policy states students are allowed to bring their phones to school but they have to be turned off and kept in their lockers during classroom time. All that roomy fur has become the perfect place to smuggle handheld technology into the classroom... One parent finds the ban discriminatory towards girls: "I'm assuming this is applying to mostly girls since I rarely see any boys wearing Uggs.... Pockets, bras, socks, what's next?? I think this is absurd!" Meanwhile, one pupil makes the most convincing case for reversing the ban: It won't work. "Most girls hide [cell phones] in there bra, or their waist band, it's ineffective they will just keep finding other places""

New York City Bans References To Dinosaurs, Birthdays, Halloween, Dancing In Standardized Tests - "According to the paper, the mandate is meant to curb fear that references to those topics might stir controversy among students. Dinosaurs, officials said, could bring up evolution, Halloween could suggest paganism, and birthdays might create animosity among students who are Jehovah's witnesses, since they don't celebrate them. CBS New York reports the word "poverty" is also not allowed, as "words that suggest wealth" might cause some students to feel excluded... The department is also banning mentions of "divorce" and "disease," in case students have loved ones who are separated or suffering from an illness. "Slavery" is also flagged and "terrorism" is considered too scary. Department officials told FOX News Nation that the mandates are simply meant to be sensitive to a diverse student body... Robert Pondiscio, a spokesperson for the Core Knowledge Foundation, says the new policy gets rid of topics children relate to the most"
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