"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Links - 23rd September 2014

Fat people are fat. Enough of the euphemisms - "What are actually bad habits are being objectified as diseases. So no one merely drinks too much or gets smashed on illegal drugs. Only he “has alcohol issues and a drug problem.” But it’s not the booze or the drugs that are the problem. The drunk or the abuser is the problem. Of course, this is all political in origin. Generally we are not allowed to claim that people are responsible for their behaviour, but “suffering from” some dreadful malady inflicted upon them by immutable external causes. However, there are notable exceptions to this rule – the principal one being smoking. No smoker is ever described as someone who “is vulnerable to nicotine.” No, because the smoker is disapproved by our politically correct culture, we are allowed to describe his habit as “filthy” and encouraged to regard the poor devil as a pariah."

Why can’t anyone take a joke any more? - "Most people reading this will at some point have had the misfortune to meet one of those piggy-faced people who at a certain point in the conversation says, ‘Excuse me, but I find that offensive.’ Often it is someone who isn’t actually offended themselves. They have claimed offence for a group in absentia. ‘Excuse me, but I find that offensive on behalf of an absent third-party.’ Unfortunately this horrible behavioural tick is extending its reach. It is realising its power and getting organised. You often hear the phrase ‘Why does no one ever say “X” in the media?’, or ‘Why do you never hear “Y”?’ The simple answer is that to an extent barely realised outside the business, what can be said, written and broadcast in our media today is no longer decided just by editors and commissioners but by a labyrinthine bureaucracy open to the wildest abuse by anybody who can claim to have had their feelings hurt. Orgiastic offence-takers are enjoying a peak season. If you do not like something you hear, instead of turning off, you can claim to have suffered an offence. The Press Complaints Commission encourages it. Activist minority-interest pressure groups encourage it. And of course via Twitter and Facebook you can now be directed to things that you didn’t have time to be offended by first time round. And best of all you can threaten to use the law."
It's only censorship if it's done by the 'right wing'

Geel's ancient community cares for the mentally ill - "This is, in yet another form, the tragedy of the commons: our liberation as individuals to create lives of our own choosing places unsustainable pressures on the type of society that most of us would choose to live in. We might define mental ill-health in medical terms, but this is not enough to confine its treatment within the medical frame. If it is in practice a condition that has exhausted the capacity of the individual and the social support available, it’s bound to manifest more intensely in an atomised society where insoluble problems devolve onto the sufferer alone. To take up these problems on behalf of others demands, all too often, more than their own loved ones can give or the state can provide. As mental illness proliferates and outpaces the psychiatric resources available to manage it, Geel’s story offers a vision, in equal parts sobering and inspiring, of what the alternative might look like."

50 Cent Party - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - "The 50 Cent Party (Chinese: 五毛党 wǔmáo dǎng) are Internet commentators (Chinese: 网络评论员 wǎngluò pínglùn yuán) hired by the government of the People's Republic of China (both local and central) or the Communist Party to post comments favorable towards party policies in an attempt to shape and sway public opinion on various Internet message boards. The commentators are said to be paid fifty cents of Renminbi for every post that either steers a discussion away from anti-party or sensitive content on domestic websites, bulletin board systems, and chatrooms, or that advances the Communist party line."
How much is the PAP IB paid?

Blondes are more aggressive than brunettes 'because they attract more male attention' - "women with fair hair are more aggressive and confident than brunettes or redheads. This is because blondes attract more attention than other women as they are generally viewed by men as more attractive and so are used to getting their own way... The study indicated that the more 'special' people feel, judged by physical strength for men and looks for women, the more likely they are to get angry to reach social goals... even those who dye their hair blonde take on natural blondes' attributes... The study, which examined links between confidence and aggression, involved 156 female undergraduates in America. Aaron Sell, of the University of California, who led the research, said: 'We expected blondes to feel more entitled than other young women - this is southern California, the natural habitat of the privileged blonde. 'What we did not expect to find was how much more warlike they are than their peers on campus.' He said he suspected that blondes exist in a 'bubble' where they have been treated better than other people for so long they do not realise that men, in particular, are more deferential towards them than other women. 'They may not even realise they are treated like a princess,' he said. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. It also found that although blondes are more aggressive, they are less likely than brunettes or redheads to get into an actual fight themselves - possibly to ensure they preserved their looks. Evolutionary psychologist Catherine Salmon, of the University of Redlands, California, said: 'Blondes are more confident in their abilities, although the results do not necessarily support their confidence. 'Maybe responding to their own stereotypes, brunettes tend to work harder and expect less special treatment. ‘Women who go blonde quickly get used to the privileges of blondeness - usually male attentiveness'... when former shadow home secretary Ann Widdecombe went blonde she noted: 'People talk to me more slowly now.'"

Retailing woes go beyond Reits - "In an industry where rents can make up nearly a third of business costs, many of the complaints centre on real estate investment trusts (Reits)... rent hikes by one landlord can affect the rest of the market... YTL Starhill Global Reit chief Ho Sing told The Straits Times that he has received flak from stock analysts for not always picking the highest-paying tenant. For instance, he chose to rent space in Wisma Atria to new-to-market South Korean cafe Paris Baguette to create a better and more sustainable tenant mix for shoppers, even though other retailers offered a higher price for the unit. Property experts say Reits can end up as an easy target for retailers' frustrations because they regularly publish data on rent increases, while other non-listed mall owners may stay under the radar. After all, Reit owners are subject to market forces as well, they add. If they set their rents too high, they may not get a tenant... BUT the problems in Singapore's retail industry run deeper than retailers' gripes with Reits. Shops here are dealing with intense competition, both from brick-and-mortar stores as well as online sellers. International brands with deep pockets are setting up shop in the Republic, driving up rents across malls regardless of ownership, retail experts say. "As the wealth quantum of Singapore has leaped, so have retail leasing rates associated with brands that serve the wealthy," said Mr Jonathan Galaviz, a partner at Global Market Advisors. The shine of local shops may also be dulled by the strength of the Singapore dollar. This dampens shopping demand in two ways: It makes online shopping at foreign retailers cheaper for Singaporeans, and makes shopping here more expensive for tourists. A government price survey in April found that some consumer products from global brands such as Apple, Ikea and Zara can be pricier in Singapore than abroad... "Singapore continues to lag (behind) places like Hong Kong and Shanghai in terms of shopping diversity"... They can also look at new ways of doing business, such as combining online and offline shopping, he added. In London, some online shops rent a mall unit to display their wares for two to three months at a time and then take orders via their website. Dr Chiam noted, however, that this business model may work only if landlords are willing to accept such short leases rather than the typical three-year lease terms."

How China Stays Stable Despite 500 Protests Every Day - "Popular movements here seem to express relatively narrow complaints, want to work within the system rather than topple it, and treat the Communist Party as legitimate. Protests appear to be part of the system, not a challenge to it -- a sort of release valve for popular anger that, if anything, could have actually strengthened the Party by giving them a way to address that anger while maintaining autocratic rule. In the absence of real democracy, this give-and-take between state and society could actually help maintain political stability in China -- for now... Officials are too smart to believe their own rhetoric about the benevolence or necessary permanence of single-party rule -- the CPP is not Bashar al-Assad, and they know better than to meet every dissenter with a bullet. But so are Chinese, whether activists or workers, aware of the Party's sensitivity to popular anger. So, over time, an informal but well-honed process has developed. And though it allows protesters to often come away unscathed and sometimes with real concessions, just like in Las Vegas, the house always wins"

Games With Words: Which English? - "Is Throw me down the stairs my shoes a good English sentence?
The answer depends on where you live. Many people in Newfoundland find that sentence perfectly grammatical. By taking this quiz, you will be helping train a machine algorithm that is mapping out the differences in English grammar around the world, both in traditionally English-speaking countries and also in countries like Mexico, China, and India. At the end, you can see our algorithm's best guess as to which English you speak as well as whether your first (native) language is English or something else."
My results:
“Our top three guesses for your English dialect:?
1. American (Standard)
2. Singaporean
3. Australian
Our top three guesses for your native (first) language:?
1. Norwegian
2. English
3. Swedish”

Boys’ urine-soaked eggs listed as local specialty, intangible cultural heritage

Germany's n-word race debate - "One of their favourites is the classic children's book, The Little Witch, an enchanting tale of a witch who flies and birds who talk. But one day they reached page 94, and a difficult word came up. It was neger, describing a black boy. It is true that it can mean "negro" in German, but it also means the utterly offensive "nigger". When the book was written, the former may have been true - but now it is more like the latter. Timnit's father, Mekonnen, had no doubts. He is black, originally from Eritrea, and found the word completely unacceptable. "It made me very angry," he says. "I know that people use that word to insult me or to give me the sense of not belonging"... The whole argument was complicated. It was mostly about offensive racial depiction but other words intruded, words which had an innocent meaning 50 years ago when the book was written but which had morphed in meaning. It contained the word wichsen, for example, which meant to polish then but has come to mean masturbation. As the debate over removing neger intensified, there was a backlash. Die Welt likened those who would change offensive language to the Taliban, thundering: "Anyone who believes art should be changed in retrospect because it contradicts the prevailing morality must have been pleased in 2001 when the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan"... words were written at a particular time, and to "clean up literature" means that today's readers would lose some of the historical context. "If you erase this context, you miss something. You can't understand things if you leave out the culture of the time"... "I asked her: 'If they talk to you like that because of your skin colour, what would you say back?'" She said she would call her tormenters kaese (cheese) - and so she did. There was a row in school, with teachers and parents complaining, but a point was made."
It's time to throw "niggardly" and "black hole" out because they are offensive too

New film uncovers racism in Germany - "For more than a year, journalist Gunter Wallraff travelled across Germany wearing a dark-haired curly wig and with his white skin painted black. Equipped with a secret camera, and calling himself Kwami Ogonno, he went to predominantly white areas to see how a black man with a foreign accent is treated. The experience, he said, was even more depressing that he had expected... "He just doesn't look like an African," said Mr Mekarides. "The wig, the make-up and the brightly-coloured shirt are all so over the top, he looks like he's a clown in a carnival. "After he has washed his skin, he can forget the problem. But black people have this problem every day." Some German newspaper commentators have accused the filmmaker himself of racism for acting out such a negative stereotype of a black person. The character of Kwami speaks broken German and is childlike in his ignorance of dangerous situations"
I probably wouldn't react to a clown in a carnival the same way as I would to other people

Germany's Schlosspark Theatre defends 'blackface' actor - "Although there is no history of minstrel shows in Germany, Mr Schendel says "blackface is part of a theatre tradition" in Germany. And one member of staff at the 90-year-old Schlosspark Theatre told the BBC that in the 40 times I'm not Rappaport had been staged since 1987, a blacked-up actor had often been used - with no complaints."
Cultural Imperialism can also take the form of bringing your own cultural baggage into other cultures and then getting insulted
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