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Valar Qringaomis

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Links - 21st June 2014

ADL anti-Semitism study is historically large, but how accurate? - "People in these surveys enormously overestimate the number of Jews in their country or in the world,” said Rabbi Andrew Baker, director of international Jewish affairs for the American Jewish Committee. “But the reality probably is, in many areas Jews certainly have an influence well beyond their number in society, so is someone reflecting a certain reality that we ourselves recognize or is someone expressing an anti-Jewish sentiment?” The poll shows low averages for anti-Semitism in Asia, with some exceptions. One of them is South Korea, whose 53-percent concentration of anti-Semitism was well above the regional average of 22 percent. Baker explained that South Koreans have an intense curiosity about Jews, and that they make up the largest number of visitors to Europe’s Holocaust museums and sites of former concentration camps. In that way, canards the survey considers signs of anti-Semitism can be considered cultural aspirations outside of the Western world, according to Baker. In Gerstenfeld’s estimation, the study “confirms what we have known, [what] is being hushed up by all kinds of whitewashers of [the anti-Semitism of] Muslims.” “We are being told, and the administration in the U.S. is part of [it], that you have radical Muslims and then you have perfectly moderate Muslims, and [the moderates] are the majority and they are two distinct groups,” he said. “That is nonsense! I have been saying that for years and this study proves it. The truth is that there is a broad range of Muslim gradations, with very radical ones and moderates at the two extremes”"

Savills bans sex in the office loos after condom blockage, email goes viral

Craigslist Ads Offering Free Rent For Sex

This is what Game of Thrones would look like if it were a Disney movie

We head to France to try Nutella sushi - "The thin crepe layered around coconut flavored rice and a healthy dollop of Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread was a sight to behold... Our reporter later found out that Planet Sushi also offers Nutella sushi with strawberries or bananas"

Italian murder trial in Genoa halted after judge spots couple having sex

Removal of a long PVC pipe strangulated in the penis by hot-melt method.
One who sent me this: "You know you always have that one friend that comes to mind when you see certain things. If you can't think of anyone it's probably you"

Chinese Girls Demand Cooked Sushi at World's Best Sushi Bar. What Happens Next is NOT Shocking.

The High Price of a Free College Education in Sweden - "Swedish colleges and universities are free. Yep. Totally free. But students there still end up with a lot of debt. The average at the beginning of 2013 was roughly 124,000 Swedish krona ($19,000). Sure, the average US student was carrying about 30% more, at $24,800... Swedes, like other Nordic Europeans, have an independent streak. They leave their parental homes earlier than almost all their southern neighbors. One study found that just 2% of Swedish men lived with their parents after the age of 30. In Spain, a quarter of 30-year-old men still are shacking up with mom and dad; in Italy it was around 32%. Nobody's exactly sure why this is. One of the more fascinating theories is that the differences in the strength of family ties in northern and southern Europe is a faint echo of invasions by the Roman Empire and Islamic caliphates in the Mediterranean region versus the Germanic-Nordic dominance in regions further north. Or it could reflect the fact that back in the middle ages, young people in northern Europe were often sent out to work as servants outside the family home. Others simply argue that it's the economy, with low wages and high housing costsconspiring to keep southern Europeans living at home... In Sweden, the entire system is aimed at severing the financial link between parents and young adults... Sure, automobiles and houses are nice. But if you're looking for indicators of adulthood, the must-have accessory is a human infant. And, in a way, that's sort of what this is about."

Denmark's 'voteman' cartoon pulled: Oral sex, extreme violence and dolphins just too 'damaging' - "A violent and sexual 90-second cartoon made by the Danish parliament to encourage voting in the upcoming EU elections has been removed after being labelled “offensive”. The ad introduced ‘Voteman’ - a muscular, leather-clad, aggressive 'superhero' - who is first filmed having sex with five naked women, in an attempt to appeal to younger voters. He puts a stop to the hanky panky and rushes out to encourage people to vote, interrupting couples having sex and smashing men and women through glass windows to get them to the voting booths. Before riding into town on two dolphins, he also rips the head off a young person who says he is going to skip the polls, and throws a couple having sex on election day out of the window - bed and all."

The unabashed ‘proselytisation’ of Malaysia - "Just about all Malay extremist groups have humiliated, insulted and threatened non-Muslims, targeting their religious beliefs and faiths. From Perkasa to Pekida to Isma, they are all guilty of inciting unrest among our peace-loving rakyat. Yet, Najib shows no interest in wanting to calm the already livid minority communities. It is this repugnant silence and disinterest that continues to ‘boost’ bigotry in the country. Former Court of Appeal judge Mohd Noor Abdullah exposed his bigotry when he voiced his displeasure over deities in a Hindu and Buddhist temple built in the open. Mohd Noor complained about the Lord Murugan statue at a Hindu temple in Batu Caves and the statue of Kuan Yin at a Buddhist temple in Penang, both of which he claimed were an affront to Islam as the religion forbade idolatry. His rantings that Islam is superior to other faiths based on the Federal Constitution, which states that Islam is the religion of the federation, has made the man a laughing stock. Mohd Noor by any measure is intolerant, his complaints that such ‘huge’ sculptures of non-Muslim deities would make the Muslim-majority feel threatened is simply outrageous... Despite its many racist and damaging statements including calls for the Bible to be torched, denying the Christians the use of the word ‘Allah’ and threats of another race riot if the majority of the Malays remained poor, Perkasa remains ‘untouched’ by the ‘powers that be’."
Islamophobia!

Samsung trips can be a family affair - "Samsung Electronics employees are now able to accompany their family members on business trips overseas, making it the first Korean conglomerate to adopt such a measure... Apple, Microsoft and General Electric have reportedly also implemented a similar policy. Samsung Electronics’ policy only covers the cost for the employee’s trip and not the family members. The company also prohibits the employee from seeking benefits for their family during their business trips, such as free tours... Samsung Group, which is looking to change its work motto from “work hard” to “work smart,” is considering expanding the policy to its other affiliates if it proves successful"

Want to have a better time in bed? Stop stressing about sex and learn to take it in turns says the expert - "Roughly 75 per cent of men in relationships always have an orgasm with their partner, compared to only 30 per cent of women. Men's orgasms last anywhere between five and 13 seconds, women's last around 12 to 30 seconds. Do the maths and you'll quickly see that no sane bookie would ever back the odds of both of you orbiting into orgasmic ecstasy at exactly the same moment.... It's not only easier to orgasm one at a time, it means we can focus intently on making sure it's the best it can be for our partner (rather than losing ourselves in our own yummy but inherently selfish orgasmic sensations)."

Chinese Female Bodyguard - Imgur - "On April 4th 2014, six beauties started training in a bodyguard training school in Beijing. In recent years, the number of schools like this has grown, graduating classes every year. Many beautiful women partake in the grueling training... Female bodyguards often out earn their male counterparts significantly... Not only do these women go through tough training, in recent years many of them are also good looking, tall, and have a good figure... Compared to a male bodyguard, a female bodyguard can disguise herself as a secretary or personal assistant without appearing too indiscreet. They're sought after by business executives."

Woman spends $15,000 on plastic surgery to take perfect 'selfies'

Gluten Intolerance May Not Exist - "fermentable, poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates, also known as FODMAPs... each treatment diet, whether it included gluten or not, prompted subjects to report a worsening of gastrointestinal symptoms to similar degrees. Reported pain, bloating, nausea, and gas all increased over the baseline low-FODMAP diet. Even in the second experiment, when the placebo diet was identical to the baseline diet, subjects reported a worsening of symptoms! The data clearly indicated that a nocebo effect, the same reaction that prompts some people to get sick from wind turbines and wireless signals, was at work here. Patients reported gastrointestinal distress without any apparent physical cause. Gluten wasn’t the culprit; the cause was likely psychological. Participants expected the diets to make them sick, and so they did. The finding led Gibson to the opposite conclusion of his 2011 research: “In contrast to our first study… we could find absolutely no specific response to gluten.” Instead, as RCS reported last week, FODMAPS are a far more likely cause of the gastrointestinal problems attributed to gluten intolerance"

Angelina Jolie Effect: Doctors warn over worrying rise in double mastectomies - "Women with breast cancer are increasingly asking for removal of both breasts – despite there being no medical reason for the surgery. Most do not have a genetic or family history putting them at higher risk of the disease, warn experts. As a result, they are being over-treated and may suffer long-term harm, including delays in dealing with the cancer. The rise in women asking for the procedure comes after actress Angelina Jolie last year chose a double mastectomy for prevention when she discovered gene mutations raised her risk of breast cancer to 87 per cent. The risk is around 12.5 per cent in the general population. But a recent study found more than two-thirds of women who had both breasts removed after a cancer diagnosis did not have a medical reason for doing so."
The Power of Awareness!

Pinker on Nature "vs" Nurture

My Genome, My Self - Steven Pinker Gets to the Bottom of his own Genetic Code - NYTimes.com

"The human mind is prone to essentialism — the intuition that living things house some hidden substance that gives them their form and determines their powers...

During my first book tour 15 years ago, an interviewer noted that the paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould had dedicated his first book to his father, who took him to see the dinosaurs when he was 5. What was the event that made me become a cognitive psychologist who studies language? I was dumbstruck. The only thing that came to mind was that the human mind is uniquely interesting and that as soon as I learned you could study it for a living, I knew that that was what I wanted to do. But that response would not just have been charmless; it would also have failed to answer the question. Millions of people are exposed to cognitive psychology in college but have no interest in making a career of it. What made it so attractive to me?

As I stared blankly, the interviewer suggested that perhaps it was because I grew up in Quebec in the 1970s when language, our pre-eminent cognitive capacity, figured so prominently in debates about the future of the province. I quickly agreed — and silently vowed to come up with something better for the next time. Now I say that my formative years were a time of raging debates about the political implications of human nature, or that my parents subscribed to a Time-Life series of science books, and my eye was caught by the one called “The Mind,” or that one day a friend took me to hear a lecture by the great Canadian psychologist D. O. Hebb, and I was hooked. But it is all humbug. The very fact that I had to think so hard brought home what scholars of autobiography and memoir have long recognized. None of us know what made us what we are, and when we have to say something, we make up a good story.

An obvious candidate for the real answer is that we are shaped by our genes in ways that none of us can directly know...

In the 20th century, many intellectuals embraced the idea that babies are blank slates that are inscribed by parents and society. It allowed them to distance themselves from toxic doctrines like that of a superior race, the eugenic breeding of a better species or a genetic version of the Twinkie Defense in which individuals or society could evade responsibility by saying that it’s all in the genes. When it came to human behavior, the attitude toward genetics was “Don’t go there.” Those who did go there found themselves picketed, tarred as Nazis and genetic determinists or, in the case of the biologist E. O. Wilson, doused with a pitcher of ice water at a scientific conference...

Today, as the lessons of history have become clearer, the taboo is fading. Though the 20th century saw horrific genocides inspired by Nazi pseudoscience about genetics and race, it also saw horrific genocides inspired by Marxist pseudoscience about the malleability of human nature. The real threat to humanity comes from totalizing ideologies and the denial of human rights, rather than a curiosity about nature and nurture. Today it is the humane democracies of Scandinavia that are hotbeds of research in behavioral genetics, and two of the groups who were historically most victimized by racial pseudoscience — Jews and African-Americans — are among the most avid consumers of information about their genes.

Nor should the scare word “determinism” get in the way of understanding our genetic roots. For some conditions, like Huntington’s disease, genetic determinism is simply correct: everyone with the defective gene who lives long enough will develop the condition. But for most other traits, any influence of the genes will be probabilistic. Having a version of a gene may change the odds, making you more or less likely to have a trait, all things being equal, but as we shall see, the actual outcome depends on a tangle of other circumstances as well...

To study something scientifically, you first have to measure it, and psychologists have developed tests for many mental traits. And contrary to popular opinion, the tests work pretty well: they give a similar measurement of a person every time they are administered, and they statistically predict life outcomes like school and job performance, psychiatric diagnoses and marital stability...

The most prominent finding of behavioral genetics has been summarized by the psychologist Eric Turkheimer: “The nature-nurture debate is over. . . . All human behavioral traits are heritable.” By this he meant that a substantial fraction of the variation among individuals within a culture can be linked to variation in their genes. Whether you measure intelligence or personality, religiosity or political orientation, television watching or cigarette smoking, the outcome is the same. Identical twins (who share all their genes) are more similar than fraternal twins (who share half their genes that vary among people). Biological siblings (who share half those genes too) are more similar than adopted siblings (who share no more genes than do strangers). And identical twins separated at birth and raised in different adoptive homes (who share their genes but not their environments) are uncannily similar...

Behavioral genetics has repeatedly found that the “shared environment” — everything that siblings growing up in the same home have in common, including their parents, their neighborhood, their home, their peer group and their school — has less of an influence on the way they turn out than their genes. In many studies, the shared environment has no measurable influence on the adult at all. Siblings reared together end up no more similar than siblings reared apart, and adoptive siblings reared in the same family end up not similar at all...

The two traditional shapers of a person, nature and nurture, must be augmented by a third one, brute chance...

The environment... is not a stamping machine that pounds us into a shape but a cafeteria of options from which our genes and our histories incline us to choose...

All of us already live with the knowledge that we have the fatal genetic condition called mortality, and most of us cope using some combination of denial, resignation and religion...

Assessing risks from genomic data is not like using a pregnancy-test kit with its bright blue line. It’s more like writing a term paper on a topic with a huge and chaotic research literature. You are whipsawed by contradictory studies with different sample sizes, ages, sexes, ethnicities, selection criteria and levels of statistical significance...

For all the narcissistic pleasure that comes from poring over clues to my inner makeup, I soon realized that I was using my knowledge of myself to make sense of the genetic readout, not the other way around...

Individual genes are just not very informative. Call it Geno’s Paradox. We know from classic medical and behavioral genetics that many physical and psychological traits are substantially heritable. But when scientists use the latest methods to fish for the responsible genes, the catch is paltry.

Take height. Though health and nutrition can affect stature, height is highly heritable: no one thinks that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar just ate more Wheaties growing up than Danny DeVito. Height should therefore be a target-rich area in the search for genes, and in 2007 a genomewide scan of nearly 16,000 people turned up a dozen of them. But these genes collectively accounted for just 2 percent of the variation in height, and a person who had most of the genes was barely an inch taller, on average, than a person who had few of them. If that’s the best we can do for height, which can be assessed with a tape measure, what can we expect for more elusive traits like intelligence or personality?...

Though we know that genes for intelligence must exist, each is likely to be small in effect, found in only a few people, or both. In a recent study of 6,000 children, the gene with the biggest effect accounted for less than one-quarter of an I.Q. point. The quest for genes that underlie major disorders of cognition, like autism and schizophrenia, has been almost as frustrating. Both conditions are highly heritable, yet no one has identified genes that cause either condition across a wide range of people. Perhaps this is what we should expect for a high-maintenance trait like human cognition, which is vulnerable to many mutations...

The self is a byzantine bureaucracy, and no gene can push the buttons of behavior by itself. You can attribute the ability to defy our genotypes to free will, whatever that means, but you can also attribute it to the fact that in a hundred-trillion-synapse human brain, any single influence can be outweighed by the product of all of the others...

Even if personal genomics someday delivers a detailed printout of psychological traits, it will probably not change everything, or even most things. It will give us deeper insight about the biological causes of individuality, and it may narrow the guesswork in assessing individual cases. But the issues about self and society that it brings into focus have always been with us. We have always known that people are liable, to varying degrees, to antisocial temptations and weakness of the will. We have always known that people should be encouraged to develop the parts of themselves that they can (“a man’s reach should exceed his grasp”) but that it’s foolish to expect that anyone can accomplish anything (“a man has got to know his limitations”). And we know that holding people responsible for their behavior will make it more likely that they behave responsibly. “My genes made me do it” is no better an excuse than “We’re depraved on account of we’re deprived.”

Many of the dystopian fears raised by personal genomics are simply out of touch with the complex and probabilistic nature of genes. Forget about the hyperparents who want to implant math genes in their unborn children, the “Gattaca” corporations that scan people’s DNA to assign them to castes, the employers or suitors who hack into your genome to find out what kind of worker or spouse you’d make. Let them try; they’d be wasting their time.

The real-life examples are almost as futile. When the connection between the ACTN3 gene and muscle type was discovered, parents and coaches started swabbing the cheeks of children so they could steer the ones with the fast-twitch variant into sprinting and football. Carl Foster, one of the scientists who uncovered the association, had a better idea: “Just line them up with their classmates for a race and see which ones are the fastest.”

It is a question of the most perspicuous level of analysis at which to understand a complex phenomenon. You can’t understand the stock market by studying a single trader, or a movie by putting a DVD under a microscope. The fallacy is not in thinking that the entire genome matters, but in thinking that an individual gene will matter, at least in a way that is large and intelligible enough for us to care about.

If you really want to know yourself (and this will be the test of how much you do), consider the suggestion of François La Rochefoucauld: “Our enemies’ opinion of us comes closer to the truth than our own."


This reminds me of claims that because we haven't found a "gay gene", homosexuality cannot be genetically-linked.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Links - 20th June 2014

The New York Times Weighs In on the Kudzu-Like Spread of Trigger Warnings - "Express the tiniest doubt about the usefulness of trigger warnings—or their ubiquity and overuse in some corners of the web—and you will be accused of not caring about rape victims. But pause to consider that people are demanding trigger warnings on everything from discussions about colonialism to the works of William Shakespeare to, ahem, certain sex-advice columnists and it becomes clear that this isn't just about protecting rape victims from content that may "cause symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder." (Gotta get this off my chest: If someone experiences anti-Semitism-related PTSD symptoms after reading The Merchant of Venice in a college course... then someone failed to read the whole play and someone deserves to be flunked. (Failing grades, of course, should probably come with trigger warnings.) And gotta get this off my chest too: "Triggers are not only relevant to sexual misconduct," reads Oberlin College's draft guide on trigger warnings, "but also to anything that might cause trauma." (Emphasis added.) Put a trigger warning on anything that might cause trauma—doesn't that seems impossibly broad?)... Someone who uses a trigger warning before writing about rape or sexual violence will probably write about rape and sexual violence with enough sensitivity that the trigger warning wasn't necessary... So what purpose, then, do trigger warnings serve? It seems to me that they exist not to protect the reader, but to draw attention to the writer. You've heard of false consciousness? Well, trigger warnings are false conscientiousness. The writer who uses trigger warnings isn't saying, "I care about you." The writer is saying, "Look at meeeeee." It's narcissism masquerading as concern. And then there's this: there's really no way to predict what could possibly trigger someone"

Warning: The Literary Canon Could Make Students Squirm - NYTimes.com - "Trigger warnings, they say, suggest a certain fragility of mind that higher learning is meant to challenge, not embrace... “Any kind of blanket trigger policy is inimical to academic freedom,” said Lisa Hajjar, a sociology professor at the university here, who often uses graphic depictions of torture in her courses about war. “Any student can request some sort of individual accommodation, but to say we need some kind of one-size-fits-all approach is totally wrong. The presumption there is that students should not be forced to deal with something that makes them uncomfortable is absurd or even dangerous”... “Frankly it seems this is sort of an inevitable movement toward people increasingly expecting physical comfort and intellectual comfort in their lives,” said Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a nonprofit group that advocates free speech. “It is only going to get harder to teach people that there is a real important and serious value to being offended. Part of that is talking about deadly serious and uncomfortable subjects”... Wellesley College this year after the school installed a lifelike statue of a man in his underwear, and hundreds of students signed a petition to have it removed. Writing in The Huffington Post, one Wellesley student called it a “potentially triggering sculpture,” and petition signers cited “concerns that it has triggered memories of sexual assault amongst some students”... Here at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in March there was a confrontation when a group of anti-abortion protesters held up graphic pictures of aborted fetuses and a pregnant professor of feminist studies tried to destroy the posters, saying they triggered a sense of fear in her. After she was arrested on vandalism, battery and robbery charges, more than 1,000 students signed a petition of support for her, saying the university should impose greater restrictions on potentially trigger-inducing content... “If I were a junior faculty member looking at this while putting my syllabus together, I’d be terrified,” Mr. Blecher said. “Any student who felt triggered by something that happened in class could file a complaint with the various procedures and judicial boards, and create a very tortuous process for anyone.”"

Trigger Warnings Have Spread from Blogs to College Classes. That's Bad - "The trigger warning signals not only the growing precautionary approach to words and ideas in the university, but a wider cultural hypersensitivity to harm and a paranoia about giving offense. And yet, for all the debate about the warnings on campuses and on the Internet, few are grappling with the ramifications for society as a whole... In 2010, Susannah Breslin wrote in True/Slant that feminists were applying the term "like a Southern cook applies Pam cooking spray to an overused nonstick frying pan"... now that they've entered university classrooms, it's only a matter of time before warnings are demanded for other grade levels. As students introduce them in college newspapers, promotional material for plays, even poetry slams, it's not inconceivable that they'll appear at the beginning of film screenings and at the entrance to art exhibits. Will newspapers start applying warnings to articles about rape, murder, and war? Could they even become a regular feature of speech? "I was walking down Main Street last night when—trigger warning—I saw an elderly woman get mugged"... As the list of trigger warning–worthy topics continues to grow, there's scant research demonstrating how words "trigger" or how warnings might help. Most psychological research on P.T.S.D. suggests that, for those who have experienced trauma, "triggers" can be complex and unpredictable, appearing in many forms, from sounds to smells to weather conditions and times of the year. In this sense, anything can be a trigger—a musky cologne, a ditsy pop song, a footprint in the snow... Two people who have endured similarly painful experiences, from rape to war, can read the same material and respond in wholly different ways. Issuing caution on the basis of potential harm or insult doesn't help us negotiate our reactions; it makes our dealings with others more fraught. As Breslin pointed out, trigger warnings can have the opposite of their intended effect... they reinforce the fear of words by depicting an ever-expanding number of articles and books as dangerous and requiring of regulation. By framing more public spaces, from the Internet to the college classroom, as full of infinite yet ill-defined hazards, trigger warnings encourage us to think of ourselves as more weak and fragile than we really are... Trigger warnings are presented as a gesture of empathy, but the irony is they lead only to more solipsism, an over-preoccupation with one’s own feelings—much to the detriment of society as a whole. Structuring public life around the most fragile personal sensitivities will only restrict all of our horizons. Engaging with ideas involves risk, and slapping warnings on them only undermines the principle of intellectual exploration. We cannot anticipate every potential trigger—the world, like the Internet, is too large and unwieldy. But even if we could, why would we want to? Bending the world to accommodate our personal frailties does not help us overcome them"

Hospital cleaner sacked for speaking Polish during her lunch break - "Johanna Renclawowicz received a letter saying she was fired from Sykehuset Telemark hospital because 'you have been given information that only Norwegian shall be spoken during working time'. It continued: 'Your colleagues and hospital users have repeatedly complained that Polish is spoken in the eating area, cleaning department and corridors etc.'"
She got 60,000 kroner for economic losses and damages and 130,000 for something else

The 5 Hainanese Curry Rice stalls to know - "It is no doubt that the Singaporean flavour is a beautiful mix of various traditions and influences. One of the most prominent influences on the local food culture comes from the Hainanese tradition. Of course, everyone would know about the Hainanese Chicken Rice and all its goodness. However, the one dish that holds a special place in the hearts of many Singaporeans is the unbeatable Hainanese Curry Rice. Hainanese Curry Rice is a dish that looks like an absolute mess on the plate but tastes even more delicious than it is ugly. An upgrade from your regular economic rice, it leaves you wanting more with its sweet, sticky and gooey gravy packed full of flavour that always sends your tastebuds raving for more."

Celebrities Read Mean Tweets About Themselves, And Their Responses Are So Funny - "What's wrong with having a dick in my mouth?"

Can You Freeze This? - "CanYouFreezeThis.com is a site that is meant to help you if have any questions or doubts related to freezing various products. If you don’t know whether you can freeze a product, how to do it properly, or how freezing affects this particular product, CanYouFreezeThis.com will help you!"

5 Most Horrifying Things About Monsanto—Why You Should Join the Global Movement and Protest on Saturday - "Fed up with the fact that she has to spend “a small fortune” in order to feed her family things she says “aren’t poisonous,” Tami Canal of Utah has organized a global movement against the giant chemical and seed corporation Monsanto"
So some anti-GMO activists want to get subsidised organic food. 'Sustainability' indeed

Revealed -- why men love sex! - "‘A University of British Columbia survey interviewed hundreds of women who reported feeling ‘erotically neutral’ at the start of sex. Only when they started making love – and enjoyed it – did they warm up and feel actual desire,’ the report added. According to sex therapists, men become intimate to gain sex whereas women have sex to gain intimacy... For women, however, one-night stands aren’t that satisfying. If we believe researchers at Indiana University, most of the women aren’t achieving orgasm in casual encounters. ‘Only one quarter of women reliably experience orgasm through intercourse alone while another third rarely or never have orgasms from intercourse,’ according to a review of 32 studies conducted by Dr Elisabeth Lloyd at Indiana University. ‘Like generations before them, many young women are finding that casual sex doesn’t bring the physical pleasure that men experience’"
Yet more problems with 'enthusiastic consent'

Unsafe sex: why everyone's at it - "The increase in risky sex among my age group (I am 26) led to American journalist Ann Friedman describing us as the "pull-out generation"... "These women describe a deliberate transition from the pill to the pull-out," wrote Friedman. "They buy organic kale and all-natural cleaning products, and so can't quite get down with taking synthetic hormones every day. They see orgasms as a right, not a privilege"... "Sexual liberation has trumped other kinds of liberation. We've basically linked hormonal birth control with sexual liberation, which is interesting because many women experience a negative impact on their sexual libido. And that is apparently fine."

Want your kid to eat veggies? Don't tell her it's healthy - "children who are told certain foods will make them stronger, smarter or taller are less likely to want to eat them. "We propose that young children infer from messages on food instrumentality that if a certain food is good for one goal, it cannot be a good means to achieve another goal," says Dr Ayelet Fishbach of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. "Similarly, if food is presented as something that makes them strong, then these children will conclude that the food is not as tasty, and will therefore consume less of it," Fishbach adds. In short, the study concludes that the best way to foster healthy eating habits in young children is to avoid telling them how fruits and vegetables will make them stronger, taller or smarter"

"how to get guys interested in math"


exp(-((x-4)^2+(y-4)^2)^2/1000) + exp(-((x+4)^2+(y+4)^2)^2/1000) + 0.1exp(-((x+4)^2+(y+4)^2)^2)+0.1exp(-((x-4)^2+(y-4)^2)^2)

Two Italian Men

A bus stops and two Italian men get on. They seat themselves, and engage in animated conversation. The lady sitting behind them ignores their conversation at first, but she listens in horror as one of the men says the following:

"Emma come first. Then I come. Two asses, dey come together. I come again.

Two asses, dey come together again. I come again and pee twice. Then I come once-a more."

"You foul-mouthed swine," retorted the lady indignantly. "In this country we don't talk about our sex lives in public!"

"Hey, coola down lady," said the man. "Imma just tellun my friend howa ta spella Mississippi."

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Islam and Religious Tolerance (3/3)

(Continued from:

Islam and Religious Tolerance (1/3)
Islam and Religious Tolerance (2/3))

"From the beginnings of Islam, the Muslim authorities are virtually unanimous in their instruction to the believers: "Khalifuhum"—differentiate yourselves from them—that is, the unbelievers—in dress as in manners and customs. And since Muslims might not dress like unbelievers, it follows that unbelievers should not adopt or imitate the attire of Muslims...

The dhimmi cannot and indeed may not defend himself even against such petty but painful attacks as stone throwing, done mainly by children—a form of amusement recorded in many places from early until modern times. The dhimmi had to rely on the public authorities to protect him from attack or other harm, and while this protection was often, indeed usually, given, it inevitably faltered in times of trouble or disorder. The resulting feeling of endangerment, of precariousness, is frequently expressed in dhimmi writings...

Free Muslim women going out of doors were required to keep their faces covered by some sort of veil. Dhimmi and slave women were permitted to go barefaced, and sometimes even required to do so. There are some sets of regulations that actually forbid the women of the dhimmis to wear veils. The association of the uncovered face with slave women and of the veiled face with virtue and propriety is clear. The sentiment expressed in these rules is clearly the same as that which inspired Western conventions, in the recent past, concerning the exposure of the female bosom. At a time when standards in the cinema and television were stricter than they are now, it was acceptable to display bare-breasted women if they were regarded as primitive natives of some remote place. It was forbidden to display them if they were white and, so to speak, civilized...

A consideration of the highest importance was that the dhimmis should show respect not only for Islam but also for each and every individual Muslim...

A set of conditions the mullahs wished to impose on the Jews of Hamadan in Iran, in about 1892, are even more specific:

A Jew must never overtake a Muslim on a public street. He is forbidden to talk loudly to a Muslim. A Jewish creditor of a Muslim must claim his debt in a quavering and respectful manner. If a Muslim insults a Jew, the latter must drop his head and remain silent."

... the dhimmi who publicly insults the Prophet must be put to death, since "it is not for this that we granted him the dhimma."

There were indeed some seekers for martyrdom who attained their wishes in this way. Often, the offenders were demented or drunk; sometimes the accusation and punishment might be due to political needs, popular pressures, or even private vengeance. In general, prosecutions and condemnations for this offense were not common, but they occurred, from time to time, until well into the nineteenth century, and the fear of denunciation must have been a big factor in keeping the dhimmis in their place...

Shi'ites in Iran were far less tolerant than their Sunni contemporaries in the Ottoman Empire. Expulsion, forced conversion, and massacre—all three of rare occurrence in the Sunni lands—were features of life in Iran up to the nineteenth century. Western travelers comment frequently on the abject and miserable status of the non-Muslim subjects of the shahs. In general, it is significant that, with the striking exception of Spain and Arabia, Islamic regimes were more tolerant at the center than at the periphery, indeed becoming more repressive the further they were from the heartlands of Islamic civilization. Life for non-Muslims was usually better in Egypt or Turkey, Syria or Iraq than in North Africa and Central Asia...

Sometimes, when a persecution occurred, we find that the instigators were concerned to justify it in terms of the Holy Law. The usual argument was that the Jews or the Christians had violated the pact by overstepping their proper place. They had thus broken the conditions of the contract with Islam, and the Muslim state and people were no longer bound by it...

From time to time, especially in periods of great upheaval and disorder, Messianic and millenarian movements have appeared in the lands of Islam, which sometimes destroyed old regimes and swept new rulers and even dynasties into power, through revolution often followed by conquest. One of the most successful of these was the movement known as the Almohads... The Messianic fervor of the Almohads could not tolerate any deviation from their particular version of Islam. Muslims who would not submit were ruthlessly purged, while Jews and still more Christians were denied the tolerance prescribed by the Shari'a. It was probably at this time that Christianity was finally extirpated from North Africa. Jews, too, suffered badly in both North Africa and Spain and—exceptionally in Muslim history west of Iran—were given the choice between conversion, exile, and death...

The Muslim attitude toward heresy, which differs very radically from the Christian attitude. In the history of the Christian churches, heresy has been a matter of profound concern. Heresy meant a deviation from correct belief as defined by authority, the deviation being recognized and defined as such by authority. In Islam there was less concern about the details of belief. What mattered was what people did—orthopraxy rather than orthodoxy—and Muslims were allowed on the whole to believe as they chose so long as they accepted the basic minimum, the unity of God and the apostolate of Muhammad, and conformed to the social norms. Even heresies deviating very considerably from mainstream Islam were accorded tolerance. Heresy was persecuted only when it was seen to offer a substantial threat to the social or political order.

Much the same considerations regulated Muslim attitudes toward the non-Muslim subjects. Trouble arose when Jews or Christians were seen to be getting too much wealth or too much power, that is to say, more than was thought proper or appropriate for them, and more particularly when they were enjoying them too visibly. The best-known example of this is the massacre of Jews in Granada in 1066, usually ascribed to a reaction among the Muslim population against a powerful and ostentatious Jewish vizier...

Broadly speaking, Christians and Jews were treated in the same way. Sometimes we find the one better off, sometimes the other, but this was due to specific circumstances and not to general principles. The Qur'an shows an unequivocal preference for Christians; the Muslim tradition, reflecting the circumstances of the Prophet's career, shows even more. In general, the portrayal of the Jew in hadith is negative—less so in discussing his beliefs and practices, more so in reference to Jewish relations with the Prophet and Muslims. According to the great ninth-century Arab author al-Jahiz, the Muslim masses preferred Christians to Jews for a number of reasons. The most important, he notes, was that the Jews, unlike the Christians, had actively opposed the Prophet in Medina:

... the hearts of Muslims are hardened toward the Jews, but inclined toward the Christians.

... Another reason for the popular Muslim preference is that the Christians, though ugly, are less ugly than the Jews, whose ugliness is accentuated by inbreeding... Al-Jahiz was famous as a humorist, satirist, and parodist and it is often difficult to know whether he is speaking in jest or in earnest. In any case, apart from the early religious literature, there is no evidence that Jews were viewed with greater hostility or accorded worse treatment than were Christians under Muslim rule. On the contrary, there are some indications that Christians were more open to suspicion than Jews. For most of the fourteen centuries of Islamic history, the major external enemy of Islam was Christendom...

In most respects the position of non-Muslims under traditional Islamic rule was very much easier than that of non- Christians or even of heretical Christians in medieval Europe, not to speak of some events in modern Europe or, for that matter, the modern Middle East. But their status was one of legal and social inferiority or, as we would say nowadays, of second-class citizenship. At the present time this expression conveys a formal condemnation and has become a catch phrase to denote unacceptable discrimination by a dominant group against other groups in the same society. But the phrase deserves a closer look. Second-class citizenship, though secondclass, is a kind of citizenship. It involves some rights, though not all, and is surely better than no rights at all. It is certainly preferable to the kind of situation that prevails in many states at the present time, where the minorities, and for that matter even the majority, enjoy no real civil or human rights in spite of all the resplendent principles enshrined in the constitutions, but utterly without effect. A recognized status, albeit one of inferiority to the dominant group, which is established by law, recognized by tradition, and confirmed by popular assent, is not to be despised.

Under Muslim rule such a status was for long accepted with resignation by the Christians and with gratitude by the Jews. It ceased to be acceptable when the rising power of Christendom on the one hand and the radical ideas of the French Revolution on the other caused a wave of discontent among the Christian subjects of the Muslim states, an unwillingness to submit to the humiliations or even to the threat or possibility of humiliation, which existed in the old order...

The ending of the classical Islamic system and the abrogation of the status it accorded the non-Muslims brought a considerable improvement in the formal and legal state of these communities in their respective countries. The actual working out of their emancipation, in an age of imperialist domination and nationalist revolt, of secular challenge and Islamic response, is a very different matter"

--- The Jews of Islam / Bernard Lewis

Links - 17th June 2014

Toddler who Peed in Street Sparks Culture Clash between Hong Kong and China - "Netizens and newspapers on opposite sides of the internal border have been squabbling since a mainland couple allowed their little girl to relieve herself in the kerb in Hong Kong's Mong Kok district... "The radical passersby in Hong Kong tried to show their moral superiority while they only revealed the vulgar side of the region," an editorial published by the Communist Party mouthpiece the Global Times read. Chinese commentators lashed out at what they said was an over-reaction. An opinion poll by Sina.com revealed tha, out of more than 120,000 Chinese interviewed, only 11% thought that it was not okay for a child to urinate in the street... "Bring children to Hong Kong and let them urinate in Hong Kong's streets. Let's see who will come and take photos," Haijiao No68 wrote, according to SCMP. "They will see it as natural after they have been familiarised with the act.""

Women and Men Policymakers: Does the Judge's Gender Affect the Sentencing of Criminal Defendants? - "Women judges are somewhat harsher (i.e., more likely to incarcerate and impose longer sentences), and they slant toward a more contextualized style in weighing the effects of defendant characteristics and prior record on sentencing outcomes. Notably, they are particularly harsh toward repeat black offenders"
Female judges: racist towards black men!

Career, Family, and the Well-Being of College-Educated Women - "I report on measures of life satisfaction and emotional well-being across groups of college-educated women, based on whether they have a career, a family, both, or neither. The biggest premium to life satisfaction is associated with having a family. While there is also a life satisfaction premium associated with having a career, women do not seem able to "double up" on these premiums. A qualitatively similar picture emerges from the emotional well-being data. Among college-educated women with family, those with a career spend a larger share of their day unhappy, sad, stressed and tired."
The happiest women are those with no career and a family, followed by those with both, followed by those with only a career (as reported). So more gender equality in a broad measure of employment 'hurts' women

Female Labor Supply: Why is the US Falling Behind? - "In 1990, the US had the sixth highest female labor participation rate among 22 OECD countries. By 2010, its rank had fallen to 17th. We find that the expansion of “family-friendly” policies including parental leave and part-time work entitlements in other OECD countries explains 28-29% of the decrease in US women’s labor force participation relative to these other countries. However, these policies also appear to encourage part-time work and employment in lower level positions: US women are more likely than women in other countries to have full time jobs and to work as managers or professionals."
Family-friendly/part-time work policies lead to more labour force participation - but also a larger gender wage gap

Family Ties and Political Participation - "We establish an inverse relationship between family ties, generalized trust and political participation. The more individuals rely on the family as a provider of services, insurance, transfer of resources, the lower is civic engagement and political participation. The latter, together with trust, are part of what is known as social capital, therefore in this paper we contribute to the investigation of the origin and evolution of social capital over time. We establish these results using within country evidence and looking at the behavior of immigrants from various countries in 32 different destination places"
The only way to Build Society is to Destroy the Family; no wonder in Singapore we try to encourage the role of the Family

On the Origins of Gender Roles: Women and the Plough - "We find that, consistent with existing hypotheses, the descendants of societies that traditionally practiced plough agriculture, today have lower rates of female participation in the workplace, in politics, and in entrepreneurial activities, as well as a greater prevalence of attitudes favoring gender inequality. We identify the causal impact of traditional plough use by exploiting variation in the historical geo-climatic suitability of the environment for growing crops that differentially benefited from the adoption of the plough"

Steely grit needed to break the glass ceiling - "Ruthless is not a word to be associated with but look behind the social meaning and see how some ruthlessness is vital to breaking the glass ceiling. Desire, ambition, charm, good communication skills and the ability to get people's trust are essential to get to be "boss". Both women had those - both were kind, helping the young, caring for weaker team members. Liz had singleness of purpose - to reach the top. Not at any price or ignoring good behaviour towards others, but reach the top she was determined to do. Mary had multiple purposes - being liked, making social contributions beyond work and being a shoulder to cry on. Liz "read" those she met to advance her own career, as well as her colleagues'. Mary "empathised" with everyone, helping with their immediate needs.
Ask yourself eight questions about these two women. Which one…
Made the bigger contribution to the welfare of those they met and worked with?
Would you rather work with?
Would you rather employ if you were a boss?
Would you rather be?
Would you marry if you were a man?
Has the most relaxed retirement?
Will live the longest?
Has, on balance, been happiest?
No right answers, but your answers will tell you if you will break the glass ceiling, while remaining a decent human being. They will tell you more than that if you think about them."

Unidentified Defendants Have Bedeviled Courts for Decades - NYTimes.com - "Court records had listed the man as “Fnu Lnu,” shorthand for “First name unknown, Last name unknown”... a Chinese gang indictment in New York about a decade ago listed 28 defendants, almost half of which were Fnu Lnus... In 1994, a Newport News, Va., newspaper, The Daily Press, published an article about a drug and murder case and listed people who had been charged, including one named Fnu Lnu, as if that were a real person. The newspaper ran a correction, which might have been overlooked or forgotten, had it not been reprinted playfully in the Columbia Journalism Review, where a playwright, Mac Wellman, saw it and wrote a play with songs about it. The show, called “Fnu Lnu,” was produced by Soho Rep, an Off Broadway theater. A 1997 review in The New York Times called the play “a work with important clues missing.” Mr. Wellman, who teaches playwriting at Brooklyn College, said the reprinted correction “was completely the inspiration for my play.”"

High ‘high elf’ stabs Portland woman’s car with sword - "A Glendale, Ore., man decked out for battle and allegedly high on LSD thought he was fighting the evil ‘Morgoth,’ but really, he was stabbing a woman’s car in a Portland, Ore., intersection."

What is the mass of a photon? - "In classical electromagnetic theory, light turns out to have energy E and momentum p, and these happen to be related by E = pc. Quantum mechanics introduces the idea that light can be viewed as a collection of "particles": photons. Even though these photons cannot be brought to rest, and so the idea of rest mass doesn't really apply to them, we can certainly bring these "particles" of light into the fold of equation (1) by just considering them to have no rest mass. That way, equation (1) gives the correct expression for light, E = pc, and no harm has been done. Equation (1) is now able to be applied to particles of matter and "particles" of light. It can now be used as a fully general equation, and that makes it very useful."

MRT molester wins appeal for shorter jail term - "Forhad was originally sentenced to 15 months' jail late last year after he pleaded guilty in the State Courts to three counts of outrage of modesty, with a fourth taken into consideration. He appealed to the High Court for a shorter term. Yesterday, Justice Chao Hick Tin cut the jail term - from six months to two months - on one of the charges for rubbing the victim's thigh, saying it was not a private part. Judge of Appeal Chao made it clear the court was not condoning his actions. Every person who travels on public transport should feel "comfortable" and not feel concerned about others trying to take advantage of them, he said."
Rubbing a woman's thigh = 2 months in jail. Maybe the hand merits 3 weeks

Comparing The Top Artists, Past And Present, By Vocal Range - "At the top of the chart: Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose, closely followed by Mariah Carey, Prince, Steven Tyler and James Brown. At the very bottom: country singer Luke Bryan, who is just topped by Taylor Swift, Karen Carpenter, Sam Cooke and Justin Bieber."

Why Does Nobody Know What 'Trolling' Means? - "Obviously, sending an email threatening to murder somebody's children is not "trolling," it's "being a cunt"... In conclusion, either no one in the mainstream media knows what the word "troll" really means in this context, or they're deliberately misusing it because it's a term that's been wrongly thrown around so much now that people are just used to it. Or perhaps they're just trolling people like me. In which case, good one."

Dolce & Gabbana Officially Apologizes To Hong Kong For That Photo-Banning Incident - "the store had released a policy forbidding Hong Kong residents from taking photos inside or outside its flagship store, purportedly in order to protect its "intellectual property." But residents were enraged, especially after learning that mainland Chinese and foreign tourists were excluded from the photo ban."

Jim Hill: Butterbeer: How the Harry Potter Beverage Was Made Real - "Based on surveys that UOR employees have done, the greatest Guest Satisfier in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, that piece-of-the-magic that people most wish that they could take home and share with friends and family... is a beverage. Butterbeer, to be precise... given that this beverage was going to be served in a family-friendly theme park, one aspect of this beverage (i.e. according to the Harry Potter books, quaffing this ale can give you a bit of a buzz) had to be dropped right off the bat. Furthermore, because Universal Orlando wanted as many guests as possible to be able to sample this brew (and that included the lactose intolerant), there could be no butter, or dairy products of any kind, in Butterbeer. J.K. allegedly agreed to these terms as Steven laid them out, but then added a few of her own. Chief among these was that -- because Rowling believed that corn syrup was about to become the next trans-fat (i.e. the ingredient that people now deliberately avoid whenever they're making their food choices) -- she insisted that Butterbeer be made with real sugar... And then J.K. carefully sampled all five glasses. And upon arriving at the real glass of Butterbeer, Rowling reportedly took one sip and then reportedly broke into a big smile, saying "Yes, Chef. That's it.""

Monday, June 16, 2014

Islam and Religious Tolerance (2/3)

(Continued from Part 1)

"The political classification was between those who had been conquered or who had submitted themselves to the power of Islam and those who had not. In Muslim law and practice, the relationship between the Muslim state and the subject non- Muslim communities to which it extended its tolerance and protection was regulated by a pact called dhimma, and those benefiting from this pact were known as ahl al-dhimma (people of the pact) or more briefly, dhimmis. By the terms of the dhimma, these communities were accorded a certain status, provided that they unequivocally recognized the primacy of Islam and the supremacy of the Muslims. This recognition was expressed in the payment of the poll tax and obedience to a series of restrictions defined in detail by the holy law...

Lands where Muslims rule and the Islamic law prevails are known collectively as the Dar al-Islam, the House of Islam; the outside world, inhabited and also governed by infidels, constitutes the Dar al-Harb, the House of War. It has this name because between the realm of Islam and the realms of unbelief there is a canonically obligatory perpetual state of war, which will continue until the whole world either accepts the message of Islam or submits to the rule of those who bring it. The name of this war is jihad, usually translated as "holy war," though the primary meaning of the word is striving or struggle, hence struggle in the cause of God. There are some parallels between the Muslim doctrine of jihad and the rabbinical Jewish doctrine of milhemet mitsva or milhemet hova, with the important difference that the Jewish notion is limited to one country whereas the Islamic jihad is worldwide...

Muslim territories were conquered by Christian armies and Muslim populations fell subject to Christian sovereigns. The resulting problem was much discussed by Muslim jurists, particularly of the Maliki school, predominant in North Africa and among the Muslims of Sicily and the Iberian peninsula. There were different opinions on the obligations of Muslims who found themselves under non-Muslim rule. Some authorities took a lenient view. If a non-Muslim government was tolerant, that is, if it allowed Muslims to practice their religion and obey their laws and thus live a good Muslim life, then they might stay where they were and be law-abiding subjects of such a ruler. Some opinions go further and permit Muslims to remain even under an intolerant ruler, if necessary pretending to adopt Christianity but preserving their Islam in secrecy.

The opposing, more severe, view is formulated in a classical text, a fatwa or responsum written by a Moroccan jurist named Ahmad al-Wansharisi and issued shortly after the final conquest of Spain by the Christians. The fatwa addresses the question: May Muslims remain under Christian rule or must they leave? His answer is unequivocally that they must leave— men, women, and children alike. If the Christian government from which they are departing is tolerant, that makes it all the more urgent that they should leave, since under a tolerant Christian government the danger of apostasy is greater. Al- Wansharisi dramatizes his ruling in the phrase: "Rather Muslim tyranny than Christian justice"...

Inevitably, the great struggles between Christendom and Islam in the Reconquista and the Crusades brought a sharpening of religious loyalties and antagonisms, and a worsening of the position of minorities—Jewish as well as Christian— under Muslim rule. Even so, in this as in many other things, Islamic practice on the whole turned out to be gentler than Islamic precept—the reverse of the situation in Christendom...

When the Muslims first conquered immense territories and were a tiny minority of conquerors amid a vast majority of the conquered, they needed security precautions for the protection of the occupying and governing elements... Christians and Jews were to wear special emblems on their clothes. This, incidentally, is the origin of the yellow badge, which was first introduced by a caliph in Baghdad in the ninth century and spread into Western lands in later medieval times. Even when attending the public baths, non-Muslims were supposed to wear distinguishing signs suspended from cords around their necks, so that they might not be mistaken for Muslims when disrobed in the bathhouse. (Under Shi'a rules, they were not allowed to use the same bathhouses.) The need to distinguish arose especially in the case of Jews, who shared with Muslims the rite of circumcision. The non-Muslims were required to avoid noise and display in their ceremonies, and at all times to show respect for Islam and deference to Muslims.

Most of these disabilities had a social and symbolic rather than a tangible and practical character. The only real economic penalty imposed on the dhimmis was fiscal. They had to pay higher taxes, a system of discrimination inherited from the previous empires of Iran and Byzantium...

In relations between dhimmis and Muslims, they were treated unequally. A Muslim could marry a free dhimmi woman, but a dhimmi man could not marry a Muslim woman. A Muslim could own a dhimmi slave, but a dhimmi could not own a Muslim slave. While the second of these limitations was often disregarded, the first, touching a far more sensitive point, was enforced with the utmost rigor, and any violation of it was severely punished and by some authorities treated as a capital offense. A similar position existed under the laws of the Byzantine Empire, according to which a Christian could marry a Jewish woman, but a Jew could not marry a Christian woman under pain of death. Likewise, Jews in Byzantium were forbidden to own Christian slaves on whatever grounds. The laws of the Muslim state assimilated the position of its Christian and Jewish subjects to that previously held by the Jewish subjects of Byzantium, but with some alleviation for both...

The fiscal penalization of the unbeliever is basic to the perceived relationship between the two sides, and is central to the dhimma as a whole. Unlike most of the other restrictions of the dhimma, it rests on a clear text in the Qur'an, and is well authenticated and established in the oldest traditions and historical narratives. In the earliest period, when, in accordance with the usage of the time, the Muslims would have been entitled to treat the conquered people as booty and sell them into slavery, the procedure adopted, of imposing a poll tax, was an action at once of prudence and of clemency...

The extent to which these restrictions were relaxed or enforced was determined by many factors, one of the most important being the strength or weakness of the Muslim state. It is easier to be tolerant when one feels strong than when one feels weak and endangered. The relationship between Muslims and dhimmis was affected by the state of relations between Islam and the outside world. We shall hardly be surprised to find that from the time of the Crusades onward, as the Muslim world, compared with the Christian world, became weaker and poorer, the position of the non-Muslim subjects of the Muslim states deteriorated. They suffered from a more rigorous enforcement of the restrictions and even from a degree of social segregation—something that had not often happened previously...

There is little sign of any deep-rooted emotional hostility directed against Jews—or for that matter any other group—such as the anti- Semitism of the Christian world. There were, however, unambiguously negative attitudes. These were in part the "normal" feelings of a dominant group toward subject groups, with parallels in virtually any society one cares to examine; in part, more specifically, the contempt of the Muslim for those who had been given the opportunity to accept the truth and who willfully chose to persist in their disbelief; in part, certain specific prejudices directed against one or other group and not against the rest.

On the whole, in contrast to Christian anti-Semitism, the Muslim attitude toward non-Muslims is one not of hate or fear or envy but simply of contempt. This is expressed in various ways. There is no lack of polemic literature attacking the Christians and occasionally also the Jews. The negative attributes ascribed to the subject religions and their followers are usually expressed in religious and social terms, very rarely in ethnic or racial terms, though this does sometimes occur. The language of abuse is often quite strong. The conventional epithets are apes for Jews and pigs for Christians. Different formulae of greeting are used when addressing Jews and Christians than when addressing Muslims, whether in conversation or in correspondence. Christians and Jews were forbidden to give their children distinctively Muslim names and, by Ottoman times, even those names that were shared by the three religions, such as Joseph or David, were differently spelled for the three. Non-Muslims learned to live with a number of differences of this sort; like the sartorial laws, they were part of the symbolism of inferiority...

Some authorities in Iran were even stricter on the question of ritual purity. Thus the first of a set of rules dating from late nineteenth-century Iran forbids Jews to go out of doors when it rains or snows, presumably for fear lest the rain or snow carry the impurity of the Jews to the Muslims...

The Ayatollah Khomeini, in a widely circulated book written for the guidance of Muslims in ritual and related matters, observes: "There are eleven things which make unclean: 1. urine; 2. faeces; 3. sperm; 4. carrion; 5. blood; 6. dog; 7. pig; 8. unbeliever; 9. wine; 10. beer; 11. the sweat of a camel which eats unclean things." In a gloss on number 8 he adds: "The entire body of the unbeliever is unclean; even his hair and nails and body moistures are unclean." There is, however, some relief: "When a non-Muslim man or woman is converted to Islam, their body, saliva, nasal secretions, and sweat are ritually clean. If, however, their clothes were in contact with their sweaty bodies before their conversion, these remain unclean""

--- The Jews of Islam / Bernard Lewis

Continued:
Islam and Religious Tolerance (3/3)

Links - 16th June 2014

Carrie Fisher's Weight-Loss Journey on Jenny Craig - "Hoping to lose another 20 lbs., if not more, Fisher adds: "I like looking better. Before you had to like me for my mind. I'm hoping to give people options now.""

Law Graduate from the National University of Singapore who was on the dean’s list, Ms Ong Shi Han and her boyfriend, Jeremy Kuek Beng Kiat, stealing things - "A woman who was suffering from depression has been sentenced to 15 months’ probation for stealing drinks and rice from a condominium storage room... She committed the offence with her boyfriend, Jeremy Kuek Beng Kiat, also 23. Kuek, an aeronautical engineering student, was sentenced to a day’s jail and fined S$3,000 in May... After sentencing, Ong changed from a pink dress into a green top and black skirt and wore hair extensions to avoid being recognised."

Do You Receive a Lighter Prison Sentence Because You Are a Woman? An Economic Analysis of Federal Criminal Sentencing Guidelines - "The Federal criminal sentencing guidelines struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 required that males and females who commit the same crime and have the same prior criminal record be sentenced equally. Using data obtained from the United States Sentencing Commission's records, we examine whether there exists any gender-based bias in criminal sentencing decisions. We treat months in prison as a censored variable in order to account for the frequent outcome of no prison time. Additionally, we control for the self-selection of the defendant into guilty pleas through use of an endogenous switching regression model. A new decomposition methodology is employed. Our results indicate that women receive more lenient sentences even after controlling for circumstances such as the severity of the offense and past criminal history."

Men Sentenced To Longer Prison Terms Than Women For Same Crimes, Study Says - "A new study by Sonja Starr, an assistant law professor at the University of Michigan, found that men are given much higher sentences than women convicted of the same crimes in federal court. The study found that men receive sentences that are 63 percent higher, on average, than their female counterparts. Starr also found that females arrested for a crime are also significantly more likely to avoid charges and convictions entirely, and twice as likely to avoid incarceration if convicted. Other research has found evidence of the same gender gap, though Starr asserts that the disparity is actually larger than previously suspected because other studies haven't looked at the role of plea bargains and other pre-sentencing steps in the criminal justice system."
Feminist response: *crickets* then asking for most female criminals to be excused from prison time and manipulating statistics so it looks like the disparity is in the other direction
Comments: "I'm calling BS on this one. In a good majority of the crime stories I follow a man will get 7 years for directly committing a murder, yet his female accomplice waiting in the car gets 35, 40 and sometimes life without parole."
"I'm so absolutely sure that you are peddling snake oil that If you can name even one, single, solitary such story I will castrate myself. The disparity favoring women in the criminal justice system is the probably the single best established bias that exists in that system and has been demonstrated in countless studies going back a century."


The average prison sentence for men who kill their... - ""The average prison sentence for men who kill their intimate partners is 2 to 6 years. Women who kill their partners are sentenced, on average, to 15 years."

The Michigan Women’s Justice & Clemency Project
We’ve seen this particular claim made a number of times now. It’s the worst kind of claim because it’s technically true, yet utterly misleading. In short, it’s bad statistics (much like what happens with the wage gap) where it’s presumed that the actions being taken by each party are equal and that there aren’t gender differentials. As far as we can tell, the difference is that while both men and women do kill their partners, when they do it’s for notably different reasons and in notably different ways. When men kill their wives it’s normally what’s termed a “crime of passion” motivated by anger or rage. This normally leads to a charge of second-degree murder, because the crime lacks the premeditation element that characterizes first-degree murder. Women who kill their husbands, on the other hand, are more likely to exercise premeditation, which leads to the much more severe charge of first-degree murder. Even in cases where the charges don’t differ the circumstances often still do in a similar way, just to a lesser degree... Peacock was actually sentenced to 36 months himself, 18 of which were suspended. Of course, the page neglects to mention that part. Secondly, Hawkins was not sentenced to 36 months, but rather to 24 months, only six months longer than Peacock. It appears that “The Michigan Women’s Justice & Clemency Project” is not competent enough to do a basic Google search, with which they would have realized that the 36 month figure originated as an editorial error in the Baltimore Sun. They posted a retraction the next day."

UK Feminists: Let’s Keep Women out of Prison - "Lady Justice wears a blindfold to indicate that she cares not about a person’s race, sex or social class. Shockingly, British feminists are arguing in favor of removing that blindfold when it comes to a criminal’s sex. They’re arguing for changes that would offer women a greater chance of community-based rehabilitation rather than prison. It’s an idea that has been floating around in the femisphere for a while, and the flagship British project, which is funded by the government, is called Inspire... It’s worth noting that most of the case histories that are presented in order to bolster the feminist argument are the product of self reporting on the part of the offender. It’s a well known cliché that every criminal is an expert at manufacturing a believable sob story. Practically every man in prison would, given a chance, argue that he is a victim and that his case deserves sympathy. Women making this argument have the advantage that it’s difficult to walk down a city street without seeing a poster of a woman suffering an unfair plight, the product of a society that is very quick to see women as victims."

Judges ordered to show more mercy on women criminals when deciding sentences - "New guidelines declare that women suffer disadvantages and courts should ‘bear these matters in mind’... The latest guidelines have also caused anger, this time among campaigners for male victims of domestic violence. The Bench Book tells judges that the problem ‘consists mainly of violence by men against women’. It adds ‘the reality is that some of the most physically violent incidents are committed by men on female partners’. The document also suggests that aggression against men by women is rare, saying that ‘men and partners in same-sex relationships might also be victims of domestic violence’. However, campaigners for male victims of domestic violence claimed that men are being treated as second-class citizens by the new guidelines. They also point to analysis of official figures by the Parity campaign group which last week concluded that four out of ten victims of domestic violence were men. Mark Brooks, of the ManKind campaign group, said: ‘For a document that claims to be about gender equality, it clearly leaves the impression that male victims are seen as being second class when, of course, all should be seen the same... Updated guidance on how to sentence female criminals was distributed in April in a new section on ‘gender equality’"

Is Preferential Treatment of Female Offenders a Thing of the Past? A Multisite Study of Gender, Race, and Imprisonment - "Dramatic increases in the number of women incarcerated in state and federal prisons have led some researchers to conclude that differential sentencing of female offenders is a thing of the past. This study uses data on offenders convicted of felonies in Chicago, Miami, and Kansas City to address this issue. The authors find no evidence to support this “gender neutrality” hypothesis. In all three jurisdictions, women face significantly lower odds of incarceration than do men. The results also reveal that the effect of race is conditioned by gender but the effect of gender, with only one exception, is not conditioned by race; harsher treatment of racial minorities is confined to men but more lenient treatment of women is found for both racial minorities and Whites."

Why more and more women are losing custody battles over their children - "observers point out that while the tide may appear to be turning against working women, this shift in custodial arrangements can be seen as a direct consequence of women's fight for equality in the workplace. For years men who have fulfilled the traditional role of breadwinner have lost out when it comes to winning custody of their children - regardless of their income. Now women have asserted their right to enjoy similarly challenging careers, the question of whether they have the right to complain when they lose custody is a pertinent one. 'There's no gender discrimination in the courts,' says Elizabeth Hicks, partner and head of family law at solicitors Irwin Mitchell. 'The roles of men and women have changed dramatically in recent years. A couple may decide it's more beneficial for a woman to work and a man to stay at home with the children.' But there are consequences to this set-up. 'If that's how they have chosen to arrange their lives, why would it be fair that if they split up, the mother should get custody just because she is a woman?' says Ms Hicks... the truth, however unpalatable, is that equality goes both ways."

Gender Bias Study of the Court System in Massachusetts - "We began our investigation of child custody aware of a common perception that there is a bias in favor of women in these decisions. Our research contradicted this perception. Although mothers more frequently get primary physical custody of children following divorce, this practice does not reflect bias but rather the agreement of the parties and the fact that, in most families, mothers have been the primary caretakers of children. Fathers who actively seek custody obtain either primary or joint physical custody over 70% of the time. Reports indicate, however, that in some cases perceptions of gender bias may discourage fathers from seeking custody and stereotypes about fathers may sometimes affect case outcomes. In general, our evidence suggests that the courts hold higher standards for mothers than fathers in custody determinations."

Where the World's Unsold Cars Go To Die

The Effect of Women's Rights on Women's Welfare: Evidence from a Natural Experiment - "This paper explores whether the welfare of women increased following the extension of women's rights between 1960s and 1990s. Using individual level data on life satisfaction and focusing on changes in birth control rights in twelve European countries, it shows that the extension of both abortion rights and the pill is strongly linked to an increase in life satisfaction of women of childbearing age. Birth control rights also increased women's investment in education, probability of working and income. Other women's rights have proved less beneficial. Mutual consent divorce laws decreased women's welfare. High maternity protection on the job has negligible effects."
Women's rights: not always making women better off

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Links - 15th June 2014

Most Neotenous in the World: Japan - "Through documented cross-cultural studies, where races rated the level of attractiveness of women, it has been proven that men are more attracted to women who have a higher degree of neoteny than those whom do not. However, in the study, it was noticed that Asians tended not be as concerned with sexual maturity as Blacks, Whites, and Hispanics. This probably has to do with Asians overall being more neotenized than other human races. Asians are stereotypically known to have less body hair, fewer sweat glands, be shorter , have stockier legs, and a flatter face. By chance, these are all traditionally neotenous characteristics in humans. Or is it by chance? There has been some conjecture to as of how this came about with Asian people. One such explanation was of the cultivation of rice, which allowed for greater population density, and thus people could live much closer together. Usually among mammals, when a species reaches maturity, they tend to live in not-so-close quarters. Juvenile mammals, however, can live together without any problems. Eureka! So there's the solution! Living close together required a great necessity of harmony and cooperation, and so it is speculated that perhaps Asians inadvertently bred themselves, in a sense, to acquire more juvenile features, ergo less aggressive features, for the good of society... The culprit who started the"girls should behave cutely" craze has been identified. Her name is Seiko Matsuda. This pop singer and songwriter idol set a new precedence for kawaii in the 80's and popularized a cute way of acting, known as burikko (ぶりっ子). This pretend cute-playing is often accompanied with an air of innocence and stupidity as well."

Single-Sex Education Unlikely to Offer Advantage Over Coed Schools, Research Finds - "Single-sex education does not educate girls and boys any better than coed schools, according to research published by the American Psychological Association analyzing 184 studies of more than 1.6 million students from around the world."

3-D porn: It was supposed to be the future of the industry. What happened? - "According to the eww-theory of its recent failure, no one wants to see negative parallax in a sex scene. At a porn industry event in 2012, one executive worried that “the things that can come at you are the things that a male viewer does not want coming at them.” Indeed, the major 3-D porn releases of recent years have been somewhat conservative in their use of the technology. There’s very little pop-out in This Ain’t Ghostbusters or This Ain’t Avatar, in fact. “They’re mainly using 3-D to increase the depth of field, kind of like the real Avatar,” says Gram Ponante. “It’s being done in a non-exploitative way, which is strange for porn.” Or maybe it’s just an extension of the problem that has afflicted all kinds of 3-D from the very start"

Brazil: Police warn visitors, 'Don't scream if robbed' - "The idea is apparently to warn visitors not to provoke robbers into further violence, and avoid the increasingly common crime of "latrocinios" - or robbery that ends in murder. "Tourists come mainly from Europe and the United States, where they do not see this crime very often," says Mario Leite, who is in charge of World Cup security in Sao Paulo. Tourists are also advised not to flaunt valuable objects that might attract robbers, to be careful at night, make sure they are with other people and to check nobody is following them. The guidelines might sound extreme, but police officer Mario Leite says they are there to deal with realities on the ground. "There is no use crying over spilt milk," he says."
Robbery culture! Victim blaming!

Favourite NDP songs composed by a Canadian ad-man - "Many Singaporeans don’t seem to like their new National Day songs, but they hold fond memories of old favourites like Stand Up For Singapore, Count On Me Singapore and We Are Singapore. The irony is that these all-time favourites were not written by a Singaporean, but by Canadian ad-man Hugh Harrison, now 62."
Wondering what TRS/Gilbert Goh think of the Classic National Day songs being written by Foreign Talent

Pornography's Impact on Sexual Satisfaction - "Male and female students and nonstudents were exposed to videotapes featuring common, nonviolent pornography or innocuous content. Exposure was in hourly sessions in six consecutive weeks. In the seventh week, subjects participated in an ostensibly unrelated study on societal institutions and personal gratifications. On an especially constructed questionnaire, subjects rated their personal happiness regarding various domains of experience; additionally, they indicated the relative importance of gratifying experiences. Exposure to pornography was without influence on the self-assessment of happiness and satisfaction outside the sexual realm (e.g., satisfaction deriving from professional accomplishments). In contrast, it strongly impacted self-assessment of sexual experience. After consumption of pornography, subjects reported less satisfaction with their intimate partners—specifically, with these partners' affection, physical appearance, sexual curiosity, and sexual performance proper. In addition, subjects assigned increased importance to sex without emotional involvement. These effects were uniform across gender and populations."

10 Things Every Woman Should Know About a Man's Brain - "While often linked to aggression and hostility, testosterone is also the hormone of the libido. And guys have six times the amount surging through their veins as women, said Pranjal Mehta, a social psychologist at Columbia University in New York. Mehta and colleagues found that testosterone impairs the impulse-control region of the brain. While it has yet to be studied, this may explain why, as Brizendine says, men ogle women as if on "auto-pilot." They often forget about the woman once she is out of their visual field, Brizendine said... An unstable hierarchy can cause men considerable anxiety, Brizendine said. But an established chain of command, such as that practiced by the military and many work places, reduces testosterone and curbs male aggression, she said... Daddy-specific ways of playing with their kids -- more rough-housing, more spontaneity, more teasing -- can help kids learn better, be more confidant, and prepare them for the real world, studies have shown. Also, involved dads lessen risky kids' sexual behavior... Infidelities are most likely to occur before men hit 30, found a study of Bolivian men published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society in 2007. After that, men primarily focus on providing for their families, the study found"

Love: How do you know if you've found "the one"? - Quora - "The One looks like a perfectly plain and featureless gold band. Heat it in your microwave, and if it is the One a Tengwar inscription in the Black Speech of Mordor will appear."
"I would define "the one" as person with whom your joint utility functions are maximized when you are together. A sort of global maximum of the set of all of your potential romantic relationships. In my experience, allowing the idea of finding "the one" to govern your decision making requires either a strong belief in fate/predestination/magic or a great amount of comfort with self-deception."

‘Warning’ for non-Muslims caught eating in public during Ramadan - "Non-Muslims caught eating in public during the Holy Month of Ramadan will be given one warning before criminal action will be taken, but the same leniency will not be given to Muslim violators who are caught breaking the norms during fasting period, Dubai police have said... "The law does not allow anybody to eat during the day in public in Ramadan. We should obey this to respect the culture and the Islamic people""

Why Many Singapore Women Of Marriageable Age Don't Know How To Cook? - "When young, SG girls are slim, pretty, sophisticated and intelligent so kena tempted to marry. Then find out after unwrapping that got no neh neh, low sex drive and dead fish in bed. Somemore don't know how to cook and do housework.
Five years into the marriage, not so slim and pretty anymore, sophisticated and intelligent become nagging and grouchy. This is when the men are about 32-38, and realise tio pian, BIG TIME."

A Plague of Strong Female Characters - NYTimes.com - "Every time I hear someone use the term “strong female character,” I want to punch them. The problem is, I hit like a girl... “Strong female character” is one of those shorthand memes that has leached into the cultural groundwater and spawned all kinds of cinematic clichés: alpha professionals whose laserlike focus on career advancement has turned them into grim, celibate automatons; robotic, lone-wolf, ascetic action heroines whose monomaniacal devotion to their crime-fighting makes them lean and cranky and very impatient; murderous 20-something comic-book salesgirls who dream of one day sidekicking for a superhero; avenging brides; poker-faced assassins; and gloomy ninjas with commitment issues... [they] reinforce the unspoken idea that in order for a female character to be worth identifying with, she should really try to rein in the gross girly stuff. This implies that unless a female character is “strong,” she is not interesting or worth identifying with. “Strong women characters” are a canard. They refer to the old-fashioned “strong, silent type,” a type that tolerates very little blubbering, dithering, neuroticism, anxiety, melancholy or any other character flaw or weakness that makes a character unpredictable and human... traditional “strong male characters” have been almost entirely abandoned in favor of male characters who are blubbery, dithering, neurotic, anxious, melancholic or otherwise “weak,” because this weakness is precisely what makes characters interesting, relatable and funny... Something similar happens when we talk about strong female characters. Certain traits become codified into a bad-faith embodiment of a type rarely found in nature: the stunning blond 23-year-old astrophysicist whose precocious brilliance and professional-grade beauty are no match for her otherworldly self-confidence, say, or the workaholic mercenary encumbered by emotions. It’s as if the naturalism of male characters has grown in inverse proportion to the realism in female characters. The insistence on “strong female character” is not bad because it aspires to engender respect, it’s bad because it tries to compensate for an existing imbalance by stacking the deck in favor of the female character, by making her better, more deserving, higher-toned, more virtuous and deserving of respect, somehow. “Strength,” in the parlance, is the 21st-century equivalent of “virtue.” And what we think of as “virtuous,” or culturally sanctioned, socially acceptable behavior now, in women as in men, is the ability to play down qualities that have been traditionally considered feminine and play up the qualities that have traditionally been considered masculine. “Strong female characters,” in other words, are often just female characters with the gendered behavior taken out. This makes me think that the problem is not that there aren’t enough “strong” female characters in the movies — it’s that there aren’t enough realistically weak ones. You know what’s better than a prostitute with a machine gun for a leg or a propulsion engineer with a sideline in avionics whose maternal instincts and belief in herself allow her to take apart an airborne plane and discover a terrorist plot despite being gaslighted by the flight crew? A girl who reminds you of you"

I hate Strong Female Characters - "Sherlock Holmes gets to be brilliant, solitary, abrasive, Bohemian, whimsical, brave, sad, manipulative, neurotic, vain, untidy, fastidious, artistic, courteous, rude, a polymath genius. Female characters get to be Strong... [Strong male characters] are usually the most boring. He-Man, Superman (sorry). The Lone Ranger. Jack Ryan, perhaps. Forgotten square-jawed heroes of forgotten pulp novels and the Boy’s Own Paper. If Strong-Male-Character compatibility was the primary criterion of writing heroes, our fiction would be a lot poorer. But it’s within this claustrophobic little box that we expect our heroines to live out their lives."
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