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More adventurous than the average bear

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Links - 13th February 2015

Civilians in Abandoned McDonald’s Seize Control of Wandering Space Satellite

Prosecuting bankers: Blind justice | The Economist - "Yet imposing stricter standards of liability has costs. It would overturn a tradition in English and American law in which courts avoid second-guessing business decisions that are honestly made but wrong. Heinrich Honsell, a law professor, sees the use of Untreue recently in commercial cases as a disturbing phenomenon. “It’s not right to criminalise negligent mistakes,” he says. “Very soon judges will be telling us how to manage risk.” Opponents of the idea of a law against reckless management warn that the effect would be to discourage risk-taking of any sort."

Identity politics: Called up | The Economist - "Oliver Leistert, an expert in the politics of mobiles at the Central European University in Budapest, says the schemes are often a thinly disguised form of social control. In countries that lack proper privacy laws, security agencies can on a whim track locations, or scan calls and text messages for key words suggesting dissent... Pat Walshe, director of privacy at the GSMA, an industry club, says that little evidence exists of a link between registration and a drop in crime, but enforced logging will create a black market. Mr Donovan notes that someone determined to detonate a bomb or commit fraud can always use a phone obtained abroad."

Chinese Way of Doing Business - In Cash We Trust - - "For all China’s modern trappings — the new superhighways, high-speed rail networks and soaring skyscrapers — analysts say this country still prefers to pay for things the old-fashioned way, with ledgers, bill-counting machines and cold, hard cash. Many experts say it is not a refusal to enter the 21st century as much as wariness, of the government toward its citizens and vice versa... All the buying, bribing and hoarding forces China to print a lot of paper money. China, which a millennium ago was the first government to print paper money, accounts for about 40 percent of all global paper currency output... Perhaps those paper bills should come with a warning about storage practices. Last month, a migrant worker in Shanghai discovered that mice had chewed into tiny pieces the $1,200 his wife stored in a closet"

5-year-old Kentucky boy fatally shoots 2-year-old sister - "A Kentucky mother stepped outside of her home just for a few minutes, but it was long enough for her 5-year-old son to accidentally shoot and kill his 2-year-old sister with the .22-caliber rifle he got for his birthday... The Crickett website features three .22-caliber rifle models for kids, with shoulder stock colors ranging from pink to red, white and blue swirls. "My first rifle" is the company's slogan."

Ant Appreciation Dinner (image)

Court orders Indian government to release Greenpeace funds - "A judge ruled Tuesday that the Indian government’s decision to block Greenpeace from receiving foreign funding was unconstitutional in what the environmental group described as a “victory for democracy”... Senior Indian officials have accused the group of undermining the nation's economic security with its pressure campaigns against coal energy projects... officials with Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party have repeatedly accused nongovernmental groups of promoting “foreign agendas” contrary to India’s national interests. “The court’s words today were very strong,” said Samit Aich, executive director of Greenpeace India. “Just because we have a different point of view doesn’t mean we are enemies. In a vibrant democracy, which India is, civil society has an important role to play and should be seen as partners, not adversaries.”"

Who ordered the attack against Charlie Hebdo?, by Thierry Meyssan - "We do not know who sponsored this professional operation against Charlie Hebdo, but we should not allow ourselves to be swept up. We should consider all assumptions and admit that at this stage, its most likely purpose is to divide us; and its sponsors are most likely in Washington."

Airport cabbies retaliate against Japanese passengers - "A group of taxi drivers at Suvarnabhumi airport has responded to a Japanese businessman’s online complaint about an overcharging cabbie by refusing to take any Japanese passenger. It didn't take long for a picture of a sign to appear on Facebook and Twitter, where it quickly went viral, three days after the Japanese man's Facebook post also did. Using the pseudonym "Koki Aki," the Japanese educational volunteer and internet toy-business owner on Sunday posted a scathing review of what he saw as Suvarnabhumi's many customer-service failings, particularly its taxi service. He said a driver of a sports-utility vehicle taxi tried to charge him 700 baht - double the normal rate - to take him to Bangkok's Saphan Khwai area without using the meter. Although Koki never filed a formal complaint, officials quickly banned driver Chaiyan Charoensopha from working at the airport, which apparently didn't' go over well with his fellow drivers."
So Bangkok taxi drivers think that it's their right to overcharge foreigners, and nationalities who complain should be boycotted. I love Asia - full of swindlers and cheats

Response to “Let’s Discuss ‘NU Microaggressions’” | Purp Magazine - ""Have you ever been to Europe?" (uh, no. i'm poor.)"
Comments: "I bet I can find a so-called possible microaggression every initial conversation between two people.
“Oh I like art too!”
“Have you seen this exhibit?”
“No” (taking offence because this person works two jobs and simply does not have the time/money to spend at the art gallery."
"is it not more microaggressive to assume someone is poor and not ask them about travel altogether? If you commit a microaggression, and no one’s around to hear it, did it truly happen"
"As there’s talk of systems and institutions, let’s not forget that people are people and would prefer kindness, understanding, sympathy, and inclusion. I’m done with the cycle of anger and resentment and hatred. We don’t obtain meaningful change by using a different ideology while still adopting the same negativity. We have to create that change by learning to empathize with those we arrogantly deem ignorant, uneducated, and unaware. Let’s not turn friends and neighbors into a giant conglomerate of evil, into sub-human agents of some massive system to retain or gain supreme rule…

Should Paid 'Menstrual Leave' Be a Thing? - "Do these policies simply further the notion that women are weak, hormonally-addled creatures controlled by their uteri? Or do they encourage more equality by accommodating female workers’ biological demands, much as maternity leave does? The issue turns out to be surprisingly complicated, with complex historical roots and supporters on both sides of the liberal-conservative divide."

Male and female circumcision are equally wrong - "I study childhood genital surgeries. Female, male and intersex genital surgeries, specifically, and I make similar arguments about each one. As a general rule, I think that healthy children – whatever their sex or gender – should be free from having parts of their most intimate sexual organs removed before they can understand what’s at stake in such a procedure... ‘Private parts’ are private. They’re personal. Barring some serious disease to treat or physical malfunction to address (for which surgery is the most conservative option), they should probably be left alone. That turns out to be extremely controversial. In the 1990s, when the Canadian ethicist Margaret Somerville began to speak and write critically about the non-therapeutic circumcision of infant boys, she was attacked for even addressing the subject in public. In her book The Ethical Canary, she says her critics accused her of ‘detracting from the horror of female genital mutilation and weakening the case against it by speaking about it and infant male circumcision in the same context and pointing out that the same ethical and legal principles applied to both’... You often hear that genital mutilation and male circumcision are very different... Unfortunately, there’s a problem with these claims. Almost every one of them is untrue, or severely misleading. They derive from a superficial understanding of both FGM and male circumcision; and they are inconsistent with what scholars have known about these practices for well over a decade. It’s time to re-examine what we ‘know’ about these controversial customs... the vulva has all sorts of warm, moist places where bacteria or viruses could get trapped, such as underneath the clitoral hood, or among the folds of the labia; so who is to say that removing some of that tissue (with a sterile surgical tool) might not reduce the risk of various diseases?... as the sociologist Lisa Wade has shown in her research, ‘attributing [the] persistence [of female genital altering rituals] to patriarchy grossly over-simplifies their social, cultural, and economic functions’ in the diverse societies in which they are performed... in nearly every society that practices such coming of age rituals, the female half of the initiation is carried out by women (rather than by men) who do not typically view it as being a consequence of male dominance, but who instead see their genital-altering practices as being beautifying, even empowering, and as an important rite of passage with high cultural value. The claim that these women are all ‘brainwashed’ is anthropologically ignorant"
Despite lip service to the idea of gender equality, if advancing it means women could lose out, it's clear where feminists stand

FGM and male circumcision: should there be a separate ethical discourse? | Practical Ethics - "such “cosmetic enhancement” surgeries in ‘Western’ countries are typically carried out under conditions of informed consent (a point to which I will return, as I think the moral analysis turns on this factor), although there is an alarming trend among some teenage girls in these countries — some as young as 13 or 14 — of having their labia reduced (or undergoing other forms of “designer vagina” surgery), apparently with the permission of their parents. Global health agencies such as the WHO, however, have been strangely silent on this issue, preferring instead to focus their FGM-eradication efforts almost entirely on the continent of Africa... in some countries, including in the United States, anyone, with any instrument, and any degree of medical training (including none) can attempt to perform a circumcision on a non-consenting child—sometimes with disastrous consequences. As Davis notes, “States currently regulate the hygienic practices of those who cut our hair and our fingernails … so why not a baby’s genitals?”... in 2011, nearly a dozen boys were treated for “life threatening haemorrhage, shock or sepsis” as a result of their non-therapeutic circumcisions at a single children’s hospital in Birmingham in England... 'The attitude that male circumcision is harmless [happens to be] consistent with Western cultural values and practices, while any such procedures performed on girls is totally alien to Western cultural values. [However] the fact of the matter is that what’s done to some girls [in some cultures] is worse than what’s done to some boys, and what’s done to some boys [in some cultures] is worse than what’s done to some girls. By collapsing all of the many different types of procedures performed into a single set for each sex, categories are created that do not accurately describe any situation that actually occurs anywhere in the world'... Defenders of FGC—including some medical professionals in countries where FGC is culturally normative—regularly cite such “health benefits” as improved genital hygiene as a reason to continue the practice, and at least one study has shown a link between FGC and reduced transmission of HIV!... in cultures where forms of FGC (and MGC) are culturally normative, many women regard the cutting as part of their cultural heritage and vigorously defend against the efforts of Western agencies, and sometimes the men in their own societies (see also here), who seek to wipe it out. Such a realization has led to the emergence of a counter-discourse among some Western feminists, who regard anti-FGC campaigns as a form of cultural imperialism. On this sort of view, the fight against FGC is inextricably bound up with a broader colonial and neo-colonial project of “white people saving brown women from brown men” (as well as from themselves)... in a survey of 3,805 Sudanese women, of whom 89% had experienced FGC, 96% said they would do it to their daughters and 90% favored the continuation of the practice generally... According to a recent review published by the reputable Hastings Center, “Research by gynecologists and others has demonstrated that a high percentage of women who have had genital surgery [including excision] have rich sexual lives, including desire, arousal, orgasm, and satisfaction, and their frequency of sexual activity is not reduced.” Indeed, in one study, up to 86% of women who had undergone even “extreme” forms of FGC reported the ability to orgasm, and “the majority of the interviewed women (90.51%) reported that sex gives them pleasure.”"
Related to the above

Sorry, liberals, Scandinavian countries aren’t utopias | New York Post - "in a poll in which Swedes were asked to describe themselves, the adjectives that led the pack were “envious, stiff, industrious, nature-loving, quiet, honest, dishonest and xenophobic.” In last place were these words: “masculine,” “sexy” and “artistic.” Scandinavia, as a wag in The Economist once put it, is a great place to be born — but only if you are average"

Dulwich picture gallery challenges art lovers to spot the fake - "A £120 replica of a priceless painting, commissioned online from a Chinese studio which churns out masterpieces from any period and style, will be hung in the genuine frame alongside the gallery’s collection of dazzling Old Master paintings this spring. The public and art experts will then be invited to spot the fake."
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