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Monday, July 06, 2015

Links - 6th July 2015

Ad featuring wombat in songkok retracted after Muslims mistake it for a pig - "News portal Mynewshub said the billboard by Australia-based company Servcorp, a serviced office and virtual office provider, that featured a Selamat Hari Raya greeting by the company’s mascot, Sydney the Wombat, could “confuse” Muslims even though the animal featured was not a pig... Some Facebook users also slammed Servcorp Malaysia on its Facebook page, with one called Ajoy Yusof saying: “do you know that pig is haram (forbidden) to Malay/Muslim....please change it or we will report your company to authority and sue your company for making fun of the Muslim and Malays”... The Friends of BN — Barisan Nasional Facebook page said today that the Servcorp billboard was “disrespectful” to Muslims and posted that the advertisement has been retracted."

NDP Parade Commander practises by shouting in car

Re: The “Privileged” should “Shut Up” - "isn’t there a strange tension between the statement “no member of a majority group can ever have anything valuable to say about minority issues” and the assumption that I think we both share: “it is always wrong to assume to know something about an individual or group based on a set of narrow characteristics”?... The second reason I object to Prof. Koh’s note, and the more egregious error in her writing (to my mind), is her angry claim that members of minority groups should never be asked by members of majority groups to “justify their thoughts and for facts, statistics, data, argument.” This is completely unacceptable. It should go without saying that it is one thing to ask for lower burdens of proof because of existing inability to procure such proof (e.g. difficulties involved in accusing a court system of racism if none of the judges appears willing to explicitly invoke racist statements in their written judgments) or to argue that the way in which evidence is assessed is unfavorable to minority groups (e.g. feminist groups which believe that methodologies in various academic fields could use improvement to incorporate the viewpoints of women), and another thing altogether to hysterically demand complete exemption from the basic duty of civilized discourse — the need to be able to back up what you are saying... no evidence at all, no logic, no argument, nothing — is required to prove a point made, as long as it comes from a member of a minority group... Perhaps one is an academic, teaching a class about feminist perspectives on Shakespeare. Would one be justified in telling a male student who is interested in offering his view on the depiction of women’s rights in The Taming of the Shrew to “shut up”, because he is a male, cannot have anything worthwhile to say about the issue, and therefore should instead “listen” to his female friends? If Prof. Koh was teaching that class, would she tell that student that “your point of view is not important?” Would male students be barred from taking the course altogether, since it is a class about women’s issues? I hope that Prof. Koh would agree that such conduct would be disgraceful coming from any academic deserving of the name."
Sadly he is a Chinese Male, so he will get scornfully dismissed

The sad state of English in Malaysia - "We have also met Malaysian diplomats who cannot carry a proper conversation in flawless English and we know some of them even shy away from social functions, which is a shame as these are where they can pick up nuggets of information for their intelligence reports. A few generations are paying the price - inability to speak and write in proper English - because of our education system. At best, they may have some semblance of communication in English but without proper foundation in grammar, many are unable to even string a sentence together correctly. Because English is just a subject, there is hardly any opportunity to use and practise the language on a regular and extensive basis within the school system. That is how low we have sunk. Forget about the occasional use of Latin words to make the language more refined, if not, more classy. Getting through the basics is tough enough."
Some might say that Malaysian non-standard English is as valid as "Standard" English, which anyway is an outdated colonial construct

Chinese Companies With No Heir Apparent - "Many of China's first-generation entrepreneurs are influenced by their experience of China's mid-century upheavals, prior to the country's shift towards a market economy. The worldview of the fuerdai, by contrast, has been shaped by wealth, privilege, and, quite often, overseas education that lends them a different perspective on the Chinese economy. In China, it's common to meet young Chinese who reject a life in business because they "don't like dealing with the government" - a thin euphemism for the graft that many Chinese entrepreneurs price into their transactions. Elsewhere in the world, family-owned businesses deal with these kinds of succession problems by seeking out professional management. But that's an unlikely option in China, where scepticism of outsiders is firmly rooted in the culture's business traditions. (The Harvard Business Review recently reported that nearly three-quarters of all companies in Taiwan, and 69 per cent in Hong Kong, pass down to family heirs.) It doesn't help matters that China has a serious dearth of well-trained professional managers."

Race Traitor | Journal of the New Abolitionism - "The existence of the white race depends on the willingness of those assigned to it to place their racial interests above class, gender, or any other interests they hold. The defection of enough of its members to make it unreliable as a predictor of behavior will lead to its collapse.
ACE TRAITOR aims to serve as an intellectual center for those seeking to abolish the white race. It will encourage dissent from the conformity that maintains it and popularize examples of defection from its ranks, analyze the forces that hold it together and those that promise to tear it apart. Part of its task will be to promote debate among abolitionists. When possible, it will support practical measures, guided by the principle, Treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity."
Wut. And why does he put up a cartoon exposing systemic hypocrisy that he has his job at Harvard, when someone saying one should abolish the black race wouldn't?

The Philosopher's Beard: Does Peter Singer's 'Utilitarian' Argument for Vegetarianism Add Up? - "Singer's book has influenced many people,including myself. Yet, reading and rereading it, I have come to wonder whether it is really good philosophy. Its rhetorical effectiveness relies on pathos - an appeal to the sentiments of the audience. Despite multiple revised editions, Singer's official argument, his logos, is far from clear or compelling... Singer is trying to make a practical argument here about how to bring about a better world, but it glides frictionlessly and uselessly from desire to conclusion. Without consideration of the social logistics of collective action problems - "elementary economics" - it amounts to no more than wishful thinking... who will notice that you are boycotting meat and stock less? Is it the same people who notice when you go on holiday, or when someone dies?... The utilitarian calculus developed by Bentham – his famous ‘Greatest Happiness Principle' - counts both the pain and the pleasure of each individual and then ranks different possible states of the world in terms of the sum total of pleasure minus pain they contain. Singer appears to retain the hedonic focus of Bentham while asserting that the only thing we should count is suffering... it is not clear to me why we should follow Singer in only taking human induced suffering seriously. Utilitarianism as a doctrine is supposed to be focused on realising the state of the world one considers best, without consideration of how that state is brought about... Singer's disinterest in wild suffering or that indirectly produced by cereal agriculture seems to reflect widely shared but non-utilitarian intuitions about a moral hierarchy of means... The irony of this reading of Singer is that, if he does consider suffering deliberately caused by "the tyranny of human over nonhuman animals" to be of special moral significance, that undermines his central claim about the equality of suffering as well as his credibility as a utilitarian... Singer denies that plants have interests because, like stones, if they don't feel pain then there is nothing there to have them. But this seems a distinctly circular - arbitrary - way to draw a categorical distinction between those whose lives matter equally and those whose lives matter not at all... The charge of spinism comes from this arbitrariness, which closely resembles that of the speciesists whom Singer criticises so sharply for excluding non-human animals from moral consideration. Singer supposes that the problem to overcome is that humans have tended to draw the categorical distinction the wrong place, but he insists that the only solution is to draw it in the right place. He refuses to consider that moral significance can be gradualist and multi-dimensional rather than binary...
Is it wrong to act from sentiment rather than reason? Yes, if you are a utilitarian or a Kantian. No, if you are something else, like a virtue ethicist... Most people are natural virtue ethicists, even if they don't know it, because it more or less reflects our commonsense understanding of moral psychology. It was central to scholarly work on moral philosophy for a very long time, up until the rationalism of the Enlightenment – the influence of thinkers like Kant and Bentham – made its lack of rigour unfashionable."

Vegetarians and vegans - a philosophical look into whether they can rightfully adopt a moral high-ground. • A Tippling Philosopher - " to claim the ethical high ground in being a vegetarian, it begs the question of why stop at this ethical decision, why not go further? Why not think about where every single product that you buy is bought and change your shopping habits accordingly? Why not ensure that your electricity provider gives you green tariffs, or that you bank with the Co-Op Bank? However, the logical conclusion of this is to end up something like a Jain who sweeps the road in front of them so as not to tread on an ant. This, though, is where a vegetarian should end up unless they draw an arbitrary line somewhere in their decision making. Yet this is an entirely subjective and effectively random line if not followed through to its logical Jainist conclusion... a Jain takes into account the value of life right down to an ant. But even then, what is to separate an ant (philosophically) from an amoeba or a bacterium? And a plant?... Driving along the road in a car in the Summer months, the vegetarian accepts collateral deaths of hundreds of flies and insects hitting the car and windscreen as par for the course"
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