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Valar Qringaomis

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Links - 28th October 2015

Episode 2: Government of the People and by the People - "[Farquhar] provided only a minimum of security. His government barely touched people's lives. And this is a theme that you'll actually see for most of Singapore history, that our government has been barely there... Raffles wasn't just an idealist - he saw something deeper, something more fundamental. Raffles realised that free trade cannot exist without freedom. So he formally banned slavery... [Raffles] would... be really disappointed in the social aspects of [modern] Singapore. The authoritarianism, the materialism, the lack of human respect that characterises much of Singapore's social and labour policy. And he would almost certainly argue that without personal freedom it is impossible to have economic freedom... In Singapore, the governor with the approval of leading Chinese, actually enacts a tax on pork to pay for a sanitorium for sick paupers... in 1837, Calcutta prohibits taxing pork... So the laissez-faire policies of Farquhar, of Crawford and their successors set the stage for another important aspect of Singapore politics: independent organisation and self-help. To be fair this is, of course, forced upon - dictated by circumstance because Singapore simply didn't have the revenue to pay for more activist government, but to give them no role would be to understate how tough it was to run a settlement with no money and no staff. So lacking formal institutions, the government relied upon community leaders to control their own communities... it is from this that Singapore's long tradition of self-help, autonomous political organisation and independent political action would grow into an autonomous political sphere that would turn into modern Singapore's model of associational democracy"

Episode 3: The 99% - "If it could be bought or sold, Singapore was the place to buy or sell it. Not for nothing did Singapore earn the name, "Sin Galore". Singapore was in many ways the archetypal pirate port and frontier town, where life was cheap but anything was possible. They joined the people engaged in the more traditional occupations of fishing, jungle products like fruit and wood, and of course, the primary lifeblood in the decades before the British arrived: piracy. Because, really, in this period, trade and piracy are two sides of the same coin. They are the same fleets, the same people: really, the only difference is your circumstances. Times are good, trade. Times are bad, piracy... Those [Pirates of the Caribbean] movies are more accurate than we give them credit for... Captain Sparrow replies: clearly, you've never been to Singapore. Actually, he was only off by about 100 years. The Pirates of the Caribbean movies are set in the early to mid 1700s, which we know because of the presence of George II who reigned 1727-1760, but 100 years later, people in Singapore would have been happily engaged in all the corset-ripping debauchery that we associate with pirate towns from the heyday of piracy. We were the Port Royale of the East Indies. Actually in the movie the depiction of Port Royale in the movie is closer to what Singapore was like in real life a hundred years later than the depiction of Singapore in the movie... It was 3 products in particular which made Singapore rich: alcohol, drugs and slaves... the goal of local administration was to maintain free trade as cheaply as possible. Formal state institutions simply did not exist. The mass of the population was left to regulate its own affairs under their own leaders. Officials did not become acquainted with local languages and custom, with few speaking Malay and none speaking Chinese. Actually official documents and laws had to be sent to Hong Kong for translation... Under official sanction, the secret societies grew rapidly. By 1881, nearly half of the male Singapore Chinese population: 33,103 out of 72,571 were secret society members. The leading members of the Chinese community, men such as Hoo Ah Kay, better known as Whampoa, were almost certainly secret society chiefs"

Hey, grievance-mongers, lighten up on the 'cultural appropriation' complaints - "Bet you didn’t know that white people eating tacos falls into the category of “cultural appropriation”... As the ethnic grievance industry grows ever more shrill and its spokespeople more thin-skinned, the list of ethnic practices forbidden to whites grows ever longer. In a March 4 article in Salon titled “Why I can’t stand white belly dancers,” enraged Arab American author Randa Jarrar hurled the cultural appropriation card at white women who take up belly dancing and its exotic costumes for exercise or fun. “Arab women are not vessels for white women to pour themselves and lose themselves in,” Jarrar fumed. She fumed some more after critics of her article asked such legitimate questions as: Why is it cultural appropriation for white women to belly dance but not for black ballerina Misty Copeland to dance to the music of white composer Stravinsky? In a follow-up article on March 18 titled “I still can’t stand white belly dancers,” Jarrar accused her critics of “whitesplaining” and ignoring “the systematic racism by the dominant culture.” Then, last month, Gloss writer Elizabeth Licata leveled the cultural appropriation charge at some of the celebrities attending the Coachella music festival, in which people dress up like ’60s hippies... It’s amazing that no old hippies were on the scene to complain that Coachella itself is a cultural appropriation from their culture."
Is it cultural appropriation if I eat with my hands?

Mashiko’s open letter to bigots: White sushi chefs, discrimination, and racism. - "One of Mashiko’s chefs is a white woman, and several of its other employees are non-Japanese. Having received comments in person and on Yelp about its staff’s race, Mashiko’s owners decided to make one thing clear: “this discrimination nonsense has got to stop”... Mashiko, which has a Japanese owner, should not be accused of cultural appropriation. But if, hypothetically speaking, a group of white Americans opened a sushi restaurant and hired an all or mostly white staff, would race still “not matter”? In that instance, race would matter, and quite a bit, because the owners would be capitalizing off of others’ culinary traditions and their own white privilege at the same time. It sounds great to say that everybody is equal or that you don’t see race, but it minimizes the persistent systemic racism that favors white people over everyone else. Which is why it seems unfair to accuse consumers who are wary of a white sushi chef of bigotry and discrimination. Sure, they might be attached to some exotic fantasy of a sushi chef, in which case they deserve Mashiko’s owners’ public shaming. But they might just be trying to look at race in a historical context rather than a vacuum."
The only way this logic makes sense is that if you assume white people are evil

Cultural Appropriation: I’m Drawing the Line… ALL the Way Back. - "I often think that the loudest people who claim to be offended by “cultural appropriation” are suburban white liberal do-gooders with too much time on their hands, too little relevance in the world, and very little connection to the cultures they leap to defend... I am HIGHLY OFFENDED to see Chinese, Japanese, and African foreign dignitaries wearing Western-style business suits. Who do they think they are? They should be strictly locked into their native attire from several hundred years ago. Baseball, basketball, and football must be confined ONLY to the United States; everyone else is appropriating those sports from us and should not be allowed to play... Cultural appropriation is normal, it is the way civilizations grow and flourish, and it began long before Columbus opened up communication between the New World and the Old. Some 250 years before that, Marco Polo brought silk, gunpowder, tea, and pasta from China to Europe. The Silk Road that Polo traveled dated back at least a couple of millennia before that."

oCam Supercharges Screen Capture in Windows - "oCam overlays a green box on your screen that you can resize and move as you see fit. The capture button below the box will take a screenshot of the selected area and place it in an oCam folder inside of My Documents. If you need to do some tech support for relatives, the record button will start recording a screencast within the green box, and you can even choose from a variety of video codecs... oCam is free, so it's really a no brainer"
(Free) Video capture for Windows!

Guy's Attempt To Take Rattlesnake Selfie Ends With $153,000 Bill

Burden Shifts to Single Workers As Pro-Family Policies Expand - WSJ - "Since we began writing this column, we've been surprised by the level of resentment single and childless workers feel about picking up the slack for the rest of us. One reader, a systems analyst in St. Louis, told us that she doesn't think companies should make assumptions about people's personal time. Being single and childless, she says, doesn't mean you should be automatically more available for overtime and business travel."

HR Magazine - Family-friendly working practices can cause resentment among child-free team members - "The results of Grazia’s Women and Work survey in July – which found that nine in 10 women said that "child-free workers resented the flexi-hours and time off mothers can have" – serves to highlight the unconscious biases that can permeate at all levels of a company, creating friction between the population of working mothers and other team members."

Childless staff 'resent family-friendly policies at work' - "A study of 2,000 managers has found that 55 per cent said family-friendly policies had created resentment. The findings show that employees who have chosen not to have children also want the benefits of flexible working to balance home and work lives. Many had commitments such as caring for elderly parents, or wanted to spend more time on hobbies and voluntary work... The increasing resentment has eroded loyalty within many organisations. Four out of 10 people said they did not expect to be working for their present employer in two years' time... In the study, 46 per cent said they would not hesitate to change jobs for a better quality of life. Women managerswere far more willing than men to trade money for quality of life."
Women putting more emphasis than men on quality of life than money naturally explains part of the gender pay gap

Magazine apologizes over poll saying Czechs would vote for Hitler - "Some 53 percent of people who responded to an unscientific online poll by Czech magazine Týden would currently vote for a resurrected Adolf Hitler if he promised to rid Europe of refugees. According to the original article, the result had been as high as 60 percent in favor of the Nazi leader... The exact question was: "In recent weeks, many Czechs have exhibited xenophobia in connection with the refugee crisis. If Hitler rose from the dead and promised to rid Europe of refugees, would you vote for him?"... One rally in Prague even featured a gallows to hang “traitors” who supported allowing refugees into the country."
Is reporting on ugly phenomena a sin? Why shoot the messenger?

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, A Dramatic Turnaround - "'Oh, you've been in Havana. Lucky you. I'd love to see Cuba before it changes. You know, before all the Americans get there'. I've never liked comments like that. Partly because they reflect a rather patronising view of the country as some sort of geopolitical theme park. A 1950s time capsule. An ideological lost world. Partly because they seem to ignore what Cubans themselves might prefer. But also, because they're just so wrong. For a start, Cuba has been changing for a long time now. It's never really stopped. But most especially since its leadership decided more than 20 years ago to rescue its wrecked economy by turning back to that old, once reviled sugardaddy of international tourism. Cuba never was entirely cut off from the rest of the world"

A Short History of Elections in Singapore – Part II - "The 1955 election is, arguably, the closest we have ever come to a truly free and fair election. And it worked. This election produced our two greatest leaders: our first Chief Minister, the legendary David Marshall, the lion of Singapore; and the first Leader of the Opposition, later first Prime Minister, the great Lee Kuan Yew... elections continued to be run along the same colonial model of using legal measures to limit the participation of opposition politicians. 1963 elections were conducted in the wake of Operation Coldstore, which arrested all the important members of the opposition. Between 1963 and 1979, at least one round of detentions were conducted every year. None of the detainees were ever brought to trial on the charges they were detained under."

A Short History of Elections in Singapore – Part III | The Online Citizen - "From the 1970s, the PAP imposed a series of policies that, while at first glance seemed sensible, were implemented without the external review and oversight that a vibrant democracy and vigorous dissent would have provided. Many of the policies failed and had to be retracted eventually. For instance, the “Second Industrial Revolution” from 1979 to 1985 mandated wage increases and provided incentives for high-technology industrial capital. But it failed. By 1985, there was hardly any technological upgrading, a 40% decline in investment, and a fall in demand for manufactured products. From 1984 to 1985, real GDP growth fell 10%, from 8.2 per cent in 1984 to -1.8 per cent in 1985... To overcome this crisis of legitimacy, in the sense that 2 seats lost out of 79 is a crisis, from the mid-1980s the PAP introduced policies that undermined the fairness of elections... So, the history of elections in Singapore can be summed up in two questions. Does every citizen have the right to vote? Yes, since 1957. This is not something to dismiss – remember, the USA did not get its Voting Rights Act until 1965. There was a time when we were more democratic than America. Can every citizen freely vote for the candidate of their choice? Well, no, not really, perhaps only once, in 1955."
Some things people forget about the failures of the PAP under Lee Kuan Yew as Prime Minister
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