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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Links - 15th November 2015

Ong Keng Sen 'embarrassed' talking about Singapore in front of international artists - "Ong: in '88, when I left law school - I graduated - things were pretty buoyant. It wasn't a very saturated scene. While right now actually, you can see that there is saturation in the arts scene, because we're all pushed to overproduction. Every company is doing four plays a year, or four productions a year, but there's no audience out there. This is a crazy thing where the country is saturated with production. We're producing, but there's no demand.
Bharati: Why are you producing so much?
Ong: Because our arts council is saying that you have to produce these KPIs. Therefore, very often, people are over producing beyond their desire. If you ask artists how much they really desire to make they will say that well, if I didn't have to support the company with KPIs and all these indicators, I'd do only one work.
Bharati: Why are there so many KPIs?
Ong: Because the arts is used to show productivity, and I think that this is one of the few countries where the arts is actually supported by EDB. Because the government has to show that they are productive, including when it comes to the arts. Only if you are productive then you get state funding from taxpayers' money. For me, the arts is never going to be economy. I think the arts can become an industry at a certain point when there is a market, but now, we're putting the cart before the horse. So we're saying there must be an industry, even though there's no audience, so this for me, is over-production...
Ong: There is no way in which the system can change if the economy is stacked against it. I tend to be quite pessimistic. I think that we are all pretending that an arts scene can exist in Singapore when it doesn't – when there's no viability.
Bharati: So what would you suggest then? Tear it all down? Make Singaporean artists go overseas and practice?
Ong: No, no, no - first of all, I believe that you can make art with very little money if there is a desire. But there is very little desire in Singapore. So, whenever I hear an artist saying, “well if I get this grant, I'll do it”. For me that’s not a true passion, it's not a true desire. I'm completely with this belief that Singaporeans have no desire and we are really machines working. And we are wound up in a certain way. I think for example, the arts in Singapore has a hard time because people want to just see the arts as somewhere to relax. But it cannot be. The arts is meant to be provocative, the arts is talking about issues in society."

Japan's hidden caste of untouchables - "The caste system was abolished in 1871 along with the feudal system. Yet barriers to their integration remained. Marginalised Burakumin communities were widespread across Japan... In the mid-1970s, a Buraku rights group discovered the existence of a 330-page handwritten list of Buraku names and community locations that was being sold secretly to employers by mail order. Many big name Japanese firms were using the list to screen job applicants... "Nowadays it's still a well-known fact that people are buying this information, but rather than corporations, it's individuals buying it to check on future in-laws ahead of marriage. That's one of the biggest examples of discrimination that we frequently face."... a third of yakuza come from Buraku communities, drawn to the organization when other doors were closed to them. A yakuza leader justified his organisation to Adelstein on the basis that it gave people who had suffered discrimination a family and discipline. "It's true - the yakuza is a meritocracy," Adelstein says. "If you are willing to be ruthless and a bully and pledge your loyalty to your boss, they'll take you."

You're a Vegetarian. Have You Lost Your Mind? - "Entirely vegan diets are unknown among traditional human cultures. Back in the early part of the 19th century, dentist and explorer Weston Price went looking for vegans, but found only cannibals (link is external)*. Since vegan diets in nature provide no vitamin B12 and very little in the way of usable long chain omega3 fatty acids, it is not surprising that humans have continued to eat animals and animal-derived products. Nowadays one can obtain algae-derived DHA (the major long chain omega3 fatty acid present in the brain). and supplement B12. That wasn’t possible until a few years ago, and there’s little evidence that supplementation with DHA alone is helpful for the brain (link is external)... in all but two studies done in the past, vegetarianism has been linked with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and particularly eating disorders (link is external) (bingeing, restricting, and purging behaviors)... I don't think it is a coincidence that the two positive studies were done by the same group of researchers in the Seventh Day Adventist population... when the researchers went down the line of depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, somatoform disorders (things like body dysmorphic disorder, health anxiety and hypochondriasis), and eating disorders, the mostly vegetarian were more likely to be afflicted, and the strict vegetarian even more likely... Compared to the general population, the vegetarians were more likely to have mental disorders, and compared to the sex and education and population and age matched controls, the risk of mental disorders in vegetarians really shot up, with odds ratios hovering around 2 fold increased risk, some as high as 3 fold... participants in the study with depressive, anxiety, somatoform, and anxiety disorders consumed less meat than people without a mental disorder"

The search for talent - "an anti-elitist ethos prevails in many Western countries, especially amongst New Left groups in Britain. They glorify mediocrity into a cult. They condemn excellence as elitism. They advocate wild programmes to dismantle their own institutions of excellence because the children of manual workers are under-represented in these institutions"

How Does Parental Leave Affect Fertility and Return to Work? Evidence from Two Natural Experiments - "We find that mothers who give birth to their first child immediately after the reform have more second children than prereform mothers"

What Is the Case for Paid Maternity Leave? - "We assess the case for paid maternity leave, focusing on parents' responses to a series of policy reforms in Norway which expanded paid leave from 18 to 35 weeks (without changing the length of job protection)... the expansions had little effect on a wide variety of outcomes, including children's school outcomes, parental earnings and participation in the labor market in the short or long run, completed fertility, marriage or divorce. Not only is there no evidence that each expansion in isolation had economically significant effects, but this null result holds even if we cumulate our estimates across all expansions from 18 to 35 weeks. Our third finding is that paid maternity leave is regressive in the sense that eligible mothers have higher family incomes compared to ineligible mothers or childless individuals. Within the group of eligibles, the program also pays higher amounts to mothers in wealthier families. Since there was no crowd out of unpaid leave, the extra leave benefits amounted to a pure leisure transfer, primarily to middle and upper income families. Finally, we investigate the financial costs of the extensions in paid maternity leave. We find these reforms had little impact on parents' future tax payments and benefit receipt. As a result, the large increases in public spending on maternity leave imply a considerable increase in taxes, at a cost to economic efficiency. Taken together, our findings suggest the generous extensions to paid leave were costly, had no measurable effect on outcomes and regressive redistribution properties. In a time of harsh budget realities, our findings have important implications for countries that are considering future expansions or contractions in the duration of paid leave."

Does Maternity Leave Induce Births? - "If women are actually induced into the labor force as a result of available maternity leave, the possibility for a negative relation between maternity leave and fertility arises. In fact, Winegarden and Bracy (1995) find that a national program for paid maternity leave increases labor force participation, which subsequently reduces fertility. This possibility clearly indicates the need for additional study on the topic of the fertility effects of maternity leave"

Is Eating Your Boogers Good For You? - "One of the more credible sounding proponents of the habit is Scott Napper, a professor of biochemistry who made waves around the world’s media outlets in 2013 when he half-heartedly proposed to a group of his students that eating one’s boogers allows our bodies to safely develop anti-bodies to the weakened pathogens present in our snot and noses. He also suggested that the reason boogers have a sugary taste is to entice children to eat them, thus helping bolster their immune systems… It’s evolution. You can’t fight it."

Anonymity and aggressive driving behavior: A field study.
"Convertible drivers with their tops up behaved more aggressively than convertible drivers with their tops down"

Languages of Vanuatu - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - " there are over one hundred local languages spread over the archipelago. Vanuatu is considered to be the country with the highest density of languages per capita in the world, with an average of about 2,000 speakers for each indigenous language; only Papua New Guinea comes close."

Is it Chantilly or whipped cream ? - "“Chantilly” is a French word for sweetened whipped cream flavored with vanilla. Originally “Chantilly” is the name of a beautiful castle near Paris where sweetened vanilla flavored whipped cream became famous in 17th because served to the King Louis XIV th on August 17, 1661 on the occasion of a dinner supervised by Vatel, France’s pre-eminent chef. In 17th kitchens no food processor to whip cream but boxwood branches !"

Your MP is not the Chief Social Worker. He’s supposed to raise issues and make laws - "In Singapore, it seems MPs have to be all things to all men - and women, and children too. We want MPs to run town councils. They have to be financially trained too, to get accounts right. We want them to step in to sort out disputes, so they must be skilled mediators and negotiators. We want them to listen to our problems, so they have to be counsellors. We want them to help the poor and needy and the elderly and link them up with available resources, so they have to be social workers. We go to them to write letters of appeal to government agencies to waive fines or speed up/ review/ reverse a decision, so they are glorified scribes. We want them to get government agencies to put a playground here, or a bus stop there, and take away a funeral parlour elsewhere, so they are political lobbyists. But in fact, the core of an MPs’ role is as a legislator."

Transtheology - "Transtheology is an emerging area of religious study that is ancient and historied; it relates the human as imago Dei (image of G*d) beyond the polarized dualities of gender and sexuality, inviting human and Divine into liminal cohabitation. It is queer, postcolonial and sex-positive; we can't talk about G-d(s) without talking about sex or looking at the relationship between gender binarism and sexualized oppressions in economics and politics. If humanity is imago Dei and humanity is infinitely diverse and plural, then God must be, too. If humans reflect God and humans are in transition, then God is in transition, too. While it is fully appropriate for each individual to see themselves in the face of God, it is insufficient and dangerous to declare that one type of reflection alone is the only true reflection of God."

Australian PM Tony Abbott: No 'Vegemite watch' - "Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has warned against restricting the sale of popular toast spread Vegemite in remote indigenous communities after reports it was being used to make moonshine... "This is a deregulatory Government and the last thing I want to do is to have a Vegemite watch ... because Vegemite, quite properly, is for most people a reasonably nutritious spread on your morning toast or on your sandwiches," he said, when asked whether sales of Vegemite should be monitored"

Is it racist to ban alcohol from some Aboriginal communities?

Video: Drone catches man sunbathing on wind turbine in Rhode Island, US - Telegraph

Foreign countries view Malaysia as anti-corruption role model: Anti-graft agency

Support a Survivor | Know Your IX - "When a survivor comes out about having been sexually assaulted or abused by an intimate partner — whether it be their first time telling anyone or their hundredth — recognize that the process can be extremely difficult and that you should be as supportive as possible. When a victim comes out to you, remember that they have chosen to trust you with a part of themselves. Respect this."
Can you be a "survivor" if whatever you "survived" couldn't have killed you?
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