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Valar Qringaomis

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Links - 18th January 2016

Egypt’s sexual harassment pandemic — and the powerlessness of hashtags - "in the middle of throbbing mass of celebrators reveling in President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s recent inauguration, a woman was stripped naked days ago and sexual assaulted by a mob of men. Her backside, as shown in a now-viral YouTube video, was bruised and blackened before her limp form was carted off to a waiting vehicle. A TV host, who later said she was misunderstood, brushed off the assault as “fun.” “They are happy,” she giggled. “The people are having fun”... At least 250 cases of “mass sexual rape and mass sexual assault” occurred between late 2012 and January of 2014, a cadre of 29 women’s rights groups said following the recent Tahir Square attack."

The Turkish Complex - "The Islam-secularism dichotomy, virtually the only framework most Western observers use in trying to grasp things Turkish, is no longer a useful diagnostic (if it ever was). We are seeing instead a recurrent cycle of conceptual patterns and associated roles—those of the “bigman”, selfless hero, and traitor—that have long characterized and destabilized Turkish political culture. These roles and their interactions are driven not simply by competing ideologies, but by on-the-ground rivalry between network hierarchies and a general fear of social chaos... One way to understand elections in a majoritarian democracy is to say that the vote count determines whose network is stronger. As Prime Minister, Erdoğan told protesters during the 2013 Gezi Park demonstrations, in effect: “If you don’t agree with how I do things, then go win your own election.” AKP posters tout democracy as expressing the “national will”, which is conflated with Erdoğan’s will, whose picture appears beside the slogan... A majoritarian democracy is a winner-take-all system in which only the ideas and practices of the winner are authorized. Such a system is intrinsically hostile to civil liberties and press freedom, both of which introduce unauthorized ideas and lifestyles, and which the state demonizes as precursors to social chaos. In other words, AKP voters do not fear autocracy; they fear social chaos."

Men Are Considered Sexist No Matter How They Treat A Woman - "opening doors for women, smiling at women, being patient with women, being willing to lay down your life for a woman, and generally being pleasant when interacting with women are all considered signs of “benevolent sexism”."

New Study Finds No Link Between Gaming And Sexist Attitudes - "A few days ago a German longitudinal study was published that explored the connection between gaming and sexist attitudes. The results broadly show that playing videogames doesn’t make people sexist. The study was based around cultivation theory, which posits that long-term exposure to media content can affect our perception of the world around us. So playing lots of videogames should affect people in some way. This study explored whether videogames modified sexist attitudes amongst its participants."
Another blow to the monkey-see monkey-do theory of human behavior

Margaret Cho Wants to Talk About Sex Work - The New York Times - "comedian Margaret Cho, 46, disturbed the Twittersphere with an economical 109 characters: "Sex work is simply work. For me it was honest work. I was a sex worker when I was young. It was hard but well paid. There's no shame in it."... Before her comedy career took off about 20 years ago, Cho worked first as a phone sex operator, then as a dominatrix, a job which, she admitted, she was ill suited for. "I was lazy," she said. "I lacked empathy and I had a bad arm", referring to the job's requirement for administering floggings and other forms of corporal punishment that a client might request... "The ugliness and beauty that I saw made me think that sex workers are providing a valuable service to society," Cho said of her dominatrix days. "We shouldn't just be protected and legitimised. We should be worshipped.""

Candy Crush: The Movie (With Liam Neeson) - YouTube - "Now that Activision has formed a studio to make movies based on their own games, it's only a matter of time before their most recent acquisition hits the silver screen."

The World's Largest Fast-Food Chain Is Floundering
McDonald's has fewer outlets in the US than Subway or Yum Brands, but makes much more than either

The Big Read: Paris attacks raise uneasy questions in Singapore - "Mr Dinie Sudiyono, 26, who works in marketing, recalled how almost a decade ago, his junior college classmate had received a warning letter from the ISD after he had visited radical websites while working on an art project about anti-terrorism. “If (the authorities) were so alert back then, I think they would be even more aware of the smallest (going-ons) now... They can catch any whiff of what’s happening,” he said."
I like how intrusive snooping on your personal browsing history is presented as a good thing

Should you be sacked for off-duty behaviour? - "Our employers do not own our opinions, however stupid they may be. And we are not always on duty, human brand extensions of whoever pays our wages. Or do we want to live in a world where everyone is constantly self-censoring like a shifty politician? Sometimes free speech means the freedom to act like a world-class idiot, doesn’t it?... Of course O’Connell was incredibly daft to mouth off in front of a random camera. But let’s talk about the two things that really got him fired: social media’s hunger for a victim, and the one-strike-and-you’re-out policy produced by that hunger. Summary dismissal should be reserved for gross misconduct, embezzlement and – outside of office hours – serious crime... The soul of fair punishment is rehabilitation, not pleasing the crowd. But if it’s no longer possible to sincerely repent a serious mistake and then move on, chastened but not destroyed, then we’re heading into a dangerous place for everyone. Even if you discount the rich tapestry of hate speech that probably should get you fired, social media generates a million sackable offences every day. Do we really want to hand unscrupulous employers a catch-all reason to dispense with troublesome staff? Human beings are flawed. Yet the world of work, with all its platitudes about “values”, tries to mould us into superhuman figures who never get anything wrong. In his YouTube statement announcing O’Connell’s dismissal, Goldberg Segalla managing partner Rick Cohen said that his recruits must be “better human beings than they are lawyers”. Really?"

Don't let hawker fare disappear - "He says he wants to do something to keep the tradition alive, and he gets a big kick when customers tell him how good his dishes are. You need passion to be doing this because the economics is all wrong.
I asked another friend in his 40s, who runs a fish soup stall, how it all added up for him.
His account:
Monthly takings: $12,000
Cost of ingredients (fish, rice, vegetables, etc): $6,000
Rent: $3,000
That leaves $3,000 for his monthly income, assuming he does everything himself. If he hires an assistant, he is left with around $1,500 - half of what a taxi driver might make. This is what he says: "That's it, for all the work - morning market run, preparations, cooking, serving, washing, all in a hot environment, 12-hour days - my stall closes every other Saturday, so that is only two rest days a month. And when costs go up seasonally, bad fish haul, vegetable prices up due to bad weather... the price of hawker food is the only one expected to stay constant. People will complain if it goes up 50 cents"... The reason large numbers of the older generation of hawkers are able to carry on is that they enjoy heavily subsidised rentals from the Government, and so can charge $3, even $2.50, for a bowl of noodles. But they are getting on, and many will retire soon. Very few of their children are likely to want to take over, which leaves people like Mr Ng and my fish soup friend, but they will need more than passion to pay those market rentals... If these independent operators cannot make a go of it, hawker food might still survive, but it will be dominated by food businesses dishing out mass-produced mee pok in air-conditioned foodcourts."

The left has an Islam problem: If liberals won’t come to terms with religious extremism, the xenophobic right will carry the day - "There’s a persistent taboo on the Left which demands that every incident of terror be attributed to American foreign policy. Terrorism is a hydra-headed problem, and it’s not reducible to a single cause – religion and politics and economics and foreign policy and institutional corruption are critical variables... Islamists aren’t killing cartoonists because the U.S. invaded Iraq. And ISIS isn’t exterminating the Yazidis because of America’s sordid relationship with Saudi Arabia... The fact is, most Muslims are our allies in this fight, and that fact gets obscured when only Christian theocrats are critiquing Islamic extremists"

5 Inconvenient Truths About Israeli-Palestinian Violence - "Nothing changes without pain: Political leaders only take truly momentous, risky decisions when circumstances compel them to do so. That’s why crisis — including war and insurgency — has laid the basis for every breakthrough in the Arab-Israeli peace process... Not since the First Intifada in 1987 has sustained violence led to diplomatic breakthroughs. Indeed, it makes it worse. Palestinian leaders like Abbas know this... The brutal reality is that, until now, the costs of maintaining this unhappy status quo are less threatening to both sides than what would be required to change it. Neither Abbas nor Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is willing, able, or ready to make the decisions required to produce an independent Palestinian state living alongside Israel in peace and security"

The art of tempering justice with mercy - "The late American ethicist Rushworth Kidder, who founded the non-profit Institute of Global Ethics, was known for teaching that the toughest moral dilemmas often involved what he called "right versus right", rather than choosing right over wrong. This is when two or more core values are in conflict, and factors such as truth versus loyalty and the needs of the individual versus those of a community have to be weighed before coming to an ethical decision. For example: Child A tells Child B he has taken a classmate's pen and swears him to secrecy. When the teacher comes to Child B asking what Child A had said, should he keep his word or tell the truth?"

Former SAS Commander says no to women in combat - "He suggests the rigorous testing allows very few males through. "They've got to be able to carry specific weights... women are not designed to carry these weights. They've got a lot of other strengths, I'd hate to give birth to a child," he states. And, Brigadier Wallace says, even if women pass the physical requirements, there are other complications that should prevent them from serving on the front line, as seen in the Israeli/Arab war in 1973. "You ended up with a situation where you had women in areas that had been overun and what happened was, instead of the men fighting to beat the enemy, they ended up fighting to defend the women and it doesn't win battles." "The reason Australian troops have fought so well is because of the strength of mateship in our culture carried into our army. Now, if you put a woman into that situation... you're gonna end up with a love or lust relationship in that small group."

The end of the Cold War and British culture | Podcast | History Extra - "The British cinema was revived in sort of late 1930s, 1940s, 1950s by the J Arthur Rank film empire. And Rank himself was a miller and industrialist who was a very very fervent Methodist and very patriotic. He was deeply critical of Hollywood and he decided to get involved with the film industry because he didn't want to see young people going to see American films and developing American habits and sort of American moral values which he saw as debased. So there's an argument that there the competition with America, and the sort of looming leviathan of American culture actually was very beneficial because it led Rank to invest in the industry to pry loads of money in it and make all these films. The Olivier, Shakespeare films. Films like A Matter of Life and Death, or the Red Shoe. These kind of classic 1940s era films. The Ealing comedies and so on. Those kinds of pictures which arguably wouldn't have developed otherwise. It was this kind of spur of American competition that pushed people to make them... If you ask historians about the future, they're almost always wrong"
Decadent Western Values!

Concept Album Talks: Pet Sounds - "The idea of the Concept Album Talks is that we pick an album and then use the track-listing from that album as a running order for a night of talks. We find people who are experts in their field and give them a song title from that album and ask them to write a talk based on that title. They’re not allowed to talk about the song, the album or the band, and the duration of their talk must match the duration of the corresponding song. Last night we did Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys. Thirteen tracks, the longest of which is just 3mins 12secs – meaning our speakers had a real challenge to condense what they wanted to say into their allotted time, and yet somehow they all managed it:...
TRACK TWO – I KNOW THERE’S AN ANSWER (3:09)
Matt Parker is a stand-up mathematician and is Fellow of Public Engagement in Mathematics at Queen Mary University of London. He is one third of the team behind the Festival Of The Spoken Nerd, alongside Steve Mould and Helen Arney and is the author of Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension. He talked us through how one of the things that he loves about mathematics is that you can know that there is an answer, without necessarily having to know what that answer is."
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