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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Links - 21st May 2016

Iranian Media Clash Over Ahmadinejad’s Embrace of Chavez’s Mother - "Islamic law forbids the touching of unrelated men and women. The reaction from religious circles was swift."

The Chinese Prostitutes of Belleville - "At first glance, you wouldn’t have made much of the women on the streets. For the most part, they are modestly covered and wear loose-fitting garments. But then you realise it is not about how much skin they show. The women prefer subtle signals such as black fishnet stockings, make-up and a small hint of personal glamour: a gaudy pendant glinting on an open neck in the dead of winter, leopard prints, a brightly coloured coat, heeled boots. Many have long, straightened hair dyed too long ago, with the roots showing halfway down the shoulders. They often stand in groups, hands in their pockets, laughing like they are high-school friends waiting to be picked up for a date... “Don’t live here,” she said, shaking her head. “It’s a filthy area. The people are no good.” The 42-year-old mother was referring not only to the shady reputation of the neighbourhood, but to the southern Chinese community that dominates it. Coming from Dongbei, which means northeast China, YuanYuan was a social outcast in Paris’s second largest Chinese community. And like herself, all the other women “standing the streets” along the boulevard were from Dongbei. Police estimate that in 2003 there could not have been more than a hundred prostitutes of Dongbei origin, but Lotus Bus – a Doctors Without Borders programme that specifically provides support to these Chinese prostitutes – says that today there are more than 750 of them. They are considered “cheap”, charging as little as five euros for sex...From the outside, the roughly 700,000-strong Chinese community in France appears monolithic and united. In truth, it is deeply fractured between southern and northern Chinese, a consequence of decades of socio-economic inequality in China. With wealth increasingly concentrated in the south, those from Dongbei are considered to be uncouth and backward by the southern Chinese, who hold a reputation for their entrepreneurial skills... In China, the further south you go, the more they despise you for being a northerner... It is difficult to imagine the point at which hundreds of women like YuanYuan decide to prostitute themselves rather than to work in Wenzhou households, but it is a clear preference for those who have gone through the experience... "These women had been here longer than us. They told us how to do it, and especially, that we could always rely on the Lotus Bus, which gives free condoms”... “I tell you: The French are kinder than the Chinese.”
If giving advice on preventing sexual assault is victim blaming, isn't giving sex workers free condoms encouraging them to stay in sex work?

/h/ makes a shocking discovery - Imgur

Apostrophe now: Bad grammar and the people who hate it - "Grammar is not just an educational issue. For some adults, it can sabotage friendships and even romantic relationships... Grammarians argue it ensures clarity and elegance. For others, it is a series of archaic rules beloved of pedants, bearing little relation to how people really communicate... Placing a comma before the "and" - known as the Oxford comma - would be marked wrong despite being an accepted form of English, he says. "If so, it means the whole output of Oxford University Press is wrong," Crystal says. Grammarians push Standard English at the expense of other forms, he asserts. It's an elitist view that ignores, for example, Americanisms and all the different ways of communicating online. Context and appropriateness are what really matter, Crystal believes... Moral panic over grammar has been around since at least AD63, according to Columbia University linguist John McWhorter. And yet, the opposite trend is at work, Kuper argues, with social media promoting more memorable, pithy writing. People have a tendency to believe that they're in the right on grammar; it is other people who let the side down."

The Tragic Truth About India's Caste System - "Maya herself clings to her caste because it offers her the best possible life, even in modern India... When Maya got married at the age of 16, her father-in-law paid another dalit $20 for her wedding gift: the “rights” to service 10 houses in our neighborhood, including ours. Maya has no formal deed to these “rights” and no court would ever enforce them. Yet they are more inviolable than holy writ. Maya’s fellow dalits, who own the “rights” to other houses, can’t work in hers, just as she can’t work in theirs. Doing so, Maya insists, would be tantamount to theft that would invite a well-deserved beating and ostracism by the dalit community. No one would lift a finger to help a “poacher” in distress or attend her family functions like births, weddings, or funerals. She would become a pariah among pariahs. This arrangement has given Maya a guaranteed monthly income of about $100 that, along with her husband’s job as a “gofer” at a government lab, has helped her raise three children and build a modest house with a private bathroom, a prized feature among India’s poor, in one of New Delhi’s slums. But Maya’s monopoly doesn’t give her just money. It also hands her— and her fellow jamadarnis or sweepers— clout to resist the upper caste power structure, not always for noble reasons. None of Maya’s 10 employers dare challenge her work. Maya takes more days off for funerals every year than there are members in her extended family. Complaining, however, is not only pointless but perilous. It would result in stinking piles of garbage outside the complainer’s home for days"

'Shy' star turns 'sexual deviant' - "To fight the signs of ageing because Bane can't die or look older - thus explaining why he's 300 - Gao took the initiative to apply mask on his face daily. The SK-II ambassador revealed that as a spokesman for the popular skincare brand, his face masks are sponsored... Gao said he is shy and reserved, and is looking for a girl who can bring him out of his shell. He said: "I like women with long hair and a big smile. "If she's sincere, down-to-earth and can joke with me on our first meeting, that would be great.""

Andrej Pejic models bra - "Australia's head-turning androgynous model Andrej Pejic is once again making waves, this time in a push-up bra ad. The gender-bending male model - a runway favourite of Jean Paul Gaultier and Marc Jacobs - acknowledged he's the svelte blond "woman" featured in a Dutch advertising campaign for bras."

How to Win Friends and Lovers (Mainly Lovers) With Your Online Profile - "I wear maternity clothes by choice and not out of pregnant necessity. Okay, full disclosure, sometimes I am pregnant and wearing the clothes but that's quickly taken care of with a visit to the nearest PP... I am pro-choice, and it's a big part of my life...
No racists, homophobes, furries, or Republicans."
It is clear that many pro-choice people are actually pro-abortion

The Comic Sans creator explains how he made the world's most-hated font - ""A typeface is an answer to a question," he tells me later. "Everything I've ever done is a solution to somebody's problem." The problem that Comic Sans solved concerned a short-lived Windows interface called Microsoft Bob... Ward learned that something called the Interesting Conference had been cancelled, and jokingly tweeted that he would put on a Boring Conference instead. "The moral of the story is never to joke on the internet," he said. "Someone will say: 'That sounds good', and then you'll have to do it." If the speakers at Boring IV have anything in common, it's that they are prepared to examine a potentially boring subject in such pitiless detail that it immediately becomes fascinating. Lecturer Martin White gave a talk on "Boring German Interpretations of English Language Humour", which he demonstrated using movie poster translations. For example: in Germany the title of the film Airplane! was translated as "The Unbelievable Journey in a Crazy Aeroplane"; Smoky and the Bandit 2 became "A Crafty Rascal Is on the Road Once More"."

10 Unbelievable Diet Rules Backed by Science - "We all know that dinner is the most popular meal to eat with friends and family, but most people think eating after dark is the cardinal sin of weight loss. Nothing could be more incorrect. Italian researchers compared eating earlier in the day (10 a.m.) to eating later in the day (6 p.m.) In that study, there was no difference in weight (pounds) lost, but the late eaters lost more fat. Several follow-up studies concluded the same thing—timing doesn’t matter. This statement from University of Oregon researchers sums it up well: “Eating too many calories causes weight gain regardless of when you eat them”... When Canadian researchers compared eating three meals per day to six meals per day, breaking the six into three main meals and three snacks, there was no significant difference in weight loss, but those who ate three meals were more satisfied and felt less hunger... there’s no research showing any relationship between eating a lot of protein and developing kidney problems. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research tested eating up to 400 grams of protein per day without any negative consequences."

Les régions françaises vues par les Parisiens, Bretons ou Marseillais…

What China Loses by Forgetting - "Modern China's forgetfulness did not start or end with Tiananmen. Even before the summer of 1989, dozens of darker, crueler incidents lay hidden in Chinese history. Today's leaders cannot acknowledge their stated ideology before 1949, the principles that helped the Communists gain power over the Nationalist government: establishing a democratic and law-abiding society, ending the one-party system and having an independent judiciary. In 1989, the students in Tiananmen Square asked for those same things. Since then, they've become unmentionable."

How to Criticize with Kindness: Philosopher Daniel Dennett on the Four Steps to Arguing Intelligently - "It transforms your opponent into a more receptive audience for your criticism or dissent, which in turn helps advance the discussion."

Susan Sontag on Censorship and the Three Steps to Refuting Any Argument - "Find the inconsistency
Find the counter-example
Find a wider context"
Finding the counter-example and wider context get me accused of changing the topic or trolling

What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades - - "psychologists and neuroscientists say it is far too soon to declare handwriting a relic of the past. New evidence suggests that the links between handwriting and broader educational development run deep."

Is China's Duanwu Festival the world's first gay Valentine's Day? - "The poet's memory is honoured annually today on Duanwu Festival (端午节) by millions of ethnic Chinese around the world with the eating of rice dumplings, which according to legend, were thrown off dragon boats by locals to feed the fish so they would not feed on his corpse. Academics have proferred another reason for Qu Yuan's suicide than his supposed love for the nation. The poet, they say, was more of a romantic than a patriot, and it was his love for -- and subsequent abandonment -- by the King Huai of Chu (楚怀王) that led him to immerse himself into the river."

This study showed that high-skilled immigrants create jobs for Americans - "Every 1 percent of "shock" from H-1B rejections meant that the number of jobs in a city for US-born tech workers without degrees grew by 7 percent less than it would have. But US-born workers with college degrees didn't do nearly as badly: their job growth only fell 1.3 percent. Where US-born workers with degrees did suffer from the bad luck of their cities was in wages. Every 1 percent in "shock" hurt wages for tech workers with degrees by .26 to .79 percent. In practice, the average US-born, degree-holding tech worker would have made $861 to $2,672 in a world where high-skilled visas were available to everyone who applied."

How to Keep From Being So Easily Offended (with Pictures) - "If someone says something potentially offensive, question if you really do feel burned because their take is that important to you. You might just be martyring yourself to illuminate a faux pas or rude remark just for the hell of it--out of self-righteousness or a desire to control who says what... having a stronger sense of your own values will help you feel less threatened when they are challenged. Trusting your values makes others' opinions less important... Before you react to a slight, think about the consequences. Remember that one consequence of taking offense often is that people may begin to walk on eggshells around you or feel a little nervous discussing their thoughts or feelings. What's more, you are keeping yourself in a place of increased tension and anxiety--a harmful state for your body, even if you see other benefits to taking offense. You are also blocking yourself off from hearing potentially useful and exciting new ideas"
Unfortunately, offence culture militates against these sensible tips
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