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Valar Qringaomis

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Links - 25th February 2016

Sweden used as warning example by Norway police - "Denmark has voiced concerns about the utterly weak background check of immigrants from the middle east, fearing radical Islamists entering Sweden as asylum seekers with the intent of building Scandinavian terror cells. My very first post on this blog was about a Danish politician openly pleading for Sweden to come to its senses. Norway isn’t too pleased either, and they dare speak openly about the problems brewing in the cities of their neighbor. In a new report called “Oslo 2022,” the Norwegian police explicitly use Sweden in general and the town of Södertälje as a warning example... In Sweden, there are literally no limits, and any background check beyond scratching the surface is considered racist and shut down by management as has been repeatedly revealed by bloggers like Merit Wager. .. predictably, the Swedish response is not to acknowledge the problems, but to whine about the mean Norwegian pseudo-fascists having the gall to criticize Sweden’s enlightened stance."

Sweden taxing itself into oblivion - "Dagens Industri, the leading business daily in Sweden, took a sobering look at the state finances. The cost of immigration kinda stood out: +205%... Some entries in the laundry list of tax hikes read like an April’s fools joke, but unfortunately isn’t. Refrigerators, freezers, washers, vacuum cleaners, microwave ovens, computers, TVs, cell phones and similar goods are now to be taxed with a “chemical tax” based on weight. Say what? The justification for this extra $40 tax on the new washer is to “discourage use of dangerous chemicals in everyday life”. The new tax also applies to linoleum floor mats."

Burqa ban five years on - 'We created a monster' - "“People had the impression that the women wearing the veil were abused by men. But in ten years I have never met a woman who was forced to wear the veil by a man,” she says. “People presented this cliché that Muslim women needed to be saved from men.” De Féo says the 2010 ban has only helped to normalise and encourage Islamophobia in France. “We now live in a society where people think it’s normal to insult Muslim women wearing the full veil just because they are disobeying the law,” she says, pointing to several unsavoury incidents in recent years including women being attacked and having their veils pulled off their faces... “Before the ban most Muslim women wore the veil for religious reasons,” she says. “Now a lot of the women who wear the niqab, started doing so after the law was introduced. They converted to Islam and began wearing the veil because it became an identity to them. “For them it’s an act of resistance against the state, just like the punk or skinhead movements. That’s why they are happy to pay their €150 fines.”"

Ten expat complaints about their French lovers - "One reader of The Local, named William, is frequently baffled by the conflicting attitudes his French girlfriend takes over flirting and jealousy. He accuses her of purposely “inflaming jealousy by flirting with other men,” whilst being equally capable of “having a fit of jealousy for no reason.” Perhaps for these passionate Latin lovers jealousy is all just part of the relationship and they can deal with it a better than us foreigners. "

Death, the Prosperity Gospel and Me - The New York Times - "Blessed is a loaded term because it blurs the distinction between two very different categories: gift and reward. It can be a term of pure gratitude. “Thank you, God. I could not have secured this for myself.” But it can also imply that it was deserved. “Thank you, me. For being the kind of person who gets it right.” It is a perfect word for an American society that says it believes the American dream is based on hard work, not luck... a neighbor knocked on our door to tell my husband that everything happens for a reason. “I’d love to hear it,” my husband said. “Pardon?” she said, startled. “I’d love to hear the reason my wife is dying,” he said, in that sweet and sour way he has... There has to be a reason, because without one we are left as helpless and possibly as unlucky as everyone else... I have heard countless stories of refusing to acknowledge that the end had finally come. An emaciated man was pushed about a megachurch in a wheelchair as churchgoers declared that he was already healed. A woman danced around her sister’s deathbed shouting to horrified family members that the body can yet live. There is no graceful death, no ars moriendi, in the prosperity gospel. There are only jarring disappointments after fevered attempts to deny its inevitability.The prosperity gospel has taken a religion based on the contemplation of a dying man and stripped it of its call to surrender all. Perhaps worse, it has replaced Christian faith with the most painful forms of certainty"

Magical Laotian town preserved by UNESCO loses its soul - "most of the locals don't live here anymore. They began an exodus from this seeming Shangri-La after their hometown was listed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, and sold itself wholesale to tourism."

"Clueless" actress Stacey Dash target of Twitter backlash after endorsing Mitt Romney - "Dash immediately began experiencing racially-based hate tweets, attacking the African-American actress for supporting a Republican candidate - the implication being that her race should decide her vote. One person tweeted, "Kill yourself," and re-tweeted Dash's photo. On Twitter users tweeted, "You're an unemployed black woman endorsing @MittRomney. You're voting against yourself thrice. You poor beautiful idiot.""
Some types of racism are more acceptable than others

Lelong, Dining on a kelong off Pulau Ubin - "Plates of Teochew-style steamed pomfret, flower crabs and fried squid arrived in quick succession soon after we settled down around the dining table. Paired with fluffy rice and bubbly chatter, it seemed like a regular night out at a Zi Char shop. That was until the wooden platform beneath us started to tremble, when a boat passed by. I was not dining on dry land, but on a wooden house on stilts, floating on the Straits of Johor, just off Pulau Ubin."

Study: More Education Increases IQ Score - "students who got a full two years of extra schooling showed an IQ gain of more than 7 points. Those with just one additional year of compulsory education during the phase in period gained approximately 3.7 IQ points."

Exercise addiction: Ben Carter tells how an obsession with exercise threatened his health - "By the time Ben stopped running in January of this year, his social life was in ruins and so was his health. He's still fighting the addiction, struggling against the urge to pick up a dumbbell or go for a run... In 2004, a group of Hungarian psychologists concluded there was "a strong link between exercise addiction and various forms of eating disorders." The condition is commonly linked to anorexia, along with more general concerns about body image."

Japan school girl culture: The dark truth - "On a cold, rainy night in Tokyo -- Japanese schoolgirls line the streets. Shivering in short skirts they pass out fliers for "JK" or "joshi-kosei," cafes in which adult males pay for the company of girls as young as 16. "Most are in their 30s, 40s and 50s," says 18-year-old Honoka. The girls, all dressed in their actual high school uniforms, earn about $8 dollars an hour to socialize and serve food and drink to men often more than twice their age. Sometimes however, the men want more than talk."

Food Truck Specializing in Popcorn and Sex Toys Forced to Close - "They said his food permits are in order, so the cart's popcorn, nachos, sodas, and whatnot are fine, but "when itemizing what he was selling, Kwan didn't list sex toys"

Online scams: Singaporeans easy targets, says one scammer - "Through online scams alone, Janice makes an average of US$2,100 monthly. In the Philippines, that is equivalent to a senior manager’s monthly salary. So lucrative is her trade that she has since introduced the skill of scamming to her neighbour. Janice told GET REAL why Singaporeans are easier, more "gullible" targets for scammers like her both in and out of the country. "Australians are quite difficult and snobbish, so I need to adjust to them a lot. I have to sound extra sweet and very loving, unlike Singaporeans. With them (Singaporeans), I can just say anything and they will easily believe me," said Janice."

Justin Trudeau phone call prompts husband of Burkina Faso victim to hang up - ""My prime minister called me and began speaking in such a canned manner, wishing me good luck, offering me his condolences and talking about them as a source of Canadian pride," he said. "That's when I told him to stop his political blabbing... Richard said his conversation with Trudeau ended with him telling the prime minister to go hug his wife and children. "Then I hung up on him and it felt good.""

Singapore GaGa pulled from Malaysia event after film censored - "The film was slated to be screened in January at the Titian Budaya Festival, which celebrates Singapore-Malaysia ties. However, Malaysian censors said a scene in the film could be a “security threat” and “create doubt and restlessness” among citizens, and wanted it to be removed... The Malaysian censors had told Tan to “erase (ventriloquist Victor Khoo) saying ‘animals’ in Malay and delete the subtitles of ‘animals’, which has a double meaning,” she wrote. The censor’s report added that the “dialogue can create doubt and restlessness among citizens and may finally cause a security threat, disturbance of public peace and national defence”, said Tan."
Malaysians must be very weak and simple-minded

Toyoko Inn - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - "The chain is also known for almost exclusively hiring women: as of 2001, 95% of the company's workforce was female, and nearly all of its hotel managers were married women"

The CDC’s Rape Numbers Are Misleading - "Respondents were asked about sexual acts that happened when they were “drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent.” This seems to imply that “unable to consent” is only one of the variables and to include situations in which a person is intoxicated—perhaps enough to have impaired judgment—but not incapacitated as the legal definition of rape requires... At no point are respondents given any instructions that could result in fewer reports of alleged victimization: for instance, that they should not include instances in which they had voluntary sex while drunk but not incapacitated. For many feminists, questioning claims of rampant sexual violence in our society amounts to misogynist “rape denial.” However, if the CDC figures are to be taken at face value, then we must also conclude that, far from being a product of patriarchal violence against women, “rape culture” is a two-way street, with plenty of female perpetrators and male victims... when asked about experiences in the last 12 months, men reported being “made to penetrate”—either by physical force or due to intoxication—at virtually the same rates as women reported rape... The CDC also reports that men account for over a third of those experiencing another form of sexual violence—“sexual coercion.” That was defined as being pressured into sexual activity by psychological means: lies or false promises, threats to end a relationship or spread negative gossip, or “making repeated requests” for sex and expressing unhappiness at being turned down. Should we, then, regard sexual violence as a reciprocal problem? Getting away from the simplistic and adversarial “war against women” model is undoubtedly a positive step, as is admitting that women are human beings with the capacity for aggression and wrongdoing—including sexual assault. On the other hand, most of us would agree that to equate a victim of violent rape and a man who engages in a drunken sexual act he wouldn’t have chosen when sober is to trivialize a terrible crime. It is safe to assume that the vast majority of the CDC’s male respondents who were “made to penetrate” someone would not call themselves rape victims—and with good reason. But if that’s the case, it is just as misleading to equate a woman’s experience of alcohol-addled sex with the experience of a rape victim who is either physically overpowered or attacked when genuinely incapacitated... a 15-year-old male is considerably more likely to be sexually assaulted than a woman over 40"

Affirmative Action and the Costs of Diversity - "If discrimination is as widespread as activists claim, surely it exists in small and medium-sized companies also. Yet no federal lawsuit has ever been filed against such firms. Instead the legal actions have been directed solely at companies big enough to pay mega settlement amounts. Affirmative-action shakedowns seem to be about money rather than equality and justice... United Airlines has reportedly reduced training requirements and pilot qualifications in order to hire the “right” number of selected minorities... Since the onset of affirmative action in the 1960s, the employment-population ratio for Black workers has deteriorated relative to that of Whites and Hispanics. This could reflect the reluctance of employers to hire workers likely to file affirmative action lawsuits... Research at the Center for the Study of American Business estimates that for every dollar spent on regulatory enforcement, about 20 dollars is spent on compliance costs by the private sector. Applying the 20-to-1 ratio to EEOC’s estimated outlays, we arrive at $6.5 billion as the estimated cost to private sector firms of complying with federal affirmative-action regulations in 2005"

The Unique World of Burmese Driving - "how about having right hand steering and driving on the right hand side of the road? Myanmar has the distinction of having this split personality. Myanmar was a British colony until 1948. The cars had right hand steering and drove on the left side of the road. In 1970 all traffic was moved to the right. I asked several people for the cause of the change and there are two commonly held theories, both of which point to the eccentricities of General Ne Win. One theory is that Ne Win’s wife’s astrologer said that the country would be better off driving on the right side of the road. The second is that the General had a dream that the country should switch directions. Either way, the General called the shots and traffic was directed to move sides overnight... One can still see old traffic signs in downtown Yangon facing the wrong direction."

33.4% of voters in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC support ISIS

33.4% of voters in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC support ISIS.

How do I know this?

Because in 2015's Election, 33.4%% voted for the SDP team.

And, as we know, Muhammad Shamin Mohamed Sidek, a SDP Youth member, was detained for supporting ISIS.

Since those who voted for the PAP endorsed everything under the sun - no matter how irrelevant it is - as long as it makes them and the PAP look bad, then it follows that those who voted for the SDP must at least be endorsing something at least somewhat related to the SDP.

*

In a cursory search on Facebook, I've seen people claiming that 70% of people in Singapore voted for or support:

- Lousy dorms for foreign workers
- A pedestrian path leading to Potong Pasir MRT being closed
- Smaller pay raises in 2016
- Rises in ERP rates
- Tougher penalties for NSmen who support IPPT
- Train breakdowns
- Ong Ye Kung's analogising Singapore's economic transformation to Disney going from Mickey Mouse to Star Wars
- HDB resale prices of close to $1 million

The logic behind this is something like one person's claiming that 70% of Singaporeans support 377A because "Not voicing out one's objection to a law effectively means that one is fine with the status quo".

That's a wild claim and a huge generalisation to make about 70% of the electorate.

And it also leads to self-contradictory conclusions.

For example:

70% of Singaporeans are nature lovers - because the government preserved Chek Jawa. Chek Jawa is a wonderful place with lots of bio-diversity, so 70% of Singaporeans approve of keeping it instead of having development there and destroying the nature there. Singaporeans see the value in nature and don't support economic growth at all costs.

vs

70% of Singaporeans don't care about nature - because the government is presenting 2 options for the Cross Island Line - but neither of them have 0 impact on the environment. So 70% of Singaporeans support damaging the environment. They are heartless and don't understand that only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money.

I'm sure you can think of many more examples.

The reality is that when people vote, they are voting for a package - not just a candidate (or candidates in the case of a GRC), but also a party, a party leader, a platform and more.

Voting for one party does not mean you are agreeing with 100% of what that party dos or stands for, much less anything that happens in a country.

This is of course assuming that people are voting in a bona fide way, and that they don't think their vote can be tracked, or that they're not voting for the sake of voting, e.g. just because it's compulsory or because they're accompanying friends and/or family to vote.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Links - 24th February 2016

Catholic Archbishop expresses grave concerns about Madonna's concert this Sunday - "Archbishop William Goh has expressed the Catholic Church's grave concerns about American singer Madonna's concert in Singapore on Sunday. He reminded Catholics that it was their "moral obligation not to support those who denigrate and insult religions, including anti-Christian and immoral values promoted by the secular world". "There is no neutrality in faith; one is either for or against. Being present (at these events) in itself is a counter witness. Obedience to God and His commandments must come before the arts," he said in a statement issued by his office on Saturday."
Will Catholics who attend be excommunicated?

Refugee crisis: Sweden's deputy Prime Minister Asa Romson cries as she announces asylum policy U-turn

Mario Woods’ last moments: ‘You better squeeze that ... and kill me’ - "The incident began at about 4 p.m. on Dec. 2, when officers were dispatched to San Francisco General Hospital to take a report from a 26-year-old Bayview man who had been slashed in the upper arm... Woods “then grabbed a knife out of his jeans pocket and said something to the effect of, ‘You’re not taking me today,’” wrote the partner, whose named was redacted from the documents provided to us. The partner reported that he and August then drew their guns and told Woods “to drop the knife.” That’s when August’s partner says he heard Woods say, “You better squeeze that mother— and kill me.” Then Woods turned south on Third, and the officers radioed for backup while repeatedly ordering him to drop the knife, police documents say. More officers arrived, some of them armed with weapons that fire nonlethal beanbags filled with lead shot. The first beanbag round, shot from a 12-gauge weapon, “had no effect,” August’s partner wrote. Police then hit Woods with two more rounds, including one that struck his leg, causing the limp that Woods displayed in the videos of the police confrontation. Still, Woods wouldn’t drop the knife... another officer tried to subdue Woods using pepper spray. He didn’t appear to react, the police accounts say. “I then noticed a large crowd of people behind me,” said August’s partner. “I walked toward the crowd to advise them to back up when I saw the subject with the knife still in hand begin to walk toward the crowd.” As Woods headed toward the bystanders, August tried to cut him off, police accounts say. In the videos of the shooting, he can be seen stepping into Woods’ path... Some of the racial element in the case has been defused by the fact that August and his partner are African American, as Woods was."
Black lives matter. But slashing victims lives don't matter. Nor do those of a crowd

Man allegedly stabbed by Mario Woods says he's 'forgotten' victim - "Since the stabbing, Jacob is afraid people may want to harm him because the stabbing was the first in a sequence of events that ended with Mario Woods' death. The officer involved shooting was captured on video, which went viral. Jacob says he was attacked, sitting in his car, for no reason at all... What also disturbs Jacob is the Day of Remembrance that the city's supervisors unanimously passed for Mario Woods."

7 Outlets: IPL for Underarms - "Having won numerous accolades and awards for their aesthetics treatments, ONLY continues to maintain its reputation by using the latest medical aesthetics technology on their customers. Its services range from laser hair rejuvenation, teeth whitening, IPL hair removal, laser bust enhancement, and fat freezing. Established in 2005, the international company built its success by focusing on each client’s specific needs and coming up with a suitable treatment that addresses those needs. The company is vertically integrated; encompassing medical equipment distribution, retail outlets, franchising, and global investments."
Laser bust enhancement sounds scary.

America’s Syrian Shame - The New York Times - "Aleppo may prove to be the Sarajevo of Syria. It is already the Munich. By which I mean that the city’s plight today — its exposure to Putin’s whims and a revived Assad’s pitiless designs — is a result of the fecklessness and purposelessness over almost five years of the Obama administration... Obama’s decision in 2013, at a time when ISIS scarcely existed, not to uphold the American “red line” on Assad’s use of chemical weapons was a pivotal moment in which he undermined America’s word, incurred the lasting fury of Sunni Persian Gulf allies, shored up Assad by not subjecting him to serious one-off punitive strikes and opened the way for Putin to determine Syria’s fate. Putin policy is American policy because the United States has offered no serious alternative. As T.S. Eliot wrote after Munich in 1938, “We could not match conviction with conviction, we had no ideas with which we could either meet or oppose the ideas opposed to us.” Syria has been the bloody graveyard of American conviction."
Maybe Roger Cohen is a Republican, since supposedly only Republicans criticise Obama

Will Tim Cook's privacy stance win or lose customers for Apple? - "Cook vowed to fight a court order from a Los Angeles judge to provide "reasonable technical assistance" to investigators wanting access to the phone of Rizwan Farook, a shooter in the San Bernardino attack that killed 14. Cook said complying with the government's request would set a dangerous precedent that could ultimately undermine the security of its iPhones.
I wonder what people who complain that companies are more powerful than governments and say they need more oversight and should be subject to democratically elected governments' wills would say

Icelandair Free Stopover Buddy Iceland Adventure - "It's an Icelandair employee who will accompany a traveler — for free — on various adventures in Iceland. It's like having your own local tour guide who's ready to go skiing, cooking, or horseback riding... You can even request that Icelandair CEO Birkir Hólm Guðnason personally join your adventure, which he announces in the ad video while sitting on a snowmobile."

Antonin Scalia, Justice on the Supreme Court, Dies at 79 - The New York Times - "Justice Scalia’s fidelity to originalism frequently caused him to take legal positions almost certainly at odds with his policy preferences. He voted in 1989 to strike down a law making it a crime to burn an American flag. He said his fidelity to the Constitution overrode his sympathies. “I don’t like scruffy, bearded, sandal-wearing people who go around burning the United States flag,” he said in 2000. Justice Scalia also helped transform aspects of the criminal law, often in ways that helped people accused of crimes. Here, too, his understanding of the Sixth Amendment, which sets out defendants’ rights in criminal prosecutions, may have been in tension with his policy preferences. “The Sixth Amendment is a meaningful presence in American courtrooms today in large part because of Justice Scalia,” said Jeffrey L. Fisher, a law professor at Stanford. “He followed his understanding of the original intent of the Sixth Amendment, even when it made prosecutions harder and less efficient. He said it was necessary to keep the people free.” The right to trial by an impartial jury, Justice Scalia said, means that juries must find beyond reasonable doubt all facts that give rise to punishment. He made the point in a 1998 dissent, and it ripened into the majority view in Apprendi v. New Jersey in 2000, which struck down a New Jersey hate crime law. In 2004, Justice Scalia relied on the Apprendi decision in writing the majority opinion in Blakely v. Washington, which struck down the sentencing system of Washington State for giving judges too large a role. He later voted with the majority to strike down the federal sentencing system on the same grounds. “It’s not because I’m in love with the jury necessarily,” Justice Scalia told Ms. Biskupic. “It’s because I’m in love with the Constitution.”"

This Chart Shows Who Marries CEOs, Doctors, Chefs and Janitors - "Some of the matches seemed practical (the most common marriage is between grade-school teachers), and others had us questioning Cupid’s aim (why do female dancers have a thing for male welders?). High-earning women (doctors, lawyers) tend to pair up with their economic equals, while middle- and lower-tier women often marry up. In other words, female CEOs tend to marry other CEOs; male CEOs are OK marrying their secretaries"

The sexism of Safe Spaces - "Safe spaces mirror the sexism women fought against in the past. Universities and students’ unions now deem women too vulnerable, too weak and too scared to manage university life without bureaucratic structures to protect them from other students. Living on many UK campuses today is like living in a Jane Austen novel, except it’s not a patriarchal society confining women to the safety of the drawing room; it’s their own peers. In October 2013, the University of Swansea students’ union refused to give the Pole Fitness Society official SU status. SU officials ruled that female students didn’t realise how ‘pole fitness’ was damaging them... Safe spaces undermine the freedoms women have fought for. Arguing that women are ‘triggered’ by words, sounds or images revives the sexist cliché that women are hysterical, unpredictable and unable to control their emotions"

Paris Pinacotheque museum closes as visitor numbers drop post attacks - "The Paris Pinacotheque, one of France's rare privately owned art museums, will close on Monday as visitor numbers have plunged following the November shootings in Paris. The Pinacotheque, which has been under court receivership for three months, said that like all Paris museums it had suffered a dramatic drop in attendance... The museum said it hopes to reopen in a less expensive site in a few years, adding that part of its permanent collection - made up mainly from private collector's loans - would be partly relocated to the Singapore Pinacotheque de Paris. Founder Marc Restellini told Le Monde that as a private museum the Pinacotheque struggled to compete with state-owned museums, which do not pay rent or value-added tax on their ticket sales. Major private art museums such as Fondation Maeght in southeast France, Jacquemart-Andre in Paris and the recently opened Paris Louis Vuitton Foundation, are rare in France, where the state runs most top collections."

India Car Rental and Driver Hire : Flashpacking Travel Blog - "Before interviewing several drivers we were told they all spoke English, this just wasn’t the case, and communication is very important when you are spending a considerable amount of time with a person. I heard a story were one guy kept saying to his driver “too late…. too late” so the driver kept accelerating. In the end the client had an accident, he was actually saying to his driver “toilet” but he didn’t understand or had the ability to communicate this misunderstanding. Ensure your driver doesn’t use his horn excessively; this could potentially send you mad and would suggest the driver doesn’t have that much road experience. Trust your instincts, if you’re not comfortable with your driver, chances are things will only deteriorate as time goes on... You will be taken to your driver’s home to meet his family, and share in a meal or get a henna tattoo, the variations are endless. We refused, but our driver said he needed to pick up his laundry at 8am, and breakfast was waiting for us. All drivers do this, some people offer money for the meal, or give the family money to help with school fees, or enhance their tip as they have bonded with the driver’s family etc. Others view this as pure emotional blackmail and give nothing. Whatever your own view, there are many people who struggle for money in India, but the luxury chauffeur taxi drivers don’t fall into this category and the overwhelming majority are extremely affluent compared to many here. Small alterations to your itinerary can lead to excessive charges by some unscrupulous drivers or companies. Check and agree prices before making any changes ideally agree these before the start of your trip. A driver may suggest an extra destination or small detour, always ask the cost. Clearly state when hiring a driver your accommodation requirements and that you will not be using his recommendations. Otherwise you will end up paying vastly inflated prices, with substandard food and service and high mark-ups. Drivers earn massive commission and it really isn’t good value as the hotels rely almost solely on customers brought to their doors by drivers... Don’t go shopping with your driver, unless you are very kind or have deep pockets. Our experience was that the products were poor quality, offered at the most ridiculously inflated prices whether this be for jewellery, bedspreads, rugs, clothes, cushions, or whatever. The driver will usually get a few hundred ruppees just for taking you and then anything from 20-30% of what your spend. Roadside refreshments and restaurants are again of a poor quality. The driver will tell you he needs to eat and gets free food, the prices are again ridiculous by Indian standards, taxes, services charges, and everything else will be added. We refused to eat and drink in these places, but were happy for him to get his fill. We did offer to buy him lunch but he said he would get food poisoning and told us some horror stories. We have not any food poisoning the whole time we have been in India. Don’t fall for it – it’s all about commission, and your driver has adequate allowance provided for. What they choose to spend their allowance on is up to them. There is nothing some drivers won’t try to sell you (including themselves) just be careful!... Never discuss any plans in front of your driver about purchases, prices or changes, it will give them time to scheme before you have finalised your plans! Having said all of the above, we didn’t get ‘scammed’ by our driver, although it was sometimes tiresome thwarting his never ending quest for commission"

Well-heeled: Monks spotted shopping for ladies' shoes

Tracy Dart: West Seattle woman faked cancer for 10 years - "Dart, who not only raised money for a local breast cancer charity but set up a fundraising team specifically for it, was exposed after she was rushed to hospital for treatment to her liver last week. Following a search for her medical records her family allegedly discovered she had been lying about having the disease. Her records showed no treatment for cancer. Dart’s story is similar to that of former wellness blogger Belle Gibson who lied about having terminal brain cancer... so far she has not been accused of using the money for herself, just of lying about her disease"
When you glamourise suffering...

Feminist comedian: I want to castrate every conservative Christian male - "Laura Levites, the liberal comedian who recently said she wanted to "rip out" Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodger's uterus, proved yet again that liberalism is an ideology of hate and rage when she went on another profanity-laced Twitter rant saying she would "personally like to castrate" every male conservative Christian. "I would personally like to castrate every Male Conservative Christian so that they have NO reproductive rights," she said, using the hashtag "#HobbyLobby." "I'm just going to stay broke so that Republican Conservative Christians have to pay for EVERYTHING!" she added in another tweet. She also expressed her hatred of Christians in a tweet calling conservative Christians "scumbags," claiming they are "really trying" her patience. "Why can't Agent Orange be legal?" she asked. In another tweet, Levites said she would pay for Hobby Lobby's David Green to be castrated. She went so far as to advocate violence on Green, proclaiming she would purchase a saw from Home Depot to cut off Green's male organ so she can "shove it up his a**." "Scratch a reactionary leftist, find the fascist thug writhing underneath," one person said in response to Levites' violent rhetoric."
If a few conservative Christian politicians who engage in homosexual activities show that conservatives Christians are all hypocrites...

5 reasons it's okay for the Cross Island Line to cut through our nature reserves

So in the wake of the announcement that Singapore's planned Cross Island Line might cut through a nature reserve, there has been a lot of reaction - virtually all of it negative.

On Tuesday, many people were sharing a particularly irritating article: 12 reasons why you dgaf if the Cross Island Line cuts through our nature reserves | Mothership.SG, sarcastically giving reasons why you might not care about this happening and not want us to spend another $2 billion (and put up with a lot of inconvenience) to divert the line around the nature reserve.

Conveniently, examining many of these flippant dismissals to not divert the line can make a good case for why we indeed shouldn't.

"1. We will save money"

People love to complain about how taxpayers' money is wasted. Why not here?

The cost overruns of the Youth Olympics were less than $300 million and already people were complaining as if Operation Sook Ching Part Deux had just happened.

The whole Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE) cost $4.3 billion and people were shocked and scandalised.

Here, the MRT diversion *alone* may cost $2 billion.

Our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong earns $1.7m a year which many think is exorbitant. This $2 billion could pay his salary. For 1,176 years.

Healthcare spending was $9 billion in 2015's budget. The estimated diversion's cost is more than 20% of that.

Furthermore, money doesn't come from nowhere.

This $2 billion will be money that cannot be used in some other way (e.g. Arts subsidies, healthcare subsidies, housing subsidies, education spending, an increase in public assistance). Or will have to come from increased taxes.

"2. We will still have forests"

According to the Final EIA Executive Summary of the Final Site Investigation Environmental Impact Assessment reports, the impact is concluded to be "Small to Medium magnitude. Thus the significance of residual impacts are mainly Moderate (Moderate to Major), with the possibility of escalating to Major only if the mitigating measures are not observed".

So, it's not like the nature reserve is going to be ruined.

Furthermore, I note that "Bukit Timah Nature Reserve contains the only virgin rainforest in Singapore". So the area the line will cut through isn't even all that significant.

Tellingly, even the graphic from the "Love Our MacRitchie Volunteer Group" (on the original article) labels the affected area "young secondary forest".

Secondary forest is defined as

vegetation which have developed after the destruction of the original 'primary' vegetation

In other words, the area has suffered worse "damage" before and has bounced back in a relatively short time to become the nature paradise that everyone loves so much.

Why can't it do so again?

Especially given that impact of a "Small to Medium magnitude" is not as major as "destruction of the original 'primary' vegetation".

"3. We won’t have to relocate people"

Saying that just because we have seized land from people before doesn't mean that we can seize as much land and affect as many people as we want.

That's like saying that since the Courts sometimes convict innocent people, Justice doesn't matter and we can convict as many innocent people as we want.

Tellingly, many potentially affected people aren't happy that their property is at risk.

It's a good bet that the vast majority of those lobbying for the diversion are not going to be affected by it. It's easy to love nature when you're not being evicted.

"4. We won’t be annoying residents with noisy and dusty construction work"

When both main MRT lines broke down simultaneously, the inconvenience caused to people was temporary (a few hours).

Yet, people were really upset.

Now multiply these few hours to get a few years' worth of trouble and you can appreciate how upset people in the area will be.

Even worse, consider that during the almost seven years of Downtime Line construction, some shops went out of business and many others were badly affected. There is a very real human cost to this which goes beyond mere annoyance.

Meanwhile, the second point (quoting a Today letter writer) seems to use hand waving logic and wishful thinking to conclude that the Environmental Impact Assessment is untrustworthy and/or incomplete.

While a forum letter is no place to lay out a reasoned argument, I strongly doubt she was both willing and able to do a holistic and complete assessment of the potential environmental damage.

The very language of the letter sounds like the author is making an argument from feelz rather than measured consideration.

"5. We will have a faster commute"

Time IS money. And less annoyance. Making snide remarks won't change that point.

In Japan, a delay of as little as a minute is seen as an embarrassment. And this is generally seen as a good thing. So saving 4 minutes is nothing to scoff at.

In 2014 average daily ridership on the MRT was 2.8 million passenger trips. Let's assume only 1% of trips will have 4 minutes added to them and that ridership won't grow by 2030.

That's 7,097 man-days wasted in additional commutes in 2030 (one year) alone.

In primary school we learnt in Chinese class that time was precious and that we shouldn't waste it.

What more 7,097 man-days a year?


The other "reasons" are just excuses to be snarky so I shall end here.

It is notable that from what I observe, opponents of Option 1 (running through the nature reserve) do not seem to show any degree of engagement with or a significant degree of awareness of the Environmental Impact Assessment reports.

To take just one example, the Lesser Mousedeer is more active in the early morning (5-7am) and late afternoon (3-5pm), and works in the reserve will be limited to 8 hours a day from 9am-6pm. So the impact on it (given the restricted area of activity) will be minimised.

Of course, one could come up with reasons as to why these assumptions are unreasonable, or of how the facts given are wrong. And conclude that the Environmental Impact Assessment reports was too optimistic.

Yet, we hear nothing of this kind of objection. It's almost as if environmental advocates were just taking it on faith that there would be catastrophic environmental damage.

The best part of this furore is that it's a good bet that many of these people getting so worked up about the planned line probably won't even visit the nature reserve anyway.

And it's a good bet that virtually everyone will take the MRT line when it's up (and maybe saving 4 minutes) more often than they visit the nature reserve.

It's easy to charge the taxpayer a tidy sum, make other people put up with inconvenience or getting their houses seized and drive others out of business just so that you can have a warm fuzzy feeling about avoiding moderate damage to a small portion of a nature reserve that has suffered worse damage in the past and has since recovered.

But public policy does not (or should not, at any rate) work on warm fuzzy feelings. Or flippant dismissals of very real tradeoffs.

That said, there're many better articles about the diversion, which among other things point out that an MRT line going through a reserve can't serve commuters within it.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Links - 21st February 2016

Firefox Add-on Signing criticized for being ineffective - "Add-ons that are not hosted on Mozilla's official add-on store need to be submitted whenever they are updated, and they are signed if they pass automatic inspection, or need to be submitted for manual review if they don't pass the automatic test. These reviews take up to seven weeks for preliminary reviews which means that a new version of Zotero could not be released while still under review, and that is not only problematic because of the time between submitting a release and getting it signed, but also because it makes it impossible for the developer to react quickly when time is of the essence (think security or stability fix). If that would not be bad enough, Stillman points out that the AMO validator script is not effective as it can be bypassed easily. What this means? Malicious add-ons will be signed if they pass the automatic validation, and since they are not reviewed in this case by Mozilla employees or volunteers, can be offered on third-party websites or via software installers, and will install just fine in release Firefox or beta Firefox. A quick proof of concept add-on was created to proof the point... Mozilla's response? According to Stillman, Mozilla's Add-ons Developer Relations Lead stated that "most malware authors are lazy" and that the scanner would "block the majority of malware"."

Too many people have peed in the pool - "let us grieve at what twitter has become. A stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous who love to second-guess, to leap to conclusions and be offended – worse, to be offended on behalf of others they do not even know. It’s as nasty and unwholesome a characteristic as can be imagined. It doesn’t matter whether they think they’re defending women, men, transgender people, Muslims, humanists … the ghastliness is absolutely the same. It makes sensible people want to take an absolutely opposite point of view. I’ve heard people shriek their secularism in such a way as to make me want instantly to become an evangelical Christian... just one turd in a reservoir is enough to persuade one not to drink from it. 99.9% of the water may be excrement free, but that doesn’t help... I don’t feel anything today other than massive relief, like a boulder rolling off my chest. I am free, free at last"

The intolerant student Left has even turned on me – a lifelong civil rights campaigner - Telegraph - "Student leader Fran Cowling has denounced me as racist and transphobic, even though I’ve supported every anti-racist and pro-transgender campaign during my 49 years of human rights work. Fran is the LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) Officer of the National Union of Students (NUS). She refused to speak at an LGBT event at Canterbury Christ Church University tonight unless I was dropped from the line-up. This is a variation of the NUS “no-platform” policy; instead of blocking me from speaking, Fran is refusing to share a platform with me... When asked to provide evidence of my supposed racism and transphobia, she was not willing to do so. There is none. Privately I tried to get her to withdraw her outrageous, libellous allegations. But she spurned all my attempts to resolve this matter amicably. As a result I have decided to take my case public... This sorry, sad saga is symptomatic of the decline of free and open debate on some university campuses. There is a witch-hunting, accusatory atmosphere. Allegations are made without evidence to back them – or worse, they are made citing false, trumped-up evidence. Disappointingly, Fran and the entire NUS leadership have turned down media requests to be interviewed and to debate the issues involved. This looks and feels cowardly. When challenged, they run, hide and denounce from the “safe space” of their laptops. This is the antithesis of the free and open inquiry that is supposed to be the hallmark of university learning and culture... Anyone who doesn’t toe the line politically risks being denounced, even over the tiniest disagreement. The race to be more Left-wing and politically correct than anyone else is resulting in an intimidating, excluding atmosphere on campuses. Universal human rights and enlightenment values – including John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty – are often shamefully rubbished as the ideas of Western imperialist white privilege."
Will Peter Tatchell be dismissed as deluded? Or Privileged? And will these liberals be dismissed (once again) as part of a small and unrepresentative minority?

Why Are Feminists Ignoring The Violent Gang Rape Of Porn Star Cytherea? - "Feminists won’t address Cytherea’s rape because her story destroys their entire narrative. For the past decade, SJWs have been developing a false conception of rape that has become so ingrained in the minds of Americans that it’s now influencing government policy. Acknowledging what happened to Cytherea would ruin their con game. One look at the race of Cytherea’s alleged rapists and you can see a big reason why the left won’t touch the story. The media is constantly on the lookout for what Tom Wolfe calls the “Great White Defendant,” a criminal case featuring a white man who is utterly guilty of victimizing a woman or a racial minority... Feminists are also ignoring Cytherea’s rape because of the class factor... feminists don’t care about rape victims, and they never have. The “rape culture” narrative is driven not by a genuine concern for women who’ve been sexually assaulted, but by the neurotic fear young American women have of men and masculinity. “Rape culture” hysterics are driven purely by the narcissism and social retardation of the Millennial generation."

Rape Culture is a ‘Panic Where Paranoia, Censorship, and False Accusations Flourish’ - "today’s rape culture movement bears some striking similarities to a panic that gripped daycare centers in the 1980s... From the start of the scare in 1983 until its ending in the mid-1990s, untold numbers of children were subject to manipulative therapies and hundreds of innocent adults faced charges of ritual child abuse. Several of the accused would spend years in prison for crimes that never happened. A recent Slate article called it “one of the most damaging moral panics in America’s history,” which only began to abate when skeptical journalists got round to checking facts and asking questions... Reputable studies suggest that approximately one-in-forty college women are victims of rape or sexual assault (assault includes verbal threats as well as unwanted sexual grabbing and fondling). One-in-forty is still too many women. But it hardly constitutes a “rape culture” requiring White House intervention. Once again, conspiracy feminists are at the forefront of this movement. Just as feminist psychologists persuaded children that they had been abused, so women’s activists have persuaded many young women that what they might have dismissed as a foolish drunken hookup was actually a felony rape. “Believe the children,” said the ritual abuse experts during the day care scare. “Believe the survivors,” say today’s rape culturalists. To not believe an alleged victim is to risk being called a rape apologist... E.M. Forster said it best in A Passage to India, referring to a panic among “good citizens” following a highly dubious accusation of rape: “Pity, wrath, and heroism filled them, but the power of putting two and two together was annihilated.”"

New study finds that women who are not considered attractive receive lower grades - "among similarly qualified female students -- those who are physically attractive earn better grades than others. For male students, there is no significant relationship between attractiveness and grades. And the results hold true whether the faculty member is a man or a woman."
Comments: "Another possible explanation is that attractive women have an easier time getting assistance from classmates, and that when they do group projects in face-to-face classes there are different dynamics that affect their grades."
"this appears to be a single-center study over a limited period of time. To further complicate the issue, the difference was a mere 0.024 on a 4.0 scale... a statistical difference perhaps, but a functionally meaningless difference. Put it all together and you get a frozen TV dinner.... looks appealing on the outside, but once you open it up, it's nothing to get excited about."
"Female students generally considered attractive also generally are more outspoken in class and/or they are also more likely to approach the professor after class with questions or come to office hours for help on an assignment"
"Maybe standardized tests aren't so bad after all... It is not hard to imagine that an attractive young woman in a college computer lab might get more attention from a young male TA than the rest of the students (including the men) in the lab. Nobody's being punished -- but one demographic may be favored"


Singapore’s New National Gallery Dubiously Rewrites Southeast Asian Art History - "But by offering a watered-down version of Southeast Asia’s extraordinary history, this world-class institution short-changes the viewer. Here was a possibility to show how the region grappled with its colonial past, post-colonial legacies, regional consequences of global Cold War politics, and a slew of oppressive regimes in fast growing economies; to show how artists critiqued power, divisive ethnic politics, religious extremism and its ties to new-forming nationalistic identities in original, expressive languages — not merely reacting to urban, economic, and political shifts, but actively contesting them. On the whole, the museum’s curatorial prerogative does not appear to interrogate the past in any analytical manner. How could the history and memory of communist influences on Southeast Asia and its artists be so brazenly negated?"
Just because you don't push an aggressively post-colonial agenda doesn't mean that you are doing something wrong
Comment: "Maybe it was about art, not politics."


Baby Photos Might Get Your Lost Wallet Returned

Conservatives' social media diet more balanced than liberals' - "A review of data in a new study by StatSocial indicates conservatives on Twitter are more likely to follow liberal partisans and reporters at left-of-center news organizations than their counterparts on the Left are to follow right-leaning figures. "People on the Left are more insular," Michael Hussey, the analytics group's CEO, told the Washington Examiner media desk. "They're less interested in others' opinions. If that's what the data is showing, than I think that case can be made"... left-leaning Twitter users not only outnumber conservatives, but that they are also interested in hearing only from like-minded media figures, while right-leaning users hear from both sides."

It is actually illegal in Colorado to collect the rain that falls on your home - "In Colorado, other people’s water rights even extend to the raindrops that fall onto your roof."

Changi Business Park or 'Changalore'? - "AT 10am on Monday, we stood outside Citibank’s front door at its Changi Business Park building to watch people go by. Of the 113 people who walked out, 78 looked like Indians; that’s seven for every 10 people who exited the building. We don’t know if they are foreigners or locals, but the Indian community definitely made its presence felt. On the shuttle bus which connects Yishun to Changi Business Park, we did a count as well. Out of 32 passengers, nine were Indians. And we did a quick count at the nearest MRT station, Expo. Out of 145 people, 50 were Indians... Minister of Manpower Mr Lim Swee Say identified Changi Business Park as a place where the firms’ employment practices bear closer scrutiny... he named Changi Business Park, or “Changalore Business Park”, using the name that has been tagged to the place because it resembled Bangalore, the city known as the Silicon Valley of India... Out of around 300 complaints received by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) last year, half dealt with discrimination based on nationality – these stemmed mostly from the banking and IT sectors"

Are there some animals that have stopped evolving? - "The truth is, there is literally no such thing as a "living fossil". All species evolve, even if it's not obvious."

Gender Differences in Automatic In-Group Bias: Why Do Women Like Women More Than Men Like Men? - "Four experiments confirmed that women's automatic in-group bias is remarkably stronger than men's and investigated explanations for this sex difference, derived from potential sources of implicit attitudes (L. A. Rudman, 2004). In Experiment 1, only women (not men) showed cognitive balance among in-group bias, identity, and self-esteem (A. G. Greenwald et al., 2002), revealing that men lack a mechanism that bolsters automatic own group preference. Experiments 2 and 3 found pro-female bias to the extent that participants automatically favored their mothers over their fathers or associated male gender with violence, suggesting that maternal bonding and male intimidation influence gender attitudes. Experiment 4 showed that for sexually experienced men, the more positive their attitude was toward sex, the more they implicitly favored women"
Addendum: From APA writeup: ""A clear pattern shown in all four studies is that men do not like themselves automatically as much as women like themselves," Rudman says. "This contradicts a lot of theoretical thinking about implicit attitudes regarding status differences." More specifically, men are historically and cross-culturally viewed as the dominant sex, so it might logically follow that they'd have a greater in-group bias, Rudman says."
Patriarchy means that men like women and women like women, but nobody likes men

Study Finds That Men Like Nice Women, But Not the Other Way Around - "men who perceived possible female partners as responsive found them to be “more feminine and more attractive.” Past research suggests that physical cues of femininity stimulate sexual attraction because they suggest higher estrogen levels, better overall mate quality and solid reproductive health. On the other hand, women didn’t necessarily perceive a responsive man as less masculine, but they also did not find a responsive man more attractive. What’s more, when women perceived their male partner to be responsive, they were less attracted to the man. In other words, it appeared that in an initial encounter men liked nice ladies; women thought nice guys were kind of lame... “Women may perceive a responsive stranger as less desirable for different reasons," said Birnbaum in a press release. "Women may perceive this person as inappropriately nice and manipulative (i.e., trying to obtain sexual favors) or eager to please, perhaps even as desperate, and therefore less sexually appealing. Alternatively, women may perceive a responsive man as vulnerable and less dominant.”"
Paper: "Why Do Men Prefer Nice Women? Gender Typicality Mediates the Effect of Responsiveness on Perceived Attractiveness in Initial Acquaintanceships "

Warning: If you upset today's ferocious online feminists, prepare for a flood of abuse – Telegraph Blogs
Oddly, the writer is saying that this is a good thing.

Van de 1490 'minderjarige' asielaanvragers waar in 2015 een botscan bij gebeurde, bleek 70% toch meerderjarig - HLN.be
According to this article, of 1,490 asylum speakers who were "minors" where there were doubts about their age, 70% were actually adults who were lying to get more assistance

star wars ring theory | Mike Klimo - "why would the opening of Episode I reflect the opening of Episode VI (and at such an incredible level of detail, no less)? It definitely doesn’t feel like the usual, run-of-the-mill fanservice that’s so common in movies nowadays. Nor does it feel like a traditional framing device, since the beginning of Menace reflects the beginning, rather than the end, of Jedi... the sense of repeating cycles is not only personal, but also political as the films, taken as a whole, reflect the perpetual rise and fall of democracies (the Republic) and dictatorships (the Empire)... Consider Mike Stoklasa unimpressed: “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard”... the six Star Wars films together form a highly structured ring composition. The scheme is so carefully worked out by Lucas, so intricately organized, that it unifies the films with a common universal structure (or what film scholar David Bordwell might call a “new formal strategy”), creating a sense of overall balance and symmetry."

Liberal vs Conservative Racism

"One more thing about Hillary, Bernie, and black people before I turn in tonight. Black folks (actually minorities) need to understand that the vast majority of white conservatives and liberals don't care about you or they are indifferent. Most Republicans aren't racist, they are just indifferent completely, and have no interest in pandering to racial identity politics. Democrats will come around with their hands out when it is election time, get their pictures, pay off their buck dancing coon train to run around and get votes for them, and then NOTHING HAPPENS. Your life does not change AT ALL 99% of the time, in fact it might get worse (as people in Flint, Michigan found out, their city councel was all Democratic, and mostly black...yep...been that way for years, same as Detroit, yep...what did that do for them? NOTHING). Black faces in office mean nothing if you don't hold them accountable. 90% of the worst hell holes in this nation were black people live are controlled by black democratic politicians...don't believe me...think of an extremely poor ans/violent city and look at the mayor and city council...look at the state district representative.

NO, black folks, you need to wake the hell up and realize that when liberals jump up and down calling "conservatives" racists. That is how white people status signal. You are a prop in their internal class warfare, that's it. They don't care about you. It doesn't mean they hate you, it just means you don't matter at all usually. In the average liberals mind they can feel good about themselves and superior based on their superior morals, education, and maybe income that they can call some (in their mind, a redneck, a backward religious fanatic, or a money grubbing capitalist right out of "DAS CAPITAL") a racist and say see..."I know black people...you don't, RACIST". Let me translate "You white trash I'm better than you and one of the many ways is that I'm an ANTI-RACIST".

Meanwhile, I have lived in very conservative states and very liberal...only difference I saw with racist is that "liberal racists" are arrogant,condescending; paternalistic, and hypocritical toward minorities. Deep down they both think you are inferior, in different but equally harmful ways, the only difference is one wants to use you, the other just wants you gone.

Funny thing is most of these liberals, especially after they start families live in suburbs that are 90% white with maybe 8% Asian, and the rest black and Hispanic. In my experience conservatives whites often live in much closer proximity to none Asian minorities...hence some of the ethnic tension...but that's also a complicated story for later...

Racist conservatives usually just don't want to associate with you,and don't pretend otherwise.

Yeah...that's about it. I saw no less racism in Northern Virginia than I saw in Houston, sorry to tell you, and I feel no more racism in Ohio than I felt in any of the former, it is just a different kind...that's it.

What have you actually done to manifest anti-racism? NOTHING. However doing SOMETHING was never the purpose. What they want is to appear a certain way to status signal when it comes to real change the vast majority of the time they have no interest beyond the superficial...

Catch-up, wake-up. This is a game that is not for you and has little to do with you. Don't fall for it."
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