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Meesa gonna kill you!

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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Links - 14th May 2016

The crisis of character - "Nothing speaks more profoundly to the crisis of character than the phrase, ‘I identify as…’. In the past, individuals were... [The words] feel strikingly contingent. They speak to changeability. The undertone is ‘I identify as such-and-such for now’... Western campuses in particular have become hotbeds of identity politics, or what is sometimes referred to as the ‘identitarian left’, which now defines itself, and engages with others, through the prism of identity rather than on the basis of ideas or shared or conflicting material and political interests... a new caste system, in effect. The individual with conviction has given way to the insecure possessor of an identity, whose primary concern is with the protection of his or her identity from ridicule or assault. We enter the public sphere as self-ossified categories rather than as thinking, convinced persons... the truly notable thing about today is not so much the obsession with identity – it’s the instability of identity... People now ‘identify as disabled’, and it often isn’t entirely clear that they are disabled... Women’s colleges have been propelled into crisis by the cult of self-identification. In an era when a man can become a woman by saying ‘I identity as a woman’, can women’s colleges continue to exist?... It is argued by identitarians that the psychic needs of the individual who self-identifies as ‘they’ override the habits of the public or the universalism of spoken discourse... Among trans activists, too, the claim to be consciously and radically upsetting gender norms sits uneasily with the essentialism of corrective surgery to turn men into ‘women’... many of the new self-identifiers contradictorily claim that they have no choice but to be what they feel themselves to be. Trans teenagers will kill themselves if we do not allow them to become the gender they were really born as, threaten trans activists. The bigender person profiled by the Daily Mail, who self-identifies on different days as Layla, a woman, and Layton, a man, strikingly said that this ‘isn’t a case of me waking up and choosing to dress a certain way. I’ve got no control over whether I’m going to be Layton or Layla on a certain day’... How do we explain this strange coexistence of highly subjective identity cultivation with an instinct to biologism and essentialism?... What is today referred to as the rise of identity politics is in truth the hollowing out of the institutions, beliefs and freedoms around which life and identity were shaped and cohered for centuries. It is a crisis not merely of politics, or class, or the left; it is a crisis of character, a questioning of what it means to be human, an uncertainty as to how we become fully human"

Peter Tatchell: Gene Genie - "If heterosexuality and homosexuality are, indeed, genetically predetermined (and therefore mutually exclusive and unchangeable), how do we explain bisexuality or people who, suddenly in mid-life, switch from heterosexuality to homosexuality (or vice versa)? We can't. The reality is that queer and straight desires are far more ambiguous, blurred and overlapping than any theory of genetic causality can allow. After studying the sexual experiences of thousands of men, Dr Alfred Kinsey presented evidence, in Sexual Behaviour In The Human Male (1948), that "many males combine in their single histories, and very often in exactly the same period of time, or even simultaneously in the same moment, reactions to both heterosexual and homosexual stimuli"... Most studies indicate that genetic factors, while not unimportant, are of secondary significance compared to social influences, such as the relationship between a child and its parents, formative childhood experiences, cultural mores and peer pressure... If, however, gayness was primarily explainable in genetic terms, we would expect it to appear in the same proportions, and in similar forms, in all cultures and all epochs. As the anthropologists Clellan Ford and Frank Beach demonstrated in Patterns Of Sexual Behaviour (1965), far from being cross-culturally stable, both the incidence and expressions of same-sex desire vary vastly between different societies... The haste with which these unproven, questionable theories have been embraced suggests a terrible lack of self-confidence and a rather sad, desperate need to justify queer desire... The homophobes are thus, paradoxically, closer to the truth than many gay activists. Removing the social opprobrium and penalties from queer relationships, and celebrating gay love and lust, would allow more people to come to terms with presently inhibited homo-erotic desires"

The Saudi Connection: Wahhabism and Global Jihad - "It is all part of a familiar game in which diplomatic words intended for non-Muslims... diverge sharply from actions directed at Muslims worldwide and emanating from the Wahhabi-Saudi alliance... Saudi Arabia’s ruling elite distributed millions of dollars to Sunni extremists, including those within the US, in the run-up to the September 11th attacks, under the guise of support for Islamic charities... [After 1979] Saudi Arabia spent $4 billion per year on mosques, madrassas, preachers, students, and textbooks to spread the Wahhabi creed over the next decades... Adherents to Wahhabism used Saudi control of four-fifths of all Islamic publishing houses around the world to spread their fighting words into faraway places. Indeed, 80 percent of the 1,200 mosques operating in the US were constructed after 2001, more often than not with Saudi financing. As a result, Wahhabi influence over Islamic institutions in the US was considerable by 2003... Hundreds of publications, published by the Saudi government and its affiliates, and filled with intolerance toward Christians, Jews, and other Americans, had been disseminated across the country by 2006... By 2013, 75 percent of North American Islamic centers relied on Wahhabi preachers who promote anti-Western ideas in person and online through their sermons and through the Saudi-produced literature... It costs on average only $2500 to train each jihadi, fundraisers proudly inform potential donors when urging them to give more... after ascending the throne, Salman [the King of Saudi Arabia] presented the 2015 King Faisal International Prize for Service to Islam to an Indian Muslim televangelist infamous for describing the 9/11 attacks as “an inside job” led by President George W. Bush. Not surprisingly, one of Salman’s first official acts as monarch was to dismiss two influential officials who had opposed Wahhabi clergymen—a reform-minded minister of justice and a relatively tolerant chief of the religious police. And he sought to placate the public by promising financial bonuses rather than political reform

Confronting the New Misanthropy - "Today, the future of the Earth is said to be jeopardised by human consumption, technological development or by ‘man playing God’. And instead of original sin leading to the Fall of Man, we fear the degradation of Nature by an apparently malevolent human species. All of today’s various doomsday scenarios - whether it’s the millennium bug, oil depletion, global warming, avian flu or the destruction of biodiversity - emphasise human culpability. Their premise is that the human species is essentially destructive and morally bankrupt... Michael Meacher, Britain’s former minister for the environment, has referred to humans as ‘the virus’ infecting the Earth’s body. The rising popularity of a term like ‘ecological footprint’ shows how much resonance the association of normal human activity with destruction has today. This term, which implies that having an impact on the environment is necessarily a bad thing, is rarely criticised for its misanthropic assumptions... today’s neo-Malthusian thinking is far more dismal and misanthropic than the original thing. For all his intellectual pessimism and lack of imagination, Thomas Malthus believed in humanity far more than his contemporary followers do... The loss of faith in humanity is strikingly expressed in the stigma attached to speciesism... Misanthropy has a profound influence on public policy and political debate... attitudes towards the democratic ideal of free speech are directly influenced by whether we believe people are capable of making an intelligent choice between competing views. ‘The advocate of freedom of speech is likely to believe that most men are not easily deceived, are not swayed by uncontrolled emotions, and are capable of sound judgement’... ‘the individual with low faith in people tends to believe in suppression of weak, deviant, or dangerous groups’... People who viewed human nature positively tended to be more tolerant towards free speech and social experimentation. People who saw humans as being driven by narrow self-interest, greed and other destructive passions were inclined to support measures that curbed freedom. Today, the growth of censorship, the criminalisation of thought by the enactment of so-called hate crimes legislation and speech codes, and the widespread frowning upon causing offence to individuals and groups is underpinned by the idea that people cannot be trusted to make up their minds about controversial subjects."

Caitlyn Jenner Experienced 'Sex Change Regret,' Might De-Transition, Biographer Says

Student life and working class culture | Podcast | History Extra - "In the kind of 17th and 16th century there was a very interesting establishment of the role of sizar... students who couldn't afford to study could serve as servants, essentially, to the college or to other students. Which now sounds kind of degrading. It was to pay their ways and they even had to wear special hats that marked them out as sizars... it... opened a lot of opportunity...
[On student drinking culture] in the early modern period there was quite a big kind of idea. Because everything about, a lot to do with education... lessons were in Latin and it was all about the Classical World... another influence from the Classical World was that of hedonism and Bacchus and debauchery and that arguably was linked with the idea of intellectualism. That kind of reemerged in the early modern period...
The traditional breeding ground that we might think of of rock groups which is that it's working class teenagers in industrial cities looking for the, you know, way out of the straightened circumstances, which has always been the case from the Beatles to the Animals to the Who to the Kingster Eric Clapton... the template of rock music: working class kids - bright working class kids, writing about their experiences... didn't seem to be the case anymore... it's simply unaffordable nowadays"

Muslims and Jews in the 16th century | Podcast | History Extra - "Islam and English Protestantism sort of came together in this odd moment where their common enemy was Catholicism, particularly Spain, the Spain of Phillip II and the Papacy and that Reformed Protestant Christian belief looked at particularly Sunni Islamic belief and said we're actually not that different. Of course they are... England was actually working quite closely with the Islamic World [at this time]... what we today call Muslims, but the period would call Saracens or Moors or Mohammadans would appear on the English stage. There are just dozens and dozens and dozens of them throughout the 1590s, it becomes an absolute craze to put what we would call Muslims on the English stage...
[On Venice's Jewish ghetto] The great melting pot city, which is Venice... What does it mean to be Venetian? The Venetians were refugees anyway. So they were Roman refugees who ended up in this area... they themselves are this mixed heritage of all kinds of different elements or groups, and the Jews are as well. So this is a story not about cultural exclusion but cultural mixing...
[On the ghetto protecting as well as excluding Jews] the Jewish community acknowledges a sense in which it can live its own way of life, relatively free from any outside interference... these pogroms were going on throughout the early modern period"

2015 Christmas history quiz | Podcast | History Extra - "Other than the baby Jesus, who always appears in the earliest depictions of the Nativity?... The Ox and the Ass. The earliest representations of the Nativity are very simple, just showing the infant Jesus tightly wrapped, lying near the ground in a trough or a wicker basket. The ox and the ass are always present even when Mary or another human is not...
Working in Lincoln, anatomist Swan found it hard to procure enough human cadavers for his work. So his London-based friend Astley Cooper used to send him one as a Christmas present each year...
For Christmas 1171, Henry the Young King had a lavish party in which one room was filled with 110... knights called William"

How one man got the world making pesto by hand - ""My mum used a blender to make pesto, like all Genoese. Ten or 15 years ago very few Genoese still used a pestle and mortar to make pesto. Maybe one or two elderly people for tradition's sake but it really was something we no longer did," he says. Panizza had a website on which he sold mortars and in those days orders came from "Brazil, England, Germany, Sicily..." but in Genoa nobody seemed to care about them. "They were used as plant pots or decorative objects, or even as drinking troughs for chickens because, being heavy, they don't tip over. People really did that!" In an attempt to change attitudes, he began organising public demonstrations at village fairs. "When I started, it was revolutionary to make pesto with a mortar. I've seen old people with tears in their eyes watching me make pesto. They would look at me and say, 'You took me back to when I was a little child.'" In the olden days, for Genoese boys as well as girls, this was the traditional kitchen activity while grandma was cooking, he says. "The child could play at making pesto because he couldn't hurt himself, there are no knives and no flames. You put him there and he mashes in the mortar and helps you. This really is a very widespread memory - loads of people have told me. This Genoese love of pesto, apart from the fact that it tastes good, is that it takes them back to being children."

Middle East history special | Podcast | History Extra - "The deliberate destruction of cultural representations, of artworks is a pretty old tradition. We have... in Nineveh... when palaces were sacked during the period of the Babylonian and Syrian empires, there were friezes and statues that were deliberately broken as part of a sign of conquest and victory. So there's a long history of violence to these artworks."

A global view of history | Podcast | History Extra - "How do we explain that up until the 18th century, China was seen by the West as the beacon of everything that was good and wonderful. Voltaire could not stop going on about how amazing China was. And no one gave two hoots about Greece. Smelly lot of dodgy people who were part of the Ottoman Empire. And yet, with the rise of the Nation State and the Industrial Revolution, by the 19th century China was the antithesis of everything that the West wanted to be and Greece, with the Greek War of Independence, its resurgence to becoming a newly liberated nation, slipped in to that location, that place that China had occupied in our hearts and minds as the beginning and source and origin of everything that was wonderful about our Western World...
The Roman writers are constantly complaining about how Chinese silk allows Roman women to walk around looking naked because it's so thin and luxurious and svelte. This is absolutely awful"

On a Standalone Black Widow Movie

"While I'm confident that a solo Black Widow film would be financially profitable. I don't think this would be a good idea. It fits nowhere in the pipeline. Creating a suitable villain would be difficult, given that the scope of her character and abilities already overlaps heavily with the MCU's Captain America. Hydra is gone, and the coming villains are mostly otherwordly. This Black Widow is a powerful henchperson. She has no leadership skills. She does not have her own agenda aside from assisting those she feels have just causes (even if she doesn't agree!). Like it or not, her actions are dictated by the men around her - because her job is being an agent of espionage. As a recurring supporting character, she helps keeps the web of the MCU stable by being a constant. If anything, after watching Winter Soldier/Civil War, its even more clear that she functions better as a supporting character. Plot lines and character development are critical, and Marvel Studios shouldn't waste 2 hours of screentime unless they have long term developments for Black Widow and any supporting characters in this movie, such as making her director of SHIELD or something, which she can't because she's not an American citizen (lol).

Aside from that, Scarlett Johannson, as part of the first Avengers lineup is aging. None of the 7 are headlining any MCU movies for the next 4 years, and I'm sure this has been calculated.

I'm all for female representation and I think the way to go is with a blank slate character like Captain Marvel or Wasp who answers to nobody but themselves. Plus, they can do more interesting things than just martial arts and firing stun guns. Unless Black Widow's gonna rip the infinity stones from everyone and be the universe's representative to defeat Thanos, I'm not interested."

(re: 'Captain America' Directors Say a Black Widow Movie Is a 'No-Brainer' and They're Absolutely Right)

Friday, May 13, 2016

Amos Yee and Jesus Christ



A: You are right, B.... [Amos Yee] should be ignored. But the government will not let him alone. And so he becomes our latest political martyr.... It's actually fascinating.... he's so Christ-like.... so willing to suffer for our sins....

C: that is an ultimate insult to those who sacrificed for their political beliefs...

B: oh no you didn't. He is suffering for his own sins. He is seeking attention, and will get it being as offensive as he can manage on as public a forum as he can manage. That's so far from being all sacrificial sia.

D: Verily, Christ did mightily proclaim, as he shook out his tired right hand (remember, lefties are deviants), the girl whose face inspired him to come of his own accord. So yea, Amos, totesmagoats is Christy like.

E: I cannot believe you compared him to JC.

B: agh why

D: Cos THE REVELATION OF JESUS!

B: something's been revealed alright.
nothing holy about this ..spirit?

D: It's the host of many, millions upon millions.

B: all bound together, swept up in a cosmic flood

F: Political martyr? Christ-like? Lol

A: How is Amos so like the legendary Jesus? Let's see.... LOL...

Jesus was anti-establishment. The Pharisees hated him and wanted to get rid of him.

Amos is anti-establishment. He quit formal schooling after his O levels, made videos which irked nearly everybody, and the government wanted to teach him a lesson.

Jesus knew his ultimate fate -- that he would be betrayed by a close disciple and then be nailed to the cross.

Amos knows his ultimate fate -- he was betrayed by his fellow-citizens, and a substantive prison stint lies ahead of him.

After the death of Jesus, he became the central figure of a cult movement.

After the persecution of Amos, demonstrations were held in Hong Lim Park against it. Indeed, there were even protests in Malaysia and Hong Kong against the Singapore government for their mistreatment of the boy. Even the UNO and Amnesty International were appalled.

D: Wow. Man, you're on some good shit, hahaha.

Close disciple =/= to fellow citizens, for instance. And man, if quitting O's and saying stupid things is the mark of being anti-establishment, then Amos not special already at all sia, which means we've a plethora of JCs across SG(well, we do, but the other JC, eheheh).

Goddamn man,whatéver you're on, I want some of.

A: One more....

Jesus died, thinking that he was sacrificing himself to cleanse the world of its sins...

Amos will suffer in prison, thinking that his sacrifice at the altar of free speech is worth all the pain he goes through...

D... it's an analogy, and no one is claiming that Amos IS Jesus....

D: Of course not, but you're still likening him to JC, of all people. If we're gonna go with that, especially with the reasons you've given, then there's a ton of people to liken that way lor. At which point, he's no special snowflake.

B: Anyone is comparable to anyone else if adequate similarities are cited.... so why not JC? I could do a Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King too..... but I don't think I will bother about it...

F: All the fancy toppings on a pile of shit doesn't make it a good chocolate fudge sundae. That's what Amos Yee is all about....

Me: I think even people who think he shouldn't be prosecuted are flabbergasted by this thread

Links - 13th May 2016

BBC World Service - The Documentary, Die Klassen: How Syrians Adapt to Life in Germany - "'I told them I don't want to claim benefits in such a degrading manner. Do you know, they stamp our hands when we go to the socio. Is that shameful? Do you know what this stamp means to us in Syria? In Syria we stamp animals. It's what we do to sheep. I am a human being. You let me in, you stamp me. And then you let me out again?'
When in Germany, do as the Syrians do. Or you're racist

Tom-dee culture in Thailand - "Webster, the 30-year-old proprietor of Bangkoklesbian.com, refuses to identify herself as a tom or dee. And when she tells Thai lesbians she’s neither, and that she’s attracted to all types of women, the reaction can range from confusion to disgust."
This is the Butch-Femme duality by another name

France says Facebook must face French law in nudity censorship case - "Facebook will have to face a censorship lawsuit over a 19th century oil painting of a woman's genitalia, a Paris appeals court ruled on Friday. The ruling favored a French teacher whose Facebook account was suspended when he posted an image (NSFW) of a famous Gustave Courbet painting called L’Origine du monde. The portrait depicts a woman naked from the waist down at a graphic angle, and it hangs in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. The teacher claimed that Facebook censored him, and he is asking for €20,000 (or about $22,500) in damages. Facebook countered that the man’s lawsuit was invalid because Facebook's Terms of Service stipulate (section 15) that all users must resolve disputes with the social network, "in the US District Court for the Northern District of California or a state court located in San Mateo County.”"
Posting L'Origine du monde gets you suspended from Facebook?!

Forest Dwellers To Be Displaced By Paris Climate Agreement - "the Paris climate agreement could indeed make millions of forest dwellers homeless. This conclusion is as a result of considerations that many developing countries will attempt to curb carbon emissions by setting aside forested areas as reserves. The experts are worried however, that the creation of national parks often leads to the removal of the people who live in these areas"

Zac Goldsmith accuses Sadiq Khan of 'giving platform and oxygen' to extremists - "He accused Mr Khan of “hiding behind Britain’s Muslims” by branding as an “Islamophobe” anyone who spotlighted his record...“He is calling Islamophobia to prevent legitimate questions being asked,” he said. “I think he is playing with fire. The questions are genuine, they are serious. They are about his willingness to share platforms with people who want to ‘drown every Israeli Jew in the sea’. “It’s about his having employed someone who believed the Lee Rigby murder was fabricated. It’s about his career before being an MP, coaching people in how to sue the police... Mr Goldsmith criticised Mr Khan for defending speakers at a 2006 protest against the publication of cartoons of the prophet Mohammed — including Dr Azam Tamimi, who said on TV: “Fire will be throughout the world if they don’t stop.” Tooting MP Mr Khan said later: “Speakers can get carried away but they are just flowery words.” The Tory candidate said it was “just weird” that Mr Khan spoke up for Yusuf al-Qaradawi — who reportedly supported Hamas suicide bombings — at a Commons committee meeting. And he claimed Mr Khan had spoken up for extremists who called for Jews to be driven into the sea.

Gender Differences in the Relational and Collective Bases for Trust - "A variety of research suggests that men and women differ in their interdependent orientation: whereas women tend to be more relationally interdependent, men tend to be more collectively interdependent (e.g. Gabriel & Gardner, 1999). The current study sought to investigate differences in interdependence within the domain of trust. In particular, the authors predicted that men would tend to trust individuals based on whether or not they shared group memberships. On the other hand, women were predicted to trust those who shared direct or indirect relationship connections. Results from an online trust-dilemma game supported these predictions. Implications for our understanding of the impact of gender on social identity and self-representation are discussed."

Circle of Friends or Members of a Group? Sex Differences in Relational and Collective Attachment to Groups - "In the current investigation, we studied sex differences in belonging needs by exploring men's and women's attachment to groups. Previous work has shown that women's social needs tend to be expressed in terms of relational bonds, whereas men's also have a strong collective component (e.g. Gabriel & Gardner, 1999). In this research, we asked men and women to consider one of their important group memberships and to complete Prentice, Miller, and Lightdale's (1994) group attachment scales. In two studies, findings showed that the extent to which a woman was relationally attached (i.e. felt close to the other members of her group) was sufficient to explain the group's importance to her. In contrast, men's ratings of group importance depended upon the extent of both relational and collective attachment (i.e.attached to the group identity). Implications for real-world groups are discussed"
Collectively, these 2 studies suggest that for a group to be strong, it's better to have men in it than women

Atheist Group Forces Calif. Mother to Remove Cross Honoring Dead Son - "Ann Marie Devaney placed a white Christian cross near an on-ramp to Highway 15 inLake Elsinore, Calif., after her 19-year-old son Anthony was struck and killed by a car while crossing the street there in May 2012. After two years, Devaney has agreed to remove the cross after the American Humanist Association pressured the city of Lake Elsinore, reportedly on behalf of an atheist resident who argues the cross' presence on government-owned highway is unconstitutional... "It's so petty and sad that they have to complain over removing a cross," Devaney told the local media outlet. "It's his personal preference that he was Christian. What's wrong with having a cross up?" The American Humanist Association previously sent a letter to the city of Lake Elsinore, claiming a local atheist was irked by the cross and alerted them of its presence"
Maybe this is why Americans don't like atheists

If you want to see intolerance in action, look no further than the humanists' war on faith schools – Telegraph Blogs (not currently available) - "Spearheaded by the British Humanist Association (BHA), and cheered on by liberal broadsheet newspapers and people who fancy themselves as right-on, the campaign depicts itself as a socially enlightened effort to prevent children from being split into religious camps. But in truth it is a deeply illiberal assault on the fundamental right of parents to socialise their children into the values and beliefs that they consider to be true and profound. The rights of parents over their children, and of religious communities more broadly, are being severely undermined by those who, with an Orwellian glint in their eye, would love nothing more than to rid Britain of the alleged blight of faith schools... The great irony here is that humanists often bang on about how faith schools infect their pupils with intolerant attitudes, yet they themselves exhibit extraordinary intolerance towards schools with a religious ethos. No amount of PC-sounding lingo about trying to prevent “social segregation” or seeking to “bring all children together” can disguise the fact that the war on faith schools is fundamentally a war on institutions that have the temerity to hold and teach different values to those preached by your average Guardian-reading, liberal atheist. Finding the beliefs promoted by these institutions weird and morally repulsive, anti-human humanists want the institutions shut down, or their beliefs watered down so much that they disappear into a mulch of state-enforced celebrations of all faiths as equally valid. It is the height of illiberalism to call upon the state and its agents to harry and hector those whose beliefs we don’t like. A fundamental part of religious freedom, and a key aspect of parental autonomy, is the right of parents to impart their beliefs to their offspring. And this will necessarily involve some form of discrimination – that is, parents being discriminating about whom they allow to teach their children or whom they allow their children to associate with. This was recognised by the great liberal thinker Hannah Arendt, who argued in the late 1950s: “To force parents to send their children to [a certain] school against their will means to deprive them of rights which clearly belong to them in all free societies – the private right over their children and the social right to free association.” Under the guise of promoting “children’s rights”, under the cover of promoting what one atheist thinker calls “the human right [of children] not to have their minds crippled by exposure to other people’s bad ideas”, modern-day humanist are violating the very real religious freedoms and moral automony of parents, families and communities. This is in essence an authoritarian and profoundly paternalistic campaign to rescue children… from their own parents"

To lose one party may be regarded as a misfortune, but three? - "I have long argued that for strength and durability, political parties need to be built around core ideas or principles. The corollary is that they should not be built around personalities. By this measure, I have had doubts for several years about the prospects for the Singapore People’s Party (SPP). Many Singaporeans, including those associated with The Online Citizen, have lionised Chiam See Tong. But I think a longer perspective would yield a more mixed assessment. For the third time, he stands at the centre of an internal party crisis"

BBC Radio 4 - Today, Utoeya survivor: 'Show Breivik humanity' - "Reconsider how we treat our enemies, or those we perceive to be our enemies... our wars on terror, our use of violence and oppression to remain safe seems to fail. We're constantly under threat from various sources. Maybe it's time to reconsider how we deal with that and maybe Norway can be an example in that we treat our prisoners humanely. We treat those who want to damage our society humanely. And by showing that humanity, we show that we're all equally human. Equally valuable in many ways."

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Iain Duncan Smith on Brexit - "There's nothing worse and demeans politics than when another politician jumps up and down and in losing any kind of argument wants to hurl a kind of name like racist at people"

What British Muslims Really Think: Trevor Phillips Says Muslim Views Have A Different 'Centre Of Gravity' - "Phillips, who led the Equality and Human Rights Commission and presented the Channel 4 show What British Muslims Really Think on Wednesday night, said many British Muslims “basically do not want to participate in the way that other people do,” and have different views on gender, sexuality, Jews and terrorism. More than half of Muslims in Britain think homosexuality should be illegal, while 47% believe teachers should not be gay, according to a report from Channel 4 which is the most comprehensive survey of British Muslims ever conducted. The poll found only 34% of British Muslims would tell the police if they thought someone they knew was getting involved with supporters of terrorism in Syria. Phillips warned that fewer than one in five British Muslims is “liberal” according to the survey, and these people are a small minority that is “dwindling”. One in six Muslims would like to live more separately from the rest of the population, which Phillips claims has a direct correlation with sympathy for terrorism... “What we’ve found in talking to Muslims is there is a current of what people would call liberal Muslim opinion, [that] says that actually Muslims need to find a form of Islam that is completely compatible with British life, and so on,” he added. “Those people think of themselves as a very small minority now, within a minority and our survey says that maybe fewer than one in five Muslims belong to that group, and they feel that they are dwindling... He added that his own Afro-Carribean community had “backward” views on homosexuality, but “as a society we’ve been absolutely clear about that, if you have those attitudes you can keep them in your head but you can’t do anything about them. People have lost their jobs, and I myself have prosecuted people of my own background for that reason. “We are more nervous, I think, about Muslims because we feel people will be offended, it’s a large group, but my view is, looking at the results of this survey, which I have to say surprised me, that we have gone beyond the situation where we can say ‘Ok, don’t worry, they’ll come round in time’, because that is not going to happen. We have to make things change now.”"
Naturally, people are slamming him. At least they can't claim he has white privilege

Voter ID, Suppression Fail - "if the intent of the new laws really is to suppress minority group voting, it's not likely to work. There has been a lot of academic research recently on the effects of stricter voter ID requirements, and—contrary to Barber's apocalyptic statements—they don't seem to have much of an impact on minority turnout at all... 'the nonphoto ID law has a positive and significant relationship with Latino turnout'"

--- CRITICAL APPROACHES TO LITERATURE --- - "Formalist Criticism
Biographical Criticism
Historical Criticism
Gender Criticism
Psychological Criticism
Sociological Criticism
Mythological Criticism
Reader-Response Criticism
Deconstructionist Criticism"

Men, Women and Skin Colour

Skin color preference, sexual dimorphism and sexual selection: a case of gene culture co-evolution?

"(1) Why is there a widespread cultural preference for lighter skin, a preference seemingly unrelated to the skin color of the group in question?

(2) Why does there seem to be a sex bias in this preference, lighter skin being more often valued in females than in males?

Our explanans is a genetically based sexual dimorphism in skin pigmentation...

Studies ranging back to 1939, and using increasingly sophisticated methodology have established largely consistent sex differences in skin pigmentation amongst varied human populations from virtually all the major geographical and climatic areas of the world. Almost all these studies show adult women to be lighter than men of the same age group, although the differences are often not large...

Table 2 shows an overwhelming cross-cultural preference for lighter skin. Of the 51 societies for which any mention of native skin color preference (or of a cosmetic practice from which color preference can be directly inferred) is made, 47 state a preference for the lighter end of the locally represented spectrum, though not necessarily for the lightest possible skin color. In a few cases, Europeans and albinos are considered unattractive... none of the four cases we classified as negative or dubious shows an unequivocal preference for darker than average skin...

A light skin is a more consequential asset for women than for men in the vast majority of societies... The preference is just as prevalent among dark-skinned peoples as among light-skinned ones. Sub-Saharan Africans, for instance, do not show a single case of preference for darker skin...

Preference for lightness often antedates European contact. This was clearly the case, for example, for the Aztecs (Soustelle, 1970: 130), the Japanese (Wagatsuma, 1967), and the Ancient Egyptians (Lhote, 1954; Mekhitarian, 1978)...

A strong preference for lightness is found even in societies that were never colonized by the West (e.g., Japan), or in societies where the ruling class was darker than the indigenes (e.g., Moorish Spain), or in ethnic groups where the urban upper class, after conquering a darker population, became darker (through polygyny with conquered women) than the rural lower classes of the same ethnic group (e.g., the Fulani of Nigeria and Niger).

Even in areas colonized by Europe, preference for skin lightness is often accompanied by explicit rejection of European phenotypes...

Of the Ngoni of Southern Africa, Barnes (1951: 30) says: 'Young men say that what they like in a girl is a light skin colour, a pretty face, and the ability to dance and to copulate well... Women say they like a man who is well dressed, who has a good job working for a European, and who has a parting in his hair'...

There are at least two possible evolutionary explanations, both speculative but suggestive as such explanations almost inevitably are. One has to do with neoteny, the other with fertility signaling.

Perhaps lighter skin in females evolved, along with other neotenous traits such as body fat, a higher-pitched voice, less pilosity, and a less prominent chin and nose, as a sexual attractant and elicitor of male nurturance. Just as adults find babies 'cute,' men may find child-like characteristics in women attractive, and neotenous female traits may induce male investment. As infants have less pigment than adults, and as skin continues to darken throughout childhood, lighter skin can be seen as a neotenous trait, an interpretation already suggested by Darwin...

Lighter women are more attractive because they are presumably more fecundable. In the words of a Hopi: 'I preferred a light complexion, for we say that a woman with a dark skin may be half man' (Talayesva, 1942: 281-2)...

The last link in our chain of reasoning is that, once a cultural preference for light skin in women has been established, there results preferential mating between fair women and high status men...

Of the world's complexly stratified societies, our thesis has been best documented for Japan. In this Asian society which strongly associates light skin with feminine beauty (Wagatsuma, 1967), Hulse (1967) did, indeed, demonstrate that the upper class is lighter than the middle class, which, in turn, is lighter than the lower class...

Upper class men have seldom if ever shown any reluctance to copulate with women, irrespective of pigmentation, when the opportunity arose. Slave systems all over the world offer abundant evidence. But this is not to say that they did not discriminate in favor of lighter women...

A common device was to make a sharp distinction between marriage and concubinage, and to exclude the offspring of concubines from membership in the upper group. Even within the group of concubines, it was not uncommon to show preferential treatment to the lighter-skinned. Also, concubines were often preferentially drawn from among lighter-skinned women. The complex racial stratification systems of the West Indies, with three or more pigmentation categories, for example, bear witness to these practices (Lowenthal, 1972)...

Preference for light skin is not a random and capricious artifact of culture. Either cultural randomness or cultural narcissism would lead one to expect that many groups would prefer darker pigmentation, especially those which are themselves dark. Yet, this is not the case. The sexual asymmetry of the preference is also well beyond chance. The combination of these two biases simply begs explanation...

Our argument is that the cultural dice are not simply loaded. They are loaded genetically, in this case, through sexual dimorphism in skin pigmentation which is most pronounced during the years of female fertility. We suggest that we have here an instance of gene-culture co-evolution"


This is cross-cultural evidence from anthropology that fair/fairer/lighter/light skin is considered more attractive than dark/darker skin.

Furthermore, fair skin is more prized in women than men, and the theory that white people are to blame (through colonialism) is conclusively disproven.


Addendum: Related: Evo and Proud: Perception of skin color in sub-Saharan Africa (by one of the authors of the paper above)

Men prefer women who are fairer than them - unless they're so fair it's outside the norm for their area (this is why Europeans and albinos were considered unattractive)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Links - 12th May 2016

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Should a new test for Down's syndrome be available on NHS? - "'It's all medical and there's none of the positive stuff.'
'Are you saying that we shouldn't screen at all, for Down's Syndrome?'
'Well I think that is a question, to be honest We need to think as a society. We're signed up to various human rights acts. We're hoping to move towards a more inclusive society. We do have to ask the question: you know, if you think of people with Down's Syndrome as being a particular race, then it's utterly unacceptable isn't it? I'm not saying we should definitely go with it, I think there's just a very strong argument and a debate does need to be had. People with Down's Syndrome never been included in the debate. They've never been asked. Because of course it's preposterous to ask somebody with Down's Syndrome who, they tend to really enjoy their lives whether or not they think they ought to have a life'
'Or to have been born in the first place'
Ahh, identity politics
More: ‘Bridget Jones’ Actress and Parent of Down Syndrome Child Criticizes New Prenatal Screening


Rolex Recipe - "No, it has nothing to do with watches, Rolexes are a favorite any-time snack or light meal that is distinctly Ugandan, easily found in the Masaka and Kampala districts. Its name is derived by saying "roll of eggs" quickly in a Luganda accent, though they are better known as Rolexes rather than as rolls of eggs. A Rolex might be compared to a breakfast-burrito or rolled omelette. In Uganda, this is a typical greasy street-vendor offering available at busy intersections at a cart with an umbrella (for shade), cutting board, and charcoal cookstove with rounded metal hot-plate."

Shakespeare’s world and cricket in South Africa | Podcast | History Extra - "In Julius Caesar... thinking about revolution and really more important than that, what comes after it. The kinds of betrayals and the temptation towards retribution and really the practice of living after you have overthrown a tyrant. We think, in some ways, about Julius Caesar as a play about the death of Julius Caesar but most of the interesting stuff happens after that. It's about how the aftermath tears apart the people who overthrew the oppressor and then have to find a way to make that vision of a life after it stick...
Be cautious about assuming that historical evils saw themselves as evils. I think a lot of these people who we see now as having rather patronising or culturally paternalistic towards the people towards whom they were dealing thought they were very much thought they were doing the right thing. It's very easy to look back at history and assume that, you know, the evil people were malicious and the good people were benevolent... a lot of the people who ended up doing things that we think rather less well of nowadays were benevolent. They wanted good things. And they simply had thought through them in ways that we don't think through them. So that might be a caution in some ways to think about our own acts of supposed benevolence and how they might be judged by people looking back in the future"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Eating With Our Ears: The Sound of Food - "Tastes, they vary. A complaint that cuts across genres: volume. A recent Zagat survey found that noise is what most irritates New Yorkers about dining out. But they may have themselves to blame... 'What people do not realise is that New York restaurants, the background noise is a lot higher than let's say restaurants in Europe. Americans have a tendency to speak very loud. So the music, if you want it to be heard, has to be above that"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Food Chain Late Night - "'Are there any differences between the kind of kebab that's being made in this kitchen here right now in the UK and the kebab I buy in Turkey itself?'
'The meat price is very expensive. In Turkey, they don't use that much meat. In this country, meat prices not that expensive. You get more quality kebab in London than Turkey...
They working late in office, they coming here. They go in a pub and drinking, they coming here. Even this time and hour, I got - see the phone ringing now, probably the family customers, they doing the family orders. People, they got one image: kebab only for drunk people. No.'...
[In Hong Kong] 'I want the world to know that this is how we used to do it in the 1960s. These days, chefs think they're really something. But nobody else can handle two woks at the same time'"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, No Such Thing as a Free Lunch?
Food is very important in Burmese culture. And if you attend Burmese dinner by Burmese people, you will find out that the first thing is to enjoy food. so you don't speak, you don't talk, you just eat. And after that you relax and you start the conversation. So it's quite different from English culture where you sit down and you talk a lot...
I watched the CEO of Google Eric Schmidt [have a dry sandwich at his desk] more than once. To this day, now I have a sandwich in my market called Eric's Club. And customers say, this is the driest, more plain, boring sandwich I've ever had. I say well, you should've met Eric...
The word lunch had been around for a long time. It always meant the amount of food you could carry in the palm of your hand. It was a small amount of food. Eating on the run was always associated with the word lunch. You could have a lunch at 10 in the morning, you could have a lunch at midnight. What happened with industrialisation was that that word acquired a place on the clock. Lunch was now that thing that happened between 12 and 2. So you had the word, you had the connotation of speed and you had that time of day"

6 Major Continuity Problems in the 'X-Men' Movies

Why These Iconic British Comedies Were Banished From Our Screens - "On his death in 1998, Mitchell compared Speight’s use of satire to that of Jonathan Swift.“I’ve just been re-watching the episode about donating blood,” Mitchell told the Independent. “Alf believed that if a white man got blood from a black man, there was a danger of awful disease. Then his son-in-law said something equal to anything campaigners come out with: `So all you’ve got to do is take Cassius Clay, drain him of his blood, put it in a white, British man, and you’d have a white, British heavyweight champion of the world’. That says all there is to say about the idiocy of racism.” However, in 2013, it was reported that the BBC shelved a report that showed that a significant proportion of viewers - of which there were sometimes as many as 16 million - had missed the satire entirely, and agreed with Garnett’s views. It concluded that rather than ridiculing bigotry, 'the series may have reinforced existing illiberal and anti-trade union attitudes’."

Oxford student behind Rhodes Must Fall campaign says he refused to tip waitress because she is white - "Mr Qwabe, 24, is one of the leaders of the Rhodes Must Fall movement, which campaigned to remove a statue of the 19th Century imperialist from Oriel College. Although he is a Rhodes scholar himself and received money from the Rhodes’ estate to study at Oxford, Qwabe and other activists claimed forcing ethnic minority students to walk past the statue amounted to ‘violence’. On Thursday, he wrote on Facebook about an altercation with a waitress during a visit to a restaurant called Obz Café in the Western Cape, South Africa. He said the incident had left him ‘unable to stop smiling because something so black, wonderful & LIT just happened!’... ‘Moral of the story: the time has come when no white person will be absolved. We are tired of “not all white people” and all other bulls***. We are here, and we want the stolen land back. ‘No white person will be out here living their best life while we are out here being a landless and dispossessed black mass. NO white person shall rest. ‘It is irrelevant whether you personally have land/wealth or you don’t. ‘Go to your fellow white people & mobilise for them to give us the land back.’ His post went viral on the internet, with critics from around the world hitting out at his apparent prejudice... the manager of the restaurant, Rush Alexander, confirmed the incident had taken place and said the waitress involved was ‘upset’. He added: ‘We were very surprised as everyone in Cape Town just gets along. It was racist and it was unjust. However, we don’t think we will take any further action. ‘It was just the words of one ignorant man.’"
FB comments: "Nothing fights the decolonial fight like a privileged Oxford law student abusing the working classes."
"Fine. If you are going to blame modern white people for what their ancestors have done, I think they are also perfectly entitled to claim ownership of everything their ancestors have brought from European civilization."
"it has brought out all of the filth, racism, whitesplaining, white tears, cries of reverse racism, etc there's to find online."
"If the group campaigning believe a waitress can be considered responsible in any way for the taking of land, because of the white colour of her skin, they must be OK with some white people considering any black person they come into contact with responsible for the actions of other black people who have committed heinous acts and atrocities"


Oxford's Rhodes Must Fall co-founder in restaurant altercation: 'we will tip you when you return the land!' - "When the time came for the pair to pay the bill, his friend came up with a novel tactic for tipping. Rather than offer gratuity, his friend wrote on a slip of paper: ‘we will give tip when you return the land’. Unsurprisingly the ‘white waitress’ was taken aback when she received the note. However, Qwabe had little sympathy — complaining that she burst into ‘typical white tears’... It seems the current wave of safe-spaces and Stepford students at universities is beginning to affect those who aren’t even on campus. Update: Rather than apologise for his post, Qwabe has hit out at the ‘white media’ for their ‘hysterical’ reaction. In a new Facebook post, he says: ‘Whiteness is so weak. Cute actually’. Can Oxford university really condone this kind of behaviour?
This suggests that many SJWs and anti-racists are actually racist (besides being nasty people)

Planned Obsolescence: Built Not to Last - "the dark side of planned obsolescence is best illustrated by the example of the nylon stocking. The invention of nylon transformed an entire industry because it proved that we could now engineer polymers; but when Dupont came up with the nylon stocking scientists were told to play around until the synthetic fiber was more fragile and would “run” more often. More runs meant that women would have to buy more nylons. When you consider that original nylon was used for parachutes in the military it seems kind of ridiculous that a pair of stocking only lasts a week or so... How often does a light bulb blow out, forcing you to replace it? Think about that as you consider the Centennial Light, a light bulb manufactured by the Shelby Electric Company in the 1890s and continues to function after 113 years... in 1924 a cartel limited the lifespan of a light bulb to 1000 hours. Before that light bulbs had an average lifespan of 2500 hours... Consider the case of the new Apple watch, which tech repair and upgrade website iFixit claims has intentional obsolescence built into it. “The S1 SiP [internal system in package] is encased in resin, and is further held in place by a mess of glue and soldered ribbon connectors. In short, basic component replacements look nearly impossible.”"

Frozen fans urge Disney to give Elsa a girlfriend in sequel - "some read same-sex attraction into the character the first time round, anyway... Asked about a perceived undertone of homosexuality in the film, writer and co-director Jennifer Lee told the Big Issue, “We know what we made. But at the same time I feel like once we hand the film over, it belongs to the world, so I don’t like to say anything, and let the fans talk. I think it’s up to them.”"
A woman needs a partner? Or a woman without a man must be lesbian? How misogynistic

Feinstein-Burr: The Bill That Bans Your Browser - "Any of these “covered entities,” upon receipt of a court order, must be able to either provide the government with the unencrypted “plaintext” of any data encrypted by their product or service, or provide “technical assistance” sufficient to allow the government to retrieve that plaintext or otherwise accomplish the purpose of the court order. Penalties aren’t specified, leaving judges with the implicit discretion to slap non-compliant providers and developers with contempt of court. Moreover, “distributors of software licenses” — app stores and other software repositories — are obligated to ensure that all the software they host is capable of complying with such orders. Some types of encrypted communications services either already comply or could comply in some reasonably obvious way with these requirements. Others, not so much. Because of the incredible breadth of the proposal, it’s not possible to detail in a blog post all the varied challenges such a mandate would present to diverse types of software. But let’s begin by considering one type of software everyone reading this post uses daily: Your Web browser. To the best of my knowledge, every modern Web browser is non-compliant with Feinstein-Burr, and would have to be pulled from every app store in US jurisdiction if the bill were to become law."

Marvel’s Civil War and its politics, explained - "The tension between Cap and Iron Man has been brewing throughout the past few Marvel movies, but the source material for Captain America: Civil War — a 2006 comic book crossover featuring the Avengers and other players in the Marvel universe — actually dates back 10 years or so, to a time of George W. Bush, the Patriot Act, and the early days of America's ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq."

BBC World Service - The Documentary, Donald Trump: The People's Billionaire - "Barbara Res was the woman who led the construction of Trump Tower, which opened in 1983. A woman. In charge of a building site. In a world as chauvinistic as construction. Chosen by Donald Trump over other male contenders. What does this tell us about The Donald? 'Trump is a smart guy and he has a theory about women... in general men tend to be better than women at what they do, but a good woman is better than ten good men'... And he took the decision to put you in charge of Trump Tower which was the big project... 'He is the best salesman I have ever seen in my life. He could sell ice to the Eskimos in their coldest winter'"

On Terrorism being a Political, not a Religious Problem

Terrorism is a political problem, not a religious one, Opinion News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Paul Tobin: The article's fundamental thesis is seriously flawed.

Some examples:

(a) It says one of the major reasons for terrorism is the "the failure of these societies to integrate their minorities." Yet it does not explain similar terrorist attacks in countries such as Pakistan and Banglasdesh where the terrorists themselves are part of the majority.

(b) It says "In his open letter to the US in 2002, Osama stated that Al-Qaeda's undertaking of the Sept 11 attacks was motivated by the Israeli occupation of Palestine - this was the first reason given in his letter" This, rather dishonestly I might add, creates the impression that Osama's worldview and grievances are mainly political and secular. Yet she omitted to mention two important things:

Firstly that Osama opened his letter with these verses from the Quran, clearly presenting his views as theologicaly motivated:

"Permission to fight (against disbelievers) is given to those (believers) who are fought against, because they have been wronged and surely, Allah is Able to give them (believers) victory" [Quran 22:39]

"Those who believe, fight in the Cause of Allah, and those who disbelieve, fight in the cause of Taghut (anything worshipped other than Allah e.g. Satan). So fight you against the friends of Satan; ever feeble is indeed the plot of Satan."[Quran 4:76]

Secondly by not defining "Palestine", she implies that this is purely West Bank and Gaza, yet Osama's letter clearly shows he means "Palestine" to include all of modern Israel as well, since he mentioned that "the creation of Israel is a crime which must be erased." His argument for the right of muslim Arabs to the land of "Palestine" (i.e. all of modern israel, West Bank and Gaza) is theological not political (you can see his letter here: Full text: bin Laden's 'letter to America' | World news | The Guardian)

(c) The example of Donald Trump is the most feeble red herring I have read in a long time, I suspect, no one, including evangelical Christians, takes Donald Trump claims about Christianity (and his boast that "Nobody reads the Bible as much as me") seriously. But everyone, and certainly many many muslims who choose to join ISIS or other Jihadi groups take the theological claims of these groups seriously.

Of course, there are other dimensions, political, social etc to the problem. But to say that there is NO religious dimension (as the title of the article unambiguously states and the article implies) to the modern problem of Jihadi terrorism is pure sophistry.

Me: If it were solely a political problem, why would Muslims (and only Muslims) in other countries be upset at what happens in the Middle East - so much so that they commit terrorist acts?

If these terrorists were Arab you could pin it (unconvincingly) on Pan-Arab Solidarity. But even non-Arab Muslims are so motivated.

At a very minimum, one needs to look at Muslim solidarity, which is a religious concept.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Links - 11th May 2016

NYC Will Fine You $250,000 For 'Misgendering' A Transsexual - "Did you call a transsexual person “he” or “she” when they preferred to be called “zhe?” According to a newly updated anti-discrimination law in New York City, you could be fined an eye-watering $250,000... if a bar owner prevents male bartenders from wearing lipstick and heels, they’ll be breaking the law. They’ve now got a choice between potentially scaring off customers, and paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. Regardless of the establishment’s clientèle or aesthetic, every property owner will be forced to conform to the same standard."
Keywords: The New York City Commission on Human Rights

The Sanders campaign is living in an economic fantasy world. - "Liberal policy wonks have generally been, shall we say, a bit cold on Bernie Sanders, especially when it comes to his plan for creating a single-payer health care system, which they've criticized as undercooked and unrealistic. But hostilities escalated this week when four former chief White House economic advisers issued a harsh open letter accusing the Vermont senator of embracing “extreme claims” about how his policy ideas would boost American growth and of sullying Democrats’ entire reputation for caring about “responsible arithmetic.” The spreadsheet-wielding wing of the party has basically declared that the Sanders campaign is deluded about economics... You know how conservatives often argue that tax cuts will mostly pay for themselves? This is the liberal equivalent... If Sanders is surrounding himself on the campaign trail with aides who are willing to indulge in magical thinking, you can't help but wonder who will be advising him in the White House."
Funny, I thought only conservatives lived in lala land

Plutarch • On the Fortune of Alexander — Second Oration - "Cleitus, when he had scuttled three or four Greek triremes at Amorgos, caused himself to be proclaimed Poseidon and carried a trident. Demetrius, to whom Fortune added the little that she was able to subtract from Alexander's power, allowed himself to be called "The Heaven-descended," and the subject states did not send ambassadors to him, but "Sacred Deputies," and his replies they spoke of as "Oracles." Lysimachus, who obtained possession of the regions adjoining Thrace, the mere outskirts of the kingdom of Alexander, as it were, reached such a pitch of arrogance and boldness as to say, "The Byzantines now come to me when I am touching Heaven with my spear." But Pasiades of Byzantium, who was present, said, "Let us be off, lest he make a hole in the sky with his spear-point!" And yet why should anyone mention these men who might have some legitimate ground for pride because of Alexander, when even Clearchus, after he became despot of Heracleia, used to carry a thunderbolt, and named one of his sons Thunderer? And Dionysius the younger styled himself the son of Apollo in the inscription: Sprung from a Dorian mother by union with Phoebus Apollo."

WATCH: Migrants Dislike Food, Demand TVs, Threaten To Go Back To Syria - "It may seem at times that migrants are almost as opposed to mass migration to Europe as natives. interviewed yesterday as Sweden prepared to close their borders to alleviate the migrant crisis brewing within their nation, a group of newly arrived asylum seekers celebrated the policy u-turn. One young man said: “Close the border. We are far too many who have come. They can not take care of all of us”. Seeing no irony in his statement, a Syrian migrant said: “I’m surprised how it is here in Sweden. If they can’t take care of us properly, they should not take so many”."

The runaway children Malaysia failed to save - "four girls were slapped by a teacher because they refused to recite a Muslim prayer. "Those girls aren't Muslim so why should they be forced to say a prayer before they eat?" she says. "There are plenty of police reports and letters of complaint but nothing happens." The government says it aims to bring the disadvantaged Orang Asli into the mainstream of society. But Colin Nichols argues that the government has little interest in protecting their identity and says indigenous people are being increasingly sucked into a Malay-centric nation state. "You pluck young children - seven-year-olds, eight-year-olds - from the village," he says. "Then put them in a school hostel for three months at a time without seeing their parents, give them a new education, give them a new culture, give them a new language and sometimes a new religion, and in one generation you have people who are no longer Orang Asli." "

Germany court orders measles sceptic to pay 100,000 euros - "A German biologist who offered €100,000 (£71,350; $106,300) to anyone who could prove that measles is a virus has been ordered by a court to pay up. Stefan Lanka, who believes the illness is psychosomatic, made the pledge four years ago on his website. The reward was later claimed by German doctor David Barden, who gathered evidence from various medical studies. Mr Lanka dismissed the findings. But the court in the town of Ravensburg ruled that the proof was sufficient."

The Left and the Attack on Paris - Dennis Prager - "This was not an "attack on all humanity." It was an attack on Western liberal values. And it wasn't an attack on "the universal values we share," since there are in fact few universal values that humanity shares. If humanity shared universal values, there wouldn't be wars, or hundreds of millions of subjugated women, or theocratic and secular tyrannies... She asked that the spoiled immature brats who complain about not having "safe spaces" in their universities, understand what real evil is and come to appreciate how incredibly lucky and safe they are."
Isn't it ethnocentric to talk of universal values?

The creepiest sight in China? Tiananmen anti-self-immolator firefighters - "Why, you ask, are there firefighters hanging out in Tiananmen Square? It's a natural question, since they're standing in the middle of a giant open square, with nothing flammable anywhere nearby. Except, that is, for the other people in the square"

When Accessibility gets Labeled Wasteful - "So there’s a debate going on, on Twitter right now between disabled people and people who either claim to care about the environment and or just want to complain about “lazy people”... Image Description: tweet with a picture of peeled oranges in plastic containers on a grocery store (whole foods) shelf. Tweet reads “If only nature could find a way to cover these oranges so we didn’t need to waste so much plastic on them” The original tweet has been shared over 70,000 times. Whole Foods has apparently agreed to remove the prepeeled oranges from their stores. Environmentalists and those who hate laziness rejoice! The problem is that this discourse completely ignores how preprepared food impacts people with disabilities... disability inherently comes with a greater need for product consumption. Disabled people need mobility aids and other tools that inevitably have an impact on the environment. Many of the people she encountered appeared to suggest that in the fight for the environment, disabled people are too inconvenient and should not be accommodated.
Lurking behind the spirit of environmentalism is misanthropy: when you prioritise the environment over humans

Britain and Europe: living together, apart - "Clement Attlee had described the referendum as “a device for despots and dictators.” This was long the consensus view of a British political class which both took for granted the superiority of the Westminster model of “parliamentary democracy” and assumed that referendums could find no place within it. But this system’s genius (or if you wish, its hypocrisy, though perhaps they amount to the same thing) is to embrace incremental change while affirming that everything – most of all, the diamond-hard sovereignty of the “crown in parliament” – remains as it was"
Attlee's words: "I could not consent to the introduction into our national life of a device so alien to all our traditions as the referendum, which has only too often been the instrument of Nazism and Fascism. Hitler’s practices in the field of referenda and plebiscites can hardly have endeared these expedients to the British heart"

The No-Tipping Point - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "Meyer’s anti-tipping stance goes back a long time, at least to 1994, when he floated the idea in the Union Square Café’s newsletter. “The American system of tipping,” he wrote, “is awkward for all parties involved.”
MEYER: I believe that hospitality is a team sport. And the same way as if you went to a soccer game — the ticket you bought would include the seat, but it wouldn’t only include the strikers and not the goalie and expect you to pay the goalie separate based on what you, as a fan, thought of the goalie’s performance or the defenders’ performance that game. And so, in the restaurant business, we’ve had this economic policy that apparently dates back to the Civil War, where people got paid zero dollars by the restaurant, which basically means that the waiters are working not for me, but you, as freelancers...
MAGNUS TORFASON: The more tipping you see in a given country, the more corruption you generally see in that country as well...
KING: Quite alarming statistics, that in the period of time since Danny’s had Union Square Café , in that 30 years, the front-of-house salary has increased by over 300 percent. But in that same period of time, the culinary team is in the mid-20s, or the early 20 percent. I mean, that is a colossal difference...
“I feel better coming to work.” And the two reasons that they have most told us is that they love the fact that there’s just no longer this bubble hanging over their head during the course of your meal where they’re wondering and you’re wondering, “Is the only reason I’m being nice to this guy so I can pick his pocket at the end of the meal?” They love getting rid of that. They love the dynamic that suggests that they’re doing it because they are a hospitality professional. And that feels really, really good to them. The other thing that our servers love is that they don’t have to feel guilty at the end of an incredibly busy Friday or Saturday night, when they’re all high-fiving, but only behind closed doors because they don’t want the kitchen staff, who only worked harder for the exact same amount of money, to feel bad about it.

Are Payday Loans Really as Evil as People Say? - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "DEYOUNG: Studies that have looked at this have found that once you control for the demographics and income levels in these areas and these communities, the racial characteristics no longer drive the location decisions. As you might expect, business people don’t care what color their customers are, as long as their money’s green...
I find evidence that payday borrowers in Oregon actually seemed to be harmed. They seemed to be worse off by having that access to payday loans taken away."

How to Be More Productive - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "DUHIGG: But I think you hit on something really, really powerful, which is that, that list of things that you just read, they are not efficient. So, one of the things that’s really important about creating the right group norms that make a team productive is that everyone has a chance to kind of socialize with each other a little bit, right? Because you want to create this “high-average social sensitivity,” and the only way you do that is to get people to talk about their lives a little bit. Now, we’ve all had the experience where you go into a meeting and, like, for the first five minutes people just, like, talk about their weekend and their kids and who’s sick, and they gossip and you think to yourself, “God, can we please just start this meeting? We’ve got business to get done.” And I have that same instinct, which is to say, I want to prioritize efficiency. But study after study shows that if we spend a couple of meetings with that five minutes of getting to know each other, over time, our group will actually be much, much more productive. So sometimes it’s about sacrificing the short-term efficiency for the long-term productivity."

The Holy Roman Empire and Capability Brown | Podcast | History Extra - "People don't like complexity so they like to try to find a sort of linear narratives that you can then fit all the events in. And the problem with the Empire is that if you construct that kind of narrative, it's based around Emperors who are always end up in the same sort of failures. If we expect them to behave like monarchs did elsewhere"

The Easter Rising and a Victorian heyday | Podcast | History Extra - "The First World War ironically prevented war in Ireland in 1914 because all sides rallied around what they see as a common United Kingdom cause. And there's a very strong wave of support for the cause of Britain in the world, for Catholic little Belgium that's been invaded by Germany as it's seen in Irish public opinion so in a way this calms the Irish public situation down going into 1915...
[On the 1850s] the British sort of pat themselves in the back and say we're trying to get rid of the slave trade. We're trying to bring freedom to people. We're not doing it by revolution or by democracy, we're doing it in a very mannish way. By free trade and communication. So those two things... networked world will bring freedom to people, will automatically free them"

The hard-hitting soap for a country at war - BBC News - "Radio Alwan works on a distinctly low budget. Many members of the cast are played by the station's newsreaders and presenters and yet their drama is surprisingly polished. The studio engineers take particular pride in their sound effects. "Bombings can be taken from the internet," they explain. "But did you know that rhythmically clicking your fingers can sound like the first drops of a heavy rain shower?"... If the soap was about anywhere other than Syria, you might call the storylines melodramatic, but as the scriptwriter Mahmoud points out, all his plots resonate with Syrians because they're just hearing their own story."

Gush Etzion Junction: The deadly roundabout - "The Rami Levi supermarket next to the roundabout bustles with Israeli shoppers pushing trolleys. Most live in the Gush Etzion bloc of more than 20 settlements. Many now carry guns - either M16 rifles like Daniel - or small handguns like the one he tells me his wife keeps in her handbag to protect herself. Israel's military occupation of the West Bank and the expansion of settlements are often cited as reasons for Palestinian anger. But Daniel believes incitement is driving the upsurge in attacks. "On Palestinian television we see videos and cartoons calling to go out and become a shaheed, a martyr, 'Go out, stab a Jew, stab an Israeli'," he says. "They want to glorify their name, glorify Islam.""

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Animals on Antibiotics: Could Pigs on Pills Make us Ill? - "It's easier and more effective in many cases to prevent rather than to treat. We also know that animals that have become sick, been treated, allowed t recover and eventually go to market often have a higher level of foodborne pathogens on their carcass than those that have never been allowed to get sick in the first place"

ISIS Destruction of Ancient Sites Hits Mostly Muslim Targets - "While the jihadis' ultimate motivation behind planting explosives in Palmyra remains unclear, the destruction of the shrines is part of the greatest systematic eradication of Islamic sites in modern history. In addition, the destruction of monuments from all periods and cultures in the ongoing conflict in Syria and Iraq is “the worst cultural heritage crisis since World War II,” says Danti. While international attention has been primarily focused on attacks on ancient sites such as Nineveh and Hatra, the vast majority of the sites that are being destroyed in Syria and Iraq are from the Islamic era, according to Danti, who estimates there have been more than 100 “major heritage incidents” this year in Syria alone... One alleged ISIS member has even threatened to destroy the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest shrine in Mecca, complaining that “[p]eople go to Mecca to touch the stones, not for Allah.” Aspirations of a pure, pious caliphate aside, there are several different theories around why ISIS is targeting Islamic sites. Dramatic images of spectacular explosions inspire recruits. By destroying buildings that have been at the center of a community’s religious life and venerated for centuries, the action can be considered a form of psychological as well as cultural warfare to keep local populations under heel."

Archaeologists Train "Monuments Men" to Save Syria's Past - "In the midst of a war that has killed more than 190,000 people so far, millennia-old ruins and dusty museums may not seem like a priority. But archaeologists say that preserving Syria's past is important if the country is to recover someday from the ravages of civil war. Cultural tourism was a mainstay of the Syrian economy before 2011, says John Russell, a State Department consultant who helps countries protect their archaeological treasures. "It's important that we preserve as much as possible of this economic asset for Syrians in the future."

With Friends like These, the Humanities Don't Need Enemies

With Friends like These, the Humanities Don't Need Enemies

"Enrollment in the liberal arts and humanities continues to sink, particularly in languages and literature. At Harvard, for example, almost 60 percent of the students who start in the humanities switch disciplines by the end of their second year.

“Mapping the Future,” a 2013 report by Harvard’s spooked humanities division, admits that there may be “a kernel of truth in conservative fears about the left-leaning academy” but goes on to conclude that “one of the major contributions of the Humanities over the past thirty years has been...revealing the extent to which culture serves power, the way domination and imperialism underwrite cultural production, and the ways the products of culture rehearse and even produce injustice.”

Do tell. Come for the great novels, stay for the leftist ideology. Except students are not staying, and what amazes me is how the humanities professoriate fails to recognize its own culpability...

Many valid reasons have been given for the national decline: impractical majors, classrooms ossified by multiculturalism and identity politics, and the proliferation of arcane theorizing that has replaced the reading of great literature. It seems that the liberal arts academy has lost touch with the past as well as the present.

Sometimes it seems as if the liberal arts academy has lost touch with reality. I get that sense most strongly when I attend meetings of the Modern Language Association. A look at the Modern Language Association (MLA) yearly convention reveals an organization, and a profession, in deep denial...

Students and their tuition-paying parents find such specialist jargon pompous and strangely unconnected from real life.

The MLA understands this negative public perception but seems powerless to change. In the last two years, I attended two hour-long, agonized discussions asking why the “general public” doesn’t understand and appreciate how vital literary scholars’ work is.

Maybe the reason is that such work is, in University of Virginia professor Mark Edmundson’s words, “unreadable.”

The Harvard report even admits that today, the humanities “serve only the critical function of unmasking the operations of power in language largely impenetrable to a wider public. Or even where they are intelligible, they fail to communicate their value to a wider public. They serve no constructive public function.”

Fewer and fewer students want to spend four years of time and treasure "unmasking power."

Or take the MLA’s policymaking body, the Delegate Assembly (of which I am an elected member). For the last two years, the main subject of discussion has been whether the MLA should align itself with the anti-Israel “Boycott, Divest, and Sanction” (BDS) movement, a move promoted by the Radical Caucus and Politics and the Profession.

With all the problems facing higher education (disruptive technology, tenure threats, reliance on adjuncts, the future of accreditation, graduation speaker disinvitations, closing or repurposing liberal arts colleges, etc.), the “general public” may wonder why the flagship organization for literary scholars is spending its twilight years debating an incendiary geopolitical issue.

And is there anything more absurd than a handful of academics retailing their revolutionary fantasies in the Grand Ballroom of a luxury hotel? There are clear reasons why the public no longer takes humanities education seriously...

the liberal arts will likely have to retreat into scattered educational "monasteries" for preservation. He even suggested that maybe we should stop teaching Shakespeare for 20 years so that he will be rediscovered and appreciated again.

For now, the hegemony of theory and ideology has built a house that no one wants to live in and that seems beyond repair.

The MLA is so mesmerized by leftist politics and jargon-filled theory that it can’t face why students are turning away and departments are shrinking (even when the MLA itself is also shrinking)...

"Art will go on; it just won't go on in school, if the schools continue to support this trahison des clercs. Personally, I am more interested in art than in school, so if art migrates to coffeehouses and basement apartments and libraries, so be it: it won't be the first time."

Such are the somber views of two of the humanities most ardent defenders.

Do we still need the humanities? Yes, now more than ever. But the current academicization, politicization, and jargon mean that college may be the worst place to look for them. That's where you go for libidinal data and negotiated flesh."


Perhaps the humanities mainly have themselves to blame for all the cuts, despite all the pleading essays.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Sexual Assault on US Campuses

More problems with the "the one in five female college students in the US have been sexually assaulted" statistic:

AAU Campus Sexual Assault Survey: Why such surveys don’t paint an accurate portrait of life on campus.

"The more wide-ranging AAU survey would seem to sweep away the doubt. But its authors also explicitly warn against making the kind of national claims suggested by this week’s headlines: “[M]any news stories are focused on figures like ‘1 in 5’ in reporting victimization,” they write, then advise that it is “oversimplistic, if not misleading” to conclude that any study, including their own, proves that 20 or 25 percent of female students are victims.

This week, I spoke to David Cantor, co-principal investigator of the AAU study. He explained that the 27 campuses he and his colleagues looked at are not nationally representative; the set of schools was relatively large, but it was not randomly selected from the full complement of American universities...

In the AAU survey, the women who said they experienced nonconsensual penetration but did not report it were asked why. The most common answer, chosen by 58.6 percent of aggregate respondents was, “I did not think it was serious enough to report.” At Yale, this answer was chosen by 65.4 percent of the respondents who said they had experienced forced penetration. What are we to make of respondents who attest that they’ve experienced such a vile assault yet don’t find it serious enough to report?...

If 1 in 4 women on their campuses can expect to be victimized each year, college presidents should reinstate the long-abandoned sexual segregation of dorms; there should be a strictly enforced ban on underage drinking; and a large and visible law enforcement presence should prowl campus as a deterrent to sexual predators. But no college president would suggest such things.

I suspect that’s in part because they recognize that there is a fundamental problem with sexual assault surveys. These surveys are trying to describe the most intimate activities of people by forcing them to answer binary questions about behavior that can be ambiguous, complicated, and confusing"


The latest big sexual assault survey is (like others) more hype than science

"The extraordinarily low response rate of students asked to participate in the AAU survey — 19.3 percent — virtually guaranteed a vast exaggeration of the number of campus sexual assaults.

Even the AAU acknowledged that the 150,000 students who responded to the electronic questionnaire were more likely to be victims of sexual assault than the 650,000 who ignored it because “non-victims may have been less likely to participate.”

Start with the fact that 60 percent of the 150,000 students who responded were female, even though half of all students at the surveyed schools were male. Then ask yourself whether you would be more likely to take the time to respond to such a survey if you were a sexual assault victim or if you were not...

2.2 percent of female respondents said they had reported to their schools that they had been penetrated without consent (including rape) since entering college. If extrapolated to the roughly 10 million female college student population nationwide, this would come to about 220,000 student reports to universities alleging forced sex over (to be conservative) five years, or about 44,000 reports per year. But this would be almost nine times the total number of students (just over 5,000) who reported sexual assaults of any kind to their universities in 2013...

The AAU classified as sexual assault or misconduct a far broader range of behaviors than does the criminal law or common understanding, in order to get big numbers such as the claim that 23.7 percent of female respondents told researchers they had experienced “sexual assault and sexual misconduct due to physical force, threats of physical force, or incapacitation.”

A more reliable estimate came in 2014 from the Justice Department’s annual National Crime Victimization Survey: No more than 1 in 160 (0.6 percent) of college women per year — or 1 in 32 (3 percent) over five years — are sexually assaulted.

But the AAU, mimicking other agenda-driven surveys, asked respondents questions such as whether they had experienced “forced kissing,” unwanted sexual “touching” (which could include attempted close dancing while fully clothed), “promised rewards” for sex, threats to “share damaging information about you” with friends, and the like. Then the AAU counted every “yes” answer as a sexual assault (or “misconduct”)...

Worse, the AAU also tallied as victims all respondents who said yes when asked whether anyone had sexually touched them “without your active, ongoing voluntary agreement” — for example, attempting more intimate contact “while you were still deciding.”"

Links - 10th May 2016

London's First Clothing-Optional Restaurant Has a Waiting List of Over 15,000 - "A pop up restaurant in London is making waves nearly two months before its grand opening, thanks to its controversial ‘clothing optional’ policy. The Bunyadi, which all set to open in June for three months, will have two separate ‘clothed’ and ‘unclothed’ sections for patrons to choose from. “The idea is to experience true liberation,” said Seb Lyall, founder of Lollipop, the company behind the venture. “People should get the chance to enjoy and experience a night out without any impurities: no chemicals, no artificial colors, no electricity, no gas, no phone, and even no clothes if they wish to. We have worked very hard to design a space where everything patrons interact with is bare and naked.” And of course, the staff will be in the nude as well, with certain body parts strategically covered up."

Ohio University students demand police investigation after peers mock safe-spaces - "The College Republicans (CR) at Ohio University (OU) wrote a message on their school’s “Graffiti Wall” that mocked the idea of safe spaces, causing some students to demand a police investigation into the matter. “Trigger Warning: There are no safe spaces in real life. You can’t wall off the First Amendment,” CR members painted on the wall, later claiming responsibility for the messages. In response, one student demanded a “mandatory investigation” and another vowed to “beat the shit” out of the CR members... a group of anonymous students painted the slogans “Build the Wall” and “Trump 2016” on the free speech wall, rendering the involvement of OU’s president, who apologized to students who were “hurt” by the messages."
Safe spaces mean you can beat up people you hate

Resurrecting the Selous Scouts to Destroy ISIS - "In the mid 1960’s and throughout the 1970’s, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) faced a boiling communist inspired insurgency that sought to overthrow the existing government that was led by the descendants of European settlers. The Rhodesian Bushwar would last over fifteen years, coming on the heels of the Malayan Emergency and the Vietnam Conflict. Faced with bureaucratic constraints and operational shortcomings, the Rhodesians were forced to maximize the potential of their meager resources by creating highly reliable small unit forces that could conduct raids and “pseudo-operations” against rebel forces. Among these units were the Rhodesian Light Infantry Commandos (RLI), the Rhodesian SAS and the Selous Scouts. Though modern circumstances have changed, the tactics of the Selous Scouts continue to be relevant and apply to the ongoing fight against ISIS and the Global War on Terror... The strategy of the Selous Scouts was to conduct “pseudo-operations” (false flag) by pretending to be guerillas themselves and luring the true guerillas into ambushes or to gather intelligence about guerilla operations/tradecraft. The Selous Scouts would also attempt to turn captured guerillas making them “tamed terrs” and incorporating them into the unit."

Hideously diverse Britain | What makes a Sikh join the far right? - "Both say they want to fight Muslim "extremism"... "Look at all these places serving up halal," he says. "Sikhs can't eat halal. Every time a KFC or a Subway goes halal, that's one more place that we can't eat.""

White boy suspended for claiming 'African' prize - Telegraph - "A white teenager who moved from South Africa to America six years ago was suspended from school after nominating himself for a "Distinguished African-American Student of the Year" prize. Trevor Richards, 16, was accused of "showing disrespect" to black pupils at Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska. It is thought he is the only pupil to have lived in Africa"

Bald Men: More Masculine, Less Attractive? - "A new study indicates men who choose to go bald by shaving their heads are perceived as being more masculine, even taller and physically stronger - although less attractive than men with a full head of hair."

Let's start the foodie backlash - "The name of the Food Rave is entirely appropriate for a modern culture in which food is the last ingestible substance you can indulge in with obsessiveness without being frowned on by society. Alex James, the Blur bassist turned gentleman cheese farmer and Sun food columnist, has said: "My 20th birthday party was all about booze, my 30th birthday was about drugs, and now I realise that my 40s are about food"... That food and religion alone should buck the negative trend is no coincidence, for modern food books are there to answer metaphysical or "lifestyle" rather than culinary aspirations, and celebrity chefs themselves are the gurus of the age... Everywhere in the ideology of foodism we see a yearning for food to be able to fill a spiritual void. Food is about "spirituality" and "expressing our identity", claims modern food-knight Michael Pollan. His celebrated catechism of modern foodism, The Omnivore's Dilemma, speaks of eating with a "full consciousness", and claims that every meal has its "karmic price"; it ends with the declaration that "what we're eating is never anything more or less than the body of the world". And so chewing on pork products becomes a sublime union of self with planet, a Gaian eucharist. Note, too, how many manuals of eating are termed "bibles"... Gluttony, on the original understanding, wasn't necessarily a matter of eating too much; it was the problem of being excessively interested in food, whatever one's actual intake of it... In an experiment, two psychologists gave different groups of people Heston Blumenthal's "Crab Ice-Cream" while describing it differently: one group was told it was about to eat a "savoury mousse", the other was expecting "ice-cream". The people given savoury mousse liked it, but the people thinking they were eating ice-cream found it "digusting" and even "the most unpleasant food they had ever tasted"

Kaiting Cheng | Singapore Lifestyle Blogger: A Day in the Life of a Cleaner - "I read this very interesting news article that said that Taipei, with a few million people, has 5,000 cleaners. Do you know how many cleaners we have in Singapore? We have five million people and get this, 70.000(!!!) cleaners. That’s equivalent to the size of TWO Singapore armies. The contrast between the two cities is so so so ridiculous I haven’t yet been able to wrap my head around this. So here begets an important question, as important as the chicken and egg question. Is Singapore a clean or cleaned city?"

How the Green leaders have alienated almost everyone - [On Sweden's pro-immigration Green Party] "The spokespersons, a term they prefer to leaders, have come under intense fire since it emerged last week that the then housing minister, Mehmet Kaplan, had kept company with Turkish extremists. The leadership pair deflected the criticism, even when a clip showed up of Kaplan comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, and they continued to back the minister after he announced his resignation at a joint press conference with the prime minster, Stefan Löfven. They weren’t helped much by party veteran Per Gahrton, who somehow managed to blame Israel for stirring the pot. Romson then found herself in the eye of the storm when she referred to the 9/11 terrorist attacks at “accidents”... More trouble loomed around the corner when a rising star in the overtly feminist party, Yasri Khan, refused to shake a female journalist’s hand. He resigned but commentators were left wondering what had happened to the sweet little junior partner in Sweden’s government"

Mercury and Chinese herbal medicine - "In the traditional Chinese medicine, Chinese herbal medicine, besides herbs, contains animal products and minerals. The minerals include two mercurials, Zhu-Sha/Cinnabar (red mercuric sulfide) to bring longevity, and Qing-Fen/calomel (mercurous chloride) to detoxify various poisonous conditions. Mercury as adulterant or contaminant in Chinese patent medicines of herbal origin has been well documented."

Why TCM products are seen as poison pills abroad - "Britain's Medicines and Health Care Products Regulatory Agency issued a press release warning that extreme caution should be used with a number of traditional Chinese medicines (TCM) because they could contain dangerously high levels of toxins, including lead, mercury and arsenic"

Mercury, lead, and other heavy metals in Chinese medicines - Springer - "Ninety-nine samples of common Chinese medicines were purchased from Chinese medical shops in Singapore and Malaysia and analyzed for mercury, lead, copper, cadmium, cobalt, iron, and nickel. The majority of these medicines were manufactured in China, Hong Kong, and Malaysia. A few of them were of Singapore and Taiwan origin. Atomic absorption method (both flame and flameless) was used for the analyses. Mercury was found to be present in high concentrations in several of the medicines that were for oral consumption."

Refugees refusing to leave bus in 'too cold' Swedish village to be removed - "The group refusing to get off the bus have complained about being in a forest dozens of kilometres from the nearest town, and many of them have demanded to be taken to a big city, or even to Germany."

Sex Baiting Prank on Craigslist Affects Hundreds - "He wandered into the "Casual Encounters" section of the personal ads where countless men and women were soliticing for no-strings-attached sex and wondered, Is it really that easy? As a test, he composed several ads with different permutations of assumed identity and sexual orientation: straight/bi men/women looking for the opposite/same sex. He then posted it to New York, Chicago, and Houston, and tallied the results. Overwhelmingly and instantly, the ads from the fake women looking for male partners were inundated with responses, sometimes several per minute. All the other ads received lukewarm responses, at best."
Addendum: Somehow, some people don't accept this as proof that women can get sex easily

Niceness and Dating Success: A Further Test of the Nice Guy Stereotype - "Proponents of the nice guy stereotype argue that women often say they wish to date kind, sensitive men, but, in reality, still choose to date macho men over nice guys, especially if the macho men are more physically attractive. We investigated the relationship between men’s agreeableness, physical attractiveness, and their dating success across different relationship contexts. One hundred and ninety-one male college students completed a computerized questionnaire to assess their levels of agreeableness and aspects of their dating history. Twenty college-aged women rated the men’s photographs for attractiveness. Results supported the nice guy stereotype. Lower levels of agreeableness predicted more less-committed, casual, sexual relationships."
Nice guys finish last!

Articles: RationalWiki: American Thinker is a Wingnut Publication - "It's fairly clear – to my irrational mind – that this writer might not have read a single American Thinker article. (As Uncyclopedia hints at later, he seems to rely on other Wikipedia articles.) For example, he comes out with this claim: “The magazine, of course, is chock-full of right-wing concpiracy theories, woo, pesudoscience, and anti-science.” All this is stated without a single argument of any kind. All we have is smugness and sarcasm... What this writer doesn't realize is that – to a rational thinker -- generalizing about your opponent is supposed to be a very bad thing. Ad hominems are generally to be avoided too... So what about that adjective “rational” (as in RationalWiki)? It's strange, really, because in this article -- and in most of the others I've read at RationalWiki -- there are virtually no arguments. There's a lot of sarcasm (as I said); though not much logical reasoning, argumentation or even discussion. It's as if the very fact these writers/editors have used the self-description “rational” (as well as the fact that it has a left-liberal - sometimes outright Leftist - slant) is all it takes to be, well, rational. Similarly, RationalWiki believes that all it takes for someone to be irrational is to be a “right-winger”; or, worse still, be a writer for American Thinker... authoritarianism and fundamentalism are virtually unknown in the Left. Indeed almost every Leftist and Left-Liberal on the planet is a supremely “rational” being. Equally, the pious upholders of science can never -- by (self)definition -- be fundamentalist or authoritarian. All that, my friend, is a scientific truth. And to believe otherwise is to be a wingnut... the article on the UK's Daily Mail (which is slightly longer) informs us that “by any objective standards the Mail is Fascist”.... Yes, I'll repeat that just in case you think it's a misprint. RationalWiki believes -- objectively believes -- that the Daily Mail is fascist. In addition, it's apparently the case -- rationally speaking -- that all Ukip supporters are “more-or-less completely scientifically illiterate”. (Yes, you can almost taste the combined smugness and snobbery here.) And even in RationalWiki's slightly-more-detailed pieces there's still a superabundance of sarcasm and almost zero argument. I stress argument here because this website is called RationalWiki. And rationality -- more than anything - should include genuine argumentation and debate. So I wonder what purpose -- other than grandstanding its own cleverness -- RationalWiki serves."
How Rational

Sh*t Rational Wiki says, part 1 | Wikipedia, We Have a Problem - "I am called a ‘pseudoscience and woo supporter’ because I engaged in editorial based arguments about non controversial biographical facts on a Wikipedia article. This framing compliments the Rational Wiki brand of snark. ‘Snark’ is an inherent component of the Rational Wiki brand – whose mission statement is to ‘expose pseudoscience and quackery’. In reality, Rational Wiki has little resemblance to an encyclopedia that covers scientific and rational thought, rather Rational Wiki editors abuse their platform by harassing people they meet on the internet. Editors there leverage the page ranking of Rational Wiki and hold that power over individuals they disagree with. On the most pettiest of disagreements to boot, squabbles on Wikipedia."
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