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Friday, June 10, 2016

Christmas Myths

Rationally Speaking | Official Podcast of New York City Skeptics - Current Episodes - RS 148 - David Kyle Johnson on "The Myths that Stole Christmas"

"He is an elf with a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer. That is how he is able to slip through the chimney. He does not do it through magic -- like how does a big, rotund man like Santa Claus fit through the chimney?...

Stephen Nissenbaum's A Battle for Christmas. The picture on the cover of that book is how Saint Nicholas was first depicted with that poem and it looks nothing like Santa Claus. It looks like a dirty little peddler opening his pack. When you start looking at that like a ...

Another book that I really liked through researching this book is by Siekfer called Santa Claus, Last of the Wild Men. She points out that if the Saint Nicholas of the poem is really based on Saint Nicholas, his reindeer would not be named after thunder and lightning, Donner and Blitzen, they would be something like Faith, Hope and Charity or something like that. Right?

When you start looking at the actual character you realize that he has almost nothing in common with any historical saint, much less Saint Nicholas... this was very common in the Middle Ages -- as the church rolled through Europe and came across non-Christian people that it was trying to convert, it often did not try to eradicate their old gods, but to appropriate them. Many of them just became saints.

In the book I actually quote a directive from, going off my memory here, but I think it's Pope Gregory, who basically says when you come across their places of worship and that, don't destroy them. That's a good building. Appropriate it. Take the old idols out, sure, but use the building and anything that you can't remove, just re-appropriate it and call it Christian...

I argue that Saint Nicholas did not actually exist as a historical person, much like many Catholic saints. The Jesuits have actually gone through and done this with a number of traditional Catholic saints and declared that they are not historical persons. They declared the Feast of Saint Nicholas optional, like a lot of the other saints that they just kind of did away with entirely, but they didn't admit that Saint Nicholas was not historical. I think that they were just unwilling to kind of get rid of everybody's favorite saint...

I think that what Saint Nicholas is, is a sainted version of that god, just like Saint Martin is actually just the god Mars, just sainted.

Klaus is actually what Germans would call as a nickname someone named Nicholas. In America, if your name is Nicholas you probably go by Nick, but in Germany you would most likely go by the latter half of the name, Klaus. If you were to saint the Klaus and call him by his full name now because he is a saint, his name would be Saint Nicklaus...

When that got Christainized and turned into Saint Nicholas, a way that the church tried to depose the old Wild Man tradition, which was still around, was by doing two things. One, they declared that you shouldn't worship him because he's Satan, and that's actually where Satan got his traditional goat-legged appearance... The other thing that they did to try to depose him was made him Saint Nicholas' helper...

What Moore basically wanted to do along with Knickerbockers was domesticate the holiday. Before this it was basically about drinking and eating and having sex, and they wanted to domesticate it"

Links - 10th June 2016

Sanders helping Trump? - "At this point, Mr Sanders has essentially zero chance of becoming our next president. Meanwhile, there is a modest risk that continued Democratic warfare will cost Ms Clinton the election. The upshot is that continuing to tilt at windmills is many, many times more likely to elect Mr Trump than Mr Sanders. We’ve seen this before. In 1968, liberal disenchantment with the Democratic nominee, Mr Hubert Humphrey, assisted in the election of Richard Nixon. In 1980, Mr Edward Kennedy’s endless challenge to Mr Jimmy Carter undermined Mr Carter and probably gave Mr Ronald Reagan a lift. And in 2000, many liberals regarded Mr Al Gore the way some see Clinton today, as a flip-flopper short on inspiration and convictions. So a small number voted for a third-party candidate, Mr Ralph Nader, probably helping put Mr George W Bush in office... “Our struggle continues,” Mr Sanders said in a new fundraising email on Wednesday. Speaking in California on Tuesday evening, he did little to discourage his audience as it booed mention of Clinton. That’s just irresponsible. And now that Ms Clinton has won a majority of pledged delegates, it’s a violation of Mr Sanders’ own principles to try to get superdelegates to vote for him rather than for the people’s choice."

TODAY - No internet on public servants' work computers? Some in... - "Calling the move regressive, civil and public servants TODAY spoke to said cutting off Internet access in such a manner was also disruptive. “It’s like saying ‘your house could get burgled, but don’t spend money upgrading security features like cameras or locks; just move out’,” said one civil servant, who did not want to be named. Another civil servant who also wanted to remain anonymous said: “I feel like there are relatively simpler solutions but they just decided to use the nuclear option.” A public servant said that without Internet access on personal work computers, it would be unfair to expect public servants to have to pay for their own mobile data to carry out the work."
Many comments are bashing civil servants for surfing the internet at work. And these are posted during office hours.

Minority Wars: Why The Next Ten Years Will Set Everyone Against Everyone - "A white gay man is still a white man, which goes some way to explaining why their faces and voices are the ones that dominate all LGBT marketing and news, say an increasing number of disgruntled disabled black lesbians. There was recently a furore over the absolute invisibility of “people of colour” at Pride events, with some even accusing the gay community of white-washing the rainbow. Gay men are the masculine oppressors of the LGBT community. They, like the straight white men before them, will eventually be ejected from polite society. I predict a split occurring, with white gay men stripped of their LGBT status, relegated to “allies” and forced to forfeit all rights to their victim narrative. The new “LBT” community will be led by a mixed race non-binary pansexual who prefers the pronoun “xhlee.”"

Sweden: Gay march through mainly Muslim area of Stockholm called 'provocative' by anti-racist activists
Some minorities are more mior than others

NUS conference condemns drag and tells gay men to ‘stop acting like black women’ - "Motion 406, submitted by students from Birkbeck Students’ Union, calls for a “zero tolerance” approach to drag and cross-dressing at all student union events. It claims in part: “Transphobic fancy dress should be met with the same disdain with which we meet other prejudiced or appropriative costumes...A footnote to the motion clarifies that drag “as an expression or exploration of queer identity is to be encouraged”, and claims this can be “easily distinguished” from other forms – but does not detail how exactly this is compatible with a “zero tolerance” ban"

Pride event overturns ban on drag queens… but only if they’re trans - "Free Pride Glasgow – which was set up as an “anti-commercialist” alternative to the main Pride Glasgow event – made the controversial decision to ban drag performances ahead of the event next month, claiming that despite drag being a uniquely celebrated part of most Prides, drag performers would not be welcome to perform at Free Pride. A statement from the group claimed that drag acts make people questioning their gender uncomfortable, adding: “After much discussion, the trans and non binary caucus decided not to have drag acts perform at the event."

HuffPo Author Breaks Down in Tears After Realizing She is Less Oppressed than Others - "I felt like a sham — trying to engage in the fight for social justice and health equity despite not experiencing nearly as much struggle or pain as my peers. As a bi-racial African American and Native American female who grew up in a predominately white and largely affluent suburban community in the American south, I felt that the discrimination and injustices that I grew up combating would never compare to that of my peers"
Comments on the Huffington Post article: "social justice has created orwells nightmare..."
"Dear Lord, I've neve seen such self-indulgent tripe. You're golden love, stop whining about not being oppressed enough."
"It is a sign of the profound sickness of a political philosophy that it strives to make one ashamed of their good fortune; Ashamed to have a caring family, a loving mother and father. What kind of twisted soul dreamed up this hellish creed?"
"It'd be great if you learned your lesson from this. And that is, ALWAYS assume you may not be right. For example, your way to achieve social justice may be wrong. The perceived social injustice may not even exist"


What Everyone Should Know about Lab Tests - "A new study estimates that in the United States, some 251,000 deaths per year occur because of errors in medical care. This makes medical errors the third leading cause of death, only after heart disease and cancer. Though this is alarming and concerning, it highlights a much larger problem, as many medical errors aren't lethal. One proposal defines a medical error as "an act of omission or commission in planning or execution that contributes or could contribute to an unintended result." By this definition, failures in laboratory tests certainly qualify."

Go big or go home - if you want to be Ivory Coast beauty - "SOME like creams, others pop pills or splash out on padded panties. In Ivory Coast where "big is beautiful", bottom enhancers come in all shapes and sorts, and at any cost. Emaciated catwalk queens are no role model in this West African nation. "You need to have good hips to be dubbed a beauty in Ivory Coast," said a saleswoman named Sarah. Round is beautiful as it symbolises wealth and health, said political scientist Jean Alabro. It also heralds "happy pregnancies"... Another technique involves consuming Maggi instant broth cubes, a staple of African cuisine, but as a suppository rather than as food. "Women think it will add volume because it's greasy""

Karl Popper on democracy: From the archives: the open society and its enemies revisited | The Economist - "When we say that the best solution known to us is a constitution that allows a majority vote to dismiss the government, then we do not say the majority vote will always be right. We do not even say that it will usually be right. We say only that this very imperfect procedure is the best so far invented. Winston Churchill once said, jokingly, that democracy is the worst form of government—with the exception of all other known forms of government. And this is the point: anybody who has ever lived under another form of government—that is, under a dictatorship which cannot be removed without bloodshed—will know that a democracy, imperfect though it is, is worth fighting for and, I believe, worth dying for... there are only two alternatives known to us: either a dictatorship or some form of democracy. And we do not base our choice on the goodness of democracy, which may be doubtful, but solely on the evilness of a dictatorship, which is certain. Not only because the dictator is bound to make bad use of his power, but because a dictator, even if he were benevolent, would rob all others of their responsibility, and thus of their human rights and duties. This is a sufficient basis for deciding in favour of democracy—that is, a rule of law that enables us to get rid of the government. No majority, however large, ought to be qualified to abandon this rule of law... a two-party system is likely to be more flexible than a multi-party system, contrary to first impressions"

This smart suitcase literally follows you around so you'll never have to drag or carry a bag again

The Word “Heroic” Has Very Little Meaning In Modern Times - "There is nothing brave about doing what the doctor tells you to. Yes, it’s painful to endure chemo, but it’s a survival action in the same way that a rabbit chews off its leg when caught in a trap. You just plug in the cord and suffer. Furthermore, labeling cancer survivors heroic implicitly labels those who died as cowardly. My grandmother wouldn’t have survived cancer no matter how hard she fought. Sometimes, life’s a bitch, and you do the best you can... be wary of the word “heroic.” It no longer means anything. Raising children all alone is in no way equivalent to risking your life to save a friend. If a word denoting excess is applied to the masses, then it is no longer a word of excess. By calling all unwed mothers or all cancer survivors heroic, they have made it so none of them can truly be so"

Defending the ‘Dark Ages’ - "It is in describing the violent culture of the fifth and sixth centuries, combined with the obscurity of the politics of the period, that the term ‘Dark Ages’ has both meaning and resonance. When states collapse, the process is usually obscured by the confusion that surrounds that violence. Therefore the term is useful for those of us who need to explain to the public what happened when the Roman Empire crumbled."

Section 298 contradicts Singapore's secularism, says Muslim group - "A group of moderate Muslims in Singapore have come forward to critique the law under which teen blogger Amos Yee is being investigated, saying that it contradicts the principle of secularism in Singapore. Singapore Muslims for Secular Democracy (SM4SD) wrote in a statement that Section 298 of Singapore's Penal Code, which covers actions done "with deliberate intent to wound the religious or racial feelings of any person", curbs freedoms in Singapore. "Section 298 trades freedom for peace. Freedom of thought and expression – including the freedom to criticise ideas and the choice to be free of superstitions – is exchanged for social harmony in Singapore," said the group. "From a purely secular perspective: religion and therefore, religious feelings, should not be part of the affairs of the state and civil law""
This assumes that the law is meant to protect religious feelings - when really it's to prevent Singapore from collpasing due to race riots

Sex, coffee: Triggers that might rupture brain aneurysms - "researchers found that eight activities appeared to make a rupture more likely:
-Drinking coffee
-Drinking soda
-Blowing your nose
-Straining on the toilet
-Being startled
-Getting angry
-Having sex
-Exercising
The common factor? All produced sudden, short increases in blood pressure."

Harms of cutting defence spending overstated - "A nation's defence policy should be based on a level-headed assessment of the threats it might face... It is deeply perplexing to see the continued existential panic and fearmongering over Singapore's vulnerability... It is largely accepted that militant forces and home-grown terrorism pose the greatest danger to Singapore's national security. In such a case, aggressive spending on a conventional armed force is woefully ineffective. For instance, the very well-funded and well-equipped United States army floundered against the asymmetric tactics of militants in Afghanistan and Iraq. Instead, defence spending should be channelled towards creating a leaner and more nimble fighting force, one that is more adept at counter-terrorist operations and urban warfare, rather than antiquated models of total war, not to mention, being more cost-efficient overall. Pursuant to this, Singapore should refrain from acquiring expensive and flashy new armaments with questionable effectiveness in this operational context. For example, many have pointed out the crippling performance deficiencies of the F-35 fighter jet, such that even the US is reassessing the viability of the programme."

The Effect of Non-Stunned and Stunned Halal Slaughter Method on Broiler Breast Meat Quality - "Texture analysis revealed that cooked samples of stunned meat was significantly tougher than cooked samples of non-stunned meat (p<0.05). This correlated with sensory analysis where the non-stunned meat was preferred on overall."

On Changing Someone's Mind (and Conspiracy Theorists)

Rationally Speaking | Official Podcast of New York City Skeptics - Current Episodes - RS 156 - David McRaney on “Why it’s so hard to change someone’s mind”

"It's very rarely do people have this epiphany, completely changing everything in one second. It would be catastrophic to the organism. It would be catastrophic to any human mind to do something like that.

In fact, the people that I've interviewed, I've interviewed some people who are former members of the Westboro Baptist Church. I've interviewed former cult members. I've interviewed a variety of people who have experienced that 100%, press the reset button, delete everything and start over and it was completely catastrophic...

[On trying to convince 911 truthers] The straw that broke the camel's back was that when they met the mother of a person who actually died in this tragedy and they had listened to the audio already of his last words to his mother, they all believed that it was faked in some way, either they did it with a computer and tricked her or that she, herself, was an actress or something.

They spoke to an expert who said, "Yeah, maybe you could do this, but it would take a lot of work to make a computer version of this person's voice and maybe, I don't know, possibly." They go to her and she is absolutely a real, honest, true human being living on a farm and she's horribly distraught and when she's telling the story of losing her son and hearing his last words right before he dies and living through the fame of that moment and the ...

It's not just losing your child, but you're reliving that entire experience every anniversary of this event with the rest of the nation.

She's crying and Charlie's crying, but he looks at the other people who are with him and they seem to be like huh, whatever. They're eye rolling about it.

He said to me, he's like, "I just thought they were animals. And I realized that I was in a cult. I was in a cult that -- for you to deny it at this point seems cult-like."

Not only was he swayed by the evidence, but he had the benefit that many of us don't have when we're isolated at our computers, of actually being right next to people who are not being swayed by the evidence that you are being swayed by.

The finale of his story is that he went on YouTube before he was even finished filming that show and said, "You know what? I think I've changed my mind."

The response was people all throughout the internet are still trying to ruin his life. They went so far as to find his sister's Facebook page, find pictures of his nieces and nephews. Someone, some people Photoshopped their actual real faces onto child pornography and then sent that to his mother by email...

If you want for the facts to work on people, just the plain facts, that's how far you would have to go. You would have to actually take them and put them on an airplane and take them to a ...

An internet link to a thing that you found on Google, it’s not -- it has to be so powerful. The person must come in contact directly with the evidence if they're a strong naysayer. That's how far you had to go...

Out of 5 people that went, he was the only one that it worked on. Of course, the truther community thinks that he was a secret agent the whole time now or that he was an infiltrator or that he was put in room 101 and they electrocuted his genitals and made him change his mind or some weird stuff like that"

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Links - 7th June 2016

The Transgender Bathroom Debate and the Looming Title IX Crisis - "there is also a growing sense that some females will not feel safe sharing bathrooms, shower rooms, or locker rooms with males. And if a female student claimed that a bathroom or locker room that her school had her share with male students caused her to feel sexually vulnerable and created a hostile environment, the complaint would be difficult to dismiss, particularly since the federal government has interpreted Title IX broadly and said that schools must try to prevent a hostile environment. This is not wholly hypothetical. Brandeis University found a male student responsible for sexual misconduct for looking at his boyfriend’s genitals while both were using a communal school shower. The disciplined student then sued the school for denying him basic fairness in its disciplinary process, and a federal court recently refused to dismiss the suit."

Rapes, sexual assaults by migrants increase dramatically in Germany and Sweden - "On Monday, police in the Swedish city of Östersund advised women not to go outdoors alone following a string of public assaults and sex attacks in the past three weeks... National broadcaster SVT reports what police area manager Stephen Jerand described as a “worrying trend” of unprovoked violence on women in public places. Speaking at a press conference, police said they had never experienced crime of this nature in the small city of Östersund, which has a population of just 44,000... It comes after a poll conducted by Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet found nearly half of all women in the country are now scared to exercise alone at night... Earlier this month, the Daily Mail reported of an all-female, bikini-clad group of ‘vigilantes’ called the ‘Groping Guards’, who patrol swimming pools in Sweden to prevent migrants molesting bathers."

Prosecutor: Most Cologne New Year's suspects are refugees - "Cologne prosecutor Ulrich Bremer said 73 suspects have been identified so far — most of them from North Africa. A total of 1,075 criminal complaints have been filed, including 467 alleging crimes of a sexual nature ranging from insults to rape. "The overwhelming majority of persons fall into the general category of refugees," Bremer told The Associated Press, saying recent reports describing only three of the suspects as refugees were "total nonsense.""

Why I Would Never Go to Pink Dot Again - "The Ikea saga had in my mind, exposed a very ugly side of our pro gay community. I silently watched while people on my facebook feed screamed that Khong's magic show should be boycotted and shut down. That he shouldn't be granted any platforms to air his views despite the glaring fact that Khong was simply putting on a magic show performance. That it was shameful for Ikea to help sell tickets for Khong's magic show just because he has been public with his anti gay stance in the past. I tried to reason with some of the rabid "anti Khongers" within my circle but they wouldn't back down from their position. They justified their frenzy by saying it was just for them to oppress someone who was hell-bent on oppressing them."

If you vote against Donald Trump, Tramps Against Trump will send you nudes - "Tramps Against Trump is the American version of Sluts Against Harper, a campaign launched in opposition to Stephen Harper, Canada's former prime minister who was defeated by Liberal Justin Trudeau in the country's 2015 election."

Protesters punch, throw eggs at Trump supporters in San Jose

The System Isn’t ‘Rigged’ Against Sanders - "Sanders fans claim that the Democratic primary system is rigged against their candidate and that Sanders wins when turnout is higher, they fail to point out that Sanders has benefited tremendously from low-turnout caucuses. Indeed, if all the caucuses were primaries, Clinton would be winning the Democratic nomination by an even wider margin than she is now... Realistically, if you throw everything together, the math suggests that Sanders doesn’t have much to complain about. If the Democratic nomination were open to as many Democrats as possible — through closed primaries — Clinton would be dominating Sanders. And if the nomination were open to as many voters as possible — through open primaries — she’d still be winning."

Fast Food Workers: You Don’t Deserve $15 an Hour to Flip Burgers, and That’s OK - "Sure, as a human being, you’re priceless. As a child of God, you’re precious, a work of art, a freaking miracle. But your job wrapping hamburgers in foil and putting them in paper bags — that has a price tag, and the price tag ain’t anywhere close to the one our economy and society puts on teachers and mechanics. Don’t like it? Well, you shouldn’t. It’s fast food. It’s menial. It’s mindless. It’s not supposed to be a career. It’s not supposed to be a living. An entry-level position making roast beef sandwiches at Arby’s isn’t meant to be something you do for 26 years... despite what Elizabeth Warren might tell you, these fast food franchise owners have a finite amount of money to spend on operating expenses. They aren’t making millions in profits, most of them, so when you come along and say, “Hey, your labor costs just doubled — congratulations!” that business owner will have to make decisions."

The Tyranny of the Home-Cooked Family Dinner - "while home-cooked meals are typically healthier than restaurant food, sociologists Sarah Bowen, Sinikka Elliott, and Joslyn Brenton from North Carolina State University argue that the stress that cooking puts on people, particularly women, may not be worth the trade-off... Beyond just the time and money constraints, women find that their very own families present a major obstacle to their desire to provide diverse, home-cooked meals. The women interviewed faced not just children but grown adults who are whiny, picky, and ungrateful for their efforts. “We rarely observed a meal in which at least one family member didn’t complain about the food they were served”"

New Study: Anti-Abortion Laws Don’t Reduce Abortion Rates. Contraception Does.

How “no worries” infected American English - "Just how the phrase washed up stateside, nobody knows. One theory is that California-based surfers were likely the first to embrace it after encounters with antipodeans in Oz or elsewhere... according to a separate corpus of Web-based English from around the world, suggests “no worries” might be used more heavily in Singapore and Malaysia than it is in Australia and New Zealand."

UK police apologise for Muslim phrase in terror exercise - "In video footage of the exercise broadcast on British television, a masked man dressed in black could be seen running into a shopping centre in Manchester shouting the Arabic phrase "Allahu akbar".
"when saving feelings is more important than lives. the world has gone mad."
"what are they suppose to shout? I am going to detonate a bomb now and this has nothing to do with my religion"
So much for realistic training; doesn't it make more sense to be upset at real terrorists who use the term?


Muslim group demands sacking over fake suicide bomber who shouted 'Allahu Akbar' at Trafford Centre - "Azhar Shah, the chairman of Saath Saath, refused to accept the apology and told the Manchester Evening News: “We need an enquiry into this and those who are responsible should be kicked out or resign.""

Emma Watson used Panama Papers firm to set up offshore company
Perhaps this will convince some that shell companies aren't always evil

Japan PM ex-adviser praises apartheid in embarrassment for Abe - "A former adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has praised apartheid as a model for how Japan could expand immigration... Author Ayako Sono, considered part of Abe's informal brain trust, set off a wave of online fury this week when she wrote in the conservative Sankei newspaper that South Africa's former policies of racial separation had been good for whites, Asians and Africans. "

Why Japan’s Smartphones Haven’t Gone Global - The New York Times - "At first glance, Japanese cellphones are a gadget lover’s dream: ready for Internet and e-mail, they double as credit cards, boarding passes and even body-fat calculators. But it is hard to find anyone in Chicago or London using a Japanese phone like a Panasonic, a Sharp or an NEC. Despite years of dabbling in overseas markets, Japan’s handset makers have little presence beyond the country’s shores... Japan’s lack of global clout is all the more surprising because its cellphones set the pace in almost every industry innovation: e-mail capabilities in 1999, camera phones in 2000, third-generation networks in 2001, full music downloads in 2002, electronic payments in 2004 and digital TV in 2005... Despite their advanced hardware, handsets here often have primitive, clunky interfaces, some participants said. Most handsets have no way to easily synchronize data with PCs as the iPhone and other smartphones do."

Islam in Japan - "the manager of this factory had a “bad experience” with a Muslim employee. The man in question was a Filipino Muslim who was very devout. Soon after he was employed at the factory, his boss became dissatisfied with him because the employee always seemed to be missing. It turned out that this Filipino prayed five times a day for about ten minutes each time. His Japanese boss was annoyed about this custom because he didn’t feel that it was proper for an employee to take any time off for such “personal matters.” After about five months came the final straw: the employee came to the boss and asked to do only light work. It was the month of Ramadan and the employee was fasting. The boss fired him. This is a very Japanese tale. In most Muslim countries, the employee’s right to pray and fast would not have been questioned. In the United States, the employee could probably have hired a lawyer and sued the company for religious discrimination. In Japan, however, the employee had no real option other than to leave the company or to stop performing what he regarded as his religious obligations. The employee left. About a year-and-a-half later, a Turkish Muslim applied for a job at the same company. The interview was going well until the Japanese boss learned that the man was a Muslim. He almost terminated the interview at that point, declaring that he would not hire a Muslim. The surprised Turkish man, who badly wanted the job, asked why. The boss told him the story of the Filipino Muslim. The Turkish interviewee then informed the boss that he was a secularized Muslim who did not pray every day or fast for Ramadan. The boss was skeptical, but decided to give him a chance. In a short time, things worked out well. The Turkish employee worked hard, and the boss was very satisfied. Commented the boss to our informant: benkyo ni narimashita (I really learned something)!"
How does equal pay for equal work affect fasting?
If the boss had not said the real reason he didn't want to hire the Turkish man because of laws against religious discrimination, he would not have had the chance to change his mind (since he would've declined to hire him without giving the real reason), and the Turkish man would not have gotten a chance


The Family – 60sec – Life Well Travelled - Cathay Pacific - YouTube
Comment: "I congratulate Cathay Pacific for portraying Asian men as married to white women. We are a mixed couple (I am Chinese American and my wife is Caucasian) and we find very few examples of couples like us portrayed in the media. The vast majority of media portrays mixed Caucasian/Asian couples as white men with Asian women which reinforces a stereotype that doesn't reflect modern society. This ad is high quality and helps with equal treatment of this subject. I look forward to the day when the mainstream media portrays Asian/Caucasian couples equally with as just as many men and women being Asian or Caucasian."

Sign Up For Visa Checkout Today! - YouTube
My favourite Visa ad. Too bad comments are disabled

The Problem With Those Annoying Chip Cards - "At this point you may be wondering—what was wrong with the old system? Why can’t I just avoid the longer wait and swipe my card like I used to? It’s easy to understand why consumers don’t want to change behavior, because ultimately we’re not on the hook for fraud. If someone steals your credit-card information, you don’t bear the cost; banks and merchants do. So the parties that have to pay for theft want to reduce theft, even if in the short term it means introducing technology that may make consumers grumble."

The Avengers should agree to be placed under UN supervision | The Economist
By the time the UN acted, the world would've been destroyed
Comments: "Why is the lame-stream media so silent on the blatantly flawed processing and identity verification procedures for their "expert" psychologist interviewer? If the UN can't even keep track of its shrinks, what hope does it have of monitoring a Hulk? If you can't restrain a guy with one metal arm, how will you lock up the Iron Man? You can't even keep your lights on, but you expect to bottle Thor? You may as well ask an ant to defeat a spider."
"It's one of those eternal questions of governance, really. When you wish quick, decisive action, often while at war, you appoint a consul and give him great powers. When you have peace, you elect a senate with checks and balances to guard against tyranny, and accept that they will dither, wasting a certain amount of time and money, but hopefully acting in the best interests of the citizenry, to whom they are accountable... It's hard enough to gather a consensus within the United States, or in a coalition like NATO. To do so globally is tremendously difficult. Putting superheroes under UN supervision seems like a recipe for dysfunction and inaction."
"while the Accords appear superficially attractive they were swiftly followed by massive government overreach - internment of Ms. Maximoff, a complete disregard for due process (outright laughter at the suggesting that Lt. Barnes should be entitled to a lawyer) followed then by imprisonment without trial of the Avengers. In such circumstances, what hope then is there but that your leader, Capt America, will bust you out? On a final point - if Mr. Stark was motivated by anything other than guilt over his own life choices - as opposed to the rule of law that he now supposedly aspires to - he would have arrested Lt. Barnes for his undoubted crimes, not tried to kill him"
"Perhaps there would be more credibility in the question of outside oversight of superhuman powers if one of the main players in establishing said oversight, Secretary Ross, hadn't been involved in unethical human experimentation, insufficient securing of biohazardous materials and then vanishing the subject of said research after being similarly responsible for huge amounts of civilian damage, and using his previous military powers and authority to harass his daughter's ex-boyfriend. OR any evidence of ability to perform an effective background check for membership in cryptofascist organizations, as evidenced by the SHIELD debacle and Ross's predecessor, Alexander Pierce. Or any tiny effort to actually involve said superhero community in the regulatory process - possibly gaining valuable insight on previously unconsidered contingencies - rather than trying to present a fait accompli in less time than a lawyer usually takes to review a personal injury case for something the equivalent complexity and significance of an act of Congress?"

Debating Affirmative Consent with Feminists

A: Stanford sexual assault case: victim impact statement in full | US news | The Guardian

The blame is always, ALWAYS with the rapist, no matter which way you spin it. No matter which way you spin it. It doesn't matter how drunk she was, or how drunk you were, or if she was dancing half-naked anyway. It is your obligation as a man to keep your hands and parts to yourself until she gives you full consent to enter her. Anything else, is unspeakable violence. UNSPEAKABLE violence. This is not a feminist argument, this is a human one.

B: This is very obviously rape, but Technical point;

If two voluntarily drunk people consent to sex while drunk and then both cry rape after the act, they are in fact, both not rapists.

I'd go so far as to say that consent while voluntarily drunk is still consent. In the same way that murder while voluntarily drunk, is still murder.

A: She has to be sober enough to voluntarily consent. Then yes, I agree. But if her consent is not clear, the onus is on him to wait till he gets it, or leave her the hell alone.

Me: Err.

If a drunk man and a drunk woman have sex, who raped who?

A: Oh please don't make me roll my eyes. It's always you, isn't it.

Me: How this school's old anti-rape poster sparked new controversy | The Daily Dot

A: Still rolling my eyes.

Me: OK. So basically men should be treated differently from women.

A: STILL rolling my eyes!!!

B: Actually I would treat consent as a lack of rejection. "Yes" is not always the form of consent most used. It's usually non-verbal.

And to leave what constitutes "yes" up to a judge is also idiotic.

Because i could spend the entire night humping you and making out and the second you jump on my dick I cry rape.

Which would be utterly unfair for you.

A: Consent is the lack of rejection?! That's the worst, most horrifying definition of consent I have ever heard! There's a reason why there are laws defining consent! Definitions like this!

Me: Fortunately affirmative consent is not a legal standard

Consent is contested and nebulous, as with romantic relations in general

A: This, UNfortunately, is true

Now wouldn't it be easier for everyone if there WERE laws that made affirmative consent a legal standard?

D: no. not really. put a law in and someone will find a way to get around it. there is also a problem that people have abused consent. the numbers might not be big, but it's really not helping. it comes down to a question of "he said, she said".

plus, filling in a contract before being intimate, is a real downer.

Me: Nope.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/10/why-a-college-student-abandoned-affirmative-consent/381650/?single_page=true#disqus_thread

"I was raised by a left-leaning, feminist family who (at least I thought at the time) were relatively open about sex. But while I arrived at college with a healthy respect for women, I was totally unprepared for the complex realities of female sexuality...

On our second night together, one of my first partners threw up her hands in disgust. “How am I supposed to get turned on when you keep asking for permission for everything like a little boy?” She said. “Just take me and fuck me already.”"

http://www.npr.org/2014/06/13/321677110/a-campus-dilemma-sure-no-means-no-but-exactly-what-means-yes

"The fact of the matter is that consent is very tricky, and you're getting into minutiae of what happened in a particular event," she says. "It will sometimes boil down to details like who turned who around, or [whether] she lifted up her body so [another student] could pull down her pants. "There have been plenty of cases that I've done when the accused student says, 'What do you mean? [The accuser] was moaning with pleasure. He was raising his body, clutching my back, exhibiting all signs that sounded like this was a pleasurable event.' "

https://newrepublic.com/article/119459/californias-campus-consent-laws-every-sex-act-potential-crime

"Much of what we call courtship—and the pleasures therein—revolves around sending, reading, interpreting, and changing these signals. Surely a misunderstanding should be judged under the law differently than an outright desire to harm. Surely we are all guilty of trying to convince people to have sex with us. Are we rapists? Surely, we have all enjoyed a little drunken cavorting"

http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/obj/s4/f2/dsk3/ftp04/NQ56282.pdf

"65% of both men and women either agreed or strongly agreed that verbally asking for sexual consent is awkward"

http://www.presstelegram.com/government-and-politics/20140608/students-question-affirmative-consent-bill-designed-to-combat-sexual-assaults

"“Are there guidelines? Are we supposed to check every five minutes?” The remark drew laughter from his friend and fellow 49er, Sue Tang. “If you were to do that, it would definitely kill the vibe,”"

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/06/09/california-lawmakers-would-require-students-get-yes-sex

"How does a person prove they receive consent "shy of having it videotaped"... the bill is inherently “reversing” the traditional presumption of innocence for those accused because the accused now have to prove they did get permission to be found not guilty... The bill, as currently written, puts the onus on getting consent from the "initiating" partner. That could also cause confusion. “That’s going to be a question – who initiated the sexual activity – it’s not always clear who initiated the sexual activity”"

A: not really. Consent is as easy as saying - you ok with this? Or, you wanna do this? Or, you sure this is ok? And voila! You've got consent!

This is truly NOT complicated.

Me: What if she doesn't give a clear answer? Not all women are so confident that they will say yes all the time. A feminist might say that under patriarchy women are shamed into being unable to openly say they want to have sex. In which case, good luck getting a yes.

And sometimes women say no when they mean yes (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3379584)

A: If she says no, then don't fucking touch her! Its not your job to read her mind. It's your job to ask her, and if she says no (even if she means yes), it's a goddamn no. Back the fuck off of her! And if she really does want to jump you, do this a few times and she's gonna give you a proper Yes sooner or later.

And if she "doesn't give a clear answer" then you haven't got consent! Don't assume that you do!

This is pretty much what this victim means when she talks about how men need to understand and be clear about how to recognise consent. Jesus Christ.

B: A your examples are not common or culturally normal.

A: B that is a purely subjective statement. And I disagree completely.

B: A not really, we can have a poll and I'd win.

And by your definition, all porn is rape depiction, all my partners and a likely, a majority of yours were technical rapists at several points in their lives, and it would give actual rapists massive immunity from legal consequences since all they have to do is say they were raped by their victims.

Also, gender is quite irrelevant on this subject. So people in general need to have clearer definitions. Or we need massive cultural shift on a global scale(not gonna happen).

Me: I Was Taught To Be Ashamed Of My Sexuality

E: Awful AWFUL conversations like this are why rape is so difficult to prove and women (especially) are so afraid to speak out against it and to come forward and charge rapists with the act of rape. Watch this video, it might explain a few things in very simple terms. Tea Consent - YouTube

Me: That's a great analogy

In some cultures it's considered rude to ask for tea. A good host is supposed to ask. And you're supposed to say no. And he's supposed to insist.

A: OH MY GOD. SUCH BULLSHIT. SUCH COMPLETE AND UTTER BULLSHIT AND I AM LITERALLY NAUSEOUS FROM WHAT YOU JUST SAID.

E: Gabriel are YOU a rapist? If not, why is this so difficult for you and why would you ever conceive of defending them?

Me: I've said a lot about this subject. I don't think I've anything new to add. You can read my previous points if you want. I'm not the only person who thinks affirmative consent is a bad thing. Evidently there're tons of rapists out there.

Cheers.

B: E he isn't. He's simply stating that these definitions make many people technical rapists. And he(like myself) is simply defending innocent people who would be victims of blackmail or entrapment.

A: CONSENT IS NOT CULTURALLY NEGOTIABLE

B: That said, I've been accused of rape on several occasions. Make of that what you will.

A: Well that explains alot.

If you have been accused of rape, and if you have been accused of it because you failed to obtain consent before you shoved parts of yourself into a woman, then you HAVE committed rape.

B: Lol, it was a blackmail attempt by the person that stabbed me.

A: If you did rape her, I am honestly glad she stabbed you. I also wish she had put you behind bars.

B: A actually we had consensual sex on many occasions.

She stabbed me because I stopped her from smashing a cat against the wall.

A: Your statements are no longer relevant to this discussion.

B: Actually they prove how inefficient your system of definitions are. We are at an impasse as to whether or not I'm a rapist.

A: We are not. You are making very little sense right now.

B: Im just saying, by your vague definitions, actual rapists will get away with it 99% of the time.

It's harmful to civilisation as a whole.

A: My definitions are very clear. I think I will stop here because this is a pointless conversation. I think both you and Gabriel need to do some serious thinking. Because people who think like you are certainly harmful to civilisation as a whole.

F: So, let me get this straight...
Gabriel and B are glad that there are no laws defining consent because they don't want their actions to be classified as rape.
Seriously guys, what the hell is wrong with you? You sound like you really don't care whether the person you're having sex with actually wants to have sex with you. B if you've been accused of rape on several occasions then you most probably are a rapist. You seem overly focuses on whether your actions are legal, while not showing any concern about whether you are in fact engaging in mutual sex or rape. That's horrifying.

D: again the crux of affirmative consent is, that at the end of the day, it's a "he said, she said" situation, with the accused being guilty until proven innocent. Until these two situations are remedied, the system is always going to be problematic because there will be way too many, people that abuse it, because it is too easy to abuse

B: Actually F, my point is about protecting innocent people. So I'm taking emotion out of the equation.

For example, when was the last time you expressly asked for verbal consent before sex?

Because most consent is non-verbal.

And the problem with non-verbal consent is it's often misunderstood and quite impossible to define.

F: Your point is about protecting people accused of rape, not protecting victims of rape. Do you actually care about victims of rape? Are you careful to make sure that you always have consent and don't inadvertently rape someone? Would it bother you if you did in fact rape someone? I think these are relevant questions considering the focus of your comments is exclusively on people accused of rape such as yourself.

B: actually I do. Because I know a few victims whose orgasms or actions(thrusts) were considered non-verbal consent despite the fact that they made clear attempts at rejection.

So... The existing system of definitions is horrendously inefficient.

D: A I make sure that I always have consent. But the morning after, or a week on, it's more than easy to say "oh shit, what did I do? Let's just say he raped me and let him take the rap." consent does not negate regret and because of its nature, it becomes easy to abuse.

It might also be a slippery slope argument, but if both parties are drunk, and they had sex, if the girl becomes pregnant, can the guy say he was coerced and therefore not be responsible for the child?

B: This is actually a fascinating example of the phrase,

"To those accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression".

F: D you say it's 'more than easy' but in fact it isn't. There are many consequences for outing yourself as a rape victim - social, financial, career, etc. Research shows that rape isn't falsely reported any more often than any other crime (around 5%), so why the focus on those few cases of false reporting instead of the large amount which aren't false, and the much larger amount that go unreported due to the aforementioned consequences?

I find it really tiresome that whenever someone starts a conversation about rapists and rape victims, a bunch of men come along and try to make the conversation all about men who don't rape and women who lie about being raped and rape that isn't really rape.
Men, take a good look at yourselves. You are part of the problem. Your unwillingness to face this issue is part of the problem.

Except for you E. You're awesome.

D: F, because being accused of rape is a life sentence. Even if one of acquitted, especially if one of acquitted, the same stigma follows the accused. I'd like to see the research on the impact of being accused of rape - social, financial, career etc. Now capital punishment has checks and balances in place. Being accused of rape, doesn't. And there is no recourse.

What IS the issue though? That affirmative consent is not actively sought often enough ? Or that human communication is bloody ambiguous? Or the ease of going back and saying it wasn't me, it was him? This clip was meant to be a joke, but in the world today, it's becoming scarily real Kontraband Contract - YouTube

B: Not sure why gender is being brought into this... I thought everyone got raped.

F: D it appears my point went completely over your head. I'm not interested in a detailed explanation of why you try to turn conversations about actual rapists and actual rape victims into conversations about women who lie and men who get their lives ruined. I was merely pointing out that you are doing it, and that it is tiresome. Do you interject something about false accusations into every discussion about rape that you come across? Or just the ones that are about specific rape cases like the one in this article where there were witnesses and the rapist was convicted? I cannot see why you think it important to make those comments in this context.

D: anyone who knows me, knows that i'm immensely protective of my friends. I have no problems with consent, because it's something i do as a matter of principle. I don't see how, pointing out potential abuses to legalizing it, and how it still won't change the way society functions, becomes me legitimizing rape.

It is also difficult to have a discussion, when bringing up an opposing point of view for discussion, means I'm now demonized, just because I'm against group think and mob justice. Incidentally, I personally think the brat should be chemically castrated and spend at least the next decade in jail.

D: Such is the sad reality genuine human rights advocates have to manage.

C: I'm sorry to say A, but I think some of your facebook friends are potential rapists... :/ Don't get how it's so hard to understand: Don't have sex with someone that can't have sex with you back...doesn't matter if the person made out with you a minute before. Don't be a rapist, have patience and wait until you can both actively participate. Not so hard for normal intellectuals to understand

A: No I'm sorry C. These people never really were and certainly are not my friends.

I apologise for the filth that has just blackened my facebook wall.

C: Not your fault :) They read your post and felt offended...says a lot!


Addendum:

Someone: Sometimes I don't know whether to admire your patience or to question your sanity
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