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More adventurous than the average bear

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Friday, November 24, 2017

Links - 24th November 2017 (2)

Police NSF who abused power to rape teen jailed 18 years - "He would sneak up on couples getting intimate at the stairwells of Housing and Development Board blocks, film them, and then abuse his authority as a full-time Police National Serviceman to extort from them. On one such instance in 2014, Muhammad Shazwan Sapuwan, 23, got sexually aroused and raped a 16-year-old girl in front of her boyfriend... he had previously targeted two other couples using the same modus operandi. According to court documents, a total of S$1,960 was extorted from multiple victims."

What’s right and wrong about AWARE today? - "Jolene Tan, a senior manager of AWARE, was thought to have behaved disruptively during a symposium organized by the Singapore Planned Parenthood Association (SPPA) on the 25th April 2014. Dr Sundardas, president of SPPA, in an interview with Yahoo! Singapore (https://sg.news.yahoo.com/controversy-erupts-over-parenthood-symposium-in-singapore-035500709.html), described that the speaker Wong had initially told her (Jolene) to stop interrupting him while he was talking. Among Jolene’s live tweets that decried the content shared at the symposium, she claimed that when she tried to speak up, ask questions or express disapproval, she was asked to keep quiet or leave, and was called “confrontational”. According to Yahoo! Singapore, Jolene was said to have clapped her hands “in response to parts of what he said that she agreed with.” It does sound fair to clap if you agree with something - so how did she disrupt the symposium? Jolene clapped loudly at points where no one did, and deliberately so. Her sudden unexpected claps disrupted the speaker each time, who asked her to stop, but she persisted. This led to people sitting around her to have no choice but to express to her in no uncertain terms that she was disrupting them. A member from the organising committee also had to speak to her about her mannerism.
Subsequently, at the Q&A, Jolene asked the first question. After making her lengthy remarks, to which the speaker said he will address it with her personally, Jolene continued to raise her hands when it was others’ turn to speak. When the mike was passed to them, Jolene remarked rather insensitively about why the mike was not given to her but to the other person instead. Her tone throughout can be reasonably interpreted as being rude and aggressive, her behaviour unruly. Her actions resulted in the speaker stopping short his Q&A as it was becoming too disruptive. After the breakout workshops, the symposium returned to the main hall, where Jolene again, stood out to attack the speaker’s credentials, and make unfair accusations at the organizers – statements which the speaker and organizers rebutted"

Singapore Planned Parenthood Association responds to parenthood talk controversy - "the SPPA had in fact wanted to bring together diverse views. "That goes without saying," he said. "If our speakers had identical views to us, why would we need to bring them in? (By doing this) we open it up for debate, and have different people commenting... if we really didn't allow diversity, we wouldn't allow people who disagreed with us to attend the programme, make comments, ask questions or make comments about this in public. We are encouraging public opinion.
Dr Sundardas also stressed that the symposium, called "Towards a Values-Centred Society", was about a person's core values, a facet of the sexuality debate that frequently gets left out in the deluge of information about contraceptives, abortion and other means of planned parenthood. The talk had attracted some 300 participants from numerous secular organisations. These included the Singapore Kindness Movement, the Parkinson's Society Singapore and a host of other smaller companies and groups. "When we do our sex education programmes we talk about abortions, contraceptives, making choices," he said. "What the speakers wanted to stress is that if you just provide information without core values, there is no way young people will know how to put things in perspective.""

The majority of sex workers enjoy their job - why should we find that surprising? - "when you ask sex workers about their job satisfaction and working conditions – as a study led by Leeds University just has – the majority of them are happy. When asked to describe their work, respondents typically selected positive or neutral words. 91 per cent of sex workers described their work as ‘flexible’, 66 per cent described it as ‘fun’ and over half find their job ‘rewarding’."

What's so wrong with dressing up your desk? - "When John Crowley started a new job at a call centre six years ago, he was allowed to put whatever he wanted on his desk. By the time he left, he couldn’t even bring his own mug... Not surprisingly, as these workplace rules became stricter, Crowley’s job satisfaction levels dropped... employees who put at least one picture or a plant in their cubicle are 15% more productive than those who don’t. Employees who can personalise their own space however they want are up to 25% more productive than those who must work in a more sterile space... Having our own stuff in our workspace makes us work harder because it lends a sense of identity to a place — work — in which we could otherwise feel like cogs in a machine. It’s also more psychologically engaging when we have our personal items around us, says Knight. “When we can enrich our space we’re happier,” he says. “And we work better when we’re happier.”... there’s no proof that Six Sigma, and similar management theories, work, says Knight, who started studying personalisation and productivity because he wanted to better understand the benefits of these theories. He soon found there weren’t any. “In every case, it’s the worst space you can put people into,” he says. “It doesn’t work and it’s entirely toxic.”

In Singapore, the Gender Gap Begins in School - "Section 88 of the Education (Schools) Regulations forbids female students from receiving any kind of corporal punishment... Of all the fights I had been in and witnessed, not once did I ever see a girl punished. Now I’m not saying any of them should have been caned. But really, not even a rudimentary telling off?... If male students grow up to become men who believe that women can or cannot do certain things, it’s probably because they’ve witnessed preferential treatment since they were kids."

Professional dominatrix available for hire in Singapore - "Mistress Anja, as she prefers to be called, assures you that she can pack a wallop in her "dungeon" (a room where discipline and bondage activities take place) when she assumes the role of a professional dominatrix or pro-domme... Mistress Anja, whose vital statistics are 36-24-35, has been at this job for four years. Money was the initial draw, admits the 21-year-old who has a degree in fine arts from a local arts school... One of her clients, who is 11 years older than her, went on to become her boyfriend. The couple plan to marry next year... "One expatriate engages my service every alternate day," she claims... Her godmother, a Dutch woman, is a fetish model in Holland. Mistress Anja says: "She knows what I do and has been very supportive"... those who enjoy kinky sex are more extrovert, more open to new experiences and less neurotic. Dr Andreas Wismeijer, a psychologist from Tilburg University in Holland, found that BDSM - bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism - practitioners "either did not differ from the general population and if they differed, they always differed in the more favourable direction"... about 20 per cent of the pro-dommes' clients are management executives and are in high-powered roles"

42 per cent of Singaporeans want to migrate: Survey - "This is despite Singaporeans rating safety (80 per cent), standard of education (74 per cent) and economy (68 per cent) as good or excellent."

Trolls like those involved in Gamergate are even more hostile when they're using their real names on social media networks like Twitter (TWTR) and Facebook (FB) - "for some trolls, online aggression is rewarded in their social networks, and is often a deliberate public signal. People are actually trying to enforce social norms against a perceived violation by a public figure or group. That means individuals are rewarded and perceived as more credible in their group once they are identified, argues Jurgen Pfeffer, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon.”In such structures it is very likely that, if somebody says something aggressive, the majority of the group says ‘Yeah,'” he explained by email."
This means the virtue signalling effect outweighs the anonymity effect

Singapore NMP Kuik Shiao Yin: There Is A Ridiculous Number Of F&B Entrepreneurs In Singapore - "Kiasu culture is also what creates a subculture of grantrepreneurs—people who call themselves entrepreneurs but are really just grant-chasers—who seize upon any kind of public monies, like the PIC grant, to use on everything but what the grant was meant to accomplish... Yesterday’s bubble tea shop is today’s hipster coffee joint. We have a ridiculous number of entrepreneurs in F&B and way too little in industries like marine and construction which have far more opportunity, profit and the need for new blood willing to go where nobody else wants or dares to go"

Hans Sloane and the British Museum | Podcast | History Extra - "Sloane is extraordinary because as we know he is a private individual who ends up turning his collection into the nation's museum. This really evolved over time... where did this idea come from? And there certainly had been various kinds of precedents in Europe and other places in England of various kinds of collection with some public aspect but never a collection that was formally deemed to belong to the people and the nation"

Voices of the Cold War | Podcast | History Extra - "On the day of the coup when General Pinochet the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff turned with his fellow generals on the President... he was later among those who are rounded up and arrested and put in football stadium in Santiago and another little detail. He says among the ways they were tortured was not just being burnt with cigarettes, we've heard about that, we can imagine that, that's what sort of thing you imagine when people talk about torturing. But another thing that happened to him was that they shaved off his beard and then they made him eat it. No I'd never heard that before"

The lost objects of South Asia | Podcast | History Extra - "[On partition] There were animals that had to be apportioned to each country. So for instance the forest department had an elephant in what is now West Bengal in India that was allocated to East Pakistan but the driver of the elephant chose to remain in India so that became, that causes huge bureaucratic saga about how this elephant be moved and by whom... This necklace that was four thousand five hundred years old. It was an object from what's known as the Indus Valley civilization... this necklace got caught up in very much and the reason we focus on it, in this sort of tug of war over who - was it India or Pakistan that could claim this civilization as their patrimony... this necklace would give them a sense of deep rootedness in the past and this is the kind of contortions that all nations states make... to be fair they decided to just hack the necklace apart and give about forty percent of it to Pakistan"

Living through Partition | Podcast | History Extra - "[On India's partition] Sometimes when people left they didn't take much with them. Sometimes they barely took anything because they literally thought they would cross the border for a couple of weeks. You know the craziness following Independence would die down and then they could go back and it didn't dawn on them until some time later that they were never coming back and a lot of people have never been back in seventy years... The kind of totemic image of Partition are the trains. And trains was one way that you could cross the border. But it was perilous and these trains could be ambushed on both sides of the border and sometimes these trains would enter the stations of you know each side and there would be no one alive. The only person alive would be the train driver who they would spare so they would take the train into the station. And we spoke to a number of people who, who saw these trains full of corpses but you had no option. You know if you stayed you could be attacked by the other religious group...
Part of the reason that people haven't talked about Partition in seventy years is because it's not clear cut. It's not like the Holocaust for example where there are very, you know it's very clear who were on the good and bad side. With Partition everybody was culpable"

The Koh-i-Noor | Podcast | History Extra - "Not just in India but it turns out there are current claims on the diamond from Pakistan, from Bangladesh, from Iran, from Afghanistan and most surprising of all the Taliban"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Louis Pasteur - "'He had to study animal diseases because he was not a doctor. He's not qualified in medicine and if he had attempted to study human diseases in humans the French medical profession would have had it in for him in a big way... in fact when he comes to administer vaccines he never administers it himself. It's always a medical qualified colleague who does it... experimentation is allowable on animals, it is criminal on man...
[On vaccination] This was really big news in Paris, people flocked from all over the world. People even in India got on a boat and traveled to travel to Paris to take the cure"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Purgatory - "The eastern churches did have a tradition of literature that talked about various things that happened in the afterlife that you go get the idea of toll houses. So people are called to account for a series of individual sins as they go through these sort of toll gates where the demons can interrogate them about their different sins. And this sort of looks purificatory and it sort of looks a bit like purgatory. But it's about accounting for sins and not necessarily kind of cleansing them in the same way...
These are saved souls but they're imperfect souls and so in the major part of Purgatory up the mountain Dante divides the mountain into seven terraces each of which corresponds to a particular vice... [On the Seven Deadly Sins] Dante would think of these as vices which are habits to be corrected rather than sins to be punished and that's a really important distinction to what happens in hell... the souls themselves willingly embrace them... the souls of the envious have their eyes sewn up... lust is a purifying fire and Dante interestingly fills the terrace of lust with near contemporary poets...
The people who are commenting on him were at pains to stress the thing which Dante was very keen on, they contradict the thing that Dante is very keen on, which is they stressed that he didn't mean it literally. Whereas Dante thoughout the text, throughout the Divine Comedy is constantly stressing the truth of what he's seen. So I think they recognize that this is in many ways a dangerous vision... it intersects with what the Church was practicing in terms of Purgatory. So the really strong emphasis on souls' conversion, the kind of psychological change. Dante's not really so interested in things like indulgences...
On the one hand the Church needs to say the pains in Purgatory are worse than any pains on Earth because the risk of course is that you are effectively saying to people sin as much as you like, you can deal with it all after you've died... at the same time say no this is a gift from God"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Plato's Republic - "One of the most beautiful ironies of The Republic is that Plato has written a dialogue which later generations called The Republic which would I think be banned from the ideally just state that it describes because it does not meet the censorship criteria because it describes bad characters"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Friday's business with Katie Prescott - "Goldman Sachs is a massive contributor to the UK economy... Goldman Sachs' employees pay more tax than Tesco employees"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Government launches immigration inquiry - "Trump won in America on immigration not because most people believed he would build a wall but he convinced people that he was serious about trying to cut the numbers of immigrants no matter how long it took"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Richard Dawkins: Don't vote with your gut! - "'Some people might suggest that actually your approach alienates those people who you might want to convince and makes others lose sympathy for your arguement'
'That's a very good point. I mean I don't actually deliberately provoke. I love truth and I love clarity and I think that sometimes clarity does come over as deliberately provocative. Actually it isn't. It's just attempting to be clear, straightforward"
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