"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Friday, December 29, 2017

Links - 29th December 2017 (1)

English Has a New Preposition, Because Internet

You can now build a 'LEGO whorehouse' thanks to knockoff Chinese toymaker - "The knockoff company, Xingbao, has partnered with some adult fans of LEGO (which apparently can be acronymized as AFOL) to create sets that the beloved world-famous maker of plastic blocks might find morally objectionable, releasing them into the Asian marketplace."

Female Circumcision in Islam – Muslims in Calgary - "a recent Fatwa issued by Malaysia’s National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs in 2009 (*) that declared that the practice was mandatory for Muslim women... All the early scholars of Islam were unanimous in holding that both male and female circumcision are Islamic practices. They only differed as to whether it was obligatory or recommended... The expression “It is beauty (more properly brightness or radiance) for the face” (ashraq li-l-wajh) is said to be further proof of this as it is to be understood to mean a face suffused with pleasure, in other words, the joyous countenance of a woman, arising out of her being sexually satisfied by her husband. Another version of the hadith puts it more directly, for instead of ashraq li’l wajh (radiance for the face) it gives ahwa li’l mar’a (more pleasure to the woman). When the Prophet said that it was more desirable for the husband, what he obviously meant was that he would be pleased that his wife too had attained orgasm at about the same time as him – perhaps even had multiple orgasms – and that he would not need to exert himself further to ensure she is fully satisfied. The idea here is that it is only with the removal of the clitoral prepuce that real sexual satisfaction could be realized. It is contended that the procedure enhances sexual feeling in women during the sex act since a circumcised clitoris is much more likely to be stimulated as a result of direct oral, penile or tactile contact than the uncircumcised organ whose prepuce serves as an obstacle to direct stimulation. This necessarily leads to a satisfactory sex life among women, thus ensuring their chastity... Carsten Niebuhr (Beschreibung von Arabien. 1772) who examined a circumcised Egyptian country girl was convinced that it was to render washing easier, implying that it was out of a motive of cleanliness, that the practice had been adopted"
Where's Reza Aslan?

'Islamic' kindergartens cause a stir in Austria - "some 10,000 children aged two to six attend around 150 Muslim preschools, teaching the Koran much like Christian ones do with Bible studies. At least a quarter are backed by groups propagating arch conservative strains of Islam like Salafism, or organisations that see religion not just as a private matter but integral to politics and society"

Austria: Major study shows Jihadism based on Islamic theology - "The study, published at the beginning of August, comprehensively refutes the claims made by many politicians and other public figures in the West that radical Islam is a perversion of Islam and jihadists have little knowledge of Islamic theology. The 310-page study, conducted by Ednan Aslan, who is professor of Islamic religious education at the University of Vienna, was based on 29 in-depth interviews with radical Muslims in Austria. Most of those studied already had a grounding in Islamic belief before they were radicalised. However, what Professor Aslan terms “the intensive examination of theological topics” represented a turning point for many in their radicalisation. Professor Aslan’s study also highlighted the central role played by some Islamic theological teachers in radicalisation, stating, “persons with a higher theological knowledge function as authorities and play a central role in the spread of ideology.”"

Austrian expert says Islam is unsustainable in its current form - ""Currently, Islam is unfortunately a religion of isolation. A religion of migration. A religion of Turkey, of Saudi Arabia. But no religion of Europe, which advocates pluralism or prepares children accordingly for a plural society." The professor said that the way Muslim communities are depicted is often inaccurate. "Take the school books of the Muslim religious community of Austria. Muslim women are always depicted with a headscarf. But in Austria, only 20 percent of Muslim women wear a headscarf," he said... "What does a youth in Vienna learn when he reads how many camels, sheep, goats he has to give for Islamic charity tax? Or whether the Prophet has eaten grasshoppers or not?"

Study Finds Germans Incapable of Enjoying Life - "46 percent of Germans say they are increasingly unable to enjoy anything due to the stress of everyday life and the feeling of being constantly reachable. The difficulty was even more pronounced among the study's younger participants, 55 percent of whom claimed to feel they have lost their ability to feel good. Whether it's with food, alcohol, vacation or relaxing -- Germans apparently don't have the leisure to enjoy things... The results conform to the image that many Europeans have of Germans in this era of economic crisis as self-denying overachievers who can't even turn off the fun-brakes when vacationing at the beach... The main thing standing in their way is their own perfectionism... Germans can't even let go during sex. Many reported constantly having film and advertising images run through their minds"

Why Does My Hamster Eat His Droppings? - "Believe it or not, there is a good reason for this unappetizing behavior. Your pet is merely completing a special, natural digestive process that allows him to maximize the nutrition he receives from his food. This process is most frequently referred to as "coprophagy.""

Are Muslim countries more violent? - The Washington Post - "Most recent civil wars have taken place in Muslim countries, and a large majority of the victims are Muslims. This is not a “clash of civilizations.” It is a battle within the Muslim world... Although armed violence has been declining overall since the end of the Cold War, violence has spiked since 2011 — particularly in Muslim countries... Many observers note that Muslim countries score lower than average on political development, notably the status of women. And except for oil wealth, most Muslim countries are doing poorly on economic and social development as well. Several studies have shown that, after correcting for these factors, Muslim countries are no more violent than others. But should we control for something that may conceivably be part of the explanation? If the religion is influencing development, then we cannot control for the level of development in an analysis of the effects of that religion. The research puzzle becomes how to assess the net effect of religion — on development as well as on violence."

Virginia Board of Education member resigns after vulgar tweets surface - The Washington Post - "A Virginia Board of Education member has stepped down after a series of his tweets from several years ago surfaced, including public messages that had gay slurs, references to sexual assault and anti-white comments... he wrote that white women “smell like future assault charges n deli meat”... His feed also includes his opinions on more benign matters. In 2014, his tweet about the McDonald’s McRib sandwich, in which he shared a photo of a unappetizing slab of meat, caught the attention of the company. As part of a campaign for its McRib sandwich, McDonald’s flew him to Oklahoma City to visit the fast food chain’s pork processing plants."
If you're black and anti-white but also homophobic and objectify women, how do you rank on the liberal priority list?

Bowing to pressure, a Berkeley butcher shop makes a deal with vegan protesters - The Washington Post - "The protests were intense: People dripping with fake blood, tightly bound in plastic wrap as if they were cuts of meat. Singing, shouting, lecturing customers. It’s what Direct Action Everywhere, an animal rights group, would do every time the Local Butcher Shop would host its butchering classes in its Berkeley, Calif., store. But after four months, the protests have finally slowed down, and for an unlikely reason: After receiving a list of demands from the group, which also goes by DXE, the butcher shop capitulated. Although the Local Butcher Shop touts its farms’ humane practices on its website, owners agreed to hang a sign in their window that reads “Attention: Animals lives are their right. Killing them is violent and unjust, no matter how it’s done.”... DXE is known for its highly-visible protests, which can scare passersby, and can sometimes end with its members being arrested. They perform raids on slaughterhouses to rescue live animals. The group believes in legal personhood for animals, and “total animal liberation.”... Mimi Stein, the director of operations for Certified Humane, an organization that certifies farms with the highest standards for painless slaughter, denounced DXE’s actions."

The rule of six that governs why and how we Brits queue - "people will wait for an average of six minutes in a queue before giving up in frustration. What is more, people are unlikely to join a queue that has more than six people in it. However when it comes to the likelihood of them becoming too irritated and leaving the queue, it virtually evaporates if the number of people behind them has grown to six people or more. And in keeping with the theme, the report also revealed that a six inch radius is the minimum amount of personal space that needs to be afforded to a person in a queue, to avoid increasing stress or anxiety... Engaging in conversation whilst queuing also made the list of social practices that are viewed as completely unacceptable by British people. However perhaps the most confusing to visitors from abroad is number three on the list: accepting a person’s offer to go ahead of them in the queue. In British queueing culture, not only will acceptance be perceived as impoliteness, it will also lose the individual the respect of the remaining queuers, it said"

Lidl erases Church crosses from Greek emblematic landscape on food packaging - "“We avoid the use of religious symbols because we do not want to exclude any religious beliefs,” the representative of the German supermarket giant replied. “We are a company that respects diversity and this is what explains the design of this packaging,” he added. One can legitimately ask why the group’s marketing departments did not directly opt for a landscape without a religious monument."
I hope they don't sell food from a Muslim country, since they might need to photoshop out minarets

Singaporeans prefer privacy to mingling with neighbours: Poll - ""Surveys have shown that Singaporeans have longer working hours than others in the world.... by the time they go home, they have dinner, watch the news for a while, then it's time to go to bed. They're tired after a long day at work.""

North American Indigenous Warfare and Ritual Violence - "Despite evidence of warfare and violent conflict in pre-Columbian North America, scholars argue that the scale and scope of Native American violence is exagerated. They contend that scholarly misrepresentation has denigrated indigenous peoples when in fact they lived together in peace and harmony. In rebutting that contention, this groundbreaking book presents clear evidence—from multiple academic disciplines—that indigenous populations engaged in warfare and ritual violence long before European contact. In ten well-documented and thoroughly researched chapters, fourteen leading scholars dispassionately describe sources and consequences of Amerindian warfare and violence, including ritual violence. Originally presented at an American Anthropological Association symposium, their findings construct a convincing case that bloodshed and killing have been woven into the fabric of indigenous life in North America for many centuries. The editors argue that a failure to acknowledge the roles of warfare and violence in the lives of indigenous North Americans is itself a vestige of colonial repression—depriving native warriors of their history of armed resistance. These essays document specific acts of Native American violence across the North American continent. Including contributions from anthropologists, archaeologists, historians, and ethnographers, they argue not only that violence existed but also that it was an important and frequently celebrated component of Amerindian life"
The myth of the noble savage
Keywords: genocide, ethnic cleansing, romanticisation, before Europeans, before white people

This study explains why American labor unions are even more doomed than they look - "Recently unionized firms employ fewer people
Recently unionized firms pay lower average wages
Recently unionized firms are more likely to go out of business...
In the context of a workforce with very low union density, unionization at one particular company doesn't actually give workers much bargaining power. But it does create significant competitive disadvantages. The exact opposite is true of a system in which unionization is widespread — in that case there is no competitiveness disadvantage, but workers have more clout systematically."

Why low-income parents may make 'poor choices' - "many "choose" to leave school early because no one can support them. This seems obviously a bad "choice", but may be the best among various poor options. "Choices" have long-term effects. People with extra money and social capital can mitigate the consequences of "bad" choices, but people without those buffers face severe consequences over time... Certainly, there are parents who are neglectful or abusive, but this is no less true among higher-income ones. Caricatures of low-income parents cannot be the starting point for public discussions of poverty and social inclusion."

The Effect of Family Income on Risk of Child Maltreatment - Semantic Scholar - "Researchers and policymakers have long recognized that children living in families with limited economic resources are at higher risk for maltreatment than children from higher socioeconomic strata, but the causal effect of income on maltreatment risk is unknown. Because many factors, for example, poor parental mental health, are known to increase the probability both of poverty and child maltreatment, teasing out the causal role of income can be challenging. Using newly available data, we exploit a random assignment experiment that led to exogenous differences in family income to measure the effect of income on the risk of maltreatment reported to the child welfare system. We find consistent evidence of a causal effect"
A caricature of low-income parents!

Singapore and Denmark: Contrasting happiness — Can sunshine and low income tax make you happy? - "When I was working in Singapore, I found myself and friends who also work there felt dissatisfied about the life more often than when we were in other places. We all have experience working in several countries, but only Singapore, this charming island on the surface, makes us feel gloomy for no reason... Why does Singapore, a developed country where anything you need is affordable and at your doorstep, make people depressed, while Denmark, with a high cost of living and brutal winters, make people relatively happy?... the way cities are formed also leads to the different experience between living in Denmark and in Singapore. Among the countless factors which form a city, I found that the presence of ample public spaces plays a surprisingly important role. In Denmark, you can easily find parks, lakes, playgrounds, ground courts, and open spaces. People always have a place to do all kinds of activities, and those places are usually well-maintained. (A friend from New York even told me that the worst public toilet he encountered in Denmark was still better than the one in his house.) Coming from compact metropolises in Asia, I was impressed by how generously the Danish government provides open spaces: why does the government leave so many spaces for kids to play with their skateboard? How do they resist the financial temptation of turning land into office buildings? No one seemed to have the intention of building more apartments, even when the demand for housing is growing rapidly. On the other hand, Singapore, as well as many other countries in Asia, plan and build the cities based on KPIs related to profit... The biggest difference between these two kinds of spaces are, public recreational areas are open anytime and everyone has equal access"

Ask an Expert: Do Animals Get Sunburned? - "“Most any animal that has exposed skin is susceptible to sunburn,” says the biologist. Whereas birds are protected by feathers and reptiles by scales (if reptiles overheat, they will die before sunburn is a factor), mammals such as elephants and rhinos, even freshly shorn sheep, as you might imagine, are particularly vulnerable. Occasionally a furry mammal gets sunburned too. “It depends on how dense their fur is”"
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