"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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Sunday, June 02, 2019

Links - 2nd June 2019 (2)

Chinese man, 69, married disabled woman, 35, for burial ritual. Then he burned her to death - "A man in north-western Shaanxi province who married a disabled woman half his age so that they could eventually be buried together in an ancient custom has been detained by police in connection with her death.Zhu Liantang, 69, admitted to setting his house on fire on Chinese New Year’s Eve and burning his wife Ms Li Chun, 35, to death... The couple were married in 2013 in a plan to observe a centuries-old “posthumous marriage” burial rite... According to Shaanxi rural custom, a deceased person must be buried with bones of a partner to rest in peace. While the wealthy can afford to spend as much as 100,000 yuan (S$20,000) to acquire the body or bones of an unknown person for burial with a deceased relative, the poor are typically interred with paper dolls... Posthumous marriage has been a custom in Shanxi, Shaanxi, Gansu, Henan and Guangdong for more than a thousand years.In 2013, Wang Hairong was sentenced to death for killing a pregnant woman in Shaanxi province in 2009 and selling her remains to the family of a deceased man for 22,000 yuan, Legal Daily reported.There were 34 incidences of posthumous marriage between 2009 and 2015, according to China Judgements Online, a database of more than 63 million court rulings. The records involved 23 criminal cases and 44 corpses across eight provinces and transactions priced between 3,000 yuan and about 10,000 yuan"

Singaporean woman tried online dating for 17 years, but is still single - "I can be picky, and having studied abroad, I saw myself as independent and well-travelled.I wanted someone with a global mindset, preferably an American-born Chinese (ABC) who should not be more than five years older. He had to have a decent education, with at least a diploma... Of the first few men I went on dates with, a San Francisco-based Chinese guy came closest to my criteria. We chatted for six months before meeting up in San Francisco for a meal when I was en route to Mexico for a holiday. I felt a connection. Although we lived miles apart, it wasn't an issue because I was cool with the idea of relocation if it came to that. But midway, he told me rather bluntly that he preferred slimmer girls. We didn't keep in touch after that. Subsequently, I met other men who were very specific about appearance - and their criteria tended to be 'tall, slim and with long hair'. At 1.63m, with short hair and a hint of chubbiness, I definitely did not fit the bill. Frustrated, I posted a dating ad on Craigslist (a classifieds website with a personals section) declaring that I didn't look or behave like the stereotypical Asian woman. I'm not submissive; I am strong-willed. I'm not self-centred; I'm independent; I'm not meek; I know what I want.The message I wanted to get across was: 'If you're up for the challenge, great. Otherwise, let's not waste time.'... On average, three out of 10 guys who contact me seem suspicious - for example, they're too eager to share personal details, volunteer many selfies or are always travelling... After all these years, I've considered whether I am the problem. I'm outspoken and independent, but is that a bad thing? Friends have suggested I be less opinionated, slow down (by going on fewer adventures) and try to look more feminine.Growing up, I was influenced by my feminist mum, who believes ability is more important than looks, so it only recently hit me that I should try harder when it comes to my appearance. But I draw the line at changing my lifestyle or personality to find a man. I have lowered my expectations over the past few months...
"While you prefer to date ABCs who are more likely to have a global mindset, keep an open mind and widen your dating preferences - especially if what you've been doing has been futile. Very often, the one for us comes in a package we least expect.""
If you're both fussy and don't have much to offer, no matter how long you try you'll never succeed

James Lindsay ‏ @ ConceptualJames - "Historians will write about the Social Justice mobs of today exactly like they've already written about the witch hunters of Salem and elsewhere... One lesson I think we can extract from this is that fanatical puritans don't see themselves as fanatical puritans, but I guess we already knew that. Authoritarian aggression, as its more rightly known, tends to see itself as necessary moral righteousness on a crusade for Good. The saddest part of the responses to this is that there are people apparently defending bullying people into suicide, as if there's any defensible reason for it."

Omoté - "as we delve deeper into an exploding pudding of egg lush undertones, the drake and poach seemingly complements one another delectably insofar telescoping the milky way in jupiter's gravitation, a yours truly, father-and-son duo masterpiece akin to kyoto izakaya offerings to the prime even distribution, featuring meticulously, a sensual ignition of palatable roast & char, only to embrace the robust and smokey nature of undescribable umami."

Dolphins Seem to Use Toxic Pufferfish to Get High - "Humans aren't the only creatures that suffer from substance abuse problems. Horses eat hallucinogenic weeds, elephants get drunk on overripe fruit and big horn sheep love narcotic lichen. Monkeys' attraction to sugar-rich and ethanol-containing fruit, in fact, may explain our own attraction to alcohol, some researchers think.Now, dolphins may join that list. Footage from a new BBC documentary series, "Spy in the Pod," reveals what appears to be dolphins getting high off of pufferfish. Pufferfish produce a potent defensive chemical, which they eject when threatened. In small enough doses, however, the toxin seems to induce "a trance-like state" in dolphins that come into contact with it"
Interestingly, this quotes the Daily Mail. If the Daily Mail says the earth is round, that means it's flat. But if the Smithsonian quotes the Daily Mail, does that make it true?

An editor’s confession | Bertha Harian - "The day before Polling Day (there was no Cooling Off day at that time), the WP held a rally which ended dramatically with Mr Jeyaretnam holding up a few pieces of paper in his hand. He said that police reports had been filed against 11 members of the PAP. He left it at that... Balji said he received a telephone call suggesting that he obtain the police reports from Central Police Station. Ask and you shall be given. This was a strange offer of a scoop offered to TNP, a newspaper which at that time was sold at lunch-time.Balji admits that the idea of a scoop stirred journalistic passions. Which editor would not welcome the chance to get one step ahead of its rivals, especially the broadsheet Straits Times, which had already gone to print by then? I was Balji’s deputy at that time, and actually called the cops for the reports. They said no. So, Balji made a telephone call and this time, we were told to wait by the facsimile machine. The clock was ticking away and we had already held the presses. So many of us crowded around the machine that morning to watch copies of the report slowly make their way into our presence. We printed them whole-sale on Page 1.If Cooling Off Day was in place then, we would have breached so many rules and were at risk of libeling 11 people. To cut a long story short, we did not get into trouble, but Mr Tang and JBJ et al did. They didn’t win the election but did well enough to earn a non-constituency MP seat which JBJ took. But more importantly, JBJ was smacked with a massive law suit, 11 in all. That was when it began to dawn on us that we had been made use of to disseminate a supposed libel to an even wider audience, which could mean higher damages if the PAP side won."

Lee Kuan Yew made journalists 'look behind their backs': veteran journalist PN Balji - "“There were many (journalists) who were penalised by him because he didn’t like what they wrote…and that made a lot of people frightened and made many people look behind their backs,” mused Balji, who counts himself among those to fear incurring Lee’s wrath. As he ruefully says in his book, “Nearly every editor in Singapore has a Lee Kuan Yew story to tell.”... “His record with journalists who veered off the straight and narrow path was legendary. Some have been detained without trial, some blackballed and others forced to leave journalism and even the country,” writes the 70-year-old, who also details stories of colleagues being punished for their outspokenness. But the genius of Lee, who was never afraid to actively intervene in the media industry, lay in his ability to mix the carrot and the stick. “He made sure that Singapore Press Holdings and of course Mediacorp, had no competition. And that had a positive effect because SPH could make tonnes of money. Nobody (else) was prepared to come and work or start a newspaper or TV station under those kinds of restrictions.”Balji added, “So SPH could boom and when SPH boomed, people like us also boomed, because we got good salary increments.”... With its insider details and frank admissions of government interference – “The media was given specific instructions not to report the increments that were given every year to the ministers for fear that putting that kind of information in the public domain would reignite acrimonious debate and stoke public anger.” – “Reluctant Editor” brings to mind a 2012 book by another former SPH editor with its title based on a Singapore-specific media term: out of bounds (OB) markers... Balji may have been a reluctant editor, but he was far from reticent in calling self-censorship “the greatest sin in Singapore journalism”. And as far as he is concerned, it is “worse than what it used to be before.”"

Why so sensitive? A complete history of China's 'hurt feelings' - "One might think it unlikely that a bantamweight nation like Saint Lucia, a volcanic island idling back in the eastern Caribbean Sea, could ever punch hard enough to force a whimper from a global heavyweight like China. But in 2007, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told reporters that diminutive Saint Lucia had “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.”... writer Wei Dan (维舟) remarked last year that cases of “hurt feelings,” while often rooted in genuine gripes, “allowed us to glimpse the trait of ‘emotions trumping reason’ (情胜于理) at the heart of the Chinese psyche.”... as the Philippines became the latest country to “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people,” one Chinese blogger wondered aloud why the feelings of flesh-and-blood Chinese counted so little when it came to real misgivings they had, such as over why their government would donate school buses to Macedonia when poor children at home had no way to get to school. “Who,” the blogger asked, directing us toward what is almost surely the most accurate context for the phrase, “controls the valve of these feelings?”... Far from being the product of some generalised Chinese cultural context, the “hurt feelings” phrase first emerged in 1959 in the pages of the Chinese Communist Party’s flagship newspaper, the People’s Daily. The phrase was regularised after 1978, becoming a permanent feature of the Party’s political discourse. Its proper “native” context, therefore, is the political culture of mainland China.Power is the deeper question at the root of these “feelings.” And the people, the abstracted renmin (人民), are upset when the Chinese Communist Party wills it."

China's hard power and hurt feelings - Nikkei Asian Review - "China's sensitivities are on increasingly open display. Australian media reported in January that a Taiwanese woman working in a hotpot restaurant in Sydney was fired after saying to her boss that Taiwan was not part of China. This comes after growing warnings from Australian academics that their freedom of speech was under increasing pressure, after incidents in which mainland Chinese students in their classrooms were found to be monitoring their teachers' statements for any sign of anti-China bias.That iron fist from Beijing -- and the Communist leaders' desire to stifle free speech outside the mainland -- has extended to Hong Kong, ostensibly an autonomous region with a separate local government, which has come increasingly under Beijing's grip.With the help of handpicked local minions, Beijing has decided that the question of Hong Kong independence is so sensitive that the mere discussion of the topic must be officially proscribed. Students in high schools and on university campuses are not supposed to talk about it. And candidates for local legislative seats have found now that they must face a new kind of loyalty test on the independence question, or find themselves barred from running for office."

Phrase of the Week: Hurt Feelings – China Digital Times (CDT) - "In 2008, blogger “FangK” searched through the electronic archives of the People’s Daily between 1946 and 2006 and found that 19 countries and organizations had been accused of hurting the feelings of the Chinese people in its pages... A chapter on Chinese nationalism published by a branch of Academia Sinica (中央研究院), the national academy of Taiwan, provided a chart tracking usage of the phrase by People’s Daily between 1949 and 2013. Columnist Kai Pan calls the hurt feelings accusation “inherently idiotic,” based on immature assumptions about the entirety of Chinese society."

Language Log » "Hurt(s) the feelings of the Chinese people" - "Finding this expression — "hurts the feelings of the Chinese people" — so omnipresent in statements emanating from the PRC government, I wondered how it compares with the usage of analogous statements by representatives of other nations.
Here are ghits (Google hits) for some comparable phrases involving other nations:
"hurts the feelings of the Chinese people" 17,000
"hurts the feelings of the Japanese people" 178
"hurts the feelings of the American people" 5
"hurts the feelings of the German people" 2
"hurts the feelings of the Jewish people" 2
"hurts the feelings of the Indian people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Russian people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Italian people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the British people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Swedish people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the French people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Spanish people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Turkish people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Greek people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Israeli people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Vietnamese people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Thai people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Egyptian people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Tibetan people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Uighur people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Uyghur people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Mongolian people" 0...
What do we make of this hugely disproportionate usage of the "hurt feelings" meme by PRC spokespersons vis-à-vis its (non)usage by the spokespersons of other nations? Do Chinese have far more feelings than other people? Are Chinese more pathetic? More bathetic? More pitiable? Having studied Chinese language, literature, and culture for most of my life, I find it hard to comprehend why the PRC spokespersons should concentrate so much on the perceived wounded feelings of their countrymen. Surely it is self-demeaning for a large nation with such a long and illustrious past to focus so heavily on its injured emotions, yet there must be some reason(s) why they do so ad nauseam."

No, PSLE aggregate score is not out of 300 - "A student who gets full marks for all subjects may not get an aggregate score of 300.This is because the T-score has to take into account other variables, such as the SD and cohort average."
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