When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

"In democracy it's your vote that counts; In feudalism it's your count that votes." - Mogens Jallberg


"Examples of the perceived cheapening of a thing’s value by the very act of buying and selling it abound in everyday life and language. The disgust that accompanies the idea of buying and selling human beings is based on the sense that this would dramatically diminish human worth. Epithets such as “he prostituted himself,” applied as linguistic analogies to people who have sold something, reflect the new that certain things should not be sold because doing so diminishes their value. Praise that is bought is worth little, even to the person buying it. A true anecdote is told of an economist who retired to another university community and complained that he was having difficulty making friends. The laconic response of a critical colleague—'If you want a friend why don’t you buy yourself one'—illustrates in a pithy way the intuition that, for some things, the very act of placing a price on them reduces their perceived value."

--- Cost-Benefit Analysis: An Ethical Critique, Steven Kelman

"I find it hard to believe, looking around the modern world, that its major problem is that it suffers from an excess of rationality. The world's stock of ignorance if and will remain quite large enough without adding to it as a matter of deliberate policy."

--- Replies to Steven Kelman, James V. DeLong
Ci-gît l'enfant, ci-gît le père,
Ci-gît la soeur, ci-gît le frère,
Ci-gît la femme et le mari,
Et ne sont que deux corps ici.

Here lies the child, here lies the father,
Here lies the sister, here lies the brother,
Here lie the wife and the husband,
And there are but two bodies here.

(The Heptameron of Margaret, Queen of Navarre)

"[The above is a] late medieval epigraph inscribed in the exact middle of the collegial church of Ecouis, in the cross aisle...

The tradition is that a son of Madame d'Ecouis had by his mother, without knowing her or being recognized by her, a daughter named Cecilia, whom he afterward married in Lorraine, she then being in the service of the Duchess of Bar. Thus Cecilia was at one and the same time her husband's daughter, sister, and wife. They were interred together in the same grave at Ecouis in 1512."

(FROM DORMITION TO NATION OR The Sinful Soul of England, Children of the Earth: Literature, Politics, and Nationhood, Marc Shell)

Friday, April 25, 2008

"I think it would be a good idea." - Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization


"I would like you to start paying attention to how often being gay is the punchline of a monologue or how often gay jokes are in a movie... And that kind of message, laughing at someone because they’re gay, is just the beginning. It starts with laughing at someone, and then it’s verbal abuse, then it’s physical abuse, and it’s this kid Brandon killing a kid like Larry." - Ellen DeGeneres on the murder of a gay kid (from Fridae - Singapore TV Station Fined S$15,000 For Showing A "normal" Gay Family)

"If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination." - Thomas De Quincy, Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts, 1827

It is ironic that gay activists denounce those who say that if we allow homosexuality we will soon allow incest, pedophilia, bestiality, necrophilia etc, and then turn around and use the same fallacy.

"If you don't support warrantless wiretaps, the terrorists will get bolder. They will fart in our general direction, release more jihad videos, burn our flags and pretty soon, we'll have another 9/11!"
"The only really good place to buy lumber is at a store where the lumber has already been cut and attached together in the form of furniture, finished, and put inside boxes." - Dave Barry, "The Taming of the Screw"


Do Monkeys Pay for Sex? - "It turns out that one of humanity's oldest professions may be even older than we thought: In a recent study of macaque monkeys in Indonesia, researchers found that male primates "paid" for sexual access to females — and that the going rate for such access dwindled as the number of available females went up."
It is insidious how powerful patriarchy is - it is affecting our closest relatives.

Sleepwalkers who have 'sex sleep' - "It might sound like an affair, but what if your "cheating" partner was fast asleep during the act? The phenomenon, called sleep sex, was described to doctors at a meeting in Australia... He said there were documented cases where people had committed murders in their sleep. "There is a case in English law where a guy was beating his girlfriend over the head with a video recorder and she was screaming at him." He said the man only woke up when the girlfriend said "I love you". "Probably that was such a stupid thing in his dream that did not fit that it woke him up. "It's like when you hear the phone in the middle of your dream and you wake up.""

Kinky? You can't beat it - "Bondage and discipline may actually make men happier, according to the first national survey of Australians' fetish habits... In fact, says Dr Richters, men into BDSM scored significantly better on a scale of psychological wellbeing than other men. "This seems to imply that these men are actually happier as a result of their behaviour, though we're not sure why," she said... At the other end of the spectrum - least happy - were men who reported being attracted to men but had never acted on their desire and didn't regard themselves as gay. Researchers said the study helps break down the reigning stereotype that people into bondage and discipline were damaged as children and were therefore "dysfunctional"."

Rickroll Database: never get rickroll'd again - "Have you or someone you love been rickroll'd? Submit the URL below. Protect yourself by using Firefox, installing Adblock Plus, and subscribing to the rickblock blacklist"

With no losers, we wouldn’t have any winners - "The very phrase win-win is enough to set one’s teeth on edge. It is not just goody-goody, it is logically suspect: the idea of winners is predicated on the idea of losers. If everyone wins, then it isn’t a competition, it’s a prayer meeting... I’ve just consulted Wikipedia, which gives as an example of a win-win game one in which many people carry a huge “earth ball” several metres wide over their heads while negotiating an obstacle course. It explains that in this game there are no losers, that no one is excluded and that it is all down to teamwork. What it doesn’t explain, though, is why on earth a group of people would want to carry a big ball over an obstacle course in the first place... The latest Harvard Business Review is urging its readers to adopt a new leadership strategy of win-win-win-win... example of an unfit manager who runs a marathon. This gives him bulging leg muscles and is therefore a win for “self”. It is a win for his work, too, as he trains with his boss – so he can presumably crawl while he runs. Community benefits from the money he is raising, and his pregnant partner is happy because she fondly believes his fitness will make him a better parent. Hey presto, win-win-win-win. Well maybe; I would be inclined to tell the story differently. The marathon could screw up his knees for life, it could make him a shocking bore to his friends, a crawler to his colleagues and make his wife resentful at his prolonged absences. The win-win-win-win strategy isn’t simply babyish slush, it is downright delusional."
If everyone is right, everyone is also wrong.

Ulrich Beck: This free-market farce shows how badly we need the state - "There are surprising parallels between the Chernobyl reactor disaster, the Asian financial crisis, and the threat of the collapse of the international financial system today. The traditional methods of management and control are proving unreliable and ineffective in the face of global risks. The millions of unemployed and poor cannot be financially compensated; it makes no sense to insure against the consequences of global recession. At the same time the social and political explosive force of global market risks is becoming palpable. Governments are overthrown, civil wars become a threat. As the public begins to recognise the risks, the question of responsibility is increasingly raised. This dynamic leads to a reversal of neoliberal policy - not the economisation of politics, but the politicisation of the economy. Not even the most liberal national economy functions without macroeconomic coordinates. It's with a certain degree of bewilderment that one asks oneself: how could anyone in his right mind assume that the world economy is any different?"

The Double Standard of Christian Skepticism - Why can we laugh at the Latter-Day Saint’s mention of the angel Moroni and the reforming teachings of Joseph Smith’s new scripture? Why do we immediately rebuke the Islamic prophet Mohammad’s revelation? Why is this possible, yet such vehement, mistrusting, pessimistic, suspicious skepticism not leveled at one’s own religion? Faith has become a great many things, but it perpetually appears to be belief without doubt before anything else... In my younger years, Josh McDowell gave me fuel, later it was C.S. Lewis and William Craig. Still later, I found a deeper, more profound faith in the works of Tillich and Kierkegaard. Yet none seemed capable of explaining the obvious shortcomings I continually found in my skeptical inquiry of Christianity, whether in the historicism of the Bible or the philosophy of religion. The radical faith I found in the Christian existentialists could only last so long. Whether it was something as mundane as the choppy seams in the Gospel of John, or as major as the lack of Biblical or philosophical evidence for the doctrine of the Trinity, I found that the evidence which held my beliefs together was as shaky as the honest Mormon who tried to convince me that there really was a golden book that only Joseph Smith could read"

PETA’s Latest Tactic: $1 Million for Fake Meat - "People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wants to pay a million dollars for fake meat — even if it has caused a “near civil war” within the organization. The organization said it would announce plans on Monday for a $1 million prize to the “first person to come up with a method to produce commercially viable quantities of in vitro meat at competitive prices by 2012.”"

best of craigslist : 143 Reasons That I Will Be The Best Girlfriend You've Ever Had - "15. Like you, I am scared of commitment
16. I won't steal food out of your plate after ordering a salad.
17. I wont order a salad."
How come the Singapore one doesn't get this sort of replies?

Female Ejaculation, the Female Prostate, and the G-Spot - "Women are expected to maintain a dry pristine appearance regardless of the activities they participate in. Mothers once told their daughters it was unwise to engage in sports, as boys would see them sweaty and disheveled, and this was seen as unattractive. Today, deodorant and antiperspirant ads drive home the idea, "Do not let them see you sweat."... Society and the media serve to create a barrier between women and their sexual pleasure. Sweaty men are seen as sexual, virile. Their manhood is measured by their ability to produce large quantities of semen. They write their name in the snow with their urine and see who can ejaculate the furthest. For men making a mess with their ejaculate is seen as unavoidable, normal, and is never questioned. It is even idolized in adult movies. Men can ejaculate on the face, in the mouth, and on and in the body of their partner and it is seen as normal and desirable. If a woman gets her body fluids on her partner that is another story, she has made a dirty mess. This is an interesting double standard. If a man can cover his partner with his body fluids a woman should be able to do the same."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"To my embarrassment I was born in bed with a lady." - Wilson Mizner


"A husband and wife ought to continue so long united as they love each other: any law which should bind them to cohabitation for one moment after the decay of their affection would be a most intolerable tyranny, and the most unworthy of toleration. How odious an usurpation of the right of private judgement should that law be considered which should make the ties of friendship indissoluble, in spite of the caprices, the inconstancy, the fallibility, and capacity for improvement of the human mind. And by so much would the fetters of love be heavier and more unendurable than those of friendship, as love is more vehement and capricious, more dependent on those delicate peculiarities of imagination, and less capable of reduction to the ostensible merits of the object.

The state of society in which we exist is a mixture of feudal savageness and imperfect civilization. The narrow and unenlightened morality of the Christian religion is an aggravation of these evils. It is not even until lately that mankind have admitted that happiness is the sole end of the science of ethics, as of all other sciences; and that the fanatical idea of mortifying the flesh for the love of God has been discarded. I have heard, indeed, an ignorant collegian adduce, in favour of Christianity, it's hostility to every worldly feeling!

But if happiness be the object of morality, of all human unions and and disunions; if the worthiness of every action is to be estimated by the quantity of pleasurable sensation it is calculated to produce, then the connection of the sexes is so long sacred as it contributes to the comfort of the parties, and is naturally dissolved when its evils are greater than its benefits. There is nothing immoral in this separation. Constancy has nothing virtuous in itself, independently of the pleasure it confers, and partakes of the temporizing spirit of vice in proportion as it endures tamely moral defects of magnitude in the object of its indiscreet choice. Love is free: to promise for ever to love the same woman is not less absurd than to promise to believe the same creed: such a vow, in both cases, excludes us from all inquiry. The language of the votarist is this: The woman I now love may be infinitely inferior to many others; the creed I now profess may be a mass of errors and absurdities; but I exclude myself from all future information as to the amiability of the one and the truth of the other, resolving blindly, and in spite of conviction, to adhere to them. Is this the language of delicacy and reason? Is the love of such a frigid heart of more worth than its belief?

The present system of constraint does no more, in the majority of instances, than make hypocrites or open enemies. Persons of delicacy and virtue, unhappily united to one whom they find it impossible to love, spend the loveliest season of their life in unproductive efforts to appear otherwise than they are, for the sake of the feelings of their partner or the welfare of their mutual offspring: those of less generosity and refinement openly avow their disappointment, and linger out the remnant of that union, which only death can dissolve, in a state of incurable bickering and hostility. The early education of their children takes its colour from the squabbles of the parents; they are nursed in a systematic school of ill-humour, violence, and falsehood. Had they been suffered to part at the moment when indifference rendered their union irksome, they would have been spared many years of misery: they would have connected themselves more suitably, and would have found that happiness in the society of more congenial partners which is for ever denied them by the despotism of marriage. They would have been separately useful and happy members of society, who, whilst united, were miserable and rendered misanthropical by misery. The conviction that wedlock is indissoluble holds out the strongest of all temptations to the perverse: they indulge without restraint in acrimony, and all the little tyrannies of domestic life, when they know that their victim is without appeal. If this connection were put on a rational basis, each would be assured that habitual ill-temper would terminate in separation, and would check this vicious and dangerous propensity...

[On prostitution] Young men, excluded by the fanatical idea of chastity from the society of modest and accomplished women, associate with these vicious and miserable beings, destroying thereby all those exquisite and delicate sensibilities, whose existence, cold-hearted worldlings have denied; annihilating all genuine passion, and debasing that to a selfish feeling which is the excess of generosity and devotedness. Their body and mind alike crumble into a hideous wreck of humanity; idioicy and disease become perpetuated in their miserable offspring, and distant generations suffer for the bigotted morality of their forefathers. Chastity is a monkish and evangelical superstition, a greater foe to natural temperance even than unintellectual sensuality; it strikes at the root of all domestic happiness, and consigns more than half of the human race to misery, that some few may monopolize according to law. A system could not well have been devised more studiously hostile to human happiness than marriage.

I conceive that from the abolition of marriage, the fit and natural arrangement of sexual connexion would result. I by no means assert that the intercourse would be promiscuous: on the contrary, it appears, from the relation of a parent to a child, that this union is generally of long duration, and marked above all others with generosity and self-devotion. But this is a subject which it is perhaps premature to discuss. That which will result from the abolition of marriage, will be natural and right, because choice and change will be exempted from restraint.

In fact, religion and morality, as they now stand, compose a practical code of misery and servitude: the genius of human happiness must tear every leaf from the accursed book of God, ere man can read the inscription on his heart. How would morality, dressed up in stiff stays and finery, start from her own disgusting image, should she look in the mirror of nature...

God is an hypothesis, and, as such, stands in need of proof: the onus probandi rests on the theist. Sir Isaac Newton says: Hypotheses non fingo, quicquid enim ex phaenomenis non deducitur hypothesis vocanda est, et hypotheses vel metaphysicae, vel physicae, vel qualitatum occultarum, seu mechanicae, in philosophia locum non habent. To all proofs of the existence of a creative God apply this valuable rule. We see a variety of bodies possessing a variety of powers: we merely know their effects; we are in a state of ignorance with respect to their essences and causes. These Newton calls the phenomena of things; but the pride of philosophy is unwilling to admit its ignorance of their causes. From the phenomena, which are the objects of our senses, we attempt to infer a cause, which we call God, and gratuitously endow it with all negative and contradictory qualities. From this hypothesis we invent this general name, to conceal our ignorance of causes and essences. The being called God by no means answers with the conditions prescribed by Newton; it bears every mark of a veil woven by philosophical conceit, to hide the ignorance of philosophers even from themselves. They borrow the threads of its texture from the anthropomorphism of the vulgar. Words have been used by sophists for the same purposes, from the occult qualities of the peripatetics to the effluvium of Boyle and the crinities or nebulae of Herschel. God is represented as infinite, eternal, incomprehensible; He is contained under every predicate in non that the logic of ignorance could fabricate. Even His worshippers allow that it is impossible to form any idea of Him: they exclaim with the French poet,

Pour dire ce qu'il est, il faut etre lui-même.

Lord Bacon says that atheism leaves to man reason, philosophy, natural piety, laws, reputation, and everything that can serve to conduct him to virtue; but superstition destroys all these, and erects itself into a tyranny over the understandings of men: hence atheism never disturbs the government, but renders man more clear-sighted, since he sees nothing beyond the boundaries of the present life...

The consistent Newtonian is necessarily an atheist...

Analogy seems to favour the opinion that as, like other systems, Christianity has arisen and augmented, so like them it will decay and perish; that as violence, darkness, and deceit, not reasoning and persuasion, have procured its admission among mankind, so, when enthusiasm has subsided, and time, that infallible controverter of false opinions, has involved its pretended evidences in the darkness of antiquity, it will become obsolete; that Milton's poem alone will give permanency to the remembrance of its absurdities; and that men will laugh as heartily at grace, faith, redemption, and original sin, as they now do at the metamorphoses of Jupiter, the miracles of Romish saints, the efficacy of witchcraft, and the appearance of departed spirits...

If God has spoken, why is the universe not convinced?...

Miracles resolve themselves into the following question:--Whether it is more probable the laws of nature, hitherto so immutably harmonious, should have undergone violation, or that a man should have told a lie? Whether it is more probable that we are ignorant of the natural cause of an event, or that we know the supernatural one? That, in old times, when the powers of nature were less known than at present, a certain set of men were themselves deceived, or had some hidden motive for deceiving others; or that God begat a Son, who, in His legislation, measuring merit by belief, evidenced Himself to be totally ignorant of the powers of the human mind--of what is voluntary, and what is the contrary?... There would be something truly wonderful in the appearance of a ghost; but the assertion of a child that he saw one as he passed through the churchyard is universally admitted to be less miraculous...

Lord Chesterfield was never yet taken for a prophet, even by a bishop, yet he uttered this remarkable prediction: 'The despotic government of France is screwed up to the highest pitch; a revolution is fast approaching; that revolution, I am convinced, will be radical and sanguinary.' 'This appeared in the letters of the prophet long before the accomplishment of this wonderful prediction. Now, have these particulars come to pass, or have they not? If they have, how could the Earl have foreknown them without inspiration?"

--- Queen Mab (Notes), Percy Bysshe Shelley
"To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost." - Gustave Flaubert


Someone: if yo uwere given the power
how would you eradicate religion

Me: I wouldn't


Someone: i wish there was a way

given that you have a religion...

Someone: oh dun get me wrong

i believe there's a god
i just hate him

well i am converted
as in i believe he exists, and i am familiar with the doctrine
but then i always was, more or less

but now i just want to find a way to destroy stupidity
and since that largely derives from religion..
and it seems mostly mine..

Me: so you take issue with the followers, the religion as it is, the religion as you think it should be or the god?

Someone: all

Me: hurr hurr

Someone else: actually the law is not consistent

it seems dat christians get away wif alot of things
yet wen someone draw a satirical cartoon of jesus dey kick up a fuss

the threshold with which wat constitutes an offense by Christian is lower than what constitutes an offense against christians

i did have this experience wif this christians girl
she had no qualms evangelising to all groups

Me: of course they don't see it that way

Someone else: dey really tink dey are special
yeah dey are dammned privileged

as i was saying this christian girl, she noes dat christianity doesnt tolerate other religions
she tinks dat christians have the right to go out and evangelise

den i told her i was involved in a project wif a buddhist fren
specifically my project involves the dissection of christian doctrines

the purpose of my project is to compile a resource dat buddhists can use wen defending themselves against the encroachment of evangelists

the nature of the content is meant to "shake the faith of the evangelists"

den this girl accused me of trying to incite religious hatred

i simply told her
Christianity have the right to evangelise (attack)
but other religions also have the right to defend their stand against Christianity

i told her itz fair game
if dey tell their people dun spread Christianity to Buddhists, den dey will not get burnt

i tink dey perceive demselves as some privileged beings, like u said

Someone: anyway have u heard of sexonmia?

sleepwalking sex

Me: hahahaha
so both parties must sleepwalk at the same time

Someone: nope
just the guy
and its funny tt how all documented cases are men

he's sleeping
and unconcious of it

i read it in CLEO

while sleeping he fucks the girl-- sleeping or not
so basically the controversy i whether theuy can consider it rape

cos this girl apparently wanted to sue this guy for raping her
but he has no idea what hapened

okay maybe it happens to girls too
but the stupid CLEO article was quite sexist

in the magazine they said the guy can put on a condom for himself even though he's asleep

he's basically dreaming lah

Someone else: men suck la

Me: hurr hurr
men are evil

Someone else: women are worse though

with all that whining they do about men being dominating and horrible
it's not like they're any better when they're in charge

i'm not ashamed to be a woman. i'm just anti-feminist

Me: haha
when are they in charge

Someone else: thats a good point
damn these patriarchs

Me: =D

Me: women lie a lot

Someone: so do men

Me: men don't lie to themselves

a man would lie to a woman: "I love you"
a woman would lie to her friends and herself: "I love him"

Someone: it is called constructive reality :D

Me: hurr hurr

Someone else: i nearly took a gender class in ubc filled with feminists
they're frightening

it was a level 3 gender class at ubc
taught by a butch prof with a gi jane buzz cut

everyone said it was great so i audited it

turns out, half the class is GLBT

and u shld have seen the response everytime the prof wld say make snide remarks abt patriarchy
the class wld holler and cheer

i think besides me there were prob 3 or 4 straight guys
in a class of 30 plus

and the class projects were open ended and crazy
she said one year one lesbian student performed an interpretive dance in lieu of a paper

it felt like a weekly pogrom against the straight white male establishment
they'd get worked up into a frenzy whenever e prof talked abt imbalanced gender ratios etc
then soon as it died down someone wld make a comment that wld incite e class again

i was pretty nervous in that first class

this is the prof i think her photo says it all

Me: I'm sure they're all strawfeminists

and we wonder why funding for the arts and social sciences is so little

is she lesbian also

Someone else: yeah she kept mentioning her 'partner'

i onl ytried one class then dropped it

Me: obviously you're a bigot and couldn't take the truth

Someone else: 3 hours of haranguement was more than i cld take

Me: I should've sat in
and gotten lynched

Someone else: i[t] wasnt really concerned with the truth
more like their glee at dishing out dirt on men

it felt like a feminist support group where everyone was on the same page all the time

nodding their heads in unison etc

quite kafkaesque

Me: it's called feminarchy

Someone else: lol whatever its called it was unsettling

gotta hand it to the prof tho, she was very entertaining

must be alot of feminists at ubc then
ppl wait 2 years or more to queue up for slots in her gender class

Me: too bad they don't have CORS
It's been a while since I last played with models.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"The Argument from Intimidation is a confession of intellectual impotence." - Ayn Rand


Comments on the 20 page proposal, "Proposals for Internet freedom in Singapore":

As LDPVTP comments, "it presupposes that singapore believes in the democratic process".

The document reads like a Internet user's wishlist, calling for deregulation, abolishing of OB markers, community regulation rather than the threat of legal sanctions and more. While I agree wholeheartedly with the wishlist (and indeed would like it to go further in some areas), as a policy proposal it fails.

It presumes that our government (or rather, the party running it) is not self-interested. Race and religion is one of the trump cards justifying the Mandate of Heaven, both giving carte blanche for administrative fiat and allowing the regular stoking of moral panic; to get rid of it would be unthinkable*. The reason for our schizophrenic laws is that the Powers That Be want to control what they can control (offline media), but leave untouched what they have no power over (online media - or at least, have token laws and regulation for appearances' sake). Consistency may be a virtue, but it is better to have some power than to have none.

Furthermore, even if the laws and regulation are ineffectual, together with the OB markers, they create an aura of fear and uncertainty. The Tarkin Doctrine is that it is better to rule through the fear of force rather than through force itself; if fear and uncertainty were removed, this would remove much of the ability to keep the populace in line.

While we're at it we might as well call for an independent commission to draw electoral boundaries (the Elections Department is under the Prime Minister's Office) and for GRCs to be abolished.

Meanwhile, the part on Sex and Violence ignore the fact that, as with 377A, current laws act as a sop towards the 'Moral Majority' while still giving a lot of latitude for the more liberal to do what they want. Both parties are happy (even if imperfectly) and we have a satisficing outcome. A similar parallel can be drawn with escort agencies and massage parlours (even though they do not officially offer sex, you can get it from them if you want it), or indeed with the larger issue of the sex industry in Singapore (many people do not know that prostitution is not illegal here).

I hope the people drawing it up do not hope that most or even many of the recommendations will be adopted. At the most, a few of the peripheral proposals will be adopted, and even then, they will be unacknowledged. Indeed, its public airing may have blunted the proposal's policy impact, since the Powers That Be would be unlikely to want to be seen as bowing to pressure or lobbying; ironically, cloak-and-dagger petitioning the Emperor in private may be more likely to yield results.

However, this publicised proposal forces the Party to admit that the laws are in their interest, or rather get them to obfuscate this with yet more platitudes about nation-building, our fragile racial-religious situation or even the terminal shortsightedness of a ragtag team of academics and students. It also shows that the online community is a formidable force with credibility, incisiveness and analytical skill, and that policy analysis is not the monopoly of traditional channels.

I would actually have taken part in the drawing up of this document, but I was busy (either with exams or my thesis) and so did not go to the coven (in any case, they already have 13 witches so I would've spoiled the magic number).

* - "DUH it is too flowery. unless of cos ur a lawyer, then u have achieved ur purpose of mass confusion"; translation of sentence: The government justifies its existence and sometimes harsh actions with the spectre of racial and religious turmoil. The 'threat' of racial and religious turmoil justifies all sorts of laws and otherwise-arbitrary decisions (e.g. OB markers). The population is also given regular reminders of the seriousness of this 'threat' to keep them excited and mobilised (back to main post)

Monday, April 21, 2008

"I am prepared to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter." - Sir Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965), on the eve of his 75th birthday


My brother-in-law reports that this was picked up in Newnham College, Cambridge, and distributed by the Cambridge Students Union:

"Fight Poverty
Stop Fair Trade"

"This House believes Fairtrade is unfair

Proposition: Professor David R Henderson
Opposition: Mike Gidney

Thursday 6th March, 8pm
A debate on the nature of consumer ethics and whether Fairtrade actually jelps in the end

Also at the Union
Club nights, film nights, cheese tasting, wine tasting."

He was asking what RJC girls were doing on a British poster.

I was suspicious, because hard headed realism [Addendum: More articles to peruse] is not what you typically see from activists, let alone activist students. Perhaps this was another insidious manifestation of neo-colonialism, or part of the post-colonial backlash of the flower of our nation's youth.

After a few seconds of sleuthing, I found the original, from lynkgroup.org (confusingly, this is the homepage of fairtrade.sg):

"Fight Poverty
Shop Fair Trade"

Apart from the usual comments about plus ca change, I will deplore how cheapskate this is - not telling your audience that you photoshopped something when it is not obviously photoshopped.
"If someone wants a sheep, then that means that he exists." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Would you pay $40 ($30 for students, NSFs and senior citizens) for the following?

"I can play the rear window like a flute with my wet finger, and use nearly every part of the car in a drum solo... in my opinion, the car is one of the most underestimated instruments in the world — Christian von Richthofen, Creator of Auto Auto

Car Smashing Symphony for ONE night only!

Accompanied by his sidekick, a classically trained percussionist and music teacher turn a car into a symphony orchestra! A highly sensitive and side-splitting musical oddity, the two musicians turn a car into a heap of scrap metal with the aid of a variety of weaponry such as an axe, a chainsaw, crowbars and sledgehammer! Expect windshield wipers to be ripped off and played like a violin, opera extracts and delivery of comic monologues in between the musical poetry of destruction! From Bach to Benny Goodman, Tchaikovsky to Motorhead, these doyens of diesel turn motoring
into unbelievable music!"

From the Esplanade site:

"Belt up and set off on a side-splitting musical oddity that’s best described as a cross between a car crash and an a cappella group, with music ranging from Bach to Motörhead, from hip-hop to Tchaikovsky. All executed upon the various surfaces of a car, complete with showers of glass and steel shrapnel.

Christian von Richtofen and his sidekick turn a harmless and defenceless car into a bombed-out heap of scrap metal with the aid of a variety of weaponry such as an axe, a chainsaw, crowbars and sledgehammer, before an angle-grinder brings on the final annihilation – all in the name of music!

Expect windshield wipers to be ripped off and played like a violin, opera extracts and delivery of comic monologues in between the musical poetry of destruction as these doyens of diesel turn motoring into unbelievable music!

Auto Auto has become an international success, touring Germany, Belgium and Holland as well as premiering at the Edinburgh Fringe 2007."

It's no wonder it's a Fringe item.
"The secret of eternal youth is arrested development." - Alice Roosevelt Longworth


From MFM:

"I can't charge my Macbook anymore. Look at the attached picture for what happened to my adaptor.

It's 20 months old. I've already had to go for repairs about four times since I bought the laptop. I bought the 3-year warranty so it was replaced for free."

'Disgusting' Chris says the usual warranty on the power adaptor is 6 months. Figures.
"Would those of you in the cheaper seats clap your hands? And the rest of you, if you'll just rattle your jewelry." - John Lennon



His shoes were gorgeous. I had a dream about his shoes.

I'll rather go to Paris than London. London reminds me of sewers

I'll miss you when you leave... Come back and keep us company. [Me: You want me to be unemployed ah?... I'll come back and steal your fries] It's a small price to pay for your company.

[Me on xiaolongbao: I've finished my White Rabbit sweet. Now let me suck the juice from your buns.] What? Go away.

[Me: Chee Soon Juan was here just now.] Who's that? Some minister?

My last boyfriend was full- I want to study ***, I don't want to talk to an econs major about bases. [Me: Nice to see you're playing baseball.] I play softball. [Me: The area between bases is smaller.] Less effort

Even though they are severely underweight. [Me: Are you severely underweight?] Hmm? [Me: Just slightly.] [Student 2: She is severely underweight] I gained weight.

Beijing. The pollution is horrible. You never see a blue sky until you go to Australia... The blue is so blue, it'll blind you. Alright. Free advertisement for Australia. [Student: It's not that bad now]... Hong Kong. I have a daughter living in Hong Kong. She has 2 children. They're beautiful. No doubt about that... She should move to Australia.

[On building a casino] We don't know who's going to die, but mark my word, by the end of the project someone will have died. (words)

[On CBA and the cathedral argument] In economics, there is a price for everything, including being close to God.

I want to defend the claim that economists can help... Economists are not the enemy... [To me] I'm your friend, don't worry.

[To me] You lead an interesting life, but I wouldn't want to be you.

[To me] Your life is so interesting.

You know that most feminists are married. [Student 2: To another feminist... I used to think all feminists were lesbians. That's not true.]

Environmental problems from a different cultural background... I talked about Beijing a lot, and got into some problems this morning.

Hong Kong's success, in my view, depended too many on its exceptional circumstances (much)

[On post-1949] I'm not sure how many businessmen or industrialists moved to Macau. Somehow all the gangsters moved to Macau.

***, you've been an economics student for the past 2, 3 years. Have you ever encountered a theory that economic stability promotes economic growth? [Student: *silence*]

New Heaven (Haven)

They did an experiment in Vietnam, because this is not acceptable if you do it in the US. Human subjects' privacy.

This is the right thing to do it (do)

[On irrational survey responses] There are always weird people around... There are always going to be mean people and there are always going to be nice people as well.

If you get a raise, even if it's just to compensate you for inflation, you think it's because you're doing a good job.

I'm doing a 24 hour paper. I swore never to do another 24 hour paper. [Me: I found the ImPossibilities paper okay what.] That's because you're an Arts student. Science students just- [Me: You rather have a 2 hour paper than a 24 hour paper?]

If you submit your report in comic strips, that's fine. I don't have a problem with htat. But let's not go there.

[On a presentation of a paper] I don't understand still, but there's a lot of this paper that I don't understand, so it's not your fault.

Their frequencies [are] reported in Table III. Table III I forgot to cut [and paste into the slide]. Sorry.

In the essay, if you express yourself in a way that's confusing, that's okay because the source of the confusion is me. The basis of the confusion is me.

Have you seen a book on Kant?... [Me: If you steal a book on Kant, you must be quite sad.] That's what I said also... [Me: Maybe it was taken by the same person who took my Sex Bible] Someone who's interested in Sex and Philosophy. [Student 2: Someone who's interested in Sex and Philosophy. Sounds like a USP student.

Zhenyi. Elizabeth. Do you have a French name? [Me: Just pronounce it the French way - that's a French name already.] How do you pronounce 'Zhenyi' in French? [Me: No, not that bit.]

[On moral and non-moral wrongs and fines] When your husband or anything is worth billion dollars: 'A 100,000 is nothing to me'. I don't like your face, I slap you.

[On proof of the gender ratio in Arts] I never noticed the gender ratio. I look around and all I see is people. [Me: That's because you're a sociologist. You've been trained not to see the obvious]

[On the gender ratio in Arts] No wonder we cannot find husbands.

[Student on a Dopod: So do you have a proper handphone?] What do you mean? This IS a proper handphone. Damn you.

I do not want to go into details: 'What is globalisation', beause it's such a buzzword today.

[On the 80s] South Korean people were not allowed to travel abroad... Southern island of South Korea, Treasure Island, became Honeymoon Island.

[On supporting Honda which employs US workers vs IBM which employs foreign workers] If you are rational, you will say that. But we have emotions.

[On hedonic adaptation] Para'plair'gicks... 5 years on their reported life satisfaction isn't less than those who are normal. (paraplegics)

Suppose one of you has the unfortunate experience of having to go through a colonoscopy.

Sair'ter'ris paribus, would you like a long - not meaning extending long, but lasting a long time - colonoscopy or a short one? (ceteris)

[On screwing with people] They leave the colonoscope in place for about a minute after terminating the examination for about half the patients. Of course, they don't tell them that.

They're trying to scan the monks' brains... You're supposed to emit 'loving kindness'... You can't imagine doing it as an undergraduate thesis because it's too expensive. Each scan is tens of thousands of dollars.

Becoming rich is an exciting process, but being rich is normal... You hang out with even richer people... You actually feel worse.

Since this is the last lecture, I've to leave you with something encouraging... Life is not so bleak.

If you're thinking of California, you think of Baywatch, Malibu... It may be an illusion.

Dissonance reduction... If you think you're a smart person and smart persons don't make stupid decisions, you encode it as a pleasant experience. I put you through a very painful experience and you tell me how beautiful it is.

Most of the time we feel happy or unhappy. It's not because of our present experiences... We dwell on what happens yesterday, or what will happen in the future (happened)

Only the current moment is real. If you like the movie the Matrix, you can question this, but let's not go there.

[On Texams preferring sex to shopping] Intimate relations. I won't report about that... Something people like to do is at the top of the scale... The sample is actually female. *laughs from audience* Oh. I won't elaborate.

There's a presentation on BDSM [Male Student: I'd rather participate in it than go to a presentation on it...] Are you dominant or submissive? [Male Student: Submissive...] You can fit it into the framework of patriarchy [Female Student: You can't. It's an anomaly.] You can. Feminists fit everything into the framework of patriarchy.

I hate EViews. I hate everything related to econometrics... I'm being irrational, like a girl. I don't care... [Me: Ask a feminist.] Who cares, I like gender stereotypes. Don't you like gender stereotypes?

[On BDSM] I've a friend who's into it... [Me: Is she a top or a bottom?]... [Me: Is she attached?] No... She's quite good looking. [Me: I sense an opportunity for arbitrage here.]... She was saying that why she likes the idea is that only in the bedroom can you overturn the whole patriarchal system.

I'm still a virgin, thank you very much. My Catholic upbringing. [Me: Actually Catholics are the most depraved.] [Student 2: It's like a spring - the more you press the more it springs back.] [Me: That's why the priests go and rape the altar boys.]

[On Fisher, Aron and Brown] The romantic love experiment. It wasn't actually called that. I just gave it that name.

[On lap dancers] Women, the way they pick the males - they choose the drunk, the gullible guys.

[On scientific definitions of orgasm] After reading these 2, I still had no idea what they were talking about. So I moved on to the more poetic ones.

[On his finding Schaffer's theory of the female orgasm as Evolution's happy accident] Let me put myself in a dubious light and say I stumbled across this article accidentally.

I will conclude by offering a conclusion.

The main thing that struck me is that no one was interested in the male orgasm. (was)

Goo, 1987 (Gould)

[On the female orgasm as a byproduct] The feminists are not too happy, because women's sexual experience is just derivative of men's.

If you think orgasm is really - you should go to JSTOR and type 'orgasm'. There are 26,000 articles. People have done regressions on the length of orgasms. Kills the feeling.

[On homosexuals in Singapore] Homosexuals in Singapore are misunderstood. [Me: Can you tell me something I don't already know?] The image of homosexuals in Singapore is hypersexualised. They should stop protesting about the sex laws and focus more on integration into society. [Me: Excellent. But they'll call you homophobic.] [Student 2: They'll say you're a bloody bugger...] They'll convert you using extreme force.

The strangest thing about Hall is that people take a dump in the bathroom, in the shower cubicles.

[On female mate selection] You want someone who has high sexual and investment attractiveness. But as you know these people are not easily found, and they are hard to retain.

[On women being more fertile and looking for other men] Lastly, I'd urge you guys to observe yourselves and see if you're more attractive to other guys... If you pay more attention to other guys near ovulation.

More attractive women also has a greater sexual desire (have)

[On BDSM safe words] A popular example that I found online was 'George Bush'. What better word to get you down.

BDSM actually allows certain survivors of childhood sexual abuse to overcome their trauma.

[On BDSM] Those successful researchers are actually practitioners themselves.

Corprophilia. There's no evolutionary reason for it... We didn't evolve to eat shit. [Instructor: Some animals do... It might seem pathological to us. Ladies in the sewing circle.]

Some of the things primates do in zoos is they fling faeces at the visitors. Is that pathological?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

"There's only one way to have a happy marriage and as soon as I learn what it is I'll get married again." - Clint Eastwood


Australian lesbian lovers given life term for murder - "Two lesbian lovers, one who drank blood as part of a vampire culture, were sentenced to life in prison on Friday for what an Australian judge said was the "evil" killing of a girl they bludgeoned to death with a concrete block. Jessica Stasinowsky, 21, and Valerie Parashumti, 19, pleaded guilty to murdering 16-year-old Stacey Mitchell in Perth in western Australia in 2006 because she was annoying"

Our Racist, Sexist Selves - "The University of Chicago offers an on-line psychological test in which you encounter a series of 100 black or white men, holding either guns or cellphones. You’re supposed to shoot the gunmen and holster your gun for the others... Take the test yourself and you’ll probably find that you show bias as well. Most whites and many blacks are more quick to shoot blacks, no matter how egalitarian they profess to be."
Do the right thing - suppress crime: "Nationally, they show that blacks are responsible for 50 per cent of all rapes and robberies and 60 per cent of murders. In New York City, the percentages are even higher. The point is rightly made that most victims are also black--but they are generally victims of crimes committed by other blacks... of the 629,000 interracial crimes in 1985 where victims survived to identify attackers, nine out of ten were by blacks against whites."

Divided They Fall - "Psychologists showed a film clip of the football game to groups of students at each college and asked them to act as unbiased referees and note every instance of cheating. The results were striking. Each group, watching the same clip, was convinced that the other side had cheated worse — and this was not deliberate bias or just for show. “Their eyes were taking in the same game, but their brains seemed to be processing the events in two distinct ways,”... Students on each side accepted the evidence that conformed to their original views while rejecting the contrary evidence — and so afterward students on both sides were more passionate and confident than ever of their views... Another challenge is the biased way in which we gather information. We seek out information that reinforces our prejudices."

The World Record-Breaking Capital - "The strongest hair! The youngest sumo wrestler! The longest pencil! In Malaysia, making your mark - any mark - is a matter of national pride... From the dangerous (most days spent inside a box with 6,069 scorpions) to the inexplicable (most faces captured on a phonecam) and the outright banal (first independent tire-testing facility), not a week goes by without a record-setting event somewhere in Malaysia. The country might just be the world record holder in holding records... "If the whole world was trying for excellence, it would be the perfect world to stay in," he says, "because we would no longer be talking about fighting. We'd be talking about breaking records." Perhaps instead of disarming Iraqis, the US should be encouraging them to play checkers underwater."

Flies get 'mind-control sex swap' - "Scientists have been able to take control of flies' brains to make females behave just like males."
It's okay, their souls are still female.

Man killed while beating would-be robber - "Facing the barrel of a sawed-off shotgun on a dark West Baltimore street, Roland Scott fought back. He pulled out his own weapon - a fake handgun - and wrested the shotgun away from his attacker, city police said. Scott ordered the man to strip naked in the middle of Laurens Street, took $800 from him and forced him to march into the laundry room of a nearby apartment building... "He is beating him with the butt of a sawed-off shotgun." Raftery said the shotgun, then pointed at Scott, discharged, hitting Scott in the stomach and killing him. Authorities said his death will be ruled accidental."

Shoplifter Leaves Son Behind In Store - "The absent-minded thief dashed out of a supermarket in Kerkrade in the Netherlands with a packet of meat and made a beeline for his getaway car... He reportedly refused to return to the scene of the crime to collect the boy. Instead, he told police to call the youngster's mother."

The Straight Dope: Why is the bottom end of the music spectrum so boomy and annoying? Can anything be done to block the sound? - "Low-frequency noise is weird stuff. Years back I noted that infrasound — sound pitched below the hearing range of most humans, which stops at around 20 hertz — can cause dizziness. Some recent research suggests it may do more than that. After taking spectrum analysis readings at a couple of U.K. sites repeatedly described by visitors as "haunted," Vic Tandy and Tony Lawrence of Coventry University have argued that the presence of 18.9 Hz infrasound is responsible for the creepy feelings described. (In one case they concluded that a terrifying, seemingly paranormal experience of Tandy’s had likely resulted from the whirring of a laboratory extractor fan causing his eyeballs to resonate.) And in 2003, the use of 17 Hz infrasound at London concerts of experimental electronic music correlated with audience reports of "unusual experiences" including nausea, momentary anxiety, tingling, and a sense of coldness. Ideally, Derek, by the time your neighbor has traded his bass for an ultra-low-end tone generator, one of you will have found someplace else to live."

Straight Dope Staff Report: How do the mechanics of smell work? - "Although humans can distinguish over 10,000 odorants, the sense of smell is very like the sense of taste – just as we experience complex flavors via combinations of five basic taste-receptor types (sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami), we have seven primary odorant groupings. These are camphoric (think mothballs), musky (like certain animal smells), rose, peppermint, ethereal (like various solvents, e.g., dry-cleaning fluid), pungent (e.g., vinegar), and putrid (like rotten eggs or other sulfurous stuff)... In 2006, Virginia Tech researchers Andrea Dietrich and Dietmar Glindemann demonstrated that when we smell the metallic odor we typically associate with iron, we're not actually smelling the metal itself – there are no iron atoms in the odorant molecules. What's happening is that the metal causes the oxidation of lipids (small fatty molecules) produced by the skin, and it's the resulting chemical compounds – aldehydes and ketones – that we think of as smelling metallic... We're quite sensitive, for instance, to the smell of hydrogen sulfide, which has an odor threshold of 0.2 ppt. The catch, though, is that in concentrations above 150 parts per million hydrogen sulfide deadens the sense of smell very quickly, meaning it's possible to get a lethal dose (800 ppm over five minutes will do it) without realizing it."

Wedding number four for woman, 24, who's mother ran off with her husband - "SERIAL bride Alison Smith wed for the fourth time yesterday - at the age of 24. It was the latest in a bizarre series of marriages for the young mum. Alison's ex-husbands include a man who eloped with her own mum, a bigamist and a pal who stood in for her fiance when he jilted her the night before the wedding... Staff from Arbroath register office stepped in at the last minute, citing the Marriage Scotland Act 1977, which states that you cannot marry a former spouse's mother unless your former spouse is dead... Pat marked the special occasion by wearing a musical thong which played Here Comes The Bride as she exchanged vows. The couple's first dance at the reception in Arbroath's Cliffburn Hotel was to The Fast Food Song. After the wedding, Alison revealed she called her ex-husband "dad". She said: "I've lost a husband but gained a father.""
This is very screwed up.

What's Really Visible from Space - There is a longstanding myth that the Great Wall of China is the only manmade object visible from space. It and several variations on the theme are great fodder for water cooler arguments. In reality, many human constructs can be seen from Earth orbit... "With binoculars you can see an awful lot of things," Lu wrote via e-mail in fielding a question from an Earthbound space fan. "You can see roads. You can see harbors. You can even see ships; very large tankers on the ocean we can see using the binoculars." There are some surprises, too. "You can see airplane contrails, and occasionally at the end of an airplane contrail, you will see a glint of sunlight off the airplane"... "You can see the Great Wall," Lu says. But it's less visible than a lot of other objects. And you have to know where to look."

The Pope's Favorite Rabbi - TIME - "One day on the food line something snapped, and he rhymed aloud, "I hope you all get trichinosis/And come to believe in the God of Moses." A fellow conferee instantly replied, "And if we don't get such diseases/Will you believe in the God of Jesus?" Neusner cackles. "That's an example of the right way to do Judeo-Christian dialogue," he says. "If religion matters, and it does, then it's not honest to be indifferent to the convictions of others."... [He] projected himself back into the Gospel of Matthew to quiz Jesus on the Jewish law. He found the Nazarene's interpretation irredeemably faulty... A Rabbi Talks argues, for instance, that Jesus' line that "he who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me" defies the commandment to "honor thy father and mother" and that his liberties with Saturday rules on grounds that "the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath" flout the one that explicitly orders all humans to observe the day. Most important, Neusner read Jesus' repeated rhetorical formula "You have heard that it was said [in the Torah] ... But I say to you ... " as his claim to be not merely the religio-military Messiah some Jews hoped for at the time but also above the Torah and hence God... Neusner asserted that any thoughtful Jew must conclude that Jesus was actually "abandoning the Torah" and reject him. He also suggested that insofar as Matthew's arguments are based in Jewish law, Christianity may be flawed by its own standards... Amy-Jill Levine, a Jew who teaches New Testament studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and has her own Jesus book, The Misunderstood Jew, says both undergrads and interfaith experts can profit from the Neusner-Benedict exchange. Rabbi James Rudin, senior interreligious adviser to the American Jewish Committee, says it is in some ways "the full maturation of the modern Catholic-Jewish encounter.""
I hope this seditious book is not available in Singapore!
"Means had become ends in themselves. First principles were stood on their heads. Economic growth and social progress did not serve human beings. On the contrary, the primary function of citizens was to fuel economic growth - a weird reversal of values. The reign of Moloch had begun." - Devan Nair


"[Sendhil] Mullainathan worked with a bank in South Africa that wanted to make more loans. A neoclassical economist would have offered simple counsel: lower the interest rate, and people will borrow more. Instead, the bank chose to investigate some contextual factors in the process of making its offer. It mailed letters to 70,000 previous borrowers saying, “Congratulations! You’re eligible for a special interest rate on a new loan.” But the interest rate was randomized on the letters: some got a low rate, others a high one. “It was done like a randomized clinical trial of a drug,” Mullainathan explains.

The bank also randomized several aspects of the letter. In one corner there was a photo—varied by gender and race—of a bank employee. Different types of tables, some simple, others complex, showed examples of loans. Some letters offered a chance to win a cell phone in a lottery if the customer came in to inquire about a loan. Some had deadlines. Randomizing these elements allowed Mullainathan to evaluate the effect of psychological factors as op-posed to the things that economists care about—i.e., interest rates—and to quantify their effect on response in basis points.

“What we found stunned me,” he says. “We found that any one of these things had an effect equal to one to five percentage points of interest! A woman’s photo instead of a man’s increased demand among men by as much as dropping the interest rate five five points! These things are not small. And this is very much an economic problem. We are talking about big loans here; customers would end up with monthly loan payments of around 10 percentof their annual income. You’d think that if you really needed th emoney enough to pay this interest rate, you’re not going to be affected by a photo. The photo, cell phone lottery, simple or complicated table, and deadline all had effects on loan applications comparable to interest. Interest rate may not even be the third most important factor. As an economist, even when you think psychology is important, you don’t think it’s this important. And changing interest rates is expensive, but these psychological elements cost nothing...

Citing Republican pollster and communications consultant Frank Luntz, Shleifer noted how the estate tax was renamed the “death tax” (although there is no tax on death) in order to successfully sell its repeal. The relabeling linked the tax to the unpleasant associations of the word “death,” and the campaign asked questions like, “How can you burden people even more atthis most difficult time in their lives?” “Messages, not hard attributes, shape competition,” Shleifer said; he noted that the fear of terrorism is a bigger issue in probable non-target states like Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada than in New York and New Jersey.

Because successful persuasive messages are consistent with prevailing worldviews, one corollary of Shleifer’s analysis is that persuasion is definitely not education, which involves adding new information or correcting previous perceptions. “Don’t tell people, ‘You are stupid, and here is what to think,’” Shleifer said. During presidential debates, he asserted, voters tune out or forget things that are inconsistent with their beliefs. “Educational messages may be doomed,” he added. “They do not resonate.” In economic and political markets, he said, there is no tendency toward a median taste; divergence, not convergence, is the trend. Therefore, the successful persuader will find a niche and pander to it.”...

We have had 30 years of deregulation in the United States, freeing up markets to work their magic. “Is that generally welfare-enhancing, or not?” Wanner asks. “Framing can call that into question. Everyone agrees that there’s informational asymmetry—so we have laws that ensure drugs are tested, and truth-in-advertising laws. Still, there are subtle things about framing choices that are deceptive, though not inaccurate. We have the power of markets, but they are places where naive participants lose money. How do we manage markets so that the framing problem can be acknowledged and controlled? It’s an essential question in a time of rising inequality, when the well-educated are doing better and the poorly educated doing worse.”...

“People care not only about outcomes,but about how outcomes came to be,” says associate professor of public policy Iris Bohnet of the Kennedy School of Government. “That doesn’t strike anyone but an economist—like me—as a surprise.” Game theory, as conceptualized by conventional economics, suggests that players care only about substantive results. With Ramsey professor of political economy Richard Zeckhauser, Bohnet developed a concept of “betrayal aversion,” building on the well-established psychological principle of risk aversion—by and large, humans simply don’t like to take risks...

Bohnet and Zeckhauser have been running two games, now with about a thousand subjects around the world, playing in groups of 30 at a time... “People are less willing to take risks when confronted with another person than when confronted by nature,” Bohnet explains.“Trust is not only about willingness to take risks, but about the willingness to be betrayed.”...

The “nature” game establishes a baseline level of risk aversion, but the game with a human Player B introduces the additional possibility of betrayal. Thus, the gap between percentages on the two games gives a rough index of betrayalaversion. In the United States, Switzerland, and Brazil, the be-trayal aversion differential is 10 to 20 percent. Zeckhauser and Bohnet have also played the games in the Persian Gulf region... In these countries, betrayal aversion is markedly higher, with a differential in the 30 to 40 percent range. “Many in this area say they are willing to trust only if 100 percent of the people are trustworthy,” Bohnet reports.

She had an enlightening experience when teaching negotiation and decision analysis to a group of government ministers from the Persian Gulf region in a Kennedy School executive-education program. “I started the class by asking them to recall a time when they lost trust in someone,”Bohnet recalls. “One minister said, ‘Trust is not an issue for us. We never trust.’ What a beginning! It opened up a very interesting discussion. A minister said, ‘We cannot dare to trust because we may lose face. I would never come to a meeting and put something on the table that other people could decline.’ The meeting-before-the-meeting is absolutely critical in the Gulf, because being let down is terribly humiliating.”"

--- The Marketplace of Perceptions, Craig Lambert
"I have read your book and much like it." - Moses Hadas


One of the things you always ask:

Orthodox Judaism: Clothing/Old Testament

"Expert: Rabbi Ari Shishler
Date: 11/26/2007
Subject: Clothing/Old Testament

I do not have the scripture reference verse, but you probably will find it quickly. I am curious as to why one of the laws was to not wear clothes of 2 different materials. Do you know what the reason for that might have been? Do you consider that law to still be in effect?
Thank you.

Hi Bill

The Torah prohibits wearing garments of a wool and linen mixture. There is no reason given for this prohibition, it is classified as a "chok", the unique brand of Torah commandments that have no known reason.

The purpose of this sort of commandment is to train us to serve G-d out of commitment and acceptance, rather than human appreciation.

I hope that helps you.


Rabbi Shishler"

Okay. A very honest answer.

If only everyone else were as honest.
"Society, my dear, is like salt water, good to swim in but hard to swallow." - Arthur Stringer, "The Silver Poppy"


I was flabbergasted when I came across an assertion, in response to my comment that "the difference between Chick and Friends and pro-homosexual groups is that the former seek to infringe upon other people, while the latter seek to protect themselves", that:

that the homosexuals are just about protecting themselves is not totally true. While there are certainly homosexuals who truly want to live a quiet life, a sizeable group does not. We can see this most visibly in the US, where death threats, riots, boycotts etc have all been the weapons of choice of these fascists against "homophobia".

I had never heard of any, and was unable to come across any, examples of death threats, riots and boycotts by 'homo-fascists'.

When I asked for evidence, I was pointed to a 1993 gay riot at the Hamilton Square Baptist Church in San Francisco. I find it significant that the Homosexuality category at Conservapedia lists no other examples of gay 'death threats, riots, boycotts etc'.

One news source mentions a 1989 protest at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York where 100 protestors "lay in the aisle, flung condoms and chained themselves to pews", but the protest was "directed toward the Roman Catholic Archdiocese's public stand against AIDS education and condom distribution in the public elementary schools, as well as its opposition to abortion", and in any case flinging condoms hardly counts as a riot, even if it doesn't quite qualify as non-violent protest. Ditto for gay activists flinging condoms at the parishioners at Village Seven Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs in November 1993.

While it is regrettable that there was a gay riot, the fact that it is notable for its singularity indicates that this is an exception which proves the rule. Very different from "death threats, riots, boycotts etc" being "the weapons of choice... against "homophobia"".

On the other hand, there are many examples of fundamentalist Christians organizing boycotts, making death threats to people working in abortion clinics and bombing abortion clinics.

[Addendum: It is now claimed that gay death threats and riots are so numerous as to outnumber abortion clinic bombings, and that they are the rule rather than the exception.

I have decided that I have better things to do than argue with Christians on a weekend, not least since the fact that a screening of 'The Last Temptation of Christ' got molotov cocktail-ed in France is not enough proof that some Christians want to persecute people who allegedly attack their faith (and that this line of argument instead is "Cum hoc, ergo propter hoc and bare assertion" - maybe the people who threw the molotov cocktail did not like the movie poster).]

Christians threaten to boycott
The Las Vegas Review-Journal, 9 November 1993

Fundamentalist Christian groups on Monday threatened to boycott San Francisco to protest what they call lax enforcement against gay activists who allegedly vandalized a church.

"Your city is known worldwide now as a city that is not willing to protect religious freedom," Carl Herbster, Pastor of Tri-City Baptist Church in Kansas City, Miss., said Monday during a San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting.

Herbster commented at a hearing in which the religious conservative groups demanded the city charge protesters who demonstrated Sept. 19 at Hamilton Square Baptist Church where the Rev. Lou Sheldon, founder of the Traditional Values Coalition, was speaking.

"Major corporations are considering canceling their reservations for conventions because of what took place ... Whether you know it or not, you've created a nationwide and a worldwide revolt. You've awakened a sleeping giant," Herbster said.

Between 75 and 100 gay rights activists protesting Sheldon's presence caused $2,000 worth of damage to a concrete bench and a church door and tried to prevent parishioners from entering, said Pastor David Innis of Hamilton Square Church.

One man was arrested at the scene but released later and was never formally charged, San Francisco Police Officer Robert O'Sullivan said. Police have identified several protesters on a videotape and were still investigating the incident, he said.

On Monday, three people were arrested during the hearing at City Hall, Sgt. Joe Currie said. Several shouting matches erupted, prompting Board President Angela Alioto to threaten to bring in more than 50 riot police stationed outside the board chambers.

Through the noise, both sides made their points. The hearing was packed with about 200 people, evenly divided between gay activists and fundamentalist Christians.

"We call upon the board to publicly denounce the violence against the church and demand the arrest and prosecute the people who committed those crimes," said Ted Barkle, a member of the Hamilton Square congregation. He said his children were terrified by the protesters pounding on the door the night of Sheldon's appearance and called their presence "terrorism."

Representatives of the gay community said if anyone is guilty of violence, it's the religious right, who they said foment hate against homosexuals.
"At my lemonade stand I used to give the first glass away free and charge five dollars for the second glass. The refill contained the antidote." - Emo Phillips


Y1.8K and Y1.9K beefs:

"We have uniformly rejected all letters and declined all discussion upon the question of when the present century ends, as it is one of the most absurd that can engage the public attention, and we are astonished to find it has been the subject of so much dispute, since it appears plain. The present century will not terminate till January 1, 1801, unless it can be made out that 99 are 100... It is a silly, childish discussion, and only exposes the want of brains of those who maintain a contrary opinion to that we have stated." --The London Times, 26 December 1799

"The Post is open to conviction. We are not bigoted or intolerant. If anyone will show us how a century can be completed with less than 100 years, and how nineteen centuries can be completed with less than 1900 years, and how the twentieth century can begin before the nineteenth century ends, we shall joyfully put ashes in our hair and hail him as a wizard." --Washington Post, 28 December 1899

(from This is True: Why oh Why2K?)
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