When you can't live without bananas

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

What drugs?

A policeman searched me in a public toilet last night and found a small bag of class A drugs.

“It’s not my fault,” I said, “Every time I try flushing them down the toilet they magically appear back in my pocket again.”

“Do you really expect me to believe that?” he laughed.

I said, “I’ll prove it to you if you want me to!”

“Go on then.” he smiled, handing me the bag.

After flushing them, he looked at me and said,

“Well, show me your pocket then.”

“What for?” I asked.

He said, “The drugs.”

I said, “What drugs?”

Saturday, December 28, 2013

There lived a King

DON AL. There lived a King, as I've been told,
  In the wonder-working days of old,
  When hearts were twice as good as gold,
   And twenty times as mellow.
  Good-temper triumphed in his face,
  And in his heart he found a place
  For all the erring human race
   And every wretched fellow.
  When he had Rhenish wine to drink
  It made him very sad to think
  That some, at junket or at jink,
   Must be content with toddy.

MAR. and GIU. With toddy, must be content with toddy.

DON AL. He wished all men as rich as he
  (And he was rich as rich could be),
  So to the top of every tree
   Promoted everybody.

MAR. and GIU. Now, that's the kind of King for me.
  He wished all men as rich as he,
  So to the top of every tree
   Promoted everybody!

DON AL. Lord Chancellors were cheap as sprats,
  And Bishops in their shovel hats
  Were plentiful as tabby cats--
   In point of fact, too many.
  Ambassadors cropped up like hay,
  Prime Ministers and such as they
  Grew like asparagus in May,
   And Dukes were three a penny.
  On every side Field-Marshals gleamed,
  Small beer were Lords-Lieutenant deemed,
  With Admirals the ocean teemed
   All round his wide dominions.

MAR. and GIU. With Admirals all round his wide dominions.

DON AL. And Party Leaders you might meet
  In twos and threes in every street
  Maintaining, with no little heat,
   Their various opinions.

MAR. and GIU. Now that's a sight you couldn't beat--
  Two Party Leaders in each street
  Maintaining, with no little heat,
   Their various opinions.

DON AL. That King, although no one denies
  His heart was of abnormal size,
  Yet he'd have acted otherwise
   If he had been acuter.
  The end is easily foretold,
  When every blessed thing you hold
  Is made of silver, or of gold,
   You long for simple pewter.
  When you have nothing else to wear
  But cloth of gold and satins rare,
  For cloth of gold you cease to care--
   Up goes the price of shoddy.

MAR. and GIU. Of shoddy, up goes the price of shoddy.

DON AL. In short, whoever you may be,
  To this conclusion you'll agree,
  When every one is somebodee,
   Then no one's anybody!

MAR. and GIU. Now that's as plain as plain can be,
  To this conclusion we agree--

ALL.  When every one is somebodee,
   Then no one's anybody!

From: The Gondoliers / Gilbert and Sullivan

This is usually quoted as:

"When every one is somebody, Then no one's anybody!"

See also:

Balderdash: Against Equality Again

Friday, December 27, 2013

The problem with privilege-checking

The problem with privilege-checking

"The left, it’s fair to say, has a long tradition of infighting. Groups with only a hair’s breadth difference in ideology splinter off into rival factions, aggressively defending their interpretation of the One True Path. It’s the perfect example of what Freud called “the narcissism of small differences”: communities with adjoining territories and seemingly identical goals who engage in constant feuding, striking outlandish poses to differentiate themselves from one another...

While the idea is obviously born out of honourable intentions, I believe the whole discourse around privilege is inherently destructive – at best, a colossal distraction, and at worst a means of turning us all into self-appointed moral guardians out to aggressively police even fellow travellers’ speech and behaviour.

Why does this matter, you ask? The answer is simple: it matters because privilege-checking has thoroughly infected progressive thought. While large swathes of the left are obsessively pouncing on verbal slips on Twitter, the right are acting: systematically deconstructing not just the welfare state, but the state itself.

Privilege-checking plays into the dangerous postmodern fallacy that we can only understand things we have direct experience of. In place of concepts like empathy and imagination, which help us recognise our shared humanity, it atomises us into a series of ever-smaller taxonomical groups: working class transsexual, disabled black woman, heteronormative male.

Worse still, it emasculates political activity. A very talented blogger friend of mine read Owen Jones’ Chavs and said it made them “very aware of my middle class privilege”. Personally, it made me want to burn down the Department of Work and Pensions. My friend is deeply involved in activism, but for many simply being aware of their privilege has taken on the same function as an online petition, a way of feeling like you’ve made a difference without actually getting involved.

In many respects, the system of privilege-checking is the perverse mirror reflection of unregulated capitalism: whereas an unstinting belief in free markets requires an attitude of triumphalism and an aggressive lack of empathy, “privilege” requires an attitude of constant self-abasement worthy of someone going through a 12-step program...

There’s a world of difference between taking someone to task for voicing racist, sexist or transphobic views and snarkily asking someone to check their privilege because they expressed themselves slightly clumsily. Rather than stopping at calling out bigots, privilege-checking turns us all into private sleuths, constantly on the lookout for linguistic slip-ups.

The kind of semantic nit-picking that “privilege” encourages is aloof thought, un-coupled from questioning or attempting to change the hegemonic order. It’s a kind of identity politics which assumes the post-ideological position as fact and embraces the idea that nothing will change beyond small shifts. Within this assumed safety net you’re given your own playspace to act out divisive and willifully obscurantist verbal games. Corporate lobbyists couldn’t invent a better system for neutralising collective action if they tried.

Also implicit in this new conception of “privilege” is a simple idea: the more points you score on the privilege bingo card, the less weight your view carries. This has the catastrophic effect of turning debates about racism, sexism, transphobia, class and disability into a game of Top Trumps, but equally importantly, it ignores the long history of social progressives, from Karl Marx to Tony Benn, who hail from privileged backgrounds.

Privilege becomes an inescapable feedback loop: any attempt to critique privilege-checking is met with the retort: “You’re privileged enough to have the luxury not to think about privilege.” But that’s not it. I’ve always been aware that as a child of a white, middle-class family, I have life easier than some people – but that’s precisely what drives me on to seek social justice for those less fortunate than myself. Prejudice exists. We live in a radically unjust world. But turning our personal circumstances into some sort of pissing contest achieves precisely nothing.

If you want an example of how ridiculous the culture of privilege-checking has become, take this from male transsexual Gethin Jones’s piece on transphobia for brilliant feminist site The F-Word: “As a trans man, they [transphobic bloggers] accuse me of being a misogynist, having transitioned to gain male privilege and of being a "lesbian in denial" (unlikely, considering my bisexuality). Allegations of transitioning for the purpose of gaining privilege irritate me, considering the cisgender privilege I’ve lost through doing so.”

This is a textbook example of this kind of privilege-checking taken to its logical conclusion. Is this really how we want to live? Constantly weighing up our every action against some theoretical checklist? The cosmic irony at play here is that the very concept of “privilege” is inherently privileged, requiring a nuanced understanding of complex sociological ideas on race, sexuality and gender."


"If "check your privilege" wasn't mainly used as a different way of saying "I can't refute your argument, so I have to shut you up", I'd be more sympathetic."

"The 'social justice warrior' who informed a Jewish friend of mine that the Holocaust was 'ages ago', that she ought to get over it and check her privilege, and that she couldn't possibly understand discrimination because she wasn't black is a particularly egregious example in my own social circle. Bingo...."

"Regardless of whether or not the concept is valid (I don't think it is, because it applies group statistics e.g. how much more men get paid than women to individuals) I'm only human and there is only so long I am willing to sit and be told off for my ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender. Why am I going to associate with a movement where the tendency is to insult me in these terms whenever I try to contribute anything?"

"I am increasingly reluctant to describe myself as a feminist because of the level of semantic wanking that seems to be going on at present. The people who tend to be the worst offenders also seem to be the most practically ineffectual. I'm reminded of Marxist Man at university (we all knew him) who would lecture you for hours on linguistic and conceptual minutiae and not let you get a word in edgeways."

"You should both scurry back to tumblr where you can fight the good fight against the cissarchy without having any disgusting heteronormative white males invade your tolerance sphere with their horrifying trigger words."

[In response to a Marxist] "My Grandfather and 3 of his brothers were "subsistence farmers" in Europe before the second world war, they came to Canada for a better life because being a subsistence farmer sucks.
You obviously not know what you're talking about!"

"Marxist orginial interpretation is already understood from the Critical School and the structural theory as falling in the same iron-cage as liberalism, labelling all forms of humanity according to ideals reified and uncontestables, and an exacerbated individualism that destroys any form of meaningful tradition, instead, selling people as mere organic elements to a system that only recognizes them as productive unit. Yet a man named Marx still left us a certain understanding of the super-structures that ride modern society, we should, just perhaps, point against them, instead of creating new cathegories, breaking gender identity, for the market agents to enslave difference under consumer cathegories and imaginary egoistical distinctions."

"you will mostly come across this doctrine in feminist circles, not anti-cuts circles."

"My brother in law was trying to renew his insurance ona car or something- he was told he wasn't mrs lewis- he asked why it mattered and was answered with some nonsense about data protection. He promptly insisted that he was mrs Lewis without changing his voice on bit. He was challenged, at which point he counterd with a risk of lawsuit on the grounds of discrimnation against his male sounding voice! They took his money and we all enjoyed the laugh...
It's the small victories!"

"The problem is that people who complain about the destructiveness of privilege-checking invariably have names like "Ariel Meadows Stalling.""

"How exactly is a person's name or their upbringing more important than the integrity of their argument or the scope of their ideas?"

"My name (which is actually Ariel Meadow Stallings as opposed to Meadows Stalling), is definitely not an upper class thing. It's the result of being born to two hippie parents in 1975 on the West Coast of the United States. My middle name is actually the place of my conception. (True story!)"

"What names would you find acceptable? Oliver Twist maybe?"

Author's comment:

"When I talk about people "pouncing on linguistic slip-ups on Twitter" that is NOT code for "I want to be able to say lots of offensive things with impunity". I'm not referring to people using the N-word or calling someone a "tranny". I'm talking about people trawling looking to find offence. The response to this piece has thrown up some beautiful examples. Among the many valid criticisms, I've also been called out for:

- using the phrase "12-step programme" (disrespectful to alcoholics and drug users)
- using the phrase "pissing contest" (sexist, although as far as I'm aware, women do urinate too)
- using the word "emasculate" (phallocentric)"

Thursday, December 26, 2013

God Hates the Privileged

Online bullying – a new and ugly sport for liberal commenters | Ariel Meadow Stallings | Comment is free | theguardian.com

I'm the Seattle-based publisher of a network of lifestyle websites read by roughly one million people each month. Almost all of our readers are women, most of them are educated and many of them are quite politically liberal. Because of this large, diverse and progressive readership, we deal with community issues that perhaps wouldn't be such a problem on smaller sites. And lately, I've started to notice a disturbing trend.

Over the past couple of years, I've watched the rise of a new form of online performance art, where liberal internet commenters make public sport of flagging potentially problematic language as insensitive, and gleefully calling out authors as needing to "check their privilege" (admit their privileged position within society and its associated benefits).

As a publisher serving readers who identify as both progressive and marginalised (in many different, varying ways), this issue is hugely important to me – I'm protective of the quality of debate on my sites. As a progressive myself, it's also complex and challenging because while I very much share the political values of the folks who engage in this kind of thing, I'm not on board with the tactics – which essentially amount to liberal bullying, and are way worse than anything I see from the conservatives who swing by my publications. The sad truth is that when it comes to the motivations behind this kind of commenting, it's basically the same as the GOD HATES FAGS guys – even though the values are the polar opposite.

Common trends in this online behaviour:

• Focus on very public complaints. I can think of exactly one time when someone emailed their concern about problematic language. These complaints seem to be always intended for an audience.

• Lack of interest in a dialogue. These complaints aren't questions or invitations to discuss the issue. They're harshly worded accusations and scoldings (which I've written about before).

Lack of consideration for the context or intent. The focus is on this isolated incident (this one post, this one word, this one time), with de-emphasis on the author's background, experience, or the context of the website on which the post appears.

• And on a more stylistic note, these complaints are often prefaced with phrases like "Um," and other condescending affectations.

It's challenging for me because the values motivating these complaints are completely in line with both my personal politics and my professional passion for catering to niche markets and semi-marginalised cultures (I say "semi-marginalised" because let's get real here: readers of my websites are more likely to be a 20-something white plus-size roller derby player or an introverted 30-something information sciences grad student – neither of whom who are marginalised in the same way as, say, a gay Cambodian amputee immigrant living in Mexico City).

Increasingly, I've started recognising this kind of behaviour for what it is: privilege-checking as a form of internet sport. It's a kind of trolling, with all the politics I agree with, but motivations and execution that turns my stomach. It's well-intended (so well-intended), but when the motivations seem to be less about opening dialogue about the issues, and more about performance, righteousness, and intolerance toward those who don't agree with you … well, I'm not on board.

This is where it starts to feel like the "GOD HATES FAGS!" sign-wavers. While the political sentiments are exactly opposite, the motivations are remarkably similar: I WOULD LIKE TO DERAIL THIS CONVERSATION AND HAVE AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE WITNESS HOW RIGHT I AM. I don't care if your politics are progressive and your focus is on social justice: if you're shouting at people online and refusing to have a dialogue, you're bullying. I don't care if you're fighting the good fight: if you're fighting in a way that's more about public performance, shaming and righteousness, I'm not fighting with you.

… Even if I agree with your goals.

My big challenge is knowing how to respond to this kind of feedback, which comes in almost daily. Sometimes it feels like I have two options:

• Acquiesce to every complaint of anyone anywhere on the internet, until we're putting trigger warnings at the top of posts that mention balloons because some people are globophobic (TRUE STORY!).

• Align myself with insensitive assholes who defend their right to hate speech.

Again, as a liberal I'm deeply conflicted about this issue. I love observing and following the ways that language shifts. It's exciting and fascinating to watch as the semantics of marginalised communities evolve. I recently had to talk to my ageing lesbian mother and her partner about how the word "tranny" causes a lot of issues for folks in the transgender community. My mothers are totally aligned with the cause and totally active in LGBT communities … they just hadn't got the latest memo.

I'm totally on board with the reasoning behind shifting the language from "illegal immigrants" to "undocumented immigrants." I get why the word "gypsy" is problematic. I've appreciated the lively discussions I've had with readers about words like "Derp" and "Tribe" (because these were discussions. Dialogues).

I love learning new things about how cultures are defining themselves. I love that people take the time to try to improve my publications by sharing the latest language that communities are using. I love that readers feel safe enough to voice their concerns. I love this shared concern for sensitivity around language. I love the social justice motivations, and the encouragement that we all be self-aware of how the language we use has powerful, sometime unexpected impacts on the people around us.

BUT. But. Seriously, I'm just not down with:

• The derailing of conversations to debate semantics.

• The need to process it all publicly ("Look at me look at me look at meeee! I am the very MOST aware of my privilege and am therefore the very BEST progressive on the entire internet!").

• The righteousness.

• The intolerance and inability to respect that those who share your values might not share your opinions on this particular subject.

This is where this kind of conversation begins to feel more like liberal bullying, where the only correct response is agreeing and acquiescing. Any other response is seen as ignorant at best, hateful at worst.

My priorities with online discourse are dialogue and respect. In my little corner of the online world, I keep my focus on constructive critique and articulate, compassionate communication. Shouting down people who disagree with you (even if I agree with your argument) simply doesn't feel productive or helpful. If I had a dollar for every time we have to delete a blog comment that I personally agreed with because it was stated as an attack … I could shift my whole business model. Being an asshole: it's not just for the GOD HATES FAGS people any more.

Ultimately, when these complaints come up (which has slowly gone from "monthly" to "weekly" to "almost daily"), my editors respond with comments like: "I understand what you're saying, and share your concern – but I disagree that this usage is problematic." Alternately, sometimes we just say: "I agree that this usage is problematic, but I'm going to leave it." I want to make sure that folks know readers' concerns are heard, but that it doesn't always guarantee that we'll make changes.

We're especially unlikely to make changes when readers engage in performance art privilege checking and refuse to have a direct dialogue with us. I often respond to a semantics-debating comment with an invitation for the commenter to email me directly to discuss the issue. Almost no one ever does. Apparently, having a one-on-one dialogue with a publisher isn't as edifying as performance art.

For those of you who like to fight the good fight for social justice and language sensitivity online, before writing that Tumblr missive or firing off that privilege-checking comment, I'd love to encourage you to take a moment to ask yourself these questions:

• Am I living my values with this exchange? If my goal is tolerance and sensitivity, am I embodying both those values in this conversation?

• What are my motivations here? Do I want to make a difference, or just feel like I'm right? What would "making a difference" look like in this context?

• Is this person an ally? How can I best communicate with them to ensure they stay that way?

• What is my ultimate goal in my activism? Is this exchange the best use of my time to achieve that ultimate goal?

In terms of my ultimate goal with this post: I want to support progressive activists in their very important work for social justice, but also beg them to carefully consider their methods and strategies with online communication. We're fighting for the same team, here. I wish we didn't have to spend so much time fighting with each other.


"[Talking about Privilege] ends up devolving into people shouting at each other about how privileged they are, dog-piling commentators/authors for an innocent use of insulting words (on a different forum I saw an absolute free for all because someone had used the gender-loaded term "feisty" to describe a woman) and all manner of horrors. Perhaps the worst is when "privilege wars" kick off... again on a different forum I saw one author (a female) using racially insensitive terms which led to her being dog-piled... but in doing so one of the commentators called her a "bitch" so that commentator got dog-piled... until someone described them as "retarded" and they were dog-piled and so on and so forth...

Shouldn't "motherfucker" have been immediately nixxed as a clear trigger for those who have been affected by incest, regardless of the offence of the term in general?"

Links - 26th December 2013

Muscle-Pain Reliever Is Blamed for Staten Island Runner’s Death - New York Times - "The athlete, Arielle Newman, a cross-country runner at Notre Dame Academy on Staten Island, died after her body absorbed high levels of methyl salicylate, an anti-inflammatory found in sports creams like Bengay and Icy Hot"

Getting and using a horse passport - GOV.UK - "All horses, ponies and donkeys must have a horse passport.
The passport helps:
make sure horses treated with certain medicines don’t end up as food for people
prevent the sale of a stolen horse, pony or donkey, as the passport proves its identity
The animal’s rider or keeper must have the passport with them at all times when they’re with the animal, unless it’s in a stable, grazing in a field, or being moved by foot. Owners can take their animals for short rides without one.
You (or the animal’s main keeper) may have to show the passport to a Trading Standards inspector or an animal health officer."

Badass of the Week: Murad IV - "Murad then outlawed coffee, smoking, and drinking in his empire, made these offenses all punishable by death, and closed every bar and coffee shop in Turkey claiming that they were places where people could meet up and talk shit about the government and play a lot of shitty music he wasn't in the mood to hear... Of course, it also bears mentioning here that even though the sentence for public intoxication was immediate no-questions-asked summary execution by scimitar, Murad himself was a crazy raging alcoholic who once wrote, "Even if rivers become wine they wouldn't fill my glass." When someone asked him about the double standard, he said, "Wine is such a devil that I have to protect my people by drinking all of it"... In order to ensure that his rules were being followed, Murad was famous for going out into the city in the middle of the day, dressed in normal robes, and carrying a sword under his clothes. If he saw someone doing something he didn't approve of, he whipped out his blade and decapitated them. Of course, the things he didn't like weren't always things that were specifically illegal – like one time he beheaded a musician for playing a Persian song in a bazaar. Another time some annoying chicks were singing really loudly and really badly so he had them all tied into sacks and thrown in the river. On yet another occasion he saw some perverted asshole climbing onto the roof of his house to try and look into the Sultan's harem (the place where his hundreds of hot girlfriends lived) so he drew a rifle and sniped the would-be Peeping Tom from a hundred yards away"

Someone needs to fight the selfish, short-sighted old - "One of the Conservatives' key election promises was to protect NHS spending in real terms. More health spending means overwhelmingly more spending on the old, and more tax paid by the young. Old: 4. Young: 0.
Take climate change. For the old, the slowness of environmental ruin spells little lifetime danger. Instead, it means the inconvenience of wind turbines spoiling a view. So we have offshore turbines costing 60% more: it is more expensive repairing a turbine from a boat on the Dogger Bank than from a Land-Rover in Yorkshire. Old: 5. Young: 0."

The Overwhelming Heteronormativity Of ‘Born This Way’ - "We have potential. We make choices. We change. We grow. Many of us have the potential to be different to what we are- and maybe someday we will. Or we won’t. Life is complicated, and it sends us in unexpected directions sometimes. The idea of ‘born this way’ ignores all of that. ’Born this way’ introduces the idea that we have no choice in who we are, who we love, and what we do. On one hand, it encourages a horrible narrative in supporting equality- the idea that we simply can’t help who we are. Who, it asks, would ever choose such a terrible fate as to be queer? If we could be cishet we would, right? ‘Born this way’ doesn’t challenge heteronormative ideals of the superiority of particular relationship forms. It doesn’t celebrate anything about queerness- not the relationships we have, the cultures and families we create, and the things we have to teach cishet society. Instead, it asks for ‘normal’ people’s pity. Don’t be mean to us. We can’t help it. We were born this way."

AE FAQs - "Do I need a licence to import paintball guns into Singapore?
Paintball guns fall under the definition of "arms" under the Arms & Explosives Act and hence, you need a licence to import paintball guns. You can apply for a licence through a forwarding agent. However, we do not allow possession by an individual in Singapore"

Foreign Workers Paid Only $2.25 an Hour! - "Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law K Shanmugam had visited a foreign workers’ dormitory in Yishun and had said that the foreign workers “have no complaints about working conditions, about salaries, about their employers”. It was also reported that, “he also urged the foreign workers to voice out any other concerns with regards to their wages and living conditions”... In a survey that was conducted by the Singapore Management University (SMU), it was found that, “65% of injured and salary-claim workers reported that they had been threatened by their employers with premature repatriation. Of working workers, 12% have been so threatened”. In another study conducted by TWC2, it was found that, “only 28 percent of injured workers have been offered accommodation by their employer (sometimes, MOM) post-injury”. In fact, in a study conducted by the Ministry of Manpower, it was found that, “slightly more than half of total costs (to recover from workplace injuries and ill-health actually) fall on workers themselves, when quantified into dollar terms”... Yesterday, we received a pay slip of a foreign worker. The job of the foreign worker is to be a welder and he is paid only $2.25 an hour. His monthly overall wage is only $500.13... Perhaps our policymakers might consider them as labour to be contracted, used and sent back – which might explain the knee-jerk reaction to suspend “25 private bus services which ferry workers to the area”, to take away the only leisure activity that they can have, and to even consider “housing some foreign workers at nearby offshore islands”, as National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan had suggested. In case our policymakers have forgotten, these foreign workers are human as well, and any human being should be treated with the basic respect and dignity that we would want to confer onto ourselves as well... It would be highly questionable if our policymakers deem it fit to pay themselves the highest political salaries in the world, but pay Singaporeans and foreign workers the lowest wages among the high-income countries. Such exploitation of the workers say a lot about a government, who would rather believe in “growth at all cost”, while allowing the “weakest” to be left behind. Indeed, Singaporeans have to ask ourselves – if we have a government which would treat the “weakest members” in our society with such disdain that would they treat the citizens with such unkind actions as well, and I think for many Singaporeans, we already have the answer."

London: Muslims demand ban on alcohol, threaten sellers with 40 lashes - "Brick Lane is renowned as a popular location for office Christmas parties. Protest organizers told The Times the protest was held on Friday to coincide with the large number of office workers who would be in the area for Christmas parties. The protest was led by Anjem Choudary, one of Britain’s most controversial preachers, and the former leader of the Al-Muhajiroun group, which was banned under terrorism laws. Choudary told those gathered at the protest it was his wish that Sharia law, banning alcohol, should be enforced in Britain. Around 60 men and women in burkas distributed warning letters to Muslim-owned businesses in the area. They also held up banners with slogans including: "Save lives, don't drink or sell alcohol! Stand for Shariah!" and “Islam is the perfect system for all mankind.”"

Stupidity works - The People's Funny Pictures Blog - Quora

Social encounter networks: characterizing Great Britain - "We observe that children, public-sector and healthcare workers have the highest number of total contact hours and are therefore most likely to catch and transmit infectious disease"
Children: cesspools of disease

Chinese girls still prefer sugar daddies to empty wallets - "Compared to Western men, Chinese men seem to be more willing to assume the role of financial provider. I don't want to stereotype here, and I'm sure there are exceptions, but in general Chinese girls are less shy to admit they judge men by their bank accounts and Chinese men seem to accept it as the most natural thing in the world... Chinese men tend to assume they have to do everything for their girlfriends, in trivial ways that are rarely seen in the US or Europe... Out of curiosity I once asked one of my male friends, who pays all the rent for the apartment where he and his girlfriend live together, "Why do you have to pay for everything?" His answer was, "She's such a fine girl and she spends the best years of her life with me. That's her youth and I have to cherish it and be nice to her." But isn't a guy's youth also precious? Why is it only girls' best time that is worth money?... In big cities you actually see more single girls who hunt for available men. It's not ridiculous. The reason is simple: There're just not enough good, that is, rich, guys for them. The girls would rather be single than go out with a boy with an empty wallet... if women want to be treated equally, maybe they should stop looking for men who treat them like little girls"

Games Definitely Don't Harm Kids, Says Huge Study - "A decade-long study of over 11,000 children in the UK has found no association between playing video games from as young as five, and mood or behavioural problems in later life... watching more than three hours of TV a day at the age of five did lead to a small increase in behavioural problems in youngsters between the ages of five and seven. It's worth noting too, that a much lower number of children spent as long playing video games as they did watching TV... We've reported before how video games have been found to help dyslexic children read better, and how they can also increase spacial orientation and memory formation."

Men Still Paying For Dates ... And Women Are Partly Responsible - "New research presented at the American Sociological Association's annual meeting this week found that 84 percent of men and 58 percent of women say men pay for most entertainment expenses -- even after they have been dating for some time. And while 57 percent of women say they offer to help pay, 39 percent admitted that they hoped men would reject their offers, while 44 percent were bothered when men expected them to chip in. Nearly two-thirds of men believe women should contribute to dating expenses. "One of the reasons we are interested in looking at who pays for dates is because it is one arena where women may be resisting gender changes more than men," study researcher David Frederick, an assistant professor of psychology at Chapman University in California, told The Huffington Post. "As social roles start to change, people often embrace the changes that make their lives easier, but resist the changes that make their lives more difficult"... Younger men were more likely to agree that if they paid the bill, women should engage in sexual activity"
People fight for their interests harder than for other people's rights

‘Just kidding’ not an out for online slurs (poll) - "most young people now say it’s wrong to use racist or sexist slurs online, even if you’re just kidding. But when they see them, they don’t take much personal offense. A majority of teens and young adults who use the Internet say they at least sometimes see derogatory words and images targeting various groups. They often dismiss that stuff as just joking around, not meant to be hurtful... Americans ages 14 to 24 say people who are overweight are the most frequent target, followed by gay people. Next in line for online abuse: blacks and women... Racial insults are not that likely to be seen as hurtful, yet a strong majority of those surveyed — 6 in 10 — felt comments and images targeting transgender people or Muslims are... “It’s still socially acceptable to comment on someone’s weight and what someone is eating,” said Caprigno, 18, of Norwood, Mass. “We need to change that about our culture before people realize posting stuff like that online is going to be offensive to someone.”"

Why Racism and Sexism will never go away

I was intrigued to read stories like New Research Details Strong Relationship Between White Racism and Gun Ownership and Sexist men and women -- made for each other?.

Partly it was because of the novel (even if not totally unexpected) findings, but it was more because the studies had ways of measuring racism and sexism.

Yet, when I looked more closely at how racism and sexism were measured, they were very problematic. The two scales are the Symbolic Racism Scale and the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory.

In short, these scales are fatally flawed because they do not really measure racism or sexism, but rather disagreement with standard anti-racist and anti-sexist discourse. They also confuse prescriptive and descriptive statements, i.e. what is and what should be. They are also very dependent on the American social and temporal context, making them limited in application to other countries and time periods.

Let us look at each scale.

Ambivalent Sexism Inventory: Hostile Sexism (ASI)
(I will not deal with Benevolent Sexism since I think the way it is measured is not problematic)

1) Women exaggerate problems at work
2) Women are too easily offended
3) Most women interpret innocent remarks as sexist
4) When women lose fairly, they claim discrimination
5) Women seek special favors under guise of equality
6) Feminists are making reasonable demands
7) Feminists not seeking more power than men
8) Women seek power by gaining control over men
9) Few women tease men sexually
10) Once a man commits, she puts him on a tight leash
11) Women fail to appreciate all men do for them

Source: The Ambivalent Sexism Inventory: Differentiating Hostile and Benevolent Sexism / Glick, Fiske (1996)

As can be seen, all of these items have some relationship with the real world and cannot be considered outside of this context. In other words, even if we assume for the sake of argument that in 1996 America, women did not exaggerate problems at work and so accusing them of doing so was sexist (assuming further that this is not a problem of misperception but due to bona fide sexism), if in 2016 America women really *did* exaggerate problems at work, the ASI would take this as evidence of sexism.

Of course, these are in reality propositions which are both contestable and contested (for example, women are really more easily offended than men). And some are just plain bizarre, like 11) Women fail to appreciate all men do for them; among other things, it is standard feminist dogma that men fail to appreciate all women do for them; does this mean that feminists are sexist against men?

In conclusion, the ASI is extremely dishonest - even if you believe that to be anti-feminist is to be (hostilely) sexist, the ASI makes expansive claims that define sexism extremely broadly.

(Minor point: note that this is all about sexism against women - sexism against men is ignored)

Interestingly enough, one notes that there is no item on the scale that most people would consider sexist. So in their eagerness to expose "hostile" "sexism", the authors have totally missed out real hostile sexism.

What would a real measure of Hostile Sexism look like, then? Here are some suggestions:

1) A woman's place is in the home
2) Women are inferior to men
3) Woman, without her man, is nothing
4) Things were better when women did not have the right to vote
5) Women exist to make men happy
6) Make me a sandwich

But then, using these real measures of sexism would fail to result in the "finding" that "hostile" "sexism" is well and alive even in the developed world.

For comparison, here is the The Symbolic Racism 2000 Scale, which suffers from similar problems:

1. It’s really a matter of some people not trying hard enough; if blacks would only try harder they could be just as well off as whites.
2. Irish, Italian, Jewish and many other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way up. Blacks should do the same.
3. Some say that black leaders have been trying to push too fast. Others feel that they haven’t pushed fast enough. What do you think?
4. How much of the racial tension that exists in the United States today do you think blacks are responsible for creating?
5. How much discrimination against blacks do you feel there is in the United States today, limiting their chances to get ahead?
6. Generations of slavery and discrimination have created conditions that make it difficult for blacks to work their way out of the lower class.
7. Over the past few years, blacks have gotten less than they deserve.
8. Over the past few years, blacks have gotten more economically than they deserve.

Here I note that 2) is particularly egregious - apparently to be informed by history is to be Racist, and that 4) denies black agency in creating racial tension (we can blame White People for the Black Panthers, presumably).

Disturbingly, all the discussion of the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory I've seen takes it at face value (I haven't seen much about the Symbolic Racism Scale, but I haven't looked as hard). But then usually people who discuss these issues have a certain way of thinking already.

If racism and sexism disappear, then people whose careers revolve around studying and fighting them will be out of a job. Though at some level I'm sure they believe in what they are doing and don't recognise the problems with their assumptions. This is similar to how Communist Parties justify their holding of power on behalf of the proletariat, while awaiting a Communist Utopia that will never - and can never - arrive.


It is instructive to look at the Ambivalence Toward Men Inventory (AMI) too. Via reddit:

Hostility toward Men:

- A man who is sexually attracted to a woman typically has no morals about doing whatever it takes to get her in bed.
- When men act to "help" women, they are often trying to prove they are better than women.
- Men would be lost in this world if women weren't there to guide them.
- Men act like babies when they are sick.
- Men will always fight to have greater control in society than women.
- Even men who claim to be sensitive to women's rights really want a traditional relationship at home, with the woman performing most of the housekeeping and child care.
- Men usually try to dominate conversations when talking to women.
- Most men pay lip service to equality for women but can't handle having a woman as an equal.
- When it comes down to it, most men are really like children.
- Most men sexually harass women, even if only in subtle ways, once they are in a position of power over them.

Benevolence toward Men:

- Even if both members of a couple work, the woman ought to be more attentive to taking care of her man at home.
- Men are less likely to fall apart in emergencies than women are.
- Every woman needs a male partner who will cherish her.
- A woman will never be truly fulfilled in life if she doesn’t have a committed, long-term relationship with a man.
- Men are mainly useful to provide financial security for women.
- Every woman ought to have a man she adores.
- Men are more willing to put themselves in danger to protect others.
- Women are incomplete without men.
- Men are more willing to take risks than women.
- Women ought to take care of their men at home, because men would fall apart if they had to fend for themselves.

That would explain why there's a study that "debunks" the "myth" that feminists are man haters: Are Feminists man Haters? Feminists' and Nonfeminists' Attitudes Toward Men

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Confusing Literary Truth with Real Truth: the Horrors of the First World War

Morality of Remembrance - Moral Maze, 06/11/2013

"I was interested in Michael Montperlego (sp?) saying, you know, go to the words of the people who were there. I've actually done quite a bit of this at the Imperial War Museum, going through people's diaries and so on. The Owen-Sassoon view of the war - powerful, amazingly powerful though their poetry - Owen's particularly was, was exceptional, actually. Because if you read most of the diaries, there's a much more upbeat, robust, patriotic - an entirely different mindset than what we impose on them..."

"Over the years, it does begin in the 1930s, when people can see there's going to be a Second World War, which makes the First World War appear more futile than it did before. But then very much in the 60s, with What Lovely War and so on... there has been, you know, a revision of the way that war is seen. That is to say it is seen differently from the way it was seen by most people at the time. And therefore I entirely agree with Hugh Straughn (sp?) that the next 5 years is an opportunity to get some balance into the way that we look at the war"

"I think it is true as well that a lot of children - I love Wilfred Owen, and I know, English teacher I've done the First World War poetry lessons like everyone else and had them crying in the aisles as they say. And it's beautiful. And poignant, and you feel it does make young people understand something about the things that we can do to each other. But, I've also got to say that there wasn't many mutinies in the British Army, I have to admit. I do feel uncomfortable. But it's almost like the only version. And although I am an anti-Imperialist, I would've opposed the war. I don't want us to have a kind of soft soaped, one-dimensional view of it"

"And I suppose we ought to remember that the most popular war poet until about 1930 was Rupert Brooke"


If I should die, think only this of me;
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

--- The Soldier / Rupert Brooke (1914)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

How do the different races compare in terms of penis size?

Gabriel Seah's answer to How do the different races compare in terms of penis size? - Quora

I have come to agree with the popular stereotypes (Asian men are small, White men are bigger and Black men are biggest) for many and various reasons:

i) An India study in 2006 found that international condoms are too big for Indian men (Condoms 'too big' for Indian men)

ii)  Chinese condoms are too small for South African men  (Chinese condoms too small for South Africans: report)

iii) WHO and USAID have smaller width specifications for certain markets - primarily Asian ones (Chapter 5, Standards, Specifications and Tests).

iv) USAID found in the 1970s that US-sized condoms were too big for Thailand (Page on Enersol)

v) Good international penis size data from various countries reflect the stereotypes:

(Page on Enersol)

Taking the "country" column as a proxy for race, if we remove the Australian data (from 1995 and 1998 - even then Australia was a diverse nation, with 23% of the population being overseas-born and 27% of the native-born population having at least one overseas parent, making the data hard to interpret), we see that Nigerians have the longest penises, followed by US Africans, US Caucasians, Brazilians, Thais and then Koreans. Even if you remove the Nigerian sample for its small sample size, the US Africans still have the longest penises (looking purely at length). The circumference data has a similar ranking for the samples.

vi) Non-Asian men who go to Japan report that you should bring your own condoms, since Japanese condoms are too small.

vii) Another Asian friend tells me Durex condoms are too small for him and always slip off. Japanese condoms provide a better fit.

viii)  Someone I know who's slept with many men of different races says the  stereotypes are true, and dick size is correlated to body size (since  Asian men are slight, white men are bigger and black men the biggest you  can see how the stereotypes apply).

ix) A black male friend says Asian girls are always wary when they see his penis, and he has to be gentle with them.

x) A girl I know who's slept with a lot of men of various races says non-Asian men are bigger.

xi) A girl I know who's slept with quite a few White and Asian men say the White men are bigger and that they say Asian girls are tighter.

We should not ignore reality just because it is politically incorrect: the implications to sexual and reproductive health of pretending men of all races have the same penis size are disastrous.

What I always think of when Winter Wonderland comes on

Friday, December 20, 2013

"Give it a try." whispered the heart.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Lina ***: "It's impossible." said pride.
"It's risky." said experience.
"It's pointless." said reason.
"Give it a try." whispered the heart.

Joe ***: "WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!?!?!?!?!" shouted the anus two minutes later.

TRS doesn't always incite hate

American girl studying in Singapore: Singapore men is the best! | The Real Singapore

"I'm an American girl currently studying in SMU who migrated to Singapore, and am currently attached to a Singaporean guy.

I have been in several relationships with western guys.

When I started dating my Singaporean boyfriend, I was completely taken aback by the kindness that he showed me. Even simple things like pulling out my chair for me and walking me to the bus stop.

I NEVER had a boyfriend do things like this for me and when he does these simple things for me it makes me so happy.

In my previous relationships, I was always the person giving.

I would clean, cook and bake, buy presents for my boyfriend, etc. just about everything you can think of for these lazy j**ks.

And they would still yell at me, threaten me, tell me I wasn't good enough or crazy when I asked them why they didn't appreciate the things I do for them.

I had almost given up on love before I met my Singaporean boyfriend and I had completely given up on the idea that a guy could give me half as much as I am willing to give them.

When I came to Asia to study abroad, I was amazed by the effort that the men here put into their relationships.

The kindness, compassion, and respect they have for women.

I have nothing to say to girls who can't appreciate how hard working and amazing you all are.

To Singaporean guys that are still single out there or with their demanding Singaporean girlfriends I have one thing to say - Please let me remind you that Singapore is a very small place.

I think some of you should start looking elsewhere for girls that can truly appreciate you."

Someone pointed out that this was also on SMU Confessions.

Original author, in comment:

"Hello Everyone,

I am the original author of this post.

The person who posted this article has almost completely quoted a comment that I posted as a response to this article.

Yes, that picture is fake, but I would like to assure you all that the story is real.
Please look at the comment listed under the other story for my actual wording.

I am sending an email to admin to try to get this taken down and I am deeply disappointed that someone would copy my comment almost word by word for their profit.

Maybe I can post a contribution with my actual story. I think that would be much better than this fake repost.

Thanks for listening"

Original comment:

"As an American girl dating a Singapore guy, I would like all of you to consider something.

I have been in several relationships with western guys. When I started dating my Singaporean boyfriend, I was completely taken aback by the kindness that he showed me. Even simple things like pulling out my chair for me and walking me to the bus stop.
I NEVER had a boyfriend do things like this for me and when he does these simple things for me it makes me so happy.

In my previous relationships, I was always the person giving. I would clean, cook, buy presents, find jobs...ect ect just about everything you can think of for these lazy jerks. And they would still yell at me, threaten me, tell me I wasn't good enough or crazy when I asked them why they didn't appreciate the things I do for them.

I had almost given up on love before I met my Singaporean boyfriend and I had completely given up on the idea that a guy could give me half as much as I am willing to give them.

When I came to Asia to study abroad, I was amazed by the effort that you all put into your relationships. And the kindness, compassion, and respect you have for women.

I have nothing to say to girls like this who can't appreciate how hard working and amazing you all are.

To Singaporean guys I have one thing to say: This is not the first story I've heard like this. Please let me remind you that Singapore is a very small place. I think some of you should start looking elsewhere for girls that can truly appreciate you. ♥

Thanks for listening :)...

haha. Well, I have many other American friends that agree with me! A lot of american guys don't treat women well at all..."

I threw a snowball at Lee Kuan Yew

*Lord Lee-kuanyew The Wealthy. Sith Maurader Level 55*

LKY from the back

*Lord Lee-kuanyew in Diplomat's Meditation Hoverchair*

"long live lky"
"Lies. He will die soon"

"ae you singaporean"
"u shall be fined"
"I threw a snowball at LKY!" (as part of the Life Day Event)
"u need to get authority for my pic"

"Littering is not condoned. $1000 fine"

*Lord Lee-kuanyew The Wealthy striking pose with lightsabers*

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Who's being pranked?

There's a little fellow named Junior who hangs out at the local grocery store. The manager doesn't know what Junior's problem is, but the boys like to tease him. They say he is two bricks short of a load, or two pickles shy of a barrel.

To prove it, sometimes the boys offer Junior his choice between a nickel and a dime. He always takes the nickel, they say, because it's bigger.

One day after Junior grabbed the nickel, the store manager got him off to one side and said, "Junior, those boys are making fun of you. They think you don't know the dime is worth more than the nickel. Are you grabbing the nickel because it's bigger, or what?"

Junior grins and says, "Well, if I took the dime, they'd stop doing it, and so far I've made $20!"

Links - 18th December 2013

Singapore riots: A typical India-like situation - News Oneindia
Too bad this comes from an Indian site, or we could dismiss this characterisation as "racist"

Ding Dong Ditch - The People's Funny Pictures Blog - Quora

Answer to Indian Women: Why is it difficult to date an Indian girl in general? - Quora - "I was arrested for talking to an Indian woman... I have decided never to approach women anymore... at least as long as I am in India... Even if it means that I don't ever get laid again. Women have too much power in the system. I don't know how much money and time I will end up losing in this court case. Pretty sure they will confiscate my passport for as long as the trial lasts. And trials in this country last decades... the father of this woman issued a death threat to me, again in full public view, and in front of all these cops. He said, “I will cut your head into two pieces. I will slice your throat. I am saying this in front of the police, and I am not afraid.” Yeah… so asking a woman out is a crime, but hitting a man, or issuing a death threat, in full public view, in front of the cops, with CCTV monitoring all around is not!... We are not empowering women by enslaving men to some random woman’s whimsical attention seeking agenda. We are weakening society as a whole... Where are the women in all this?"
Of course, you don't see protests about this

Fight Against misuse of Dowry law (IPC-498a) - Get Free Advice and protect against 498a - "This website is an attempt to create awareness among Indian nationals about the rampant misuse of 498a (Dowry Law misuse) by unscrupulous women to extort money and harass their husband's entire extended family. This website is dedicated to the victims of gender-biased laws of India (498a and domestic violence against women law) and provides comprehensive and free information about how to protect yourself and take preventive measures to save your family from this law which has been termed as 'legal terrorism' by Honorable Supreme Court of India."

EXCLUSIVE: Horrifying "Cthuken" Creator Speaks: Gothamist - "According to Eulberg, he and wife Jennifer Robledo "wanted to do something unique for Christmas dinner with friends of ours. Jenny is a big fan of Cthulhu so we went and bought some crab legs and some octopus and bacon and cooked them all separate and slapped them together on a plate, and that was it. The next year I made a Cthicken; the same thing using squid instead of octopus and a chicken"... "for added horror, the serving platter is an old Nazi plate with a Swastika on the bottom that a friend bought in an old abandoned Luftwaffe base in Germany"... Asked how he'll ever top the Cthurkey, Eulberg tells us he might "do a full-on Cthulhu-themed dinner next Halloween. I don't know how we can make the turkey better, but maybe we can make tentacle cupcakes with gummy worms. And maybe deep fry the whole thing.""

The 8 Types of Tolkien Fans - "Lord of the Rings Extended Editioners: "I feel like watching 40 hours of behind-the-scenes documentaries about chainmail"
"They're the only things on my bookshelf that actually look like books!""

FAQ | Milk Of Love - "I came across articles on lactation cookies. I decided to try them out, and was surprised with the results. I usually eat 2 pieces of cookies (if I can control myself from eating them) on the average per day, and I have an increase of about 11% of milk collected over a period of 5 days. I could finally start to reduce the number of formula feeds for my son! I reduced the amount of vitamins (because Fenugreek is quite expensive) I’m eating daily to boost the milk supply, and experimented with the lactation cookies’ recipes instead...
Are the cookies made with breast milk?
Of course not! We save the precious breast milk for our children.
Can my family eat the cookies?

These are great nutritious cookies which everyone can have. They do not produce or create milk supply. They help to boost milk supply, and so your husband or your children will not have any milk unless they are lactating. My own husband munches on them while I’m baking too!"

Boys and Girls May Get Different Breast Milk: Scientific American - "Mother's milk may be the first food, but it is not created equal. In humans and other mammals, researchers have found that milk composition changes depending on the infant's gender and on whether conditions are good or bad. Understanding those differences can give scientists insights into human evolution... Researchers at Michigan State University and other institutions found that among 72 economically sufficient mothers in rural Kenya, women with sons generally gave richer milk (2.8 percent fat compared with 1.74 percent for daughters).* Poor women, however, favored daughters with creamier milk (2.6 versus 2.3 percent)... Together the studies provide support for a 40-year-old theory in evolutionary biology. The Trivers-Willard hypothesis states that natural selection favors parental investment in daughters when times are hard and in sons when times are easy. The imbalance should be greatest in polygamous societies, in which men can father offspring with multiple wives, such as the Kenyan villages... Even beyond fat and protein, other milk components might vary in humans, says Katie Hinde, an assistant professor in human evolutionary biology at Harvard University. She has found higher levels of cortisol, a hormone that regulates metabolism, in rhesus macaque milk for male infants. Her work shows that milk differences could change infant behavior and might affect growth and development."
Women's bodies have been socialised by patriarchy!

Thirteen plead guilty to Anonymous hack of Paypal site - "The defendants acknowledged taking part in protests organized by Anonymous in December 2010 against Paypal, after the payment site cut ties to Wikileaks. By pleading guilty, they will be hit with minor misdemeanour charges, as long as they stay out of trouble. Paypal had urged leniency by prosecutors. Lawyers for the defendants had argued that they were taking part in protests that should be protected by the US Constitution - specifically the First Amendment that guarantees free speech. However, the US Department of Justice accused them of intentionally damaging a protected computer."

Keira Knightley recycles her prom queen wedding dress AGAIN as she attends charity gala - "Marking the third time she has worn the pale pink gown to a high-profile event, the Atonement star gave her dress a festive twist by teaming it with a striking sheer overlay with pretty cream beading on the collar and cuffs."

Tanning Salon Employee Has Epic Racist Freakout Over 'Sexy Indian' Ad - "Yesterday, we brought you one of the most ill-advised ads for a tanning salon ever (as though tanning could get any more gauche), a tacky, racist mess that featured a white lady in a "Sexy Indian" Halloween costume along with copy that read "The Indians brought more than just 'CORN' to the first Thanksgiving... they brought SEXY 'COLOR'!"
It's racist to say dark skin is sexy, it's racist to say light skin is sexy... (Not Fair: Skin whitening and casual racism in beauty adverts | Get The Gloss). So any mention of race is racist?

20 Pictures that Prove You Have a Dirty Mind

Court Room | Two jailed for having paid sex with girl, 16 - "Two men were each jailed for 12 weeks yesterday for having paid sex with a 16-year-old student in an online vice-ring case.... In Muhammad Ibrahim’s case, the court heard that he texted the number listed on the advertisement on Feb 24 to book the minor’s services for $180 an hour. The minor made a “house call” at his Tampines home after he electronically transferred $50 as transport fees to a bank account. Muhammad Ibrahim said the girl claimed she was 22"
Apparently I didn't post this Malcolm Graham Head story

Canadians wary of 9/11 explanations - and of US officials - "Among Canadians, 49% said they were inclined to believe the critics, while 37% of Americans said the same. In other words, the Canadians who responded to the online questions were somewhat more sceptical of the official account than were Americans. "

Why the 9/11 conspiracies have changed - "Ten years on from the attacks which killed nearly 3,000 people, conspiracy theories have continued to evolve. They now question every aspect of the official account, despite the fact that every year has provided more witnesses and evidence to bolster the official explanation... Since 9/11 there have been numerous lengthy and painstaking official reports - the 9/11 Commission, congressional investigations and many inquiries by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. None has ever found any evidence of a wider conspiracy. The myriad of conspiracy theories, on the other hand, are rarely spelt out in great detail - perhaps because when they are, they have been quickly debunked. Nor is a motive usually explained... Nothing is taken on trust about 9/11. If an eyewitness, an official or an expert counters a conspiracy theory, their motives are immediately questioned. And the theories are ever evolving. When evidence comes forward that casts doubt on a theory, one rarely hears an admission that the theory must be wrong. Instead the focus shifts to the latest "unanswered question". "We don't know the full story of exactly what happened," says American radio talk show host Alex Jones. "We know the official story is completely unproven and a fairy tale. I'm saying that it needs to be investigated"... Initially many questioned how such huge skyscrapers, which had dominated the Manhattan skyline for so long, could be brought down by an hour or so of fires - alluding to the possibility of some kind of controlled demolition. But then the official report set out a rational explanation. And it also pointed out that contrary to the conspiracy theory, controlled demolition is always bottom up and not the top down collapse of the Twin Towers. So then the focus shifted to World Trade Center Building 7 - another huge skyscraper which also collapsed on 9/11, but which was not hit by a plane. The theory is that tonnes of explosives and an incendiary called thermite were used in a controlled demolition to destroy the building from the bottom up. But when it is pointed out that thermite has never been used in controlled demolition, the theory once again moves on and claims that new and secret types of explosives and incendiaries were used

Ask Amy: Parent pressures gay son to change - "He won’t listen to reason, and he will not stop being gay. I feel as if he is doing this just to get back at me for forgetting his birthday for the past three years — I have a busy work schedule. Please help him make the right choice in life by not being gay. He won’t listen to me, so maybe he will listen to you. -- Feeling Betrayed
DEAR BETRAYED: You could teach your son an important lesson by changing your own sexuality to show him how easy it is. Try it for the next year or so: Stop being a heterosexual to demonstrate to your son that a person’s sexuality is a matter of choice — to be dictated by one’s parents, the parents’ church and social pressure."

Immigrants lacking papers work legally — as their own bosses - "Although federal law prohibits employers from hiring someone residing in the country illegally, there is no law prohibiting such a person from starting a business or becoming an independent contractor. As a result, some young immigrants are forming limited liability companies or starting freelance careers — even providing jobs to U.S. citizens — as the prospect of an immigration law revamp plods along in Congress... employees often have set hours and use equipment provided by the employer. Independent contractors make their own hours, get paid per project by submitting invoices and use their own tools. Also, someone who hires an independent contractor isn't obligated by immigration law to verify that person's legal status."

Some gay New Yorkers feeling pressure to get hitched this holiday - "Many moms and dads are not-so-secretly hoping that their gay sons and lesbian daughters will "put a ring on it" this holiday season. Welcome to equality: the land where families and friends think nothing of urging you to the altar and inquiring about your reproductive intentions... the right to marry has also delivered unexpected social pressure on people who have long formed their own creative, and, at times, unconventional, partnerships that they were previously under no pressure to define... The pressure on long-time couples to sign the papers can also come from gay friends... some older gay people lament that a culture once viewed as creative and transgressive is turning into a mainstream couples cult... "It's a bittersweet feeling of being a single gay man and being perhaps older or middle aged and feeling left out""
Is anyone going to speak on behalf of this oppression?!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Internalising the dominant paradigm

"One form of the social existence of male power is inside women. In this form, male power becomes self-enforcing. Women become "thingified in the head"... Given the imperatives of women's lives, the necessity to avoid punishment - from self-rejection to involuntary incarceration to suicide - it is not irrational for women to see themselves in a way that makes their necessary compliance tolerable, even satisfying. Living each day reconvinces everyone, women and men alike, of male hegemony, which is hardly a myth, and of women's innate inferiority and men's innate superiority, a myth that each day's reliving makes difficult to distinguish meaningfully from reality."

--- Toward a Feminist Theory of the State / Catharine A. MacKinnon

This means that women who do not reject the patriarchy have deluded themselves and we can ignore them as having internalised the dominant paradigm.

This means that we can act in people's best interests - ignoring what they want - as long as we tell ourselves that they are suffering from false consciousness and that we are acting for their own good.

They Show All Kinds

"They show all kinds
Bananas. Headlights. Peaches. Cucumbers. Double Bubble.
Watermelons. Cantelopes. Plad Jacks. Coat Hooks. Bee Stings.
Pointers. Cucumbers. Water balloons. Pears. Gum drops.
Which one you like?"

Related: Balderdash: A picture I'd been looking for for a very long time

A less talked about aspect of freedom of speech in Singapore

Human resources manager fined, jailed for insulting modesty and causing hurt

"A human resource manager was fined $1,000 on Monday for insulting the modesty of a waitress by pointing at her breast and asking if his coffee was "from this machine". Pannirchelvam Ramachandra, 45, also hit the restaurant's supervisor's nose and threw a bowl at him. For these offences, he was jailed for 31/2 months.

He was in the cafe of the hotel in Bendemeer between 7am and 9am with a friend when he ordered two cups of coffee. The waitress, 33, asked him if he wanted the buffet coffee, which was complimentary, or the ala carte coffee from the coffee machine, which had to be paid for. He ordered the latter and when she served it, he pointed to her breast and made the insulting remark.

Later, when the cafe supervisor presented the bill, Pannirchelvam turned abusive. The supervisor walked away and video footage showed Pannirchelvam filling a bowl with noodles from the buffet table and flinging the bowl at the head of the supervisor. Later, he used the back of his hand to hit the victim's nose.

Pannirchelvam has previous convictions for disorderly behaviour and causing hurt to others and will start his jail term on Jan 16 so that he can settle work and family commitments."

This is almost certainly, of course, Section 509 of the Penal Code: "Word or gesture intended to insult the modesty of a woman".

This is particularly interesting and relevant, because he was fined $1,000 *just* for insulting her modesty (and apparently he only said it once - unlike a previous case where the man sent two harassing SMSes to a woman). So we can disaggregate the charges for insulting her modesty and for battery, and distinguish between one-offs and repeated harassment (inasmuch as two SMSes constitutes repeated harassment).

It doesn't seem very far to go from criminalising insulting women sexually to criminalising bad pickup lines with a sexual component.

Naturally, AWARE does not call for this gender-specific law to be repealed or amended, and indeed suggests its use in sexual harassment allegations (though they do note that "Section 509 only protects women, whereas sexual harassment applies to both women and men").

(Fun peripheral fact: according to AWARE, "Criticising and insulting wife/girlfriend/partner", "Screaming at wife/partner/girlfriend" and "Controlling the wife/girlfriend/partner’s money and finances" are forms of "Violence Against Women").

Sunday, December 15, 2013

More feminism, less gender equality

Do women really have it better in Sweden?

"Oh, to be in Sweden, a feminist paradise on Earth! Gender equality is baked into the nation’s DNA...

The country is zealously tearing down the barriers that hold women back. Preschools go to extraordinary lengths to encourage non-gendered play. One school is experimenting with a gender-neutral pronoun, “hen,” so that kids will think of one another not as boys or girls but as “buddies.” Gender-neutral toy catalogues show boys playing with dolls and girls playing with water guns. Some Swedish movie theatres have introduced a gender rating for films, called the Bechdel test. (To pass, a movie needs to have at least two female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man.)

Sweden and the other Nordic nations always seem to lead the rankings of the world’s best countries for women. (Canada is lucky to crack the top 20.) So they’re an ideal laboratory for finding out what women really want. What choices will women make when the playing field is as level as social policy can make it?

I’m afraid the answers will disappoint a lot of people. That includes Sheryl Sandberg, the famous author of Lean In, who wrote, “A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies, and men ran half our homes.”

The trouble is that the world’s most liberated women aren’t leaning in – in fact, many are leaning back. They work fewer hours and make less money than men, just as Canadian women do. In fact, Swedish women are much more likely to have part-time jobs and far less likely to hold top managerial positions or be CEOs. On top of that, Scandinavian labour markets are the most gender-segregated in the developed world.

Women do make up 25 per cent of Swedish corporate boards, but only because of quotas. The greatest concentration of senior managers, CEOs and other highly paid power women isn’t in Scandinavia. It’s here in North America, where working women’s lives are much tougher.

It turns out that all these family-friendly policies have an unintended impact on the gender gap, as Kay Hymowitz and many others have noted. By making it easy for women to drop out of the work force and work shorter hours, they make it harder for women to progress in their careers. Swedish men have these options too, but they don’t take them. So women don’t advance as far as men. And they are also considered less desirable by corporate employers who need people on the job 24/7.

In any event, only a small proportion of Nordic women choose to work as managers and professionals. Most choose lower-paid, highly gender-segregated work. As Alison Wolf has written in her excellent book The XX Factor, Scandinavian countries “hold the record for gender segregation because they have gone the furthest in outsourcing traditional female activities and turning unpaid home-based ‘caring’ into formal employment.”

Despite vigorous efforts to stamp out gender stereotyping, most Swedish girls would still rather be daycare workers and nurses when they grow up. And boys would rather be welders and truck drivers. And that’s not all. To the extreme chagrin of social engineers throughout Scandinavia, mothers still take the bulk of parental leave. Most men take parental leave only when a certain part of it is designated for fathers only.

Here’s an even more alarming possibility. What if people in the most developed countries are inclined to express greater gender differences, not less?

Studies of people in more than 60 countries around the world have found that much of gendered behaviour is culturally universal – men in all cultures tend to be more assertive and less emotionally expressive, while women are more nurturing and co-operative. But according to one startling research report, the divergence between male and female personality traits is more marked in highly developed countries...

Where do women have it better? That probably depends on how you define “better.”

If you define it as “high female pay and occupational success,” you’d choose North America. If you define it as “achieving work-life balance, with broad social supports and plenty of time for family and personal development,” you’d probably choose Sweden. There is no one right answer, only different ones.

As for how you get more women to lean in, I honestly don’t know. It’s hard to make them if they don’t want to."


What 'Lean In' Misunderstands About Gender Differences - Christina Hoff Sommers - The Atlantic

"There is much to admire in Sheryl Sandberg's book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead...

But this otherwise likeable and inspirational self-help book has a serious flaw: It is mired in 1970s-style feminism. Nation magazine columnist Katha Pollitt compares Sandberg to "someone who's just taken Women's Studies 101 and wants to share it with her friends." What Pollitt intends as a compliment goes to the heart of what is wrong with Lean In...

Sandberg excels at the forward edge of economics and technology, but her sociology leans back to the Age of Aquarius. She praises to the skies Marlo Thomas's 1972 unisex album "Free to Be You and Me." She wants to bring back consciousness-raising groups, calling them "Lean in Circles." Women are advised to meet together and carry out "Listen, ask, and share" exercises. Sandberg's "Lean In" website provides "exploration kits" for these séances. One instructs group members to go round the room and finish sentences like "What I am most looking forward to in the month ahead..." and "Today I am feeling..." Is this how Mark Zuckerberg got to the top?

Sandberg's goal is to liberate her fellow Americans from the stereotypes of gender. But is that truly liberating?...

"It looks as if personality differences between men and women are smaller in traditional cultures like India's or Zimbabwe's than in the Netherlands or the United States. A husband and a stay-at-home wife in a patriarchal Botswanan clan seem to be more alike than a working couple in Denmark or France."

Why should that be? The authors of the study hypothesize that prosperity and equality bring greater opportunities for self-actualization. Wealth, freedom, and education empower men and women to be who they are. It is conspicuously the case that gay liberation is a feature of advanced, prosperous societies: but such societies also afford heterosexuals more opportunities to embrace their gender identities. This cross-cultural research is far from conclusive, but it is intriguing and has great explanatory power. Just think: What if gender difference turns out to be a phenomenon not of oppression, but rather of social well-being?

Consider, in this regard, the gender disparities in engineering. An article on the Wharton School website laments the paucity of women engineers and holds up China and Russia as superior examples of equity. According to the post, "In China, 40 percent of engineers are women, and in the former USSR, women accounted for 58 percent of the engineering workforce." The author blames workplace biases and stereotypes for the fact that women in the United States earn only 20 percent of the doctoral degrees in engineering. But perhaps American women earn fewer degrees in engineering because they don't have to. They have more opportunities to pursue careers that really interest them. American women may be behind men in engineering, but they now earn a majority of all Ph.Ds and outnumber men in humanities, biology, social sciences, and health sciences. Despite 40 years of consciousness-raising and gender-neutral pronouns, most men and women still gravitate to different fields and organize their lives in different ways. Women in countries like Sweden, Norway and Iceland enjoy elaborate supportive legislation, yet their vocational preferences and family priorities are similar to those of American women.

In a 2013 national poll on modern parenthood, the Pew Research Center asked mothers and fathers to identify their "ideal" working arrangement. Fifty percent of mothers said they would prefer to work part-time and 11 percent said they would prefer not to work at all. Fathers answered differently: 75 percent preferred full-time work. And the higher the socio-economic status of women, the more likely they were to reject full-time employment. Among women with annual family incomes of $50,000 or higher, only 25 percent identified full-time work as their ideal. Sandberg regards such attitudes as evidence of women's fear of success, double standards, gender bias, sexual harassment, and glass ceilings. But what if they are the triumph of prosperity and opportunity?

Sandberg seems to believe that the choices of contemporary American women are not truly free. Women who opt out or "lean back" (that is, towards home) are victims of sexism and social conditioning. "True equality will be achieved only when we all fight the stereotypes that hold us back." But aren't American women as self-determining as any in the history of humanity? In place of bland assertion, Sandberg needs to explain why the life choices of educated, intelligent women in liberal, opportunity-rich societies are unfree. And she needs to explain why the choices she promotes will make women happier and more fulfilled.

An up-to-date manifesto on women and work should steer clear of encounter groups and boys-must-play-with dolls rhetoric. It should make room for human reality: that in the pursuit of happiness, men and women often take different paths. Gender differences can sometimes be symptoms of oppression and subordination. But in a modern society they can also be the felicitous consequences of liberated choice—of the "free to be you and me" that women have been working towards for generations."

Generous Work/Family Policies Don’t Guarantee Equality | Family Studies

"Lone parents in every country are almost always women, a perplexing and growing problem for by-the-numbers egalitarians... absolute parity between mothers and father at work and at home remains a fantasy that actual women and men both in the United States and abroad show few signs of wanting."

Le mystère du moi féminin

"Il revenait à l’époque de sa vie de célibataire. Car il était soudain sans Tereza. Il ne la voyait que la nuit, quand elle rentrait du bar et qu’il ouvrait un œil dans le premier sommeil, puis le matin quand c’était elle qui était ensommeillée et qu’il se dépêchait d’aller à son travail. Il avait seize heures pour lui tout seul et c’était un espace de liberté qui lui était inopinément offert. Pour lui, depuis sa prime jeunesse, un espace de liberté, ça voulait dire des femmes...

Que cherchait-il chez toutes ces femmes ? Qu’est-ce qui l’attirait vers elles ? L’amour physique n’est-il pas l’éternelle répétition du même ?

Nullement. Il reste toujours un petit pourcentage d’inimaginable. Quand il voyait une femme tout habillée, il pouvait évidemment s’imaginer plus ou moins comment elle serait une fois nue (ici son expérience de médecin complétait l’expérience de l’amant), mais entre l’approximation de l’idée et la précision de la réalité il subsistait un petit intervalle d’inimaginable, et c’était cette lacune qui ne le laissait pas en repos. Et puis, la poursuite de l’inimaginable ne s’achève pas avec la découverte de la nudité, elle va plus loin : quelles mines ferait-elle en se déshabillant ? que dirait-elle quand il lui ferait l’amour ? sur quelles notes seraient ses soupirs ? quel rictus viendrait se graver sur son visage dans l’instant de la volupté ?...

Tomas était obsédé du désir de découvrir ce millionième et de s’en emparer et c’était ce qui faisait pour lui le sens de son obsession des femmes. Il n’était pas obsédé par les femmes, il était obsédé par ce que chacune d’elles a d’inimaginable, autrement dit, il était obsédé par ce millionième de dissemblable qui distingue une femme des autres.

(Peut-être que sa passion de chirurgien rejoignait ici sa passion de séducteur. Il ne lâchait pas le scalpel imaginaire, même quand il était avec ses maîtresses. Il désirait s’emparer de quelque chose qui était profondément enfoui à l’intérieur d’elles-mêmes et pour quoi il fallait déchirer leur enveloppe superficielle.)

On est évidemment en droit de se demander pourquoi il allait chercher dans la sexualité ce millionième de dissemblable. Ne pouvait-il le trouver, par exemple, dans la démarche, dans les goûts culinaires ou dans les préférences esthétiques d’une telle ou d’une autre ?

Il est certain que ce millionième de dissemblable est présent dans tous les aspects de la vie humaine, mais il y est partout publiquement dévoilé, il n’est pas besoin de le découvrir, il n’est pas besoin de scalpel pour l’approcher. Qu’une femme préfère le fromage aux pâtisseries et qu’une autre ne supporte pas le chou-fleur, c’est certes un signe d’originalité, mais on voit immédiatement que cette originalité-là est tout à fait insignifiante et vaine et qu’on perdrait son temps en s’y intéressant et en y cherchant une valeur quelconque.

C’est seulement dans la sexualité que le millionième de dissemblable apparaît comme une chose précieuse, car il n’est pas accessible publiquement et il faut le conquérir. Il y a encore un demi-siècle, ce genre de conquête exigeait beaucoup de temps (des semaines, parfois même des mois !) et la valeur de l’objet conquis se mesurait au temps consacré à le conquérir. Même aujourd’hui, bien que le temps de la conquête ait considérablement raccourci, la sexualité est encore pour nous comme le coffret d’argent où se cache le mystère du moi féminin.

Ce n’était donc nullement le désir de la volupté (la volupté venait pour ainsi dire en prime) mais le désir de s’emparer du monde (d’ouvrir au scalpel le corps gisant du monde) qui le jetait à la poursuite des femmes.

Les hommes qui poursuivent une multitude de femmes peuvent aisément se répartir en deux catégories. Les uns cherchent chez toutes les femmes leur propre idée de la femme telle qu’elle leur apparaît dans leur rêve, subjective et toujours semblable. Les autres sont mus par le désir de s’emparer de l’infinie diversité du monde féminin objectif.

L’obsession des premiers est une obsession romantique : ce qu’ils cherchent chez les femmes, c’est eux-mêmes, c’est leur idéal, et ils sont toujours et continuellement déçus parce que l’idéal, comme nous le savons, c’est ce qu’il n’est jamais possible de trouver. Comme la déception qui les pousse de femme en femme donne à leur inconstance une sorte d’excuse mélodramatique, bien des dames sentimentales trouvent émouvante leur opiniâtre polygamie.

L’autre obsession est une obsession libertine, et les femmes n’y voient rien d’émouvant : du fait que l’homme ne projette pas sur les femmes un idéal subjectif, tout l’intéresse et rien ne peut le décevoir. Et cette inaptitude à la déception a en soi quelque chose de scandaleux. Aux yeux du monde, l’obsession du baiseur libertin est sans rémission (parce qu’elle n’est pas rachetée par la déception).

Comme le baiseur romantique poursuit toujours le même type de femme, on ne remarque même pas qu’il change de maîtresses ; ses amis lui causent de perpétuels malentendus car ils ne perçoivent pas de différence entre ses compagnes et les appellent toujours par le même nom.

Dans leur chasse à la connaissance, les baiseurs libertins (et c’est évidemment dans cette catégorie qu’il faut ranger Tomas) s’éloignent de plus en plus de la beauté féminine conventionnelle (dont ils sont vite blasés) et finissent immanquablement en collectionneurs de curiosités. Ils le savent, ils en ont un peu honte et, pour ne pas gêner leurs amis, ils ne se montrent pas en public avec leurs maîtresses"

--- L'Insoutenable Legerete De L'etre / Milan Kundera

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Links - 12th December 2013

Sexually graphic questions appear in Cambridge law exam - "Oral sex, anal rape and torture all featured in a Cambridge criminal law exam last week, shocking some of the 200-plus students who sat the paper. Question nine featured graphic descriptions of legal murky acts of sexual humiliation conducted at the initiation ceremony of a fictional drinking society called ‘the Vizards’.
The question, which was in three parts, is introduced like this:
“Sandra is President of The Vizards, a College drinking society. She is organising the initiation of new members. After a great deal of alcohol has been drunk, the members of the society form a circle around Billy, Gilbert and Richard who are to be initiated.” It goes on to describe three situations in which one male student is tricked into receiving oral sex from another; another experiences an indecent assault with a win bottle; and a third dies after his pubic hair is removed to vigorously and the wound gets infected."

Nike women's marathon: San Francisco residents given sex hotline number instead of noise complaint line - "Callers trying to make a noise complaint were instead told to unzip ‘cause there won't be any room in there once we get our hands, mouths and legs wrapped around you.’"

Piracy site IsoHunt to shut down and pay $110m - "He also said the industry could render sites like IsoHunt obsolete if it offered simultaneous releases worldwide, as well as digital offerings that were cheaper than physical copies. His thoughts echoed findings by a trio of researchers at George Mason University in Virginia, US. Their site piracydata.org has been collating the weekly top 10 most-pirated films and investigating whether legal digital methods were available. They found that half of the movies in the list were not available to access legally online. Furthermore, none of the 10 titles could be streamed - arguably the most straightforward way to consume media online."

Commentary: The threats to Singapore hawkers - "A fellow drinks seller once told me that a few customers verbally abused him when they found out he raised prices of his coffee drinks by 10 cents. “I’ve not raised prices for almost 10 years,” he decried. “They complain that they have to now pay $1 for a kopi (coffee), but these are the people who don’t even blink at paying $7 at Starbucks”... Times may have changed, but mindsets sadly haven’t... The recent news of a Hougang kopitiam changing hands for almost an eye-popping $24 million doesn’t bode well for the industry in general... this is not helped by the bizarre idea where the authorities are encouraging hawkers to somehow maintain prices so that food is kept at affordable prices for the masses. Ironically, the same authorities were far less able at stopping landlords from increasing rentals. That would have been more helpful in relieving some of the cost pressures off hawkers. While I agree in principle that hawker food should be affordable, the idea that hawkers should be subsidising the meals of their customers, who range from low- to high-income earners, strikes me as rather ludicrous. I may be wrong, but I have an uneasy feeling that perhaps a lot of what is crippling Singapore’s hawker scene has to do with complacency . That Singaporeans have been feeling superior about our street food for far too long and that sense of pride has been misplaced. The truth is, Singapore’s street food has seen little real innovation since it began on the streets. We’ve seen quite a few old-school dishes die out over the decades, and some, such as ter kar tang (cold pig trotters) are on the verge of disappearing. Is selling Japanese or Korean cuisine in a hawker stall considered true food innovation? I’m not so sure."

Homosexuality is criminal offence, Supreme Court rules - "The Supreme Court on Wednesday set aside the decision of the Delhi high court, which had in 2009 decriminalised sexual relation between persons belonging to same sex. The apex court upheld the constitutional validity of Section 377 of Indian Penal Code that makes anal sex a punishable offence. LGBT activists, whose sexual relationships had been legalised by the Delhi HC, broke down inside the court room. Parliament is authorised to remove Section 377, but as long as this provision is there, the court can not legalise this kind of sexual relationship, the SC bench observed."

Disturbing trends in judicial activism - "The Supreme Court has made an order even in a military operation. In 1993, the Court issued orders on the conduct of military operations in Hazratbal, Kashmir where the military had as a matter of strategy restricted the food supplies to hostages. The Court ordered that the provision of food of 1,200 calorific value should be supplied to hostages. Commenting on this, an Army General wrote: “For the first time in history, a Court of Law was asked to pronounce judgment on the conduct of an ongoing military operation. Its verdict materially affected the course of operation.” Even proceedings of Legislatures are controlled by the Court. In the Jharkhand Legislative Assembly case, the Supreme Court ordered the Assembly to conduct a Motion of Confidence and ordered the Speaker to conduct proceedings according to a prescribed agenda and not to entertain any other business. Its proceedings were ordered to be recorded for reporting to the Court. These orders were made in spite of Article 212 of the Constitution which states that Courts are not to inquire into any proceedings of the legislature."

Misreading the Madras HC ruling: Premarital sex is not marriage | Firstpost - "the judge did indeed make a number of incendiary statements, such as: “Consequently, if any couple choose to consummate their sexual cravings, then that act becomes a total commitment with adherence to all consequences that may follow, except on certain exceptional considerations”... In 2010, a Delhi Court held that sex outside marriage was equivalent to rape because the man had coerced the woman into sex by promising marriage. But in 2013, the Supreme Court overturned a similar conviction by raising the bar of proof... The notion that a man has robbed a woman of her honour by falsely luring her into bed may be somewhat Victorian"

Conservative Judicial Activists Run Amok - "for decades, judicial activism had been primarily associated with the left — liberal judges handed down broad readings of laws to expand rights, enraging conservatives who believed they were taking upon themselves decisions better left to democratic channels. Their complaints were not wholly unfounded — even if you support, say, abortion rights, as I do, the notion that the Constitution requires the right to an abortion is quite a stretch of judicial activism... At times the deliberations of the Republican justices are impossible to distinguish from the deliberations of Republican senators"
Judicial activism is two-sided

Centuries-old temple ruins in Bujang Valley furtively destroyed - "Prehistoric ruins at an archaeological site in Bujang Valley some 1,200 years old were secretly demolished by a land developer, a Penang lawmaker said yesterday, even as Badan Warisan Malaysia seeks to list the historical spot as a Unesco world heritage site."

Joseph Prince and the New Creation Church - "Jon Ruthven, a Regent University professor emeritus of theology, says Prince has done good work in emphasizing positive aspects of Christianity, including the idea “that God is very present to save, heal and provide.” But he expresses concerns shared with other critics of Word of Faith, faulting Prince for minimizing Biblical warnings that the Christian life “necessarily will cause suffering, loss and rejection.” God, says Ruthven, “is not the popular ‘vending-machine’ God, who exists only to make someone healthy and rich.”"

Japan Legal FAQ – Is the age of consent in Japan really 13? - "The age of consent in Japan is 13 years old under the Japanese national criminal law code. However, all municipalities and prefectures have their own particular laws such as Tokyo’s “Youth Protection Law” which prohibit adults from having sex with youths who are under 17 years old. Because the age of consent in Japan ranges from 13 to 18, depending on jurisdiction, many enjo kyosai clients cannot be charged with statutory rape"

Uruguay approves world's first national marketplace for legal marijuana - "Uruguay's Senate approved the world's first national marketplace for legal marijuana Tuesday, an audacious and risky experiment that puts the government in charge of growing, selling and using a drug that is illegal almost everywhere else"

» Friday Fun: Les oiseaux dans la charmille (The Doll Aria) – Offenbach Cate Sings - "Today’s aria is a favourite of mine, because you can do so much with it, and because it contains so much potential for humour, pathos, and creepiness. This version contains all three of those aspects… The Doll Aria comes from Offenbach’s rather strange and disturbing opera Les Contes D’Hoffmann, in which the protagonist keeps meeting and falling in love with the same woman in different incarnations – first she is a clockwork doll, later a girl who will die if she ever sings, and finally a courtesan who plans to steal his reflection. Strange to say, none of these love affairs end well – in every case, the woman’s guardian, parent or keeper plays a rather sinister role – and our coloratura soprano gets not one, but three death scenes, thus creating a new record in the ‘soprano falls and love, then dies’ school of opera... The words are very simple, and don’t have much relevance to the opera... if you think that one is indecent, I suggest that you do not Google Patricia Petibon’s version, which keeps on being taken down from YouTube for general X-ratedness."

A conservative's answer to Wikipedia - "After administrators blocked their accounts, Lipson and several other editors quit trying to moderate the articles and instead started their own website, RationalWiki.com. From there, they monitor Conservapedia. And -- by their own admission -- engage in acts of cyber-vandalism. In recent months, Conservapedia's articles have been hit frequently by interlopers from RationalWiki and elsewhere. The vandals have inserted errors, pornographic photos and satire, including this addition to an entry on Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales: "Mr. Gonzales is a strong supporter of torture as a law enforcement tool for use against Democrats and third world inhabitants." The vandalism aims "to cause people to say, 'That Conservapedia is just wacko,' " said Brian Macdonald, 45, a Navy veteran in Murfreesboro, Tenn., who puts in several hours a day on the site fending off malicious editing. Such aggression has reinforced the view among some Conservapedia writers that left-wingers are out to suppress their free speech. "I had heard it spoken of, but it had never really hit home before just how hostile they are," said a 15-year-old in New Jersey whose mother asked that her name not be used. The girl, who is home-schooled, wrote an article for Conservapedia on Irish dancing and uses the site to research papers. But the biggest lesson she's taken away as a young conservative is: "There are people who want to destroy us.""
Apparently Rationalism = Aggressive Liberalism
It's hard to take claims of rationality seriously if you use the terms "balls deep" and "even more hilarious" to describe people you disagree with (Scalia) and don't mention critiques from the other side despite appropriating "their" term

Sex, Lies and the Politics of Padded Bras - "Why is the bust something important enough to bring up dishonesty and deception? Because it's seen as a bargaining chip in a sexual relationship, bigger boobs being more valuable. Fraud is only relevant if you are replacing something of higher value with something of lesser value. Deceit comes into play when the result is hurtful. The only reason push up bras can be dishonest is because boobs are viewed as commodities that increase a woman's sexual value."
Of course, if a man lies about his life it just shows that he is dishonest, shifty and not to be trusted
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