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Saturday, September 28, 2013

On wanting to be grown up

“Critics who treat adult as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

--- On Three Ways of Writing for Children / CS Lewis

Friday, September 27, 2013

Links - 27th September 2013

"Anthropology Without Science - "In the past, archaeologists and practicing and professional anthropologists have argued that the discipline as a whole has become dominated by cultural anthropologists, and has grown indifferent to their interests. More fundamentally, the dispute has brought to light how little common ground is shared by anthropologists who span a wide array of sub-specialties... "It’s become so dominated by, not so much humanistic scholars, but by scholars who are actively hostile" to science, said Raymond Hames, chair of anthropology at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and a cultural anthropologist who favors a scientific approach... Culturally centered interpretations must be subjected to empirical evaluation, even if doing so exposes anthropologists to charges of disrespecting local customs in favor of the "hegemonic" scientific method, he said. He described a hypothetical field study in which children being studied in a community were found to be dying of dysentery or cholera. "Are we to accept the local explanation that children are dying ... because someone is breaking a taboo and the gods are angry," he said, "or do we look to see how fecal matter is being introduced to the water supply?""
The colonizing, privileging, superior positionality of anthropology that continues to plague the discipline: saving children's lives from Cholera since 1885
And people get upset when Pinker asks the humanities to embrace science

No Science, Please. We're Anthropologists. - "Presumably, in the AAA's tradition, the promotion of the "public understanding of humankind" will include anything that is politically unoffensive to the AAA leadership, and nothing offensive. It's safe to assume the AAA will not be promoting the public understanding of how human behaviors evolved, especially if those human behaviors are anything that might make some or all humans look violent, greedy, harmful to the environment, or (worst of all) sexually dimorphic... I was reminded why anthropologists refer to the annual conference as "the meetings," plural: it's because they go and meet with their own actual disciplinary types, in separate groups, so that the real scientists don't have to deal too much with the fluff-head cultural anthropological types who think science is just another way of knowing. Not all cultural anthropologists are fluff-heads, of course. You can usually tell the ones who are fluff-heads by their constant need to look like superheroes for oppressed peoples, and you can tell the non-fluff-heads by their attention to data. But the non-fluff-head cultural anthropologists are feeling utterly beleaguered in this environment that actively denigrates science and consistently promotes activism over data collection and scientific theorizing... "If we purge science from our mission statement we lose our credibility, the ability to advocate for effective change, and hence our power to do good. We become just another special interest group." Hames brought up a useful example, namely the recent ruling in Florida allowing gay and lesbian couples to adopt children. In that case, the judge considered the scientific evidence showing that same-sex couples can be just as good parents as opposite-sex couples. Wrote Hames to me, "Evidence-based advocacy trumps special interest group advocacy." So, even if most of what the AAA wants to do is advocacy rather than data-driven scholarship, why ditch science in that pursuit?... "The willingness of some anthropologists to relinquish any claim to doing science is symptomatic of the low self-esteem among many colleagues. They are happy not to be held to a high standard of rigor in their research and writing and pleased to be judged by the more open-ended and subjective standards of humanistic research""

Science's Humanities Gap - NYTimes.com - "In his recent sermon to humanists, “Science Is Not Your Enemy,” the psychologist Steven Pinker makes an impressive plea for humanists to pay more attention to science and urges them to an interdisciplinary approach that he thinks has been sadly lacking. His general point is surely right: specialists in any area are likely to benefit from acquaintance with relevant work beyond their disciplinary boundaries. But it seems to me that Pinker mistakes his audience. On this issue, it’s humanists who are the choir and scientists who need a call to grace... philosophers of mind — David Chalmers is a striking example — who work in cognitive science are typically highly trained in that discipline. Few cognitive scientists and neuroscientists have comparably strong backgrounds in philosophy of mind"
Comments: "I have been studying and performing research in physics since high school. During this time I have never stopped studying the humanities. Most scientists I know live the same way... I took several upper level humanities courses as an undergrad, but never saw linguistics students nor historians in my probability and statistics courses, which I consider to be a huge mistake."
"At my little liberal arts college, most of us non-Humanists encourage our students to take courses in English, History, Philosophy, etc. And the faculty in those areas do not reciprocate. When we're in meetings and social events, and a lit professor starts talking about books and writing, we all understand the discussion; but when the topic is Economics, or Physics, or Mathematics, the Humanists are clueless."
"When someone doesn't know who William Shakespeare is, it is perfectly natural, almost instinctual for a lot of people to then judge that person as stupid, uncultured, uneducated... idiotic. But it is perfectly acceptable in our society for people to have no idea why the sky is blue, a most basic of scientific questions."
"I do not know a single working neuroscientist who takes Chalmers seriously"
"As a history major many years ago I was constantly bombarded by attitudes of resentment and blame towards the science depts. Resentment for their bloated budgets, blame for their birthing of "Social Darwinism" (class/racism), high explosives, nuclear weapons, and all other manner of evil"

Ex-editor of NEJM tells how Big Pharma has corrupted academic institutions

Arts sector can boost Singapore's competitive edge: Yaacob - "The government recognises the importance of the arts sector in providing an edge to our competitiveness. As such we are committed to growing the opportunities in this sector, by providing both funding and infrastructure support”

Chinese turtle 'addicted to smoking' - "The turtle allegedly picked up the unhealthy habit last month when Tang tried to remove a chicken bone stuck in its belly. The painful process agitated the creature and it tried to bite Tang. He put a cigarette in its mouth instead. The pet immediately started puffing away at the cigarette and has been hooked on nicotine ever since. Tang claims that the turtle keeps following
him whenever he smokes, Global Times reported. He now hopes to find a way to help his pet kick the habit since he can’t afford buying cigarettes for both himself and the turtle"

Shanghai restaurants made 'addictive soup' by using poppy

Chinese gaming addict poisons family to be 'free' - "A week before the poisoning, the boy’s mother scared him by threatening that if he visited these cafés again, she would cut his hamstring. "I think he really bought it and carried a grudge""

Where To Find The Smartest Commenters On The Internet - "Internet comments get a lot of flak, but some may be more intellectually challenging than others. BuzzFeed gathered comments from 15 news websites and ran them through Online-Utility.org’s readability
15. Huffington Post
14. TMZ
13. Gawker
12. The Daily Caller
11. Politico
10. Chicago Tribune
9. CNN
8. Los Angeles Times
7. Mother Jones
6. Breitbart
5. Slate
4. Washington Post
3. Fox News
2. New York Times
1. The Atlantic"
Contrary to stereotypes, Fox News has some of the best educated commenters

Inspirational Instagram Cards - "Finally, inspirational Instagrams that won't make you throw up in your mouth...
"love, means never having to clear your browser history."
"pain is just weakness leaving your body in much worse shape than it was before."
"a simile is the prettiest thing you can wear on your ugly FACE.""

Cops: Professor Filmed Student "Upskirt" Videos - "A college professor who used a camera pen to secretly film under the clothing of two students explained to police that he was attempting to gather evidence that one of the women “was not wearing undergarments,” which he thought was “inappropriate”... When asked about the occasions during which he “directed the camera pen at students’ breasts,” Samuelson “acknowledged that this activity was ‘inappropriate’”"

Danish scholar analyzes religious texts, Islam most ‘violence and aggression towards other faiths’ - "A Danish linguist has spent over three years analyzing ten religions basic texts and concludes that the texts of Islam stands out by encouraging terror and violence to a greater extent than in other religion. Danish linguist Tina Magaard, an analysit that questions Islam’s relation to terrorism, violence and holy war worked on the three-year research project... Imams Ahmed Abu Laban and Abdul Wahid Petersen, both of Copenhagen, is strongly resentful of language researcher’s analysis. Abu Laban, “I will not be captured in a single stupid, biased and dishonest research. Why waste time on someone who will create a delusional about Islam?” Petersen calls the analysis “something researcher hogwash ‘"

Unveiling the Truth: Why 32 Muslim Women Wear the Full-Face Veil in France - "Contrary to the usual stereotype of Muslim women who wear the face veil, the majority of women whose voices are heard are like any other French woman with active social lives: working, attending classes, seeing friends, eating out, playing sports, and actively engaging in local activities... The report reveals that since the debate on the face veil began, a large number of the women have experienced verbal and sometimes physical abuse, and as a direct result have preferred to limit their time spent outside the home."

Shoebox » CHUCK & BEANS (comic) - ""Here's to geeky girls!"

Women and Love

"She must either suffer or lie to herself. Most often she clutches at the straw of falsehood. She fancies that the man’s love is the exact counterpart of the love she brings to him; in bad faith she takes desire for love, erection for desire, love for a religion. She compels the man to lie to her: 'Do you love me? As much as yesterday? Will you always love me?' and so on. She cleverly poses her questions at a moment when there is not time enough to give properly qualified and sincere answers, or more especially when circumstances prevent any response; she asks her insistent questions in the course of a sexual embrace, at the verge of a convalescence, in the midst of sobs, or on a railroad platform. She makes trophies of the extorted replies; and if there are no replies, she takes silence to mean what she wishes; every woman in love is more or less a paranoiac"

"Il faut donc qu’elle souffre, ou qu’elle se mente. Le plus souvent, elle s’agrippe d’abord au mensonge. Elle imagine l’amour de l’homme comme l’exacte contrepartie de celui qu’elle lui porte ; elle prend avec mauvaise foi le désir pour de l’amour, l’érection pour le désir, l’amour pour une religion. Elle force l’homme à lui mentir : Tu m’aimes ? Autant qu’hier ? Tu m’aimeras toujours ? Adroitement, elle pose les questions au moment où le temps manque pour donner des réponses nuancées et sincères, ou bien où les circonstances les interdisent ; c’est au cours de l’étreinte amoureuse, à l’orée d’une convalescence, dans les sanglots ou sur le quai d’une gare qu’elle interroge impérieusement ; des réponses arrachées, elle fait des trophées ; et, faute de réponses, elle fait parler les silences ; toute véritable amoureuse est plus ou moins paranoïaque"

--- Le Deuxième Sexe (The Second Sex) / Simone de Beauvoir

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Amusing My Paper article on dating

Going dutch on first date a no-no

Acing that first date can be a tricky affair, especially when one is nervous and unsure of what to expect.

My Paper gets tips from image consultant Suzenne Zheng, founder and master trainer at First Impressions Image International, ahead of Saturday's Singles Forum, which is organised by the Social Development Network.

Why are first impressions important? Isn't it unfair to judge a person based on his appearance?
It should be (based on) more than the person's appearance. We all think that it is unfair to judge, but the problem is that we all do.

Research in psychology has found that you tend to make an impression on somebody in less than 30 seconds. It makes sense that, in these 30 seconds, when you are presenting yourself to the world, you present the best (side of yourself).

Tests show that it takes a further 20 encounters for someone to change their opinion of you.

Conventional dating wisdom says guys should be the one who is more proactive. Is this true?
The girl can make the first move too. A lot of guys need to be pushed. If a girl calls a guy up for coffee a week after the first date, it's a form of encouragement for him.

In this modern age, why not split the bill for a meal on the first date?
A girl must never allow a guy to go dutch on the first date. It doesn't matter which century we live in, chivalry must (not die).

For a marriage to work, a man must still be a man, and a woman must still be a woman. For example, you don't expect a couple to split the cost of a washing machine for their family home.

Talking to a date can be pretty daunting. What topics should one talk about on the first date?
You must be able to strike up a conversation (with your date).

You don't have to know everything, but you should be up to date with what's current. For example, the news headlines of the day, popular movies that people are talking about and songs that people are currently listening to.

Will women carrying branded bags on dates scare guys away?
In other countries, say, China, the guy may think that the girl is hard to maintain (should she carry a branded bag to a date).

In Singapore, guys don't think of it the same way. Most of us work and earn our own keep. If you want a branded bag, the guy expects you to be able to pay for it yourself.

He may give you branded gifts if he can afford it. But don't expect such things from the start.


Catch Ms Zheng and other relationship gurus at The Singles Forum 2013, to be held at the Joyden Hall in Bugis+ at 9am on Saturday.

Registration fee costs $25 (inclusive of tea break and buffet lunch). Sign up for the forum at www.singlesforum 2013.com. Registration ends today.

Make a good first impression

AS THE saying goes, first impressions count.

And when it comes to dating, first impressions can either score you a second date or turn the other party off totally.

To make a good first impression, here's a list of things you need to take note of:

Women are put off by guys with oily hair, nasal hair that is showing, a long nail on the last finger and dirty shoes.

Men are turned off by women with messy hair. According to image consultant Suzenne Zheng, 90 per cent of guys like girls with long, straight black hair.

If getting a perm is your thing, you should go for romantic bouncy curls. Curls that look like Maggi noodles are a no-no.

Men like women in kitten heels or court shoes with 2cm heels.

Killer stilettos give off aggressive vibes that tend to scare men off. And although ballerina flats are comfy, guys feel that these shoes aren't feminine enough.

On the first date, women should consider wearing light make-up, meaning just powder, lipstick and a little eyeliner.

Dramatic false eyelashes may brighten those peepers, but guys don't like them.


A: "... a man must still be a man, and a woman must still be a woman."

Oh ok. She better start washing those clothes so she can start making dinner on time.

B: I do expect my husband and I to split the cost of the washing machine.

Me: I still don't understand who's supposed to pay for the washing machine

C: Or whatever society deems to be the "correct" qualities of a man or woman... we are, each of us, individuals, and should not taint ourselves with the pressure of conforming into our so-called "proper" gender archtypes...

Such an archaic way of thinking... what of the man who wants to stay at home and nurse his own child, or the female who prides her independence and wishes to earn her own living?

Petty things like money should not be the cause of concern for whether a marriage would work. What's important is commitment, the want to sacrifice, companionship... not if the man pays for the fucking washing machine... >.>

D: This thread is awesome. The deliberations over the payment of a washing machine!

Me: the thing about social interaction is that other people have expectations of your behavior. You can behave however you want but this may be misunderstood.

If everyone follows different social scripts this will probably lead to a worse outcome for most people (e.g. the 90% of guys who like long straight black hair, who we can roughly assume are happy to conform to "proper" gender stereotypes) even if a minority benefit. It's like purposely driving on the left side of the road when everyone else is driving on the right.

That said if people were more forthright/honest then different scripts would work, since you would know what the other person was thinking. Unfortunately the realm of inter-gender relations is fraught with games and intrigue, so having common scripts is a necessary evil.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Pense à moi

Pense à moi
pense à nous deux
après nos au revoirs.
Ne m'oublie pas
où que tu ailles
promets-le-moi ce soir.
Quand l'instant
te semblera venu
de regagner ta liberté,
Glisse-moi de temps à autre
là, dans tes pensées.

Oh non, jamais nous n'avons cru l'amour
irréprochable et infini.
Mais un jour si tu t'éloignes,
pense à moi aussi.

Pense au temps où tout semblait facile.
Dis-toi qu'après la pluie demain jubile!

Pense à moi
qui me réveille,
si seule et sans espoir,
qui rêve et prie
qu'enfin le temps
t'arrache à ma memoire.

Revis ces jours,
repense à ces instants.
Les petits riens semblaient si doux.
Il ne sera pas un jour
Sans que je pense à nous...

Fleurs et fruits, tout n'a qu'un temps ici.
Les grands élans ne durent pas.
Mais veux-tu me le promettre?
Pense aussi...
À moi!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Another interesting part of the Penal Code

Section 504: Intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace
Whoever intentionally insults, and thereby gives provocation to any person, intending or knowing it to be likely that such provocation will cause him to break the public peace, or to commit any other offence, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years, or with fine, or with both.

Does this mean that if I stare at a fierce-looking man with tattoos, he asks me "kuah simi?" ("what are you looking at?") in a challenging tone, and I continue to stare (or give a droll reply)

I tried to find examples of this law in action, but have not been very successful, finding only one example:

In Malaysia people were investigated under this law for stepping on "photographs of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor"

Other posts in this series:

Section 354, Assault or use of criminal force to a person with intent to outrage modesty
Section 508, Act caused by inducing a person to believe that he will be rendered an object of divine displeasure.
Section 509: Word or gesture intended to insult the modesty of a woman
Slander of women (Defamation Act)
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