When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, December 07, 2013

A history of media technology scares, from the printing press to Facebook.

Don't Touch That Dial!

"A respected Swiss scientist, Conrad Gessner, might have been the first to raise the alarm about the effects of information overload. In a landmark book, he described how the modern world overwhelmed people with data and that this overabundance was both "confusing and harmful" to the mind. The media now echo his concerns with reports on the unprecedented risks of living in an "always on" digital environment. It's worth noting that Gessner, for his part, never once used e-mail and was completely ignorant about computers. That's not because he was a technophobe but because he died in 1565. His warnings referred to the seemingly unmanageable flood of information unleashed by the printing press.

Worries about information overload are as old as information itself, with each generation reimagining the dangerous impacts of technology on mind and brain. From a historical perspective, what strikes home is not the evolution of these social concerns, but their similarity from one century to the next, to the point where they arrive anew with little having changed except the label.

These concerns stretch back to the birth of literacy itself. In parallel with modern concerns about children's overuse of technology, Socrates famously warned against writing because it would "create forgetfulness in the learners' souls, because they will not use their memories." He also advised that children can't distinguish fantasy from reality, so parents should only allow them to hear wholesome allegories and not "improper" tales, lest their development go astray. The Socratic warning has been repeated many times since: The older generation warns against a new technology and bemoans that society is abandoning the "wholesome" media it grew up with, seemingly unaware that this same technology was considered to be harmful when first introduced.

Gessner's anxieties over psychological strain arose when he set about the task of compiling an index of every available book in the 16th century, eventually published as the Bibliotheca universalis. Similar concerns arose in the 18th century, when newspapers became more common. The French statesman Malesherbes railed against the fashion for getting news from the printed page, arguing that it socially isolated readers and detracted from the spiritually uplifting group practice of getting news from the pulpit. A hundred years later, as literacy became essential and schools were widely introduced, the curmudgeons turned against education for being unnatural and a risk to mental health. An 1883 article in the weekly medical journal the Sanitarian argued that schools "exhaust the children's brains and nervous systems with complex and multiple studies, and ruin their bodies by protracted imprisonment." Meanwhile, excessive study was considered a leading cause of madness by the medical community.

When radio arrived, we discovered yet another scourge of the young: The wireless was accused of distracting children from reading and diminishing performance in school, both of which were now considered to be appropriate and wholesome. In 1936, the music magazine the Gramophone reported that children had "developed the habit of dividing attention between the humdrum preparation of their school assignments and the compelling excitement of the loudspeaker" and described how the radio programs were disturbing the balance of their excitable minds. The television caused widespread concern as well: Media historian Ellen Wartella has noted how "opponents voiced concerns about how television might hurt radio, conversation, reading, and the patterns of family living and result in the further vulgarization of American culture."

By the end of the 20th century, personal computers had entered our homes, the Internet was a global phenomenon, and almost identical worries were widely broadcast through chilling headlines: CNN reported that "Email 'hurts IQ more than pot'," the Telegraph that "Twitter and Facebook could harm moral values" and the "Facebook and MySpace generation 'cannot form relationships'," and the Daily Mail ran a piece on "How using Facebook could raise your risk of cancer." Not a single shred of evidence underlies these stories, but they make headlines across the world because they echo our recurrent fears about new technology.

These fears have also appeared in feature articles for more serious publications: Nicolas Carr's influential article "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" for the Atlantic suggested the Internet was sapping our attention and stunting our reasoning; the Times of London article "Warning: brain overload" said digital technology is damaging our ability to empathize; and a piece in the New York Times titled "The Lure of Data: Is It Addictive?" raised the question of whether technology could be causing attention deficit disorder. All of these pieces have one thing in common—they mention not one study on how digital technology is affecting the mind and brain. They tell anecdotes about people who believe they can no longer concentrate, talk to scientists doing peripherally related work, and that's it. Imagine if the situation in Afghanistan were discussed in a similar way. You could write 4,000 words for a major media outlet without ever mentioning a relevant fact about the war. Instead, you'd base your thesis on the opinions of your friends and the guy down the street who works in the kebab shop. He's actually from Turkey, but it's all the same, though, isn't it?

There is, in fact, a host of research that directly tackles these issues. To date, studies suggest there is no consistent evidence that the Internet causes mental problems. If anything, the data show that people who use social networking sites actually tend to have better offline social lives, while those who play computer games are better than nongamers at absorbing and reacting to information with no loss of accuracy or increased impulsiveness. In contrast, the accumulation of many years of evidence suggests that heavy television viewing does appear to have a negative effect on our health and our ability to concentrate. We almost never hear about these sorts of studies anymore because television is old hat, technology scares need to be novel, and evidence that something is safe just doesn't make the grade in the shock-horror media agenda.

The writer Douglas Adams observed how technology that existed when we were born seems normal, anything that is developed before we turn 35 is exciting, and whatever comes after that is treated with suspicion. This is not to say all media technologies are harmless, and there is an important debate to be had about how new developments affect our bodies and minds. But history has shown that we rarely consider these effects in anything except the most superficial terms because our suspicions get the better of us. In retrospect, the debates about whether schooling dulls the brain or whether newspapers damage the fabric of society seem peculiar, but our children will undoubtedly feel the same about the technology scares we entertain now. It won't be long until they start the cycle anew."

Plus ça change...

It is said that "Even if people were wrong to fear certain technologies in the past, that says absolutely nothing about whether people who fear certain other technologies today are right or wrong".

But then, after tons of fraudulent cold fusion claims, only a fool would not be skeptical of the next one.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Lao vs Laos

Me: If Lao has no copyright legislation, is it a haven for piracy? Torrent sites should move there

A: Lao Tzu ah

Me: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=lao&l=1

A: oh u meant LaoS

Me: n00b

"Laos ((Listeni/ˈlaʊs/, /ˈlɑː.ɒs/, /ˈlɑː.oʊs/, or /ˈleɪ.ɒs/)[6][7][8] Lao Language: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ, pronounced [sǎː.tʰáː.laʔ.naʔ.lat páʔ.sáː.tʰiʔ.páʔ.tàj páʔ.sáː.són.láːw] Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao), officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic"

A: Lao isn't a place. It's Laos in English. Just like we don't call Germany "Deutschland"...

Me: The official name in English is Lao

Too bad
United Nations member States - Information Sources

B: pwnt

A: It's actually not. Like I said, it would be like calling Germany "Deutschland" or Italy "Italia" while speaking English.

Too bad...

What’s in a name? ‘Lao’ or ‘Laos’? | lao-ocean-girl

Me: The name registered with the UN and displayed on the English sites is the official English name

That's why we have:
- Lao (http://www.un.int/lao/)
- Germany (http://www.new-york-un.diplo.de/Vertretung/newyorkvn/en/Startseite.html)
- Italy (www.italyun.esteri.it/rappresentanza_onu)
- Côte D'Ivoire (http://www.un.org/en/members/index.shtml)
- Netherlands (and not Holland) (http://www.netherlandsmission.org/)
- Viet Nam (and not Vietnam) (http://www.vietnam-un.org/en/index.php)

A: It's not Lao, it's the Lao People's Democractic Republic or Lao PDR. Can you read the bloody article I linked please, it's common courtesy in a dialogue.

Me: I did and I would've left a comment if they were not closed.

The article's point is that it is pedantic to *insist* that one use the term "Lao" and to say that "Laos does not exist".

Here it is the opposite problem - in order to troll me you are pedantically insisting that "Lao does not exist". This is like pretending not to understand what "Singapura" is in an English context.

A: Nope, I am not saying Lao does not exist, I am saying that, and I quote "'Lao’ is perfectly correct in English when used as an adjective".

The article's point is that the usage of 'Lao' to refer to Laos is wrong. It is as silly as using the words 'Nihon', 'Zhong Guo', or 'Deutschland' when referring to those countries in English.

And while I, as someone with a larger than single digit IQ, understand very well what you are referring to when you use 'Lao' to refer to Laos because it is only 1 letter apart and I can infer from context, I used the examples above to illustrate that it is the same mistake.

tl;dr - Lao is an adjective, Laos is a proper noun, and Lao People's Democratic Republic works because it uses 'Lao' as an adjective and when you shorten it to 'Lao' it's just wrong, because you are writing in English

C: The official name is not Lao. The official name is Lao PDR. Semantics aside, it would just be clearer to everyone if Laos is used, even though the 's' is silent. Lao is primarily used as an adjective.

Me: I have heard Laotian people using the term "Lao" when referring to their country when speaking in English. If it's good enough for them (and for their government officials, as Lao-Ocean Girl also relates), it's good enough for me.

Feel free to denounce extant usage and tell them they are wrong.

I am not the one going around insisting extant usage is wrong (as I would be if I said "Laos" does not exist, which I am not)

D: Gabriel I'm totally with you on this one. I just went to Lao or Lao PDR or Laos or whatever you call it. Every local I spoke to there called themselves Lao, or Lao people, or "your first time in Lao?" Not a single one said "Laos". Then again their accent (and language) is very similar to Thai, so even if it was "Laos" they wouldn't pronounce the S. Germans don't say "Deutschland" when referring to Germany in English. Lao people call Lao PDR "Lao" when speaking English. I don't think I even saw any signs that said "Laos" anywhere. If the girl in the article has a problem with that, she should go home and ask people why they say it that way in English cuz she can't blame us from learning from them.

The history of Lao/Laos is complicated so it's a little hard to understand, but I had the impression that the term 'Laos' was used much more commonly up till the communists won the revolution in 1970-something, after which the name of the country became Lao PDR and people stopped using "Laos". It seems to me that using "Laos" is a bit of a legacy term, just like how many people from Myanmar still call themselves Burmese even though the country name isn't Burma anymore. It's not wrong per se, but you definitely can't hit someone on the head for calling the country 'Lao' because they're not saying 'Laos.'

To say the official name is not Lao but Lao PDR is like saying China isn't China's name, it's People's Republic of China. That's just a silly argument. If the official name is Lao PDR, and you don't want to use the whole name, just use Lao. That's just reasonable and common sense.

C: Silly argument? I'm just responding to how it was claimed earlier that the official name is "Lao", since the topic on officiality was on. What's even sillier is having confusion on how to spell a place when both names pronounce the same since the 's' has and always been silent.

D: So if someone tried to call Singapore "Singapura" and someone else tried to say we should use "Singapore" because "Singapore" is the official English name, would you jump in and say "actually no, the official name of Singapore is 'Republic of Singapore'"? I don't see what it adds to the conversation. That's the kind of thing that Martin in the Simpsons says that makes the other kids want to punch him.

And I think this thread has gotten really disproportionately argumentative over an extremely small detail. Can we just accept that both terms are commonly used and move on until we find a more authoritative answer... I'm sure we all have better things to do with our day (this is an indirect jab at myself to get off Facebook and get back to work).

Animal rationabile vs Animal rationale

"[The human being] has a character, which he himself creates, insofar as he is capable of perfecting himself according to ends that he himself adopts. By means of this the human being, as an animal endowed with the capacity of reason (animal rationabile), can make out of himself a rational animal (animal rationale)"

--- Anthropology from a pragmatic point of view / Immanuel Kant

"As Allen Wood notes: "Human beings are capable of directing their lives rationally, but it is not especially characteristic of them to exercise this capacity successfully. Rather, rationality must be viewed as a problem set for human beings by their nature”. In characterizing human beings’ relationship to rationality in this more qualified manner, Kant adds a further tentative note to his account of human nature. Humans are not inherently rational, but they have the capacity to become rational. And some of us may succeed more than others. Second, what Kant means by "rationa1ity" in this context is not instrumental rationality (choosing efficient means toward goals or ends that one desires) but substantive rationality (deliberating about and freely determining one’s ends). An animal that strategizes about how to satisfy its hunger exhibits instrumental rationality; an animal that reflects on and then renounces its hunger (say, in protest over an injustice) exhibits substantive rationality. Kant grants that animals have instrumental rationality—like humans, animals also act in accordance with representations (and are not, as Descartes would have it, machines)” (KU 5: 464n; cf. Politz 28: 274). Animals have desires, and many of them think about how to realize their desires. But Kant also holds that only humans—at least among the class of terrestrial beings—have substantive rationality: “in order to assign the human being his class in the system of animal nature, nothing remains for us than to say that he has a character, which he himself creates, insofar as he is capable of perfecting himself according to ends that he himself adopts” (Anrh 7 321). In emphasizing human beings’ capacity to pursue ends of their own choosing (substantive rationality), Kant adds yet another tentative note to his account of human nature. Because humans can freely choose their own ends rather than simply pursue the goals that they instinctively desire, their mode of life is radically indeterminate—open rather than fixed."

--- Kant's Human Being: Essays on His Theory of Human Nature / Robert B. Louden

Links - 6th December 2013 (2)

Friendship between Gay Men and Heterosexual Women: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis - "both gay male and heterosexual female participants were satisfied... A lack of sexual tension was portrayed by most female interviewees, indicating that the friendship between heterosexual women and gay men may be privileged by the lack of an underlying sexual agenda. Female participants reported feeling free to express their emotions and inner thoughts to their gay men friends; they believed that they achieved open, intimate and affectionate friendships with them... Some female participants claimed that they gained more from their gay male friends than their heterosexual female friends. This is because their friendships with gay men could offer them a male presence in their lives as well as a male viewpoint on various matters. Moreover, gay male participants appeared to contribute to female participants’ positive self-esteem, as women reported feeling good about themselves because they were valued for their personality and not their sexuality. Gay male participants frequently reported their disappointment with regard to friendships within the gay community. This finding is not consistent with previous research which argues that gay men benefit from their friendships with other gay men and therefore they prefer to form friendships within the gay community. Most participants reported a lack of trust in the gay world which was described as ‘back stabbing’ and ‘bitchy’... The lack of trust characterising the gay male participants’ friendships with other gay men was reflected in their reporting a lack of close and intimate friendships of this kind. Indeed, most gay male participants claimed that their needs for intimacy and closeness were fulfilled by their friendships with heterosexual women as they could trust them and rely upon them"

Negotiating a Friends with Benefits Relationship - "Attitudes about FWB were strongly associated with firsthand experience. The overwhelming majority of participants who had had a FWB thought that people could have sex and stay ‘‘just friends.’’ By contrast, those who had not experienced FWB were much more likely draw a distinction and believe that friends do not have sex. The causal order likely works both ways... talking about a relationship topped the list of taboo topics for both platonic and intimate couples. Further, avoiding talk about the relationship is especially likely when partners differ in desired level of commitment... Sternberg (1986, 1987) proposed three building blocks which determine different types of love and that are useful in distinguishing some types of relationships from others: intimacy, passion, and commitment. Intimacy includes feelings of warmth, understanding, communication, support, and sharing. Passion is characterized by physical arousal and desire. Finally, commitment includes decisions to devote oneself to a relationship and the desire to maintain the relationship. Intimacy, passion, and commitment are each one side of a triangle that describes the love individuals can share... Participants rated their FWB on Sternberg’s (1988) Triangle Love Scale. On the average, FWB participants indicated moderate intimacy, and low passion and commitment with there friend. According to Sternberg, this indicates the majority of FWB participants experienced the liking type of love for their friend, suggesting that the individuals really were ‘‘just friends’’ at the time of sexual activity. When scores were compared to previous findings with romantic couples, scores on all three dimensions were lower, with the largest differences observed in commitment followed by passion... The primary advantage seemed to be recreational, non-exclusive sex with a known and trusted other. The primary disadvantages were concerns that sex will harm the friendship or create unreciprocated desires for romantic exclusivity. Thus, the findings revealed an irony that the primary reasons for FWB were also a primary disadvantage."

Alpha Women, Beta Men - When wives are the family breadwinners - "In 2001, for example, wives earned more than their spouses in almost a third of married households where the wife worked. Yet this proud professional achievement often seems to have unhappy consequences at home... there’s little evidence to show that as women acquire financial muscle, relations between the sexes have evolved successfully to accommodate the new balance of power. Neither the newly liberated alpha women nor their shell-shocked beta spouses seem comfortable with the role reversal... According to psychologists (and divorce lawyers) who see couples struggling with such changes, many relationships follow the same pattern. First, the wife starts to lose respect for her husband, then he begins to feel emasculated, and then sex dwindles to a full stop... “He never spent money that wasn’t his in an extravagant way,” she says while taking therapeutic sips of a Sea Breeze at Tribeca Grill on a recent evening. “But by not helping, he was freeloading”... Among the reasons these women were originally attracted to their husbands—sex appeal, sense of humor, charisma—earning power may not have been high on the list. But that could be because it was a given. Unfortunately, the other qualities start to fade over time if the husband isn’t adding something tangible to the equation... When it works, it tends to be when the wife’s respect for her husband remains intact. “Women need to admire their partner,” says psychologist Harriette Podhoretz... Sometimes it’s the Alpha woman who needs reassurance that she’s still feminine... "he forces me to be a partner rather than the boss. It’s what keeps our marriage healthy. He won’t give me an inch of satisfaction. He won’t acknowledge my superiority"... Among the more tantalizing facts scientists at the Center for Research on Families at the University of Washington have uncovered is that the more money the wife makes, the more housework she does in proportion to her husband, and it’s not nearly as equitable as when both partners are working... even in the best of marriages, where the husbands stay home while the wives go off to work, the women seem unable to avoid doubt over their decision... Anna has promised to be more tough-minded in her choice of mate if and when she slips back into the dating scene. “I didn’t ask the right questions,” she laments. “ ‘What have you done? Where have you come from, and how much have you made?’”"
Sexual equality + hypergamy = An illustration of the law of second best.

Hong Kong's Troubling Shortage of Men - "there were 209,000 women living alone, a figure that is rapidly rising. It’s believed that one in five Hong Kong women born today will remain single for the rest of their lives... “Most of my single girl friends are all panicking about finding their other half now because men have a tendency to favor younger girls,” she explains. “Asian men seem to be attracted to girls around 25 rather than girls over 30, so if we don't find the right man soon, our chances of meeting a future partner will get slimmer”... “With so many more women than men in Hong Kong, older men can easily find younger women as their other halves”... even if you remove migrant women from the data, population demographics remain significantly lopsided in favor of women. So what accounts for the phenomenon? One explanation is the increasing number of cross-border marriages between Hong Kong men and mainland women, which, in 2012, accounted for more than 30 percent of all registered marriages in the city... “Hong Kong women are highly qualified and independent, but the marriage norm of men marrying down and women marrying up has remained largely intact. So some men may be unable to find a local wife due to their comparative socioeconomic disadvantages"... Despite the shortage of eligible partners, women in Hong Kong are renowned for being selective... while Hong Kong women are not necessarily prepared to “lower their standards,” they are willing to go to greater lengths than ever before to meet their dream partner... Many of the coaches’ suggestions, which included gazing at men while leaning forward at a 45 degree angle and avoiding showing excitement during any conversation, provoked considerable outrage both in the national press and on social media... The numbers of women seeking professional dating advice have risen rapidly over the past decade, and there are now almost 50 practicing plastic surgeons in the city... Some enterprising individuals have set up dating companies to try and match lonely Hong Kong women with eligible men in South China, but the number of these relationships remains small. Dr. Choi believes that unless social traditions change over the next two decades and Hong Kong women become more prepared to accept men with the same or less earning power, the city will face profound social problems... "The implications would be... increased hostility towards mainland wives of Hong Kong men""

The Modern Corporate Harem | Chateau Heartiste - "There you have it, the modern corporate harem, in all its flowcharted glory. Seven women per one high status man. A more illuminatingly succinct snapshot of the Western sexual market aligned with the globalizing economic market you won’t see. The only surprising thing about it is the lack of any land whales or witches among the female staff. This is Britain; you’d have to spend years scouring the countryside to find and place that many bangable women under one corporate umbrella. So you know a lot of hard work went into developing a staff that looks like a country with all its men and war pigs removed."
The staff chart IS suspicious...

Selling Santa: I never bought the Tooth Fairy. Why should I convince my kid that Santa is real? - "You can go too far with these things, as a 2012 episode of This American Life showed. It told the story of a man named Adam Mutchler, who was scarred for life because of his parents’ Santa lie. His parents went so far to sell Santa that they hired some dude to pose as Kris Kringle and show up on their lawn. They had a mythology about a vindictive Christmas elf named Jeko. Adam’s siblings eventually wised up, but Adam believed until he was a teenager, and felt humiliated and angry when he realized his parents were putting him on. He remained furious about it for years. According toThis American Life’s reporter, “One year, he came home from college and accused his parents for being the reason he couldn't trust anyone enough to have a serious girlfriend.”"

Why Women Are Unhappy - "Another theory could be that the feminist movement taught women to see themselves as victims of an oppressive patriarchy in which their true worth will never be recognized and any success is beyond their reach. Feminist organizations such as the National Organization for Women held consciousness-raising sessions where they exchanged tales of how badly some man had treated them. Grievances are like flowers — if you water them, they will grow, and self-imposed victimhood is not a recipe for happiness... Women’s studies courses require students to accept as an article of faith the silly notion that gender differences are not natural or biological but are social constructs created by the patriarchy and ancient stereotypes. This leads feminists to seek legislative corrections for problems that don’t exist... The feminists whine endlessly using their favorite word "choice" in matters of abortion, but they reject choice in gender roles. The Big Mama of feminist studies, Simone de Beauvoir, said: "We don’t believe that any woman should have this choice. No woman should be authorized to stay at home to raise her children … precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.""

Viral Journalism and the Valley of Ambiguity - "TED videos, often seasoned with cheery platitudes, become viral for the same reason that grumpy cat pictures do. They don't ask us to think critically — just to enjoy, or be amused and enlightened without the time-consuming labor of skepticism and doubt clouding our clicks. Why do we want to share these stories? Because in some sense they are not open to interpretation. You don't have to worry whether your friends will wonder why you shared this – it's obvious... To share a story is in part to take ownership of it, especially because you are often able to comment on a story that you are sharing on social media. If you can share a piece of information that's an absolute truth – whether that's how to uninstall apps on your phone, or what the NSA is really doing – you too become a truth teller. And that feels good. Just as good as it does to be the person who has the cutest cat picture on the Internet."

Links - 6th December 2013

Anime Festival Asia 2013: some thoughts on the Ryuko (Kill la Kill) cosplayer incident - "I did not attend, but read on Facebook that there was an ugly incident involving a cosplayer and an old lady. The old woman called the cops after seeing this cosplayer’s attire...
Musta: No, you never show the important parts. It’s not against the law.
Me: Underboob does not count?
Musta: Does cleavage count? Why is the bottom part of the breast more valued than the top part? Does this mean that we, the police, have to arrest everyone at the swimming pool?"
I wonder what would've happened if she'd called the police because she felt offended someone took her photo though

No one has actually proven that MSG is bad for you! - "Those that received MSG reported no more symptoms than those who received the placebo did"

The First Amendment Even Protects Speech That Offends Pot Prohibitionists - "The campaign's ads, which are displayed on the sides of buses and bus shelters in Portland's transit system, feature harmless-looking marijuana consumers who explain why they prefer pot to alcohol... An anti-drug group called 21 Reasons has asked the Greater Portland Transit District to take down the ads. "What we say and what we do is being watched by the kids in our communities," Jo Morrissey, a spokeswoman for the group, tells McClatchy, "and they look to us for clues on what’s acceptable and what’s normal and how they should act." Kevin Sabet, executive director of the prohibitionist group Project SAM, agrees that the Question 1 ads pose an intolerable risk to the youth of America. "We're witnessing the birth of Big Marijuana," he says, "and I really worry about the messages this advertising is going to be sending to kids, giving them the impression that marijuana is safe.""

JAMES FORSYTH: Clegg starts to melt as Dave turns up the energy price heat - "‘I would hate nothing more than to be a man.’ - War correspondent Christiane Amanpour, who believes many men are still unable to accept gender equality."
Image "Is this meant to be ironic or is it another case of gender inequality? #EverydaySexism"

The Republican Party Isn't Really the Anti-Science Party - "Republicans, conservatives, and the religious are no more uniquely “anti-science” than any other demographic or political group. It’s just that “anti-science” has been defined using a limited set of issues that make the right wing and religious look relatively worse... only a marginally higher percentage of Republicans reject evolution completely than do Democrats... It's not inherently anti-scientific to oppose cap and trade or carbon taxes. What most Republicans object to are policies that unilaterally make it more expensive in the United States to produce energy, grow food, and transport people and goods but are unlikely to make much long-term difference in the world’s climate... twice as many Democrats as Republicans believe in astrology, a pseudoscientific medieval farce. Left-wing ideologues also frequently espouse an irrational fear of nuclear power, genetic modification, and industrial and agricultural chemistry—even though all of these scientific breakthroughs have enriched lives, lengthened lifespans, and produced substantial economic growth over the last century... Nuclear power is the only energy source that can actually meet base-load power requirements for a cost competitive KW/h price with almost zero carbon emissions. One of the largest hurdles to nuclear energy is storage of byproduct waste, something Obama dealt a huge blow when he halted the development of Yucca Mountain for what the Government Accountability Office called strictly political reasons. Republicans in Congress have repeatedly supported moving forward with Yucca Mountain... The anti-GMO movement, largely a product of the political left, has reached levels of delusion, paranoia and anti-intellectualism worthy of Michele Bachmann and young-earth creationists... Even in the much-maligned “Tea Party-dominated” House of Representatives, the GOP budget proposals provided more funding for the NSF than those of the Senate Democrats for the current 2013 fiscal year... one result of caricaturing Republicans as the “bad guys” on science is that the science-advocacy community gives Obama and the Democratic Party a free pass on bad decisions that undermine long-term basic research... Obama denied a request to extend the operating life of the Tevatron—the nation’s most powerful particle accelerator and preeminent tool for high-energy physicists—a field of research that eventually led to revolutionary advances like MRI machines. The administration said there wasn't enough money to go around. Yet at the sametime, billions of stimulus dollars were being lost on failed investments in the alternative-energy sector... As Thomas Huxley said, “Science commits suicide when it adopts a creed.”"

Smart People Like Curly Fries and Other Information Facebook Knows About You - "Using likes, researchers at the Psychometrics Centre at the University of Cambridge were able to determine whether someone was black or white with 95 percent accuracy, Democrat or Republican with 85 percent accuracy, and whether someone smokes, uses drugs, or drinks alcohol in more than two thirds of cases. They were even able to predict, in some cases, whether a user's parents had gotten divorced."
Amused that if you "like" Jesus you're satisfied with life and if you "like" Science you're dissatisfied

Watch those dirty looks! France toughens sexual harassment laws - "Lascivious language and wandering eyes could get you up to three years in jail in France, according to a new sexual harassment bill. The legislation has been praised by feminist groups as a milestone for women’s rights."
How do you define "insistent looking"?

Dept. of Human Resources: The Talent Myth - "The management of Enron, in other words, did exactly what the consultants at McKinsey said that companies ought to do in order to succeed in the modern economy. It hired and rewarded the very best and the very brightest—and it is now in bankruptcy. The reasons for its collapse are complex, needless to say. But what if Enron failed not in spite of its talent mind-set but because of it? What if smart people are overrated?"

Is global consulting giant McKinsey evil? - "The most loathsome practices of U.S. corporations seem to have had their beginnings with consulting giant McKinsey & Co. From mass layoffs and outsourcing to runaway CEO pay — McKinsey wrote the white papers that sparked these trends, says Duff McDonald, author of newly released book, “The Firm: The Story of McKinsey and Its Secret Influence on American Business”... Over the years, McKinsey’s advice has been blamed for billions’ worth of missteps at companies from General Motors to General Electric. In 1980, it famously told AT&T that mobile phones had a limited future. It also pushed for the disastrous merger of AOL and Time Warner in 2001. And some of its former top executives have committed infamous white-collar crimes... “The remarkable thing I found that it hasn’t even affected their business,” said McDonald of the Rajaratnam scandal. “They still have those clients — even the ones whose information [Kumar] was selling”... Most McKinsey guys are what the firm itself calls “insecure overachievers,” McDonald said. “They do what they’re supposed to do. They are the Harvard MBA crowd with the perfect resume. They were probably class president in high school. They did everything right.” The only thing they seem to lack is their own abiding passion. They’re not out to build their own businesses or pursue their own ideas. They’re just plugging their big brains into someone else’s deal. “They like to think of themselves as risk-takers, but these are risk-averse people,” McDonald said. “They are actually very conservative people.”"

Singapore to get first retirement village - "This is the biggest piece of news I have heard this year"

19 Awesome Product Improvements That Will Make Your Life Better

Poor mental health among homosexuals caused by “lifestyle itself” or “discrimination”? - "“In his cross-cultural comparison of mental health in the Netherlands, Denmark and the U.S., Ross (1988) could find no significant differences between countries - i.e. the greater social hostility in the United States did not result in a higher level of psychiatric problems,” Dr. Whitehead points out. “Another good comparison country is New Zealand,” Dr. Whitehead observes, “which is much more tolerant of homosexuality than is the United States. Legislation giving the movement special legal rights is powerful, consistently enforced throughout the country, and virtually never challenged. Despite this broad level of social tolerance, suicide attempts were common in a New Zealand study and occurred at about the same rate as in the U.S.”"

Expert says media dangerously ignore mental illness in coverage of gay teen suicides - "what if the way we're talking about these suicides could actually be encouraging vulnerable young people to copycat the tragic behavior? That's what worries Ann Haas, research director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. By putting forth bullying as a "cause" of suicide and ignoring underlying mental-health issues that are present in 90 percent of people who die by suicide, the national media may be "normalizing" suicide as a rational response to bullying. For youth already at risk, this could be a dangerous message... Suicides are complex, Haas says, and inadvertently portraying them as a rational response to a single incident or problem can lead already vulnerable people to identify with and copy the behavior. This makes for an unusually fine line between raising awareness about an issue and sensationalizing it."
90% of people who commit suicide ate bread in the last month. Therefore bread leads to suicide

Two men jailed for having commercial sex with underage prostitute - "District Judge Low Wee Ping called the minor “a victim”, and said the description "reflects more correctly" the girl's background, which he said was "usually" the case. He pointed out that there have been many similar cases in recent times. Judge Low said "some Singaporeans think that these offences are a private matter", but he added they forget that offenders like Ho and Shoh "have participated in the horrendous trade of trafficking a minor" for prostitution. He stressed that the courts must end such a trend, so that the criminals behind the trade "would no longer find it lucrative". Before his sentence was passed, Ho, who is plump and bespectacled, said he had asked about the girl's age. But Judge Low shot back: "You expect her to tell you the truth?" As for Shoh, the judge noted he did not ask nor check the girl's identity. During the hearing, the judge said Ho and Shoh are professionals and would have been aware that some of the minors have been forced into prostitution. For this, Ho was given 11 weeks' jail while Shoh was handed a 12-week jail term."
So... the moral of the story is that men need to be psychic. Or go for MILFs/Mature

The rejected poster for Thor

SHOCKING Facts About Our CPF in Singapore! (Part 1) - "So, our CPF is vastly inadequate for our retirements, even as we set aside the highest proportion of our incomes into CPF! This explains why that according to the latest Manulife Investor Sentiment Index, 69% of Singaporeans “expect to continue in full-time or part-time work during so-called retirement” – the highest in the region where an average of only 55% would expect to have to do so. According to the Asian Development Bank, “Pension experts generally recommend a replacement rate of 60%–75%, adjusted for longevity and inflation risks.” Thus Singapore’s replacement rate of 20% is “not providing an adequate retirement income for retirees”. But the question is, where then did our CPF monies go if we have accumulated so much money, but they are not coming back? This could be because around 75% of our CPF is trapped in housing"

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Links - 5th December 2013

Believe the victim: a recipe for injustice - "The outraged reactions to newspaper reports of a recent debate at the London School of Economics entitled ‘Is Rape Different?’, at which I spoke, proved the point of my talk there about the prevailing ideology of victimisation. This ideology dominates official thinking about rape and sexual abuse to a point where the police actively solicit allegations with the promise, ‘You will be believed’. This militates against the idea that allegations need to be investigated. The ‘you will be believed’ mantra also fosters an unreal expectation on the part of complainants, and the victim lobby, that their accounts should not be challenged or questioned robustly. The government is now piloting a scheme of ‘pre-trial’ cross-examination, in an attempt to shield complainants from the rigours of a criminal trial, ostensibly so as not to ‘re-traumatise victims’. This is dangerous, for two reasons. First, it creates an ideal climate in which those who have not been abused can claim that they have been. Second, it ignores the ease with which false memories of abuse can be created, whether by self-persuasion, interaction with victim/survivor groups, or influence by third parties with axes to grind. Those third parties may include therapists, policemen, injury lawyers, campaign groups, and journalists avid for scandal. All these players espouse the ideology of victimisation... Even those who deny prior experience of victimisation are seen as candidates for conversion. Best quotes the comedienne Roseanne Barr from the early Nineties: ‘When someone asks you, “Were you sexually abused as a child?”, there’s only two answers. One of them is, “Yes”, and one of them is “I don’t know”. You can’t say no’... It refuses to countenance the possibility that a denial means there is nothing to disclose. According to researchers, there is no clinical evidence to support the theory of gradual disclosure... Exhortations to ‘believe the victim’ miss the point. A legal system that shrinks from testing witness credibility robustly is not an authentic system of justice"

We must be free to question rape laws - "such is the hysteria around the discussion of rape and rape laws that the outrage of the Twittersphere has been allowed to spill into the world of academia. The journal Feminists at Law, based at Kent Law School, has launched a petition for the LSE to ‘ensure that the ideas disseminated [at the debate] do not feed dangerous stereotypes about women being responsible for the sexual violence perpetuated against them’. The petition has been signed by around 85 people. Another journal published something similar, criticising the decision of the LSE to host the debate and saying it was symptomatic of a neoliberal impact agenda in higher education. What this reaction reveals is a desire to restrict discussion around rape. We are seeing the cult-like elevation of one inalienable ‘truth’ above all others. This ‘truth’ is that we live in an age where rape is part of everyday culture, and where those in power are doing nothing to stop it. Anyone who dares question this prevailing orthodoxy on rape is guilty of a chauvinistic heresy, attributable to their immersion in a controlling patriarchal society."

A Facial Attractiveness Account of Gender Asymmetries in Interracial Marriage - "In the US and UK, more Black men are married to White women than vice versa and there are more White men married to Asian women than vice versa. Models of interracial marriage, based on the exchange of racial status for other capital, cannot explain these asymmetries. A new explanation is offered based on the relative perceived facial attractiveness of the different race-by-gender groups. This explanation was tested using a survey of perceived facial attractiveness... Incorporating these attractiveness patterns into the model of marriage decisions produces asymmetries in interracial marriage similar to those in the observed data in terms of direction and relative size. This model does not require differences in status between races nor different strategies based on gender... It has been proposed that the gender asymmetries in interracial marriage can be attributed to differences in average heights... Although this is an elegant explanation, there are limitations to how well it can explain the gender asymmetry in terms of height alone. There is little difference in the height of Black and White males or Black and White females and even the difference between heights between White and Asian people cannot explain all of the asymmetry. This can be demonstrated using Monte Carlo style analysis of population patterns... Among males, Black faces were rated as the most attractive followed by White faces and then Asian faces. For the females, Asian faces were seen as the most attractive followed by White and then Black faces. The same pattern was found regardless of the ethnicity of the person doing the ratings."

Men Prefer Less 'Feminine' Looking Women For Long-Term Relationships - "men rated women with more feminine features more highly for a fling. The preference was especially high among men who were already in a steady relationship. "When a man has secured a mate, the potential cost of being discovered may increase his choosiness regarding short-term partners relative to unpartnered men, who can better increase their short-term mating success by relaxing their standards," wrote the study authors. But in making long-term choices, men "may actually prefer less attractive/feminine women," they added. Previous research has found that attractive women are likelier to be unfaithful, particularly if their partner is ugly."

Study finds education and money attract a mate; chastity sinks in importance - "In the 1930s male respondents were seeking a dependable, kind lady who had skills in the kitchen. Chastity was more important than intelligence. Now, guys look for love, brains and beauty -- and a sizable salary certainly sweetens the deal. Men ranked "good financial prospect" No. 12 in 2008, a significant climb from No. 17 in 1939 and No. 18 in 1967. "These results are consistent with the rise in educational and career opportunities for women, and men's increasing desire to share the financial burdens with a future spouse," Whelan said. Chastity -- which men ranked at No. 10 in 1939 -- fell to dead last in 2008. "When we administered the survey, several female students snickered at the idea that we even included the chastity item," Whelan said. "This is consistent with the widespread hook-up culture on college campuses." For women of the 1930s, emotional stability, dependable character and ambition ranked as the top three characteristics they wanted in a man. Attraction and love didn't come in until No. 5. Today, women, like men, put love at the top of the list, with dependability and emotional stability rounding out the top three characteristics in Mr. Right. Women rate desire for home and children much higher in importance than men do. In 2008, women rated desire for home and children fourth men ranked it ninth. Women ranked "pleasing disposition" as significantly less important in 2008 than they have ever before. Pleasing disposition -- presumably interpreted to mean being a nice guy -- fell from a steady ranking of No. 4 throughout the second half of the 20th Century to a significantly lower rank of No. 7 in 2008."

Keith E Rice - Cross-Cultural Mate Preferences - "37 samples were acquired from 33 countries covering 6 continents. Countries with culturally-distinctive sub-populations - eg: Israel, Canada and South Africa - had separate samples taken from each group. Eg: separate samples were used of English- and French-speaking Canadians... Overall the results supported Evolutionary theory - but support was not absolute in every instance... Buss’ study was seminal - the first of its kind. It was also impressively large-scale, with over 1,000 participants from 33 countries representing every inhabited continent and a wide range of cultures. The use of 2 questionnaires about factors affecting mate preference is also considered a strength of the study, as it enables the researcher to look for consistency on 2 different instruments. Some sociologists and social psychologists regard questionnaires like these as better measures than (‘real life’) marriage records which may measure mate selection, rather than mate preference or, in cultures where arranged marriages are the norm, the preferences of the marital partners’ families."

B&B owners' right to bar gay couple crushed by 'need to fight discrimination' - "The Bulls had accepted an £80-a-night double room booking, believing Steven Preddy, 38, would be staying with his wife. But when Mr Preddy arrived with his 46-year-old civil partner Martyn Hall, the men, from Bristol, were told they would not be able to share one room and instead had to sleep separately. The Bulls denied that they had discriminated against the couple, arguing that their policy of only allowing married couples to sleep in a double bed, in accordance with their religious beliefs, was applied to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. They said they had also prevented unmarried heterosexual couples from sharing double rooms since they opened 25 years ago... They suffered a drop in bookings following the controversy, which led to negative reviews online, their website being hacked, property vandalised and receiving death threats"
Given that they discriminated against non-married straight couples too, how is this anti-gay discrimination?
Amused by how defenders of gay rights hack, vandalise and issue death threats

Stepping Out of the Caveman’s Shadow - "gender differences in mate preferences with presumed evolutionary roots decline proportionally to increases in nations’ gender parity"
Some call this a "blow" for evolutionary psychology as if magnitudes of differences are supposed to be immune to a cultural context

Taylor & Francis Online :: Does the sexual double standard still exist? Perceptions of university women - "The normative belief that men are rewarded for having a high number of sexual partners, whereas women are penalized for similar behavior is one major component of the sexual double standard that was studied. The most striking finding was the discrepancy between the women's perception of the sexual double standard at the societal level and their own personal rejection of the double standard. Most respondents believed other women were more likely to enforce the double standard than were men. Women who had many previous sexual partners were more accepting of men who had many partners."

Female tourists and beach boys: Romance or Sex Tourism? - "Previous studies of female tourists and beach boys in the Caribbean have defined these relationships as involving either sex or romance tourism. The objective of this study was to determine which of these definitions was more applicable to relationships in the Dominican Republic. Male and female tourists as well as beach boys and female sex workers were interviewed. Romance and sex tourism were conceptualized as the two ends of a continuum of motivations rather than as distinct categories. Although there was some gender overlap in the continuum of romance/sex motivations, more of the female tourists were located toward the romance end and more of the male tourists toward the sex end of the continuum."

Yahoo speaks Latin

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"More on TechnoStorm

Nunc placerat vehicula posuere. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et.
Mon, Nov 12, 2012

Etiam et lorem mi. Sed fringilla, augue vel feugiat consequat, nibh velit.
Tue, Nov 6, 2012

Cras facilisis, ipsum sed elementum dapibus, ipsum elit auctor augue, non pulvinar.
Tue, Nov 6, 2012

Proin vel iaculis justo. Donec sit amet enim in ante feugiat mattis.
Tue, Nov 6, 2012"

Interestingly, this is not part of the standard Lorem Ipsum text but is unique to Yahoo.

According to Google Translate, the lines mean:

"Now owned vehicles lay. Click here to sad old age and spanned, and the dwell of the disease.

Also available is amazing. However, the vehicle or freight costs, travel agencies.

To-morrow, antioxidants, protein element of the game, but, the author of the likelihood of the environment itself, not the pillow.

Microwave or targeted therapy. For it's a bit of real estate in front of the immune system."

The significance of male hair: Its presence and removal

Raj Kumar Singh: The Backlash! July 1998

"1. A man's reasons for abstention from hair cutting practices all relate to his assertion, intended consciously or subconsciously, that he is not the servant of other men.
2. When people in positions of (non-religious) authority demand that a man cut his hair or shave his face, their purpose is to require the clipped man to openly demonstrate his obedience and subservience to them.

This paper seeks to provide a multi-disciplinary review of the literature that relates to the significance of the hair presentation of the adult male. Further, it proffers the theory that the extent to which we desire short haired, bare faced men is the extent to which we seek the stereotypically presumed attribute of submissiveness found in the female combined with the assumed strength and dependability ascribed to the male...

Individual men place great value on their own hair as habitually presented, and social-psych research shows that we hold bearded men in more positive regard than bare-faced men. Further, we see long-haired men as being dominant and unbowed, (Kentshmith, 1973 at pg. 579) and religious prohibitions against haircutting and/or shaving are not uncommon among the world's religions.

Yet, on the more practical level, we largely demand that men present with bare faces and shorn cranial hair if they are to obtain life sustaining employment and are to be presumed good, productive members of society; therein lies the proverbial rub...

Do we speak of requiring a man to get a "haircut" if, for example, he is to be considered a good prisoner, soldier, or worker, or should we admit that we are requiring him to "cut off a bodily appendage"?

Do we say that a man can make an affirmative decision to "grow a beard," much as the expert, dedicated horticulturist can grow petunias in the desert? Or do we say that male facial hair growth is the default category and acknowledge that men can only become and remain bare faced when they "scrape off their faces with a piece of steel" on a daily basis?

Our common use of such terms and phrases as "haircut" and "grows a beard" clearly points up the fundamental, societal bias we have against acknowledging positive value in men's hair...

In shaving, a man reduces himself to the status of being "clean shaven," to use a phrase that is firmly ensconced within our lexicon. The corollary, of course, would be to remain "dirty bearded." The phrase "clean cut" takes this concept a step further and implies that if a man does not cut his cranial hair to a short length and scrape his face daily, then he is unclean.

Classically, of course, it's believed that that which is unclean should be shunned...

More specifically, the presentation of cranio/facial hair is arguably our most powerful symbol of individual and group identity. (Synnott, 1987 at pg. 381) Hair has been significant to human beings at all times and in all cultures as a symbol of strength, sexuality and magic and has been treated as a significant part of the body. (Rabinowitz, 1984 at pg. 270) Hair not only symbolizes the self, but is the self in that it is a part of the human body. (Synnott, 1987 at pg. 404) Accordingly, changes in appearance involving hair can be expected to have a major psycho-social impact on the individual who has undergone the change. (Alley, 1988 at pg. 17)...

Males express their ideologies and status in their hair. (Synnott, 1987 at pg. 397) In ancient times, the Teutons or Germanic tribes refrained from hair cutting and shaving in order to clearly differentiate themselves from their forcibly shorn slaves. (Pellegrini, 1973 at pg. 22) This was also the case for the Celts. In this day, long hair and facial hair are often seen to be symbolic of ideological opposition to "the establishment." (Synnott, 1987 at pg. 401)...

The Christian Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians indicates that it is unnatural and degrading for a man to wear long hair. (Paul, 60) Through Canon #67, laid down at the Synod at Elvira in 309 A.D., it was forbidden for a woman to have anything to do with long-haired men, under penalty of excommunication. (Laeuchli, 1972) Thus, any man desirous of recognition as a good Christian, as well as one simply seeking the consortium of a religiously respectable Christian woman, was provided with a motivation to cut his hair...

Military regimes across time and cultures have been well known to require the removal of cranio/facial hair for initiates. For example, new members of the French Foreign Legion had their hair cut down to half a millimeter; allegedly to keep them free from lice - in reality to bestow on them a feeling of nothingness. (Rom, 1973 at pg. 22) When after their basic military training they felt integrated into this establishment, they were allowed to grow their hair again. (Rom, 1973 at pg. 22) Upon subduing the Gauls, who esteemed long hair as a distinct honor, Julius Caesar required them to cut their hair as a token of submission. (Kentsmith, 1973 at pg. 573) For the same purpose, the Chinese Manchus imposed the partly shaven head and pigtail upon the Haun men when their dynasty was conquered. (Kentsmith, 1973 at pg. 573) Forced hair removal was effected against collaborators during the German occupation of France. (Synnott, 1987 at pg. 402) Haircutting was a punishment for adultery in India and among the ancient Teutons, and for other crimes in Assyro-Babylon. (Rabinowitz, 1984 at pg. 271)

Why do those in authority want men to shave their faces and cut their cranial hair short? It has been posited that the hair of prison inmates and soldiers is kept cut as a reminder that "you are not a free person and cannot do as you please with your own body." (Rabinowitz, 1984) Shaving produces effects like other means of fostering a youthful appearance because a "clean-shaven" face mimics the surface quality of the pre-pubertal face. (Guthrie, 1976 at pg. 30) Therefore, requiring a man to shave can have the effect of reducing his status, and his self-perception, toward that of a child. Moreover, we live in a world that has, cross-culturally and over time, viewed men collectively as being cold, aggressive, strong willed, and dangerous. (Martin, 1987; Rosenkrantz et al, 1968; Broverman et al, 1972) Women as a class, on the other hand, have been generally presumed to be warm, submissive, obedient and nurturing. (Martin, 1987; Rosenkrantz et al, 1968; Broverman et al, 1972; Sapadin, 1988) Forcing or coercing a man into daily shaving can be seen as assigning to him the less threatening, feminine role. Most to the point, and as stated earlier, because our facial presentation effects how we perceive ourselves, it can be expected to have a bearing on how we behave whenever others are present. (Alley, 1988 at pg. 2) The man, then, who presents as quasi-boy / pseudo-woman can be expected to act in the submissive, obedient, non-threatening manner that we stereotypically expect of little boys and females.

As to the significance of cutting a man's cranial hair, numerous investigators have agreed on one symbolic meaning: castration... cranial hair removal is intended to make the male an un-man and, in the case of the judicial prisoner, to obtain vengeance or pay-back for wrongs committed.

But how do we account for the men, non-military and unconvicted, who voluntarily maintain their hair at a short length and who shave on a daily basis? First, we must acknowledge that hair removal can hardly be considered voluntary in a society where generating a monetary income and positive regard among one's peers are generally dependent upon it. That having been said, we note simply that people will normally succumb to within-group cultural pressures to conform to an appearance expectation, even at a cost of discomfort or disfigurement...

As to he who is "his own man" and who yet chooses to shave his face and shear his scalp in the absence of any explicit coercion or force, perhaps the best explanation of motive is found in the word inertia. An anecdote (Fadiman, 1985) is told of George Bernard Shaw that relates the time he was approached by an advertising executive of a company manufacturing electric razors. The executive had hoped that Shaw would endorse their new product by shaving off his beard. By way of reply, Shaw explained the reason why he, and his father before him, had chosen not to shave by saying that when he was about five years of age, he had been observing his father shaving one day and had said to him, "Daddy, why do you shave?" Shaw's father looked at him in silence for a full minute before throwing the razor out the window while exclaiming "Why the hell do I?" And he never did again, as the story goes...

The expectation of short hair and scraped faces on men has long since been the norm for this nation's employers in general. In holding the clipped male to be the preferred object of our workplace desire we show, not so much our disinterest in females in our society, but rather our particular interest in submissive men as producers of material benefit. We, as a society, prefer men in the workplace because we perceive men, as a class, to be more dedicated to employment activities to the detriment of their familial or other inter-personal relationships. (Rosenkrantz et al, 1968; Broverman et al, 1972) Further, we see them as being more dependable than females in that we expect them to be medically indisposed less often. But we also presume that men in general are domineering, willful and aggressive by nature, and these are clearly characteristics that are found to be dysfunctional in a production level employee. (Martin, 1987; Rosenkrantz et al, 1968; Broverman et al, 1972) Women, on the other hand, are stereotypically presumed to be more docile, more amenable to following orders and accepting authority in an unquestioning manner. (Martin, 1987; Rosenkrantz et al, 1968; Broverman et al, 1972; Gilligan, 1982 at pgs. 16 & 17, e.g.)

The clipped male seems to present the best of both genders in that, first, he is obviously a man and so brings to the employer the supposed dependability and dedication that we expect of a member of the male sex. Second, by scraping off his facial hair he communicates to the employer that he intends to be as docile and obedient as would a female be presumed to be. (The validity of this hypothesis is lent support by so many of today's business women inasmuch as they are careful to appear for job interviews in clothing that is masculine on top, shirt-like blouse and suit jacket, but feminine on the bottom with a skirt short enough to expose artificially hairless legs.) The cutting short of cranial hair is a further sign of male submission to, and emasculation before, the prospective employer; one needn't be a Freudian psychoanalyst to appreciate the import of the fact that the removal of cranial hair, as symbolic penectomy, has never been required of women by our society's employers, prison wardens, or military authorities."

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Links - 4th December 2013

▶ Dr Coutinho, the feminists and the male contraceptive pill - YouTube - "Dr. Elsimar Coutinho is a Brazilian physicist, endocrinologist and human reproduction scientist. In this interview he also tells how and why feminists, leaded by Betty Friedan, boycotted his male birth control pill presentation, in a World Population Congress."

Protests as France debates prostitution bill - "The government argues that some 90 percent of France's estimated 20,000 to 40,000 prostitutes are foreign victims of Nigerian, Chinese and Romanian human trafficking networks... The Union of Sex Workers (STRASS) has also called for a protest against the reform, while feminist and prostitutes support groups will take part in a counter-demonstration. Some charities such as Médecins du Monde have warned that criminalising clients would drive the sex trade further underground, thereby endangering the lives of prostitutes. “We pay tax, we pay social security contributions. Isn’t there enough unemployment as it is not to put us out of business?" a Paris prostitute told Reuters."
"La politique est un bordel ! Les putes y prendront place !"

French stars petition against criminalising prostitution - "According to a TNS Sofres poll published at the end of October, only 20 percent of French people support the government’s move to crack down on people paying for sex. There are an estimated 40,000 sex workers in France, of whom 85 percent are women and 90 percent are migrants, according to a report compiled by Socialist lawmaker Maud Olivier."
Nice Jedi Mind Trick: assuming all migrant prostitutes are trafficked

French MPs wary of new prostitution law - "an Ifop study commissioned by popular feminist monthly Causette in February showed 73% of people favoured reopening brothels, banned in France for decades, as a way to limit and control prostitution. Only 32% supported punitive measures against clients."

Se prostituer, ce n'est pas seulement écarter les cuisses - "à un moment, vous vous dites: je suis obligée de travailler pour gagner ma vie et il n'y a pas de raison de s'interdire de le faire de cette manière... Quand vous débutez, comme dans n'importe quel métier, vous vous dites que la prochaine fois sera mieux... vous pouvez penser que la prostitution, c'est juste écarter les cuisses et se laisser faire mais ce n'est pas mon avis. Je prends un grand plaisir à détecter chez mes clients ce qui ne va pas chez eux pour tenter de comprendre comment je peux les aider. Certains, même si je ne les voyais qu'une fois, on continuait à s'échanger des SMS... je considère que mon boulot doit être agréable. Plusieurs fois, j'ai été payée juste pour jouir, il n'y a même pas eu de pénétration. Quant à mes proches, jamais je ne leur ai caché ma profession. A aucun de mes compagnons non plus, parce que je suis fière de cette activité et je suis fière de ce que je suis. Aujourd'hui, j'ai 26 ans, et je continuerais aussi longtemps que ça me plaira. Je n'ai pas de date de péremption! Et même avoir des enfants ne me pose pas de problème. Faire ce métier ne fait pas de nous des mauvaises mères."

Germany rethinks its liberal ways on sex workers - "Müller originally started having sex for money in order to fund her degree in design, and went full-time seven years ago. "To be frank with you, I found it more creative, fun and fulfilling work than being a graphic designer. And I can say no to a client when you don't want to work for him." Her family knows about her work and supports her. Müller volunteers for the sex workers' support charity Hydra, and said she regularly meets and talks to Romanian and Bulgarian prostitutes who are in more desperate circumstances than she is. But the criticism remains that those defending the current law tend to be those who can afford to pick better jobs and reject the more debasing work."

Mice can ‘warn’ sons, grandsons of dangers via sperm – study - "“It is high time public health researchers took human transgenerational responses seriously,” he said in a statement issued by the Science Media Center. “I suspect we will not understand the rise in neuropsychiatric disorders or obesity, diabetes and metabolic disruptions generally without taking a multigenerational approach.”"

Sweden divided over criminalising HIV unprotected sex - "In Sweden a failure to comply with the HIV disclosure obligation, followed by unprotected sex, can result in charges of attempted aggravated assault and a prison sentence, even if the virus is not transmitted. Thus people with HIV cannot legally have unprotected sex in any circumstance -- even if they reveal their HIV status and have the full consent of their uninfected partner, since a person cannot consent to an assault... Sweden, which is often praised in international forums for its gender equality policies, does not comply with the recommendations of the UNAIDS programme, which advocates that "non-disclosure of HIV-positive status and HIV exposure should not be criminalised." While Swedish rights organisations have criticised the law, the legal status of HIV may mirror general beliefs that are widespread among Swedes. According to the latest SMI report which assesses attitudes towards HIV since 1987, 40 percent of Swedes in 2011 believed HIV-positive people should avoid having sex altogether."

France’s compromising position: Why a new law to criminalise punters rather than prostitutes is inflaming French passions - "In 2003, Nicolas Sarkozy, then Interior Minister, devised a law which banned racolage or soliciting, even “passive” soliciting. It was an offence even to look like a prostitute in public. The consequences were perverse. Prostitutes were obliged to dress like other women, which meant that respectable women, in certain parts of Paris, were propositioned if they stood still. Another unintended effect was to drive prostitution underground and push many French women out of the business... Opponents – including groups representing French prostitutes and celebrities, including Deneuve – say that the proposed law replaces hypocrisy with more hypocrisy. Soliciting would be permitted. Anyone who accepted an approach by a prostitute could be fined. This is like, they say, allowing drug-trafficking but punishing drug-users."

Plus l’homme cultive les arts, moins il bande

"Qu’est-ce que l’amour ? Le besoin de sortir de soi.

L’homme est un animal adorateur. Adorer, c’est se sacrifier et se prostituer.

Aussi tout amour est-il prostitution.

L’être le plus prostitué, c’est l’être par excellence, c’est Dieu, puisqu’il est l’ami suprême pour chaque individu, puisqu’il est le réservoir commun, inépuisable de l’amour...

Dans l’amour, comme dans presque toutes les affaires humaines, l’entente cordiale est le résultat d’un malentendu. Ce malentendu, c’est le plaisir. L’homme crie : O mon ange ! La femme roucoule : Maman ! maman ! Et ces deux imbéciles sont persuadés qu’ils pensent de concert. — Le gouffre infranchissable, qui fait l’incommunicabilité, reste infranchi...

La jeune fille des éditeurs. La jeune fille des rédacteurs en chef. La jeune fille épouvantail, monstre, assassin de l’art.

La jeune fille, ce qu’elle est en réalité. Une petite sotte et une petite salope ; la plus grande imbécillité unie à la plus grande dépravation.

Il y a dans la jeune fille toute l’abjection du voyou et du collégien...

Goût inamovible de la prostitution dans le cœur de l’homme, d’où naît son horreur de la solitude. — Il veut être deux. L’homme de génie veut être un, donc solitaire. La gloire, c’est rester un, et se prostituer d’une manière particulière.

C’est cette horreur de la solitude, le besoin d’oublier son moi dans la chair extérieure, que l’homme appelle noblement besoin d’aimer...

Plus l’homme cultive les arts, moins il bande.

Il se fait un divorce de plus en plus sensible entre l’esprit et la brute.

La brute seule bande bien, et la fouterie est le lyrisme du peuple.

Foutre, c’est aspirer à entrer dans un autre, et l’artiste ne sort jamais de lui-même.

J’ai oublié le nom de cette salope… Ah ! bah ! je le retrouverai au jugement dernier."

--- Mon coeur mis à nu : journal intime / Charles Baudelaire

Prudent investing, not discrimination

Selim Tlili's answer to Television: Why are there more substantial roles for women in television and not in movies? - Quora

"There are few substantial roles for women in movies for the same reason there are few substantial roles for minorities in movies: Hollywood can't afford to take risks when they're investing hundreds of millions of dollars.

TV shows can afford to be more substantial because they have time and any big decision can be reversed without too much impact. A character that isn't working out can be killed off or removed and it won't be a huge loss on a given episode.

A tv show will have a budget of several million dollars if it is really successful. A comparably big movie series will have a budget of hundreds of millions of dollars. You can't afford to take risks when you're talking about that kind of money.

Groundbreaking has to occur in areas where there is a lot less to lose, it's just that simple."

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

va te faire voir chez les Grecs !

"Les Grecs avaient autrefois une réputation affirmée de pédérastie (je ne suis pas allé vérifier ce qu'il en est aujourd'hui, mais on me susurre dans mon oreillette qu'elle est très surfaite).

Alors quand on propose à quelqu'un d'aller chez eux, c'est parce qu'on veut rapidement s'en débarrasser et qu'on lui souhaite "bien du plaisir" une fois arrivé là-bas."


Comment emmerder les mecs

(Suite à La pire séduction de l'histoire)

"Lorsque la nuit était venue, M. Jo s’était rapproché de Suzanne et l’avait enlacée. L’auto roulait toujours dans le chaos brillant et obscur de la ville, les mains de M. Jo tremblaient. Suzanne ne voyait pas son visage. Il était arrivé insensiblement à s’accoler à elle et Suzanne le laissait faire. Elle était saoule de la ville. L’auto roulait, seule réalité, glorieuse, et dans son sillage toute la ville chutait, s’écroulait, brillante, grouillante, sans fin. Parfois les mains de M. Jo rencontraient les seins de Suzanne. Et une fois, il dit :

– Tu as de beaux seins.

La chose avait été dite tout bas. Mais elle avait été dite. Pour la première fois. Et pendant que la main était à nu sur le sein nu. Et au-dessus de la ville terrifiante, Suzanne vit ses seins, elle vit l’érection de ses seins plus haut que tout ce qui se dressait dans la ville, dont c’était eux qui auraient raison. Elle sourit. Puis, frénétiquement, comme s’il était urgent qu’elle le sache tout de suite, elle reprit les mains de M. Jo et les plaça autour de sa taille.

– Et ça ?

– Quoi ? dit M. Jo, stupéfait.

– Comment elle est ma taille ?

– Très belle.

Il la regardait de très près. Elle, en regardant la ville ne regardait qu’elle-même. Regardait solitairement son empire, où régneraient ses seins, sa taille, ses jambes.

– Je t’aime, dit tout bas M. Jo.

Dans le seul livre qu’elle eût jamais lu, comme dans les films qu’elle avait vus depuis, les mots : je t’aime n’étaient prononcés qu’une seule fois au cours de l’entretien de deux amants qui durait quelques minutes à peine mais qui liquidait des mois d’attente, une terrible séparation, des douleurs infinies. Jamais Suzanne ne les avait encore entendus prononcer qu’au cinéma. Longtemps, elle avait cru qu’il était infiniment plus grave de les dire, que de se livrer à un homme après l’avoir dit, qu’on ne pouvait les dire qu’une seule fois de toute sa vie et qu’ensuite on ne le pouvait plus jamais, sa vie durant, sous peine d’encourir un abominable déshonneur. Mais elle savait maintenant qu’elle se trompait. On pouvait les dire spontanément, dans le désir et même aux putains. C’était un besoin qu’avaient quelquefois les hommes de les prononcer, rien que pour en sentir dans le moment la force épuisante. Et de les entendre était aussi quelquefois nécessaire, pour les mêmes raisons.

– Je t’aime, répéta M. Jo.

Il se pencha un peu plus sur son visage et, tout à coup, comme une gifle, elle reçut ses lèvres sur les siennes. Elle se dégagea et cria. M. Jo voulut la retenir dans ses bras. Elle s’élança vers la portière et l’ouvrit. Alors M. Jo s’éloigna d’elle et dit à son chauffeur de rentrer à l’hôtel. Pendant le parcours ils ne se dirent pas un seul mot. Lorsqu’ils furent arrivés à l’hôtel, Suzanne descendit de l’auto sans un regard pour M. Jo.

Une fois dehors, seulement, elle lui dit : – Je ne peux pas. C’est pas la peine, avec vous je ne pourrai jamais. Il ne répondit pas.

C’est ainsi qu’il disparut de la vie de Suzanne. Mais personne n’en sut rien, même pas Carmen. Sauf la mère, mais beaucoup plus tard."

- Un barrage contre le Pacifique / Marguerite Duras

Monday, December 02, 2013

Japan - where everything is unspoken

From Lang-8:

The roots of the high context culture of Japan

I visited Bishamondo Temple in Kyoto yesterday and learned something interesting about the cultural heritage of Japan.

A Buddhist monk at Bishamondo showed us tourists around the rooms divided by fusuma, sliding doors, which have paintings of nature themes on them. At the end of the walk-through tour viewing some reverse perspective paintings from the 17th century, he took us to a room that used to be one of the waiting rooms for guests who came to visit the Imperial prince who retreated and lived at the temple. One fusuma painting there has a kiji, a pheasant, on an ume tree, and another one has a hiyodori, a bulbul, on a bamboo tree. Since the common combinations are actually an uguisu, a bush warbler, and an ume tree, or a sparrow and a bamboo tree, the guests who are guided to this room should find these paintings awkward and realize "the birds don't match the trees", which puns on "you're disregarded" in Japanese. Therefore, if you are shown to this room, you are supposed to leave the temple without being told to do so.

This is a great example of how high-context the Japanese societies were back in the history. If you don't get subtle messages written on fusuma or implied between the lines, you would be regarded as an utter fool and probably become an outcast. Although this example from the Edo period was mind-blowing even to a Japanese mind, this type of communication rules still exist in the modern Japanese culture to some extent.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Links - 1st December 2013

'Lesbians Explain: Sleeping With Men,' Is A New Video From Arielle Scarcella, Vlogger - "What does it mean to be a lesbian? What does it mean to be a lesbian that has sex with men? What does it mean to police the boundaries of the sexual orientation of others?... several women that identify as lesbian -- but that also enjoy having casual sex with men. Offering explanations such as, "I've sort of perfected the art of compartmentalizing sex from feelings," "I don't know enough lesbians who are willing to have casual sex," and "This isn't really something that I tell my lesbian friends -- I tell my queer friends because they get it," these women engage in an important discussion about what it means to embody a sense of fluidity in your sexual identit, and to live outside of solidified identity categories in terms of sexual orientation."
If we shouldn't "police" lesbians who sleep with men, why police Sarah Palin when she says she's a feminist?
Comments: "There are a lot of people who have relationships with only one gender, and publicly identify themselves as such, but have casual sex with the other one. Usually they go by such names as family values moralist, anti gay campaigners, or christian conservatives"

Now This Is How You Use A Go Pro at AWSM.com - "This is why the world needs unemployed brilliant people."

City pay culture has spread to charities, union says - "The leaders of Britain's charities face accusations that their six-figure pay packets are excessive and part of a culture of greed polluting the voluntary sector. Research seen by The Independent shows that more than 50 charity chief executives received between £100,000 and £210,000 last year. In one case, a charity paid its chief executive nearly £400,000. Unite, the union which represents 60,000 charity workers, said too many charity bosses were paying themselves more than the Prime Minister's salary of £197,000."

Feminisnt » In it for the money? The smart investment is in an anti-sex worker career - "Anti-sex work activists endlessly harp on the specter of the multi-billion dollar sex industry. They never want to talk about how individual sex workers only make fairly modest incomes, and for generally short periods of time. It's easier to set up all of us sinners as obscenely wealthy, because it makes it easier for average people to resent us. This contributes to a culture of disrespect for sex workers where the public thinks we're not only lazy and gauche, we also get a 6-figure check every time we disrobe. It's a tactic of othering sex workers to a country that has been struggling a lot financially since the recession. And it's a very successful one... Catherine MacKinnon's base salary (not including bonuses, insurance, speaking engagements, writing, and tours) was $273,000 for 9 months of work in 2009 (page 386, huge file) and $280,000 for 9 months of work in 2010 (page 394, huge file). The biggest winner is, of course, the Hunt Alternatives Fund, which took in a whopping $12,976,136 in 2012... Cite these figures when you're talking to people who think that our side is the only one with something financial to gain"
If you can't trust people connected with an industry because of financial considerations, you can't trust many activists either (in 2009 the salary of Greenpeace's chief executive was £65,000)

Angelina Jolie Lookalike Luminiţa Perijoc Rapes Male Cab Driver - "Some beautiful women are so accustomed to getting what they want that they have nearly forgotten the meaning of “no”... He found her not wearing the robe she'd worn on previous visits, but a top that barely covered her ample bosom. She was acting in a more uninhibited manner as well, which has gotten investigators to thinking she might have been under the influence. “She pulled me in by the hand, took out the knife from behind her back and said, 'You'll be my slave tonight',” Stan says of the kind of greeting he got... While locked in the bathroom, Stan called the cops. Asked why he didn't just wrestle his way out of apartment, he said he couldn't risk physically hurting Perijoc because he knew no one would believe him that she attacked him first. “I was scared. I was afraid she'd kill me,” he says. “If I had hit her with a chair in the head... would the cops have believed me – a Roma and a man – that I'd been raped?”"
What men should do if they're attacked by women: call for help and run away

Edmonton declared city of shenanigans, speed traps in sign prank - "Carefully constructed signs mounted with industrial glue and screws gave the city of Edmonton a cheeky re-brand this week in a prank that even had a member of the city's image and reputation task force laughing just a little bit, according to the CBC. "I saw a little bit of Edmonton tongue-in-cheek in it," Chris LaBossiere, the task force's co-chair, told the CBC. "I smiled at first." The signs that appeared overnight on Monday greeted drivers at several city entrances with new labels placed over the city's official slogan, which is "City of Champions." Now Edmonton is the city of ... "Suck it, Calgary." Other city welcome signs declared Edmonton "City of Speed Traps," "City of Shenanigans," and "Road Construction City""
This is why Singapore is not creative (sticker lady)

Steamy yet discreet: an e-book revolution - "There is an internet meme called Rule 34 which states: ''If you can think of it, there is a fetish for it.'' Rule 35 follows: ''If no such porn exists, it will be made.'' The publishers of the electronic-book arm of Harlequin, that grand dame of the paperback romance, understand these immutable laws better than most. Carina Press sells e-book romance in 11 categories and 17 spin-off niches - including Amish, dragon, angel and demons, space opera, paranormal, fantasy and time travel - reaching to the edges of cyberspace to corral a readership of the most eclectic kind... Romance is the biggest genre category of all. ''Women are the biggest consumers of romance fiction. In fact, women are the biggest buyers of fiction, full stop,'' he says. ''Because romance readers are voracious readers,'' James says, ''they'll read across genres, and they're willing to be adventurous and be early adopters in order to have access to a wide variety of content.''"

THE THREE LAWS OF FUTURE EMPLOYMENT - "Let’s start with the three Laws of Future Employment. Law #1: People will get jobs doing things that computers can’t do. Law #2: A global market place will result in lower pay and fewer opportunities for many careers. (But also in cheaper and better products and a higher standard of living for American consumers.) Law #3: Professional people will more likely be freelancers and less likely to have a steady job. Usually taken for granted is that future jobs depend on STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and math)... Tabarrok and much of the conventional wisdom are wrong. The job that electrical engineers did 25 years ago has almost nothing to do with the job they do today. Computers now do much of the work that people used to do - computers design circuits, do all the drafting, plan the manufacturing, etc. It used to be that an electrical engineer designed the electronics in your car. To some extent they still do, but today even the smallest components come with operating systems - in other words, your car is programmed rather than designed. Electrical engineering is a career that follows Law #1: much of it has been (and will continue to be) computerized out of existence. Computer science careers illustrate Law #2. Computer science services are among the most tradable in the world. It is literally a global job market... Laws #1 & 2 predict that there will likely be fewer STEM jobs in the future – they are both easily computerized and tradable... Because of his novel my student becomes expert in many skills that can translate into a wonderful career"

Want a Job? Go to College, and Don’t Major in Architecturemany of the majors that produced low unemployment rates also pay pretty well. That makes sense, when you consider that graduates of some fields are in high demand, which forces employers to offer them higher salaries. That’s not true across the board, however. People who majored in education, psychology and social work, for example, have low unemployment rates, but don’t make much money. Their earnings also don’t improve a lot when they gain more experience or postgraduate schooling. “Some majors offer both high security and high earnings, while other majors trade off earnings for job security”"

Why Students Leave the Engineering Track - "The time spent studying has fallen across the board, but especially in non-engineering majors... STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) have also had less grade inflation than the humanities and social sciences have in the last several decades. Given the study habits shown above, this probably isn’t surprising; courses with higher grading standards will often require students to study harder to get an A... Perhaps the higher wages earned by engineers reflect not only what they learn but also which students are likely to choose those majors in the first place and stay with them. Generally speaking, the students who study engineering are willing to work hard and abide by higher standards — traits that are useful in the labor market. Additionally, because these students worked harder in college, they also learned more, about engineering or any other subject. That would imply that humanities majors could have similar earnings potential if only they studied more, which may or may not be true."

Terrible real estate agent photographs

9GAG - Let me get that for you

Outside the 'four floors of whores' - ""I get bored staying at home... I like to come here because I find this to be one of the most honest places in Singapore," he says in Malay, his tanned face creasing in an amiable smile. "There is no pretending here," he continues after a pause, looking around as if to survey the people congregating at Orchard Towers. "People come here to either get drunk or find a woman. That's why I enjoy coming here to talk to my friends and people-watch""

Any Animal That Touches This Lethal Lake Turns to Stone - "The water has an extremely high soda and salt content, so high that it would strip the ink off my Kodak film boxes within a few seconds. The soda and salt causes the creatures to calcify, perfectly preserved, as they dry."

Race not an issue in Singapore, study finds - "eight out of 10 Malays and Indians do not feel they are treated worse than other races in the workplace... Fewer than 10 per cent say they are often upset by incidents that insult their religious beliefs or racial customs"
If so few are often upset by active racial-religious offence, is the spectre of racial riots really still relevant?

deuterostome | - "dear reader, if you are human, you began life as a humble anus, afloat in a vast sea of mommy juice, without a care in the world. As you can see, the asshole is one of the first distinct, multi-cellular traits we develop. Enjoy and take pride in your asshole, wonder of nature!"
"at one point you were nothing but an asshole"

Let Me Take You Down - Harvard Business Review - "If individuals voluntarily surround themselves with motivational products they find inspiring, there may be a mildly positive influence. The products remind them of values or principles they find important. But when a company surrounds employees with “inspiring” thoughts and ideals, it sends a message that it expects them to live up to those ideals. Employees, in turn, expect their managers to meet the same standards. Because many managers don’t, employees tend to become cynical and critical. We’ve heard this from customers who use our products as a form of subtle rebellion against institutional hypocrisy. Where motivational products don’t breed cynicism, they often breed indifference. Either way, it’s not pretty... Some applications of positive psychology have degenerated into a simplistic agenda to learn to think positive thoughts. To the degree that this happens, it's just a repackaging of the human potential movement with an updated, quasiscientific rationale. I know that’s not how Martin Seligman intended positive psychology to be interpreted, but that’s how some people apply it... the agenda of positive psychology involves a healthy dose of hubris. Proponents believe they can replace religion and philosophy with an articulation of “the good life” rooted in experimental psychology. But their thinking is too ambiguous, the nature of human striving and aspiration is too various, and social scientific methods are inadequate to meaningfully handle concepts like wisdom and meaning. I think the movement should set its sights on less ambitious goals. "
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