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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Links - 12th December 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Le Paradis est ouvert à tous

Je crois que nous aurions mis un an ou deux à faire une conversation d’une heure si nous n’avions pas rencontré Brigitte Bardot.

Grande animation rue Bleue. La circulation est arrêtée. La rue bloquée. On tourne un film.

Tout ce qui a un sexe rue Bleue, rue Papillon et Faubourg-Poissonnière, est en alerte. Les femmes veulent vérifier si elle est aussi bien qu’on le dit ; les hommes ne pensent plus, ils ont le discursif qui s’est coincé dans la fermeture de la braguette. Brigitte Bardot est là ! Eh, la vraie Brigitte Bardot !

Moi, je me suis mis à la fenêtre. Je la regarde et elle me fait penser à la chatte des voisins du quatrième, une jolie petite chatte qui adore s’étirer au soleil sur le balcon, et qui semble ne vivre, ne respirer, ne cligner des yeux que pour provoquer l’admiration. En avisant mieux, je découvre aussi qu’elle ressemble vraiment aux putes de la rue de Paradis, sans réaliser qu’en fait, ce sont les putes de la rue de Paradis qui se déguisent en Brigitte Bardot pour attirer le client...

Elle s’est approchée, chancelante sur ses hauts talons. Je lui ai tendu son sac, qu’elle a serré, ravie, contre sa poitrine opulente qui savait si bien gémir.

— Merci, mon petit. Qu’est-ce que je peux faire pour toi ? Tu veux que je t’offre une passe ?

Elle était vieille. Elle avait bien trente ans. Mais, monsieur Ibrahim me l’avait toujours dit, il ne faut pas vexer une femme.

— O.K.

Et nous sommes montés. La propriétaire de mon ours avait l’air outrée que sa collègue m’ait volé à elle. Lorsque nous sommes passés devant elle, elle me glissa à l’oreille :

— Viens demain. Moi aussi, je te le ferai gratuit.

Je n’ai pas attendu le lendemain…

Monsieur Ibrahim et les putes me rendaient la vie avec mon père encore plus difficile. Je m’étais mis à faire un truc épouvantable et vertigineux : des comparaisons. J’avais toujours froid lorsque j’étais auprès de mon père. Avec monsieur Ibrahim et les putes, il faisait plus chaud, plus clair...

— Momo, c’est très bien d’aller chez des professionnelles. Les premières fois, il faut toujours aller chez des professionnelles, des femmes qui connaissent bien le métier. Après, quand tu y mettras des complications, des sentiments, tu pourras te contenter d’amateurs.

Je me sentais mieux.

— Vous y allez, vous, parfois, rue de Paradis ?

— Le Paradis est ouvert à tous.

— Oh, vous charriez, monsieur Ibrahim, vous n’allez pas me dire que vous y allez encore, à votre âge !

— Pourquoi ? C’est réservé aux mineurs ?

Là, j’ai senti que j’avais dit une connerie

--- Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran / Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Links - 11th December 2013

Russell Brand made a glamour model meditate for an hour at 6am - "Russell Brand apparently meditated with a glamour model at 6am the morning after she spent the night at his home, and she has claimed he was "a bit of a let-down" when they slept together. According to Sophie Coadie, 23, the 38-year-old comedian didn't make love to her the first night they spent together earlier this year, instead drinking "lots of tea" and practicing relaxation the morning after... "He also woudn't let me touch his hair. He was very protective about that.""

UK PM Cameron Rejects Call to Lower Age of Consent to 15 - "in countries with lower ages of consent, young people have sex at a later age and teenage pregnancy rates are lower"

A Forgotten Past – The Days When Singapore Mafia Ruled Europe - "It was rumoured that the former dragon head “maintained” his Singaporean roots despite living in Europe for decades. He would talk to his men in Hokkien and missed Singaporean food so much that he had the likes of char kway tiao, laksa and yong tau foo airmailed to him."

From Russia With WTF!? Russian Prom Photos Are Wilder Than You'd Ever Imagine

Meet the first HEARTLESS man who is able to live without a heartbeat or a PULSE - "The device works by supplying a continuous flow of blood through the body, using blades to move it along."

Man behind 'Why I Don't Have a Girlfriend' theory to marry - "Peter Backus, a researcher in the U.K. who once calculated he had only a 1 in 285,000 chance of finding love, has beaten the odds: He's getting married this weekend."

The Married Women of AshleyMadison.com - ""The women's movement into the workplace was the first massive jump into unfaithfulness," says Noel Biderman, CEO of Ashley Madison. "The more financial independence women have, the more it correlates to how unfaithful they'll be." When Biderman launched the site in 2001, he predicted "that the Internet would be the second massive jump and usher in an era where women would behave like men. Ten years later, having built a female brand, I think I was right"... While the overall membership skews 70 percent male, Biderman claims gender parity among people in their thirties (which translates to lots of lecherous 65-year-old men hitting on 30-year-old women)...
Most common career field of male cheaters on AM: Finance
Most common career field of female cheaters on AM: Education"

A Complete Curmudgeon's Guide To 'The Sound Of Music' - "Maria is apparently sent off to the von Trapp household in the early summer, "until September." At the time she leaves, she wants to be a nun. Before the end of the summer, she has decided she wants a military husband and seven children. Maria needs a gap year, or she's going to enter into a series of unsatisfying short careers."

Axe men's body spray: What happens when a woman wears it for a week? - "The Wall of Axe (a naturally occurring phenomenon in which eight or more teen boys reapply Axe after phys ed, then stand in the stairwell together) has become so bad at some local schools that it’s been banned altogether. Another guest described a perennial teen rite of passage—the agony of spraying Axe down your own pants for the first time... The truth is, my experiment in smelling like an adolescent male for a week had only two really profound consequences. One, I really did grow to love the fragrance. And no. I don’t want to talk about it. But two, and distinctly more important, both my kids were so embarrassed that they stopped using it within days of my initiating the experiment"

Fear vs. Radiation - The Mismatch - NYTimes.com - "leading health scientists say the radiation from Fukushima has been relatively harmless, which is similar to results found after studying the health effects of Chernobyl... Beginning shortly after World War II, epidemiologists and radiation biologists began tracking atomic bomb survivors. Researchers have followed roughly 112,600 Japanese: 86,611 who had been within 10 kilometers of the center of the explosions, and 26,000 who were not exposed. The most current analysis estimates that, out of 10,929 people in the exposed population who have died of cancer, only 527 of those deaths were caused by radiation from the atomic bombs. For the entire population exposed, in many cases to extremely high levels of radiation, that’s an excess cancer mortality rate of about two-thirds of 1 percent. These studies have also found that, more than two generations later, there have been no multigenerational genetic effects on humans, Godzilla and the mutant giant ants in the 1954 film “Them!” notwithstanding. Fetal exposure in utero produced horrible birth defects, but no permanent genetic damage. Perhaps most importantly, research on the bomb survivors has found that at lower doses, below 100 millisieverts, radiation causes no detectable elevations in normal rates of illness and disease. (Among several measures of radiation exposure, sieverts reflect the biological effects of radiation.) The vast majority of the doses received by people living near Fukushima or Chernobyl were well below this 100 millisievert threshold. The robust evidence that ionizing radiation is a relatively low health risk dramatically contradicts common fears. But nuclear accidents have provided strong evidence that those fears have dramatic health consequences of their own. The World Health Organization’s 20-year review of the Chernobyl disaster found that its psychological impacts did more health damage than radiation exposure did, and a principle cause of the population’s debilitating stress was “an exaggerated sense of the dangers to health of exposure to radiation.” Epidemiologists are already seeing the same things in Fukushima, where radiation exposures were far lower than at Chernobyl. Radiation biologists say the increased cancer risk from Fukushima will be so low it won’t change general cancer rates for that area, or Japan generally... children in Fukushima Prefecture have become the most obese in Japan since the nuclear accident prompted schools to curtail outside exercise, in most cases in areas where the risk from radiation was infinitesimal"
Deaths from stress caused by the Fukushima evacuation > deaths due to radiation if they had not evacuated
Addendum: More Fukushima people supposed to have died of stress than from direct effects of disaster - Le blog de fukushima-is-still-news

Heather Smith: Porn-Industry Laws May Have Unexpected Side Effects - "Sometimes identifying the actors was easy. They would say their names at the beginning of a video (“Hi, I’m Tammy Jenkins, this is Mark Jones, and you’re watching A Simple Tale of Butts VIII!”). Sometimes I would find myself staring into a writhing spaghetti pile of women, all more or less the same hue of tan, the same shade of blondness and the same shape of bosom, and I would try to pretend that I was plucky and I could do this: I was Nancy Drew in The Case of the Indeterminate Orgy. Other times, I was confronted with complete enigmas, like the performer who was nothing but a penis poking out of a pink bunny suit. When that occurred, I would call over my supervisor, a somewhat bitter man who had been doing this so long that he could identify most of the 20 or so men who worked regularly in straight porn by crotch shot alone... a lot of the laws that get proposed to make porn safer have unexpected side effects — some of which are just as bad as the original problem... In gay porn, condoms are common but testing is rare. By contrast, actors working in straight porn get tested for HIV and other STDs every few weeks, as part of voluntary industry standards. If condom use were mandatory, such standards could fall by the wayside. Or consider the elaborate databases people like me helped to create in order to protect against underage pornography. The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act reporting requirements seem to have done a good job of keeping people under 18 out of the porn industry, but they have done so by compromising the personal information of every person over the age of 18 who has ever worked in porn, or erotic modeling, no matter how briefly. Even as a contract worker with no background check, I had access to the addresses, Social Security numbers, real names and unflattering ID photos of every porn actor or actress that I identified. I could have used their information to commit credit-card fraud. It’s always easy — and it plays well on camera — to call for a simple new law. But the creation of low-cost health clinics with staff members who are trained to work with sex performers would probably do much more to protect people’s safety and privacy. That’s harder than just passing legislation, but we’re far more likely to help porn performers if we treat them less as victims in need of protection and more as workers with a stake — and an interest — in their own safety."

Zhengzhou man steals pet cats, sells them to restaurants as mutton - "the entrepreneurial catnapper described a scene straight out of a Looney Toons short. The man used a live sparrow to bait a trap cage, when a cat tried to get a quick feathered snack the cage would snap shut and the unlucky feline would be on the way to becoming "mutton"... How did the man pass of cat meat as mutton? He told police he soaked the meat in lamb's urine and oil (yum), before selling it on to restaurants at "wholesale prices""

Girl given 200,000 RMB money dress on best birthday ever - "a Beijing girl was given a dress made out of stitched-together money from her older lover as a 21st-birthday present"

Bride has sex with groomsman after mistaking him for husband - "The bride, surnamed Huang, had allegedly gone to the bathroom the morning after wedding night, after which she groggily returned to what she thought was her room, and started touching the man she thought was her husband. It turned out this was the groomsman next door, but she apparently didn't realize she had had sex with the wrong man until the next morning. "Help! I've been raped!" her piercing shriek rang throughout the house shortly after sunrise. Everyone gathered around and after a heated debate, they decided that the family's dirty linen should not be washed in public and that the groomsman should compensate the newly-weds with 20,000 yuan. The proposal, however, was rebuffed by the groomsman himself, who felt he had done nothing wrong and didn't have the money anyway. The couple then took him to the police station but police officers apparently were not willing to take the case because they didn't think what happened constituted rape. Exasperated, they then filed for rape charges against the groomsman at the Napo County People's Court, but the court overruled them, stating that since no violence or coercion was used, the groomsman was not guilty of rape."

China: Trafficked Babies Rescued, but Parents Don't Want Them Back - "Police believe the parents feared that they would have to surrender the payments they received from the traffickers — a small fortune for these subsistence farmers — and were also concerned about having to pay the taxes and fines associated with having an extra child under the one-child policy."

Selfies at Funerals

One blog post gets Air France to crash on social media - "An Air France passenger, Jay Harish Shah, has an unforgettable experience with Air France. Unfortunately, it's not unforgettably good; it's unforgettably bad. Shah writes a letter to ALEXANDRE DE JUNIAC, chairman and CEO of Air-France KLM. The letter is beautifully crafted, which perhaps led to the letter going viral. You can read the letter here."

Difference Engine: The threat in the pocket | The Economist - "GIVEN all the talk about mobile malware—Trojans, viruses, keyloggers, phishing expeditions and other scams infecting the phones in people’s pockets—users might be forgiven for thinking cybercrooks are cleaning up at their expense. Truth is, surprisingly few bits of malware have found their way into mobile phones. More by accident than design, smartphones have turned out to be much tougher to infect than laptops and desktop PCs. At least, that is the case at present."

Malaysia Boleh Memperbodohkan Sendiri

The World Record-Breaking Capital

"From the dangerous (most days spent inside a box with 6,069 scorpions) to the inexplicable (most faces captured on a phonecam) and the outright banal (first independent tire-testing facility), not a week goes by without a record-setting event somewhere in Malaysia. The country might just be the world record holder in holding records.

The efforts are chronicled in the Malaysia Book of Records, a compendium of 2,005 of the country's bests, firsts, biggests, and longests. Many attempts are so outlandish - most time spent cooped up in a vehicle - that they're regularly slotted into the "wacky news" segments on newscasts around the world. To Western eyes, the country seems like a nation of attention-hungry circus freaks. But in Malaysia, the desire to build the largest tea bag or gather the most twins at a single location is a form of national pride...

An excellent nationwide highway system was constructed and is now filled with Protons, Malaysian-made cars driven by people who can't afford Japanese or German vehicles...

The call to excellence somehow got translated into setting the record for creating the highest stack of cans in 15 minutes...

[The Malaysia Book of Records is] also a manifesto for global peace. "If the whole world was trying for excellence, it would be the perfect world to stay in," he says, "because we would no longer be talking about fighting. We'd be talking about breaking records." Perhaps instead of disarming Iraqis, the US should be encouraging them to play checkers underwater.

The day-to-day operations at MBR's publisher are handled by Sujatha Nair. When she signed on four years ago, Nair was skeptical about her job. But when she witnessed the attempt for the longest grill of satay (a Malay kebab), she saw how seriously her fellow Malaysians take records. "I saw the work put into it: 5,000 students in the hot sun, all sweaty," she says. "Some of them were in tears"...

Penang has the largest pizza in the shape of Malaysia and the siblings with the most extra toes...

The idea that Malaysia's national image is burnished by, say, having its citizens parachute a car onto the North Pole doesn't sit well with everyone. One woman in a Kuala Lumpur suburb put it this way: "It's a waste of time. It doesn't mean anything." A letter in Malaysia's New Straits Times lamented, "Here we are, a nation gearing itself for Vision 2020, proud of our largest Hari Raya greeting card or the longest performance of a lion dance"...

In the southwestern city of Melaka, a man stands under a banner that reads MALAYSIA BOLEH! Four coconuts are set out in front of him. This is kung fu master Ho Eng Hui; he pierces coconuts with a finger faster than anyone else in Malaysia.

He addresses the crowd, describing boleh. His voice fills with emotion, and he frequently points to his heart. The spirit of doing the best you can, striving for achievement because you are Malaysian, he says, is the driving force behind his art.

He passes around a coconut for people to inspect. He shows his index finger, cruelly bent from previous coconut penetrations. And then he pauses to pitch a bottle of red-colored oil that supposedly eases pain, stimulates muscles, and saves marriages.

After an impassioned riff on his special elixir, the boleh spirit summons him. He emits several screams and jabs his finger into the shell over and over until it punches through, splattering coconut milk everywhere...

Told about the coconut triumph later, Nair shrugs. "I know a guy who can do it faster," she says. "He just hasn't had time to set up the record."

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Links - 10th December 2013

One throws punches, one insults woman | My Paper | 我报 - "A taxi driver was fined $2,000 for making a passenger alight along an expressway and calling her a prostitute, Shin Min said yesterday. On Nov 2 last year, at about 2am, the passenger boarded the 61-year-old cabby's taxi at Changi Airport and told him that she wanted to go to a Geylang hotel. Things went well at first. The passenger said she liked the Hokkien songs playing on the radio then and asked the cabby to raise the volume. She said the cabby tried to chat with her later, asking her where she was from. But as she wanted to rest, she told him that she did not want to talk. She said the cabby did not hear her as the radio was too loud. So she raised her voice and repeated her answer. She said the cabby then turned off the radio suddenly and told her to get off his cab, which was on the Pan-Island Expressway. When she said she would not pay the fare, the cabby scolded her and called her a "prostitute", she said. The woman later made a police report. The cabby was reportedly making an appeal."
Singapore: where the honour of women is so protected that you get fined for calling them names. This was almost certainly Section 509: Word or gesture intended to insult the modesty of a woman.

At last, a reversible USB plug! - "Finally, users of cameras and other accessories need not worry if they are plugging their devices into computers the right way, as the next generation of Universal Serial Bus (USB) connection will be reversible."

The Contradictions of Mandela - NYTimes.com - "While he was a fire-breathing revolutionary who would quote Marx and Lenin at the drop of a hat, he was also a Xhosa traditionalist with aristocratic tendencies... It is ironic that in today’s South Africa, there is an increasingly vocal segment of black South Africans who feel that Mandela sold out the liberation struggle to white interests. This will come as a surprise to the international community... The new order that Mandela brought about, this argument goes, did not fundamentally change the economic arrangements in the country. It ushered in prosperity, but the distribution of that prosperity was skewed in favor of the white establishment and its dependent new black elite. Today the political apparatchiks are the new billionaires, led by a president — Jacob Zuma — who blatantly used millions of taxpayer dollars to upgrade his private residence to accommodate his expanding harem and a phalanx of children... The claim is that the settlement reached between the A.N.C. and the white apartheid government was a fraud perpetrated on the black people, who have yet to get back the land stolen by whites during colonialism. Mandela’s government, critics say, focused on the cosmetics of reconciliation, while nothing materially changed in the lives of a majority of South Africans... I fear that, for Mandela, loyalty went too far. The corruption that we see today did not just suddenly erupt after his term in office; it took root during his time. He was loyal to his comrades to a fault, and was therefore blind to some of their misdeeds... In later years, however, Mandela became the victim of the very corruption I was complaining about. He was surrounded by all sorts of characters, friends and relatives, some of whom were keen to profit from his name. They include his grandson Mandla Mandela, a petty tribal chief who was widely reported to have pre-emptively sold to a television network the broadcast rights to his grandfather’s funeral"

Do Cats Control My Mind? - "Neuroscientist Joraslav Flegr, an eminent voice in Toxo research, told The Atlantic last year that, “Toxoplasma might even kill as many people as malaria, or at least a million people a year.”... Stock is the lead author on a study published this week in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity that found an apparent contradiction in the traditional understanding that the parasitic infection is essentially negative for humans. “We had people sit in front of a monitor,” Stock explains, “and they were required to press a button with one hand if a ‘go’ signal appeared. When a ‘stop’ signal instead appeared, they were required to shift and press a button with their other hand. In this part of the experiment, the people who were infected were consistently, significantly faster to respond.” When the task was simpler, all ‘go’ and no ‘stop,’ the infected subjects performed the same as the uninfected."

How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy - "Why men and women reacted so differently to the parasite still mystified him. After consulting the psychological literature, he started to suspect that heightened anxiety might be the common denominator underlying their responses. When under emotional strain, he read, women seek solace through social bonding and nurturing. In the lingo of psychologists, they’re inclined to “tend and befriend.” Anxious men, on the other hand, typically respond by withdrawing and becoming hostile or antisocial. Perhaps he was looking at flip sides of the same coin... Those who tested positive for the parasite, both studies showed, were about two and a half times as likely to be in a traffic accident as their uninfected peers... He’s published some data, he tells me, that suggest infected males might have elevated testosterone levels. Possibly for that reason, women shown photos of these men rate them as more masculine than pictures of uninfected men... Meanwhile, two Turkish studies have replicated his studies linking Toxoplasma to traffic accidents. With up to one-third of the world infected with the parasite, Flegr now calculates that T. gondii is a likely factor in several hundred thousand road deaths each year. In addition, reanalysis of his personality-questionnaire data revealed that, just like him, many other people who have the latent infection feel intrepid in dangerous situations... "the parasite may trigger schizophrenia in genetically susceptible people"... Flegr informs me that he’s just had a paper accepted for publication that, he claims, “proves fatal feline attraction in humans.” By that he means that infected men like the smell of cat pee—or at least they rank its scent much more favorably than uninfected men do. Displaying the characteristic sex differences that define many Toxo traits, infected women have the reverse response, ranking the scent even more offensive than do women free of the parasite... schizophrenia did not rise in prevalence until the latter half of the 18th century, when for the first time people in Paris and London started keeping cats as pets... In a 2011 study of 20 European countries, the national suicide rate among women increased in direct proportion to the prevalence of the latent Toxo infection in each nation’s female population... Once the parasite becomes deeply ensconced in brain cells, routing it out of the body is virtually impossible: the thick-walled cysts are impregnable to antibiotics. Because T. gondii and the malaria protozoan are related, however, Yolken and other researchers are looking among antimalarial agents for more-effective drugs to attack the cysts... the flu virus might boost our desire to socialize... “People who had very limited or simple social lives were suddenly deciding that they needed to go out to bars or parties, or invite a bunch of people over,” says Reiber. “This happened with lots of our subjects. It wasn’t just one or two outliers.” Reiber has her eye trained on other human pathogens that she thinks may well be playing similar games, if only science could prove it. For example, she says, many people at the end stages of AIDS and syphilis express an intense craving for sex. So, too, do individuals at the beginning of a herpes outbreak"

Don't hate the woman behind the 'world's worst selfie' - "By taking a photo of herself in front of a suicidal figure on the Brooklyn bridge she has become a scapegoat for our worst fears about the modern age"

It's an honest mistake. - The People's Funny Pictures Blog - Quora

What dialect do you speak? A map of American English

14th-century Singapore: The Silk Road of the Sea | The Economist - "TO THOSE who know Singapore as a thriving modern city, relentlessly striving towards the futuristic, it is something of a shock to learn that “Singapore’s golden age came to an abrupt end just before 1400.”"

For 20 Years the Nuclear Launch Code at US Minuteman Silos Was 00000000 - "Those in the U.S. that had been fitted with the devices, such as ones in the Minuteman Silos, were installed under the close scrutiny of Robert McNamara, JFK's Secretary of Defence. However, The Strategic Air Command greatly resented McNamara's presence and almost as soon as he left, the code to launch the missile's, all 50 of them, was set to 00000000. Oh, and in case you actually did forget the code, it was handily written down on a checklist handed out to the soldiers"

Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus: The FBI’s files on Camus and Sartre confirm the meaninglessness of it all. - "While existentialism and absurdism were subversive theories, in their way, they never posed any imminent or long-term harm to America, unless you consider a rise in the number of pretentious comp lit grad students to be a threat to national security... eliminate civilian oversight entirely, and this ridiculous literary surveillance program is what you get."

Does doing yoga make you a Hindu? - ""The way we pray as Muslims, each pose that we do is a yoga pose," she adds. "So Muslims that hate yoga are probably doing yoga without realising it." Muslims even join their middle finger and thumb together during prayer, similar to a yoga mudra, she says, though she doesn't believe Islam came from yoga or was influenced by it."

Justin Lee: When Christians Are Christianity's Worst Enemy - "In many communities, our reputation is that of uncompassionate culture warriors, quick to shout about gays or abortion or political candidates, but slow to show grace and mercy in our everyday lives. And these acts of ungrace by Christians have far more power to damage Christianity's reputation and influence than any attack launched at the church from the outside."

The 100 top things you honestly don't need to do before you die - "The average human being will live for 701,844 hours. You will be asleep for 233,600 of those hours (more if you're a cricket fan). You will be working for 74,060 hours (fewer if you're Usain Bolt) and you'll be waiting for your children to hurry up and get their shoes on for 11,850. Take off another 200,000 hours for miscellaneous activities such as being on hold for broadband customer service, queuing at Costa Coffee, or looking up pictures of your ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend on Facebook. You suddenly find yourself with just 182,334 useful hours in your life for reading, watching films and baking your signature Loganberry Pecan Flapjacks... if you wanted to watch every episode of the Guardian's Top 50 TV series of all time, that would take up another 2,080 of your precious hours. Add in two new series a year – every year – that you simply have to watch, and that's a further 4,000 hours. Then add in The Great British Bake Off and, in all, that's around 6,130 hours of television you simply have to see. That's nearly 7% of your available life. Watching every film on the BFI's list of The Greatest Films of All Time will take you 217 hours (with an extra half-hour if you want to watch the hilarious "blooper reel" at the end of Citizen Kane). You will also have to watch at least one new film a month that Charlotte at work keeps banging on about, and one foreign-language film a month because Peter Bradshaw has called it "a stunning new benchmark for Latvian cinema". That takes your total for films you simply have to see up to 2,233 hours. And now an even bigger problem: books... you also have to find time to swim with dolphins, to watch the sunset over Machu Picchu, to kiteboard in the Andes, and to do any number of other tiresome things you see people doing in their profile pictures on Guardian Soulmates... And these, of course, are just the things you have to do. The mandatory things. You will still have to find time for the things you actually like doing, such as popping bubble wrap."

"Gender Equality" in Singapore

"Singapore's most hypocritical girl":

Indian girl: It helps you become a better person. And especially for, I'm not being sexist, but for guys, especially, it's a good way to train themselves, make them more responsible. And then, you know, when they become heads of, of their own family.

Reporter: But when asked if they would volunteer to spend 2 years in the army, only 9.3% of the women polled or about 1 in 10 said they would.

Indian girl: I don't think I want to spend two years doing something that's not going to be, I mean, useful for me in the future. It's two whole years. I am, it's going to push back my studies.

Reporter: So you would volunteer to serve as well?

Chinese Girl 2: Err, not really. I'm not very fit

Reporter: Should females serve National Service?

Indian girl: Why would you want women to serve National? Especially in Singapore, I mean. The likeli... I mean, the chances of us having even, going to war, is kinda low, so I don't see a point of it.

Chinese Girl 1: I think yes. But it should be optional, it's not compulsory like for the guys.

Chinese Girl 2: Gender Equality

Chinese Girl 1: Ya

Amusing YouTube comments:

"try giving birth asshole" (This was in response to someone pointing out that the physical standards are lower for women than men, so logically the women can't be working as hard as the men. Later, this person predictably said that "The misogyny displayed is here is frightening.")

"giving birth has pains worst than ns so technically u girls so be able to handle it"

"Eh, wake up your idea la. Nobody ask you to give birth. There are foreigners for that."

"i'd love AWARE's response to this trololololol"

"(hint: don't worry, this is youtube, so you won't be held to what you say here)"

"SG girls all have princess syndrome........
....but most of them CMI"

"If one wants to proclaim 'Gender equality', she should start with the end of her own hypocrisy."

"All in all honestly speaking I don't mind serving NS (as a girl), but I want the emarts to start selling menstrual cups. Because FIELD CAMP and BLEEDING VAGINA doesn't go well together."

Someone on this (versus Purple Light): These women can't be trusted. 18yo boys singing an albeit inappropriate song must be taken damn seriously. But an 18yo girl saying she supports NS for men cos it has good life lessons but says it's useless to her is just saying a stupid thing and we should leave her alone.

I was just cheesed at how hypocritical these women are.
Once gender is brought in, their sex clouds everything.

Me: basically women can do no wrong

Someone: Exactly
If they do anything clearly wrong, it's a momentary lapse.
But anything men do is a product of the patriarchy.

Me: anything women do wrong is also a product of patriarchy
i.e. men

Someone: I used to be a feminist. I stopped being one because of the feminists.

Study this video is based on:

S’poreans want PRs, women to be part of national defence | TODAYonline

"About 23 per cent of the respondents felt that women should serve two years of full-time NS. In comparison, about 70 per cent said women should serve “in a professional role” or as a volunteer to “help out in NS events”.

Among the women respondents, about 22 per cent agreed with the statement that women should serve full-time NS, but only 9.3 per cent said they will do so themselves...

Out of five Singaporean women TODAY spoke to, four said that they will volunteer for NS - with conditions attached.

Merchandiser Betty Ho, 35, said she would volunteer at NS events on an ad-hoc basis when her children, now one and three years old, enter secondary school.

Polytechnic student Lee Xiaoyu, 19, said she would not mind serving two to three years of NS in a desk-bound role after she graduates.

Public relations executive Valerie Wang, 23, said she will volunteer if her salary can be matched and her deployment takes into account her skills and abilities. In a national crisis, however, she will volunteer to serve without conditions, she said.

Among other findings, the survey also saw respondents ranking “instilling discipline and values among the young” first when they were asked to rank several statements on what does NS mean to them. “For national defence” was edged out in second place.

Associate Professor Straughan said that she was taken aback by this finding. She pointed out that conscription carries a hefty sacrifice for men and incurs a huge expenditure for the nation. “It’s a very expensive endeavour. If we’re losing sight of the purpose and intent (of NS), maybe we need a reminder,” she said."

Monday, December 09, 2013

Problems with Enthusiastic Consent

Sexual Consent in Heterosexual Relationships: Attitudes and Behaviours of University Students

"Another issue raised by Muehlenhard (1995/1996) is whether sexual consent is a mental or a verbal act. As a mental act, consent is problematic because one person can never know for sure if another person has consented (Muehlenhard, et al., 1992). It is problematic to infer sexual consent from nonverbal behaviours. While sexual consent as a verbal act may not seem problematic, most sexual encounters do not involve explicit verbal statements of any kind, much less a discussion of consent (Greer & Buss, 1994; O'Sullivan & Byers. 1992; Sawyer, Desmond & Lucke, 1993). What tends to occur is acquiescence (Le., passive (tacitly) consent), not explicit consent (Muehlenhard, 1995/1996)...

The central premise of Antioch's sexual consent policy requires that all members of the Antioch community obtain consent from their sexual partners prior to engaging in any sexual activity and, once sexually engaged, at "each new level of physical and/or sexual behavior in any given interaction, regardless of who initiates it. Asking 'Do you want to have sex with me?' is not enough. The request must be specific to each act" (Antioch College, 1996, p.3). Consent was defined as "the act of willingly and verbally agreeing to engage in specific sexual behavior" (Antioch College, 1996, p.2)...

Many men and women accept statements such as, "A woman who goes to the home or apartment of a man on the first date implies she is willing to have sex" and "any healthy woman can successfully resist a rapist if she really wants to"...

Researchers examining the sexual communication patterns of heterosexual dating partners have observed one consistent finding. Heterosexual dating partners do not usually discuss with each other their wants, needs, or desires before or during sexual situations (Greer & Buss, 1994; Sawyer, et al., 1993). Curiously, there is a large discrepancy between what men and women know they ought to be doing and what they actually do... although men and women agreed that talking about sex did not destroy the romantic moment, many of them were not communicating their sexual intentions before engaging in sexual intercourse... When asked if there were times when "in the heat of the moment, [they had] gone further sexually than [they] had intended", 64% of men and 79% of women agreed they had (Sawyer, et al., 1993, p. 15). This suggests that although they believe themselves as being somewhat certain of their personal ethics, many men and women tend to ignore these ethics when sexually aroused. If many women and men are uncertain about how far they will go sexually with a new partner, effective sexual communication is bound to be difficult.

In addition to not having firm personal guidelines before an intimate encounter, many people use indirect tactics to communicate interest in sexual activity. Greer and Buss (1994) found that although men and women stated the best tactic to promote a sexual encounter was to ask directly, their most frequent behaviours included very indirect, and in some cases very ambiguous, acts such as practising good hygiene, sitting next to the person, acting well mannered, and smiling warmly. University students were asked to indicate how often they performed each of 122 acts in order to promote a sexual encounter. Within the top 20 most frequently performed acts for both women and men, the only reference to verbal communication was ranked fifteenth (only for men), consisting of telling jokes to make the women laugh (Greer & Buss, 1994).

O'Sullivan and Byers (1992) also found that nonverbal responses to a sexual initiation were more common than verbal responses... The reliance on nonverbal signals is not surprising given that both men and women tend to believe that nonverbal cues are more accurate predictors of an individual's sexual interest than are verbal cues (Sawyer, et al., 1993)...

Indirect methods of communication tend to be more popular because they are nonconfrontational, allowing partners to avoid awkward situations and the risk of rejection. It seems that men and women avoid precoital discussion because they believe it decreases the likelihood that a sexual interaction will take place (Haffner, 1995/1996)...

Finally, as a society we tend to believe that sex is perfectly natural so we will automatically know what to do given a sexual situation (Guldner, 1995). This widely held attitude about sex leads to the assumption that the best sexual experiences require little communication. The encounters should be spontaneous and the partners should be swept away by passion (Haffner, l995/1996). The media certainly perpetuate this myth with their notions of romance and physical lust king an uncontrollable, biological urge...

[Hall, 1995] found that most often sexual behaviours occurred without overt consent being given, although participants did report giving verbal and nonverbal consent to each of 12 sexual activities some of the time... Men given, most consent was granted nonverbally. Behaviours that indicated nonverbal consent included "kissing", "getting closer", "intimately touching", "smiling" and non-behaviours such as 'not moving away". Rates of verbal consent rarely exceeded 20%. Similar rates were found for women and men (Hall, 1995).

Interestingly, the nonverbal behaviours used to indicate how consent was granted in Hall's (1995) study overlap significantly with those used to measure the communication of sexual interest in the study by O'Sullivan and Byers (1992). The concepts of indicating consent and indicating sexual interest do not seem to be distinguishable on the basis of reported behaviours. O' Sullivan and Byers (1992) found the most frequently reported initiations used nonverbal signs of interest, including kissing (40%), suggestive actions or nonsexual touch (34%), and sexual fondling (26%). If the communication of sexual interest is demonstrated nonverbally through kissing, touching and/or fondling, then how is it possible to first achieve consent for these non-coital sexual activities? For example, if a man asks consent to engage in sexual intercourse by touching his female partner's breast, how could he have obtained prior consent for fondling? It seems that, in some instances, the process used to ask consent for sexual intercourse involves first engaging in non-coital activities for which consent has not been obtained...

[Hickman and Muehienhard's (1999) exploratory study] indicated that consent is more complex than simply saying "yes". There was a wide diversity of behaviours or signals individuals used to communicate sexual consent. Factor analysis revealed sexual consent to be comprised of four categories of signals: direct, indirect, verbal, and nonverbal. Direct consent signals were defined as straightforward and unambiguous signals (e.g., stating "I want to have sex with you") while indirect consent signals were roundabout and ambiguous (e.g., "she/he touches and kisses you" or "she/he asks if you have a condom")...

If men expect that their date would signal consent in the same way they themselves would, then men may mistakenly assume their date is signalling consent when they may not be. The one very important exception is a direct refusal. Both women and men rated "saying no" as a signal that did not represent the giving of sexual consent (Hickman & Muehlenhard, 1999). It appears that 'no' really is understood as 'no'...

Shotland and Goodstein (1992) found that once sexual relations have been established, there are expectations on the part of both women and men that those relations will continue. Disruptions in the expected chain of sexual events such as refusals are not perceived favourably. Research on the expectations regarding sexual activity indicate that men and women are more likely to perceive a resisting woman as obligated to have sex if the couple has had sexual intercourse 10 times before venus once or never before the event (Shotland & Goodstein, 1992). Participants are also more likely to label the encounter rape when the resisting woman has only had sex once or never before with the male versus 10 times before the event (Shotland & Goodstein, 1992)...

Some females also defined consent according to the traditional female role of "gatekeeper" in sexual relationships. As one female student indicated: "[It is] how much you allow another person to do sexually" (FI-02). In line with the sexual script for women as the passive recipients of sexual advances from men, some female students also indicated that their definition of sexual consent implied an acquiescence to men, as indicated by the following female student's comment; "Not resisting or something like that. Not only in the physical sense but in the emotional sense as well" (F3-40)...

Women view consent more as a process and men more as a single event...

In discussing why consent may not be talked about between intimate partners, one of the female groups raised the issue of discomfort, acknowledging that as a society we don? talk during sexual encounters and that we may not want to because doing so may spoil the mood...

65% of both men and women either agreed or strongly agreed that verbally asking for sexual consent is awkward. The limited discussions on the topic of sexual consent were supported by the quantitative data with only about one-half of students indicating any discussion of this topic...

When presented with the Antioch sexual consent policy statement (see Appendix B. p. 145), the majority of both males and females responded that they were against the rigidity of a formal policy which dictated personal sexual behaviour and did not want to see this implemented on their own campus... As one female stated, "I think it sets a precedent for institutional regulation of individual's private lives. The university does not belong in the bedroom of their students, faculty, and staff"...

Some students also commented that the required verbal negotiation dictated by the policy would reduce the intrinsic pleasure of sexual interaction and result in behaviours that were regimented, mechanical, and/or irritating. As one female commented,

That's [Antioch policy] the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. That's annoying. If someone [said] 'can I touch your breast?', 'can I do this?', and 'can I do that?' I'd [say] 'get lost'. It would get on your nerves. (F3-42).

... A thoughtfully organized and planned sexual encounter was not perceived as exciting or romantic. One female student commented on her understanding of the conflict between ideal relationship progression and the Antioch policy;

Personally I think that the spontaneity of a first kiss is one of the most wonderful things in a blossoming relationship. There's no way that I would like to be denied of that 'tingly' feeling by having to practically sign a contract before having my first kiss with someone. ... What a way to ruin the mood. The people [at] Antioch College must all suffer from sexual dysfunctions by now, due to all of the pressure to ask for consent every two minutes. (F3-35)

One male stated it much more bluntly, "So much for romance! Do you have to bring a clipboard with you?".

An additional argument against the policy involves its possible misuse or abuse. Some students were particularly concerned abut the possibility that a woman might have given her consent and yet might still raise a formal complaint against the male because the next day she decides she regretted the sexual encounter...

Both males and females indicated that while asking for consent first is an ideal approach to sexual negotiations, in practice it is difficult to implement. Some of the reasons given why individuals may not ask for consent first, included the fact that being 'in the heat of the moment' makes one less rational and that consent may change during the moment, so there is a need for continuous communication...

Both males and females believed that most of the time consent negotiations are nonverbal, involving the use of body language...

Some students suggested that asking for consent may only occur the first time the couple engages in sexual activity, and then it can be assumed afterwards...

Some students suggested that a one-night stand would involve more nonverbal body language because the individuals involved would be too uncomfortable using verbal communication of a sexual nature with someone they did not know very well...

Those students who had experienced sexual intercourse evaluated the Antioch sexual consent policy more negatively than students who had not experienced intercourse. Those who had not experienced intercourse were more likely than those who had experienced intercourse to agree that it is important to establish consent prior to sexual activity. Experienced students were also more likely than those students who had not experienced intercourse, to agree that longer or more committed relationships reduced the need to ask for sexual consent and that their own sexual consent behaviour is typically a one-time event that occurs during the moment...

The majority of students reported using nonverbal behaviours such as kissing a partner (69%), moving closer (65%), or touching a partner (62%) as a way of asking for sexual consent. The most frequently reported verbal behaviours used to ask for consent were stating they wanted to have sex (33%), asking the partner if they wanted to have sex (33%) or stating that they loved their partner (31%)."

Links - 9th December 2013

SHOCKING Facts About Our CPF in Singapore! (Part 2) - "why is there a discrepancy in the interest earned on our OA and SMA? In fact, do you know that according to the Ministry of Finance, our “CPF monies are invested in bonds that are issued and guaranteed by the Singapore Government“. So, if that’s the case, if our OA is also invested in the bonds, why is the interest rate on our OA pegged to that of the the major local banks? Shouldn’t it be pegged to the bonds that our CPF are invested in? If so, shouldn’t our OA and SMA earn the same interest rates of 4%... GIC earns an interest of 6.5% (Chart 4). Temasek Holdings earns an interest of 16% (Chart 5)... According to the Asian Development Bank Institute, “To the extent the Government earns a higher rate of return on the CPF funds than what it pays to members; there is an implicit tax on CPF wealth. This tax is likely to be fairly large and regressive, as low-income members are likely to have most of their non-housing wealth in the form of CPF balances. This vividly illustrates how political risks (i.e protection of political power) and non-transparency can arise in an individual account system“... "As the long-term annual inflation rate in Singapore is about 3.0 percent, the guarantee does not even preserve the principal in real terms”... the reason why Singapore was ranked so poorly at 117th is because “of its chosen financial arrangements, which sought to achieve objectives other than those related to social security“... The Asian Development Bank Institute had also said that, “Singapore’s method of investing the balances meant for retirement financing is contrary to best international practices concerning pension fund management, and have the potential to generate high political risk. Such concentration of savings in the hands of non-transparent, non-accountable agencies (i.e. GIC and Temasek Holdings) also distorts the savings investment process and could lead to inefficiencies in the structure of asset returns. The development of the financial and capital market may also be adversely affected due to such concentration on savings, and due to the use of CPF as a substitute for mortgage financing. The method, however, is consistent with Singapore’s monocentric power structure, and strong tendency towards social engineering and control”... CPF is effectively a tool created to efficiently take money from the people for the government’s own investment, without giving the full returns back. Compare this with tax, where the government is obliged to return the tax deducted from the people back to the people, in ways of expenditure."

Learn how to have great sex with a man and remain unattached just like him! - "The trick is the cuddle, NO CUDDLING! After the hot sex with your guy, give him a kiss, and excuse yourself to the bathroom. After the avoidance of the cuddle it is now time to leave or have him leave, absolutely no spending the night either, this also creates attachment. Lastly if you do like the sex and you are having fun, limit the time you see him, this will give your body the chance to get rid of any hormonal attachments that you may have been building up. Men have been able to have this guiltless unattached pleasure for centuries, now it’s time for a woman to enjoy a little unattached fabulous sex herself."

China pays 2 million to monitor Internet - "Many of the employees are simply performing keyword searches to monitor the tens of millions of messages being posted daily on popular social media and microblogging sites"

Married Men Cheating on Ashley Madison - Why Married Men Have Affairs - "There is something haunting about these men. They are here because they no longer feel a certain strain of sexual excitement coursing through their veins, and Ashley Madison, in many ways, is a quick fix. Simply by signing up, they're back in the world of seeing a name in an inbox that makes your pulse thump. They relive the passing-notes part of early love, when futures seem flexible and bright and your life looks the way you imagined it, like you are the star of your own movie and not the production assistant on your family's documentary... "I love having our friends over, but when everyone goes home, it's just us again. She's really great, she's really pretty. I just miss not knowing how my night is gonna end." Gesturing toward me and the whole of the bar, the women looking for men and the men looking at women, he says, "I miss this"... This composite man likes scotch. He drinks it on the rocks, but only if he drinks at all, because he might also drink only water. He is a lawyer and a professor and a doctor and an engineer and a caller of birds, and he went to college but he didn't have enough fun. He plays golf and he works out but he has a belly he didn't have in college, when he was having more fun. This man has children and is married to a beautiful pronoun. She adores the kids and is an excellent partner. They have sex once a week, once a month. On his birthday she did what he wanted in bed, but he thinks she treated it like doing laundry"

Yay genderform! - "There are exactly 947 options here, and a total of 1.1896×10285 or 1.1 quattruornovemgintillion possible combinations, more than there are elementary particles in the universe. If each option were a computer bit, it would take 119 bytes to encode a combination.
Send any suggestions for sex, gender, or orientation terms to genderterms at kreativekorp dot cjb dot net. Send any flames, hate mail, or homophobic/transphobic crap to /dev/null.
I will not attempt to define all these terms, since no English words could do any of them justice. The exact meaning of each one is undefinable, and there probably isn't an exact meaning anyway, since some of these even differ among people. Similarly, I've included a lot of words that could be considered synonyms; the connotations of each term, however, are slightly different, and some people may identify with one and not another."
This doesn't seem to be satire

The Privilege Tournament - "Privilege: so sweet to have. But even sweeter to not have. Privilege has its benefits, but the lack of privilege confers that sweet, sweet moral superiority. With that in mind, we have decided to determine who, exactly, has the least privilege of all... Here, we will pit eight categories of non-privilege against one another, tournament-style. Each round, the least privileged will advance. At the end, only a single category of non-privilege will be left standing. Or, more likely, unable to stand."
This doesn't seem to be satire either

Check Your Privilege - Android Apps on Google Play - "Are you a white, straight, cisgendered male? You may not know this, but you are a bad person. You have what we call "privilege". Some people aren't as lucky as you, and you should remember this every second of your blessed existence. There are homeless black transexual blind ginger autists living in the middle east that aren't as lucky as you.
This application is a short survey to assess your privilege level...
What's New
Version 1.2
- Social sharing to Facebook and Twitter
- Display privilege level bar
- Schedule notifications to remind you to check your privilege
- Developer privilege enhancements displayed for less privileged users
- Audio privilege for sight disprivileged users
- Design tweaks"
In the screenshot: "Your Privilege Level: 100. Privileged. Remind me in 1 day. Need help being offended? Share: [Facebook] [Twitter]

Counting the cost of forgotten passwords - "Up to 80 percent of calls received by helpdesk staff are from end users who've forgotten their passwords -- and with each support call costing organisations around £15, the problem is not as trivial as it may sound... The 2002 NTA Monitor Password Survey recently found that the typical intensive IT user now has 21 passwords, with some heavy users maintaining up to 70 passwords"
Quite sure the cost of forgotten passwords exceeds that of 'insecure' ones

- "Knight Frank Pte Ltd is appointed to auction variety of items for the Singapore Government Statutory Boards and its Agencies. Items going for public auction range from motor (saloon) vehicles, garbage wagons and mini-buses. It also includes liquors, wines, IT and office items, Info-communication equipments, cameras, generators and even branded items... We will sell by Public Auction Brass Cartridges, Vehicles (Vans and Saloon cars), Confiscated and Unclaimed items, IT and Info-communications equipments, Generators, Bicycles, Jewellery, Watches, interesting branded items, etc... Brass Cartridges (starts at 10.30am) Branded Items like Ray Ban, Oakley, CK, Gucci, Chanel, Nintendo & other interesting items"

Pair of Islamic converts joined 'Muslim patrol' to impose Sharia Law in London confiscated alcohol and threatened to stab non-believers

Sex and brains: Vive la différence! | The Economist - "In her view, the cross-talk between them in women, suggested by the wiring diagrams, helps explain their better memories, social adeptness and ability to multitask, all of which benefit from the hemispheres collaborating. In men, by contrast, within-hemisphere links let them focus on things that do not need complex inputs from both hemispheres. Hence the monomania. When it comes to the cerebellum, the extra cross-links between hemispheres in men serve to co-ordinate the activity of the whole sub-organ. That is important because each half controls, by itself, only one half of the body. Hence men have better motor abilities—or, in layman’s terms, are better co-ordinated than women. Dr Verma’s other main finding is that most of these differences are not congenital. Rather, they develop with age"
I'm sure some people seize on the fact that they develop with age to blame socialisation. But then, secondary sexual characteristics only develop with age too. Maybe if my parents had dressed me in dresses, I'd have a better figure today

Chinese Swear Words | Chinese Language Blog - "For some reason, there are plenty of insults in Chinese having to do with eggs. This may have something to do with one particular insult that goes back to the Song Dynasty: 王八 (wáng bā) – This can be translated roughly as “bastard.” Be careful when telling a cab driver that you want to go to an Internet bar (网吧 – wǎng bā), as this word has similar pronunciation. In Chinese, 王八 is slang for “tortoise,” and as a tortoise is associated with promiscuity, this word basically insults someone’s mother/grandmother/etc. This brings us to the use of the character for “egg”...
混蛋 (hún dàn) – As this translates as “mixed egg,” it means that someone’s mother mated with two men in quick succession, thus meaning that the person has two biological fathers...
滚蛋 (gǔn dàn) – A “rolling egg,” you can use this to tell someone to piss off. Alternatively, you can also say 滚开 (gǔn kāi). I use this to ward off hawks and beggars on the streets, especially around big tourist attractions where they refuse to leave you alone...
卖豆腐 (mài dòu fu) – “Selling tofu” is used as a euphemism for prostitution. As such, be careful when you go to the local vegetable market to inquire about whether or not they sell tofu. Maybe it’s best to just ask – 你有豆腐吗? (Do you have tofu?)...
牛屄 (niú bī) – For some reason, “cow vagina” means “f***in’ awesome” in Chinese."
I finally know why in primary school Mandarin teaching material, the boys stuck pictures of tortoises on each other

Cow slaughter to carry 7-year jail term in Madhya Pradesh - "Besides, the onus would be squarely on an accused to prove that he did not do it... The earlier punishment for killing a cow was 3 years in jail and a minimum fine of Rs 5,000. The amended Act provides that no person shall slaughter or should cause to slaughter a cow or offer for slaughter any animal belonging to the cow progeny, by any means."

Neville Longbottom is the Most Important Person in Harry Potter—And Here’s Why - "Neville is a perfect example of how one single ingredient in the recipe can either ruin your casserole (or stew, or treacle tart, whatever you like), or utterly perfect your whole dish. Neville is the tide-turner, the shiny hinge. And all because he happens to be in the same position as Wormtail… but makes all the hard choices that Pettigrew refused the first time around. Other characters are in similar positions, but none of them go so far as Neville. None of them prove that the shaping of destiny is all on the individual the way he does."

How to sound profound with deepities


"David Cerone's masterclass.

DC: Now, can anyone tell me, what industry are we musicians in? Can anyone tell me?

*several answers were hazarded, ranging from 'entertainment' to 'culture' to 'arts'*

DC: Well we're all in the industry of -communication-. If you can't communicate what you want to express to your audience, you're not making any music."

Following this logic, all industries are about communication.

In manufacturing, if you cannot communicate that your product is good/cheap you have failed as a manufacturer.

If Starbucks cannot communicate the Starbucks experience, it has failed.

And if the road sweeper cannot communicate a clean street, he has also failed.

This is a classic bait and switch of the sort beloved by motivation and business gurus (i.e. a deepity).

First you mislead your audience by using a word which has a known/commonly understood meaning. In this case, industry refers to “Commercial production and sale of goods” (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language).

Then you invite them to give answers based on their commonly agreed-upon understandings to prime them into continuing to think conventionally.

Lastly you give them a “revelation” which relies upon a tortured definition of the original term but which is instinctively appealing as a feel-good platitude, and which implicitly denies alternate narratives by presenting itself as a transcendental spiritual truth.

In this case, he is eliding the term “industry” (which people understand as an economic term describing a sector) with a Platonic ideal of music as communication.

And all that is without even going into his ideal of music, which excludes music that is intended to be open (and so has no fixed expression that has to be communicated to the audience), non-intended interpretations of music – the musician is dead (cf. Barthes’s Death of the Author), industrial music like muzak which is more ubiquitous than the ‘art music’ that Cerone is presumably referring to and more.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Why women are less competitive than men

Do Women Shy Away From Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?

"A series of psychology studies suggest that men are more competitive than women. While boys spend most of their time at competitive games, girls select activities where there is no winner and no clear end point...

If women are less likely to compete, this not only reduces the number of women who enter tournaments, but also those who win tournaments. Hence, it decreases the chances of women succeeding in competitions for promotions and more lucrative jobs. Bertrand and Hallock [2001] show that in a large data set of U. S. firms women only account for 2.5 percent of the five highest paid executives. Ability differences can only explain part of this occupational difference and it is commonly argued that preferences and discrimination can account for the remaining difference. Women may not select into top level jobs because they do not enjoy the responsibilities associated with a managerial position. Or they may avoid these jobs because they tend to have long work hours, which may conflict with the desire or necessity for child rearing. Second, discrimination or anticipated discrimination may cause women and men with equal abilities to hold different occupations. Gender differences in preferences for competition may be an additional explanation for differences in labor market outcome; in particular, it may help explain the absence of women in top-level and very competitive positions...

Despite there being no gender difference in performance under either compensation scheme, we find that twice as many men as women select the tournament. While 73 percent of men prefer the tournament, this choice is only made by 35 percent of the women. This gender gap persists when we compare the choices of men and women of equal performance. Compared to payoff-maximizing choices, low-ability men enter the tournament too much, and high-ability women do not enter it enough...

We find that men are substantially more overconfident about their relative performance than women and that the beliefs on relative performance help predict entry decisions. Although gender differences in overconfidence are found to play an important role in explaining the gender gap in tournament entry, these differences only account for a share of the gap.

To assess whether general factors, such as overconfidence, risk, and feedback aversion by themselves cause a gap in choices of compensation scheme, we also determine if, absent the thrill or fear of performing in a competition, a gender gap in choice of compensation scheme still occurs. We find that combined such factors cause men and women of equal performance to select different compensation schemes. This difference appears to be largely explained by gender differences in overconfidence, while risk and feedback aversion seem to play a negligible role.

Finally, controlling for gender differences in general factors such as overconfidence, risk, and feedback aversion, we estimate the size of the residual gender difference in the tournament-entry decision. Including these controls, gender differences are still significant and large. Hence, we conclude that, in addition to gender differences in overconfidence, a sizeable part of the gender difference in tournament entry is explained by men and women having different preferences for performing in a competitive environment...

Studies examining gender differences in risk attitudes over monetary gambles find either that women are more risk averse than men or that there is no gender difference. Eckel and Grossman [2002a] summarize the experimental literature in economics and conclude that women exhibit greater risk aversion in choices. A summary of the psychology literature is presented by Byrnes, Miller, and Shafer [1999]. They provide a meta-analysis of 150 risk experiments and demonstrate that while women in some situations are significantly more averse to risk, many studies find no gender difference...

One consequence of entering the tournament is that the individual will receive feedback on relative performance. The psychology literature suggests that men and women may respond differently to such feedback. First, there is evidence that women tend to incorporate negative feedback more than men (see, e.g., Roberts and Nolen-Hoeksema [1989]). Second, women, more than men, may view a negative signal as indicative of their self-worth rather than simply their one-time performance on a task. Women may therefore fall into “confidence traps” from which they do not recover easily (see, e.g., Dweck [2000] and references therein). If participants benefit from holding positive beliefs about themselves, then both of these factors may cause women to avoid environments where they receive feedback on relative performance...

Past research on gender differences toward competition has shown that in some mixed gender competitions women do not perform as well as men. For example, Gneezy, Niederle, and Rustichini [2003] examine performances when participants are asked to solve mazes for fifteen minutes. Although men and women perform equally well in a piece-rate scheme, there are large gender differences in performance in a tournament. While a few women perform extremely well, many women do poorly, and the bottom performance quintile is almost entirely comprised of women. Gneezy and Rustichini [2004] and Larson [2005] find similar gender differences in competitive performance.

Rather than examining gender differences in performance under an exogenously given incentive scheme, the focus of this paper is instead one of self-selection...

Our finding that men and women differ in their choice of compensation scheme appears to be a rather robust one, and it has been demonstrated by other researchers as well...

While these laboratory studies replicate our general finding, there is also evidence to suggest that gender differences in be- havior under competition may extend to other domains. For ex- ample, Babcock and Laschever [2003] explore the possibility that gender differences in labor market outcomes may arise because women are poor negotiators and generally dislike the process of negotiating. To the extent that a negotiation can be seen as a two-person competition, their results appear consistent with those on competition. Once again there are two effects: of women first avoiding the competitive scheme altogether and when forced to do so, sometimes failing to compete.

Further evidence that our findings in the laboratory may ex- tend to the real world is that the factors that we identify as causing women to shy away from competition correspond to those empha- sized by women in these environments.30 For example, a report entitled “Women’s Experiences in College Engineering” writes that the exit of many young women is not driven by ability but rather that this decision is influenced by women negatively interpreting their grades and having low self-confidence."

This also helps explain the gender wage gap.

Do Women in China Compete Just As Much As Men? Experimental Evidence from a Cultural Laboratory finds that in China, women were as competitive as men due to social engineering.
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