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Thursday, January 09, 2014

Links - 9th January 2014

"It seems like the only two times they pronounce you anything in life is when they pronounce you 'man and wife' or 'dead on arrival'." - Dennis Miller


Swedish parenting has created nation of brats - "Sweden's liberal approach to parenting has bred a nation of ill-mannered brats, a leading expert has warned in a new book which calls on parents to seize back control of their families... [He] warns in his new book, How Children Took Power, that Swedish parents are now unwilling to discipline their children in any way. Swedes in 1979 became the first to adopt a total smacking ban. "We live in a culture where so-called experts say that children are 'competent' and the conclusion is that children should decide what to eat, what to wear, and when to go to bed," he said. He points to Sweden's growing truancy rates, a rise in anxiety disorders, and the country's declining performance in international educational league tables, as the tangible results of its liberal parenting approach. To cure the problem, he advocates a return to "authoritarian" parenting. "There's no scientific evidence whatsoever that an authoritarian upbringing is harmful to kids," he said. "You can take command in the family. The family is not a democracy." Mr Eberhard is leading a backlash against the influential Danish child psychologist Jesper Juul, whose 1995 book, Your Competent Child, called for the overthrow of the traditional hierarchical family, with its 'destructive values' of obedience and conformity. As a result, Swedish parents now even decide where to go on holiday based on the preferences of their children, he argues.. young Swedes have become "really ill-mannered"... "They don't say thank you. They don't open doors. If you see them on the subway, they don't stand up for elderly people or pregnant women." Stricter parenting is a taboo in Sweden, let alone advocating a return to smacking, a ban on which he believes has "more to do with ideology than scientific evidence". "It's very difficult to contradict. If you say I'm putting forward a stricter way, then people think you're an idiot.""
I see links to their feminism

China’s Schools Teaches Kids to Take Tests, Obey the State, and Not Much More - "In China, memorization and (consequently) the ability to perform on tests are the keys to academic success, rather than the ability to think or question... the teachers in Chinese schools would divide the story into a few major parts, boiling down the story of each into a “thesis” that students could memorize for a test. One thesis might be that capitalistic society is superficial and divided by class—after all, Cinderella had to exchange her maid’s rags for a ball gown in order to receive love. The teacher would discourage any alternative explanations, since they wouldn’t be on the test. A timeless fairytale of true love and magical transformation would be reduced to a boring exercise in memorization and obedience... Education remains first and foremost a device for drilling party ideology into impressionable minds. Material used in textbooks exemplifies and glorifies the party, showcasing how it takes care of its people, the way a parent does for a child, and how society should therefore be appreciative and obedient, ready to put self-interest aside when the party asks... certain lessons regarding loyalty to the party are continually enforced, especially among liberal, imaginative college kids—the very kind of kids who led the Tiananmen protests... What Americans make, the innovative Chinese make cheaper and often times with richer functionality... innovations shouldn’t be confused with inventions. Inventions are original ideas, whereas innovations are ways of better commercializing those ideas to encourage people to buy products. Most of China’s innovations have little proprietary technology and merely ride free on American research and development... One group of students gave a well-balanced and coherent presentation. The members of the other team took turns upstaging one another for personal glory and ended up with contradictory conclusions... Chinese students—from China, that is—are taught only how to work for their own good, not how to cooperate to ensure the group’s success. Sports provide another example. China is rightly proud of having won 51 gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the most of any country. However, its only teams to win gold were in gymnastics and fencing, both intensely solo sports. American expat friends who play pick-up basketball and ultimate Frisbee in China have similarly commented that they have trouble with the go-for-glory playing habits of Chinese teammates... a suspicious, zero-sum ethos pervades most Chinese work environments, limiting collaboration."

Vagina 'Murder Plot': Brazilian Man Accuses Wife Of Poisoning Her Private Parts To Kill Him - "A Brazilian man has accused his wife of trying to kill him by putting poison in her vagina and inviting him to have oral sex with her. The man - identified only as a 43-year-old from Sao Jose do Rio Preto - realised something was afoot when he noticed a strange odour coming from his wife's private parts"

Woman dressed as vagina stops fight between penis and man - "THE residents of Glastonbury are a hardy bunch, used to sharing their High Street with fairies, zombies, Goddesses and religious pilgrimage, barely batting an eyelid at some of the more colourful characters appearing in the town. But on Friday afternoon a scuffle between a man and a man dressed in a penis costume, while a woman dressed as a vagina tried to calm the situation down was enough to raise a few eyebrows... police were called after one man took offence to their costumes and took his frustration out on one of the actors. Chris Murray, who was wearing the costume said: "He started shouting at me, saying it was disgusting and children could see us... Joanne Tremarco, who was dressed in costume as female genitalia, told a police officer they did not want to press charges against the man. "Then he explained that I needed to take the costume off, or I could be arrested," she said. "They also removed flyers for the plays we were performing - Women who *ank and The Penis Monologues"... The group agreed not to do any more street performances, after the officer explained they could be arrested for public order offences... Inspector Mark Nicholson said: "We wouldn't have stopped the play going ahead, but it's not appropriate to have costumes and swear words like that in the streets where young children and other people could see them and be offended.""

Is feminist intersectionality just an excuse for bullying? - "Lately, a growing credo within the community is "My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit." But the growing demand for inclusion and awareness of all the other marginalized groups in any given conversation has caused a backlash among some white feminists, who feel that intersectionality can often devolve into a semantic argument about who is more oppressed that can ultimately detract from the conversation... Perhaps all of this would be little more than Internet drama; but several things make Lewis's position untenable to many of her detractors—primarily that while Ambreen is a WOC (a woman of color), while Lewis is white, straight, and cisgendered, the top of the feminist food chain in terms of intersectionality... 'last week I was accused of fiat privilege (I eventually worked out that this referred to having lots of cash on hand, rather than something to do with having a small Italian car)'"

Pornography Actresses: Testing the Damaged Goods Hypothesis – Greg Laden's Blog - "There is a pretty clear association between negative attitudes towards pornography and negative assessments of the quality of life for actresses in the pornography genre. Studies have shown that those who regarded pornography as harmful to society also believed that those acting in the films must not like their work. Studies have also shown that people tend to believe that porn stars have sexual and physical abuse in their backgrounds at a higher rate than the general population. Conversely, people who have more positive attitudes towards pornography also seem to have a more positive attitude about porn actresses. As a whole, the research that involved asking people what they thought about pornography and those who participated on the stage in making it painted a picture that has become known as the “Damaged Goods Hypothesis.”
The damaged goods hypothesis posits that female performers in the adult entertainment industry have higher rates of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), psychological problems, and drug use compared to the typical woman...
Porn actresses were more likely to identify as bisexual, first had sex at an earlier age, had more sexual partners, were more concerned about contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD), and enjoyed sex more than the matched sample, although there were no differences in incidence of CSA. … porn actresses had higher levels of self-esteem, positive feelings, social support, sexual satisfaction, and spirituality compared to the matched group. … female performers were more likely to have ever used 10 different types of drugs compared to the comparison group."
Addendum: In other words, pornographic actresses/porn stars have better/higher self esteem than normal women

Chubby Checker lawsuit: Does shoe size correlate with penis size? - "A 1993 study observed a relationship between shoe size and penis length, albeit a weak one. A couple of other studies documented correlations between penis length and other body measurements. Turkish researchers in 2011 found that height, weight, and body mass index values all correlated with penis size. The same year that the English study claimed to bust the shoe-size myth, Greek urologists observed a relationship between penis length and the length of one’s index finger. If the size of other body parts correlates with penis length, it would be surprising if shoe size did not. (Tall people with big hands, after all, are likely to have big feet.)"

Sunderland's James McClean receives death threat over poppy protest - "Northumbria police are investigating a death threat directed at the Sunderland winger James McClean on Twitter from a man who claims to be a former British soldier. The message was posted last week by Cody Lachey, now a doorman in Manchester, after McClean chose not to wear a club shirt embroidered with a poppy in last week's defeat at Everton. Lachey, 29, posted images of 5.6mm bullets alongside the message: "Poppy bullies' death threats against James McClean! Too right he deserves to be shot dead + body dragged past the cenotaph!!" McClean, who had been given the choice whether or not to wear the shirt, was booed by pockets of the crowd at Craven Cottage"

Elephant Robot: Marvel® Meets Myers-Briggs®

What words have the same kanji in China and Japan but different meanings? - "有難う - arigatō - thank you
you3 nan4 - catastrophic, disastrous, calamitous"

The Modesty of Man - "“Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both”, reads Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code... The Supreme Court of India has, on various occasions, elaborated on what modesty of a woman means. According to the apex court,
Modesty is a virtue which is inherent to a female owing to her sex;
Modesty is an attribute associated with female human beings as a class;
A woman, young or old, intelligent or imbecile, awake or sleeping, possesses modesty, which is capable of being outraged;
Modesty of a woman is outraged when the act of the offender is such that it is shocking and can be perceived as an affront to feminine decency and dignity. Example: slapping a woman on her butt, disrobing her, asking her for sexual favour etc.;
Mere knowledge that the modesty of a woman is likely to be outraged is sufficient to constitute the offence without any deliberate intention of outraging her modesty.
Section 354 will apply to all sexual acts committed or intended against a woman that stop short of penetration. (Note: The latest Criminal Laws Amendment Bill 2010 proposes to include ALL sexual acts as rape);
Lack of protest by a woman cannot be an alibi for the “offender” who has “outraged her modesty”.
Women’s organizations are also constantly up in arms about beauty pageants, movies and commercials indulging in “objectification” and “commodification” of women and outraging the modesty of women as a class. These gender zealots are of the firm conviction that female models and actresses are rather forced to trade their bodies and prance around half-naked purely to satisfy the perverse desires of men... What I wish to point out here is the popular, egregious notion that men have no modesty to outrage, and the reinforcement of this view by our legislature, executive and the judiciary. A more recent, very alarming trend spreading in India is the full blown attack on maleness and male sexuality in the print and electronic media, a phenomenon I found quite common in the United States. Today, men and boys are routinely portrayed as idiotic, pathetic, uncouth and inferior creatures who are constantly in need of rescue by their “superior” wives, girlfriends or female relatives who are all set to overhaul them."

Sex differences in early childhood, adolescence, and adulthood on cognitive tasks that rely on orbital prefrontal cortex. - "Through the use of several tests of cognition we have documented sex differences in young children, adolescents, and adults on tasks that rely on the integrity of the orbital prefrontal cortex. In children under three years of age, males performed with significantly fewer errors than did females on tests of object reversals. No significant sex differences were found in older children, despite the use of a more challenging object reversal task. Sex differences were also found in adolescents and adults on the Iowa Gambling Task. On this decision-making task, in contrast to males, females appear to be responding to different elements of the task. Discussion of the implications for these findings is presented."

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Links - 7th January 2014

Why Are So Many Girls Lesbian or Bisexual? - "Researchers at Cornell University, examining data collected from a representative sampling of young Americans which included more than 20,000 individuals in 80 communities across the United States, found that 85.1% of the young women identified as heterosexual; 0.5% reported no sexual identity; and the remaining 14.4% were sexual but not strictly heterosexual, i.e. either lesbian or bisexual. Among young men, 94.0% identified themselves as heterosexual; 0.4% of the men reported no sexual identity; and the remaining 5.6% identified as gay or bisexual. See Ritch Savin-Williams and Geoffrey L. Ream, "Prevalence and stability of sexual orientation components during adolescence and young adulthood," Archives of Sexual Behavior, volume 36, pp. 385 - 394, 2007. The proportions in Europe might be higher. For example, in Norway, more than 20% of girls and young women identified as lesbian or bisexual: see L. Wichstrøm and K. Hegna, "Sexual orientation and suicide attempt: A longitudinal study of the general Norwegian adolescent population," Journal of Abnormal Psychology, volume 112, pp. 144-151, 2003. In a study from New Zealand, 16.4% of young women identified as lesbian or bisexual, compared with 5.6% of men who identified as gay or bisexual: see N. Dickson and colleagues, "Same-sex attraction in a birth cohort: prevalence and persistence in early adulthood", Social Science and Medicine, volume 56, pp. 1607 - 1615, 2003... Professor Lisa Diamond has made a compelling case that many women don't discover their "true" sexual identity until their 20's, 30's or even 40's. A woman may reach her 40's, believe that she is a straight woman, and then find herself falling in love with her soulmate - who happens to be a woman"

The easy way:) - The People's Funny Pictures Blog - Quora

Why Eat With A Clown When You Can Dine With The King

New Research: Cheating on Exams with Smartwatches - "A Belgian university recently banned all watches from exams due to the possibility of smartwatches being used to cheat. Similarly, some standardized tests in the U.S. like the GRE have banned all digital watches. These policies seems prudent, since today’s smartwatches could be used to smuggle in notes or even access websites during the test. However, their potential use for cheating goes much farther than that... Future form factors are likely to be even less conspicuous and enable more unique attacks—think smart contact lenses or implantable smartphones. Outright bans may not be desirable or even feasible. In the long run, we will need to adapt in more drastic ways, perhaps by abandoning traditional exams as a form of student assessment."

Danish Muslim leader regrets role in cartoon rage - "A Danish Muslim leader who seven years ago traveled the Muslim world fueling the uproar over newspaper caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad is back in the headlines in Denmark after doing an about-face on the issue. Once a leading critic of the Danish cartoons, which sparked fiery protests in Muslim countries, Lebanese-born Ahmad Akkari now says the Jyllands-Posten newspaper had the right to print them... He appeared to advocate violence against a more moderate Danish Muslim in a secret TV recording, but later said it was just a joke"

Painful lessons from IT outsourcing gone bad - "In the sometimes panicked desire to save money -- especially with the powerful lure of "half-price" workers in places like India, China, and the Philippines -- good execution flies out the window. And that's where the problems flock in. Outsourcing is not for the faint-hearted or the ill-prepared. It just doesn't "happen"... In the pantheon of outsourcing horror stories, the $4 billion deal between the U.S. Navy and global services provider EDS stands out as one of the most horrific. It started back in 2003 when the Plano, Texas, vendor beat out the likes of IBM and Accenture for the contract. The deal was to manage voice, video, networking, training, and desktops for 350,000 Navy and Marine Corps users. But just one year later, EDS was writing off close to $350 million due to its inability to come even close to fulfilling its obligations... pricing took precedence over every other consideration because the executives wanted to show that they saved millions of dollars. Shortchanged in the process were the details of the transition, the development processes, and the governance. Adequate thought was not given to the obligations of the people who were responsible for executing the transition. "The contract was executed from a business perspective, where it looked great, but not enough thought was given to how to programmatically move to the new environment," Martin says."

Do Artificial Sweeteners Cause an Insulin Spike? - "Overall, the evidence seems to suggest little, if any, effect on insulin secretion as a result of tasting or consuming aspartame... The evidence for saccharin’s effect on insulin is mixed, but either way, it doesn’t appear to have too big of an impact in real world terms... according to the literature there isn’t an appreciable insulin effect from most sweeteners."

Nasi padang for MP: $2.50 - ""Mr Baey Yam Keng order this and it cost him only $2.50. I went to the same kopitiam and buy one hour after he posted it and show the owner the photo. He charged me $6.00,” he wrote."

Escort's hot tip: It's not just about the sex, it's about the mind - "Keller, who is 58 and works as a sales manager, says being married to an escort was always tough. To make it more manageable, he says, they established rules. For one, he could go to a hooker any time he wanted and she would pay for it. The other rule was that she could not have an orgasm with a client. After a time, Monet says, they became like any other married couple. They would each come home from work and talk about their day. Except that he came from an office and she had been having sex with other men... For Monet, escorting was a psychological as well as a physical service. She would talk at length with her clients, and get everything out first. By the end of the session, she says, her client would have a "mind-blowing orgasm." "If you blunt any emotion, you detract from your sexuality," she explains. "The two are indelibly connected. They are a package deal." The message of Monet's book is simple: Spend time trying to understand your man. It might sound obvious, she says, but people are reluctant to invest the emotional and mental energy needed to know their mates. "One of the things my clients paid me to do as a courtesan was to share their interests," she writes. "I have been paid to do things as diverse as watching old war movies with one client, or traveling up and down the coastline while another client took photographs of the scenery. When I realized how desperate these men were to find a woman who would show some interest in the things they were passionate about, it made me sad. It shouldn't be too much to ask our partners to share the things we love to do -- at least occasionally." Monet's views of male intimacy run counter to the mainstream. She has found that many men tend to be more intimate, emotional and trusting after sex. "It seems that for many women, just the reverse is true," she writes. At the same time, Monet is an advocate for female empowerment... "People came to grieve the death of a loved one or to prepare for their own death or to try to reconnect with their sexuality after a disability. "Were there horny guys who were just cheating on their wives? Yeah, there were those. But I found if I looked beyond the surface, there were a lot of deeper issues.""

St. Priapus Church - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - "St. Priapus Church (French: Église S. Priape) is a North American religion founded in the 1980s that centres on the worship of the phallus. St. Priapus Church was founded in Montreal, Quebec, by D. F. Cassidy and has found a following mainly among homosexual men in Canada and the United States."

Eivind Kjørstad's answer to Asian People: Why are Asian women considered to be attractive but, Asian men not-so in the western media? - Quora - "Being physically small, subservient, docile, passive, polite, well-groomed. All of these are traits that we (correctly or not!) associate both with femininity and with being asian. In contrast, being large, muscular, aggressive and dominant, are all associated both with masculinity, and with being black. (again, correctly or not!) As a result, you should expect male sex-tourists to commonly go to Asia, and female sex-tourists to commonly go to Africa. This seems to match realities pretty well. For the same reason, you should expect racially-mixed couples to also more commonly be mixed in this way"

Motherfucking Website - "Let me describe your perfect-ass website:
Shit's lightweight and loads fast
Fits on all your shitty screens
Looks the same in all your shitty browsers
The motherfucker's accessible to every asshole that visits your site
Shit's legible and gets your fucking point across (if you had one instead of just 5mb pics of hipsters drinking coffee)
Well guess what, motherfucker:
You. Are. Over-designing. Look at this shit. It's a motherfucking website. Why the fuck do you need to animate a fucking trendy-ass banner flag when I hover over that useless piece of shit? You spent hours on it and added 80 kilobytes to your fucking site, and some motherfucker jabbing at it on their iPad with fat sausage fingers will never see that shit. Not to mention blind people will never see that shit, but they don't see any of your shitty shit.
You never knew it, but this is your perfect website...
you have no fucking idea what a website is. All you have ever seen are shitty skeuomorphic bastardizations of what should be text communicating a fucking message. This is a real, naked website. Look at it. It's fucking beautiful."

Charities losing out thanks to Facebook and Twitter 'slacktivism' - "worthy causes could be losing out on Facebook and Twitter thanks to a trend dubbed ‘slacktivism’. A study shows social media addicts are happy to puff themselves up by supporting causes with a ‘like’ – but then contribute nothing financially. It may be because slacktivists are more concerned with letting others see how charitable and fashionable they are without having to put their hands in their pockets. Report author Kirk Kristofferson said: ‘Our research shows that if people are able to declare support for a charity publicly in social media it can actually make them less likely to donate to the cause later on.’ Social media campaigns do raise awareness but that could be at a cost to how much is raised from rattling tins in the high street"
"Awareness" - making the world a better place

Was Gandhi a Marketing Consultant?

The Customer is Not an Interruption in Our Work; He Is the Purpose of It | Quote Investigator

""A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so."

I have seen these words attributed to the New England businessman Leon Leonwood Bean (L. L. Bean) and Mahatma Gandhi. Did Gandhi have a secret life as a business/motivational consultant? Could you explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest attributions currently known to Mohandas Gandhi appeared in the 1970s. Since Gandhi died in 1948 these attributions are very late, and they do not provide compelling evidence. Top quotation expert Ralph Keyes writing in “The Quote Verifier” grouped the saying together with other items that have been ascribed to Gandhi with inadequate supporting evidence [QVGN].

There are many versions of this passage, and it has been evolving for decades. The earliest instance known to QI appeared in 1941 in “Printers’ Ink: A Journal for Advertisers”. The magazine published an interview with Kenneth B. Elliott who was the Vice President in Charge of Sales for The Studebaker Corporation, an automobile company. Elliott ended the interview by stating the following set of five principles which he may have formulated. Alternatively, he may have been repeating pre-existing principles [KEPI]:

It is, of course, not possible to state with any practical exactitude what the customer is. But there are several common denominators to be found when we consider the customer in terms of what he is not. These things, I think, are fundamental to intelligent customer relationship and, it may be added, most of them apply pretty well to the vast majority of prospects as well.

1. The customer is not dependent upon us—we are dependent upon him.

2. The customer is not an interruption of our work—he is the purpose of it.

3. The customer is not a rank outsider to our business—he is a part of it.

4. The customer is not a statistic—he is a flesh-and-blood human being completely equipped with biases, prejudices, emotions, pulse, blood chemistry and possibly a deficiency of certain vitamins.

5. The customer is not someone to argue with or match wits against—he is a person who brings us his wants. If we have sufficient imagination we will endeavor to handle them profitably to him and to ourselves.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Links - 6th January 2014

Horror: Violent mob of topless pro-abort feminists attacks praying men defending cathedral (VIDEO) - "The women, many of them topless, spray-painted the men’s crotches and faces and swastikas on their chests and foreheads, using markers to paint their faces with Hitler-like moustaches. They also performed obscene sexual acts in front of them and pushed their breasts onto their faces... some of the women chanted a song, with the lyrics: “To the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church, who wants to get between our sheets, we say that we want to be whores, travesties and lesbians. Legal abortion in every hospital.” During the attack some men were visibly weeping. None of them retaliated against the abuses heaped on them... After unsuccessfully trying to get into the building, the women burned a human-sized effigy of Pope Francis. “If the pope were a woman, abortion would be legal,” they shouted. The attack took place on Sunday, November 24th during the National Women’s Encounter, which annually brings together Argentinean feminists who support “women’s rights.” The police reportedly told the media they were unable to intervene because “they are women"... The National Women’s Encounter takes place every year in different Argentinean cities, sponsored by the Department of Culture as a “social interest” event. According to the Argentinean pro-life site ArgentinosAlerta.org, this is not the first time that the feminists wind up in public violence against churches and Catholics. In past protests, the cathedral of Bariloche, Paraná and Posadas have also suffered damages from these groups. “These encounters of women represent today’s civilization that seeks to impose it’s own rules,” reads the site. “On one side, they try to impose political agenda that international organizations dictate: population control, abortion, contraception, homosexualism. On the other side, they become barbaric in the most literal sense.”"

Did Women's Suffrage Change the Size and Scope of Government? - "This paper examines the growth of government during this century as a result of giving women the right to vote. Using cross‐sectional time‐series data for 1870–1940, we examine state government expenditures and revenue as well as voting by U.S. House and Senate state delegations and the passage of a wide range of different state laws. Suffrage coincided with immediate increases in state government expenditures and revenue and more liberal voting patterns for federal representatives, and these effects continued growing over time as more women took advantage of the franchise. Contrary to many recent suggestions, the gender gap is not something that has arisen since the 1970s, and it helps explain why American government started growing when it did."

Milton Friedman had it right, cut equal pay legislation - "He argued that if you look at employers who hire men over women they have their reasons. These reasons might stem from sexist tendencies, or they may not. But if the offended group offers to receive less in wages to do the same labor, then now the employer bears a cost for this discrimination which is the difference between what he would pay the man versus the woman. The woman has a trump card to fight against discrimination which is that she can offer to work for less. No matter how sexist and chauvinistic the employer might be, he will be forced to recalculate whether his outdated beliefs are worth the cost. Now add equal pay for equal work legislation into the scenario. Now the woman has lost her trump card because the employer is forced to pay the same wage. Now his sexism does not cost him anything and he is free to employ men over women without bearing the cost he would have absent the legislation."
"I'm on your side, but you're not"

Warren Buffett's Son: Charity Fuels a 'Perpetual Poverty Machine' - "Buffett’s own son, Peter, is saying that charities don't work as well as they should and just create a "perpetual poverty machine." He also says that rich people giving to charities is akin to "conscience laundering"... the "charitable-industrial complex" is not all it's cracked up to be... He then relayed a story of the unintended consequences of such philanthropic efforts. He noted that in one case when he convinced sex workers at an unnamed brothel to use condoms, instead of merely stopping disease and protecting sex workers from AIDS, his efforts actually created a new market: higher prices for special "unprotected sex." Buffett criticized the propensity of big-money charities for imagining that it was a natural fit to transplant business practices onto charitable efforts. He also said it was a mistake to assume that if something works in one part of the world it is a perfect, one-size-fits-all model for every such situation in all parts of the world. The Buffett scion also pointed out that even as non-governmental charitable organizations have grown exponentially, "inequality is continually rising." Buffett said that, "the nonprofit sector has been steadily growing. Between 2001 and 2011, the number of nonprofits increased 25 percent. Their growth rate now exceeds that of both the business and government sectors. It’s a massive business, with approximately $316 billion given away in 2012 in the United States alone and more than 9.4 million employed.""

Pop neuroscience is bunk! - "By now you’ve seen the pretty pictures: Color-drenched brain scans capturing Buddhist monks meditating, addicts craving cocaine, and college sophomores choosing Coke over Pepsi... The brain has even wandered into such unlikely redoubts as English departments, where professors debate whether scanning subjects’ brains as they read passages from Jane Austen novels represents (a) a fertile inquiry into the power of literature or (b) a desperate attempt to inject novelty into a field that has exhausted its romance with psychoanalysis and postmodernism... As one scientist remarked, brain images are now “replacing Bohr’s planetary atom as the symbol of science”... Despite well-informed inferences, the greatest challenge of imaging is that it is very difficult for scientists to look at a fiery spot on a brain scan and conclude with certainty what is going on in the mind of the person. Neuroimaging is a young science, barely out of its infancy, really. In such a fledgling enterprise, the half-life of facts can be especially brief. To regard research findings as settled wisdom is folly, especially when they emanate from a technology whose implications are still poorly understood. As any good scientist knows, there will always be questions to hone, theories to refine, and techniques to perfect. Nonetheless, scientific humility can readily give way to exuberance. When it does, the media often seem to have a ringside seat at the spectacle... It’s all too easy for the nonexpert to lose sight of the fact that fMRI and other brain-imaging techniques do not literally read thoughts or feelings. By obtaining measures of brain oxygen levels, they show which regions of the brain are more active when a person is thinking, feeling, or, say, reading or calculating. But it is a rather daring leap to go from these patterns to drawing confident inferences about how people feel about political candidates or paying taxes, or what they experience in the throes of love... in a world where university press releases elbow one another for media attention, it’s often the study with a buzzy storyline (“Men See Bikini-Clad Women as Objects, Psychologists Say”) that gets picked up and dumbed down... if every behavior is eventually traced to detectable correlates of brain activity, does this mean we can one day write off all troublesome behavior on a don’t-blame-me-blame-my-brain theory of crime? Will no one ever be judged responsible?"

Check your privilege! Whatever that means - "now we get to the fun bit of check-your-privilege's story, when it stopped being a calm, thoughtful and still faintly academic phrase, and became the subject of ferocious debate among, first, those on the left and, now, those on the right. First, it is important to remember we are dealing with interactions on social media here, a medium that is to "calm" and "thoughtfulness" what the Daily Mail is to reasoned political debate... According to Mensch: "'Check your privilege' is a profoundly stupid trope that states that only those with personal experience of something should comment"... it's just as easy for certain media figures to forget that theirs is not the only voice that matters. Ultimately, a well-meaning reminder to listen to other people occasionally has been turned into an angry cliche through misunderstanding, mockery and overuse. Maybe it's time for the phrase itself to check its privilege."

The latest Lefty mantra: Check Your Privilege - "Apparently, if any of us wish to comment on a particular issue we have to first “check our privilege”. It’s like a sort of moral entry exam. Before expressing a point of view we must first establish our bona fides. So for example, if you want to talk about an issue such as welfare reform, you have to consider whether you are middle-class or not. If you are, then sadly you fail the test. You can’t comment. Or if you do comment, then your point of view is in some way invalidated... I’d given my privilege a thorough going over, and everything looked to be in good working order. But then to my horror I realised this was in fact a catastrophe. Unless the debate veers off towards comprehensive education for the partially sighted, I literally have nothing to contribute. Or if I do contribute, who will listen? My privilege will act like a gag. A beautiful and very expensive Liberty silk gag. But a gag none the less... how do we actually define privilege? Let’s go back to the example I gave about welfare. Who really holds the privilege in this debate? Is it someone like me, who has never taken a penny of welfare, except to make regular withdrawals from the bank of mum and dad.? Or is it those who are actually subsisting on, and benefiting from, welfare themselves? Who, in this case, actually enters the debate from a position of self-interest? Shouldn’t it be those Shameless types who we all know are merely idling and scrounging and swinging the lead, who should be giving their own privilege the run down?"

Why Don't You Try This?: 12-Year-Old Discovers All U.S. Presidents Are Direct Descendents Of King John Of England

Noah's Ark Found in Turkey? - ""I don't know of any expedition that ever went looking for the ark and didn't find it," said Paul Zimansky, an archaeologist specializing in the Middle East at Stony Brook University in New York State... Skepticism of the new Noah's ark claim extends to at least one scholar who interprets the Bible literally... Wood thinks Noah's ark will never be found, because "it would have been prime timber after the flood," he said."

"Noah's Flood" May Have Triggered European Farming - "The deluge may have also contributed to an explosion in European agriculture—especially throughout inland regions near the Black Sea, where farms were previously scarce, the researchers found. "

Scrabble at the North Pole - The People's Funny Pictures Blog - Quora

Lulu App, Review Men, Revenge on Boyfriend, Yelp for Girls, Dating App - "Things just harken back to a simpler time with the Lulu app, a time when men were men (with lots of money and cars and love-believing!) and women were kind of sad and desperate with no real personality to speak of... we’re not in favor of anything that offers a space for people to say mean things about other people* under the guise of helping… though the glossy, airheaded faux female empowerment makes it even harder to swallow."
Apparently this is "empowering" for women "When I first heard about this app from one of my male friends, the first thing he said was, if Lulu was an app for men to rate women, sexual harassment lawsuits would ensue" "Some of the bad hash tags include “still loves his ex,” “baby daddy” and “perfect for my sister.”" "On Lulu, the answer to “what women want” is simple: someone fun to make out with who isn’t a total jerk"

Do human females use indirect aggression as an intrasexual competition strategy? - "Indirect aggression includes behaviours such as criticizing a competitor's appearance, spreading rumours about a person's sexual behaviour and social exclusion. Human females have a particular proclivity for using indirect aggression, which is typically directed at other females, especially attractive and sexually available females, in the context of intrasexual competition for mates. Indirect aggression is an effective intrasexual competition strategy. It is associated with a diminished willingness to compete on the part of victims and with greater dating and sexual behaviour among those who perpetrate the aggression."
If bitchy girls put out more, this could answer the question posed by the book: Why Men Marry Bitches: A Woman's Guide to Winning Her Man's Heart

Women's Magazines Objectify Women Just as Much as Men's Magazines Do - "Sharon Marcus's 2007 book Between Women: Friendship, Desire, and Marriage in Victorian England provides some possible, and surprising, answers. The basic argument of Marcus's book is that, in Victorian England, intense friendships between women were seen as an essential part of heterosexual female identity. These friendships might be platonic, they could also be sexual, or they could be somewhere in the middle. But sexual or platonic or in the middle, they were perceived as normal. In other words, during this period, an eroticized interest in other women did not mean that a woman was a lesbian. It simply meant that she was a woman"
Self-harm! Sexism is men doing to women what women do to each other Apparently it's empowering for women to objectify other women

"Class Essentialism" and "Social Darwinism"

An article that really annoyed me:

Social Darwinism and class essentialism: The rich think they are superior.

"London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, drew criticism late last year for saying that economic inequality can be attributed, in part, to IQ...

In 2012 the top 0.01 percent of households earned an average of $10.25 million, while the mean household income for the country overall was $51,000. Are top earners 200 times as smart as the rest of the field? Doubtful. Do they have the capacity to work 200 times more hours in the week? Even more doubtful. Many forces out of their control, including sheer luck, are at play.

But say you’re in that top 0.01 percent—or even the top 50 percent. Would you want to admit happenstance as a benefactor? Wouldn’t you rather believe that you earned your wealth, that you truly deserve it? Wouldn’t you like to think that any resources you inherited are rightfully yours, as the descendant of fundamentally exceptional people? Of course you would. New research indicates that in order to justify your lifestyle, you might even adjust your ideas about the power of genes. The lower classes are not merely unfortunate, according to the upper classes; they are genetically inferior.

In several experiments published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Michael Kraus of the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and Dacher Keltner of the University of California at Berkeley explored what they call social class essentialism...

A diverse group of American adults rated their endorsement of such statements as “I think even if everyone wore the same clothing, people would still be able to tell your social class,” and “It is possible to determine one’s social class by examining their genes.” On average, people rated the items a 3.43, where 1 means completely disagree and 7 means completely agree...

The researchers found that higher social class was associated with greater social class essentialism. This pattern remained even after controlling for political orientation as well as objective measures of a participant’s income and education level, indicating that it’s one’s sense of being above or below others, not one’s actual resources, that drives the result...

The higher people perceived their social class to be, the more strongly they endorsed just-world beliefs, and that this difference explained their increased social class essentialism: Apparently if you feel that you’re doing well, you want to believe success comes to those who deserve it, and therefore those of lower status must not deserve it...

Upper-class people are more likely to explain other people’s behavior by appealing to internal traits and abilities, whereas lower-class individuals note circumstances and environmental forces...

There is a grain to truth to social class essentialism; the few studies on the subject estimate that income, educational attainment, and occupational status are perhaps at least 10 percent genetic (and maybe much more). It makes sense that talent and drive, some portion of which are related to genetic variation, contribute to success. But that’s a far cry from saying “It is possible to determine one’s social class by examining his or her genes.” Such a statement ignores the role of wealth inheritance, the social connections one shares with one’s parents, or the educational opportunities family money can buy—not to mention strokes of good or bad luck (that are not tied to karma).

One repercussion of social class essentialism is a lack of forgiveness for criminals and cheaters...

Social class essentialism is basically inciting social Darwinism...

A top adviser to the U.K.’s education secretary just produced a report arguing that “discussions on issues such as social mobility entirely ignore genetics.” He claimed that school performance is as much as 70 percent genetic and criticized England’s Sure Start program as a waste of money. (As Scott Barry Kaufman, an intelligence researcher at NYU and the author of Ungifted, points out, “Since genes are always interacting with environmental triggers, there is simply no way to parse how much of an individual child’s performance is due to nature or nurture”)...

Privilege is often invisible, especially one’s own."

The problem with wielding the "Essentialist Beliefs About Social Class Categories Scale" (the one where people rated the items at 3.43) like a Claymore (i.e. without subtlety) is that the statements were diverse, and not all of them are indicative of "Social Darwinism"/believing that social class is immutable/dependent on genes.

The items on the scale:

1. A child from a higher class can be easily picked out from a group of lower-class children.
2. It is easy to figure out another person’s social class just by looking at them.
3. A person’s social class is easy to figure out even when they are from another country.
4. I think even if everyone wore the same clothing, people would still be able to tell your social class.
5. Other people’s social class is easy to figure out.
6. Children probably learn about social class automatically, without much help from adults.
7. A person’s social class does not change from their social class at birth.
8. Social class is partly biological.
9. Even after centuries, families will have the same social class as now.
10. It is impossible to determine one’s social class by examining their genes. (reversed scale)
(Social Class Rank, Essentialism, and Punitive Judgment, Kraus & Keltner 2013)

The thing is - people actually rated 7-10 (the ones indicating belief in biologically determined and/or immutable social class) from 2.41 to 2.93.

Recall that:
1 - Complete disagree
2 - Mostly disagree
3 - Tend to disagree
4 - Neutral

So these statements were actually not endorsed by the sample.

Meanwhile, 1-6 are indeed endorsed or strongly endorsed by sociologists (not the most "conservative" bunch) when they claim that socialisation is pervasive and deep-rooted. And 7 is strongly endorsed (and 9 possibly less strongly endorsed) by those who believe that social mobility is dead (i.e. those who are of a similar ideological persuasion to the writer).

And given that even the writer acknowledges that "income, educational attainment, and occupational status are perhaps at least 10 percent genetic (and maybe much more)", he would presumably have to endorse 8 and thus be a "Social Darwinist" (in his own book).

So the only item that possibly indicates "Social Darwinist" beliefs (in the classic sense of the term) is 10.

While the study found that:

"Social class rank was significantly positively associated with..the biological basis subscale, .22, t(148) 2.51, p < .05" (people from higher social classes felt that social classes were more biologically determined), it also found that:

"In the biological basis analysis, the originally significant relationship of income to biological beliefs about social class categories was rendered nonsignificant when social class rank was added to the regression mode".

In other words the rich are not believers in "Social Darwinism" (inasmuch as that is what believing class is biologically influenced means) but people who believe they are superior to others in their local community believe this

This is also a mischievous misrepresentation of Cummings (the "top adviser to the UK's education secretary"). He didn't say Sure Start was a waste of money because 70% of a child's performance is genetic but because there is "little scientific testing, refinement and changing budgets to reinforce demonstrated success".

Some other problems of the article:

- You don't need to be 200 times smarter to earn 200 times as much. This is like the diamonds-water paradox - are diamonds really that important to human life (given that water is a need?)

- The author posits just world theory as a coping mechanism for the rich so they feel entitled to what they have. An alternative interpretation: the less well-off do not believe in just world theory as a coping mechanism for their lack of success

- Lots of research (twin studies) shows that genetics is a major factor determining life chances

- "Conservatives" are bashed for believing that poor people are poor because they don't work hard enough, and they are bashed because they believe in social mobility (which according to people like the ones writing this article is limited by social forces). Here they are bashed for believing that poor people are poor because they are inferior. One cannot criticise them on both fronts at once.

Dream $110k wedding ends in debt

Dream $110k wedding ends in debt
The New Paper on Sunday

All this couple wanted to do was to indulge their desire for a dream wedding.

After all, you get married only once in this lifetime, said Mr Cayden Lee.

But that indulgence proved to be costly for them. The 32-year-old insurance agent is still mired in the debt he incurred in October 2012.

He told The New Paper on Sunday: “This is the real regret. We struggle from month to month just to make ends meet.”

The couple borrowed $45,000 from a financial institution with a repayment period of two years. They also borrowed $4,000 from a licensed moneylender and $11,000 from a relative. On top of that, they pumped in their entire savings of $20,000.

They also charged to their individual credit cards, said his wife, who wants to be known only as Mrs Lee. She estimates the charges were another $30,000.

The total sum? $110,000.

Said the housewife: “When we first did our calculations, we were confident that we could afford it. “We gave ourselves a year or two, at the maximum, to work things out.”

But what Mrs Lee, 28, did not count on was losing sleep over hounding debt collectors.

She slipped into depression about six months after her wedding, and finally quit her job as an insurance agent.

Her whims, she said, included having a bridal arch made with 999 fresh tulips from Holland, completed with a tulip-shaped balloon, for their wedding march-in. The arch cost nearly $12,000.

The wedding banquet was held at a six-star hotel in the Marina Bay area, with each of the 45 tables costing $1,688++.

Other costs included their bridal photography, make-up, hair-styling and videography.

They spent so much that Mrs Lee’s other dream — a honeymoon in Europe — had to be put off. She said: “We ended up going to Genting Highlands for five days instead.

Mr Lee felt that they neglected to consider one important factor — that his relatives were not “high-class or rich folk”.

“Our relatives arc mostly ordinary people, not highly educated, and I think that is also why the hongbao collected eventually did not cover some of the table costs,” he said.

To break even, the couple had to collect $200 from each guest, added Mrs Lee.

Trying to clear the debts has put a strain on the marriage and their relationship, Mr Lee said. “I think we have had more fights since we got married than in the six years that we were dating.

“Most times, it was over money...and we’d end up blaming each other for the situation.”

The couple have made lifestyle changes to ease the strain on the pocket. He said: “We spend most of our time watching television at home, or going to the nearby park for our regular jogs.”

But the lesson is one that both have committed to memory, so much so that they took the trouble to sit a mutual friend’s daughter down for a talk.

Mrs Lee said: “She was planning a lavish wedding in Sentosa, and wanted to include fireworks, among other things. And the couple were intending to get a few loans from their family and friends.

“I told them: ‘Look at me, I went down the path like a fool and I am still paying for the expensive lesson. Why walk down the same road as us?”


Online version:

Till debt do us part? | The New Paper

"Today, they have made lifestyle changes to ease the strain on their finances, including only allowing themselves one treat a month - either a movie or going for a spa retreat.

Social psychologist Richard Lim says sometimes, parents put pressure on their child so they can impress relatives and friends.

Wedding planners The New Paper on Sunday spoke to say couples have champagne tastes on beer budgets.

Ms Pink Cheong, who has been in the business for a decade, shares that she has had clients who want to top the last best ceremony.

Madam Fatimah Mohsin, owner of The Wedding Gallery, says: "You just need to manage your expectations.""
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