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Friday, January 31, 2014

Links - 31st January 2014

Court orders Craiglist sperm donor to pay child support - "A judge has ruled that a Kansas man who answered a lesbian couple’s Craigslist ad seeking a sperm donation is responsible for paying child support for the baby he helped conceive... despite William Marotta having signed a contract with the couple stating he was under no obligation to support the child financially over the course of its lifetime, he is the child’s legal father. As a result, he would be required to pay child support. The issue, according to Judge Mattivi, was that the parties involved failed to go through all of the necessary steps required for a legal sperm donation—specifically, using a licensed physician for the artificial insemination procedure.

Diana Crețu's answer to Chess: Is it racist that white gets the chance to make the first move instead of black in a game of chess? - Quora - "If you want to hear some of the really bad stuff, take me for example: I never use black toothpaste, I always write on white paper, and I went as far as to not consume milk unless it was perfectly white (one time, there was an unidentified black thing floating in my milk, and I scooped it out! If that's not racism, I don't know what is).
Additionally, I would also like to point out a very worrying issue: the Quora website is using SO much more white than black... that's why people keep writing and writing and writing here, to diminish the racism by occupying the white space with black characters... chess is nothing compared to pool. Anything that happens on the table is dictated by the white ball, the black ball is always avoided and is the last to be played, not to mention that the only way it can move is by being hit by lighter colored balls. Seriously, this game should be banned"

Pope Francis’ peace doves attacked at Vatican - "Two white doves that were released by children standing alongside Pope Francis as a peace gesture have been attacked by other birds. As tens of thousands of people watched in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, a seagull and a large black crow swept down on the doves right after they were set free from an open window of the Apostolic Palace."

Altered Images: Malaysian printer blacks out pigs' faces - "The black marks were the work of Malaysian printing firm KHL, which blotted out the faces in a story about farming in the United States,according to the Malay Mail. A representative said it was their policy to obscure pigs because Malaysia was "a Muslim country"... In 2005 the children's film Babe was banned from cinemas because of its subject matter, and the similarity of the title to the Malay word for pig - "babi". Complaints from viewers saw the ban overturned, however, and it appeared on television the following year"
Malaysia Boleh!

No law against pig images, Home Ministry says - "local guidelines stipulate that beer advertisements in international magazines printed in Malaysia should not be printed alongside an article or a picture of a Malaysian leader, or an article on Malay culture...
Last year, satellite television provider Astro added a disclaimer saying “This programme portrays depiction of religious figures and represents views other than Muslims’. Viewer discretion is advised.” to a documentary on Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church worldwide, leading to public complaint... such precautions are not without reason. English-language newspaper The Star, for instance, ran into trouble with the Home Ministry in 2011 when it featured non-halal eateries within a supplement that carried the words “Ramadan Delights” on its cover."

Anton Casey who ridiculed poor in Singapore on Facebook left Crossinvest Asia moved to Perth Australia - "The former colony is home to about 50,000 British expats. Many are hired by multinational banks on lucrative packages and are notorious for ‘Hoorah Henry’ antics. A senior British banker, who has lived in Singapore for 15 years, said: ‘Casey is a pillock but unfortunately there are plenty of idiots like him with too much money and attitude. ‘The public mood is very ugly. All the major banks have given informal warnings to their expat staff to cut back on the champagne and partying until this all blows over.’"

Penang Umno threatens ‘May 13’ retaliation over PKR’s kangkung flash mob - "Angry that Lee, a PKR assemblyman, had insulted Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak by stuffing kangkung into an effigy resembling the leader, the mob took to the streets chanting "Allahu Akbar" and "Hidup Melayu" (Long live the Malays) as they marched about 1km towards the Sunway Carnival Mall with banners. One banner read "Because of DAP's leaders mouth, May 13, 1969 happened... Want some more?" Other banners had messages like "Insulting the PM is like insulting the Malays", "Penang Malays survive by eating kangkung", "ABCD - Asal Bukan Cina DAP" and "DAP is the enemy of Islam"... State Umno secretary Datuk Musa Sheikh Fadzir warned Lee and Pakatan Rakyat not to play with fire by undermining their leaders, Islam, the police and other Malay institutions. "If we lose our patience, please don't blame us"... He said pictures of the flash mob had been circulated as far as the Middle East where nations have respect for Najib, causing damage to his image. Shabudin reminded Lee that the Malay rulers were the symbols of Islam and the prime minister is the number one Malay leader in the country. "The way PR tries to ridicule and undermine our leaders will threaten the status of Islam and Malay institutions," he said. On a less serious note, he joked: "You also take kangkung together with 'yong tao foo'. You eat more (kangkung) than us so you actually benefit more (when the price comes down)"... The group gathered at a busy traffic junction in flash mob fashion with an effigy of Najib and posters criticising his kangkung remark. The participants of the flash mob also stuffed kangkung into the effigy's mouth while singing a modified version of the popular children's song Lenggang-Lenggang Kangkung."
Malaysia Boleh!

Not the first time: Anton Casey previously insulted taxi driver - "I hope that Singaporeans will not attack or flame his family because of his actions. We, Singaporeans, can be bigger than that."
Apparently we can attack or flame him and it's okay

Why the Ladies moan (and it's not good news for Men) - "In a previous post I dared suggest* that women watched porn. Several people warned me of the imminent troll-storm, and true to their predictions, I was inundated with claims that I was a misogynist, supporting 'shoddy' science, and endorsing the male status-quo. All of which was rubbish, and based on the fact that 'women' and 'porn' appeared in the same sentence. Oh no, women are sexual beings? Think of the children!**. The lead author of the paper I cited showed up and made a few comments. The trolls fled. ...Then I won an award for the post... I encourage criticisms, and will endeavour to respond to all - particularly if I need to back up a claim, or defend a statement - but more importantly, I encourage suggestions of hypothesis that support or falsify their claims. Simply exclaiming the Evo Psych is quackery and has nothing to offer legitimate science is intellectually lazy."
Or, indeed, exclaiming that it reinforces gender stereotypes or 1960s sex roles

Evolutionary Battle of the Sexes Drives Human Height - "For women looking to pass on their genes, it pays to be short. For men, tall is the ideal. The result? An evolutionary tug-of-war in which neither gender reaches their perfect height... traits that harm one sex but not the other may not be "weeded out" by natural selection, Stulp said. "This may even hold for health-related traits, such that genetic underpinnings beneficial to the health of one sex may increase the susceptibility to disease in the other sex"... wide hips are good for women in childbirth, but not ideal for locomotion in men. Perhaps facial masculinity is another example, Stulp said: A macho-faced guy is likely to do well with the ladies, but his sisters who inherit the same traits aren't likely to be as attractive to potential male mates. "I think it is important to recognize that evolutionary processes occur in contemporary human populations," Stulp said. "Evolution did not stop at the industrial revolution.""

Mom's Genes May Explain Why Women Outlive Men - "Ordinarily, natural selection helps keep harmful mutations to a minimum by ensuring they're not passed down to offspring. But if a mitochondrial DNA mutation is dangerous only to males and doesn't harm females, there's nothing to stop mom from passing it to her daughters and sons... There is speculation that women outlive men because men are generally bigger risk-takers or perhaps because testosterone, a hormone men have more of, has deleterious effects on life span, he said. But insects don't have testosterone or a tendency to drive too fast while not wearing a seatbelt, making them a good place to start looking for genetic underpinnings to the gender gap."

Commission denies blocking access to BBC’s ‘kangkung’ article - "The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has denied it had blocked access to a BBC report on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s “kangkung” remark... There were also complaints from netizens that YouTube videos mocking and ridiculing Najib and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor had also been blocked."

Video shows what a REAL Viking sword fight would have looked like - "many of the moves we see in the movies don't make sense when you're talking about practical swordsmanship. Big sweeping overhead sword swings and nifty spin moves might look cool on camera, but in a real fight they're likely to get you killed. You also don't attack your enemy head-on, because (in Viking fighting, at least) that makes it much easier to block your blow with a shield. Instead, you work with side steps until you've gotten around your opponent's defense."

The Red Cross bans Christmas - "Christmas has been banned by the Red Cross from its 430 fund-raising shops. Staff have been ordered to take down decorations and to remove any other signs of the Christian festival because they could offend Moslems. The charity's politically-correct move triggered an avalanche of criticism and mockery last night - from Christians and Moslems... Yesterday officials at the charity's London HQ confirmed that Christmas is barred from the 430 shops which contributed more than £20million to its income last year. 'The Red Cross is a neutral organisation and we don't want to be aligned with any political party or particular philosophy,' a spokesman said. 'We don't want to be seen as a Christian or Islamic or Jewish organisation because that might compromise our ability to work in conflict situations around the world.' He added: 'In shops people can put up decorations like tinsel or snow which are seasonal. But the guidance is that things representative of Christmas cannot be shown'... Rod Thomas, a Plymouth vicar and spokesman for the Reform evangelical grouping in the Church of England, said: 'People who hold seriously to their faith are respected by people of other faiths. They should start calling themselves the Red Splodge. All their efforts will only succeed in alienating most people.' Major Charles Heyman, editor of Jane's World Armies, said: 'There is really nothing to hurt the Red Cross in Christmas, is there? Would the Red Crescent stop its staff observing Ramadan?'... The charity's umbrella body, the Swiss-based International Red Cross, has also had politically-correct doubts about its famous symbol. But efforts to find an alternative were abandoned in the face of protest and ridicule five years ago."

Cafe fan banned in case smell of bacon offends Muslims

Teachers drop the Holocaust to avoid offending Muslims - "Schools are dropping the Holocaust from history lessons to avoid offending Muslim pupils, a Government backed study has revealed. It found some teachers are reluctant to cover the atrocity for fear of upsetting students whose beliefs include Holocaust denial. There is also resistance to tackling the 11th century Crusades - where Christians fought Muslim armies for control of Jerusalem - because lessons often contradict what is taught in local mosques. The findings have prompted claims that some schools are using history 'as a vehicle for promoting political correctness'... A third school found itself 'strongly challenged by some Christian parents for their treatment of the Arab-Israeli conflict-and the history of the state of Israel that did not accord with the teachings of their denomination'."

Is it true that feminist women are not as attractive as non-feminist women?

Is it true that feminist women are not as attractive as non-feminist women? - Quora

There's actually something to this theory: I think it is likely that feminist women are not as attractive as non-feminist women.

I was inspired to think about this theory by a married female friend of mine who is rather attractive. She proclaimed that she was not a feminist, and that attractive women would not be feminists because they benefit from 'patriarchy'.

Cui bono? (Who benefits?)

I studied a bit of sociology a long time ago, and one of the theories we learned was Conflict Theory (CW Mills, in the tradition of Karl Marx). Basically, in analysing and critiquing a social system, we look at who it benefits and who it disadvantages. Those who benefit are thus those with a vested interest in maintaining the existing system, and those who are disadvantaged are those who advocate its change (or dismantling).

Example of conflict theory analysis

Returning to the question of feminism and female attractiveness, feminists proclaim that (among other things) they are against 'patriarchy' because women are only valued by their looks. Immediately, we can see that (if this is true) attractive women have a vested interest in keeping 'patriarchy' and unattractive women would like to topple it (so that they can move up the social hierarchy).

Inasmuch as people hew to ideological positions that personally benefit them, we can conclude that feminist women indeed are not as attractive as non-feminist women.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Chinese New Year Greetings


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

In the Name of Love

Do what you love, love what you do: An omnipresent mantra that’s bad for work and workers.

"There’s little doubt that “do what you love” (DWYL) is now the unofficial work mantra for our time. The problem with DWYL, however, is that it leads not to salvation but to the devaluation of actual work—and more importantly, the dehumanization of the vast majority of laborers.

Superficially, DWYL is an uplifting piece of advice, urging us to ponder what it is we most enjoy doing and then turn that activity into a wage-generating enterprise. But why should our pleasure be for profit? And who is the audience for this dictum?

DWYL is a secret handshake of the privileged and a worldview that disguises its elitism as noble self-betterment. According to this way of thinking, labor is not something one does for compensation but is an act of love. If profit doesn’t happen to follow, presumably it is because the worker’s passion and determination were insufficient. Its real achievement is making workers believe their labor serves the self and not the marketplace...

The Internet frequently attributes it to Confucius, locating it in a misty, orientalized past...

By portraying Apple as a labor of his individual love, Jobs elided the labor of untold thousands in Apple’s factories, hidden from sight on the other side of the planet—the very labor that allowed Jobs to actualize his love.

This erasure needs to be exposed. While DWYL seems harmless and precious, it is self-focused to the point of narcissism...

DWYL creates among workers, largely along class lines. Work becomes divided into two opposing classes: that which is lovable (creative, intellectual, socially prestigious) and that which is not (repetitive, unintellectual, undistinguished). Those in the lovable-work camp are vastly more privileged in terms of wealth, social status, education, society’s racial biases, and political clout, while comprising a small minority of the workforce.

For those forced into unlovable work, it’s a different story. Under the DWYL credo, labor that is done out of motives or needs other than love—which is, in fact, most labor—is erased. As in Jobs’ Stanford speech, unlovable but socially necessary work is banished from our consciousness...

With the vast majority of workers effectively invisible to elites busy in their lovable occupations, how can it be surprising that the heavy strains faced by today’s workers—abysmal wages, massive child care costs, etc.—barely register as political issues even among the liberal faction of the ruling class?

In ignoring most work and reclassifying the rest as love, DWYL may be the most elegant anti-worker ideology around. Why should workers assemble and assert their class interests if there’s no such thing as work?

“Do what you love” disguises the fact that being able to choose a career primarily for personal reward is a privilege, a sign of socioeconomic class. Even if a self-employed graphic designer had parents who could pay for art school and co-sign a lease for a slick Brooklyn apartment, she can bestow DWYL as career advice upon those covetous of her success...

If DWYL denigrates or makes dangerously invisible vast swaths of labor that allow many of us to live in comfort and to do what we love, it has also caused great damage to the professions it portends to celebrate. Nowhere has the DWYL mantra been more devastating to its adherents than in academia. The average Ph.D. student of the mid-2000s forwent the easy money of finance and law (now slightly less easy) to live on a meager stipend in order to pursue his passion for Norse mythology or the history of Afro-Cuban music...

There are many factors that keep Ph.D.s providing such high-skilled labor for such low wages, including path dependency and the sunk costs of earning a Ph.D., but one of the strongest is how pervasively the DWYL doctrine is embedded in academia. Few other professions fuse the personal identity of their workers so intimately with the work output. Because academic research should be done out of pure love, the actual conditions of and compensation for this labor become afterthoughts, if they are considered at all...

Academia may actually provide a model for corporate management:

How to emulate the academic workplace and get people to work at a high level of intellectual and emotional intensity for fifty or sixty hours a week for bartenders’ wages or less?

... No one is arguing that enjoyable work should be less so. But emotionally satisfying work is still work, and acknowledging it as such doesn’t undermine it in any way. Refusing to acknowledge it, on the other hand, opens the door to exploitation and harms all workers.

Ironically, DWYL reinforces exploitation even within the so-called lovable professions, where off-the-clock, underpaid, or unpaid labor is the new norm: reporters required to do the work of their laid-off photographers, publicists expected to pin and tweet on weekends, the 46 percent of the workforce expected to check their work email on sick days. Nothing makes exploitation go down easier than convincing workers that they are doing what they love.

Instead of crafting a nation of self-fulfilled, happy workers, our DWYL era has seen the rise of the adjunct professor and the unpaid intern: people persuaded to work for cheap or free, or even for a net loss of wealth...

Yet another damaging consequence of DWYL is how ruthlessly it works to extract female labor for little or no compensation"

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sugar v Fat

One twin gave up sugar, the other gave up fat. Their experiment could change YOUR life

"For years it was thought fat was bad for you: it made you get fat, so low-fat food was good. But the 'fat is bad' dogma is being widely challenged. Carbohydrates, including sugar, are increasingly viewed as the evil, fattening, toxic ingredient.

But which really is worse for you? In a unique experiment for BBC's Horizon, Chris and I set out to find the answer by going on different diets for a month. Identical twins like us are extremely useful in experiments because we have exactly the same genes. This means any changes we observed would be due to the diets and not genetics.

I went on a no-carbohydrate diet - essentially no sugar - and Chris went on an extremely low-fat diet...

Let me tell you straight up that both of these diets were miserable. I thought I'd got the better deal: I could eat meat, fish, eggs and cheese. But take away carbohydrates and the joy goes out of meals. And remove all fruit and veg - they all have carbs - and you get constipated. Though I was never hungry, I felt slow and tired, and my breath was terrible.

Chris on his low-fat diet didn't fare much better. He never felt full, so was constantly snacking, and like me he found that all the pleasure had gone out of meals: pasta without olive oil is boring.

There was one saving grace: each of the diets was easy to follow because they have just one simple rule. And I also had a pretty good reason to persevere: I really thought my low-carb diet would work and I'd end up slim and healthy a month later. That's because the logic underpinning low-carb diets seems pretty convincing. The thinking is that carbohydrates raise your blood sugar and stimulate your body to produce insulin...

Well-respected scientists will tell you that if you cut out carbohydrates (thus lowering your insulin levels), it's almost impossible to gain weight. These scientists believe reducing our sugar intake is the only way to solve the obesity epidemic. But, as our results show, it's a bit more complicated than this...

One of the words you hear a lot when people talk about very low-carb diets is ketosis. This is where your body makes chemicals called ketones, which can act as fuel for the brain, which can't use fat.

But they're not great brain food. While I wasn't distracted by hunger for the month, I felt thick-headed, and this was most evident in a stock trading competition with Chris... The same was true for my physical performance... even though I seemed to be losing more weight, everything became harder to do.

And the tests we did to assess our levels of blood fats and risk of diabetes at the end of the diets revealed an astonishing and concerning truth about how my body had been fuelling itself in the absence of carbs.

While it was getting some energy from the protein in my diet, some was probably also coming from breaking down my own muscle.

Our experiment showed that you can lose a lot of weight, as I did, on a low-carb diet, but that isn't necessarily good for you.

You can lose weight on a low-fat diet, as Chris did - but over the long term unregulated consumption of sugar may also have negative health consequences.

The most interesting thing we found was that we were asking the wrong question. It's not which is worse for you, fat or sugar, but rather which foods are making so many of us gain weight and why?

The insulin hypothesis sounds scientific, but it doesn't explain what large, independent research studies over long periods of time have shown: low-carb diets don't work for everyone or even a majority of people. For any diet to work you have to be able to keep it up for the rest of your life...

The real reason we're all getting fatter isn't fat or sugar. Furthermore, sugar alone isn't very addictive - only horses snack on sugar cubes and very few people gorge on boiled sweets or dry toast. And fat isn't really addictive either: when did you last sneak a spoonful of butter from the fridge late at night? The modern processed food industry knows this and that's why you're rarely sold the two separately - what is addictive is the combination."
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