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Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Links - 7th May 2014

Are Flip-flops Harmful to Your Career? - "Three quarters of workers polled (77 percent) feel flip-flops are unprofessional, while an additional seven percent simply don't want to see colleagues' feet while at work. In contrast, just over one in ten (11 percent) believe flip-flops are generally acceptable attire."

How In-app Purchases Have Destroyed The Industry - "We have reached a point in which mobile games couldn't even be said to be a game anymore. Playing a game means that you have fun. It doesn't mean that you sit around and wait for the game to annoy you for so long that you decide to pay credits to speed it up. And for an old geezer like me who remember the glory days of gaming back in the 1990s, it's just unbearable to watch... The modern-day Dungeon Keeper is not even a game. It's just a socially engineered scam. And since people don't remember what real gaming was like in the 90s, they are giving it the highest rating in the app store... What EA has done here has nothing to do with gaming, and the same is true for pretty much all other 'free-to-play + in-app purchase' games. We don't have a mobile gaming industry anymore. We have a mobile scamming industry. There is no game here. And you know what the worst part of this is? Let me show you. This crap is featured as one of the five top picks on the front page of Apple's app store, as an Editors' choice... As NerdCubed said in his review, the problem is that all the future generations of gamers are going to experience this as the default. They are going to grow up in a world, in which people actually think this is what gaming is like. That social engineering and scamming people is an acceptable way of doing business... Also read: "Optimizing Your Industry to the Point of Suicide", in which I show you how it will cost you almost $3,500 to unlock everything in Asphalt 7."

When Done Right, In-App Purchases can be Based on Trust - " The only reason why companies like EA can get away with what they did to Dungeon Keeper is that they can hide the real cost of playing the game. If they were forced to be upfront and honest about how their in-app purchase system is interrupting the game play, nobody would ever download the game. And I think it's only a matter of time before various Government consumer watchdogs (like the FTC) will force game developers to do this. We are already seeing how things are starting to happen in the UK, and it will surely be required in other countries as well. Remember, this is the law in many countries. And it's especially true in Europe, where finding new ways to annoy Apple and Google is a hobby for many EU politicians. It will be a massive vote winner for any politician who forces the app stores to implement new 'transparency' rules for in-app purchases. And as a game developer, do you think that you could continue to offer in-app purchases when this happens? If you have to be upfront about the real cost of *playing* your game in an uninterrupted way, would people still download them?"

Demand Media: Rise and Fall of a Content Farm | Variety - "The future of the so-called "content farm" looks bleak as its search-centric biz crumbles"
"Filed Under: Demand Media
Epic Fail
Weekly Online

Nothing Personal: The questionable Myers-Briggs test - "1. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is used by countless organisations and industries, although one of the few areas that doesn't use it is psychology, which says a lot.
2. Many people who have encountered the MBTI in the workplace really don't have a lot of positive things to say about it.
3. For some organisations, use of the MBTI seemingly crosses the line into full-blown ideology.
So how did something that apparently lacks scientific credibility become such a popular and accepted tool?...
The MBTI was developed during World War 2 by Myers and Briggs (obviously), two housewives who developed a keen interest in the works of Carl Jung. They developed the MBTI based on Jung's theories, with the intention of producing a useful test that would allow women entering the workforce to be assigned jobs that would be best suited to their personalities. This is already enough to make some people wary. Myers and Briggs weren't trained scientists, but you don't need to be scientifically qualified to make a very valid contribution to science. Look at Galaxy Zoo. Also, deriving all your information from a single source is always questionable in science, even if it weren't the work of Jung, whose theories were/are very influential and far reaching but largely scientifically untestable and subject to numerous criticisms... MBTI is predominately used in the workplace by HR departments, development/training teams and the like, who can often be clearly unaware of its limitations... 'When I was back in school (25+ years ago) a lot of teachers gave the test at the beginning of the year… In one class I was asked to write about "what I learned about myself" by taking the test. I wrote a whole paper about how unscientific the test was and how I didn't learn anything. That teacher had me removed from her class within a week for unrelated trumped up reasons. It was like I was questioning her religion'... any personality type you get assigned is invariably positive. There is no combination of answers you could give on the MBTI which says 'you're an arsehole'."

What Drives Success? - NYTimes.com - "It turns out that for all their diversity, the strikingly successful groups in America today share three traits that, together, propel success. The first is a superiority complex — a deep-seated belief in their exceptionality. The second appears to be the opposite — insecurity, a feeling that you or what you’ve done is not good enough. The third is impulse control... The United States itself was born a Triple Package nation, with an outsize belief in its own exceptionality, a goading desire to prove itself to aristocratic Europe (Thomas Jefferson sent a giant moose carcass to Paris to prove that America’s animals were bigger than Europe’s) and a Puritan inheritance of impulse control."

The End of a Bold Experiment: Big Think and Satoshi Kanazawa
Comments: "Why was it also necessary to completely delete all of his posts so that there is no trace of him? This is very bizarre. Literally censorship.
If there is a problem with his science, address it. Let him respond. Or, if you really find him to be against the spirit of Big Think, let him go, but leave his posts. But to completely delete all of his blog posts to make it look like he was never here? This stinks of some threatening force pulling the strings. I don't know who or what, but I wish you could be honest about it."
"If you think someone is wrong, rebut them. That's what intellectuals do. If you can't handle someone's ideas, that says a lot.
Academia is known everywhere (except among academics, Dunning-Kruger and whatnot) for being very far to the left of center, with a fairly narrow range of intellectual diversity. This is not a new problem. For example, the astoundingly incorrect economics of Marxism were mainstream on campuses across America for many decades (in my college town of Ithaca, New York for instance Cornell professor Benjamin Nichols became mayor by running as a Communist in 1988 in a case of exquisite comedic timing). These Marxist ideas were not dislodged by logic or debate, nor by the weight of 100 million murders. They were only dislodged by the utter worldwide collapse of Marxist economies everywhere. And amazingly these ideas are still prominent, just less dominant after these ideas have brought utter poverty and ruin everywhere they were tried.
I may advise my four bright children to flee academia, because academia flees debate. I want my children to be open-minded, not dull, stifled and ignorant. I am not in agreement with much of Kanazawa but I am enough of an intellectual to handle him."
"scientists couch their research in perhaps cryptic terms in professional journals to stay below leftist radar. They share openly, peer-review each other's work, with the confidence that the torch-and-pitchfork carrying leftist masses aren't going to even bother about them. Then a scientist lifts his head above a parapet (by writing a blog) and the shooting starts."

Stephen Jay Gould - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - "In 2011, a study conducted by six anthropologists reanalyzed Gould's claim that Samuel Morton unconsciously manipulated his skull measurements, and concluded that Gould's analysis was poorly supported and incorrect. They praised Gould for his "staunch opposition to racism" but concluded, "we find that Morton's initial reputation as the objectivist of his era was well-deserved." Ralph Holloway, one of the co-authors of the study, commented, "I just didn't trust Gould. ... I had the feeling that his ideological stance was supreme. When the 1996 version of 'The Mismeasure of Man' came and he never even bothered to mention Michael's study, I just felt he was a charlatan.""

Race, Poverty and SAT Scores: Modeling the Influences of Family Income on Black and White High School Students’ SAT Performance - "Results suggest the effects of family income on SAT scores, though relatively modest in contrasts to high school achievement, are substantial, non-linear, and nearly twice as large for Black students."
Via comment on Big Think: The SAT actually measures g (general intelligence) very well. So well in fact that based upon your families income (which remember is correlated to intelligence) you can tell how well someone will score on the test (in the average).

The university professor who stood up against dumbing down of degrees - "Over the last few years, as the effects of the relentless expansion of student numbers in the 1980s and 1990s have been felt, evidence has been emerging of "dumbing down" in some institutions. The cases reveal staff under pressure to bump up results and ignore rampant plagiarism by students. If the pass rate is too low, lecturers are questioned by university examination boards, regardless of a student's attendance or the amount of work they put in. Any academic who sticks his head above the parapet to complain faces the wrath of university authorities. Walter Cairns, a law lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, was kicked off the institution's academic board last year when he revealed in a submission to MPs on the universities select committee that 20 marks were added to the scores of around 90 students studying international business law in 2005 because their results were so bad."

Why not maintenance payout for the divorced man? - "Another lawyer who does not want to be named said: “The court usually gets around it by increasing the amount of assets for the husband to make things more equal. This happens in cases where the husband has given up his career to support his wife, or has given up work for the family.” In a divorce case in 2009, the family court awarded 40 per cent of a couple’s shared assets to the husband, though he had contributed only 20 per cent to it. The court said the husband gave up his job to look after the couple’s three sons as the reason for the ruling... Though many family lawyers welcome changes to the maintenance provision, family lawyer Jeannette Chong Aruldoss has reservations. Chong said: “If we change the law to substitute “wife” for the gender neutral term “spouse”, this would mean that a wife – especially one who had financially supported her husband during the marriage – would have a duty to maintain her husband during their marriage and even after it has ended. “Unless we are ready to impose such a financial duty on a wife, the current maintenance provisions in the Women’s Charter should remain unchanged for the time being.”"
A husband who had financially supported his wife during the marriage having a duty to maintain her during the marriage and even after it has ended is precisely what is happening now

Oriental riff - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - "The Oriental riff is a Western invention, dating back to the “Aladdin Quick Step” used in an Aladdin stage show, The Grand Chinese Spectacle of Aladdin or The Wonderful Lamp, in 1847"

Is everything we eat associated with cancer? A systematic cookbook review - "We selected 50 common ingredients from random recipes in a cookbook... Forty ingredients (80%) had articles reporting on their cancer risk. Of 264 single-study assessments, 191 (72%) concluded that the tested food was associated with an increased (n = 103) or a decreased (n = 88) risk; 75% of the risk estimates had weak (0.05 > P ≥ 0.001) or no statistical (P > 0.05) significance. Statistically significant results were more likely than nonsignificant findings to be published in the study abstract than in only the full text (P < 0.0001). Meta-analyses (n = 36) presented more conservative results; only 13 (26%) reported an increased (n = 4) or a decreased (n = 9) risk (6 had more than weak statistical support)... Conclusions: Associations with cancer risk or benefits have been claimed for most food ingredients. Many single studies highlight implausibly large effects, even though evidence is weak. Effect sizes shrink in meta-analyses" Addendum: Aka everything causes cancer

Conversations - 7th May 2014

Someone: one of my exes took 40-45min showers
it was one of the things that pissed me off the most

Me: is that why you turned lesbian?

Someone: no.
thats why i dumped him though.

Someone else: If you tell a black woman to marry or date out,
usually they get offended and they say one of two things 1) Other men
are too weak or 2) other men don't find them attractive.

Me: What I told a lothario friend: "women are like money. You think more will make you happy but not really Past a certain amount"

Someone: absolutely
where really does limitless satisfaction lie
ertainly not in orgasm

Me: Well until you recover

Someone: that's the thing
need to recover
I can milk more satisfaction out of quora than out of my cock

Someone else: I've asked other Asians this, but never a Singaporean man, when you were young did you your father, cousins, older brother, uncles ever talk to you about how to "talk to women"...in America, this is pretty normal...I learned most things from my uncle and older cousins...

Me: wow no wonder americans are so good

Someone on the licensing framework: apparently both of us couldn't really be bothered to slam the MDA
are we showing our age?

Me: haha
I've been blogging since 2001
the more things change...

Me: do you remember... there was this song we sang in choir
an opera chorus which got translated into mandarin
not Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves

Philip Yeo's Best Friend: Lol they are many
Might you be thinking of Cavalliera Rusticana
he villagers move about the square, singing of the beautiful spring day (Gli aranci olezzano sui verdi margini – "The air is sweet with orange blossoms")

Me: the description sounds familiar
there was something about people going about doing things

Philip Yeo's Best Friend: Umm yes

Me: I see you were traumatised too

Philip Yeo's Best Friend: Yes
Many brain cells were wastedon this

Me: unlike me you didnt just memorise the pronunciation
the orchestral version sounds v diff from the piano reduction
aha yes I think this is

Philip Yeo's Best Friend: R u feeling nostalgic
Are you planning an alumni concert
SONGS the Way They Were Intended

Yes lol I did it recently with mit chorus
as the MIT chorus director put it its very popular cause it's hard to fuck up

Me: it's remarkable how you guys remember it after 16-7 years

Someone on the above (before I showed him the lyrics): 果園裡金色的蜜橘散發芳香

Someone else: Mainland women, 90% will only marry someone with a house and a car
and Mainlanders mean "own" as in no mortgage

that is why there is so much pressure on men here
and tehy work like dogs, have little fun in life
they spend all their youth working their ass off just to get some
greedy bitch so they can have bad sex
and make one kid in some overpriced ugly apartment bloc
Chinese Dream is a fucking nightmare
fuck that

If I was a Chinese guy and I lived in Shanghai, i would simply save money to buy a wife from Vietnam (cheaper) and never buy a house in this bubble, because it is stupid to do so actually, buy a car, and just work and have as much fun as possible

Someone: who is this clown ***?

Me: You whack lor

Someone: have to ask you first mah
sekali you're trying to bang her
or are banging her
then I whack how?

Me: hahahahahaha
then I'llwhack you back lor

Someone: walao you don't respect the bro code

Me: gays are exempted ;)

Someone: the hell, gays not bros meh

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Links - 6th May 2014

Three Ways to Reinvent Retail for Men - "As American men grew larger, attractive casual clothes have remained just out of reach of their pudgy, sauce-stained hands. At 6’2” 220 pounds, everything at H&M or Zara makes me look like The Hulk at a disco – hoping no one gets blinded when those Zara buttons pop off.... Few men are so attached to Tommy Hilfiger that they’d torture themselves and their gonads to wear his name. Men care about when and where a particular piece of clothing makes sense. There are four occasions that matter:
Work – look like you have ambition
Casual – wear on weekends while hanging out with friends
Formal – attend a fancy dinner at Cipriani or accept your award for retail innovation
Semi-formal – wear this on a date"

7. Approaching women in the outside environment
Singapore is not a city where strangers strike up conversations on the fly. A local guy approaching a women in the cafe, mall or on the street would be summarily dismissed as a weirdo, an insurance salesman or even a sex pervert. But as a Caucasian, you stand a higher chance that the woman will stop and hear you out (refer to tips #2, #3 and $4). You've got that precious 30 seconds to ask for her number or give her your number. I reckon 2 out of 10 women will reciprocate to a white man. A local guy will probably get zero.
Projected conversion rate : 20%...
Finally, I end with the elephant in the room. What about money? Don't expats need to be rich to attract local women?
Answer : Wealth is useful but it's not essential. You don't need to be an Anton Casey to snag a local pageant queen. I've seen local women financially supporting their expat lovers and vice versa. I've also seen financially equal relationships. The stereotype of the materialistic Singaporean woman is just that - a stereotype. What Singaporean women really want is attention and the thrill of hot romance. So there you have it - 16 hot tips. If you haven't scored a date with a local girl within a month after trying out these tips, I guarantee you two things :
1. You are not doing it right.
2. You don't want it bad enough."

'Do it for Denmark': Campaign encourages couples to take romantic holidays, boost birthrates - ""Meet Emma. She is Danish, but even though she was born and raised in Denmark, she was made in Paris. Right up there, in that hotel room," says the advert's voiceover. The commercial goes on to claim that Danes have 46 percent more sex while on holiday, resulting in 10 percent of the population being conceived then. "We are prescribing a romantic city holiday to save Denmark's future," the group said in the tongue-in-cheek commercial. "After all, it will also help our future business," it added... To shore it up, the company offered an "ovulation discount" to women who entered the start-date of their latest menstruation period when booking, allowing the company to calculate the best time for them to travel. Those submitting pictures of a positive pregnancy test and a pregnancy journal after their holiday also had the chance to win gifts including a three-year supply of nappies and a family holiday. Elderly people and gay couples were also invited to participate since "it's not just about winning, all the fun is in the participation.""

Myths & Facts: Treatment of Jews in the Arab World (Chapter 11) | Jewish Virtual Library - "MYTH “Modern Arab nations are only anti-Israel and have never been anti-Jewish.”
FACT Arab leaders have repeatedly made clear their animosity toward Jews and Judaism. For example, on November 23, 1937, Saudi Arabia’s King Ibn Saud told British Colonel H.R.P. Dickson: “Our hatred for the Jews dates from God’s condemnation of them for their persecution and rejection of Isa (Jesus) and their subsequent rejection of His chosen Prophet.” He added “that for a Muslim to kill a Jew, or for him to be killed by a Jew ensures him an immediate entry into Heaven and into the august presence of God Almighty”...
MYTH “Jews who lived in Islamic countries were well-treated by the Arabs.”
FACT While Jewish communities in Islamic countries fared better overall than those in Christian lands in Europe, Jews were no strangers to persecution and humiliation among the Arabs. As Princeton University historian Bernard Lewis has written: “The Golden Age of equal rights was a myth, and belief in it was a result, more than a cause, of Jewish sympathy for Islam”... In the ninth century, Baghdad’s Caliph al-Mutawakkil designated a yellow badge for Jews, setting a precedent that would be followed centuries later in Nazi Germany... On December 30, 1066, Joseph HaNagid, the Jewish vizier of Granada, Spain, was crucified by an Arab mob that proceeded to raze the Jewish quarter of the city and slaughter its 5,000 inhabitants. The riot was incited by Muslim preachers who had angrily objected to what they saw as inordinate Jewish political power. Similarly, in 1465, Arab mobs in Fez slaughtered thousands of Jews, leaving only 11 alive, after a Jewish deputy vizier treated a Muslim woman in “an offensive manner.” The killings touched off a wave of similar massacres throughout Morocco"...
MYTH “As ‘People of the Book,’ Jews and Christians are protected under Islamic law.”
FACT Dhimmis were excluded from public office and armed service, and were forbidden to bear arms. They were not allowed to ride horses or camels, to build synagogues or churches taller than mosques, to construct houses higher than those of Muslims or to drink wine in public. They were forced to wear distinctive clothing and were not allowed to pray or mourn in loud voices — as that might offend Muslims. The dhimmi also had to show public deference toward Muslims; for example, always yielding them the center of the road. The dhimmi was not allowed to give evidence in court against a Muslim, and his oath was unacceptable in an Islamic court. To defend himself, the dhimmi would have to purchase Muslim witnesses at great expense. This left the dhimmi with little legal recourse when harmed by a Muslim"

Suzanne Sadedin's answer to Menstruation: What is the evolutionary benefit or purpose of having periods? - Quora - "Far from offering a nurturing embrace, the endometrium is a lethal testing-ground which only the toughest embryos survive. The longer the female can delay that placenta reaching her bloodstream, the longer she has to decide if she wants to dispose of this embryo without significant cost. The embryo, in contrast, wants to implant its placenta as quickly as possible, both to obtain access to its mother's rich blood, and to increase her stake in its survival. For this reason, the endometrium got thicker and tougher – and the fetal placenta got correspondingly more aggressive."

The Female Breast as a Source of Grace/Charity - "Representations of infant nursing are also found in Christian art in various contexts. The most prominent examples are those of the Virgin Mary suckling the Christ Child (Virgo Lactans)... The tension that could have occurred between the religious and the erotic does not take place in these works for two reasons: First, except for the bare breast, Mary is portrayed attired in a garment that covers most parts of her body so that the other breast does not protrude under the garment; second, the exposed breast does not appear as a natural organ belonging to the body, but rather as an appendage, often conch-shaped... In Christian art there are depictions of the Virgin Mary giving of her breast milk to elder men. In portrayals of the vision of St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), for instance, he turns to Mary asking her to prove that she is indeed the Mother of God, and the proof she provides is a stream of milk from her breast. Thus she also rewards him for the many writings he dedicated to her. In Murillo’s painting (c. 1650, ill. 2), St. Bernard is seen kneeling, receiving a jet of milk into his open mouth.5 Mary does not nurse him directly since such a depiction might have distracted the viewer from the vision’s religious meaning... In another work by Rubens dated to c. 1635 (ill. 6), Pero and Cimon are depicted in a sensual, lustful manner. Pero is succulent and her pair of lush breasts burst through her dress; this intensifies the erotic aspect, albeit the depiction clearly attests to Cimon’s great appetite. Rubens further enhanced the drama by adding two guards who peek through the prison's barred window. Pero, who knows that she is being watched, turns toward them with a pleading gaze."
No wonder the Virgin's breast is always so ugly

Why Is Academic Writing So Academic? - "Academic writing and research may be knotty and strange, remote and insular, technical and specialized, forbidding and clannish—but that’s because academia has become that way, too. Today’s academic work, excellent though it may be, is the product of a shrinking system. It’s a tightly-packed, super-competitive jungle in there"

Cats - The People's Funny Pictures Blog - Quora

Why Do Strong Women Like To Be Dominated? - "Both men and women enjoyed fantasies in which they were dominant, but socially dominant women were actually more turned on than anyone else by submission fantasies. This led Hawley to probe further. The rationale, her studies seem to indicate, is that ladies don’t enjoy the forcefulness itself as much as the idea that an overpowering passion is bubbling over behind that forcefulness. A socially dominant woman, in particular, was more likely to fantasize she was sexually irresistible and was turned on by the idea that her partner was so engorged with lust that he was going to burst."

British woman arrested, deported from Sri Lanka for Buddha tattoo - "Coleman told BBC she was visited at the center by an embassy official and a representative from Sri Lanka's Tourism Development Authority. The authority paid for her flight home in business class and offered to fly her back for a free vacation in the future. "Since she couldn't enjoy her stay ... we are ready to welcome her back," a tourism spokesman said. "Technically we will have to obtain clearance from the judiciary whether she can travel covering the tattoo in Sri Lanka." Police spokesman Ajith Rohana said Coleman was convicted under a law which forbids "deliberately and maliciously outraging the religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs"... Sri Lankan authorities denied entry to a British man for a similar tattoo of Buddha last year. A year earlier, three French tourists were given suspended prison sentences for kissing a Buddha statue"

30 Hilariously Defaced Textbooks

Elevatorgate – Part 2 – The Failure of Skepticism - "My concern is about how the matter has been handled, the poor quality of arguments that have been advanced, the astounding amounts of hypocrisy on display, and above all the intolerant attitude towards viewpoints that don’t tow the radical gender feminist line – all this, among people that call themselves skeptics... Its interesting to observe that during her talk on the panel Rebecca Watson makes jokes about Richard Dawkins reading death threats that have been sent to him. She even says she uses his recorded reading of these death threats as her phone’s ring tone, and then laughs after attempting a mock imitation of Dawkins’ English accent. Then in the next breath she labours to press the point that people sending her rape and death threats should be a point of real concern. Watson alleges that such hateful emails supposedly prevent women like her from freely speaking out on atheism. But if that is the case then how come Dawkins doesn’t complain about the same? Where is the concern for Dawkins’ personal safety from Rebecca Watson? Or should we only be especially concerned if such e-mails are sent to a woman? The threats, meanwhile, don’t seem to be discouraging Dawkins and most atheist men from speaking out – so in the interest of EQUALITY, shouldn’t we be asking atheist women to toughen up too? No? Double standards. Further, in her talk why does she complain when her fans send her emails outlining their sexual fantasies about her yet she goes out of her way to depict herself in a sexually provocative manner to them?... This counter-example successfully demonstrates the absurdity of proposing the Schrödinger’s Rapist argument as a basis for prescribing how men should behave around women. If the underlying principle were applied consistently and universally, you’d basically get segregation... It is ironic indeed, that atheists, on one hand, like to laugh at Christians who say "you reject Jesus because you’ve hardened your heart" and yet there go the feminist-atheists, telling their detractors "you just don’t get it because of male privilege"."

Saudi Arabia Condemns Norway’s Human Rights Record

Saudi Arabia criticises Norway over human rights record

"Saudi Arabia has criticised Norway's human rights record, accusing the country of failing to protect its Muslim citizens and not doing enough to counter criticism of the prophet Mohammed.

The gulf state called for all criticism of religion and of prophet Mohammed to be made illegal in Norway. It also expressed concern at “increasing cases of domestic violence, rape crimes and inequality in riches” and noted a continuation of hate crimes against Muslims in the country.

The Scandinavian nation came under scrutiny during the United Nations' Universal Periodic Review, in which 14 States are scheduled to have their human rights records examined.

Russia meanwhile called for Norway to clamp down on expressions of religious intolerance and and criticised the country’s child welfare system. They also recommended that Norway improve its correctional facilities for those applying for asylum status.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende was in Geneva to hear the concerns from 91 other countries. He told Norway's NTB newswire prior to the hearing: “It is a paradox that countries which do not support fundamental human rights have influence on the council, but that is the United Nations,” reported The Local.

Human Rights Watch last report noted that in 2012 Saudi Arabia "stepped up arrests and trials of peaceful dissidents, and responded with force to demonstrations by citizens."

It continued "Authorities continue to suppress or fail to protect the rights of 9 million Saudi women and girls and 9 million foreign workers. As in past years, thousands of people have received unfair trials or been subject to arbitrary detention. The year has seen trials against half-a-dozen human rights defenders and several others for their peaceful expression or assembly demanding political and human rights reforms.""

In figures cited and endorsed by both The American Muslim and Islamophobia Watch, a police report "Voldtekt i den globale byen" (Rape in the global city) on Oslo rape statistics in 2010 reports that in 45.8% of rapes where the perpetrator was charged, he was of African, Middle Eastern or Asian origin.

According to the Council of Europe, in 2012 27% of the population of Oslo had "origins outside Norway".

Oslo's population was 613,000 in 2012 so 27% is 165,510. Returning to the Council of Europe figures, among the top 20 countries of origin for minorities, European countries account for 43,672 people. So at most 20% of Oslo's 2012 population was of African, Middle Eastern or Asian origin, so they are overrepresented by a factor of at least two

I'm not sure the staistics are as comforting as The American Muslim and Islamophobia Watch think.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Links - 5th May 2014

Watching 3D movies can lead to visual and motion sickness - "Younger viewers incurred higher immersion but also greater visual and motion sickness symptoms in 3D viewing"

Missing MH370: Fishermen find life raft with the word 'Boarding' off Port Dickson -- but maritime officials lose it - ""We managed to tie it to our boat as we feared it would sink due to the damages," said the 40-year-old. The fishermen then handed over the raft into MMEA's custody when the agency's boat arrived. However, a Kuala Linggi MMEA spokesman said the raft sunk into the sea while they were trying to bring the raft onboard. "
Malaysia Boleh!

A Thousand Worms Merge Into a Living Tower – Phenomena: Not Exactly Rocket Science - "Such teamwork! Such togetherness! Such low odds of ever appearing on a motivational poster!"

Pug decides to take on police dog in the middle of stand-off

Robbers Cave Experiment / Realistic Conflict Theory - "At first, this prejudice was only verbally expressed, such as taunting or name-calling. As the competition wore on, this expression took a more direct route. The Eagles burned the Rattler's flag. Then the next day, the Rattler's ransacked The Eagle's cabin, overturned beds, and stole private property. The groups became so aggressive with each other that the researchers had to physically separate them. During the subsequent two-day cooling off period, the boys listed features of the two groups. The boys tended to characterize their own in-group in very favorable terms, and the other out-group in very unfavorable terms. Keep in mind that the participants in this study were well-adjusted boys, not street gang members. This study clearly shows that conflict between groups can trigger prejudice attitudes and discriminatory behavior. This experiment confirmed Sherif's realistic conflict theory."
Animosity between groups is more than blue eyes/brown eyes

Fictional TV politicians 'add to public cynicism' - "The "cynical" depiction of fictional politicians in television dramas such as House of Cards add to the public's scepticism towards Parliament, a professor has claimed. Steven Fielding, a professor of political history at the University of Nottingham, told the Today programme that the public are influenced by such portrayals as the majority admit to knowing "very little" about the inner workings of politics."
Media influence goes all ways!

No Laptops, No Wi-Fi: How One Cafe Fired Up Sales - "When owner Jodi Whalen first opened four years ago, she initially offered free Wi-Fi to customers. Students like Colt flocked to the business and started typing away — and staying. All day. "We saw a lot of customers come in, look for a table, not be able to find one and leave," Whalen says. "It was money flowing out the door for us." That's why Whalen decided there'd be no more screens. It was a gradual move. She started by shutting down the Wi-Fi two years ago. Then, the cafe banned screens during lunch. "A lot of people were disappointed," Whalen says. "But we actually saw our sales increase.""

We Worry About Trace Amounts Of BPA While Playing Russian Roulette With Dietary Supplements - "Despite the efforts of a minor cottage industry cranking out these results, the most rigorous studies suggest that BPA is not a hazard even to infants at the levels encountered in daily life. BPA and the other threats mentioned above could be called “theoretical hazards.” That is, they have been linked to some health outcome in some animal experiment or in observational epidemiologic studies, but the evidence is weak and inconsistent. They might well pose a hazard if the exposure were higher... Cohen points to the cluster of cases of severe hepatitis and liver failure that occurred in Hawaii last year as only the latest proof of the potential for harm from dietary supplements... low-level environmental hazards tend to involve chemicals or radiation, which are invisible, undetectable, and beyond our control. For this reason they understandably inspire anxiety. In contrast, supplements are widely promoted to convey a message of youth, vigor, and health, emphasizing that they are “natural.” The advertising uses familiar and positive imagery to distract consumers from the central issues involving risk."

50 Shades of Grey or Contemporary Christian Music Lyrics? A Quiz | H . A - "many CCM songs appeared to be sexy romance songs where the “you” was just capitalized so it suddenly was about Jesus rather than a hot piece of man-flesh. And some CCM bands — Skillet, most of all — have lyrics that are so spiritually kinky, even actual kinksters might blush."

Crimea referendum sees 123 percent turnout in Sevastopol - "Where did the extra 88,675 votes come from? “Infants, schoolchildren, and, I suspect, the dead”"

Crimea Referendum: 34 Percent, Not 97 Percent, Says Former Russian Government Adviser - "Illarionov shows support for joining Russia has varied between 23 and 41 percent since 2011, and concludes that “[a]t a minimum, two-thirds of the Crimea did not vote for the joining of Crimea to Putin’s Russia.”"

Analysis: Why Russia's Crimea move fails legal test - "The autonomous Crimean territory may indeed be legally entitled to argue for a change in its status. However, according to international precedent, it cannot simply secede unilaterally, even if that wish is supported by the local population in a referendum. Instead, it would need to engage in genuine discussion about a possible separation with the central authorities in Kiev. Alternatives, such as enhanced autonomy, would need to be explored. International practice generally seeks to accommodate separatist demands within the existing territorial boundaries. Moreover, international law does not recognise a divorce at gunpoint. Crimea cannot proceed with a possible secession or even incorporation into Russia while Moscow holds sway on the ground. In this way the situation differs from Nato's armed action in Kosovo in 1999. The Kosovo Albanians were exposed to extreme repression and subsequently forced expulsion by Serb forces. Nato intervened for genuine humanitarian purposes. It did not occupy the territory in consequence of its humanitarian intervention. Instead, the UN administered Kosovo for some eight years, creating a neutral environment in which its future could be addressed. Kosovo did eventually gain independence, based on the settlement proposed by UN mediator Martti Ahtisaari."

Wage Theft Across the Board - NYTimes.com - "In the days ahead, a settlement is expected in the antitrust lawsuit pitting 64,613 software engineers against Google, Apple, Intel and Adobe. The engineers say they lost up to $3 billion in wages from 2005-9, when the companies colluded in a scheme not to solicit one another’s employees. The collusion, according to the engineers, kept their pay lower than it would have been had the companies actually competed for talent."
Calling this "theft" is like calling contraception infanticide

Parasitic redwood tree attracts international attention; pits trainlovers against treehuggers. - "This underachieving tree possesses two rare attributes. First, it has albino DNA, which means many of its needles contain no chlorophyll. It is estimated there are fewer than 1,000 albino redwoods in existence. Second, it is a chimera, which means it also has normal DNA, so it has albino and normal foliage on the same branch. Supporters of the tree claim there are only six of these on earth. We’ll get to its parasitic nature shortly. But what about the trainlovers? They want to chop the tree down to make room for an environmental hoax called the SMART train... Even if every car were jammed full, this taxpayer-supported train will take less than 3% of the traffic off 101. SMART also estimates 23% farebox recovery, which means that 77% of every ticket will be paid for by taxpayers who don’t ride it."

House Hippo - YouTube

The American Middle Class Is No Longer the World’s Richest - NYTimes.com - "After-tax middle-class incomes in Canada — substantially behind in 2000 — now appear to be higher than in the United States. The poor in much of Europe earn more than poor Americans."

Being White in Philly - "Dennis, 26, teaches math in a Kensington school. His first year there, fresh out of college, one of his students, an unruly eighth grader, got into a fight with a girl. Dennis told him to stop, he got into Dennis’s face, and in the heat of the moment Dennis called the student, an African-American, “boy.” The student went home and told his stepfather. The stepfather demanded a meeting with the principal and Dennis, and accused Dennis of being racist; the principal defended his teacher. Dennis apologized, knowing how loaded the term “boy” was and regretting that he’d used it, though he was thinking, Why would I be teaching in an inner-city school if I’m a racist? The stepfather calmed down, and that would have been the end of it, except for one thing: The student’s behavior got worse. Because now he knew that no one at the school could do anything, no matter how badly he behaved... Each time I hold the door a little too long for a person of color, I laugh at myself, both for being so self-consciously courteous and for knowing that I’m measuring the thank-you’s. A friend who walks to his car parked on Front Street downtown early each morning has a similar running joke with himself. As he walks, my friend says hello and makes eye contact with whoever crosses his path. If the person is white, he’s bestowing a tiny bump of friendliness. If the person is black, it’s friendliness and a bit more: He’s doing something positive for race relations. On one level, such self-consciousness and hypersensitivity can be seen as progress when it comes to race, a sign of how much attitudes have shifted for the better, a symbol of our desire for things to be better. And yet, lately I’ve come to fear that the opposite might also be true: that our carefulness is, in fact, at the heart of the problem... In so many quarters, simply discussing race is seen as racist. And so white people are stuck, dishonest by default, as we take a pass on the state of this city’s largely black inner city and settle for politely opening doors at Wawa, before we slip back to our own lives."

FLY Entertainment - Elizabeth Lazan - "Race: Eurasian-Chinese/Italian/English"

'Men Buy, Women Shop': The Sexes Have Different Priorities When Walking Down the Aisles » Knowledge@Wharton - "In a study titled, “Men Buy, Women Shop,” researchers at Wharton’s Jay H. Baker Retail Initiative and the Verde Group, a Toronto consulting firm, found that women react more strongly than men to personal interaction with sales associates. Men are more likely to respond to more utilitarian aspects of the experience — such as the availability of parking, whether the item they came for is in stock, and the length of the checkout line... According to Wharton marketing professor Stephen J. Hoch, shopping behavior mirrors gender differences throughout many aspects of life. “Women think of shopping in an inter-personal, human fashion and men treat it as more instrumental. It’s a job to get done”... Retailers can use the study findings to tailor services to build sales, she said. “In a highly competitive market, where people are price-sensitive and there are tons of choices, if you can get one more strategy up your sleeve that gives you that edge, then why not?” she asks. “If we treat men and women differently, then we are going to be more successful.” Erin Armendinger, managing director of the Baker initiative, puts it this way: “Men and women are simply different,” she says. “It’s important for retailers to remember it’s not only what they’re purchasing, but how they’re doing it.”"

Sunday, May 04, 2014

"Water buffalo" as a racist epithet

A History of Political Correctness: 20 Years After Penn's "Water Buffalo" Incident

"On a winter’s night 20 years ago, a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania who was working on an English paper heard a ruckus outside his dorm. A group of sorority sisters was singing, stomping and yelling, and he couldn’t concentrate. So he shouted out the window at them: “Shut up, you water buffalo!”

The young man, Eden Jacobowitz, was Jewish. The women he yelled at that night were black. He was subsequently accused of violating Penn’s policy against racial harassment. In the months that followed, what became known as “the Water Buffalo Incident” would threaten the confirmation of Penn’s then-president, Sheldon Hackney, as chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities; attract the attention of the ACLU, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee; provide the world with a thorough gloss of the Hebrew word behema, which translates more or less to “ox of water” and is used in Israel, where Jacobowitz had lived and studied, to mean “thoughtless, rowdy person”; and be dissected, in such forums as the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Times of London, Rolling Stone, the Village Voice and the New York Times, as the ultimate example of political correctness run amok...

The international outrage over what happened to Jacobowitz should have stopped PC in its tracks. Instead, that outrage was swept aside by a rising tidal wave of people claiming offense over nonsense. In the decades since, PC has spiraled out of control, starting on college campuses and graduating into the real world, eventually splitting the nation into two sides, red and blue, that don’t speak to one another, despise each other, and don’t even bother to try to understand the other’s point of view.

That, anyway, is the argument made by Greg Lukianoff, president of the Philly-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (a.k.a. FIRE), in his new book, Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate. He posits that political correctness has hamstrung free speech, resulting in a society where citizens lack the “experience of uninhibited debate and casual provocation” that keeps minds open and dialogue flowing. People lose their jobs because of jokes and misinterpretations; they’re hung out to dry in public when they misspeak; they quake in fear of being accused of “disrespect.”

Those who dare question whether these offended parties have actually suffered harm are shouted down by the hurt-feelings “sensitivity” industry and social media and news organizations trolling for hits. And the costs of disagreeing with the PC guardians ratchet ever upward—costs that all of us pay.

Penn’s water buffalo debacle marked the moment when a remark ceased to be assessed on its merits and instead became subject to the ears of the beholder. Jacobowitz’s epithet wasn’t racial, but the women shouting outside his window perceived it to be. The content no longer mattered; their reaction, their hurt feelings, did, and that’s what the administration acted on in charging the freshman with using a racial slur.

This didn’t go unnoticed. An American Lit prof at Duke University at the time warned that under such logic, language would “cease to have any communicative value.” Proof of this came soon enough in incidents—in Washington, D.C., at the University of Wisconsin, in North Carolina, and as recently as 2009 in California and 2011 in Florida­—in which the word “niggardly,” derived from a Scandinavian term and meaning “stingy,” resulted in resignations, reprimands, firings and at least one lawsuit. In the Wisconsin case, the student who complained about her Chaucer prof’s use of the word fumed that it continued even after she informed him that she was offended. She told the faculty senate, “It’s not up to the rest of the class to decide whether my feelings are valid.”

In the post-Buffalo world, as Lukianoff puts it, “Claiming to be offended is the ultimate trump card in any argument.” You hurt my feelings, and that makes you wrong. This is the process whereby TV anchor Jennifer Livingston became a cause célèbre for complaining she was “bullied” by a viewer who emailed to chide her for being obese... He’d concluded his email, “I leave you this note hoping that you’ll reconsider your responsibility as a local public personality to present and promote a healthy lifestyle.” If Livingston hadn’t been so ready to jump on the victim wagon, she might have interpreted his words as a gentle remonstrance that she take better care of herself.

As if.

Why, in disagreements ranging from Chinese Tiger Moms to sequestration to boycotting Chick-fil-A, are we so ready to vilify those who criticize us? When I spoke with Lukianoff, he mentioned Jonathan Haidt’s theory, put forward in the speech “The Bright Future of Post-Partisan Social Psychology,” that we “sacralize” our own points of view, believing them to be particularly righteous and moral. “And that means we demonize the other side,” Lukianoff explained. “If you disagree with me, you’re a bad person.” We learn these habits, Lukianoff says, in school, where we’re taught that there are right ways and wrong ways to think.

What’s a wrong way to think? Ask Alex Watkins, who was suspended from second grade at his Colorado elementary school for hurling an imaginary grenade at an imaginary box to save the world from evil. Or, locally, the Penns Grove Middle School teacher who let a student make a “Wanted” poster for a runaway slave for a history lesson, and had a black activist complain. Or the Georgia college kid who was expelled after he protested his school president’s plan to build a parking garage. The student posted on Facebook that the project was a “memorial” parking garage; the president claimed this amounted to a violent threat to murder him. Really. In all three cases, anyone with a lick of sense would see an incident blown way out of proportion by people who … well, who want everybody to think the same way they do...

We need disagreement, Lukianoff warns, if we are to learn and grow. Consider the “speech code” at Swarthmore College, which defines sexual harassment to include “unwelcome verbal or physical advances; persistent leers; sexual innuendoes, comments or jokes; the persistent use of irrelevant references or remarks to a person’s gender, sexuality or sexual orientation; sexist remarks about the target’s clothing or body; expressions using sex stereotypes whether or not they were made about or directed to the grievant and whether or not intended to insult or degrade … ” [emphasis mine]. Now imagine you’re a Swarthmore student taking, say, the course “Race, Gender and Environment.” Do you foresee classroom discussion being furthered by that code? Or perhaps you’re just a 19-year-old kid who’s kidding around. A fellow student who takes offense at something you say can haul you up in front of the disciplinary board whether or not you intended to insult him—because his feelings get hurt...

Yes, of course there are students, and citizens, who have genuine grievances. But we no longer distinguish between them and those claiming harm where none exists. And the price goes beyond money. “People think political correctness is a forgivable and harmless part of higher education, but it has real ramifications,” Lukianoff says. “It’s the source of bad intellectual and rhetorical habits. Students learn: It’s easy to join an ideological club, find professors who aren’t dangerous, not interact with anyone who disagrees with you. You stay in the echo chamber.”

In case you think what happens on college campuses doesn’t seep through to the culture at large, consider the City Controller’s Office at Philadelphia’s City Hall. After some birdbrain scrawled a lewd comment about an aide and his partner on a men’s-room stall, a dozen employees were grilled by a private investigator (cost to taxpayers: $7,746), then subjected to four hours of “Diversity & Sensitivity Training” on bullying and stereotyping (cost to taxpayers: $17,671). Did shelling out $25,000-plus for a sensitivity consultant accomplish anything that a stern “Hey, people, let’s not be idiots” wouldn’t have?

But sensitivity training has become a huge industry, commonplace on campuses, in the workplace and in government. In one ultra-fatuous example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture spent nearly $200,000 to have a trainer lead employees in repeating such ­farcical mantras as “The Pilgrims were illegal aliens” and “Thank you, white males,” as well as shouting, when prompted, “Bam!”

Sometimes, the costs of such “sensitivity” are more than just financial. Remember Major Nidal Hasan, who shot up Fort Hood in 2009? A report on the incident noted that an officer at the San Diego Field Office for the Joint Terrorism Task Force had informed headquarters in Washington, D.C., before the shootings that he thought Hasan should be asked about possible terrorist sympathies. The response from the D.C. office? It “doesn’t go out and interview every Muslim guy who visits extremist websites.” Besides, the San Diego office was told, the matter was “politically sensitive.” Not long afterward, dozens of soldiers were wounded and 13 were dead...

It’s no doubt true that you’ll have fewer hurt feelings at an institution of learning if everyone’s doing groupthink. Last year, the New York City school district provided companies preparing standardized tests for its students with a list of topics that would “probably” cause a test question to be “deemed unacceptable.” Just a few of these dozens of topics: dinosaurs and prehistoric times; evolution; geological history; expensive gifts, vacations and prizes; politics; movies; nuclear weapons; holidays; slavery; poverty; violence. And why are all these topics off-limits? Because, according to the school board, they might “evoke unpleasant emotions in the students” and create a “distraction” for them, thus affecting their scores. Fundamentalist children, for example, might be wounded by talk of evolution. Black children could be upset by a mention of slavery; poor children, by test questions concerning expensive gifts. As for politics, well, why would testing on that ever belong in a school?

You couldn’t make up a more absurd list of banned topics. It’s almost parody-proof, this antiseptic bubble we raise our children in: Don’t learn about anything controversial, don’t talk about anything controversial, don’t think about anything controversial. Stick to what’s acceptable. Gee, what habits do you suppose kids pick up from that?

Teachers I talk to say students today are less likely to challenge material presented to them than they used to be. Amanda Anderson, a Johns Hopkins English prof and author of the book The Way We Argue Now, has traced this to the hurt-feelings epidemic: “It’s as though there’s no distinction between the person and the argument, as though to criticize an argument would be injurious to the person.” And God knows we can’t have that.

“There’s a simple concept,” Lukianoff says, “behind the free flow of information: that it’s really valuable to hear what people think.” When you believe people have to be restrained from saying what they think, you become paranoid: “You start to believe people are worse than they are.” And once you do that, you see discrimination everywhere.

This is the process that creates “crusaders” against disrespect and insensitivity, Lukianoff says—romantic, irrational do-gooders ever alert for potential offenses. Take, for example, the reaction of a student at the University of Pennsylvania to a February Fresh Grocer ad circular. At the top of its first page was a banner reading FEBRUARY IS BLACK HISTORY MONTH. And beneath that was an advertisement for family chicken packs.

Which is racist. Because, you know. Black people and chicken...

It’s these very small things that don’t matter, that inhibit our common discourse and clog our courts and drain our coffers, and that have a chilling effect on any actual progress toward eliminating prejudice...

Still, the venting of opposing opinions is vital to learning, not to mention to democracy. What gets lost in the noise raised by those claiming they’re offended is this: Put a lid on a boiling pot, and eventually that pot boils over. Publicly clamping down on people’s ability to say what they think is a lot like that pot. Have you looked at the online comments on Bob Huber’s cover story in the March issue of this magazine—“Being White in Philly”? Hate’s hate; driving it underground doesn’t make it go away. Forbidding mention or discussion of ideas that aren’t “generally accepted” doesn’t do anything to eliminate those ideas. Just ask the Inquisitors and Copernicus.

My generation, though, has been so wildly desperate to protect our kids from hurt or harm—and to prove our liberal bona fides—that we’ve pushed for hypersensitivity at every turn. Those same instincts undergird the war currently being waged, nationwide, against bullying. In her new book Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy, Slate editor Emily Bazelon, who went to Germantown Friends, examines the ge­nuine harm caused by bu­llying—but she also defines it as much more than the o­ccasional snide remark. And she decries our current practice of jumping to the now-default conclusion that whenever a kid shoots up a school or attempts suicide, bullying’s to blame. In every case she examines in her book, the truth turns out to be far more nuanced and complicated than the headlines such tragedies spur.

We’ve turned into a “gotcha” society, ever on the alert for offenses that can be Facebooked and tweeted and turned into petitions and causes—that we can hitch our wagons to, so we can draw attention to ourselves. Are there words that are hateful, and hate-filled? Absolutely, and we should discourage their use. But what if instead of stirring up public drama when someone says something “unacceptable,” we gave one another the benefit of the doubt—or just sent a private email or note to the offending party?

I guess that wouldn’t scratch our itch...

In the wake of a string of incidents of racial vandalism at ultra-liberal Oberlin College early this year, a student reported seeing someone dressed in Ku Klux Klan robes near the Afrikan Heritage House. Campus and local police charged in to investigate; the college president cancelled classes and activities; and students took part en masse in a teach-in, a “demonstration of solidarity,” and a “community convocation” on intolerance.

Police reported that while no Klan members were found, they did come across a woman wrapped in a blanket. They think the Klan sighting may have been a mistake.

We see what we look for. We could be looking for so much more."

On the last example:

Obama-supporting white kids perpetrated Oberlin race hoax

"One of the two students removed from Oberlin College earlier this year for allegedly circulating virulently racist, anti-Jewish and anti-gay messages around campus is an ardent leftist and committed supporter of President Barack Obama...

[Dylan] Bleier also listed his participation in a group called Ithaca White Allies Against Structural Racism. He joined the group in May of this year, he reported. He said the group’s goal is to “eradicate structural racism in Tompkins County [NY], via forums discussing racism.”

On his Twitter account, which he protected after TheDCNF reached him on Tuesday, Bleier hailed Obama’s comments on George Zimmerman, tweeting: “Zimmerman is just the tip of the iceberg, a single highly visible symptom of the racist system that is ‘succeeding’ in the US.”"

In other words, in the absence of real racism it was literally manufactured.
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