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Friday, September 05, 2014

10 Book Challenge

Someone nominated me for this 10 book challenge.

In your status, list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don't take more than a few minutes and don't think too hard. They don't have to be the "right" books or great works of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way.

So right off the top of my head. Here's my list:

1) The Sadeian Woman, Angela Carter
2) Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science of the Mind, David Buss
3) Huis Clos (aka No Exit), Jean-Paul Sartre
4) Dictatorship of virtue : how the battle over multiculturalism is reshaping our schools, our country, and our lives, Richard Bernstein
5) Two Concepts of Liberty, Isaiah Berlin
6) The Future of an Illusion, Sigmund Freud
7) The Japanese Disease: Sex and Sleaze in Modern Japan, Declan Hayes
8) Sex in History, Reay Tannahill
9) Affirmative Action Around the World: An Empirical Study, Thomas Sowell
10) Daughter of the Empire, Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts

I nominate: no one.

I've nominated no one because you've probably been tagged already, and there's too much meme shit around already.

Links - 5th September 2014

Nate Doromal's answer to Why would the IDF arrest Palestinian teens playing soccer? - Quora - "A story was told to me by a IDF soldier. He was in a tank and taking small arms fire from a window. He looked at the window and saw a 10 year old boy. Under the boy's shoulder there was a rifle sticking out. There was a man using the boy as a human shield. He wondered if he should take the shot or not from the tank turret gun. The risk was that if the man pulled out a rocket launcher then certainly he and his team would all die. In the end, he decided not to take the shot. Luckily nothing else happened. He had another friend in a similar situation where the aggressor had a rocket launcher and his friend perished in that situation."

Why do human beings keep fighting wars? - "The early American psychologist William James once suggested that war is so prevalent because of its positive psychological effects. It creates a sense of unity in the face of a collective threat. It binds people together – not just the army engaged in battle, but the whole community. It brings a sense of cohesion, with communal goals, and inspires individual citizens (not just soldiers) to behave honourably and unselfishly, in the service of a greater good. It supplies meaning and purpose, transcending the monotony of everyday life. Warfare also enables the expression of higher human qualities that often lie dormant in ordinary life, such as courage and self-sacrifice. This seems tantamount to suggesting that human beings fight wars because we enjoy doing so"

Last of the burrnesha: Balkan women who pledged celibacy to live as men

Please don’t tell me what I should think about Israel - "we turn to Britain, where I now live, and where, as Roger Cohen wrote in the New York Times recently, “not having a negative opinion of Israel is tantamount to not having a conscience”... a film festival being cancelled is not on a par with civilian deaths. But it says something very telling about certain lazily left-ish attitudes towards Israel in this country, not least because the Tricycle is not the only theatre in Britain to cancel a Jewish event: a theatre company from Jerusalem was forced not to perform in Edinburgh after protests, and a show featuring dancers from Ben Gurion University is also being targeted. Meanwhile, the London Palestine Action group protests outside factories in this country that allegedly manufacture weapons for drones for Israel. At least that protest is logical, unlike those who congratulate themselves for shutting down Jewish cultural events. Things have come to a pretty pass when a liberal American Jew finds clearer thinking among a Palestinian liberation group than those who run theatres a few miles from her home."

Global epidemiology of HIV among female sex workers: influence of structural determinants - "Decriminalisation of sex work would have the greatest effect on the course of HIV epidemics across all settings, averting 33—46% of HIV infections in the next decade"

Legalized prostitution: There’s no way to end demand for sex work. So why are Sweden and Canada trying? - "Legalizing prostitution appears to be somewhat more popular in Canada than in the United States. An Angus Reid survey conducted in June found that Canadians were split 45–45 on whether buying sex should be legal. But the gender gap on legalization was yawning: Fifty-six percent of men believe that buying sex should be legal, while 55 percent of women believe that it should not be. Canada’s Conservatives attract far less support from women than men, and embracing the Swedish model seems like a shrewd way to shore up female support for the party by uniting feminists and social conservatives. What should worry Canadians is that the fundamental premise of the Swedish model—that it is possible to “end demand”—is profoundly flawed... One imagines that many of the men who purchase sexual services find themselves unable to experience physical intimacy via other means, in which case it is cruel to assume that their motives are necessarily predatory. And then there are men who are wary of investing every sexual encounter with emotional significance, and who appreciate the transactional nature of sex work. It’s not entirely clear that it is preferable for these men to manipulate their way into getting the casual sex they crave rather than have them pay for it... If legalizing sex work really does decrease the rate of sexual assault and the spread of venereal disease, as the latest evidence strongly suggests, we need to have a much better reason for banning it than the fact that we hold prostitutes and johns in such low esteem."

Valar Morghulis: A Statistical Guide To Deaths In Game Of Thrones - ""Hold up," you say. "You're meaning to tell me that the infant mortality rate in Game of Thrones is lower than Afghanistan's?" Well, I guess, but George R.R. Martin is not about to name every two-year-old struck with pneumonia at King's Landing."

Swedish man arrested for being too buff - "Police in Malmö arrested a man after approaching him because his muscular physique led them to suspect steroid use"

Using Twitter, Linguists Find Global ‘Superdialects’ - "a Spanish speaker from urban Madrid, for instance, sounds more like someone from urban Miami than someone from rural Andalucía. Cities, the researchers found, naturally exert a “linguistic centripetal force that favors dialect unification.” In plain English, people living in densely-populated urban environments begin to sound more and more like one another, and more and more like those living in other densely-populated urban environments across the globe. The ubiquity of Twitter and other tools for mass communication have helped the process along."

I Went to a Blowjob Bar in Bangkok, Thailand - "Bangkok, Thailand, is one of the world's deepest pits of pure sin, a forbidden zone where you can get pretty much whatever sexual perversion tickles your pickle presented to you on a silver platter, with drugs and booze on the side. Countless massage parlors, brothels, and call services exist to cater to the humongous sex-tourism industry. So how does an aspiring entrepreneur, uh... stick out in such a super-saturated marketplace? Well, the first step is to take a cue from branding experts: Be as obvious and memorable as possible. That's the thinking behind Dr. BJ’s Salon, the most notorious suck bar in Bangkok... “I think the name conveys what we do pretty well," he told me recently when I visited the salon. "It’s easy to remember, and the logo is easy to spot. When I got involved in the sex industry, I couldn’t understand why no one made an effort to stand out. How could they not take note of the real experts in retail? We looked at what McDonald’s and KFC did. In every location, you see Ronald and the Colonel, right? We wanted to do that too. Dr. BJ is the Ronald McDonald of the sex industry"... "It’s sleazy to be like, I got a blowjob from a whore, but it’s interesting to be like, I went to a place called Dr. BJ's and got blown by a fake nurse.”"

User talk:Groyn88 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This has the most warnings I've ever seen on Wikipedia

Letters of last resort - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - "According to Peter Hennessy's book The Secret State: Whitehall and the Cold War, 1945 to 1970, the process by which a Trident submarine commander would determine if the British government continues to function includes, amongst other checks, establishing whether BBC Radio 4 continues broadcasting"

Understanding Genetics: Hair Color - "You are right in saying that almost always, two redheads will have kids with red hair (click here to learn why). But as your family shows, this doesn't mean that all of the kids will have the same shade of red. They can have strawberry blonde, almost orange, auburn and mixtures of all three. What do all these hair colors have in common? A pigment called pheomelanin. Our bodies make at least two different pigments, eumelanin and pheomelanin. It is the amount of each of these that determines hair color."

"Honor Killings" of Muslim Males in the West - "Islamic honor killings normally target the women-folk, bearers of the family honor ('ird), not the men involved with them. But in some cases, to be documented here, men kill or maim other men for reasons related to family "honor.""

Top public transport system a necessity, not a luxury - "Singapore has the highest car ownership costs in the world. The rationale for this - to keep roads uncongested - is a good one. However, the trade-off is that many people will not be able to own cars. In contrast, cars are an achievable aspiration for most people in many other countries. The sacrifice of the majority in Singapore, so that a minority can enjoy uncongested roads to drive on, must not be trivialised. It also means that public transport here cannot be just a "next-best", utilitarian form of transport. On the contrary, it must not only be comfortable but also be superlative. It is absurd to contend that comfort is a choice that one pays for, when more comfortable options such as cars have been priced beyond the reach of most people; it is also coldly out of touch to think that ordinary people have the choice to pay for better transport... It is the attitude of policymakers that has to change, and not that of commuters."

Man jumps to his death in a mall after meeting his virtual girlfriend of six years for the first time - "Gonzales asked the woman: “Is that really you? How can that girl be you? You have dark skin. You fooled me for six years!” Gonzales first met the woman through social media. They carried on a virtual relationship for six years. When the two finally met in person, Gonzales was disappointed with the woman he saw standing in front of him. Gonzales reportedly had a hard time facing the fact that the woman looked different in person than on the photos she posted. The woman used Instagram filters to enhance her looks before posting her photos to the Internet."

Thai Military Looks to Boost Nation's Spirits - WSJ - "The centers would organize rural equivalents of a series of street parties in Bangkok, such as one Wednesday night in an area previously used as a rally site for antigovernment protesters and featured female dancers dressed in revealing army fatigues as one of its attractions... Wassana Aiemjaroon, a 42-year-old street cleaner who attended Wednesday's street party, said she was happy to see people enjoying themselves. "I'd been very stressed by the political tension for years and felt insecure with the situation. Now I'm happier and I can laugh," she said."

Classroom Decorations Can Distract Young Students - "Researchers observed five-year-olds in highly decorated classrooms and in classrooms that were relatively bare. And the kids were less able to hold their focus, spent more time off-task and had smaller learning gains in the busy rooms than in the bare rooms."

The politics of penetration from a lesbian perspective - "When I bought my very first “strap-on” (67 dollars and difficult to use), I told my gay male friend about it, thinking he wouldn’t impose any of his moral beliefs or principles on me. But instead of sparking an awkward conversation, it became a debate. He assumed that since I was gay, I must be a feminist, too. I think my response went something like, “Umm, no amigo! It doesn’t work that way. Who the hell told you I am a feminist? And stop using the word lesbian.” His argument was that since lesbians reject the penis, they must be feminists, and therefore the simple act of buying and using the “strap-on” only gave him “supportive evidence” to question my sexual identity and think of my “lesbian sex” as “bisexual sex.”

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Rotherham: what happens when you don't want to be "racist"

BBC Radio 4 - Today, 29/08/2014, Abusers 'targeted care homes' in Rotherham

"Rotherham was most dangerous at night for the hundreds of children who were sexually abused here. Taxis roamed the streets transporting girls around the town, or sometimes further afield.

Among the many astonishing facts revealed this week was that the criminal gangs actively targeted children's homes.

A former care worker who spent four years from 2003 working in homes in Rotherham has told this program how the girls were abused...

Attempts to stop the abuse came to nothing.

One white taxi driver was banned from transporting the girls on suspicion of being a pedophile, but the former care worker says no action was ever taken against drivers of Pakistani descent, who were the main abusers.

He eventually left the care sector, feeling unable to care."

Rotherham sex abuse scandal: we cannot ignore that race played a part in these crimes

"The vast majority of the Rotherham victims were also racially abused.

Ever since the first reports, and subsequent convictions, of so called “Asian grooming gangs” began to appear, a debate has opened up about how to confront the racial element of these crimes. It was inappropriate, many people argued, to explicitly describe them as “Asian” or “Muslim” gangs at all. Others said to even touch on the race of the perpetrators, or the victims, was to itself pander to racism. When I first heard the reports, I sympathised with this argument.

I was wrong. There is no longer any debate about what happened in Rotherham. A major British town was turned into a rape camp. The overwhelming majority of the abusers were Asian men, primarily of Pakistani descent. And their victims were overwhelmingly white girls...

In the section that deals specifically with what Jay euphemistically calls “issues of ethnicity”, the report tortuously expands on this. It says, accurately, “there is no simple link between race and child sexual exploitation, and across the UK the greatest numbers of perpetrators of CSE are white men”. But it then goes on to demonstrate that in Rotherham there was indeed a clear link between race and abuse...

This is despite the fact that, as Jay underlines, the perpetrators of crimes of this nature normally select victims of the same ethnic origin. In Rotherham the opposite occurred. Pakistani men targeted white girls so that they could rape them.

But race did not just provide a motivational element in these horrific crimes. It was also a major contributing factor in the perpetrators' ability to get away with their abuse on such a scale for such a long period of time.

The evidence is again damning. As Jay recounts, the abuse was organised in such a way that “it offered career and financial opportunities to young Asian men who got involved”. Yet time and again the racial element of their crimes directly or indirectly obstructed efforts to prevent them.

Local councillors admitted they “believed that by opening up these issues they could be 'giving oxygen' to racist perspectives that might in turn attract extremist political groups and threaten community cohesion”. Local youngsters confirmed to the Jay inquiry what had been reported to a previous inquiry, namely that ”young people in Rotherham believed at that time that the Police dared not act against Asian youths for fear of allegations of racism”. Several people interviewed by Jay “expressed the general view that ethnic considerations had influenced the policy response of the Council and the Police”. Jay herself states that “messages conveyed by some senior people in the Council and also the Police, were to 'downplay' the ethnic dimensions of child sex exploitation”. Although the report claims not to have found evidence of direct influence on individual cases, it then adds “Unsurprisingly, front line staff appeared to be confused as to what they were supposed to say and do and what would be interpreted as 'racist'”...

Imagine if it came to light that in another region of the country, organised gangs of white men had been systematically engaging in the rape and abuse of black children. The local white community knew about it, but shielded the crimes behind a wall of silence. Officers in the local authority were aware of it, but were told by their political masters to keep quiet about the racial element of the crime for fear of offending their local constituency. Police officers who attempted to investigate where specifically warned by their superiors to ignore any racial aspect to the offences.

There would be a national outcry. The racism inherent in those crimes would not be pushed to the margins, but to the forefront of our enraged response. There would be a full public inquiry, along the lines of Lawrence. And that reaction would be wholly appropriate.

We cannot just ignore racism because it doesn’t fit a neat binary perception of the victim being black and the perpetrator being white. When a Pakistani man calls a white child a “white bitch” because she tries to stop him raping her, that isn’t just horrific sexual abuse, it’s also horrific racial abuse.

Those who tried to cover up the racial aspect of these crimes did so because they feared giving “oxygen” to racists. But what kind of perversion is that? You counter racism by covering up racism?

Rotherham: In the face of such evil, who is the racist now?

"If South Yorkshire Police can mount a raid on Sir Cliff Richard’s home in pursuit of evidence linked to a single allegation of child sex abuse 30 years ago, why were South Yorkshire Police incapable of pursuing multiple allegations against multiple men who raped 1,400 children over 16 years?...

Denis MacShane, MP for Rotherham from 1994 to 2012, actually admitted to the BBC’s World At One that “there was a culture of not wanting to rock the multicultural community boat, if I may put it like that. Perhaps, yes, as a true Guardian reader and liberal Leftie, I suppose I didn’t want to raise that too hard”...

Equally horrifying is the suggestion that certain Pakistani councillors asked social workers to reveal the addresses of the shelters where some of the abused girls were hiding. The former deputy leader of the council, Jahangir Akhtar, is accused of “ignoring a politically inconvenient truth” by insisting there was not a deep-rooted problem of Pakistani-heritage perpetrators targeting young white girls. The inquiry was told that influential Pakistani councillors acted as “barriers to communication” on grooming issues.

Front-line youth workers who submitted reports in 2002, 2003 and 2006 expressing their alarm at the scale of the child sex-offending say the town hall told them to keep quiet about the ethnicity of the perpetrators in the interests of “community cohesion”.

Fear of appearing racist trumped fears of more children being abused. Not only were negligent officials not prosecuted, they prospered. Shaun Wright, a former Labour councillor who was in charge of Rotherham children’s services during a five-year period when a blind eye was turned to the worst case of mass child abuse in British history, is now South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner...

Powerless white working-class girls were caught between a hateful, imported culture of vicious misogyny on the one hand, and on the other a culture of chauvinism among the police, who regarded them as worthless slags. Officials trained up in diversity and political correctness failed to acknowledge what was effectively white slavery on their doorstep. Much too embarrassing to concede that it wasn’t white people who were committing racist hate crimes in this instance...

The fear of appearing racist was more pressing in official minds than enforcing the law of the land or rescuing terrified children. It is one of the great scandals of our lifetime."


"One 11-year-old known as Child H told police that she and another girl had been sexually assaulted by grown men. Nothing was done. When she was 12, Child H was found in the back of a taxi with a man who had indecent pictures of her on his phone. Despite the full co-operation of her father, who insisted his daughter was being abused, police failed to act. Four months later, Child H was found in a house alone with a group of Pakistani men. What did the police do? They arrested the child for being drunk and disorderly and ignored her abusers...

The Labour Party, in particular, is mired in shame over “cultural sensitivity” in Rotherham. Especially, cynics might point out, a sensitivity to the culture of Muslims whose votes they don’t want to lose...

A recent poll showed that 44 per cent of young Britons believe that Muslims do not share the same values as the rest of the population, while 28 per cent said they felt Britain would be “better off” with fewer Muslims"

One liberal response is to frame this as a class issue and claim this is no different from how child sexual abuse of working class children has always been treated. But there don't seem to be historical statistics backing up this claim (or maybe magnitude doesn't matter - as long as it's happened in the past it's not different right now even if the scale is much bigger)
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