When you can't live without bananas

Get email updates of new posts:        (Delivered by FeedBurner)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Links - 27th September 2014

Newly Uncovered "Super Henge" Dwarfed Stonehenge - "The digital map — made from high-resolution radar and magnetic and laser scans that accumulated several terabytes of data — shatters the picture of Stonehenge as a desolate and exclusive site that was visited by few"

Strange but True: Less Sleep Means More Dreams - "losing 30 minutes of REM one night can lead to a 35 percent REM increase the next night—subjects jumped from 74 minutes of REM to a rebound of 100 minutes. Nielsen also found that dream intensity increased with REM deprivation"

Women prefer fun over fit! - "Almost all British women have said that a date with a gym obsessed bloke is not in any way fun. If he watches his carb intake the same as you do when ordering- there is something seriously wrong. Sharing a dessert is a much more appealing way to end a meal than tapping the calories from his starter and mains into his fitness app to see if he can spare the room... This extends to the bedroom too with many women worrying about stripping in front of a man with a six pack as it makes them feel self-conscious if they don’t match up... 82% of women who currently have an Average Joe in their bed are not looking to persuade them to get more toned or to diet"

Sex therapist Tracey Cox explains why 75% of women prefer FLAB to abs - "Three in four British women would choose a man with love handles over one sporting a six-pack. That's 23 million of us who find muscular men a turn off; 96% predict a date with an abs-obsessed bloke to be positively dreary... I'd love to meet a female whose sex life isn't affected by a 'fat day'. I've yet to meet one man who has let feeling fat stop them having sex."

▶ the Cast of Avenue Q performs "Call me Maybe" - YouTube

New Northern Ireland Violence May Be About More Than the British Flag - NYTimes.com - "Many had hoped that the old hatreds between Northern Ireland’s two main groups — the mainly Protestant, pro-British unionists, and the mainly Roman Catholic republicans, with their commitment to a united Ireland — would recede permanently under the auspices of the Good Friday agreement. That accord was reached 15 years ago as a blueprint for the power-sharing government that now rules the province. But the fragility of those hopes has been powerfully demonstrated by more than 40 days and nights of violence that were triggered by a decision to cut back on the flying of the Union Jack, Britain’s red, white and blue national flag, over the grandly pillared, neo-Classical City Council building in central Belfast... Under Britain’s strict rules about flying the national standard on public and private buildings, not even the Parliament buildings in London fly it on any but government-designated days. But the hauling down of the Belfast flag provoked a furious reaction, the most protracted period of unrest in many years in Northern Ireland"

Some Things You Can Do In Your Sleep, Literally - "People who are fast asleep can correctly respond to simple verbal instructions, according to a study by researchers in France. They think this may help explain why you might wake if someone calls your name or why your alarm clock is more likely to rouse you than any other noise."

Scientists uncover most potent carcinogen - "Aristolochic acid (AA), a natural compound in Aristolochia plants that grow all over the world, is used in herbal remedies for weight loss and to treat ailments ranging from arthritis to menstrual cramps. It causes 10 times more genetic mutations than smoking, they found, leading to kidney failure and cancers... AA is a natural compound found in Aristolochia plants, many of which are commonly known as birthwort, Dutchman’s pipe or “Guan mu tong”. It is commonly used in traditional herbal preparations, particularly in China and Taiwan, and sold as capsules. But the acid, known as “ma dou ling suan” in Mandarin, has been found to be highly toxic. In the early 1990s, about 100 people in Belgium developed kidney failure from a slimming mixture that contained AA. Some needed kidney transplants and others later developed bladder cancers. AA has been banned in many countries, including Singapore. But it has long been used as a traditional medicine and studies show that it continues to be used, particularly in Asia. In Taiwan and China, AA has been sold under names such as “chuan xi ling jiao nang”, “fei an pian”, “fu fang she dan chuan bei san” and “ji ming wan”, among many others. Earlier this year, scientists from King’s College London warned that millions of people may be exposed to the risk of kidney failure and cancer by taking such herbal medicines, because they are widely available in Asia and over the Internet... It is not known how many people here have used AA products, said Prof Teh, but in Taiwan, where it was commonly used until it was banned in 2003, patients with associated kidney failure and cancer are still being diagnosed... “Through this study, we would like to highlight the importance of raising public awareness when consuming ‘natural herbal remedies’,” she said."
100% natural! Proven safe through hundreds/thousands of years of Chinese medicine!
Keywords: Singapore General Hospital, SGH, liver

Nigeria police hold 'robber' goat - "Police in Nigeria are holding a goat handed to them by a vigilante group, which said it was a car thief who had used witchcraft to change shape."

Calls for Slavery Restitution Getting Louder - New York Times - "Some blacks still dismiss the reparations movement as a digression from the issues that matter. ''If the government got the money from the tooth fairy or Santa Claus, that'd be great,'' said Walter E. Williams, chairman of the economics department at George Mason University. ''But the government has to take the money from citizens, and there are no citizens alive today who were responsible for slavery. The problems that black people face are not going to be solved by white people, and they're not going to be solved by money. The resources that are going into the fight for reparations would be far more valuably spent making sure that black kids have a credible education"... Stuart E. Eizenstat, who as a senior official in the Clinton administration negotiated settlements under which Holocaust victims would receive $8 billion in reparations from the governments of Germany, France and Austria and from Swiss banks, said that he viewed those cases as different from the African-American claims, because Holocaust reparations are going largely to surviving victims, while slavery reparations would go to descendants generations removed... Part of the new momentum in the reparations movement comes from efforts to win restitution not just from the federal government, but also from companies that profited from slavery... Historians say that slavery was so central to the economy in the early days of America that almost every business benefited from it... it is a long stretch from a 19th-century slave trader to a 21st-century Dutch company that makes copying machines, and Océ officials seemed baffled by any possible connection to the slave trade. ''This is the first I've heard of it,'' said Karen Fitt, a company spokeswoman.
Maybe they should sue Africans whose ancestors profited from slavery too - but then, they don't have any money

Casey Martin discrimination, USGA - "In 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court cited the Americans With Disabilities Act in a 7-2 ruling that the PGA Tour must allow Martin to ride in a golf cart between shots at Tour events. That use “is not a modification that would fundamentally alter the nature” of the PGA Tour, said Justice John Paul Stevens, who delivered the majority opinion."

United States v. Starrett City Associates - "Brief Fact Summary. Starrett City Associates has a policy to maintain a desired racial balance upon tenants in its apartment to promote racial integration. People are selected for the units based on income race and ethnicity. The United States brought action against Starrett for violating the Fair Housing Act of Title VIII.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A race-conscious affirmative action plan does not violate Title VIII of the constitution as long as it is only temporary and has a defined goal and is based on a history of racial imbalance"
"Forever minus one day" is still temporary

Gut Bacteria Might Guide The Workings Of Our Minds - "Could the microbes that inhabit our guts help explain that old idea of "gut feelings?" There's growing evidence that gut bacteria really might influence our minds... Mayer thinks the bacteria in our digestive systems may help mold brain structure as we're growing up, and possibly influence our moods, behavior and feelings when we're adults. "It opens up a completely new way of looking at brain function and health and disease," he says... bold mice became timid when they got the microbes of anxious ones. And aggressive mice calmed down when the scientists altered their microbes by changing their diet, feeding them probiotics or dosing them with antibiotics... In the mice, many of their autism behaviors were no longer present or strongly ameliorated with probiotics... Mayer also has been studying the effects of probiotics on the brain in humans. Along with his colleague Kirsten Tillisch, Mayer gave healthy women yogurt containing a probiotic and then scanned their brains. He found subtle signs that the brain circuits involved in anxiety were less reactive"

Woman Testifies On $50,000 Leak - "Police were alerted to the scam by two bank employees, who testified that they tried to tell Rolek that $50,000 was too much to repair a leaky toilet."
Willing buyer, willing seller doesn't mean the contract is just

This conductor's got a cat's tongue - ""Tama is the only stationmaster as we have to reduce personnel costs. You say you could ask for the cat's help, but she is actually bringing luck to us," Wakayama Electric spokesperson Keiko Yamaki said. The company feeds her in lieu of salary... She rose to national stardom in January 2007 as the railway company formally appointed her as "stationmaster". Her appointment had an immediately positive effect, boosting the number of passengers using the line in January by 17 percent from a year earlier... Happy with her successful job as stationmaster, the company promoted Tama to "super-stationmaster" in January this year, making her "the only female in a managerial position" in the company's 36-strong workforce."

Any diet will do, say researchers, if you stick to it - "The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, analysed data from 48 separate trials. The Canadian team concluded that sticking to a diet was more important than the diet itself. Obesity experts said all diets cut calories to a similar level, which may explain the results... The range of diets covered included, Atkins, South Beach, Zone, Biggest Loser, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Volumetrics, Weight Watchers, Ornish and Rosemary Conley. It showed that after 12 months, people on low carbohydrate and low fat diets both lost an average of 7.3kg (16lb). Those on low carb meal plans had lost slightly more at the six-month marker. The report said: "The differences [between diets] were small and unlikely to be important to those seeking weight loss"... However, the study did not look at wider health issues, such as levels of cholesterol, which may vary according to diet. Prof Susan Jebb, from the University of Oxford and a government advisor on obesity, said diets were more similar than they appeared, advocating cutting calories to 1,500 a day, sticking to strict meal times and avoiding biscuits, cakes and chocolate."

Friday, September 26, 2014

Woman stabs ex-lover twice after sex in Geylang hotel

Woman stabs ex-lover twice after sex in Geylang hotel, AsiaOne Singapore News

"The lesbian lovers had a tempestuous relationship that was littered with quarrels and violent fights.

In July 2012, after a year together, one of them, Giselle Shi Jia Wei, decided to break up after yet another fight.

A week later, Shi met her former lover, Miss Ummul Qurratu 'Ain Abdul Rahman, for supper. They ended up in a Geylang hotel, where they had sex.

Afterwards, as they lay naked in bed watching TV, Shi tried in vain to reconcile with Miss Ummul.

Shi then straddled Miss Ummul's left thigh, raised both arms, which were holding an object, before bringing them down suddenly.

Miss Ummul felt a piercing pain in her chest and realised she had just been stabbed with a knife.

Shi then stabbed her former lover again.

These horrific details emerged yesterday as the trial of Shi, now 25, for the attempted murder of Miss Ummul, now 22, began in the High Court.

The alleged attack happened in the Golden Star Hotel at Geylang Lorong 8 on July 22, 2012.

The two had met in 2010 and begun their tumultuous relationship in July 2011.

At the start of the hearing, Deputy Public Prosecutor Sellakumaran applied for a gag order to protect the victim's identity, given the "rather unusual circumstances of the case".

After considering the application, Justice Choo Han Teck said he was "not satisfied" that the gag order was necessary.

Miss Ummul, who took the stand, said in her statement that they had broken up on July 14, 2012, after a fight.

Although Shi had initiated the break-up, she later wanted to patch up. Miss Ummul was against it but agreed to meet Shi "for closure".

On July 21, they met at Sembawang MRT station for supper but decided to take a taxi to Geylang Lorong 8 to eat at a dim sum stall.


Miss Ummul said Shi kept trying to hold her hand, but she pulled her hand away.

After supper, they checked into the hotel, watched TV and fell asleep. At about 1pm the next day, they woke up and had sex.

Miss Ummul was lying in bed watching TV when Shi asked her if there was any chance of them reconciling.

Miss Ummul said no.

Shi "was becoming more desperate and looked like she was going to cry," Miss Ummul said.

She moved her handbag from the bedside table and put it on the bed before straddling Miss Ummul's thigh. She asked again if they were really not getting back together.

Miss Ummul told the court that when she said no, she saw Shi holding something with both hands and bringing it down on her chest.

Feeling a sharp pain, Miss Ummul saw a knife sticking out of her chest. She struggled with Shi and pulled the 10cm blade out, but Shi stabbed her a second time.

Miss Ummul passed out for what felt like a few minutes. When she came to, she said she saw Shi slitting her wrists. She also saw blood on her own chest and body.

After a while, Shi covered her with a blanket and said: "Now we can be together".

Fearing for her life, Miss Ummul begged Shi to let her go to the bathroom. Shi told her to relieve herself where she was. Miss Ummul said it was her "last wish" to go to the bathroom. Relenting, Shi agreed but followed her into the bathroom. She sat in front of Miss Ummul, who was sitting on the toilet, and held her hand. Miss Ummul felt Shi's grip weaken gradually and managed to run out of the room.

Bleeding from her stab wounds, she saw "a vision of two people" and shouted to them: "Help, somebody is trying to kill me."

They helped her to the lobby where a hotel employee called for an ambulance.

Miss Ummul told the court: "I remember being carried... being transferred and being in an ambulance. I asked (the paramedics) several times if I was going to die.

"I told them that it was very painful."

The trial continues today.

Pair had violent history

When cross-examined by defence lawyer Jayakumar Naidu yesterday, Miss Ummul Qurratu 'Ain Abdul Rahman admitted to hitting Giselle Shi Jia Wei three times during their relationship.


When the couple went to a bar in the Arab Street area, it happened to be Miss Ummul's birthday.

An ex-girlfriend went over to wish her "Happy Birthday". Miss Ummul said Shi got jealous and went to talk to her own ex-girlfriend.

When Miss Ummul approached them, Shi gave her the cold shoulder.

Miss Ummul was upset and left the bar. Shi ran after her to ask her to stay by pulling her arm.

Agitated, she slapped Shi.


They were arguing in Shi's bedroom when the confrontation turned violent and Miss Ummul hit her.


On July 14, 2012, the pair went to Mink, a club at the Pan Pacific Hotel.

While giving her friend a hug, Miss Ummul spilled some of her drink on Shi's shoes.

Shi left in a huff to clean herself. Miss Ummul went after her and followed her into a toilet cubicle.

Inside, Shi became hysterical and stripped, throwing her clothes and accessories on the floor.

She told Miss Ummul: "What's the point of dressing up for you when all you want to do is spend time with your friends?"

She also tried to hit Miss Ummul, who managed to duck the blow.

While trying to calm Shi down, Miss Ummul hit her a few times.

During the commotion, she said someone threw an ice bucket into the cubicle, hitting Shi on the head.

A club bouncer and hostess then escorted the pair out of the club.

Cracks started appearing 3 months into relationship

Freelance musician Ummul Qurratu 'Ain Abdul Rahman and Giselle Shi Jia Wei became a couple in July 2011.

Testifying in court yesterday, Miss Ummul said they were happy for about three months before cracks started appearing.

They had their first major argument after friends of Miss Ummul's ex-girlfriend bad-mouthed her to Shi.

But they worked things out.

Later, after Miss Ummul moved into Shi's family home, she tried to see her family once a week.

But every time she told Shi that she was going home, the accused would kick up a fuss, Miss Ummul told the court.

She also had to remain inside Shi's room whenever the latter's parents were around.

Things came to a head in May 2012 when Shi's mother discovered Miss Ummul was staying there and asked her to leave.

The couple packed their things and stayed in a number of Geylang hotels before going to Johor Baru, Malaysia, where they stayed for about a month.

During this time, they commuted to Singapore for work.

As the relationship wore on, Miss Ummul said Shi got increasingly calculating and they started fighting over minor things like toiletries.

While cross-examining Miss Ummul, defence lawyer Jayakumar Naidu asked who the more dominant one was in the relationship.

When she said she did not understand his question, Mr Naidu said: "Who is the 'male' and who is the 'female'?"

In response, Miss Ummul said: "From my outlook, you can guess I'm the male. But I didn't (decide on everything)."

Stop Fem-Splaining: What ‘Women Against Feminism’ Gets Right

Stop Fem-Splaining: What ‘Women Against Feminism’ Gets Right | TIME

The charge that feminism stereotypes men as predators while reducing women to helpless victims certainly doesn’t apply to all feminists — but it’s a reasonably fair description of a large, influential, highly visible segment of modern feminism

The latest skirmish on the gender battlefield is “Women Against Feminism”: women and girls taking to social media to declare that they don’t need or want feminism, usually via photos of themselves with handwritten placards. The feminist reaction has ranged from mockery to dismay to somewhat patronizing (or should that be “matronizing”?) lectures on why these dissidents are wrong. But, while the anti-feminist rebellion has its eye-rolling moments, it raises valid questions about the state of Western feminism in the 21st century — questions that must be addressed if we are to continue making progress toward real gender equality.

Female anti-feminism is nothing new. In the 19th century, plenty of women were hostile to the women’s movement and to women who pursued nontraditional paths. In the 1970s, Marabel Morgan’s regressive manifesto The Total Woman was a top best seller, and Phyllis Schlafly led opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment. But such anti-feminism was invariably about defending women’s traditional roles. Some of today’s “women against feminism” fit that mold: they feel that feminism demeans stay-at-home mothers, or that being a “true woman” means loving to cook and clean for your man. Many others, however, say they repudiate feminism even though — indeed, because — they support equality and female empowerment:

“I don’t need feminism because I believe in equality, not entitlements and supremacy.”

“I don’t need feminism because it reinforces the men as agents/women as victims dichotomy.”

“I do not need modern feminism because it has become confused with misandry which is as bad as misogyny, and whatever I want to do or be in life, I will become through my own hard work.”

Or, more than once: “I don’t need feminism because egalitarianism is better!”

Again and again, the dissenters say that feminism belittles and demonizes men, treating them as presumptive rapists while encouraging women to see themselves as victims. “I am not a victim” and “I can take responsibility for my actions” are recurring themes. Many also challenge the notion that American women in the 21st century are “oppressed,” defiantly asserting that “the patriarchy doesn’t exist” and “there is no rape culture.”

One common response from feminists is to say that Women Against Feminism “don’t understand what feminism is” and to invoke its dictionary definition: “the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.” The new anti-feminists have a rejoinder for that, too: they’re judging modern feminism by its actions, not by the book. And here, they have a point.

Consider the #YesAllWomen Twitter hashtag, dubbed by one blogger “the Arab Spring of 21st century feminism.” Created in response to Elliot Rodger’s deadly shooting spree in Isla Vista, Calif. — and to reminders that “not all men” are violent misogynists — the tag was a relentless catalog of female victimization by male terrorism and abuse. Some of its most popular tweets seemed to literally dehumanize men, comparing them to sharks or M&M candies of which 10% are poisoned.

Consider assertions that men as a group must be taught “not to rape,” or that to accord the presumption of innocence to a man accused of sexual violence against a woman or girl is to be complicit in “rape culture.” Consider that last year, when an Ohio University student made a rape complaint after getting caught on video engaging in a drunken public sex act, she was championed by campus activists and at least one prominent feminist blogger — but a grand jury declined to hand down charges after reviewing the video of the incident and evidence that both students were inebriated.

Consider that a prominent British feminist writer, Laurie Penny, decries the notion that feminists should avoid such generalizations as “men oppress women”; in her view, all men are steeped in a woman-hating culture and “even the sweetest, gentlest man” benefits from women’s oppression. Consider, too, that an extended quote from Penny’s column was reposted by a mainstream reproductive-rights group and shared by nearly 84,000 Tumblr users in six months.

Sure, some Women Against Feminism claims are caricatures based on fringe views — for instance, that feminism mandates hairy armpits, or that feminists regard all heterosexual intercourse as rape. On the other hand, the charge that feminism stereotypes men as predators while reducing women to helpless victims certainly doesn’t apply to all feminists — but it’s a reasonably fair description of a large, influential, highly visible segment of modern feminism.

Are Women Against Feminism ignorant and naive to insist they are not oppressed? Perhaps some are too giddy with youthful optimism. But they make a strong argument that a “patriarchy” that lets women vote, work, attend college, get divorced, run for political office and own businesses on the same terms as men isn’t quite living up to its label. They also raise valid questions about politicizing personal violence along gender lines; research shows that surprisingly high numbers of men may have been raped, sometimes by women.

For the most part, Women Against Feminism are quite willing to acknowledge and credit feminism’s past battles for women’s rights in the West, as well as the severe oppression women still suffer in many parts of the world. But they also say that modern Western feminism has become a divisive and sometimes hateful force, a movement that dramatically exaggerates female woes while ignoring men’s problems, stifles dissenting views, and dwells obsessively on men’s misbehavior and women’s personal wrongs. These are trends about which feminists have voiced alarm in the past — including the movement’s founding mother Betty Friedan, who tried in the 1970s to steer feminism from the path of what she called “sex/class warfare.” Friedan would have been aghast had she known that, 50 years after she began her battle, feminist energies were being spent on bashing men who commit the heinous crime of taking too much space on the subway.

Is there still a place in modern-day America for a gender-equality movement? I think so. Work-family balance remains a real and complicated challenge. And there are gender-based cultural biases and pressures that still exist — though, in 21st century Western countries, they almost certainly affect men as much as women. A true equality movement would be concerned with the needs and interests of both sexes. It would, for instance, advocate for all victims of domestic and sexual violence regardless of gender — and for fairness to those accused of these offenses. It would support both women and men as workers and as parents.

Should such a movement take back feminism — or, as the new egalitarians suggest, give up on the label altogether because of its inherent connotations of advocating for women only? I’m not sure what the answer is. But Women Against Feminism are asking the right questions. And they deserve to be heard, not harangued. As one of the group’s graphics says, “I have my own mind. Please stop fem-splaining it to me.”

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Links - 25th September 2014

Reference letters can invite lawsuits from former employees

ISIS Tweets Call for Assassination of Twitter Employees - "Twitter has been engaged in a prolonged game of whack-a-mole with ISIS, closing its accounts and those of similar organizations as they come to prominence, in an attempt to stifle their extremist propaganda and exhortations to violence. ISIS and other groups have consistently thwarted these efforts, now they’re going one step further, urging “lone wolf” actors to target Twitter employees."

No More Ambulances for Terror - "In March 2002, Israeli Defense Forces discovered a bomb in a Palestine Red Crescent Society ambulance near Jerusalem. The bomb, packed in a suicide belt, was hidden under a gurney carrying a Palestinian child. The driver confessed that it was not the first time ambulances had been used to ferry explosives... Palestinian gunmen used the UN emergency vehicle as getaway transportation after murdering six Israeli soldiers. Senior UNRWA employee Nahed Rashid Ahmed Attalah confessed to using his official UN vehicle to bypass security and smuggle arms, explosives and terrorists to and from attacks. Nidal ‘Abd al-Fataah ‘Abdallah Nizal, a Hamas activist, worked as an UNRWA ambulance driver and admitted he, too, had used an emergency vehicle to transport munitions to terrorists... According to the Lebanon Red Cross, two of its ambulances were deliberately struck by weapons in Qana, Lebanon, while performing rescue missions. The international press, which has stubbornly ignored the prolonged exploitation of emergency vehicles by terrorists, immediately accused Israel of committing "war crimes." Photos and accounts of the alleged ambulance targeting were disseminated widely by newswires, the BBC, ITV, The New York Times, the Boston Globe and countless others. It should be noted that Western journalists were not allowed onto the scene, but received video and pictures from locals. Bloggers have again raised pointed doubts about what those photos really show (see zombietime.com/fraud/ambulance/ and my Internet video report at hotair.com/archives/2006/08/29/ambulances-for-jihad/). The roof of one Red Cross ambulance said to have been hit by a missile had a neat hole punched dead center — in the same location that ventilation holes of other ambulances are positioned. Massive rust and corrosion around the hole suggest the damage may have occurred before the alleged strike. Moreover, a missile explosion inside an ambulance would not leave the rest of the vehicle as intact as the supposedly targeted ambulance remained. A paramedic quoted by several media organizations claimed a "big fire" engulfed the inside of the vehicle. But photos of the ambulance allegedly consumed by the fire showed gurneys and seats intact and minimal damage to the interior."

Report Details Hamas’ Responsibility for Destruction of Gaza Strip - "New evidence is presented that Hamas used several United Nations schools run by the Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) as a base from which to fire rockets and mortars. The revelation is likely to prompt further scrutiny of UNRWA’s activities during the most recent conflict, including the discovery of multiple rocket stashes that were later returned by UNRWA to Hamas. At least 1,600 of the 3,600 rockets fired since July 8 at Israel by Hamas originated from civilian strongholds, according to the declassified report. This included: Three rockets fired from churches, four from Red Cross stations, 10 from amusement parks, 20 from first aid stations, 30 from U.N. facilities, 41 from hospitals, 50 from children’s playgrounds, 85 from medial clinics, 248 from schools, 331 from mosques, and 818 from areas such as graveyards and power plants."

Speed Kills Racial Profiling Study - "Wines revives the canard about blacks being disproportionately targeted in traffic stops. There actually is a study for that. Throughout the 1990s, the nation was fixated on tales of jack-booted New Jersey state troopers who were stopping speeders on the turnpike just because they were black!... The story never made sense. How could the troopers tell the race of drivers in speeding cars? Did they wait until the driver rolled down his window and, if he was white, say, “Oh, sorry — have a nice day!” But the Clinton administration was slapping consent decrees for racial profiling on police departments across the country, and the N.J. highway patrol was its prime evidence, based on a study that a child wouldn’t believe. As is usually the case with bogus race studies, the pivotal 1993 survey compared speed stops on the New Jersey turnpike to the population of all drivers on the turnpike – not with the population of all speeders on the turnpike. Such meaningless studies are popular on the left, where it is assumed that people of different races, genders and ethnicities will always behave identically in all respects... based on the assumption that blacks speed just as much as whites — because to believe otherwise would be racist! — Temple University’s John Lamberth announced that while only 13.5 percent of drivers along a particular stretch of the New Jersey Turnpike were black, 46 percent of those stopped for speeding were black. Racial profiling, Q.E.D... Confident that any new study would merely serve to confirm the troopers’ racism, the DOJ and the New Jersey attorney general commissioned a statistical investigation from the Public Services Research Institute in Maryland. The institute’s study was a spectacular thing. Using expensive monitors with high-speed cameras and radar detectors, they clocked the speeds of nearly 40,000 drivers on the relevant section of the turnpike. Three researchers then examined the photos to determine the race of the driver — without knowing whether the driver was speeding, which was defined as going more than 80 mph in 65 mph zones. The result: No racial profiling. Blacks constituted 25 percent of all speeders and they were 23 percent of drivers stopped for speeding. Controlling for age and gender, blacks sped at about twice the rate of whites. The racial disparity was even greater for drivers exceeding 90 mph."

Buckley Program pushes expansion | Yale Daily News - "After establishing its presence on Yale’s campus, the three-year-old William F. Buckley, Jr. Program is now looking to expand. The program was the brainchild of Lauren Noble ’11, who envisioned the program after taking a residential college seminar on William F. Buckley, Jr. and the rise of modern conservatism in 2010. According to Sterling Professor of Classics Donald Kagan, who sits on the program’s Board of Directors, the program emerged from concerns among students that politically conservative perspectives were insufficiently represented among Yale’s faculty and on campus as a whole... According to Vice President Mark DiPlacido ’15, one way the program tries to promote intellectual diversity is by bringing in speakers with unusual points of view that might not be “within what is politically correct.” DiPlacido pointed to Harvey Mansfield’s talk last year about “the importance of manliness,” which DiPlacido said broadened the scope of what students on campus were willing to discuss. In that same vein, this year the program plans to sponsor a talk by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born victim of genital mutilation who has faced public criticism for her condemnation of certain Muslim practices. DiPlacido said the program decided to bring in Ali to speak because her story represents a diverse opinion... Helen Price ’18 said that although she appreciates the effort the program makes to promote intellectual diversity, in practice such an effort can be problematic. “When you invite very conservative speakers here who perhaps have controversial views on Islam or homosexuality, you essentially make Yale a very uncomfortable place for a large percentage of the people here on campus, and everyone should feel at home at college,” Price said."
So much for College challenging you with new ideas and views
Another site: "It’s not clear if Price understands how such casual mentions of Marxism might make someone — from, say, Cambodia, or North Korea, or Ukraine — “very uncomfortable.”"

'Empathetically Correct' Is the New Politically Correct - "When I was attending graduate school in the late 1980s and early 1990s, political correctness reigned supreme. Lassoing the powers of language, literature, and the law, the movement dubbed “PC” initially worked toward the good goal of greater inclusiveness for marginalized communities. Eventually, however, bloated by the riches of the ivory tower of academia and provoked by the excesses and exclusivity of the good-ol’-boy culture of Wall Street, political correctness morphed into a tyranny of speech codes, sensitivity training, and book banning. Its reach lingers still, most recently exemplified in the decision by a state panel in Nevada not to name a cove after Mark Twain because of the author’s racist 19th-century views toward Native Americans. But it seems political correctness is being replaced by a new trend—one that might be called “empathetic correctness.” While political correctness seeks to cultivate sensitivity outwardly on behalf of those historically marginalized and oppressed groups, empathetic correctness focuses inwardly toward the protection of individual sensitivities. Now, instead of challenging the status quo by demanding texts that question the comfort of the Western canon, students are demanding the status quo by refusing to read texts that challenge their own personal comfort... some of the literary works advocates claim need warning labels for adult college students are often read by high school students, such as The Great Gatsby and The Merchant of Venice... a person traumatized by reading a Victorian novel is a person in need of help, and the entire episode brought about the small crisis which resulted in a more important outcome: getting her connected with a college counselor... How can empathy even be cultivated apart from a willingness to have our preconceptions and our very comfort challenged? The sort of citizenry that demands warning labels on the best gifts of civilization is a citizenry ill-equipped to maintain such rights. Of course, empathy is a virtue. Ironically, it is a virtue cultivated, recent studies have shown, by reading great literature—the very works some want accompanied by warning labels.

The Baby in the Well - "Empathy has some unfortunate features—it is parochial, narrow-minded, and innumerate. We’re often at our best when we’re smart enough not to rely on it... The key to engaging empathy is what has been called “the identifiable victim effect”... Imagine reading that two thousand people just died in an earthquake in a remote country, and then discovering that the actual number of deaths was twenty thousand. Do you now feel ten times worse? To the extent that we can recognize the numbers as significant, it’s because of reason, not empathy. In the broader context of humanitarianism, as critics like Linda Polman have pointed out, the empathetic reflex can lead us astray. When the perpetrators of violence profit from aid—as in the “taxes” that warlords often demand from international relief agencies—they are actually given an incentive to commit further atrocities. It is similar to the practice of some parents in India who mutilate their children at birth in order to make them more effective beggars... A “politics of empathy” doesn’t provide much clarity in the public sphere, either. Typically, political disputes involve a disagreement over whom we should empathize with. Liberals argue for gun control, for example, by focussing on the victims of gun violence; conservatives point to the unarmed victims of crime, defenseless against the savagery of others... On many issues, empathy can pull us in the wrong direction. The outrage that comes from adopting the perspective of a victim can drive an appetite for retribution. (Think of those statutes named for dead children: Megan’s Law, Jessica’s Law, Caylee’s Law.) But the appetite for retribution is typically indifferent to long-term consequences. In one study, conducted by Jonathan Baron and Ilana Ritov, people were asked how best to punish a company for producing a vaccine that caused the death of a child. Some were told that a higher fine would make the company work harder to manufacture a safer product; others were told that a higher fine would discourage the company from making the vaccine, and since there were no acceptable alternatives on the market the punishment would lead to more deaths. Most people didn’t care; they wanted the company fined heavily, whatever the consequence... The government’s failure to enact prudent long-term policies is often attributed to the incentive system of democratic politics (which favors short-term fixes), and to the powerful influence of money. But the politics of empathy is also to blame. Too often, our concern for specific individuals today means neglecting crises that will harm countless people in the future... A reasoned, even counter-empathetic analysis of moral obligation and likely consequences is a better guide to planning for the future than the gut wrench of empathy... Putting aside the extremes of psychopathy, there is no evidence to suggest that the less empathetic are morally worse than the rest of us. Simon Baron-Cohen observes that some people with autism and Asperger’s syndrome, though typically empathy-deficient, are highly moral, owing to a strong desire to follow rules and insure that they are applied fairly. Where empathy really does matter is in our personal relationships... Our hearts will always go out to the baby in the well; it’s a measure of our humanity. But empathy will have to yield to reason if humanity is to have a future"

Disagreement as 'Personal Attack'

AWARE Singapore - *Trigger warning for descriptions of rape,...:

AWARE Singapore: *Trigger warning for descriptions of rape, bullying and eating disorders*

A powerful story of sexual assault and its effects. "Do you believe my story? Do you think the fact that I was "too drunk to REMEMBER"... means that there's a good chance I could have made it all up? Misremembered somehow? Fabricated memories? Would you need to hear my rapist's side of the story, too, in order to make up your mind? "

Matata Hakuna: Utterly sick....

Lim Yong Chin: What s necessary? A clear-out divison between the fact that Dawkins made a comment about victims who have NO
recollection about what happened, and a lurid, graphic account from a rape victim who DOES?

What's necessary? A Public Service Announcement that 14-year-old girls who go to hormone-fueled parties really should be sticking to the age limit for drinking for their own safety and future mental integrity? Or is this also classified as victim-blaming?

Matata Hakuna: I shall take it that your comment is not made from any informed viewpoint. AWARE, please note there is a troll right here and do what's necessary

AWARE Singapore: Lim Yong Chin: Yes, that is victim-blaming. Reading someone's traumatic experience of abuse and telling them it's their fault is not acceptable on this page.

We also don't permit personal attacks on us or other people. If such comments continue, you will be banned from this page.

So to AWARE, mere disagreement constitutes a “personal attack” (to say nothing of the related and similarly spurious cries of "trolling")


"Deconstruction made its first inroads in the United States through departments of literary criticism, which sought new strategies for interpreting literary texts. As a result, deconstruction became associated and sometimes confused with other trends, including reader response theory, which argues that a text's meaning is produced through the reader's process of encountering it.

In Europe, on the other hand, deconstruction was understood as a response to structuralism; it is therefore sometimes referred to as a "poststructuralist" approach. Structuralism argued that individual thought was shaped by linguistic structures. It therefore denied or at least severely deemphasized the relative autonomy of subjects in determining cultural meanings; indeed, it seemed virtually to dissolve the subject into the larger forces of culture. Deconstruction attacked the assumption that these structures of meaning were stable, universal, or ahistorical. However, it did not challenge structuralism's views about the cultural construction of human subjects. Social theories that attempt to reduce human thought and action to cultural structures are sometimes called "antihumanist." Ironically, then, deconstruction suffered the curious fate of being an antihumanist theory that nevertheless was often understood in the United States as making the radically subjectivist claim that texts mean whatever a person wants them to mean. The misunderstandings that deconstruction has engendered are partly due to the obscurity of expression that often distinguishes the work of its adherents...

Critical legal scholars were originally attracted to deconstruction for three reasons. First, because deconstruction claimed that meanings were inherently unstable, it seemed to buttress the thesis that legal decisionmaking was indeterminate. This, in turn, appeared to support the familiar CLS emphasis on the political character of legal decisionmaking. (Dalton, 1984; Frug 1984). Second, because deconstruction discovered instability and indeterminacy everywhere, it seemed to support the notion that social structures were contingent and social meanings malleable and fluid. This supported CLS claims that legal ideology rested on claims of the "false necessity" of social and legal structures that seemed reasonable in theory but were oppressive in practice. (Peller 1985). Third, because deconstruction seemed to show that all texts undermined their own logic and had multiple meanings that conflicted with each other, deconstruction could be used for the purpose of "trashing"-- that is, showing that particular legal doctrines or legal arguments were fundamentally incoherent...

Like critical legal scholars, feminists also found deconstruction useful as a method of ideological critique, directed in this case at patriarchal thought and institutions. Feminists could use deconstructive arguments to expose and critique the suppression and marginalization of things associated with women and femininity. Moreover, the iterability and instability of social meanings seemed to undermine any potentially pessimistic suggestions in radical feminism that patriarchy was a unconquerable monolith, or that patriarchy's control of social construction had been so successful that women's very desires and identities were nothing more than the products of male power and privilege. Because social meanings are iterable, they are fluid and unstable, and always present possibilities of interpretive variance and play. Thus, the deconstructive theory of meaning seemed to suggest potential avenues of resistance to patriarchy, and seemed to allow if not guarantee the possibility of feminist critique.

Unfortunately, deconstruction tends to destabilize not only patriarchy, but also femininity and feminine identity. Deconstructive arguments that "women's perspectives," "women's interests," or "femininity" have been suppressed or marginalized in existing culture beg two important questions: The first is whether there can be such relatively stable and determinate entities; the second is whether they do not already form nested oppositions with what they are claimed to oppose. Thus, feminists employing deconstructive critiques have been faced with two important yet potentially conflicting goals: to identify and honor the feminine that has been suppressed or marginalized, and to recognize the instability and contested nature of the identity so honored (Cornell 1991)."

--- Deconstruction / Jack M. Balkin

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Links - 24th September 2014

A hand changes everything

Will the Sultan of Brunei Stone his Gay Son to Death?

Brunei prince attempts to stop 'erotic statues’ from being shown in court - "Prince Jefri Bolkiah, the 55-year-old younger brother of the Sultan, is seeking to persuade a judge in Manhattan that pictures of the four statues should not be shown to a jury that will consider his lawsuit against former legal advisers. He has also said the jury should not be told that he had several wives and mistresses, because “polygamy is offensive to many Americans”. The statues were once kept on the prince’s 28-acre estate on Long Island, New York. Mark Cymrot, a lawyer for one of the defendants in the lawsuit, said: “They make me blush. They’re very explicit”... In 2007 the Privy Council – the final court of appeal for Brunei, a former British protectorate – ruled in support of a 2000 judgment ordering the prince to give his assets to his brother and live on a “monthly allowance” of $300,000 (£185,000). The assets included billions of pounds, hundreds of international properties including New York’s Palace Hotel, thousands of cars, artworks by Picasso and Renoir and a 180-foot yacht called Tits"

Have accusations of rape victim blaming gone too far? - "So where do you go when one group of people are blaming you for your attack and analysing your behaviour to conclude whether or not it fits neatly into a victim narrative, and another is telling you you’re a bad feminist who has not responded properly to an extremely violent and traumatic incident? I’m not sure I know, but I do know that a reluctance to speak openly about attitudes towards violence against women for fear of being “called out” hardly fosters honest debate. When Rape Crisis Oxford called Judge Mowat’s comments “outrageous”, did they reflect how many of the victims who come to them may have expressed similar views, similar regrets? Attitudes which have been long nurtured and fostered and which need handling sensitively and logically, rather than being angrily dismissed out of hand? Such views are so prevalent that they should be considered with insight and analysis, not dismissal.... As well as condemning victim-blaming where I see it, I’ll also continue to have mixed feelings about my own attack, because I am human and I think not in rainbow colours nor in black and white, but in shades of grey. I sometimes wish feminism would do the same."

Ebola: A Racist Imperialist Disease - Challenge Newspaper - The Revolutionary Communist Progressive Labor Party - "From a historical perspective, capitalism and its centuries-long imperialist devastation of Africa have created conditions that make Ebola and other epidemics severe and very difficult to contain. After the enslavement of millions of Africans for profit in the Americas, beginning in the 16th century, 93 percent of Africa was divided into colonies by the main European imperialists: Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Holland, and Portugal. In the 20th century, U.S. imperialism intensified this conquest. In addition to the destruction wrought by slavery, the imperialists have exploited labor, plundered natural resources, and propped up a long string of corrupt African rulers who have lined their own pockets while preserving the capitalist status quo (see Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa). President Barack Obama’s recent summit with 40 African leaders was just the latest example of efforts of rapacious U.S. corporations to exploit African workers by cutting deals with capitalist African leaders."
I knew someone would blame racism and colonialism for Ebola!

90% of Indians are 'idiots', Markandey Katju says - "He said that a communal riot could be incited in Delhi for as meagre an amount as Rs 2000. He said that all somebody has to do is make a mischievous gesture of disrespect to a place of worship and people start fighting each other."

America's Worst Charities: Kids Wish Network - "Every year, Kids Wish Network raises millions of dollars in donations in the name of dying children and their families. Every year, it squanders almost every penny. The money gets diverted to enrich the charity’s operators and the for-profit companies Kids Wish hires to drum up donations. Sick children wind up with less than3 cents of every dollar raised. That has been the formula for 16 years, ever since Kids Wish mimicked the respected Make-A-Wish Foundation and launched its relentless drive for money. In the past decade alone, Kids Wish has channeled nearly $110 million donated for sick children to its corporate fundraisers. That makes it the worst charity in the nation, according to a Times/CIR review of charities that have steered the most money to professional solicitation companies over time."

Court grants man divorce over wife's demand for excessive sex - "The husband had approached the family court in January, saying that his wife was "adamant, aggressive, stubborn and autocratic" and would pick up quarrels for no reason. The man, in his petition told the court that she was showing an "excessive and insatiable desire for sex" and harassed him since their marriage in April 2012. He also alleged that she administered him medicines and also forced him to consume liquor. The husband alleged that she used to force him into having unnatural sex and whenever he tried to resist it, she would abuse him following which he had to succumb to her pressure and persistent demands... Though doctors advised him to stay away from any physical relationship for a while, the wife kept up with her sexual demands, even as his health deteriorated for lack of rest, the petition submitted. Further he said that in October 2013 he was operated for appendicitis and after discharge his wife insisted that they stay with her sister and even there, she forced him into having intercourse. According to him, his wife even refused to visit a psychiatrist and threatened him against revealing anything to anybody."
If the victim had been a woman...

Incense smoke 'like passive smoking' - "Inhaling smoke from burning incense daily for 20 years or more increases a person's risk of dying from heart disease by 12 per cent, according to the research, although it could not pinpoint exactly how much intake would be harmful."

Syrian hard-line rebels mistakenly behead fellow jihad fighter - "Fighters from an al-Qaida-linked Syrian rebel group beheaded an allied commander whom they mistook for a pro-government fighter... Furious Ahrar al-Sham partisans posted a video calling ISIL fighters "idiots" and noted that rebel fighter Marrouche had longish hair and a full bushy beard typical of conservative Sunni Muslims. "The Shiites do not do this," they sarcastically noted"

IKEA develops wireless 'bookbook' with eternal battery life - "Spiffy Swedish home furniture maker IKEA took a page from Apple with its 2015 product catalog—which boasts "eternal" battery life, an "expandable" interface, and intuitive lagless "touch and grab" browsing."

Stephanie Vardavas's answer to What are some of your funniest moments learning another language? - Quora - "My friend Anita went on a summer tour with the Yale Glee Club, flirting her way across France with men she had just met. She knew that the French word for "kiss" was "baiser," and she knew how to conjugate basic French verbs, so she thought nothing of saying "Baise-moi" to every cute French guy. She couldn't understand why they were so sexually aggressive... she'd been saying "fuck me" to a lot of guys she had known for less than a day"

Andy Warwick's answer to What are some of your funniest moments learning another language? - Quora - "this friend went to the convenience store around the corner from his apartment to purchase a cigarette lighter. He doesn't smoke so he was unfamiliar with the correct word in Chinese (打火机 dăhuŏjī). He walked up to the counter and said confidently to the middle-aged woman behind it, "我要打飞机" (wŏ yào dă fēijī). This does not mean 'I want a cigarette lighter'. No. What it does mean in fact is 'I want to masturbate'

Stephen Hou's answer to What are some of your funniest moments learning another language? - Quora - "In Cantonese, "guests" or "customers" is "haak3 jan4" (「客人」), and "black people" is "haak1 jan4" (「黑人」), which differ in tone only! So imagine the looks of horror and embarrassment I got when I thought I was complaining to my Cantonese friends that the restaurant we were in had too many customers..."

André Müller's answer to What are some of your funniest moments learning another language? - Quora - "I was writing something in Thai on my computer and the same friend was looking over my shoulder. I tried to type the nickname of her roommate, Hmuey: หมวย [mǔːaj] ("little sister"), but mistyped หมอย [mɔ̌ːj] ("pubic hair") instead. That's how I was laughed at again, blushed and learned another filthy word. ;)
And so on... when I pronounce my favorite Thai dish in the wrong tone, it means "penis" instead of "omelette". And then in a dictionary I happened to stumble upon the word ช่องคลอด [ʨɔ̂ŋ.kʰlɔ̂ːt], which I didn't know and which sounded amuzingly similar to the French name "Jean-Claude". Only later on I found out it means "vagina" (lit. 'birth hole')."

Death of Savita Halappanavar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - "The Arulkumaran report was published on 13 June 2013. It identified three "Key Causal Factors" for the death: inadequate assessment and monitoring; failure to offer all management options to a patient; and non adherence to clinical guidelines related to the prompt and effective management of sepsis... The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) published a report into the incident on 9 October 2013. It found "a failure in the provision of the most basic elements of patient care to Savita Halappanavar", noting 13 "missed opportunities to intervene""
So despite the sexy headlines, two enquiries found that the legal status of abortion in Ireland was not the main reason why Savita Halappanavar died: instead it was incompetence.

Kelly La Rue's answer to Racism: Is it true only whites are considered racist? - Quora - "Minorities tend to use racism as an excuse for their failures when the big problem is their not being good employees or tenants. I worked as a contractor in a border town in Texas. I hired people. Every black I hired failed to work out. They would just stand around and simply not work. This was not my fault or preference. Then I'm accused of racism as if somehow I'm the problem. I hired many Mexicans and almost without exception they could not work without direct supervision because if left alone they would take shortcuts in their work, steal materials, goof off, fail to follow instructions, etc. Their work ethic is a dysfunctional one. Call me racist, make it my problem. When I hire someone I have every hope and expectation they will work out. I do not hire them and then set them up to fail. I fired a lot of people and it was always because they were not contributing to the health of the business, my business. I finally was forced as a matter of self-preservation to discriminate... Every black customer I worked for failed to pay me, without exception. After a while I had to refuse to work for blacks. I discriminated, would anyone in their right mind do any different? Is this racism?"
Keywords: African American, only white, bad worker

Privilege means never having to say you're right

It is sometimes incredulously protested that it is preposterous to say that people who point out racism are racist.

Yet, just because I purport to point out racism does not mean that I am right or even that I can't be racist.

For example, if I am a black man who hears a Chinese man calling me a nigger, and then go up to him and beat him to a pulp, crying "fucking Chink!", I am assuredly racist (unless you subscribe to the newspeak definition of racism being power + prejudice).

Kai Chan: on one hand, you want a conversation about racism where your "chinese singaporeans" aren‘t dismissive or looking to “silence and derail," on the other, you want them to "shut up." so which is it’?

Adeline Koh: ^^^ A close look at the comment above is a clear attempt at derailment. My timeline is not "public space" so any trollish comments will be deleted and the account blocked. Cc Arya Sita Ramana

Kai Chan: merely seeking clarification. but i suppose labeling anything you dont deem to be a gushing endorsement of your doctrine as "trolling" is far easier than actually answering the question

Adeline Koh: Kai Chan, if you were genuinely interested in a discussion and not trying to make this about your hurt Singaporean Chinese boy feelings, the question would have been framed in a different way. Consider yourself hereby blocked and the answer you seek has already been responded to her:
Dear Chinese Singaporeans: It's. Not. About. You ... - Medium

Kai Chan: it's so cute how you level accusations of trolling in one post and resort to personal attacks in the very next one. regardless. i've soldiered through the minefields of grammatical atrocities that are your articles, and couldn't find my answer anyywhere. to reiterate, do you want a conversation. or is it a one-sided grievance-airing party that you're going for?
Unable to post comment. Try Again

It is clear that the definition of "trolling" and "derailment" is "disagreeing with me".

I have a dream that I will one day live in a public space where what I say will not be judged by the color of my skin, my gender, my sexual orientation, my sexual identity, my class, my physical ability, my education, my gender identity or my religious affiliation, but by the content of my words.

I have a dream today.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Links - 23rd September 2014

Fat people are fat. Enough of the euphemisms - "What are actually bad habits are being objectified as diseases. So no one merely drinks too much or gets smashed on illegal drugs. Only he “has alcohol issues and a drug problem.” But it’s not the booze or the drugs that are the problem. The drunk or the abuser is the problem. Of course, this is all political in origin. Generally we are not allowed to claim that people are responsible for their behaviour, but “suffering from” some dreadful malady inflicted upon them by immutable external causes. However, there are notable exceptions to this rule – the principal one being smoking. No smoker is ever described as someone who “is vulnerable to nicotine.” No, because the smoker is disapproved by our politically correct culture, we are allowed to describe his habit as “filthy” and encouraged to regard the poor devil as a pariah."

Why can’t anyone take a joke any more? - "Most people reading this will at some point have had the misfortune to meet one of those piggy-faced people who at a certain point in the conversation says, ‘Excuse me, but I find that offensive.’ Often it is someone who isn’t actually offended themselves. They have claimed offence for a group in absentia. ‘Excuse me, but I find that offensive on behalf of an absent third-party.’ Unfortunately this horrible behavioural tick is extending its reach. It is realising its power and getting organised. You often hear the phrase ‘Why does no one ever say “X” in the media?’, or ‘Why do you never hear “Y”?’ The simple answer is that to an extent barely realised outside the business, what can be said, written and broadcast in our media today is no longer decided just by editors and commissioners but by a labyrinthine bureaucracy open to the wildest abuse by anybody who can claim to have had their feelings hurt. Orgiastic offence-takers are enjoying a peak season. If you do not like something you hear, instead of turning off, you can claim to have suffered an offence. The Press Complaints Commission encourages it. Activist minority-interest pressure groups encourage it. And of course via Twitter and Facebook you can now be directed to things that you didn’t have time to be offended by first time round. And best of all you can threaten to use the law."
It's only censorship if it's done by the 'right wing'

Geel's ancient community cares for the mentally ill - "This is, in yet another form, the tragedy of the commons: our liberation as individuals to create lives of our own choosing places unsustainable pressures on the type of society that most of us would choose to live in. We might define mental ill-health in medical terms, but this is not enough to confine its treatment within the medical frame. If it is in practice a condition that has exhausted the capacity of the individual and the social support available, it’s bound to manifest more intensely in an atomised society where insoluble problems devolve onto the sufferer alone. To take up these problems on behalf of others demands, all too often, more than their own loved ones can give or the state can provide. As mental illness proliferates and outpaces the psychiatric resources available to manage it, Geel’s story offers a vision, in equal parts sobering and inspiring, of what the alternative might look like."

50 Cent Party - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - "The 50 Cent Party (Chinese: 五毛党 wǔmáo dǎng) are Internet commentators (Chinese: 网络评论员 wǎngluò pínglùn yuán) hired by the government of the People's Republic of China (both local and central) or the Communist Party to post comments favorable towards party policies in an attempt to shape and sway public opinion on various Internet message boards. The commentators are said to be paid fifty cents of Renminbi for every post that either steers a discussion away from anti-party or sensitive content on domestic websites, bulletin board systems, and chatrooms, or that advances the Communist party line."
How much is the PAP IB paid?

Blondes are more aggressive than brunettes 'because they attract more male attention' - "women with fair hair are more aggressive and confident than brunettes or redheads. This is because blondes attract more attention than other women as they are generally viewed by men as more attractive and so are used to getting their own way... The study indicated that the more 'special' people feel, judged by physical strength for men and looks for women, the more likely they are to get angry to reach social goals... even those who dye their hair blonde take on natural blondes' attributes... The study, which examined links between confidence and aggression, involved 156 female undergraduates in America. Aaron Sell, of the University of California, who led the research, said: 'We expected blondes to feel more entitled than other young women - this is southern California, the natural habitat of the privileged blonde. 'What we did not expect to find was how much more warlike they are than their peers on campus.' He said he suspected that blondes exist in a 'bubble' where they have been treated better than other people for so long they do not realise that men, in particular, are more deferential towards them than other women. 'They may not even realise they are treated like a princess,' he said. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. It also found that although blondes are more aggressive, they are less likely than brunettes or redheads to get into an actual fight themselves - possibly to ensure they preserved their looks. Evolutionary psychologist Catherine Salmon, of the University of Redlands, California, said: 'Blondes are more confident in their abilities, although the results do not necessarily support their confidence. 'Maybe responding to their own stereotypes, brunettes tend to work harder and expect less special treatment. ‘Women who go blonde quickly get used to the privileges of blondeness - usually male attentiveness'... when former shadow home secretary Ann Widdecombe went blonde she noted: 'People talk to me more slowly now.'"

Retailing woes go beyond Reits - "In an industry where rents can make up nearly a third of business costs, many of the complaints centre on real estate investment trusts (Reits)... rent hikes by one landlord can affect the rest of the market... YTL Starhill Global Reit chief Ho Sing told The Straits Times that he has received flak from stock analysts for not always picking the highest-paying tenant. For instance, he chose to rent space in Wisma Atria to new-to-market South Korean cafe Paris Baguette to create a better and more sustainable tenant mix for shoppers, even though other retailers offered a higher price for the unit. Property experts say Reits can end up as an easy target for retailers' frustrations because they regularly publish data on rent increases, while other non-listed mall owners may stay under the radar. After all, Reit owners are subject to market forces as well, they add. If they set their rents too high, they may not get a tenant... BUT the problems in Singapore's retail industry run deeper than retailers' gripes with Reits. Shops here are dealing with intense competition, both from brick-and-mortar stores as well as online sellers. International brands with deep pockets are setting up shop in the Republic, driving up rents across malls regardless of ownership, retail experts say. "As the wealth quantum of Singapore has leaped, so have retail leasing rates associated with brands that serve the wealthy," said Mr Jonathan Galaviz, a partner at Global Market Advisors. The shine of local shops may also be dulled by the strength of the Singapore dollar. This dampens shopping demand in two ways: It makes online shopping at foreign retailers cheaper for Singaporeans, and makes shopping here more expensive for tourists. A government price survey in April found that some consumer products from global brands such as Apple, Ikea and Zara can be pricier in Singapore than abroad... "Singapore continues to lag (behind) places like Hong Kong and Shanghai in terms of shopping diversity"... They can also look at new ways of doing business, such as combining online and offline shopping, he added. In London, some online shops rent a mall unit to display their wares for two to three months at a time and then take orders via their website. Dr Chiam noted, however, that this business model may work only if landlords are willing to accept such short leases rather than the typical three-year lease terms."

How China Stays Stable Despite 500 Protests Every Day - "Popular movements here seem to express relatively narrow complaints, want to work within the system rather than topple it, and treat the Communist Party as legitimate. Protests appear to be part of the system, not a challenge to it -- a sort of release valve for popular anger that, if anything, could have actually strengthened the Party by giving them a way to address that anger while maintaining autocratic rule. In the absence of real democracy, this give-and-take between state and society could actually help maintain political stability in China -- for now... Officials are too smart to believe their own rhetoric about the benevolence or necessary permanence of single-party rule -- the CPP is not Bashar al-Assad, and they know better than to meet every dissenter with a bullet. But so are Chinese, whether activists or workers, aware of the Party's sensitivity to popular anger. So, over time, an informal but well-honed process has developed. And though it allows protesters to often come away unscathed and sometimes with real concessions, just like in Las Vegas, the house always wins"

Games With Words: Which English? - "Is Throw me down the stairs my shoes a good English sentence?
The answer depends on where you live. Many people in Newfoundland find that sentence perfectly grammatical. By taking this quiz, you will be helping train a machine algorithm that is mapping out the differences in English grammar around the world, both in traditionally English-speaking countries and also in countries like Mexico, China, and India. At the end, you can see our algorithm's best guess as to which English you speak as well as whether your first (native) language is English or something else."
My results:
“Our top three guesses for your English dialect:?
1. American (Standard)
2. Singaporean
3. Australian
Our top three guesses for your native (first) language:?
1. Norwegian
2. English
3. Swedish”

Boys’ urine-soaked eggs listed as local specialty, intangible cultural heritage

Germany's n-word race debate - "One of their favourites is the classic children's book, The Little Witch, an enchanting tale of a witch who flies and birds who talk. But one day they reached page 94, and a difficult word came up. It was neger, describing a black boy. It is true that it can mean "negro" in German, but it also means the utterly offensive "nigger". When the book was written, the former may have been true - but now it is more like the latter. Timnit's father, Mekonnen, had no doubts. He is black, originally from Eritrea, and found the word completely unacceptable. "It made me very angry," he says. "I know that people use that word to insult me or to give me the sense of not belonging"... The whole argument was complicated. It was mostly about offensive racial depiction but other words intruded, words which had an innocent meaning 50 years ago when the book was written but which had morphed in meaning. It contained the word wichsen, for example, which meant to polish then but has come to mean masturbation. As the debate over removing neger intensified, there was a backlash. Die Welt likened those who would change offensive language to the Taliban, thundering: "Anyone who believes art should be changed in retrospect because it contradicts the prevailing morality must have been pleased in 2001 when the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan"... words were written at a particular time, and to "clean up literature" means that today's readers would lose some of the historical context. "If you erase this context, you miss something. You can't understand things if you leave out the culture of the time"... "I asked her: 'If they talk to you like that because of your skin colour, what would you say back?'" She said she would call her tormenters kaese (cheese) - and so she did. There was a row in school, with teachers and parents complaining, but a point was made."
It's time to throw "niggardly" and "black hole" out because they are offensive too

New film uncovers racism in Germany - "For more than a year, journalist Gunter Wallraff travelled across Germany wearing a dark-haired curly wig and with his white skin painted black. Equipped with a secret camera, and calling himself Kwami Ogonno, he went to predominantly white areas to see how a black man with a foreign accent is treated. The experience, he said, was even more depressing that he had expected... "He just doesn't look like an African," said Mr Mekarides. "The wig, the make-up and the brightly-coloured shirt are all so over the top, he looks like he's a clown in a carnival. "After he has washed his skin, he can forget the problem. But black people have this problem every day." Some German newspaper commentators have accused the filmmaker himself of racism for acting out such a negative stereotype of a black person. The character of Kwami speaks broken German and is childlike in his ignorance of dangerous situations"
I probably wouldn't react to a clown in a carnival the same way as I would to other people

Germany's Schlosspark Theatre defends 'blackface' actor - "Although there is no history of minstrel shows in Germany, Mr Schendel says "blackface is part of a theatre tradition" in Germany. And one member of staff at the 90-year-old Schlosspark Theatre told the BBC that in the 40 times I'm not Rappaport had been staged since 1987, a blacked-up actor had often been used - with no complaints."
Cultural Imperialism can also take the form of bringing your own cultural baggage into other cultures and then getting insulted

Monday, September 22, 2014

St. Anne’s Girls, Fifty Pence a Night (or: the limits of Utilitarianism)

"There may be no knock-down argument for or against the claim that all moral goods can be translated without loss into a single measure of value. But here is a further case that calls the claim into question: In the 1970s, when I was a graduate student at Oxford, there were separate colleges for men and women. The women’s colleges had parietal rules against male guests staying overnight in women's rooms.

These rules were rarely enforced and easily violated, or so I was told. Most college officials no longer saw it as their role to enforce traditional notions of sexual morality. Pressure grew to relax these rules, which became a subject of debate at St. Anne’s College, one of the all-women colleges.

Some older women on the faculty were traditionalists. They opposed allowing male guests, on conventional moral grounds; it was immoral, they thought, for unmarried young women to spend the night with men. But times had changed, and the traditionalists were embarrassed to give the real grounds for their objection. So they translated their arguments into utilitarian terms. “If men stay overnight,” they argued, “the costs to the college will increase.” How, you might wonder? “Well, they’ll want to take baths, and that will use more hot water.” Furthermore, they argued, “we will have to replace the mattresses more often.”

The reformers met the traditionalists’ arguments by adopting the following compromise: Each woman could have a maximum of three overnight guests each week, provided each guest paid fifty pence per night to defray the costs to the college. The next day, the headline in the Guardian read, “St. Anne’s Girls, Fifty Pence a Night.” The language of virtue had not translated very well into the language of utility. Soon thereafter, the parietal rules were waived altogether, and so was the fee."

--- Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? / Michael J. Sandel

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Links - 21st September 2014

Vera Vanwyngarden's answer to Why are Singaporean men unattractive to many Singaporean women such that the women would rather be unattached than to date them? - Quora - "what doesnt work for me for Singaporean men is that they are pretty mundane and somewhat all the same practical average joe. They all like almost the same genre of things, work in similar jobs or places and look similar as well. Of course not everyone is that typical white collar guy but what are the odds that you meet someone interesting and different?"

Muslim Hijab Linked To Less Negative Body Image Among Women - "Psychologists using a wider range of body image measures have found that British Muslim women who wear a hijab generally have more positive body image, are less reliant on media messages about beauty ideals, and place less importance on appearance than those who do not wear a hijab. These effects appear to be driven by use of a hijab specifically, rather than religiosity."
If women who wear hijabs have better body image, are women who don't cover up engaging in self-harm?

You’re Reacting to Celebgate Wrong - "“Turn off your iCloud account. Never put anything online!”
That’s goofy advice. Internet services are useful. They save us time and hassle. They keep all our gadgets and computers — calendars, address books, email — conveniently synchronized. Shut them off? OK, fine. And then never leave the house again, because you might get hit by lightning... If you’re anyone else — well, with all due respect to your ego, hackers probably have very little interest in your naked photos. So before you go ripping the Internet cables out of your walls, pause to consider the actual odds of anyone bothering to hack your photo accounts... each company — Apple, Google, whoever — needs some way to let you reset your password if you forget it. (A lot of people forget their passwords. A lot. And no wonder; nobody could possibly remember hundreds of different, complex, long, patternless passwords, like the security experts exhort us to create.)"

Malaysia lesbian couple arrested by religious officers in hotel raid - "The women, both students aged 20 and 21, were not initially suspected of breaching 'close proximity' laws but officers became wary when the women remained silent as they searched the room. When a sex toy was found, one of the women admitted they were a lesbian couple. On further questioning, she said they had not yet used the toy, which had just been removed from its packaging after recently being bought online. The women were arrested for lesbian sex under section 26 of the state’s Shariah law and taken to a police station for booking, then to the religious department's office for further action. They could face up to three months in jail, six cane strokes and a fine of RM5,000."

Dear The Real Singapore, ITE students selling sex on Facebook | The Real Singapore - "I have already made a police report because I am afraid my husband will get horny after being added by this group of ITE students and find them for sex."

Singapore Seen | Unfaithful Vivian Lee wants sex blogger Alvin Tan back after she slept with his best friend - "According to a report in The New Paper, Alvin said he confronted Vivian and his friend after he caught them having sex. “What did you expect me to do? Say ‘oops, I’m sorry’ and close the door? This is not cool... not honest”... Of her love for him, she said: “I’m not sexually exclusive to Alvin, but I’m emotionally exclusive to him.”

Kenyan HIV Positive Woman: 'I Infected 324 Men' - "The girl, 19, whose name is unknown, says she has set her target for at least 2,000 men acting in revenge after she was infected by a man at a party."
I like how they cleaned up her English

Ohio day care accused of running toddler fight club

Polar bears: Threatened species or political pawn? - "Biologist Mitchell Taylor has studied polar bears and advised governments for more than thirty years, living in the high Arctic for much of that time. “They’ve certainly been around through the last interglacial period,” says Taylor. “During that interglacial it was warmer than it is now: we had pine trees on Baffin Island, deciduous forests north of the Arctic Circle. Polar bears had to have survived that or we wouldn’t be seeing polar bears now,” he says. Taylor asserts that polar bear populations "don't appear to be declining" in any group that he is "aware of so far," and that the science of estimating polar bear numbers has never been precise. He says that many of the current estimates are based upon a lacking methodology, admitting that some of his previous work incorporated the allegedly faulty technique as well. Taylor says the problem lies in the way population estimates are extrapolated from samples. “When you don’t sample the whole area you underestimate survival, you underestimate population numbers, and in fact the culmination of those biases can result in a scientific estimate that suggests a decline when none exists.”"

Pregnant woman flees home over hubby’s fetish - "A pregnant woman has run away from home after being repeatedly forced by her husband to have sex with a Bangladeshi worker to satisfy his own sexual fetish."

Most Hated Asian Countries - Top Ten List - TheTopTens.com - "1. South Korea
2. China
3. North Korea
4. Pakistan
5. Russia
6. India
7. Syria
8. Afghanistan
9. Iran
10. Saudi Arabia"

Fatal stabbing of cabby: No grounds for death penalty, says judge - "Prosecutors had asked for the death penalty as a deterrent, arguing the offence was against a public transport worker and producing data on violence against cabbies in the past five years. Justice Lee agreed there had been a number of cases of taxi drivers being seriously hurt. "But there is no upward trend nor are the numbers high - the range of such offences varies from two a year to seven a year in the last five years." The judge said public transport workers spanned a wide range, from those who operated buses or trains with many passengers to taxis, which carried far fewer. Said the judge: "The degree of punishment imposed could correspond to the degree of danger posed to the public"... The judge also took issue with prosecutors for suggesting there was a high degree of premeditation and planning on Wang's part - "without stating this was in relation to the offence of robbery and not the murder". That "puzzling" submission "only had the unfortunate effect of causing the media reports of the case to be misreported", said Justice Lee."

Students question ‘affirmative consent’ bill designed to combat sexual assaults - "A pair of friends at Cal State Long Beach said the bill seemed well-intentioned, but questioned how practical it is when it comes to ensuring consent throughout sex with their partners. “I feel like their hearts are in the right place, but the implementation is a little too excessive,” said Henry Mu, a 24-year-old biology major. “Are there guidelines? Are we supposed to check every five minutes?” The remark drew laughter from his friend and fellow 49er, Sue Tang. “If you were to do that, it would definitely kill the vibe,” said Tang, 27... Critics of SB 967 say the “one-in-five” women statistic is dubious, and is used by legislators and universities to create a climate of fear on campus that ignores the rights of the accused. Samantha Harris, director of policy research at the Philadelphia-based nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said the statistic comes from a 2007 federally funded Campus Sexual Assault Study using broad definitions of sexual violence to inflate the prevalence of the problem. “Depending on their answers, they were classified as victims, regardless of whether they had identified themselves as victims,” Harris said. “If somebody replied as having sex when drunk then they would be classified as a victim. Sexual assault on campus is a serious issue, but you have to get those numbers right”... Other critics of SB 967 say the proposed law is too vague and doesn’t represent consensual sexual interaction in the real world. “To me, this bill turns most people into sexual assaulters”... He wondered if romantic partners would need to ask each other’s permission for a kiss or hug. Bader also said he was concerned about false accusations. “If someone can be nasty enough to rape, can someone be nasty enough to lie and say (the victim) verbally consented?” Bader said. “Are they going to pass a law saying don’t lie?” When asked how an innocent person is to prove he or she indeed received consent, Lowenthal said, “Your guess is as good as mine. I think it’s a legal issue. Like any legal issue, that goes to court.”

California lawmakers would require students to get a 'yes' before sex - "How does a person prove they receive consent "shy of having it videotaped"... the bill is inherently “reversing” the traditional presumption of innocence for those accused because the accused now have to prove they did get permission to be found not guilty -- at least in college disciplinary hearings... The bill, as currently written, puts the onus on getting consent from the "initiating" partner. That could also cause confusion. “That’s going to be a question – who initiated the sexual activity – it’s not always clear who initiated the sexual activity,” said Dan Subotnik, a professor of law at Touro University Law School who has written critically about affirmative consent laws."

No English Please, We're Foreigners - GaijinPot - "the only English sentence she knows is “I’m sorry, I am Russian. I don’t speak English.” My Russian friend speaks Japanese (close to) fluently. She works part-time at a Japanese company, has lived in Japan for a while, and studies Japanese every day. We make quite a pair when we go out together. Sitting at a cafe, strolling through Yoyogi Park, or shopping in Shimokitazawa – it’s like we’re carrying a big, plastic sign with the words “Talk to us in English” scrawled across... in the six months I’ve known her, this has happened twice. Someone will talk to us in English, she will reply in Japanese, and they will keep pressing English on her, assuming she is lying (after all, she’s white. All white people speak English, right?)"

75-Killer-Pikachu-Costume.jpg (JPEG Image, 480 × 500 pixels)

BMJ Blogs: Journal of Medical Ethics blog » Blog Archive » Why Is Infanticide Worse Than Abortion? - "John Harris has argued that we should strike down the thought that it is being born that makes the difference. As he once put it, “the geographical location of the developing human, whether it is inside the womb or not, is not the sort of thing that can make a moral difference”... The cheapest and easiest response to this challenge is to merely bang the table and assert the sheer obviousness of the difference that birth makes. As an example of this approach, Richard Nicholson once accused John Harris of indulging in “a philosopher’s mind game”. He continued, “He is wrong in saying there is no moral change that occurs in the process of birth. That is a change that is recognised in the law. Most parents would recognise their views about their newborn baby are considerably different than their views about the foetus in the mother a day earlier.” All this, one feels, may be true; but it is hardly intellectually satisfying. Just because most parents would feel differently, it doesn’t in itself follow that they are justified in changing their feelings this way. It’s weak to counter an argument that puts forward reasons by merely appealing to force of numbers – pointing out that most people judge the same way you do... This is something that is extremely difficult to do within the confines of analytic philosophy. For such articulation of the phenomenology of our fundamental moral commitments, literature is far more powerful. I’ll conclude this post with a bit from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenin, which perhaps provides some of this vision. Levin is struck by wonder at the birth of his son"
Basically: "We can't justify our moral intuitions (i.e. prejudices) so we shall just wave our hands and appeal to emotion"
Comment: "Banging the table with Tolstoy is still banging the table, even if it makes a louder thump... what puts a practice so far beyond the pale that it is not just a serious moral wrong to do it, but a serious moral wrong to advocate it and a serious moral wrong to facilitate the advocacy of it?"
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Latest posts (which you might not see on this page)

powered by Blogger | WordPress by Newwpthemes