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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Links - 15th October 2014

Student Dies of Heart Attack Looking at Erotic Magazine at Sperm Bank - "The case came to light after the man's family took the sperm bank to court, saying that they were responsible for his death. The court ruled that Zheng, 23, a former medical student at the hospital, was ultimately responsible for deciding how many times he wanted to visit the sperm bank. The court heard how he signed up to the programme in 2011, and made four visits to donate to the centre's sperm bank in 10 days. His family demanded £500,000 in compensation, saying that they had pressurised him into taking part in the programme, and had failed to treat him properly when he was found unconscious."

50 Things to Eat in Singapore Before You Die 2012 | I-S Magazine Online
Why all atas food ah?

Nude model photo leaks (Part I): S'pore models tricked into stripping for camera - "“At the end of the shoot, he said, ‘Why don’t you just do 10 minutes of nude shoots, and I’ll pay you $200 more’,” she said, opening up about her story for the first time to Yahoo Singapore. “Honestly, $200 for 10 minutes — to a student (like me), that’s really a lot.”
She was desperate for the money at that time, too as two ex-boyfriends had cheated her of her savings, and a former employer had not paid her more than $1,500 from a previous part-time job she did.
It was awkward, she said, but she told herself to endure it, reminding herself that it was just 10 minutes. “It’s like lighting up a cigarette and waiting till it finishes burning — it’s that kind of time frame, 10 minutes. So I just endured it, got it over and done with, and then rushed to the toilet to get my clothes back on,” she added."
Presumably it's not being "tricked" only if you're not paid

Nude model photo leaks in Singapore (Part II): Why they happen, why victims keep quiet - "Seah points out that there are bad eggs on both sides — he has learned of instances where models have manipulated photographers and nearly gotten them into trouble, hence the importance of contracts, which will protect both parties. “There was a girl who went to a friend’s house, and said she wanted to try nude photography… so he took the photos, said they were not nice and deleted the shots in front of her, saying, ok, I’m not going to keep these photos because they didn’t work out,” he shared. “The next day, this girl reported him to the police, saying he forced her into nude photography… and he had no proof that she was the one who wanted to do the shoot.”"

Bloomberg's folly : Columbia Journalism Review - "In a stroke, Bloomberg was becoming an important player in international news—and now, just as suddenly, it has tainted its corporate identity and journalism brand to a degree that could last for years. All because of its China coverage... The defining moment, however, the one that has dealt the deepest shock to Bloomberg and may affect it for years, was a widely reported speech by the company’s chairman, Peter T. Grauer, who in March said, in effect, that Bloomberg had gotten carried away with its investigative journalism in China to the detriment of its true vocation: selling computerized terminals that provide financial information... while Hong Kong’s Ming Pao newspaper had done the first detailed reporting on high-level elite corruption involving Bo Xilai, Bloomberg was the first foreign news agency to touch the Xi Jinping family’s business interests and thus broke completely new ground. “We got exclusive stuff, and that really got people excited,” he added.

Wimbledon pays equal prize money - "Roger Federer, the 2006 men's champion, earned £655,000 while Amelie Mauresmo took home £625,000 for winning the women's title. The All England Club had previously defended the difference by saying that women had best-of-three-set matches while the men had best-of-five contests.
Equal pay for unequal work. Most feminists: silence (an exception)

Women's prisons should close, says justice taskforce - "Women should not be sent to prison and should instead serve community sentences, according to a new report by the Women's Justice Taskforce."
Women's Justice = sending men to prison, but not women
Comment: "I thought this site promoted feminism and equality?
If someone is found guilty of a crime that warrants a custodial sentence their gender should be of no consequence. To suggest otherwise is extraordinarily misogynistic. At best you're validating the notion that women are all delicate little flowers who need to be treated in a special way lest their fragility result in them suffering. At worst you're saying that women who break the law should be held to a lesser standard of responsibility for that than men who do the exact same thing."
Feminists: silence

Downloading Games Might Not Be Better for the Environment After All, Study Finds - "There is an exception to this: games that are less than 1.3 GB in size prove to have a lower footprint when downloaded. Factors like increased Internet speeds will have an effect on the situation as time goes on, but the study also notes the increasing file sizes of games may offset that. Likewise, consumer behavior--like taking the bus or driving to the store to buy a game and nothing else--also plays a role in how much better physical distribution is for larger games."

He knew his vote would sign their death warrant - "Not a day goes by that newly retired Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell does not think about the two goat herders he and three comrades encountered on a late June day in 2005 while searching Afghanistan's border with Pakistan for an elusive Taliban leader. Stealth is the tradecraft of the elite special forces soldiers, and that element of surprise was compromised when the herders approached the unit, Luttrell said during an exclusive interview Tuesday on TODAY. The team members had to make a quick decision: Kill the herders, or let them go and risk giving away their position to the Taliban. The men of Seal Team 10 made the decision that comported to the rules of engagement, but it ended up costing the lives of Luttrell's best friend, two others and 16 more servicemen who tried to rescue them. They let the herders go... Executing the Afghanis would have been illegal, under U.S. law, and could have exposed the American soldiers to prosecution back at home. The alternative was to let them go, and risk tipping their hand to the enemy. And that's exactly what happened."

The 6 Worst Things About iTunes

Why I Hate iTunes, and You Should Too - "iTunes, and more importantly the iTunes music store, was in its time a marvel. It made music available on demand—and as single tracks, not on costly CDs—at a price lots of people were willing to pay. But the software soon became the biggest pain point in your computer system. Adam Lashinsky at Fortune has the rundown here about how iTunes morphed from a music file manager into a “TV, DVD player, radio, DJ, college class and software store.” And, I’d add, Thing That Makes Me Terrified to Plug My iPhone Into My Computer. Click on that sync button, and there goes your afternoon.

Apple iPhone, Black Friday Deals: Why We Wait for Hours to Buy Stuff - "For the most part, consumers aren’t waiting in line for logical reasons. They aren’t there to get the absolute best prices, nor (limited edition Nikes notwithstanding) to get their hands on a scarce, highly valuable commodity. What is it, then? Consumer analysts and marketing researchers offer this explanation, which is puzzling to those of us who try to avoid queues like the plague: Waiting in line is fun, and makes you feel good about yourself."

Women at their 'most attractive' at 30, men at 34, survey says

Aborted babies incinerated to heat UK hospitals - "The bodies of thousands of aborted and miscarried babies were incinerated as clinical waste, with some even used to heat hospitals"

How to set a honey trap - "Despite what you see on James Bond, most femme fatales don’t approach an espionage target and start fluttering their eyelashes wildly. As Professor Wolff says, “You can’t just deliver a flood of very attractive Russian females – somebody will of course notice". Instead, many engineer a chance meeting... The most successful acts of seduction aren’t quick flings but long-term emotional manipulations, where the target often believes that they’ve fallen in love. After World War Two, there were far more women than men in West Germany, and so the East German government sent “Romeo” spies to entrap lonely secretaries. In some instances, the spy married his target and admitted that he was a double agent – but working for a friendly country. “Romeo” would tell his wife that his government was worried that West Germany wasn’t being completely honest – could she provide a few details to keep his boss happy? These marriages could last for decades. In the ‘60s, a communist mole who had infiltrated the CIA gained his colleague’s trust through wife swapping. Free love helped Karl and Hana Koecher get to know important CIA officials, and they then passed information onto the KGB. Meanwhile a French diplomat, Bernard Boursicot, was seduced by Chinese secret agent Shei Pei Pu – whom Boursciot thought was a woman, but was in fact a man. The pair were together for 18 years, and Shei Pei Pu even convinced Boursciot that he was pregnant and had given birth to their son. Having sex for your country may not sound like the most patriotic act, but spy agencies believe that seductive espionage can be a valuable way of ensuring national security. As Oleg Kalugin, a former KGB general, once said: "In America, in the West, occasionally you ask your men to stand up for their country. In Russia, we just ask our young women to lay down.”"
No wonder Singapore's SIB interview asks if you're into swinging

Lingerie brand Tezenis removes 'Crime Scene' knickers after outrage over 'rape' connotations
Comments: 'So we used to have feminists burning their bras, now we have them removing their knickers. Why didn't Tezenis just tell Radhika to get a life ?'
'Seriously? Rape? What? Am I the only one who gets absolutely no connotation of rape from this whatsoever, the only time I would think it had a connotation of rape is now that several perma-offended harridans on Twitter have said they think it's about rape. My initial reaction was that the connotation was of skid marks. Not rape.'
'If I had read the slogan without first knowing that someone thought it was to do with rape, I would have thought it was to with the general sexual 'naughtiness' associated with that part of the body. It is using sexual fun as a selling point.'
Whatever happened to: 'If you don't like it, don't buy it' (the usual liberal response to censorship)?

Revealed: identity of Fifi the stunning wartime spy - "For decades, the existence of a Second World War secret agent codenamed ‘Fifi’ was dismissed as fiction. Security chiefs laughed off stories of a beautiful blonde employed as an ‘agente provocatrice’ to tempt British trainee spies into giving away secrets. Almost 70 years later, Fifi’s existence has been confirmed and her identity disclosed. She was Marie Christine Chilver, hired at 22 by the wartime Special Operations Executive and employed in a role so covert that it was known to only a handful of people... Posing as a French journalist – she was fluent in several European languages - she was tasked with charming young trainees and engaging them in conversation over drinks or dinner, gaining their confidence and extracting information from them. The reports she wrote decided whether the trainees could be trusted on foreign assignments, and for some she was their downfall"

The PAP IB is getting even more unruly

The FAP Cafe:

A: How the PAP rewarded themselves with 19-month bonuses in 2008 | The Real Singapore

The powerful do not need to be defended. Instead they need to be accountable for the power they were given by the people..... Strangely, there are many here who think otherwise....

B: You were the one who still refuses to retract your statement even though you admitted you got your facts wrong, right?

A: Retract what? I already said I was mistaken about the time etc..... At the end of the day, it's still harassment....

B: Retract or edit your post, or add an afternote, that the police didn't go down to Han's house at midnight, and that no intimidation took place.

C: Bonus? No such thing.

A: Whether or not there was intimidation, I wouldn't know because I wasn't at the interview. And unless you were there, you wouldn't know either.

B: Then on what basis are you making the allegation? In your post, you said there was intimidation, in case you forgotten.

Please don't think you can come here, anyhow shoot and then get away with it.

A: I said it was shameful..... to put a citizen through the experience..... I said it based on what I read, prima facie..... get away with what?

B: Your exact words,
"Han Hui Hui and company being hauled to the police station at midnight and all that jazz... This is really shameful. The police should spend more time catching real criminals instead of attempting to intimidate citizens who are merely attempting to assert their civil rights."

A: How would you like to attend a long interview at the police station for asserting your civil rights, B?

B: Firstly, it was not midnight. Secondly, no one was hauled even at 9.30pm. Han went to the station the next day, based on the time she chose.

C: Crime is crime. Civil rights? What about the children of special needs, their rights?

A: So much water under the bridge. That has already been clarified. I have already said that I was mistaken in those details. But the substance of the whole affair remains true in my judgment.... a citizen who has not committed a siezeable offence shouldn't have to go through all this....

C: Mental scare in the special needs children is a sizeable offence

A: C.... I do not wish to go over that again..... Visit the thread discussing this very issue if you wish.... I had already stated my view over there.

B: No, you have yet to clarify. You only admitted it was 11pm+, not midnight. But there were other facts you stated which were incorrect and not yet corrected.

A: Really? You know that for sure, C?

C: Try for yourself

B: Anyway, thank you for the exchange, Mr A. I can conclude you are not man enough to retract your statement made based on incorrect facts.

A: Go read the thread, C..... I don't wish to be drawn into all that again....

B..... this is absurd.... but do as you wish..... the powerful really need your support.

B: It's your credibility at stake, not mine.

A: It's all there in black and white....

Me: I note that virtually no comments in this thread are relevant to the originally posted link.

Because A has made a mistake once, he must forever be reminded about it and hounded about it in every unrelated thread, from today until the end of time (or until he leaves this group).

Woe, woe! Such Original Sin is unforgivable and uncleansable. Forever, A shall remain outcast, doomed to ring a bell and shout "Unclean! Unclean!" before posting.

His name shall be cursed forevermore. Infants shall learn to dread it. Grown men shall quake at the mere whisper of it. Women will faint and old men collapse in paroxystic spasms.

So let it be written, so let it be done.

Hail, Hydra! Immortal Hydra! We shall never be destroyed! Cut off a limb, and two more shall take its place! We serve none but the Master—as the world shall soon serve us! Hail Hydra!

Using special needs children as a political pawn is pretty low, even for the PAP IB.

COMMENT: Various accounts of CPF protest ‘heckling’ tell a different story - Yahoo News Singapore

"So now that we know there is more than meets the eye to the heckling story, maybe we can start to look at things from a more rational point of view instead of spewing hate on two figures that are already vilified by Singaporeans for causing trouble.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fulfiling needs

(Dilbert comic strip for 11/30/1995 from the official Dilbert comic strips archive.)

Dilbert: We've been dating for a year now, Liz. There's something I'd like to do tonight...

There are some needs that I can't fulfill at work.

Liz: I understand.

Dilbert: YES! YES!

Liz: How long has your internet connection at work been broken?

(Strangely enough, though there are more than twice as many hits for fulfiling as fulfilling, Google asks if I mean the latter)

It's only Hate if you're not Left Wing

Southern Poverty Law Center Biased in Labeling Family Research Council a 'Hate Group,' Academic Study Argues

"The Southern Poverty Law Center's "Hatewatch" fails to use objective criteria in determining which organizations should be labeled a "hate group," George Yancey, professor of sociology at the University of North Texas, finds in a new study, "Watching the Watchers: The Neglect of Academic Analysis of Progressive Groups," published in the January issue of the journal Academic Questions.

SPLC's list dubiously lists Family Research Council as a hate group while ignoring anti-Christian groups that use similar rhetoric, which demonstrates that the list is more about mobilizing liberals than providing an objective source for hate groups, Yancey argues. SPLC has escaped critical analysis of its work in academia because of a liberal bias among academicians, the study additionally claims...

FRC's appearance on the list gained national attention in 2012 when a gunman, Floyd Corkins, entered FRC headquarters with the intent of killing everyone there. FRC's building manager, Leo Johnson, subdued Corkins and was shot in the process. Corkins targeted FRC after finding the group on Hatewatch. SPLC has continued to label FRC a hate group even after the shooting.

All the groups listed on Hatewatch, with the exception of black separatists, Yancey notes, are either political or religious conservatives. Yancey believes this is because SPLC is a liberal organization and it is using subjective criteria to choose which groups belong on the list.

"The subjective nature of the criteria for determining a hate group provides a conceptual structure more vulnerable to social bias than an objective criteria applying to groups across a wide political, cultural, and religious spectrum," he wrote.

According to SPLC, a hate group has "beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics."

Using this standard, Yancey says, there should be some liberal and anti-Christian groups on the list as well. To illustrate, Yancey compares the Military Religious Freedom Foundation to FRC.

According to SPLC, Yancey explains, FRC is a hate group because it intentionally makes hateful and untrue statements about the LGBT community, which can lead to violence even though FRC does not engage in violent actions. (Yancey noted the irony that while SPLC does not cite any examples of FRC-inspired violence, SPLC's Hatewatch actually did incite violence in the case of Floyd Corkins.) To support this contention, SPLC notes that FRC reports on studies showing that the child molestation rate is higher among gays and same-sex parenting harms children, and quotes FRC President Tony Perkins saying that LGBT activists seek to "persuade kids that homosexuality is okay and actually to recruit them into that lifestyle."

If this is the standard for labeling an organization a hate group, Yancey says, then the anti-Christian MRFF should also be on the list.

In a Huffington Post blog, Michael Weinstein, founder of MRFF, claimed that Christians will be responsible for ushering in "a blood-drenched, draconian era of persecutions, naturalistic militarism and superstitious theocracy." And Weinstein has written books claiming that Christians are willing to use mass murder to bring about their goals...

Yancey's analysis of SPLC, though, is in service of a larger point. There is not enough critical analysis of liberal groups in academia, he argues, because too many in academia share the viewpoint of liberal groups.

"This is a critique of the social biases within academia that preclude critical analysis of progressive social groups," Yancey wrote. "Such neglect serves academics with progressive, secular perspectives by allowing progressive, secular social groups to make claims of truth and objectivity. Such claims enhance the social power of these progressives. But this neglect damages any real scientific attempt to assess social and political factors in our society. Scrutiny directed at conservative and religious groups – and they should be scrutinized – while progressive organizations are given a pass creates a distorted understanding of reality. In doing this, social science scholars replace an objective examination of our society with a biased approach serving progressive social and political interests.""

Isn't "privilege" about attacking or maligning an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Links - 13th October 2014

Watch Former Violinist Naomi Elishuv Play Mozart While Undergoing Brain Surgery At Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center In Israel - "Under a local anesthetic, Elishuv was awake during surgery but felt no pain while surgeons poked and prodded her brain. She was asked to play her instrument while doctors searched for the affected area. When they did locate the site of the tremors, Elishuv’s playing began to improve. Fried’s team inserted an electrode with four leads through a tiny hole drilled into her skull. “When we turned on the electric current, we saw the tremor melt away,” Fried said, “and Naomi continued to play the violin beautifully. This is the first time ever that I have performed brain surgery on a person who played the violin during the operation. We enjoyed the private concert of a talented and noble performer. I hope now she will be able to perform before a larger audience.”"

Sex education in Poland faces legal challenge - "Anybody teaching sex education in Poland could face up to two years behind bars under draft legislation proposed by anti-paedophile campaigners. Backed by a petition boasting some 250,000 signatures, supporters of the proposal argue that sex education in school can promote sexual behaviour in minors and undermine their morality."

Can U.S. border guards turn me away for saying I've smoked pot? - "“If you admit you’ve smoked marijuana or plan to, you can be banned permanently – there’s no due process, no right to a trial and it’s not appealable,” says Mark Belanger, a Vancouver lawyer who works on border issues. “Anything drug-related is typically a crime involving moral turpitude. Those are magic words and you’ll be banned from entering the United States.” So, you don’t need to have a drug conviction to be turned away for drug crimes under Section 212 of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act. A couple of puffs could be enough. All it takes is an admission that you’ve knowingly used an illegal drug, either because you’ve answered an officer’s question or you’ve been chatty and volunteered the information. You won’t go to jail, but you will get told to turn your car around and head back to Canada."

Nude Jennifer Lawrence photos: why don't naked pictures of men get leaked? - "Today, in what may be the most overblown deployment of intelligence personnel in human history, the FBI has launched a “manhunt” to find the hacker – when presumably its time might be better spent trying to find the perpetrators behind the beheading of American journalist James Foley or other Westerners fighting as IS jihadists. Which begs the question: would the same hysterical response have ensued if the leaked pictures were of men? Interestingly, there appears to be only one bloke on the list: Dave Franco, a hunky American actor who appeared in 21 Jump Street and is popular with teens (Google him, although it might take you a while to find him). Even in the case of these images, Franco appears to be little more than an insignificant co-star. The fact that 100 of the 101 targets are women firstly proves the bleeding obvious: most hackers are bored, hormonal, time-rich young men. Also, plenty of men out there can be tempted to pay hard moolah for celebrity images... Nude male celebrity images just don't carry the same financial clout. It might also be true to say there's a lot less male material to hack and steal in the first place. It would appear to be the case that men are largely less selfie-obsessed than women, and that we mostly don’t take pictures of our appendages, anxious that they are smaller and uglier than we’d perhaps like. And if we do take selifes “down there”, we probably make sure you can’t tell it’s us in the photos... men, you'd have to conclude, have it easier than women in this regard. Dave Franco will probably find that this is the best thing that could have happened to him as far as his film career goes. But that's not to say the effect on Ms Lawrence and co is necessarily as devastating as Lena Dunham would have you believe. Let's be brutally honest: none of this hacking hoo-hah will do her career any real harm whatsoever."

Women, stop moaning about childbirth. Men can deal with pain, too - "“I gave birth. FOUR TIMES!” says my wife whenever she wants to win an argument... It is a trope of all sitcoms, Hollywood films, marital rows and Mr Muscle adverts, that men are wimps, while women are superhuman towers of strength. If men had to go through the agony of giving birth, my wife argues, the human race would die out. But this just isn’t true. A study, undertaken by the University of Malaga, published recently in The Journal of Pain, found there was little or no differences between the sexes when it came to the ability to cope with pain... This is the latest in a long line of studies that suggest women are very much the weaker sex when it comes to pain. Or certainly no more macho than men."

Why I no longer hold doors open for women - "I will remind her of Doris Lessing's despair when she was in a class of nine- and 10-year olds (the same age as our daughter) where the teacher was blaming the incidence of war on the innately violent nature of men. Lessing wrote: "You could see the little girls, fat with complacency and conceit while the little boys sat there crumpled, apologising for their existence, thinking this was going to be the pattern of their lives." I don't want this to be the picture of my daughter's schooling. Or any other part of their upbringing."

Do men really think women look better without any make-up? - "I didn’t realise until quite late in life that some women don’t just wear make-up, they wear a full-on disguise – the sort you might adopt if you were evading capture. At university one of new flatmates came downstairs late one night and I thought we were being burgled... half of women admit to doing their make-up at least four times a day and a whopping 67 per cent only go bare-faced twice a month.

Google Chrome is to blame for a massive increase in online ad blocking

Mother who entered Singapore illegally to look for son given 10 weeks' jail - "The 30-year-old woman - whose name and nationality cannot be revealed to protect the identity of the boy - entered the country to take back her two-year-old son, of whom she had custody over as ruled by the English Court in January. However, she entered the country illegally via a vessel from Langkawi because her husband had previously made police reports against her and she was afraid of being arrested on arrival. She pleaded guilty to illegal entry into Singapore last Thursday... The woman had contracted Child Abduction Recovery International in June this year. Whittington then contacted Wilson, and met him five days before the plan to take the boy was carried out. Deputy Public Prosecutor Ailene Chou said Whittington had entered Singapore to conduct reconnaissance, such as the layout of the grandparents' residence and their daily routine. He also researched the vessel route from Langkawi to Singapore, and found out that Raffles Marina Club had an armed guard only during the club's operating hours between 9am and 5pm. He also prepared supplies for the vessel, including a passport and diapers for the boy."
So Child Abduction Recovery International abducts children

xkcd: Citogenesis - "Where Citations Come From: Through a convoluted process, a user's brain generates facts. These are typed into Wikipedia.
A rushed writer checks Wikipedia for a summary of their subject.
Surprised readers check Wikipedia, see the claim, and flag it for review. A passing editor finds the piece and adds it as a citation.
Now that other writers have a real source, they repeat the fact. "

Ten things we have learnt about Africa - "Belief in witchcraft is also common - about 40%; a similar percentage also visit traditional healers to cure sickness. Belief in witchcraft is highest in Tanzania with 93% - this is the country where witchdoctors say that magic potions are more effective if they contain body parts of people with albinism. Ethiopia had the lowest levels of belief in witchcraft - at just 17%. Belief that juju or sacred objects can prevent bad things happening was generally lower - between 20 and 30%. In Senegal, however, 75% thought such things worked - far higher than in Tanzania (49%). It may come as a surprise to learn that South Africa had the highest number of people - 52% - saying they took part in ceremonies of traditional religions, or honoured or celebrated their ancestors."
So much for "stereotypes"

Thomas Heathfield: British banker quits job to become South African WITCH DOCTOR - "Mr Heathfield was given tribal name Gogo Mndawe by villagers near the town of Komatipoort, in Mpumalanga province. The novice was banned from all contact with friends and family before his graduation ceremony on Sunday, attended by his parents Ally and Brian Heathfield who had travelled from the family home in England... Mr Heathfield had to learn enough of the local Swazi language, which is spoken in northern South Africa, to understand orders given to him at his final exam. He learned how to put himself into a spiritual trace through a ritual dance called kuhlehla every day at 2.30am. He had to find a goat bladder and other dissected body parts hidden half a mile from where the villagers were gathered... More than 50 per cent of South Africans use traditional healing – which involves the use of herbs, bones and chants – including many educated professionals. His mother said she had enjoyed her holiday in South Africa."

Nudist group also stripped in durian orchard, police say - "A video clip of the first event, where about 18 people were filmed participating in events like body painting and outdoor activities on a secluded beach in the nude at the Penang National Park, went viral recently leading to a huge uproar. The event is believed to be held on May 31 this year at a secluded beach in Teluk Kampi at the park in Teluk Bahang here. Abdul Rahim said two participants of the event have turned themselves in. "A 40-year-old who's a Malaysian and a 30-year-old Singaporean had given their statements at the Southwest district police headquarters on Wednesday," he said. He said the police is still looking for 11 others who took part in the event. Seven out of 18 who took part in the event were Malaysians. The others were four Singaporeans, two Myanmar nationals and one each from the Philippines and India. The case is being investigated under Section 509 of the Penal Code for gestures intended to insult the modesty of a person which carries a jail sentence of up to five years or fine or both upon conviction."
Malaysia Boleh!

Why interns don’t deserve pay - "They present their campaign as a blast against The Man, but the intern uprising is motored more by a nauseating sense of entitlement and capacity for self-pity than by any of the workplace-improving ideals of yesteryear. It speaks volumes about the parlous state of modern history teaching that these interns so liberally refer to themselves as ‘slaves’. Anyone who had been taught properly about the Roman era, or about black slavery in early America, or about the Holocaust, would know that there’s rather more to being a slave than being asked by a gruff boss to buy him a hazelnut latte... The demand that internships become paid positions is an extension of modern youth’s corrosive belief that everything they do should be instantly rewarded. This is a generation which thinks its every endeavour deserves a pat on the back... Terrifyingly, we’ve nurtured youngsters who measure the value of their every action by how speedily they’re rewarded for it. Like performing seals. The whole point of an internship is that it isn’t a job — it’s an opportunity. So it makes perfect sense that there’s no pay packet at the end of the week."

If most liberals seems to believe in the "blank slate" theory where our traits are shaped by nurture instead of nature, why do they at the same time consider homosexuality to be complete innate ie, nature?

Gabriel Seah's answer to If most liberals seems to believe in the "blank slate" theory where our traits are shaped by nurture instead of nature, why do they at the same time consider homosexuality to be complete innate ie, nature? - Quora

It conforms to their ideology.

The underlying liberal premise here is that discrimination (or differential treatment) based on immutable traits is discriminatory and wrong (Page on iit.edu).

Liberals do not want to discriminate against people based on immutable traits, but at the same time they want to retain the ability to discriminate based on certain factors.

For example, it is justifiable to not hire the lazy and the stupid, or to pay them a lower salary (some commentators go even further and point out that we don't choose to be lazy and/or stupid [Do Smart, Hard-Working People Deserve to Make More Money?] and so there is some justification for not paying them less, but I won't go into that, not least since it involves talking about free will).

So, if homosexuality is entirely due to nature and is immutable, then this is reason to accept it and not to discriminate against homosexuals (since homosexuals are supposedly born that way).

At the same time, if other traits are shaped entirely by nurture, then we can discriminate based on them. For example we can not hire the lazy and the stupid, or pay them a lower salary, with the underlying assumption that they could've done otherwise (since these traits are entirely or mostly shaped by nurture and the individual has some control over them); the concept of moral desert (of getting what you morally deserve - Desert (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)) is implied here.

Liberals also believe in the potential for social change through social engineering. So welfare, affirmative action or ending stereotyping can counteract the influence of other social forces (i.e. nurture), leaving us in a situation where outcomes are equal (since they believe that if we correct for social forces such as discrimination, we will all turn out the same way since our traits are only shaped by nurture).

As a concrete example, feminists generally assert that men and women are the same, so the gender wage gap must be due to discrimination, stereotyping, social forces keeping women at home etc. And putting an end to discrimination, stereotyping and social forces keeping women at home will lead to the gender wage gap disappearing.

One notes that there are 2 linked fallacies involved here: the naturalistic fallacy (what is natural is good/right) and the moralistic fallacy (if it's not good/right it can't be true). This is why they are so quick to reject explanations of group differences in traits that point to nature (e.g. that there is a biological basis for the math gender gap)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Links - 12th October 2014

ISIS Clothing For Sale As Indonesian Retailers Cash In On Iraq Crisis [PHOTOS] - "Mostly based in Indonesia, the retailers have set up shop on Facebook to hawk their wares. Kaos Islamic State of Iraq and Sham, a Bandung, Indonesia-based outlet, sells black T-shirts featuring the phrase “We Are All ISIS” with a gun similar to an AK-47 and Arabic text above. The shirts, along with other variants of ISIS clothing, sell for around $7 on retailer’s Facebook page. Also in Indonesia, Rezji.com, the self-proclaimed “ultimate clothing brand for [the] Islamic movement,” urges Muslims to “support” ISIS by buying polo shirts with an ISIS badge emblazoned on the left side of the chest. The “100% Super Cotton” shirts go for about 80,000 rupiahs ($6.67) plus a “bonus inside” that ships with an order. For 50,000 rupiahs ($4.17), the online retailer sells ISIS figurines clad in all-black clothing and clutching a rifle. Similar figures show figures in traditional Muslim garb wearing a shirt with the Palestinian flag on it. Orders come with a “bonus sticker.” Kavkaz (Caucasian) Struggle Wear, also based in Bandung, publicized its “Jihad Series” of T-shirts, which show keffiyeh-draped men clutching a rifle with the words “Jihad is our choice” written below... Other Hamas hoodies featuring the Al-Qassam Brigades, the Palestinian group’s military arm, are sold out. The website also features "anti-Zionist" T-shirts, including one showing a sword going through the skull of a skeleton wearing a Jewish star headband (also sold out.)"

LIZ JONES: Worry about real crime, not a fantasy Game Of Thrones 'rape' - "The director – conscious of the furore surrounding what female commentators on the blogosphere have been saying is clearly a rape scene, which means they are going to boycott the series – has defended it by describing the act as ‘consensual’. Of course, this means there have been calls for his head. But I’m afraid, in this instance, I have to side with the oppressor. The woman barely screams. There is no weapon. The two have a history (viz, the incestuous, if dead, offspring). Because you know what? Rape with no violence, and little resistance, is in no way comparable to what the Russians did to the inhabitants of Berlin. A little faux resistance does not a crime make. My feeling is that women should stop being so pathetic. We cannot have everything our own way: equal pay, year-long maternity leave, seats given up on the Tube, while on the other hand we get in a stew over a fictional bit of nonsense where a woman struggles, tossing her long blonde hair, before getting down and dirty and sighing with pleasure. I mean, even Carrie Bradshaw does exactly this in the elevator with Mr Big before the two embark on their extramarital affair."

Mike Rowe - Mike Rowe's Photos - "I mean no disrespect to the 500 or so individuals who have publicly challenged me to participate. And God knows, I’m in near constant need of a cold shower. But as a guy who has represented some rather large, profitable companies while running a non-profit foundation, I’ve got some opinions on the subject of persuasion, especially as it applies to fundraising. And I’ve been struggling with how to share those thoughts in a way that will not make me look like a douche-bag... According to the experts, 50% to 70% of all the money collected as a result of the Ice Bucket Challenge will directly impact future contributions to other charities in an equal and opposite way. In other words, if The ALS Association collects a $100 million - as it’s on track to do - other charities competing for the same dollars will collect between $50 and $70 million LESS. Thus, the largest donations do not necessarily go to those charities that serve the most people or do the best research - they go to those that who market themselves in the most effective way... a foundation accustomed to working for decades on a million dollars or so in annual donations, will now have to manage a $75 million jackpot. That worries me, as it should anyone who has ever studied the fate of lottery winners. That’s not their fault, but it doesn’t change the situation, and I’m not inclined to challenge more people to send more money to coffers that are already overflowing... Jill did several difficult things. She vowed to walk, at a time when walking wasn’t so easy. She committed her time, her energy, and her passion to a cause that mattered deeply to her. And most importantly, she made the whole thing personal. That made me want to help her. Not just because she's my friend - but because she was helping herself. The Ice Bucket Challenge is different. Here, people I’ve never met give me 24 hours to either write a check to a charity I’m not familiar with, or dump a bucket of cold water over my head. Tell me honestly - if that precise challenge arrived to you privately, via the US Mail, what would you do with it? You’d throw it in the trash, right? But a public challenge is not so easy to ignore. Online, everyone is watching. Your friends. Your co-workers. Your clients. Maybe even your boss"

Ban for Horlicks and noodle ads - "The Horlicks advert said the malt drink had been tested on pupils at a boarding school, and included a voiceover saying, "Children have become taller, stronger and sharper. The Horlicks challenge - now proven. See for yourself." GlaxoSmithKline, maker of Horlicks, said the version of the product sold in Bangladesh was fortified and its health claims were supported by clinical studies done by the National Institute of Nutrition in India. Horlicks sold in the UK, however, is not fortified and GSK said there was no intention of advertising it as such here. Nestle made a similar point about its Maggi Noodles which in Bangladesh are also fortified. In the advert, a mother explained to her child: "Maggi is the best because it has essential protein and calcium that help to build strong muscles and bones.""
Ahh.. consumer protection laws!

Lebanon official urges punishment for ISIS flag burning - "Lebanon's Minister of Justice [official website] on Saturday called for the "sternest punishments" to the individuals in Beirut who burned the flags of the militant groups the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) and the Al-Nusra Front. It isreported [Asharq Al-Awsat report] that Minister Ashraf Rifi issued a highly criticized statement which has urged the Lebanon state prosecutor to bring justice to the individuals who participated in the flag burning activities at Sassine Square in Beriut. Minister Rifi claims that the flag burner's actions were condemning and insulting to the faith of Islam because inscribed on the ISIS flag is the Muslim Shahada which is a declaration of faith. Rifi stated in regards to the inscriptions on the ISIS flag, “[t]here is no god but God and Muhammad is his Prophet, which has nothing to do with ISIS and its terrorist approach." Under Lebanese law, it is illegal to defame religious symbols which in turn may incite sectarian conflict. Pictures of the individuals burning the militant groups flags on Saturday were discovered on Facebook and revealed that the actions were a response to the recent beheading of member of the Lebanese armed forces by ISIS."

The Worse the Economy Gets, Longer People Live: Orszag - "These cross-state data are consistent with historical patterns that economists Douglas Miller, Marianne Page, Ann Stevens and Mateusz Filipski have found. Their research shows that a one-percentage-point increase in a state’s unemployment rate is associated with a 0.5 percent reduction in the state’s mortality rate. During the Great Depression, too, life expectancy rose, according to research by Jose Tapia Granados and Ana Diez Roux of the University of Michigan. As they conclude, “The evolution of population health during the years 1920-1940 confirms the counter-intuitive hypothesis that, as in other historical periods and market economies, population health tends to evolve better during recessions than in expansions.” How could this be? In a series of important papers, Christopher Ruhm, an economist at the University of Virginia, has explored the reasons. It appears that while suicide rates rise during downturns, other types of fatalities, such as from motor-vehicle accidents, fall more. The surprising findings apply even to heart attacks... when there is less economic activity, hazards such as air pollution and traffic congestion are less severe. Smoking and obesity also tend to decline, Ruhm has found."

The Western stars of Chinese adverts - "Steven Weathers isn't a doctor, but he has played one on TV - in China. He has also played an engineer, a pirate and the man who watched a pretty girl go by. China is newly wealthy, and consumers have been on a shopping spree. That means plenty of TV ads and an unexpected opportunity for foreigners in China to become the stars of those commercials. Weathers, an American, was teaching literature and advertising in Shanghai when he answered his first casting call. He thought he might make a little pocket money, but TV work came pouring in. He has a look casting agents in China are hungry for - tall, fair-skinned and blue-eyed. Almost immediately, he noticed a trend: "Early on, most of those roles were for the foreign expert," he says. "So I always had the lab coat, always had glasses on, in the laboratory or on the design floor." Even when Weathers was cast in a long underwear commercial, he was still the foreign expert: "I thought, 'Am I going to be in the underwear?' And they said, 'No, no, you're the scientist who came up with the fabric.'""

Saving Net Neutrality the BitTorrent Way - "Klinker says Internet providers should pay people who, like him, voluntarily renounce bandwidth hogging, just like electricity companies encourage people to use more power in off-peak hours. "This would relieve pressure on the network, yield a better experience for users and would be worth real money to the ISPs," he argues. "Additionally, there would be no unnatural pressure for the ISP to deliberately degrade the base service in order to manufacture demand for the priority service, as some have suggested might happen"... If we truly want a neutral Internet in which all traffic is created equal, we should be happy to pay for our actual usage. That would be fair, and providers would not need to create fast or slow lanes. If, on the other hand, we want the convenience of a fixed payment, net neutrality is no more than a meaningless fetish."
Subscribed speed is a proxy for usage

Editor's note: Our withdrawn review "Blood cotton" | The Economist - "In our review of “The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism” by Edward Baptist, we said: “Mr Baptist has not written an objective history of slavery. Almost all the blacks in his book are victims, almost all the whites villains.” There has been widespread criticism of this, and rightly so. Slavery was an evil system, in which the great majority of victims were blacks, and the great majority of whites involved in slavery were willing participants and beneficiaries of that evil. We regret having published this and apologise for having done so. We have therefore withdrawn the review, but in the interests of transparency the text remains available only on this special page and appears below."
There're some things you just can't say...

North Korea 'backs Scottish independence' - "North Korea is rich in natural resources and we like the taste of Scotch whisky, so we can be beneficial to each other"

Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Analgesic Overdose Mortality in the United States, 1999-2010. - "Medical cannabis laws are associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates"

Taking public transit to work may keep you fitter: study

Kick Your Smoking Habit With...Magic Mushrooms? - "the rate of nicotine abstinence for the study’s participants stood at 80 percent after six months, a markedly higher rate than typical success rates in smoking cessation trials. Varenicline, typically considered the drug most effective in curbing a smoking habit, has demonstrated only a 35 percent success rate after six months. Nicotine replacement and behavioral therapy alone, by contrast, usually have a success rate of less than 30 percent. Researchers note that the benefits last even after participants came down from the mind-altering drug."

The Left and the Family

Renewal | Tony Blair | Power for a purpose

"During the 1960s and 1970s the left developed almost in substitution for its economic prescriptions —which by then were failing — a type of social individualism that sometimes confused liberation from prejudice with a disregard for moral structures. It fought for racial and sexual equality, which was entirely right, but it appeared indifferent to the family and individual responsibility, which was wrong. Moreover, as the influence of some of the traditional supporters of the left in Labour and working-class organisation waned there was a real danger, occasionally realised, that single issue pressure groups moved into the vacuum. I believe that this was an abberation. Look back to the first heyday of the left in the 1930s and 1940s and you will find heavy emphasis on responsibility, self-improvement and the family...

The only way to rebuild social order and stability is though strong values, socially shared, inculcated through individual and family. This is not some lurch into authoritarianism or an attempt to impose a regressive personal morality. It is, in fact, about justice and fairness. The strong and powerful can protect themselves. Those who lose most through the absence of rules are the weak and the vulnerable. The first casualties of social breakdown are often the poor and disadvantaged. That is why the left should treat it seriously.

Why is it the left that is best able to tackle the problems of social disorder? Because a society based on strong values has at its heart respect for others and mutual responsibilities. Obligation to more than oneself. Crude individualism of left or right won't work. The family is important because it is in the family that self-respect and respect for others are learned. It is in the family that the limits of freedom are first experienced and the roots of responsibility put down. The family is the antithesis of narrow selfishness."
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