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Friday, November 21, 2014

Cow urine makes for juicy lemons

Cow urine makes for juicy lemons

T. Kaniappan with the plump lemons, which are cultivated with cow urine. (Inset) The earthworm casts that are used as fertilisers

KULAI : Earthworms and cow urine have helped a farmer here grow juicier and bigger lemons.

T. Kaniappan, 57, who used to harvest ping-pong ballsized lemons on his one-acre orchard, is now reaping fruits that are bigger than hockey balls.

It happened after he replaced chemical fertilisers and pesticides at his farm in an oil palm plantation about 10km from here with organic fertilisers.

He also uses bitter leaves and a mixture of yoghurt and coconut milk for the improved crop which has been giving him bumper yields since then.

Today, Kaniappan’s orchard produces three times as many lemons as before.

His success has also spurred him to set up a vermiculture (earthworm breeding) facility on a two-hectare plot at the plantation where he produces 80kg of earthworm casts per month that he uses as fertiliser.

The orchard nets him RM500 a month while the earthworm fertiliser brings him RM250.

The former Sime Darby plantation technician started his orchard in 2004 with yields of about 35kg of fruit.

“In 2005, I was introduced by the Consumer Association of Penang (CAP) to this organic farming technique developed in India. My lemon plants took on a new life with yields of about 200kg of fruit.” Kaniappan said he started his vermiculture with 20 earthworms received from CAP.

He placed them in open concrete compartments filled with soil and compost made of sugarcane waste.

The worms multiplied to 1,800 in three months.

To keep pests away, he uses a spray of a mixture of cow urine and five types of bitter leaves which leaves him pestfree for two weeks.

“I also spray a mixture of fermented yoghurt and coconut milk that has been kept over 15 days on the plant as it enhances flowering, fruiting and overall growth.

“Another good growth enhancer is fish waste and brown sugar that I spray on my plants to promote new shoots. It also keeps pests away.”

Kaniappan said another wonder potion was Pancakavya, a mixture of cow dung, cow urine, ghee, milk, yoghurt, sugarcane juice, coconut water, bananas and toddy.

“Pouring this mixture at the roots or spraying on the plants will enhance the growth, taste and glossiness of the produce while keeping pests away.

“The potion when fed to livestock and fish can also enhance their growth,” said Kaniappan, who is helping CAP in its nationwide campaign to promote organic farming.
--- KatoeyNewsNetwork

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Links - 20th November 2014

*Removed due to duplication in an earlier post*

Oxford students shut down abortion debate

Oxford students shut down abortion debate. Free speech is under assault on campus

I would’ve thought that the one place in Britain where you could agree to disagree amicably would be Oxford University. But I was wrong. For instance, I’ve discovered that you’re only allowed to debate abortion there if a) you’re a woman and b) you’re all for it. Any other approach to the subject is liable to attract a mob…

A few months ago I accepted an invitation by the Oxford Students for Life to debate Brendan O’Neill on the subject “This House believes Britain's Abortion Culture Hurts Us All". The setting was Christ Church College and around 60 people signed up to attend on Facebook. To be clear: this wasn’t a pro-life demo and the subject wasn’t whether or not women should have the right to choose abortion. Even though I was speaking for the proposition, my speech would’ve begun with noting that the motion has nothing to do with abortion rights per se and was simply a consideration of how having effective abortion on demand affects wider society. Brendan, speaking for the opposition, would've doubtless done a fine job and probably run rings round me. It was a fair and free debate that I half expected to lose.

But someone was outraged that we dared to discuss this issue at all. A protest group of around 300 people called “What the f**k is 'Abortion Culture'?” appeared on Facebook that promised to “take along some non-destructive but oh so disruptive instruments to help demonstrate to the anti-choicers just what we think of their 'debate'.” We were guilty of promoting "really sh*tty anti-choice rhetoric and probs some cissexism." The foul language indicates how sophisticated the protesters were, while the accusation of cissexism had me reaching for my online urban dictionary. Was I being called a sissy by homophobic feminists? Mais non. Apparently a “cis” is someone who identifies with the same gender that they were born with. So that’s a thing now.

The university’s students’ union also issued a statement that took aim at Brendan and me for being so offensively attached to our God-given genitals: “The Women’s Campaign (WomCam) condemn SFL for holding this debate. It is absurd to think we should be listening to two cisgender men debate about what people with uteruses should be doing with their bodies.” Next, the Christ Church Junior Common Room (posh talk for “the committee that run the students' bar”) passed a motion asking their college to decline to room the debate. Eventually, the college caved-in on the grounds that, “there was insufficient time between today and tomorrow to address some concerns they had about the meeting”. The pro-life society tried to find an alternative venue but everyone else said “no”. I believe that two colleges agreed only to later rescind their invitations. I was sitting in Paddington Station (in a duffel coat and hat!) ready to jump on a train to Oxford at 4.40pm when I was told that the debate was finally, totally called off. I said the same thing my mother says every time the car stalls or the TV goes on the blink: “this is why people vote Ukip.”

The arguments against hosting the debate were spurious. That only men were speaking was no reason to stop it. A) Anyone objecting to the subject matter or the virile masculinity of the speakers was free not to attend. B) A private society should be allowed to invite whoever they want to discuss whatever they want (providing it’s legal and doesn’t incite violence etc). C) The idea that an ethical issue can only be debated by the people directly affected by it is self-evidently unintelligent. And D) we weren’t debating women’s right to choose anyway but instead the effect of abortion on wider society, which does include a few men. Sorry, by “men” I mean “cisgendered heteronormative masculine pronouns in possession of a Hampton wick”.

Some tried to suggest that the presence of this debate might pose some sort of welfare issue to the incredibly vulnerable students of Christ Church, but that, too, is smoke and mirrors. Does this mean no debate may be had about democracy in Hong Kong for fear of upsetting those Chinese sons and daughters of communist apparatchiks paying hundreds of thousands of pounds to study in the UK? And as for the case that holding this debate would threaten abortion rights more generally, I would remind you for the thousandth time that WE WEREN’T DEBATING THEM - and even if we were that really wouldn’t change the fact that abortion in Britain is widely available, easy to get and a politically protected subject. As the successful attempt to shut down this debate proved.

What it also proved is that elements of the Left are working hard to define new parameters for freedom of speech. You are free to speak so long as it doesn’t offend certain sensibilities, which of course amounts to no real freedom at all. I’m reminded of the old Puritan ethic that a human being had liberty only in so far as that liberty led them to salvation. Any practice of liberty that led away from God represented slavery to lies and was thus outlawed – for the good of the so-called sinner. Many on the Left imitate the very authoritarian mindset of the people on the religious Right that they claim to hate, likewise trying to safeguard their definition of freedom by eradicating contrary ideas. On the subject of abortion, the Left can enjoy that authoritarianism because contemporary society broadly agrees with them. But a day will come when they try to argue for something that proves unpopular and they, too, will be gagged. And I’ll be there to defend their right to say something that I disagree with.

Because the older you get the more you realise that just as important as your beliefs are your freedom to articulate them without fear. I guess maturity makes wet liberals of us all.

Speech that was to be delivered:

This is the speech on abortion that an Oxford University mob doesn’t want you to hear

"Dr Joseph Fletcher, one of the godfathers of modern bio-ethics and a celebrated proponent of both abortion and euthanasia rights once reminisced fondly about about the days when he and the family planning advocate Margaret Sanger joined the Euthanasia Society of America, in order to “link the two [abortion and euthanasia] causes so to speak the right to be selective about parenthood and the right to be selective about living”. Fletcher explained, “We’ve added death control to birth control as a part of the ethos of life style in our society.” His argument was that life really has no value unless it is of a certain quality – a point reinforced by Richard Dawkins when he advised of a child with Down’s, “Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world”.

By the way, Dr Fletcher would have agreed. He once said that there was “no reason to feel guilty about putting a Down’s syndrome baby away, whether it’s ‘put away’ in the sense of hidden in a sanitarium or in a more responsible lethal sense. It is sad; yes. Dreadful. But it carries no guilt. True guilt arises only from an offense against a person, and a Down’s is not a person.” A horrific attitude, you might think, but not so strange really when you consider the great violence that abortion does to our very concept of personhood...

I was not always pro-life. I became so when my historical research into the American conservative movement compelled me, reluctantly, to read pro-life literature.

I was shocked to discover how messy abortion is. How painful it can be. How there is evidence to show it having long-term psychological effects. For instance, research by Professor Priscilla Coleman published in the British journal of psychiatry argues that, “abortion is associated with moderate to highly increased risks of psychological problems subsequent to the procedure. Women who had undergone an abortion experienced an 81 per cent increased risk of mental health problems, and nearly 10 per cent of the incidence of mental health problems were shown to be directly attributable to abortion.”

Why did I not know this? Because while abortion deals trauma to our society, we deal with it by ignoring it. It’s no different to the fact that we ignore shockingly high rates of suicide in prison. Appalling standards of care in elderly homes. The abuse and rape of children in children’s services. And this is what is so doubly perverse about the abortion culture: we effectively open the floodgates on something – and then refuse to talk about its reality. Abortion is at the very centre of the therapeutic state: the state that dulls pain with simplistic solutions rather than addresses their complex causes."

There are interesting parallels between "abortion culture" and "rape culture".

Should men be allowed to discuss abortion? | Practical Ethics

"Oxford feminists have actually now set up a protest group to disrupt the debate, and are actively campaigning for the event to be banned. Indeed, whether the event will go ahead is now uncertain due to security concerns raised by the feminists declared intention to disrupt and end the debate.

Note that the OSFL group has already hosted two all-women panel debates on abortion this year, so the criticism isn’t that they only have men speak in their debates generally, but that this particular time men are speaking.

Now, I disagree with Oxford Feminists on almost everything (in particular, the dominant view held by the society that actually I cannot be a feminist because I am a man), but this struck me as almost ludicrously bad. To repeat, the argument is that men should not be able to discuss abortion because they are men. Further, it isn’t just that men shouldn’t be allowed, but that the men who do actively hate women and want to oppress them.

Have we really reached a place where only women are allowed to discuss abortion? Is this the real world, or has Oxford turned into some dystopian Orwellian thought-police scenario run by feminists? Are there any good reasons to think that only women should be allowed to discuss abortion?...

Even taking the (flawed) idea that only women are affected by abortion, the claim that therefore only women can discuss it evidently fails as a principle. We don’t think that only homosexuals can discuss gay rights, or that only black people can discuss affirmative action, or that only disabled people can discuss equal rights in the workplace. If we want to say that people can only discuss things that are personally relevant to them, we pretty soon end up on a situation where no-one could ever discuss anything (“Sorry, you can’t talk about disability support because you don’t have a disability”; “Oh, you do? Well it’s not a mental health disability, so you still can’t”; “Oh, you do? Well, it’s actually not bipolar disorder, so you still can’t discuss it as you would just oppress me”; Oh, you do? Well, you still can’t because actually I’m also homosexual and have bipolar, and so you can’t understand the interplay” – and so on, ad infintum).

And what are the implications of this for practical ethics? Should all the men in the department stop conducting work on topics like abortion? Should anyone without addiction problems stop conducting work on addiction and moral responsibility? Should anyone who doesn’t live in the developing world stop doing work on charity and aid? Should anyone who isn’t a non-human animal stop doing work on animal rights?

It worries me that the Oxford Feminists are probably now the most illiberal – not to mention anti-men- group on campus."

I helped shut down an abortion debate between two men because my uterus isn't up for their discussion

"It may seem harmless for men like Stanley and O'Neil to debate how and if abortion hurts them; it’s clearly harder for people to see that their words and views might hurt women.

Access to abortion impacts the lives of women, trans and non-binary people every day, and the threat pro-life groups pose to our bodily autonomy is real, not rhetorical. If you don’t believe me, visit any abortion clinic and witness the sustained aggressions of pro-life pickets.

In organizing against this event, I did not stifle free speech. As a student, I asserted that it would make me feel threatened in my own university; as a woman, I objected to men telling me what I should be allowed to do with my own body."


"I have to say that I feel a far greater threat from anyone who takes an objectively authoritative claim on my voice 'as a woman' than I do from an organised debate which welcomes an audience of women and men with varying positions on the motion."

"Organising a 'non-destructive but oh-so-disruptive' protest that led to the event's cancellation seems to me encroaching on censorship territory. More worrying is the thought that even if events are cancelled due to the disruptive potential protest of a vocal group, this doesn't matter as long as there are other platforms? How should that matter? Would we say that the Oxford Union should be happy to cancel Malala Yousafzai's event, because a vocal group oppose her speaking, security thus cannot be guaranteed, and she has other places to go to?

The principle should be that we are open to free debate, that difficult things are often the most important ones to debate, that those debates may lead us to challenge some of our most dearly held beliefs, and above all one ought to be judged on the content of one's speech, not the membership of one's group."

"Censors always think they are on the side of right. That's what motivates them to censor. If you didn't want to hear the speakers you didn't have to attend the debate, apparently though you took it upon yourself to also make that decision for everyone else, who you clearly think can't be trusted to hear opinions from people you disagree with, or who are simply the wrong gender.

Why you think you should have the power to decide for everyone I don't know, you probably have a transparent rationalisation for that as well, probably one in which you still convince yourself you support free speech while using all the means available to you to stifle it.

Also if you genuinely feel threatened by hearing opinions that are different than yours, you should seek help for that."

"And only cancer sufferers should be able to discuss or debate cancer research or treatment..."

"I am totally outraged by the cancellation of this debate. My grandmother died from a backstreet abortion so my mother grew up without a mother. I am glad that abortion was legalised shortly afterward so such tragedies are less likely to happen to other women. I know only too well the terrible and dangerous consequences of pro-life arguments. Which is exactly why I wanted the debate to go ahead so that I would have the opportunity to confront Timothy Stanley - and support Brendan O'Neill in opposing him. Unfortunately, because of the idiotic and cowardly actions of a few so-called 'feminists' at Oxford, I have been deprived of MY opportunity to speak, as a pro-choice woman, and to challenge and oppose the motion in the debate. I wanted to attend and make my voice heard. You have removed my right to speak and I detest your censorious action and weak justifications for it. Grow up and make your case, do not hide behind bans and boycotts. Women are better than that."

"Probably worth adding to the article, just for honesty's sake, that the reason the debate was cancelled was due to your threat of physical disruption and the College's consequent concern for the security of its members. Physical intimidation, I thought you were supposed to be against that?"

"Can I just apologise for the nonsense some people talk about abortion and free speech. Please feel free to ignore self-centred freaks who see every issue of principle as the patriarchy looking for an excuse to oppress them individually.

This is like some antimatter equivalent of the Daily Maul, it is literally mad."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Links - 19th November 2014

Online petition against 'pick-up artist' Julien Blanc gathers close to 3,000 supporters in three days - "An online petition to prevent self-proclaimed "pick-up artist" Julien Blanc from coming to Singapore has gathered close to 3,000 supporters in three days"
How many of those petitioning to ban Julien Blanc from Singapore were against Ashley Madison being banned?

Rocket Scientist Matt Taylor Shot Down Over His Silly Bowling Shirt - "Rose Eveleth, a technology writer for The Atlantic and enthusiastic participant in previous Taylor-bashing, responded accordingly: Now that Taylor had “recognized his mistake and apologized,” she wrote on Twitter, “we can both move along with our lives.” Yes, she really wrote that. Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of miles away, a comet soars, quiet and mysterious, a trail of fire—brighter than all the lasers on all the millions of offensive bowling shirts that planet Earth has to offer—left in its cosmic wake. Comets cause us, as Walt Whitman once wrote, to “think a thought of the clef of the universes, and of the future.” They lead us to ponder the meaning of human life, our potential, and our limits. Well, some of us, anyway. Others would rather concoct a bunch of random outrage about a goofy shirt. It kind of makes you want to buy one, doesn’t it? Oh, and I just discovered the darndest thing. There’s one for the ladies, too."

*removed due to duplication in an earlier post*

*removed due to duplication in an earlier post*

Stoic Week

Something I'm trying this month (via Rationally Speaking):

Be stoic for a week (stiff upper lip not required)

The true meaning of stoicism has been lost over time, but Stoic Week aims to show it is still a relevant and useful philosophy

Live like a Stoic! Week: 26 November to 3 December. An interdisciplinary team of psychotherapists, philosophers and classicists are working together to find out the uses of stoicism for the modern day and you can too, by taking part in Stoic Week.

"Stoicism" comes with baggage. The stiff upper lip, unwholesome self-absorption, and emotional detachment combine to form the stereotype of a philosophy that could surely have nothing to offer us today.

And that would be correct, if that stereotype were also correct. However, just as epicurean hedonism is today associated with the pleasures of the gourmand (whereas even the briefest of glances at Epicurus's writings show a simple, almost ascetic, lifestyle), so too has the essence of stoicism been long forgotten.

When one turns to the original stoic texts, a very different picture emerges. Instead of emotional detachment, there is an emphasis on the cultivation of joy, benevolence and well-wishing. Instead of unwholesome self-preoccupation, there is a focus on the development of ethical motivation integrally linked to a sense of duty and care for others. Instead of the much-parodied stiff upper lip, there is an emphasis on creating a structured life based on a coherent and well-grounded ethical framework. Living in accordance with this well-grounded ethical framework, or "living in accordance with virtue" (as the stoics would say), brings about three specific qualities: the life of good flow; freedom from negative emotions; and beauty of soul. In contrast to all the aforementioned stereotypes, then, stoicism aims for human flourishing in a very full sense, and an ability to find ways through times of crisis.

From this, it is clear that stoic philosophy, unlike most versions of philosophy today, was not just a matter of theory and argument. Rather, its main emphasis was practical: philosophy conceived as a way of life supported by a sophisticated and credible understanding of human psychology and giving rise to a rich armoury of methods for mental discipline and training.

But who were the stoics that lived their lives in this way? The evidence for the early stoics, such as Zeno and Chrysippus, is fragmentary and often lost. However, we do have a wealth of information from three later stoics of the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. They are: Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor who kept his own private philosophical journal, the survival of which remains both mysterious and miraculous; Epictetus, the former slave who set up his own school and whose Discourses provide a cogent expression of the application of philosophy to everyday problems; and Seneca, whose 124 letters to his friend Lucilius, are a powerful example of philosophical therapy in action.

But could the methods and principles of stoicism, as found in these sources, still be a viable option today? A team of classicists, philosophers and psychotherapists have been working together to find out. This collaboration builds on the recent surge of interest in stoicism and stems from a workshop held in October, which itself came from a wider interdisciplinary project at the University of Exeter to explore the possible uses of classical approaches to therapy and preventative medicine for our own society. One of the plans identified at this workshop was a "Stoic Week", to run from 26 November to 3 December, and over the past couple of months collaboration has focused on preparations for this week.

The outcome is a 30-page booklet that has modernised stoic advice and which includes instruction for stoic exercises such as: the art of the philosophical diary, the "anachoresis" or "retreat into oneself", the contemplation of the ideal sage, reflections for both morning and evening, and a suggested daily itinerary for living the stoic life. Importantly, there is the option for participants to input data for statistical analysis both before and after the week, a crucial first step in establishing an evidence base for the value of the stoic life under modern conditions.

Participating will be a core group of about 30 students at Exeter's classics department; and they are being joined by many from around the world who will be posting their experiences of the week on the project's dedicated blog. Everyone, whether they have previous knowledge of stoicism or not, is invited to join this week.

And this is just the beginning. A much larger two-week experiment is planned for the spring, which will expand and improve on what has already been done. Interest in the blog has increased hugely in the past 48 hours: from 25 hits per day to 2,500. Perhaps it is time for a stoic revival, and to see what this rich ancient philosophy could really offer us?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Links - 18th November 2014

Export Quality | Atanu Dey On India's Development - "While opening a pack of Haldiram’s Bikaneri bhujia last evening, I noticed the packet proclaimed “Export Quality!” I suppose they meant “Best Quality” or “First Quality” because it could not have meant “Basically Inferior Stuff”. The label implied very clearly that this stuff was good enough to be exported. That implication arose from a shared assumption that is very disturbing if one thinks about it. The shared assumption essentially was that the domestic market is not discriminating enough and can be sold sub-standard stuff; that export markets demand and deserve quality better than the domestic market. Was the assumption justified? If so, is the Indian consumer inherently incapable of recognizing quality? Or is the Indian consumer not “deserving” of quality? Or is it that the Indian consumer cannot afford quality? What are the reasons why the market delivers poor quality shoddy goods and services in India? It is undeniable that the Indian market does deliver very poor quality goods and services in general. The explanation for that is really very simple: it is a sellers’ market. The essential characteristics of sellers’ market are that there is insufficient competition on the supply side, and the supply is severely constrained which leads to intense competition for goods on the demand side. The sellers don’t have to compete for customers, while the buyers have to compete for the goods... Export quality for a poor nation means it is better than the stuff that domestic consumers can get or even afford. Export quality for rich nations could mean something entirely different. The US, for instance, sometimes exports stuff that it considers below par (such as food and military equipment to third world countries). In some cases, it exports stuff that they are legally barred from consuming in the domestic market because of health and safety issues"

Former heads of state urge EU to outlaw anti-feminism - "The proposal, titled the Framework National Statute for the Promotion of Tolerance calls for “concrete action to combat intolerance, in particular with a view to eliminating racism, colour bias, ethnic discrimination, religious intolerance, totalitarian ideologies, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-feminism and homophobia.” These “special administrative units,” the report says, “should preferably operate within the Ministry of Justice.” “There is no need to be tolerant to the intolerant,” it states, especially “as far as freedom of expression is concerned.” It also calls for actual criminal sanctions to be levied against offenders. European Dignity Watch, a civil rights watchdog group based in Brussels, has warned that this directive “aims to impose governmental control over the social and economic behavior of citizens in the widest possible sense.”"

Should drug addicts be paid to be sterilised? - "In the US, Project Prevention has been compared to the Nazis' eugenics programme, but Harris isn't bothered by her critics. "They are willing to call me Hitler, but what are they doing to help? Are they willing to adopt any of these children that they think should continue to be born? If they're not part of the solution, they're part of the problem. Everybody talks about the right of the woman – what about the rights of the children? They are the victims.""
If it's coercive to offer people monetary incentives, isn't it also coercive to subsidise education and healthcare?

Filipinos’ love for Music | basangsisiw - "If one hears a Pinoy sing his heart out in the middle of the day or for any other time of the day, for any local, is just an ordinary scene but for foreigners, it’s a different thing, especially to first- time visitors. As they say, singing is distinctly Filipino, especially when we talk of videoke singing. A Pinoy is inseparable from the art, for his mind and soul clamors for it. If rice is a staple in every Filipino meal, a videoke set is a principal commodity in every Filipino home. Showcasing the Pinoy’s natural talent, whether he is a true-blue singer or just a frustrated one, is evident more especially during fiestas, festivals and other events in the life of a belting Filipino. And this romance spans even before the time of Magellan. Even during the pre- Hispanic times, Filipinos were known to be intent music lovers. With their own ethnic musical instruments like flutes, nose flutes and guitars, they expressed their penchant for the art in any way they can."

There is no gender gap in tech salaries - "even when men and women choose the same major, graduate from similar types of colleges and receive similar grades, women still earn less than men but female engineering graduates earn 88% of what male engineering graduates earn ($48,493 for women compared to $55,142 for men). So, what we are seeing is that there are some women who get engineering degrees but then don’t become engineers. I studied computer science in high school and math in college but I’m neither a computer scientist nor a mathematician. Instead, I decided to make life choices that were more personally and spiritually rewarding: I was a rainforest conservationist in Brazil and a teacher in India. One reason that explains why there is a pay gap when measured by college major but not when measured by profession is that some female engineers abandon their careers months after starting. This would explain why overall annual incomes measured one year after graduation would be lower for these women. If employers are risk averse, wages offered will be lower where productivity is less easily predicted (and where lower productivity is already revealed). The issue in this case is not gender differences in productivity but, rather, how employers predict what kind of worker they’re hiring based on his or her previous employment history. Also, some women don’t go into the careers their college degree prepares them for because they have less attachment to the labor market... After adjusting for all the known factors, Corbett and Hill’s model showed an “unexplained” 6.6% difference in wages between men and women who are full-time workers. Conflicting data from the BLS shows that some women who work full-time have a wage premium, and earn 11% more than men. The tech industry is unique in its history of being “equal pay for equal work”: A longitudinal study of female engineers in the 1980s showed a wage penalty of “essentially zero” for younger cohorts and today, the two highest paying professions with wage equality are in technology (computer scientist and engineer)."

Pussy Riot Trial: Topless FEMEN Activist Chainsaws Memorial Cross In Ukraine (VIDEO, NSFW) - "Shevchenko's protest in Kiev, dubbed a "trash prayer" in recognition of Pussy Riot's cathedral stunt, has elicited mixed responses. While some have lauded Shevchenko's act of defiance, others say that the activist may have taken things a little too far. The cross, which bore a figure of Jesus Christ, was erected in 2005 on a hilltop overlooking Kiev's city center and served as a memorial to the victims of Stalinist repression and the famine of the 1930s, Reuters writes. The news service reports that Ukrainian religious groups and relatives of Stalin's victims condemned the action. Some critics took to social networking sites such as Twitter to express their outrage... ""FEMEN activists cut down the cross over the Maidan [Nezalezhnosti] (Kiev's central square) in support of #Pussy Riot." [I] don't consider myself a religious person. But this is fu**ed up," tweeted @avealyona on Friday. "

Attempted Murder by Suffragettes | History of Feminism - "It is universally acknowledged by historians that the suffragettes engaged in numerous terrorist acts, including attempted murder. One such case was the attempt on the life of Sir Henry Curtis Bennett, the chief magistrate for Bow Street who had tried Emmeline Pankhurst, as well as other leading feminists, for acts of terrorism such as setting fire to property and assaulting police officers"

*Removed due to duplication in an earlier post*

Secret Fears of the Super-Rich

Secret Fears of the Super-Rich

"The study is titled “The Joys and Dilemmas of Wealth,” but given that the joys tend to be self-evident, it focuses primarily on the dilemmas. The respondents turn out to be a generally dissatisfied lot, whose money has contributed to deep anxieties involving love, work, and family. Indeed, they are frequently dissatisfied even with their sizable fortunes. Most of them still do not consider themselves financially secure; for that, they say, they would require on average one-quarter more wealth than they currently possess. (Remember: this is a population with assets in the tens of millions of dollars and above.) One respondent, the heir to an enormous fortune, says that what matters most to him is his Christianity, and that his greatest aspiration is “to love the Lord, my family, and my friends.” He also reports that he wouldn’t feel financially secure until he had $1 billion in the bank.

Such complaints sound, on their face, preposterous. But just as the human body didn’t evolve to deal well with today’s easy access to abundant fat and sugars, and will crave an extra cheeseburger when it shouldn’t, the human mind, apparently, didn’t evolve to deal with excess money, and will desire more long after wealth has become a burden rather than a comfort...

In the case of the very wealthy, such forms of consumption can become so commonplace as to lose all psychological benefit: constant luxury is, in a sense, no luxury at all.

Taken together, the survey responses make a compelling case that being fantastically wealthy—especially when the wealth is inherited rather than earned—is not a great deal more fulfilling than being merely prosperous... extreme wealth can take away some of the basic joys of living—for instance, that some wealthy people don’t look forward to the holidays, “because they were always expected to give really good presents.” When you’re a millionaire, Kenny says, expensive gifts merely meet expectations...

Early in his academic career, Schervish was a committed Democratic Socialist. But around 1990, he began interviewing wealthy people and decided that his Marxist instinct to criticize the rich was misguided. “I realized good and evil are equally distributed across the economic spectrum and not particular to the wealthy or the poor,” he says. “A lot of wealth holders were very sincerely concerned about others and were doing something about it”... as individuals move up the wealth scale, they give away a greater share of their assets...

“I never forgot the concerns that I learned as a Jesuit. But I got rid of the absolute certainties that I had about how to achieve them,” Schervish says, adding, “Trump not, lest you be trumped.” The rich, he points out, could easily ask him why he is teaching sociology instead of donning sackcloth, selling his possessions, and giving everything to the poor. “I found that there is no telling people what needs need attending to, because needs are infinite. And they’d be better off channeling their work through inspiration, rather than dictation by others”...

One thing the rich have in common is a severe allergy to discussing their dilemmas in public... “Often the word rich becomes a pejorative,” Kenny says. “It rhymes with bitch. I’ve been in rooms and seen people stand up and say, ‘I’m Bob Kenny, and I’m rich.’ And then they burst into tears”...

“Sometimes I think that the only people in this country who worry more about money than the poor are the very wealthy,” Kenny says. “They worry about losing it, they worry about how it’s invested, they worry about the effect it’s going to have. And as the zeroes increase, the dilemmas get bigger”...

20 percent of households with between $1 million and $10 million in assets in 2004 spent all their income—or more—in a frantic race to keep up with their newfound friends, the Gateses...

Work is what fills most people’s days, and it provides the context in which they interact with others. A life of worklessness, however financially comfortable, can easily become one of aimlessness, of estrangement from the world. The fact that most people imagine it would be paradise to never have to work does not make the experience any more pleasant in practice...

Just as wealth can aggravate, rather than alleviate, stresses surrounding work, so too can it complicate love, where Kenny says problems are “the rule and not the exception”...

If anything, the rich stare into the abyss a bit more starkly than the rest of us. We can always indulge in the thought that a little more money would make our lives happier—and in many cases it’s true. But the truly wealthy know that appetites for material indulgence are rarely sated. No yacht is so super, nor any wine so expensive, that it can soothe the soul or guarantee one’s children won’t grow up to be creeps. When the rich man takes his last sip of Château d’Yquem 1959, he tips back the wineglass to find at its bottom an unforeseen melancholy. Like Leontes in The Winter’s Tale, he notes in horror, “I have drunk, and seen the spider.” It is as terrifying a realization in Saint-Tropez as it is anywhere else."

On reflection, the problems of eternal life would be quite similar.

Monday, November 17, 2014

1 small shirt for a man, 1 giant leap backward for women

1 small shirt for a man, 1 giant leap backward for women: Column

Better not to land a spaceship on a comet than let men wear sexist clothing.

So how are things going for feminism? Well, last week, some feminists took one of the great achievements of human history — landing a probe from Earth on a comet hundreds of millions of miles away — and made it all about the clothes.

Yes, that's right. After years of effort, the European Space Agency's lander Philaelanded on a comet 300 million miles away. At first, people were excited. Then some women noticed that one of the space scientists, Matt Taylor, was wearing a shirt, made for him by a female "close pal," featuring comic-book depictions of semi-naked women. And suddenly, the triumph of the comet landing was drowned out by shouts of feminist outrage about ... what people were wearing. It was one small shirt for a man, one giant leap backward for womankind.

The Atlantic's Rose Eveleth tweeted, "No no women are toooootally welcome in our community, just ask the dude in this shirt." Astrophysicist Katie Mack commented: "I don't care what scientists wear. But a shirt featuring women in lingerie isn't appropriate for a broadcast if you care about women in STEM." And from there, the online feminist lynch mob took off until Taylor was forced to deliver a tearful apology on camera.

It seems to me that if you care about women in STEM, maybe you shouldn't want to communicate the notion that they're so delicate that they can't handle pictures of comic-book women. Will we stock our Mars spacecraft with fainting couches?

Not everyone was so censorious. As one female space professional wrote: "Don't these women and their male cohorts understand that *they* are doing the damage to what/whom they claim to defend!?"

No, they don't. Or, if they do, their reservations are overcome by the desire to feel important and powerful at others' expense. Thus, what should have been the greatest day in a man's life — accomplishing something never before done in the history of humanity — was instead derailed by people with their own axes to grind. As Chloe Price observed: "Imagine the ... storm if the scientist had been a woman and everyone focused solely on her clothes and not her achievements."

Yes, feminists have been telling us for years that women can wear whatever they want, and for men to comment in any way is sexism. But that's obviously a double standard, since they evidently feel no compunction whatsoever in criticizing what men wear. News flash: Geeks don't dress like Don Draper.

Meanwhile, Time magazine last week ran an online poll of words that should be retired from the English language. The winner — by an enormous margin — was "feminist." That's fitting. With this sort of behavior in mind, it's no surprise that so many people feel that feminism has passed its sell-by date.

According to a HuffPost/YouGov poll, only 23% of American women and only 20% of Americans overall identify as feminists, even though most are in favor of gender equality. Feminists, who like to say that feminism isgender equality, are unhappy with this, but I think the poll captures a truth. Whatever feminists say, their true priorities are revealed in what they do, and what they do is, mostly, man-bashing and special pleading.

When you act like what pioneer feminist Betty Friedan once called "female chauvinist boors," you shouldn't be surprised to lose popularity.

"Mean girls" online mobbing may be fun for some, but it's not likely to appeal for long. If self-proclaimed feminists have nothing more to offer than that sort of bullying, then their obsolescence is well deserved.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor, is the author of The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself.

Brilliant Anti-Feminist Spoof Claims Space Scientist's Shirt Is 'Sexist'

""Feminist bloggers claimed that his shirt would make women feel unwelcome in [science, technology, engineering and maths]. What nonsense. No woman with a serious interest in astronomy would be deterred because she saw a tattooed guy in a risqué shirt."

"Feminism used to be about freedom and happiness. Lately it has entered an Orwellian Junior Anti-Sex League phase. Even the most mild sexual joke, song, or sexy lady T-shirt arouses the Twitter outrage warriors.

Women are more than welcome in science and technology, but I doubt that most scientists—male or female—welcome the arrival of these chronically-offended, humourless gender warriors"...

By contrast to those "This Is What A Feminist Looks Like" t-shirts, which are sold for £45 but made by 62p-a-day female sweatshop workers sleeping 16 to a room, Taylor's shirt was a lovingly-made one-off from a friend—a woman called Elly Prizeman...

No one disagrees with the equality of the sexes in principle. But some feminists want special privileges for girls. They say that depictions of women's bodies should be treated differently, because male and female bodies carry different associations. But anyone who wants to see double standards in action only needs to look at what feminists really get up to and imagine men getting away with the same thing. Can you imagine, for example, a man being let off the hook for joking about domestic violence?...

Feminists picks on easy targets these days because they've lost the battle for public sympathy and because they can't win arguments in the public square. Instead, they go for low-hanging fruit: minuscule perceived infractions by people who would normally be ideological allies. (Just a hunch, but I'm guessing Taylor and Prizeman don't vote Tory.)

The circus is fuelled by far-Left bloggers such as The Verge's Chris Plante, formerly a cofounder of games news site Polygon. Both sites have been implicated in a collusion scandal recently. Plante was responsible for the post about Taylor's shirt that kick-started the absurd spectacle that followed. His post was titled: "I don't care if you landed a spacecraft on a comet, your shirt is sexist and ostracizing." This, from a tech writer.

I started this column by poking fun at the people responsible for bullying Taylor into an apology, but in fact there's nothing amusing about the cruelty and smugness of social justice warriors who could yesterday be seen on Twitter crowing about their victory and exchanging smarmy congratulations for making a scientific hero cry on television.

Described by his sister as a "typical absent-minded scientist" who struggles to park his own car, Matt Taylor is the sort of quirky genius normally lauded by the Left. But they've become so obsessive and self-destructive that they've turned to internecine bullying raids to get their pound of flesh. Can't we please cast these malcontents, agitators and sociopaths back out into the wilderness where they belong?"

 photo maletears_zpsc6f08caf.png


Boris Johnson: Critics who attacked comet scientist over shirt should hang their own heads and apologise

"The Mayor of London likened Dr Taylor’s accusers to “Islamist maniacs” and the attacks on him to “a scene from Mao’s cultural revolution”.

Mr Johnson said: “What are we all, a bunch of Islamist maniacs who think any representation of the human form is an offence against God?

“This is the 21st century, for goodness’ sake”...

He lamented the attacks on Dr Taylor, while suggesting they were hypocritical because the likes of Kim Kardashian are held to be “noble and pure” by some web users.

He added: “No wonder our politics sometimes feels so sterilised and homogenised.

“There must be room in our world for eccentricity, even if it offends the prudes, and room for the vague other-worldliness that often goes with genius.

“Dr Taylor deserves the applause of our country, and those who bash him should hang their own heads and apologise.”"

Links - 17th November 2014

'Inventing Wine': The History Of A Very Vintage Beverage - "People would add a variety of unexpected ingredients to obscure and enhance the flavor. Everything, Lukacs says, "from lead to ash to myrrh to various kinds of incense, spices. And the most common thing added, especially to wines that people valued, were fresh resin from pine trees or boiled resin — namely pitch — from pine trees. Lead, in fact, will sweeten wine, so lead was used for thousands and thousands of years." The book is filled with surprising facts about the drink. Pharaohs have been buried beside jugs of it. The Quran promises baths of wine in the afterlife because here on Earth, humans are too weak not to succumb to its temptations. In World War I, France sent bottles of wine to its troops to help fortify them against the horrors they were experiencing in the trenches."

Coffee and qahwa: How a drink for Arab mystics went global - "In Mecca, Cairo and Istanbul attempts were made to ban it by religious authorities. Learned shaykhs discussed whether the effects of coffee were similar to those of alcohol, and some remarked that passing round the coffee pot had something in common with the circulation of a pitcher of wine, a drink forbidden in Islam. Coffee houses were a new institution in which men met together to talk, listen to poets and play games like chess and backgammon. They became a focus for intellectual life and could be seen as an implicit rival to the mosque as a meeting place. Some scholars opined that the coffee house was "even worse than the wine room", and the authorities noted how these places could easily become dens of sedition. However, all attempts at banning coffee failed, even though the death penalty was used during the reign of Murad IV (1623-40). The religious scholars eventually came to a sensible consensus that coffee was, in principle, permissible."

SCIENCE: WHY EUNUCHS DON'T WEAR TOUPEES - "If you don't fancy drugs, surgery or resignation, Dr Nilofer Farjo, Harley Street surgeon and expert in balding treatments, suggests the only other way to prevent pattern balding is castration. "A bit drastic but eunuchs don't go bald," she notes." Andy Bryant, director of Natural Hair Products, begs to disagree. Having saved his own head of hair with no loss of body parts, he now advises up to 1,500 people a year on lifestyle changes which he says can slow hair loss and give measurable regrowth. His prescription is simple: reduce stress, reduce or cut out tea, coffee, alcohol and high sugar foods. All, he argues, increase stress hormones such as adrenalin and prolactin which increase levels of testosterone and consequently DHT. "If you stabilise the over-reaction of the adrenal glands, the rate of hair loss slows quickly," says Bryant, who is convinced that whatever the genetic background, levels of circulating DHT are the key. In countries where tea, coffee, alcohol and sugar consumption is low, he notes, pattern baldness is less prevalent, as is prostate cancer. When Japanese men move to the US, their rate of prostate cancer increases three to five times, and Japanese researchers, who believe consumption of more animal fat is giving Japanese men increasingly greasy scalps have also reported a link between excessive oil in the scalp and hair loss... Medical experts tend to dismiss lifestyle approaches, arguing that changing diet or reducing stress won't change hair follicles genetically programmed to fail. But the strains of modern life could explain a phenomenon clearly identified by both medics and alternative proponents. And that is that men are balding earlier... Being licked by a cow may work - the chemicals in cow saliva may stimulate growth factors in the scalp."

Marion Cotillard justifie son (mauvais) jeu d'actrice: une stratégie douteuse - "elle conclut : "Quand je n’aime pas le réalisateur et le tournage, je suis mauvaise à l’écran." Risée du grand public, Cotillard semble avoir trouvé ici une occasion de se justifier auprès de ses pairs. Le fait qu'elle ne place pas Nolan dans les réalisateurs qu'elle admire, alors qu'il l'a dirigé dans deux énormes succès, laisse apparaître en filigrane une critique envers sa direction d'acteurs. En effet, pointée du doigt pour la médiocrité de son jeu dans "The Dark Knight Rises", elle souligne ici le fait que l'origine du problème est toujours dû à son lien avec le réalisateur."

Five Reasons China Won't Be A Big Threat To America's Global Power

Why Have Female Hurricanes Killed More People Than Male Ones? – Phenomena: Not Exactly Rocket Science - "Jung team thinks that the effect he found is due to unfortunate stereotypes that link men with strength and aggression, and women with warmth and passivity. Thanks to these biases, people might take greater precautions to protect themselves from Hurricane Victor, while reacting more apathetically to Hurricane Victoria. “These kinds of implicit biases routinely affect the way actual men and women are judged in society,” says Sharon Shavitt, who helped to design the study. “It appears that these gender biases can have deadly consequences.” But Jeff Lazo from the National Centre for Atmospheric Research disagrees. He’s a social scientist and economist who has looked into the public communication of hurricane risk, and he thinks the pattern is most likely a statistical fluke, which arose because of the ways in which the team analysed their data."
Ahh... feminist research!
Keywords: the original paper was called "Female hurricanes are deadlier than male hurricanes"

Trans activists really need to lighten up - "There must be some reason why the trans community, as it calls itself, is worse at taking criticism or tolerating insulting commentary than, say, the Christian community or the butch lesbian community, both of which also get flak on the internet and elsewhere but don’t tend to respond to it in the way trans types do... When I wrote a piece arguing that Bradley Manning is not a woman, despite his claims to the contrary, I was bombarded with suggestions that I should kill myself. This from trans activists who (ludicrously) held Daily Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn responsible for the suicide of a trans schoolteacher and said the media must be careful never to criticise this community lest its members feel tempted to kill themselves... Some groups seem more capable of riding out criticism than others. Yes, Christian outfits play the victim card and bleat to officialdom about feeling offended by an ad or an article, but mostly they just ignore web-based Christian-bashing, which is voluminous. Islamists are more sensitive, hollering for beheadings whenever someone mocks Muhammad or says the Koran is cobblers. And the trans lobby is even more sensitive than that, reacting with censorious anger not only to insults but also to people’s allegedly incorrect use of language, to being called ‘a transsexual’, for example, rather than ‘a member of the trans community’. They even picket the offices of newspapers that have the temerity to piss them off. Why the extraordinary touchiness? I think it reflects the fundamental flimsiness of the trans identity, the fragility of this so-called community... this is a ‘community’ so sadly uncertain of its own claims, so instinctively aware of the largely phoney nature of its arguments, that it must protect itself from any form of public ridicule or questioning lest its facade be knocked down."

'Worst' File-Sharing Pirates Spend 300% More on Content Than 'Honest' Consumers | TorrentFreak - "So what might encourage infringers to stop accessing content illegally? As usual, pricing, availability and convenience top the list. Interestingly, fears over internet disconnections in the Top 20% group trumped fears of being sued."

Illegal downloads surge after the Netherlands blockades Pirate Bay, study finds

Bikini Waxing Dangers: 5 Health Risks To Consider - ""Any infection that requires contact to spread will be more easily caught if there is any damage to the skin in the area," Krant told HuffPost in an email. "This can be anything from obvious cuts all the way to microscopic torn follicle roots that aren't visible on the surface. Herpes, HPV (genital warts and possibly cervical cancer), HIV, and other STIs also have increased risk with skin trauma.""

How To Turn A Feminist Into Your Sex Slave
This was quite funny, but unfortunately they've removed it

Why Famous Men Become Outspoken Feminists - "The fact is that their fanbases are predominantly female. Women are doing most of the subscribing/following of their social media accounts, buying most of the products they advertise, buying most of the tickets to their shows/movies, and generally providing most of the vocal support that drives their celebrity. Modern celebrity culture is highly feminized by necessity – it is built to cater to the people who fuel it most, and those people are overwhelmingly women... most high value men maintain standards that their fans wouldn’t want to hear about. More often than not, these men have extremely attractive, well-groomed, fit females on their arms. Men like John Legend (one of the more recent self-proclaimed male feminists in Hollywood) have dating histories that consist almost exclusively of relationships with physically fit, aesthetically elite models. Actions speak louder than words: these men have standards, and those standards do tend to favor fit, well-groomed women. Men like Legend cannot come out and say that, however, because if they do their female fanbases will no longer be able to delude themselves into believing that they have even the slimmest of chances of appealing to a high value male like him."

Oscar Pistorius: Salvaging the Super Crip Narrative - The Feminist Wire | The Feminist Wire - "From the vantage point of a black crip feminist, I am both fascinated and perturbed by the narratives surrounding the fatal shooting of Steenkamp. Through the lens of pop culture, what makes that which has transpired, and has yet to transpire, tragic? How are the tragedies framed in the media? And why? Here, I critically examine these and other questions to demonstrate just some of the ways in which power relations have shaped perceptions of innocence, violence, heroism, context, and death... The reality that Oscar may have shot and killed his girlfriend seems almost too ludicrous of a probability for many people to fathom because for Oscar to have “overcome” the so-called tragedy of disability means that, surely, he must be in possession of a positive disposition that (literally) enabled him to do so in the first place. Therefore, owing to that positive disposition (embodied through the active disembodiment of disability), he is seen as incapable of premeditating murder, which has manifested itself in a rather problematic presumption of innocence. To be clear, the “innocence” to which I refer functions not necessarily as an endorsement of his character, but rather as a form of ableism born out of a denial of agency to disabled bodies. Indeed, many people don’t conceive of Oscar as an active agent in his own life because, off the track, compulsory able bodiedness outperforms him."

Chris Bast's answer to Feminism: Is it correct to state that someone who is not a feminist is by virtue of not being a feminist, a sexist or a misogynist? - Quora - "It's really tiring the way so many feminists insist that "feminism" means nothing more than "the desire for gender equality". Perhaps that was the original meaning, but definitions change over time. Words acquire new meanings and new connotations as language and ideas evolve. Once upon a time the word "liberal" referred to (among other things) a person who strongly believed in free market capitalism. And the words "left-wing" and "right-wing" referred to supporters of a French republic versus supporters of a French monarchy. Today those words obviously don't mean the same thing. They have acquired different (sometimes radically different) connotations... To say "if you are not a feminist then you are sexist / misogynist" is like saying that anyone who refuses to join a revival of the National Socialist German Worker's Party must therefore hate Germans and factory workers."

How to Kill an Eel

Little Johnny was 7 years old, and like other boys his age, rather curious. He had been hearing quite a bit about courting from other boys and he wondered what it was and how it was done. One day, he took his questions to his mother, and she became flustered. Instead of explaining things to Johnny she told him to hide behind the curtains one night and watch his older sister and her boyfriend. This he did, and the following morning, Johnny explained everything to his mother.

Sis and her boyfriend sat and talked for awhile, then he turned off most of the lights. Then he started to kiss and hug her, I figured sis must be getting sick because her face started looking funny. He must have thought so too because he put his hand in her blouse to feel her heart, just like the doctor would. Except he's not as good as the doctor, because he seemed too have trouble finding her heart. He was getting sick too, because pretty soon both of them started panting and getting all out of breath. His other hand must have been getting cold because he put it under her skirt. About this time, sis got toward the end of the couch. This was when the fever started. I know it was a fever because sis told him she was really HOT. Finally, I found out what was making them so sick....a big eel had gotten inside his pants somehow. It just jumped out of his pants and stood there about 9 inches long. HONEST! anyway, he grabbed it in one hand to keep it from getting away. When sis saw it she got really scared. Her eyes big and her mouth fell open, and she started calling out to God and stuff like that. I should tell her about the ones I saw at the lake!

"Anyway", sis got brave and tried to kill the eel by biting its head off. All of a sudden, she made a noise and let the eel go...I guess it bit her back. Then she grabbed it with both hands and held it while he took a muzzle out of his pocket and slipped it over the eels head to keep it from biting again.

Sis lay back and spread her legs so that she could get a scissor lock on it. And he helped by laying on top of the eel. The eel put up a hell of a fight. Sis started groaning and squealing and her boyfriend almost upset the couch. I guess they wanted to kill the eel by squishing it between them.

After a while, they both quit moving and gave a great sigh. Her boyfriend sat up and sure enough they had killed the eel...I knew it was dead because it just hung there limp and some of its insides were hanging out. Sis and her boyfriend were a little tired from the battle, but they went courting on anyway. He started hugging and kissing her again. And by golly, the eel wasn't dead after all. It jumped straight up and started to fight again. I guess eels are like cats....they have nine lives or something.

This time sis jumped up and tried to kill the eel by sitting on it. After about 35 minutes of struggle, they finally killed the eel. I know it was dead this time because I saw sis's boyfriend peel off the skin and flush it down the toilet.

Mother fainted.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Being Sensitive to Religion

Be mindful of local sensitivities | Readers' Post

I think it’s worthy to note that there are many Muslims who are readers of The Sunday Times. I was quite disturbed by the fact that the paper’s edition on Oct 5 which falls on Hari Raya Haji featured a distasteful article in the Sunday Life! section (“Cheat Sheet: Ham”). The Sunday Life! food critics could have been more sensitive to the events that unfolded for some Muslims on this religiously auspicious occasion such as the sacrifice of cows or sheep. They could have chosen a food-related theme and perhaps discussed lamb cuts. At the very least, avoid discussing non-halal food (food that Islam sanctions against consumption such as ham). Local journalists should practise more sensitivity and respect local cultures, at least for the most important races in Singapore.

Our reasons:

While we are mindful of religious sensitivities, Singapore is a secular nation and The Straits Times is a secular newspaper. If we were to adopt the stricture advocated by Mr Idris, we would be unable, for instance, to publish stories about consuming beef on days when Hindus observe Thaipusam and celebrate Deepavali as well as meat-related stories on Vesak Day when Buddhists observe a vegetarian diet, and on certain days of Lent which is observed by Catholics.

During Ramadan, the Straits Times shouldn't talk about food because Muslims are fasting.

Links - 16th November 2014

“Fast-Food Civil Rights”: Would You Like Fries With That, Comrade? | Thought Catalog - "This notion of “justice” being applied to fast-food jobs is the latest way to organize and make demands. Once it’s politicized it becomes an argument that takes on a whole new tone. If you don’t support this call for a “living wage,” suddenly you’re against civil rights, and that makes you a racist bigot who is beneath contempt. But I believe framing this as a civil-rights issue is ludicrous and an insult to the people who endured the civil-rights struggles of the past. Even though Rep. John Lewis has compared the movements, calling the pay “starvation wages,” no one is being forced to work at any fast-food restaurant against their will. Ronald McDonald isn’t siccing the dogs or turning the fire hoses on these poor souls. The restaurant industry has responded that the jobs are meant to be entry-level positions and not lifelong careers. Their concern is that if they had to pay employees $15 an hour, customers would feel the pinch. It doesn’t take a business whiz to realize that if a fast-food worker starts at $15 an hour then the industry will change how it conducts business, either by drastically raising prices or laying off workers—probably both. That would be ironic considering other low-wage earners would then likely be priced out of the one restaurant experience they can usually afford. Some of the fast-food workers at Saturday’s convention were wearing T-shirts that said, “We Are Worth More.” But are they really?... a reporter speaking to the two dozen or so activists at a Krystal hamburger restaurant noted that the majority were not actually workers, but union organizers or members. The Service Employees International Union has been providing financial and organizational support to these protests. So this movement would seem to be more about consolidation of union power and union dues than any real concern over civil rights. It was also noted that one protester held a sign quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stating “Capitalism has outlived its usefulness”... Only anti-capitalists would organize for a union that would seek to suck the profits and wages in union dues from a business instead of banding together to start their own business to compete in the marketplace. But then again, whining for what you want is always easier than working for what you want"

The Math Sex Gap Revisited: A Theory of Everyone - "With a male-to-female variance ratio of 1.15 and zero gap in the means, filling tenured faculty slots in rank order of ability imposes the following bounds:
Case I: No more than 26% of faculty positions will be occupied by women.
Case II: No more than 33% of faculty positions will be occupied by women.
Thus, "the discrepancy in variances is not large" means that it only restricts female participation in this segment of the marketplace to between 26% and 33%. And we have not considered the sex gap in the means. Accounting for it, the bounds drop to between 16% and 22%... If we incorporate this proclivity factor of 5 into the rank-order calculation, the ceiling on tenured women faculty in math-intensive fields at research institutions drops to between 4% and 6%. In elite departments, say the top five, the ceiling will be lower still. Prenatal testosterone supplements might improve the numbers... The ACT composite score is a weighted average of English, math, reading and science scores. In Colorado and Illinois, where there are no sampling problems, as well as nationally where there are, girls outscore boys in English and reading, while boys outscore girls in math and science. And, as in SATs, boys outnumber girls 2 to 1 in the highest ACT levels of mathematics achievement... Allowing for statistical fluctuation, it is evident from Table 1 that:

Why Don’t I Criticize Israel? : Sam Harris - "this is an incredibly boring and depressing question for a variety of reasons. The first, is that I have criticized both Israel and Judaism. What seems to have upset many people is that I’ve kept some sense of proportion... Whatever terrible things the Israelis have done, it is also true to say that they have used more restraint in their fighting against the Palestinians than we—the Americans, or Western Europeans—have used in any of our wars. They have endured more worldwide public scrutiny than any other society has ever had to while defending itself against aggressors. The Israelis simply are held to a different standard. And the condemnation leveled at them by the rest of the world is completely out of proportion to what they have actually done... What would the Jews do to the Palestinians if they could do anything they wanted? Well, we know the answer to that question, because they can do more or less anything they want. The Israeli army could kill everyone in Gaza tomorrow. So what does that mean? Well, it means that, when they drop a bomb on a beach and kill four Palestinian children, as happened last week, this is almost certainly an accident... What do we know of the Palestinians? What would the Palestinians do to the Jews in Israel if the power imbalance were reversed? Well, they have told us what they would do. For some reason, Israel’s critics just don’t want to believe the worst about a group like Hamas, even when it declares the worst of itself... Every day that you could read about an Israeli rocket gone astray or Israeli soldiers beating up an innocent teenager, you could have read about ISIS in Iraq crucifying people on the side of the road, Christians and Muslims. Where is the outrage in the Muslim world and on the Left over these crimes? Where are the demonstrations, 10,000 or 100,000 deep, in the capitals of Europe against ISIS? If Israel kills a dozen Palestinians by accident, the entire Muslim world is inflamed. God forbid you burn a Koran, or write a novel vaguely critical of the faith. And yet Muslims can destroy their own societies—and seek to destroy the West—and you don’t hear a peep... apart from the influence of Jewish extremism (which I condemn), Israel’s continued appropriation of land has more than a little to do with her security concerns"

Big breasts discourage women from exercising (except when they don’t) - "the research specifies that there is no observed link between breast size and physical activity, meaning it’s not just larger-breasted women who are put off exercising. So exactly why so much coverage specifies that it’s big-breasted women who are put off is anyone’s guess. It’s almost like mentioning big breasts in a headline is more likely to get web traffic or something... The fact that breast size isn’t linked to reluctance to exercise suggests the main reasons are more social or cultural. Women can only be too aware that their breasts get a lot of negative attention. It’s also worth considering that, despite the declarations of the headlines, the original study shows that breasts are ranked 4th as a reason for not exercising, behind lack of energy, time constraints and health reasons. All of these reasons are perfectly valid, but clearly aren’t considered as important or interesting as “having boobs”"

Mega Uses Random Data From Your Mouse and Keyboard To Beef Up Its Already Insane Encryption (Updated)

Video Game Racism "The New Norm"? - "this sort of rumination seems to me to be picking a fight where none exists. And it points up the difference between sensitivity and tolerance. Not everything has to provide a teachable moment or avoid an uncomfortable subject altogether. Look at film"

Moderate Muslims in Singapore must speak up. - "the Malay Muslim community in Singapore should unite and speak up to counter the image that ISIS and local extremists have portrayed on the whole Muslim community. Funnily, the local Muslim community were so vocally anti-Israel when the Jewish state launched ground offensive against Hamas with some even called for the boycott of McDonalds but the community were muted when it comes to ISIS and its local supporters."

Telegraph Journalist Accuses World Health Organisation of Gay Stereotyping - "The World Health Organisation (WHO) has been accused of promoting gay stereotyping following it’s report published last week, which urged gay men to use antiretroviral drugs as an additional method of HIV prevention."
Apparently it's better to let gay men die than to 'stereotype' them

Israel, Hamas, WhatsApp And Hacked Phones in the Gaza Psy-War - "Liron Shamam, a popular anchor on Israel’s most-watched morning news show, was sitting in her apartment in Tel Aviv, wondering what it must be like for those living in Gaza. So she embarked on a quest to find her Palestinian doppelganger. “I was so sad and depressed,” she said. “I couldn’t help but think there must be someone in Gaza, sitting in their apartment wondering the same thing about me.” Minutes after posting a message on Facebook, she was talking to a Palestinian journalist in Gaza. But the conversation was cut short when the man on the other end of the line had to run to the shelter. “Before he hung up, I told him, ‘be safe!’ and he wished me the same.” Ironically, rockets began flying over Shamam’s apartment in Tel Aviv that very moment. The symmetry of their experiences only made her more determined to continue her journey. “I remember thinking, this is fucked up.”"

Lawrence Kurniawan's answer to Why are women so negative about the "picking up women" school of thought? - Quora - "the rabbit hole goes really deep and some women have only tasted the breadcrumbs the old rabbits left behind. Suffice to say they didn't like the mould... What you read from Neil Strauss's The Game is old and just the tip of the iceberg. I'm guessing that some women didn't like pick-up because of some techniques advocated there (like negging) and the objectification of women, amongst other things. I agree that they are horrible, but they don't represent the whole pick-up field. To say that pick-up is nasty because of that is akin to hating Biology because you think cloning is immoral... Does pick-up benefit women?
Yes, in many ways.
1. Many things taught in pick-up are actually androgynous. They are transferable to life in general and business, especially networking. It teaches you how to read people better, connect with strangers, take calculated risk, act despite fear, be a better person and the list goes on.
2. More men with better dating skills mean you will have better love life and better selections.
Every good things in this world can be used for bad purposes, pick-up is no exception."

Prostitution Law Canada: Should Bill C-36 Debate Hear From Johns? - "Atchison says that what's missing from the new law is a basic understanding of how many johns there are in Canada and what motivates them to buy sex. He says the best comparative numbers are from Britain, New Zealand and Australia, where four to seven per cent of the male population have purchased sex. "[But for Canada] there is no indication at the broader level. Which then begs the question, how is it that we can have this legislation that has been proposed to address a problem when nobody knows the magnitude of the so-called problem." In his research, Atchison has spoken to "literally thousands" of men who bought sex. The act itself is the main reason they visit prostitutes, but it is not the only one. Johns have told him they want companionship, conversation, physical touch. Some are handicapped or suffering from degenerative diseases that leave them paralyzed. Perhaps most surprising, there are johns who have long-term connections with a sex provider that in some cases last for years. They are what he calls "pseudo-monogamous relationships." In a recent interview on CBC Radio's The 180, James Rodney admitted to having been a regular user of sexual services in the 1990s. He was working at a fly-in job in a remote area of Canada and didn't feel having a one-night stand was fair to the woman... John Lowman, a criminologist at Simon Fraser University who has studied prostitution and the law since 1977, thinks Section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms — equality rights — will get a workout this time around. He explains that the proposed law would allow a woman to sell sex without fear of prosecution. "Then the full weight of the law can be brought against the man who buys those sexual services. It is institutionalized, state-sponsored entrapment," he says. On top of that, argues Lowman, this approach will just put prostitutes at as much risk of violence as they were under the old regime — the exact opposite of what this law is supposed to do. "I think that [abolitionists] are quite prepared to sacrifice sex sellers in the name of their particular ideology, which is about creating what they think is an equal society by abolishing prostitution," says Lowman."

This Accidental Experiment Shows The Superiority Of Patriarchy

This Accidental Experiment Shows The Superiority Of Patriarchy

"Patriarchy has been extremely successful, despite its recent vilification. Most cultures worldwide are patriarchal – to find examples of successful matriarchal societies you either have to turn to ancient history, remote outskirts of the world or feminist fiction. However, this hasn’t stopped the feminist collective from queefing out books and even a hashtag hailing the end of patriarchy in a textbook example of incestuous amplification.

What patriarchy, after its apparent downfall, will be replaced with remains to be seen. Hamsterizations aside, there is surprisingly little data available about what life would be like in a society made up of only men or only women. An enterprising social scientist might want to perform an experiment where groups of men and groups of women are left to their own devices, having to work together to survive against the elements and build a civilization from scratch. However, this scientist would have a very hard time convincing ethical review boards that the inevitable suffering of his participants would weight up against the value of the data.

Luckily, reality television is not bound by ethical constraints and once in a while, in its never ending quest for viewer ratings, reality TV accidentally performs a very interesting experiment that social scientists would never be allowed to do.

I had the pleasure of watching the Dutch version of Survivor (Expeditie Robinson) with my feminist roommate. That particular season would have two islands, one populated by men and one populated by women. My roommate had been promoting that particular series to me and the other students in the house for weeks because it would show us, according to her, what a society run by women – free from the evils of patriarchy – would be like.

And it did. Oh it did.

Here is what happened: initially both groups were dropped on their respective islands, given some supplies to get started and left to fend for themselves. In both groups there was some initial squabbling as people tried to figure out a local hierarchy. The men pretty much did whatever they felt was necessary – there was no leader giving orders. Men who felt like hunting, foraging or fishing did so. Another guy decided he was fed up with sitting on sand and started making benches. Others built a hut that gradually grew and evolved. Another guy cooked every night. Within days a neat little civilization was thriving, each day being slightly more prosperous than the previous one.

The women settled into a routine as well. The hung up a clothesline to dry their towels, then proceeded to sunbathe and squabble. Because unlike men, women were unable to do anything without consensus of the whole group. And because it was a group of at least a dozen women, consensus was never reached. During the next few episodes, the women ate all their initial supplies, got drenched by tropical storms several times, were eaten alive by sand fleas and were generally miserable. The men on the other hand, were quite content. There were disagreements of course, but they were generally resolved.

Eventually, the people running the program decided something had to change. In order to help the women out, three men would be selected to go to their island. In return, three women would take their place at the men’s island. The look on my feminist roommates face during this episode was priceless...

The three men ended up working like dogs, using all the skills developed by trial and error in their first few weeks – building a hut, fish, trying to get the women to forage. The women continued to bitch and sunbathe. The three women who were sent to the men’s island were delighted – food, shelter and plenty of male attention was freely available. They too continued to sunbathe.

And that my friends, is what patriarchy is. My former roommate, unsurprisingly, is no longer a feminist...

CBS broadcast several Survivor seasons in the US, where men and women started off in separate groups. In most cases (the Amazon and One World), the result was the same. The men quickly got their act together, getting access to food, fire and shelter while the women spent a lot of time and energy on petty little squabbles, eating their meager supplies, getting drenched in storms and generally being pathetic. The opposite situation, where men didn’t get their act together while women quickly built a functional micro society, has not yet been observed outside of feminist fiction, and it probably never will."
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