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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Links - 29th November 2014

Why Germans are afraid of Google (and Amazon, Uber, YouTube...) - "The German voter-consumer will always trust the state more than he will any private company, no matter how ardently it insists on being a good guy. Trust in “the state” is hard to measure; polls vary greatly depending on the current government’s performance and personnel, among other factors. However, Germans regularly report much higher levels of trust in the leading state institutions - the federal legislature, the courts and the police - than Americans do. No major party, right or left, calls for shrinking the size of the state; the only party to do so, the Liberal Democrats, is too small to have a seat in the Bundestag, and is fighting for its life in state-level elections. Unlike in America, where trust in the state tends to dip during hard times, in Germany it rises. When problems appear, we look to “Vater Staat” - the Father State - to protect us."

The mystery of the vanishing iPod Classic, solved! - "“We couldn’t get the parts anymore, not anywhere on Earth,” Cook said. “It wasn’t a matter of me swinging the ax, saying ‘what can I kill today?’”"

Why Boosting Your Self-Esteem Will Improve Your Relationship - "The researchers reported that the higher a couple’s initial self-esteem was, the happier they tended to be in their relationship. They also found that changes in self-esteem over time were strongly related to changes in relationship satisfaction. Specifically, increases in individual self-esteem heralded improvements in relationship satisfaction while drops in individual self-esteem predicted drops in the couple’s relationship satisfaction."

Answer Comments - Quora - "Whacko feminism is like a feminist march I saw in the early '90s in Zurich where women paraded with giant scissors with "cut 'em off!" painted on them. Or the professor of gender studies who kicked me out of a seminar at Zurich university simply because I was male. And I was booed out of the room. I had done or said nothing offensive - it was simply because I was male. That's seriously whacko."

Why Is There a USB Drive Sticking Out of This Wall? - "Across New York, there are USB drives embedded in walls, buildings and curbs. The idea is to create an anonymous, offline file-sharing network in public space. The drives are completely public and anyone can plug in to drop and download files."

Mood swings? It might be more than PMS… - "The thing is, I thought that I was a bit of an oddity, responding to a combined pill in this way. But talking to Peter Greenhouse, and other GPs that evening, I realised that this is actually a common experience. Some GPs I spoke to wouldn't even prescribe the particular brand of the combined pill that I took – for this very reason. But, weirdly, it seems that this potential side-effect of the most commonly prescribed combined pill (Microgynon, Ovranette or Levest) is far from being common knowledge among GPs – or indeed among women. It's also distinctly lacking in the warning notes that come with the pills. And this all seems even more odd when it's well known that mood changes are the main reason for women stopping taking the pill. Perhaps physical side-effects are considered to be more important, somehow more tangible – but surely a side-effect that could derail and even wreck relationships is one that needs to be taken seriously. At the very least, women need to be warned about the possibility."

Kellogg's Study: The Ape and the Child - "Winthrop Niles Kellogg (1898 - 1972) was a psychologist best known for his study The Ape and the Child, which involved his observations of raising a chimpanzee infant along with his own son... Although the chimp progressed faster than the boy in the earliest stages, it became evident towards the end of the experiment that she was falling behind, especially ‘in the matter of intellectual adaptation to human demands’. The early superiority is attributed to the fact that anthropoids in general mature earlier than humans. A monkey reaches puberty at about four years, whereas humans reach puberty between twelve and fourteen on average, with girls generally reaching puberty before boys. In the report of this experiment by Dr. Kellogg and his wife it was indicated that a good deal of human socializing can be achieved by an animal through training and human association. But it also was noted that ‘there are definite limits to the degree of humanization that can be achieved by non-human species regardless of the amount of socializing and humanizing effects’."

National Trust and English Heritage lifetime membership: Why it still pays to buy at 60 - "Only an actuary could work out the ages at which it's worth paying £1,430 for life membership of National Trust - so we asked one "

The Father of Modern Terrorism - "in 1996, Arafat brayed to an Arab audience in Stockholm, "We plan to eliminate the State of Israel and establish a purely Palestinian state. We will make life unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion... We Palestinians will take over everything, including all of Jerusalem." Asked about his plans on Egyptian television in 1998, Arafat explained that strategic pause was a venerable Islamic strategy, referring specifically to the "Khudaibiya agreement" in which the Prophet Mohammed made a ten-year treaty with the Arabian tribe of Koreish, but broke it after two years -- during which his forces used the security of the pact to marshal their strength -- and then conquered the Koreish tribe... on December 16, 2001, with American forces suppressing terrorists in Afghanistan, an ostensibly chastened Arafat appeared on PA-controlled Palestinian television to warn Hamas and Islamic Jihad against "all military activities" against Israel, and to purportedly "renew" his "call to completely halt any activities, especially suicide attacks, which we have condemned and always condemned." This time, the ploy fell flat -- undercut, no doubt, after the Nobel laureate characteristically followed it up only two days later with a speech at a Ramallah rally -- the kind of red meat always conveniently ignored in the halcyon pre-9/11 days. "With God's help," he boasted:
"Next time we will meet in Jerusalem, because we are fighting to bring victory to our prophets, every baby, every kid, every man, every woman and every old person and all the young people, we will all sacrifice ourselves for our holy places and we will strengthen our hold of them and we are willing to give 70 of our martyrs for every one of theirs in this campaign, because this is our holy land. We will continue to fight for this blessed land and I call on you to stand strong.""

From Otherkin to Transethnicity: Your Field Guide to the Weird World of Tumblr Identity Politics - "Tumblr, which has a huge, passionate social justice community — thousands of people interested in feminism, gay rights, trans rights and other interrelated issues — is a natural fit for this group of otherkin. (Other, similar communities exist on LiveJournal and the TV Tropes message boards.) Like other Tumblr users who are members of marginalized groups, otherkin start their own blogs and write about their identities and the axieties and injustices of daily life (one says she was fired for being otherkin, others talk about coming out to their friends and family). They trade support and sympathy. And they fight with people who don't buy it — more often than not, people who they think should be broadly sympathetic to their goals." "If you follow any blogs that have anything to do with leftism, feminism, etc., there's probably someone that's going to reblog someone else that feels the need to pay lip service to people who identify as inanimate objects," the guy behind Tumblr.TXT, a Twitter account dedicated to reproducing some of the site's most outlandish claims, told me over email. (He asked not to be identified by name: "I'm mocking people who belong in insane asylums and don't want to end up being tortured in a basement by people in fox costumes")... There's a sharp division between the activists who believe their ethical and ideological commitments require them to accept to be open to any professed identity — and those who think that in the absence of structural oppression, cisgendered white people claiming to be gay Korean cats aren't just playing fantasy games but also undermining the strength of the movement by taking it to a bizarre conclusion."
If it's okay to think you were born the wrong sex, why not the wrong species?

Is Trans Ethnic Really A Thing* - "So, trans ethnic is showing up as the belief that you were born in the wrong race/culture. Unsurprisingly, it's a bunch of white people claiming to be non-whites. It was yesterday that I discovered trans ethnicity as a described concept as part of a conversation between two Hourou Musuko fans, and how being trans ethnic (in this case being a white American but thinking the person should have been Asian Japanese) was exactly the same as being transgender... queer and trans struggles have led not to an acceptance of our identities, but rather the appropriation of our language and discourse to create more boxes in which individuals, usually teens or early twenty-somethings, place themselves in while searching for that elusive concept known as "identity.""
If it's okay to think you were born the wrong sex, why not the wrong race?
Why don't these criticisms apply to 'normal' identity politics?

Jim Durbin's answer to Why does it seem like the right has a lot more hateful elements than the left? - Quora - "Media bias and Democratic messaging... Take a look at the recent government shutdown. Republicans had measured tones, asking for compromise. Democrats used words like "bomb-throwers, gun to the head, terrorists... It might be that there is a Democrat in office, but if you look at the Bush years, the idea that the right was nastier than the left didn't really make sense. An out of power party is going to be accused of being nastier, but this goes far deeper. After the election in 2008, Democrats got nastier, despite having more power in Washington than any Republican Administration since Reconstruction... The Left functions on an emotional level. If you disagree with an issue, you're not just an opponent, you're a hater. If you want to cut the growth in the rate of spending, you're trying to kill the elderly. If you believe in originalist views of the Constitution, you want to take America back to the days of segregated lunch counters and backalley abortions. That's not arguing - it's abuse. If you can't win the argument, you try to drive your opponent from the public arena."

Fit Pride Isn’t ‘Hate Speech’ - "Facebook recently banned me temporarily from the site — shutting down my account for almost three days for supposedly violating the site’s terms of service — after a number of users flagged a post of mine venting about the damaging culture of fat acceptance. After my post had garnered thousands of likes, comments and shares, these users apparently reported what I wrote as “hate speech”... Most disturbing, however, is that we now apparently live in a culture where other people deliberately try to — and feel entitled to — censor speech they dislike by labeling it hateful. Have we really created a society so sensitive and weak that we cry “hate speech” whenever someone points out the fine line we’re walking as a nation by promoting a healthy body image above actual health? Has the growing movement promoting “fat acceptance” and even “fat pride” gone so far that now we need a countervailing movement promoting “fit pride”? We may just. Apparently, in America today, the only “real” women are the overweight... A study published recently in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology found that 1 in 4 overweight women thinks she’s thin, an understandable misperception given that being overweight has become so common. We’ve encouraged acceptance of this new normal by literally making room for our heavier culture. Often termed “vanity sizing”... Constant campaigns promoting self-acceptance and embracing one’s curves are placing the psychological need for a positive body image ahead of health. When you normalize a problem you create complacency. After all, you can’t fix a problem if you don’t see a problem... Have we accepted this new normal to the point that being a healthy everyday individual shatters the self-images of overweight people who think it’s impossible to become fit without Photoshop, plastic surgery or a personal trainer?"

The Painful Truth About Affirmative Action

Or how trying to 'help' minorities makes them worse off:

The Painful Truth About Affirmative Action

"The largest, most aggressive preferences are usually reserved for upper-middle-class minorities on whom they often inflict significant academic harm, whereas more modest policies that could help working-class and poor people of all races are given short shrift. Academic leaders often find themselves flouting the law and acting in ways that aggravate the worst consequences of large preferences. They have become prisoners of a system that many privately deplore for its often-perverse unintended effects but feel they cannot escape.

The single biggest problem in this system -- a problem documented by a vast and growing array of research -- is the tendency of large preferences to boomerang and harm their intended beneficiaries. Large preferences often place students in environments where they can neither learn nor compete effectively -- even though these same students would thrive had they gone to less competitive but still quite good schools...

With striking uniformity, university leaders view discussion of the mismatch problem as a threat to affirmative action and to racial peace on campuses, and therefore a subject to be avoided. They suppress data and even often ostracize faculty who attempt to point out the seriousness of mismatch... We believe that the willful denial of the mismatch issue is as big a problem as mismatch itself...

University administrators constantly fed agitation against the preference ban by emphasizing the drop in undergraduate minority admissions. Never did the university point out one overwhelming fact: The total number of black and Hispanic students receiving bachelor's degrees were the same for the five classes after Prop 209 as for the five classes before.

How was this possible? First, the ban on preferences produced better-matched students at UCLA, students who were more likely to graduate. The black four-year graduation rate at UCLA doubled from the early 1990s to the years after Prop 209.

Second, strong black and Hispanic students accepted UCLA offers of admission at much higher rates after the preferences ban went into effect; their choices seem to suggest that they were eager to attend a school where the stigma of a preference could not be attached to them. This mitigated the drop in enrollment...

Thus, Prop 209 changed the minority experience at UCLA from one of frequent failure to much more consistent success...

The quest for racial sensitivity has created environments in which it is not only difficult but downright risky for students and professors, not to mention administrators, to talk about what affirmative action has become and about the nature and effects of large admissions preferences. Simply acknowledging the fact that large preferences exist can trigger accusations that one is insulting or stigmatizing minority groups; suggesting that these preferences have counterproductive effects can lead to the immediate inference that one wants to eliminate or cut back efforts to help minority students.

The desire to be sensitive has sealed off failing programs from the scrutiny and dialogue necessary for healthy progress. It has also made racial preferences a force for economic inequality"

Friday, November 28, 2014

Links - 28th November 2014

The Inner Workings of the Apologist Mindset - "What Aslan is saying here is pretty extraordinary. He is asserting that sizeable percentages of Muslims around the world — many of whom have said in multiple polls that they support killing apostates and stoning adulterers to death — don’t get these views from their religion, but their attitudes are somehow inherent in them as people... “The conclusion that disproportionate numbers of intrinsically violent and misogynistic people reside in a certain region of the world could not be more bigoted or racist.” Recall also when Ben Affleck referred to criticism of Islam as “racist.” By saying that, he implied that Islam or its adherents are all of a particular race. This, of course, is a remarkably racist assertion in itself... This is the consequence of conflating criticism of ideas with bigotry against a people... Aslan insists that approaching these holy books the way most people approach most books — by reading the words on their pages precisely as they are written and assuming that the author actually meant what he wanted to say — is somehow “unsophisticated”... Words have power. Aslan acknowledges this when it comes to the role of politics, culture, and nationalism in shaping people’s “prejudices” and “preconceived notions.” But he doesn’t acknowledge this when it comes to religion. This doesn’t make any rational sense, considering the incredible influence these holy books have held over billions of people for millennia, despite a plethora of scientific discoveries and advancements that have successfully countered virtually all of their claims... I think it is an injustice and an insult to genuine victims of anti-Muslim bigotry to exploit their pain and struggle by using it to stifle any legitimate criticism of Islam. This is precisely what umbrella terms like “Islamophobia” do."

Gay marriage is now the issue through which the elite advertises its superiority over the redneck masses - "gay marriage has achieved this hot-potato status without the benefit of a mass movement demanding it, far less any public streetfighting or serious civil unrest by homosexuals determined to get hitched... The thing motoring the gay-marriage campaign, its political engine, is not any longstanding desire among homosexuals to get married or an active, passionate demand from below for the right of men to marry men and women to marry women. No, its driving force, the reason it has been so speedily and heartily embraced by the political and media classes, is because it is so very useful as a litmus test of liberal, cosmopolitan values... The use of gay marriage as a platform from which to announce one’s superior moral sensibilities can be seen in the way that its backers, those ostensibly liberal reformers, look down with undiluted snobbery upon their critics and opponents. Those who are against gay marriage, whether it is Catholic bishops or conservative politicians, are not seen simply as old-fashioned or wrong-headed, but as morally circumspect, possibly even evil. They are even branded as mentally disordered, being tagged as “homophobic” (that is, possessed of an irrational fear) if they so much as raise a peep of criticism of gay marriage. Here, ironically, gay campaigners rehabilitate the very same psychobabble that was once used to brand homosexuality as a disorder of the mind and wield it against anyone who now dares to say “I don’t like the gay lifestyle”. Indeed, liberal campaigners frequently claim that gay marriage, unlike every other issue in the world, is a straightforward black-and-white matter on which there is only one right answer – “yes”... there is no room for nuance, disagreement or even for debate when it comes to gay marriage – instead, paraphrasing George W Bush’s post-9/11 splitting of the world into good and evil camps, for many gay-marriage activists you are either for gay marriage or you are a lowlife. The bizarre emptying-out of political debate from the issue of gay marriage, and its transformation instead into a clear-cut moral matter that separates the good from the bad, shows what its backers really get out of it – a moral buzz, a rush of superiority as they declare, to anyone who will listen"

Gabriel Seah's answer to What bothers you the most about atheists? - Quora - "As an atheist, what bothers me the most is that many atheists seem to irrationally hate religion, as evidenced by the fact that they blame religion or religious institutions instinctively (and sometimes irrationally) and don't look at other factors or examine matters more deeply. For example, take the case of Savita Halappanavar - the woman who died in Ireland supposedly, we were told, because she couldn't get an abortion. At the time this was a plausible interpretation, not least because the media kept harping on it. Later, more detailed reports (the Health Service Executive and the Health Information and Quality Authority; Death of Savita Halappanavar) came out later which, yes, did find that hangups about abortion were one reason why she died. Yet, medical incompetence was a much more important reason. Yet, most atheists who I pointed this issue out to doggedly insisted that religion played a major role in her death and interpreted the inquiries' reports in a frankly bizarre way."

New way to show off your manicure

Obesity genes - "A study of 311 pairs of twins who had been raised apart and 362 pairs who had been raised together corroborated the results of other twin studies and indicated that the shared childhood environment has little or no influence on obesity. Moreover, other studies that compared the degree of obesity of participants who had been adopted with the degree of obesity in their biological relatives and members of their adoptive family also confirmed the evidence of a genetic influence on obesity and the absence of the effects of the environment in which they were raised"

NUS team's drug finding could help in obesity fight - "IF YOU cannot resist fatty food and get hungry soon after a meal, scientists in Singapore may have found a way to help you. They have discovered several potential drugs which target a genetic variation that greatly increases the risk of obesity in about one in six people. There are two copies of the gene, called FTO, in each person, but some variations of the gene have been found to make people 70 per cent more likely to become obese... Describing obesity as a widely misunderstood disease, Assistant Prof Woon said: "We frequently hear comments like, 'oh, why don't fat people just exercise more and eat less', but most people fail to appreciate that our body weight is not a personal choice. "It is very much biologically determined, with strong genetic influences that programme a person's size and appetite." British scientists had found that people with the FTO variations appeared to be wired to find high-fat foods more appealing. After those people finished a meal, their levels of ghrelin, which increases hunger, fell less and then climbed more quickly compared with other people who do not have the genetic variations."

#TakeDownJulienBlanc: Julien Blanc leaves Australia with his tail between his legs - "The Melbourne talk was originally set to take place at The Como Melbourne but was forced to move to a different venue after thousands spoke out against the misogynistic tactics used by Blanc under the hashtag, #takedownjulienblanc... Despite mounting pressure to cancel to his Melbourne talk, Blanc's team hired a boat from Melbourne River Cruises as a makeshift venue in Southbank, where around 50 ticket holders gathered to get tips from the so-called 'pick-up artist'. The substitute seminar was held by Blanc's assitant 'Max', who claimed that he did not know the whereabouts of Blanc at the time. Protesters gathered at St Kilda Pier before sun down, flashing banners saying "Destroy rape culture. Destroy Julien Blanc". According to News Limited reports, as the boat attempted to leave the pier at 8pm, dozens of protesters swarmed the vessel -- some managing to climb on board and hang on to ropes to stop it from leaving, forcing attendees to abandon the seminar"
So harassment and criminal intimidation are okay when used on some people; it's okay to "destroy" people you don't like

CNN.com - Transcripts - "Those girls I was hanging out with, you know, during my time there I did place my hand around their neck. I did not physically choke them... This is not what I teach. I don't do this, I don't teach it"
How many of these people signing the petitions would protest that those who ban the Satanic Verses without reading it are idiots - and yet have not seen Julien Blanc's material personally?

Ellie Goulding's Halloween costume sets off race row with critics - "Conservative MP Philip Davies last night called on the singer to ‘stick to her guns’, saying: ‘As far as I’m concerned, all of these people who are complaining are idiots. 'I never cease to be amazed at how easily people will take offence – and usually this is white, middle-class, Guardian-reading, sandal-wearing, politically correct do-gooders who are offended on someone else’s behalf. 'The people concerned are never usually offended themselves.’ Miss Goulding also received support from Crystal Speer, who works for the Native American Heritage Association in the United States. While the organisation does not have an official opinion on the matter, Mrs Speer said in a personal capacity: ‘I do think [the reaction] is a bit much. People these days will jump at anything to get offended at"
"WHite Man's Burden, it's really not even about Native Americans, honestly it is just how upper class liberal whites look down on whites they see as lower class or acting lower class....this type of thing is never about the minority it it is simply white folks class 'ish , minorities should never get confused by this type of status/education/income signaling."

18 complaints against Sim Lim Square's Mobile Air this year: CASE - "Shopkeepers at Sim Lim Square say little can be done about the unethical business practices of a small number of retailers at the mall, and are concerned that they might suffer retribution from the errant retailers if they voice their concerns publicly. One tenant, who declined to be named, said: "On Levels One to Three, all those dealing with mobiles phones and cameras, they have very bad reputations. Every now and then you can see police cars coming every week, visiting the shop because most of the time it's the shopkeepers having conflicts with the customers.” But he said he was resigned to the situation. “Even if I were to say something, I would not know what is the response I am going to get, whether the black sheep will take revenge on me. There is nothing much I can do. At the end of the day, the landlord will just say: 'Who's going to pay my rent? Are you going to rent my shop?’”"
Singapore: a pro-business country

Just half of Singaporeans make full use of their paid vacation days: Survey - "While Singaporeans only use an average of 14 out of 16 paid vacation days a year, just 52 per cent of bosses approve of them taking vacation time, according to a new survey by travel site Expedia released on Friday (Nov 7). And despite only 53 per cent of workers in Singapore using their full allotment of vacation days, 64 per cent of all workers still said that they were vacation deprived. Of all surveyed, 34 per cent said of the workers cited difficulties in coordinating time as the main reason, said the travel site, with 33 per cent saying their work schedule did not allow for it, and 26 per cent saying they lacked money. Singaporeans also enjoyed fewer paid vacation days for Singapore compared to other countries in the Asia Pacific, which had an average of 19 days. However, this pales in comparison to Europeans, who have nearly twice as many paid vacation days every year, according to the survey. Of the countries in the region surveyed, South Koreans were shown to take the least vacations, using only seven out of 15 days, while residents of the UAE used all of their 30 days allotted. The UAE also had the most paid vacation days, while Thailand had the least: Just 11."

Aural sex? It's just everyday ear cleaning in Chengdu - "A friend told me I just had to try it. She described it as an orgasm in her ear. Sounded more to me like an infection in my ear. The ancient practice of ear cleaning is alive and well in Chengdu, the leafy and relaxed capital of Sichuan province in southwestern China. Middle- aged men with a handful of metal tweezers and tongs and feathered sticks and bamboo scoopers roam parks and street corners looking to sit you down and scrape out your ear wax. Every big city in China is known for something: Shanghai is the financial capital; Hangzhou is a city of natural beauty; Guangzhou is the place to eat. As for Chengdu, it's the city of leisure. Traditional teahouses have largely disappeared in most of China, but they are still a thriving part of life in Chengdu, a place to while away the afternoon playing chess, gossiping with neighbors or just snoozing. For many Chinese, it's also the perfect place to get your ears cleaned while sipping tea"

An Open Letter to Moderate Muslims

An Open Letter to Moderate Muslims | Ali A. Rizvi

"What are non-Muslims supposed to think when even moderate Muslims like yourselves defend the very same words and book that these fundamentalists effortlessly quote as justification for killing them -- as perfect and infallible?...

If any kind of literature is to be interpreted "metaphorically," it has to at least represent the original idea. Metaphors are meant to illustrate and clarify ideas, not twist and obscure them. When the literal words speak of blatant violence but are claimed to really mean peace and unity, we're not in interpretation/metaphor zone anymore; we're heading into distortion/misrepresentation territory. If this disconnect was limited to one or two verses, I would consider your argument. If your interpretation were accepted by all of the world's Muslims, I would consider your argument. Unfortunately, neither of these is the case...

The belief that the Quran is the unquestionable word of God is fundamental to the Islamic faith, and held by the vast majority of Muslims worldwide, fundamentalist or progressive. Many of you believe that letting it go is as good as calling yourself non-Muslim. I get that. But does it have to be that way?

Having grown up as part of a Muslim family in several Muslim-majority countries, I've been hearing discussions about an Islamic reformation for as long as I can remember. Ultimately, I came to believe that the first step to any kind of substantive reformation is to seriously reconsider the concept of scriptural inerrancy...

Neither male nor female circumcision (M/FGM) are found in the Quran. Again, however, both are mentioned in the hadith. When Aslan discussed FGM, he neglected to mention that of the four Sunni schools of jurisprudence, the Shafi'i school makes FGM mandatory based on these hadith, and the other three schools recommend it. This is why Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, mostly Shafi'i, where Aslan said women were "absolutely 100% equal" to men, has an FGM prevalence of at least 86%, with over 90% of families supporting the practice. And the world's largest Arab Muslim country, Egypt, has an FGM prevalence of over 90%. So yes, both male and female genital cutting pre-date Islam. But it is inaccurate to say that they have no connection whatever to the religion...

According to a worldwide 2013 Pew Research Study, a majority of people in large Muslim-majority countries like Egypt and Pakistan believe that those who leave the faith must die. They constantly obsess over who is a "real" Muslim and who is not. They are quicker to defend their faith from cartoonists and filmmakers than they are to condemn those committing atrocities in its name...

The word "moderate" has lost its credibility. Fareed Zakaria has referred to Middle Eastern moderates as a "fantasy." Even apologists like Nathan Lean are pointing out that the use of this word isn't helping anyone.

Islam needs reformers, not moderates. And words like "reform" just don't go very well with words like "infallibility."

The purpose of reform is to change things, fix the system, and move it in a new direction. And to fix something, you have to acknowledge that it's broken -- not that it looks broken, or is being falsely portrayed as broken by the wrong people -- but that it's broken. That is your first step to reformation.

If this sounds too radical, think back to the Prophet Muhammad himself, who was chased out of Mecca for being a radical dissident fighting the Quraysh. Think of why Jesus Christ was crucified. These men didn't capitulate or shy away from challenging even the most sacred foundations of the status quo"

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Links - 26th November 2014

Lessons from a Feminist Paradise on Equal Pay Day - "Generous parental leave policies and readily available part-time options have unintended consequences: instead of strengthening women’s attachment to the workplace, they appear to weaken it. In addition to a 16-month leave, a Swedish parent has the right to work six hours a day (for a reduced salary) until his or her child is eight years old. Mothers are far more likely than fathers to take advantage of this law. But extended leaves and part-time employment are known to be harmful to careers — for both genders. And with women a second factor comes into play: most seem to enjoy the flex-time arrangement (once known as the “mommy track”) and never find their way back to full-time or high-level employment. In sum: generous family-friendly policies do keep more women in the labor market, but they also tend to diminish their careers. According to Blau and Kahn, Swedish-style paternal leave policies and flex-time arrangements pose a second threat to women’s progress: they make employers wary of hiring women for full-time positions at all. Offering a job to a man is the safer bet. He is far less likely to take a year of parental leave and then return on a reduced work schedule for the next eight years... Her best hope in Germany was a government job –– prospects for women in the private sector were dim. “In Germany,” she told me, “we have all the benefits, but employers don’t want to hire us”... The Swedes should consider the possibility that the current division of labor is not an artifact of sexism, but the triumph of liberated preference... Swedish family policies, by accommodating women’s preferences so effectively, are reducing the number of women in elite competitive positions. The Swedes will find this paradoxical and try to find solutions. Let us hope these do not include banning gender pronouns, policing children’s play, implementing more gender quotas, or treating women’s special attachment to home and family as a social injustice. Most mothers do not aspire to elite, competitive full-time positions: the Swedish policies have given them the freedom and opportunity to live the lives they prefer. Americans should look past the gender rhetoric and consider what these Scandinavians have achieved. On their way to creating a feminist paradise, the Swedes have inadvertently created a haven for normal mortals."

Food and Nutrition Myths - "While an occasional short fast or a day of following a "juice diet" won't cause harm for most healthy people, it will likely leave you feeling cranky and hungry... While you may have read that diet beverages make you gain weight, a recent clinical trial found just the opposite. In the 12-week study, published in the journal Obesity, dieters who drank diet beverages lost 13 pounds on average — 44 percent more than subjects drinking water only, who lost an average of nine pounds. What's more, the diet-soda drinkers reported feeling more satisfied. This study adds to a substantial body of research demonstrating that low-calorie sweeteners and the diet beverages that contain them do not hinder but can in fact help with weight loss. Two peer-reviewed studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by researchers from the University of North Carolina in 2012 and 2013 randomly assigned subjects to drink either water or diet beverages (without making any other changes to their diet). After six months, the diet-beverage group had a greater likelihood of reaching a meaningful amount of weight loss — five percent of one's body weight — compared to the control group. These studies reinforce that if you're trying to lose weight, diet beverages may help you peel off pounds, as they can help you achieve and maintain a lower-calorie eating plan"

Dear The Real Singapore, I live in Joo Chiat and I love the prostitutes - "We actually like the Working Girls. On the more superficial level, I believe it hard for any Singaporean to deny that these girls are attractive. They are young, they are thin, they are fair as porcelain, and their features neat and delicate. However, most noteworthy is how BRAVE, INDEPENDENT, and RESILIENT they are to leave their families, friends, homes, cultures, and even lovers behind to come to Singapore and earn a living here. Working in a pub can be dangerous and humiliating, but many of them stay strong. Many of them are poor girls, hardened in the streets."

No place for self-pity among the Chinese - "In her response was a total lack of self-pity that is alien to my entitled, First World existence. I am so good at feeling self-pity that I was feeling externalised self-pity for the Chinese masses. The better our lives get, the more self-pity we can conjure up for the minor and sometimes imagined injustices we encounter. My life, to an average Chinese person, has been smooth-sailing to an absurd degree. But in spite of that, or perhaps because of it, stumbling blocks, obstacles and moments when the universe just does not decide in my favour take on the proportions of a Greek tragedy. I've actually uttered the words, "Why does everything happen to me?" only mildly ironically, fairly recently. And it wasn't the first time. My friends and I spend an enormous amount of time examining and analysing our woes, usually a result of someone's unfair attitude or action towards us. We end friendships and resign jobs over this kind of thing. But the flipside of blame we did not deserve is surely credit we did not earn. And, if we're honest, that latter category dominates in our charmed lives"
Maybe this explains getting outraged on other people's behalf about nothing (e.g. feminism, social justice activism, anti-racism)

The Trouble with Boys: Social Influences and the Gender Gap in Disruptive Behavior - "This paper explores the importance of the home and school environments in explaining the gender gap in disruptive behavior. We document large differences in the gender gap across key features of the home environment - boys do especially poorly in broken families. In contrast, we find little impact of the early school environment on non-cognitive gaps. Differences in endowments explain a small part of boys' non-cognitive deficit in single-mother families. More importantly, non-cognitive returns to parental inputs differ markedly by gender. Broken families are associated with worse parental inputs and boys' non-cognitive development, unlike girls', appears extremely responsive to such inputs."
In other words, broken families are worse for boys than girls

A behavioural intervention to reduce persistence of bacterial vaginosis among women who report sex with women: results of a randomised trial. - " Although the intervention effected a significant increase in glove use during digital-vaginal sex post-BV treatment, this was not associated with reduction in BV persistence. Shared use of vaginal sex toys was infrequent, suggesting that other mechanisms promote BV in lesbians.
Dental dams/female condoms don't seem to work for lesbians

Andy Lee Chaisiri's answer to Why, in the case of the Elliot Rodger mass shooting incident, are Americans so black and white about the issue? - Quora - "I have a feeling that if an American boy were to write a manifesto that described how much he hated non-whites and interracial relationships, but he murdered people in a Republican leaning state, the media would probably cover the vile racism of his community polluting his mind. But Elliot grew up in a left-leaning upper class Hollywood community instead, so the focus is on gun control and misogyny."

6.4 NON-FOOD USES - "In the following paragraphs a brief analysis of non-food uses of sharks is reported"
Sharks are not just used for fins - or even food

Jane Smith's answer to Do women climbing the corporate ladder self-impose the supposed 'glass ceiling' because of common/typical (often limiting) female beliefs or behaviors? Or, are there legitimate barriers to reaching new career heights in a male-dominated industry just because someone is the minority gender? - Quora - "When I moved to the UK I was dismayed to understand that despite all shouting about equality the underlying understanding and culture of equality here was clearly way behind that we enjoyed in the USSR (and even there not everything was perfect!). After living here for more than a decade and observing other Western cultures I came to dislike Western feminism. It is often driven by women who understand equality as being like men: wearing trousers, carrying heavy items, and most importantly not flashing their flesh - a lot of focus is on outer behaviours driven by some moral structure that has obvious roots in religion. A lot of focus on sexual behaviours, which should be none of anybody's business, unless there is anything criminal. Mostly it is about fitting into the male business environment by way of adjusting the visual expression of self (i.e. clothes and body language etc). There is a complete misunderstanding and lack of focus on equality of mental abilities, which include leadership. None of the other minorities tries to fit in with the majority by way of adjusting how they are viewed as much as women do, and this is most baffling considering that women are not even a minority in terms of numbers!"
"Scandinavian countries, whose employment systems reduce some of the family-related barriers to women, nevertheless have some of the lowest female physics Ph.D. rates. Several countries stand out as having large undergraduate enrollments in physics, notably India, Iran, and Italy. In India there are roughly equal numbers of men and women physics students through the Master of Science level. Iran had the highest percentage of female college-level enrollment in physics, whereas Sweden was almost last in the world."

Answer to Are some power users and Top Writers on Quora unintentionally dissuading new users from joining and participating on Quora by answering too many questions? - Quora - "It is exactly the reverse. New users who join drive out old power users and old Top Writers. It may appear that existing power users dominate the site but they haven't always and won't forever. Before them there was another wave of power users, and before them there was yet another. The current "wave" of powers is actually the fourth wave, and in time they will fade and be replaced with another (in my opinion, lesser and even more mediocre) group of power users... The whole "aspirational" thing (you joined because you found some great people on the site but you're not as good as they are) and "evaporative cooling" effects (the best contributors get reciprocal less value out of the system than everyone else, and so eventually leave) are in full and continual play. The power users get tired, bored, and annoyed by the newcomers, and are eventually replaced by the most loquacious of the newcomers, and the cycle begins anew."

Gay dads campaign for church wedding - "BRITAIN’S first gay surrogate parents have launched a legal challenge to the Church of England’s ban on same-sex marriage. Barrie Drewitt-Barlow, 44, who runs the Maldon-based British Surrogacy Centre with partner Tony, hoped to get married in his local church, St John the Baptist, in Danbury"

Richard Branson’s space tourism shows what today’s obscene inequality looks like - "“Millions of people” … “the chance to go to space…” – whatever they would or would not love, millions of people will never be able to access this chance, to borrow the language of infinite opportunity. Millions of people will never have £150,000 in disposable income. The existence of a few hundred people who can set fire to this kind of money relies on millions of people not having it... Sub-orbital tourism holds a special place in the unlovely pantheon of “experience” consumption. The waste of fossil-fuel energy could only be considered by someone who either didn’t believe in anthropogenic climate change or didn’t care. The need to see Earth from a distance with your own eyes, whatever the cost, hints at an interior life as arid as the surface of the moon. Why do you need to witness your planet as a dot – for perspective? Why can’t you quarry these insights from your own imagination?"
There's no Guardian article so silly it won't have a chorus of people agreeing with it

Seneca on Arguing Online

"The really great mind, the mind that has taken the true measure of itself, fails to revenge injury only because it fails to perceive it. As missiles rebound from a hard surface, and the man who strikes solid objects is hurt by the impact, so no injury whatever can cause a truly great mind to be aware of it, since the injury is more fragile than that at which it is aimed. How much more glorious it is for the mind, impervious, as it were, to any missile, to repel all insults and injuries! Revenge is the confession of a hurt; no mind is truly great that bends before injury. The man who has offended you is either stronger or weaker than you: if he is weaker, spare him; if he is stronger, spare yourself. There is no surer proof of greatness than to be in a state where nothing can possibly happen to disturb you. The higher region of the universe, being better ordered and near to the stars, is condensed into no cloud, is lashed into no tempest, is churned into no whirlwind; it is free from all turmoil; it is in the lower regions that the lightnings flash. In the same way the lofty mind is always calm, at rest in a quiet haven crushing down all that engenders anger, it is restrained, commands respect, and is properly ordered. In an angry man you will find none of these things. For who that surrenders to anger and rage does not straightway cast behind him all sense of shame? Who that storms in wild fury and assails another does not cast aside whatever he had in him that commands respect? Who that is enraged maintains the full number or the order of his duties? Who restrains his tongue? Who controls any part of his body? Who is able to rule the self that he has set loose? We shall do well to heed that sound doctrine of Democritus in which he shows that tranquillity is possible only if we avoid most of the activities of both private and public life, or at least those that are too great for our strength. The man who engages in, many affairs is never so fortunate as to pass a day that does not beget from some person or some circumstance a vexation that fits the mind for anger. Just as a man hurrying through the crowded sections of the city cannot help colliding with many people, and in one place is sure to slip, in another to be held back, in another to be splashed, so in this diverse and restless activity of life many hindrances befall us and many occasions for complaint...

Many affronts may pass by us; in most cases the man who is unconscious of them escapes them. Would you avoid being provoked? Then do not be inquisitive, He who tries to discover what has been said against him, who unearths malicious gossip even if it was privately indulged in, is responsible for his own disquietude. There are words which the construction put upon them can make appear an insult; some, therefore, ought to be put aside, others derided, others condoned. In various ways anger must be circumvented; most offences may be turned into farce and jest. Socrates, it is said, when once he received a box on the ear, merely declared that it was too bad that a man could not tell when he ought to wear a helmet while taking a walk. Not how an affront is offered, but how it is borne is our concern...

When the light has been removed from sight, and my wife, long aware of my habit, has become silent, I scan the whole of my day and retrace all my deeds and words. I conceal nothing from myself, I omit nothing. For why should I shrink from any of my mistakes, when I may commune thus with myself?

"See that you never do that again; I will pardon you this time. In that dispute, you spoke too offensively; after this don't have encounters with ignorant people; those who have never learned do not want to learn. You reproved that man more frankly than you ought, and consequently you have, not so much mended him as offended him. In the future, consider not only the truth of what you say, but also whether the man to whom you are speaking can endure the truth. A good man accepts reproof gladly; the worse a man is the more bitterly he resents it.""

--- On Anger, III / Seneca

Keywords: stoic anger

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Links - 25th November 2014

Liberal Activist Raped By A Black Man, Turns And Blames White Men For It | - "“The experience was almost more than I could bear,” Kijera wrote about the incident, “I pleaded with him to honor my commitment to Haiti, to him as a brother in the mutual struggle for an end to our common oppression, but to no avail. He didn’t care.” According to Kijera, she eventually stopped fighting him, claiming that there was nothing she could do to stop him from raping her repeatedly. After the tragic experience, she placed the blame on a very unexpected course. “Women are not the source of their oppression; oppressive policies and the as-yet unaddressed white patriarchy which still dominates the global stage are,” she explained. She also went on to argue that it is up to the United Nations to support people who are forced to bear the brunt of black male aggression."
Keywords: Amanda Kijera

Did Anita Sarkeesian Fake Death Threats Against Herself? - "This screen-cap was taken 12 seconds after the last of three minutes of tweeting, by a user who was not logged in. There is nothing in the search bar, clearly showing no search was done. Whoever took this had toknow this user was making threatening tweets, and enter the exact url of their account at within three minutes of the users first post…
…or make the tweets themselves and then log out and take a screen-cap."

Sarkeesian’s campaign is poisoned by dishonesty - "When I first heard of Sarkeesian, I thought that she was fantastic. Then, I watched her videos and spent time doing research on her. In 2012, Sarkeesian started a Kickstarter campaign, to raise $6,000 so that she could pay for video games and fund production for a set of videos that would criticize gender tropes in video games. Within a day, Sarkeesian hit her initial goal. She went on to raise $150,000. Sarkeesian missed her first deadline with no concrete explanation. While I was mildly skeptical when I found this out, I was absolutely stunned after watching a few of her videos. Sarkeesian’s in-game footage is almost exclusively stolen from several YouTubers’ “Let’s Play” tutorial videos. Sarkeesian gave no credit or notice to the video creators. When several commenters began to accuse her of plagiarism, Sarkeesian disabled the comments and like/dislike options on her videos. Some other critics accused Sarkeesian of exploiting Kickstarter. Sarkeesian, who admitted in a 2010 interview that she doesn’t even play video games, could not have possibly spent $150,000 on buying games and “production” when she simply took clips from other people’s videos. When implored by critics and supporters alike to produce just one piece of documentation explaining how she spent the money, Sarkeesian refused... Sarkeesian’s tirade on Assassin’s Creed, for example, centers on the portrayal of courtesans in the series, but it ignores both the powerful role courtesans have in the games and the series’ general portrayal of women. Courtesans teach the protagonist important skills and save his life on multiple occasions. Moreover, the series includes several vibrant, strong female characters, including Caterina Sforza, Rosa and Claudia Auditore. Sarkeesian’s other videos contain similar lies by omission, and watching them is genuinely frustrating. Sarkeesian, who is currently under an FBI investigation for faking death threats against herself, is the worst thing to happen to feminism in the gaming world"

Have You Ever Noticed That All Movie Posters Look the Same? - "Some of the design clichés are hilarious, like Tiny People On the Beach With Giant Heads in the Clouds or Legs Wide Spread."

Why Movie Posters All Look the Same - "If you need a little light after all that darkness, here’s a sunnier formula used for independent movies: the all-yellow poster. Indies need to stand out against studio films with big stars and bigger budgets. Curtois shows us how a bold yellow contrasts with the dark landscape of mainstream movie art. In a world of Battens and blockbusters, why not stand out by adding some sunshine?"

Pig DNA and food hysteria in Malaysia - "I have read that if you take a toothbrush from the bathroom and do DNA testing on it, you will find bacteria from fecal matter (ie from the toilet), even though no one has dipped the toothbrush in the loo. And so I suspect the pig DNA they're finding is simply because some Chinese man (we have a sizeable Chinese minority) once held the box containing the bottles, for example. If they did some control experiments, maybe they'll find cockroach DNA, rat DNA, even human DNA... what will be the ruling for that? I am thinking I shall just ignore the DNA findings. I vaguely recall a ruling that if you can't see the najis with your naked eye, then it isn't there!"

Thai student discovers a clever solution for killing cockroaches - "The student created the solution by experimenting with 3 basic ingredients: cement powder, rice flour and Ovaltine powder. "

Grammarly Study Gives Top House and Senate Candidates a 92 for Clarity - "While there was a wider dispersion among candidates’ clarity scores, the parties overall were very close with Republicans narrowly edging out Democrats by a 93 - 91 margin. "
Republicans have clearer grammar than Democrats

Scientists Explain Why Nobody Puts Cheddar on Pizza - "The perfect cheese is bendy, bubbly, and capable of getting brown. (In other words, mozzarella.) "

Sex Is Sex. But Money Is Money. - "He’s still talking about triples and magic and meaning. We have 35 minutes. It’s plenty of time, but I don’t want to take any unnecessary risks. My job is all about minimizing risk. I move closer, tell him I have an idea that would make him feel good. I tell him it would make me feel good, too. I tell him I’ve been thinking about it since he texted me two days ago. I gently claw his thigh with my fresh, red (any other color, you’re taking a risk) manicure. I moisten my lips, flash just a little tooth. He’s shy, but he’s a man. He stops talking. The tricky part of my job is over. Now it’s time for sex."

Are you happier in a single-sex office? - "men and women are happier in single-sex offices... when offices had higher levels of gender diversity (a more equal mix of men and women) they had lower levels of cooperation. The study did find that offices where the employees, on average, believe their employer to be accepting of diversity were more cooperative. While perception of the firm's acceptance of diversity was a significant variable in cooperation, it did not appear to be associated with a revenue payoff for the firm."
This is in keeping with diversity being bad for performance

Satanic panic: how British agents stoked supernatural fears in Troubles - "British military intelligence agents in Northern Ireland used fears about demonic possessions, black masses and witchcraft as part of a psychological war against emerging armed groups in the Troubles in the 1970s"

Growing up unvaccinated: A healthy lifestyle couldn’t prevent many childhood illnesses. - "I know far more people who have experienced complications from preventable childhood illnesses than I have ever met with complications from vaccines. I have friends who became deaf from measles. I have a partially sighted friend who contracted rubella in the womb. My ex got pneumonia from chickenpox. A friend’s brother died from meningitis... If you’ve never had these illnesses, you don’t know how awful they are. I do. Pain, discomfort, the inability to breathe or to eat or to swallow, fever and nightmares, itching all over your body so much that you can’t stand lying on bedsheets, losing so much weight you can’t walk properly, diarrhea that leaves you lying prostrate on the bathroom floor, the unpaid time off work for parents, the quarantine, missing school, missing parties, the worry, the sleepless nights, the sweat, the tears, the blood, the midnight visits to the emergency room, the time sitting in a doctor’s waiting room on your own because no one will sit near you because they’re rightfully scared of those spots all over your face. Those of you who have avoided childhood illnesses without vaccines are lucky. You couldn’t do it without us pro-vaxxers. Once the vaccination rates begin dropping, the drop in herd immunity will leave your children unprotected. The more people you convert to your anti-vax stance, the quicker that luck will run out.

Anthropology: The sad truth about uncontacted tribes - "This gets to the heart of a common misconception surrounding isolated tribes such as the one in Acre: that they live in a bubble of wilderness, somehow missing the fact that their small corner of the world is in fact part of a much greater whole – and one that is dominated by other humans. “Almost all human communities have been in some contact with one another for as long as we have historical or archaeological records,” says Alex Golub, an anthropologist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. “Human prehistory is not like that game Civilization where you start with a little hut and the whole map is black”... In some cases in the 70s and 80s, the Brazilian government did try to establish peaceful contact with indigenous people, often with the aim of forced assimilation or relocation. They set up “attraction posts” – offerings of metal tools and other things indigenous Indians might find to be valuable – to try and lure them out of hiding. This sometimes led to violent altercations, or, more often than not, disease outbreaks. Isolated people have no immunity to some bugs, which have been known to wipe out up to half of a village’s population in a matter of weeks or months. During those years, missionaries traipsing into the jungle also delivered viruses and bacteria along with Bibles, killing the people they meant to save."

Saudi Arabia declares all atheists are terrorists in new law to crack down on political dissidents

Central Colombia woman grows potato in vagina in ill-advised contraception attempt - "“My mom told me that if I didn’t want to get pregnant, I should put a potato up there, and I believed her.” the unnamed patient was quoted as saying by local news website HSB Noticias. After leaving the potato in place for around 2 weeks she began to experience intense pain in her lower abdomen. The potato had germinated, and grown roots inside the lady’s private parts"

This new veggie burger bleeds like meat

Polytechnic student placed on probation for underage sex with boy - "The court also ordered Mohammad Ramdhan, now 24, to perform 150 hours of community service. Under the conditions of his probation, the Republic Polytechnic student has to undergo counselling and improve his grades"
What do grades have to dowith giving a boy oral sex?

EU performs abrupt U-turn on olive oil regulation - "Last week, the European Commission, the EU's executive branch, said that restaurants should only be allowed to serve oil to customers in non-refillable bottles with proper content labeling. The refillable bottles are a staple on restaurant tables across Europe for diners who want to douse bread or salads. The EU said its ruling would prevent restaurants from serving low quality oil and improve hygiene. But it also prompted ridicule by EU critics, who said it showed the authorities in Brussels are out of touch with the real world."

Masculinised Feminists

Feminist activist women are masculinized in terms of digit-ratio and social dominance: a possible explanation for the feminist paradox

"The feminist movement purports to improve conditions for women, and yet only a minority of women in modern societies self-identify as feminists. This is known as the feminist paradox. It has been suggested that feminists exhibit both physiological and psychological characteristics associated with heightened masculinization, which may predispose women for heightened competitiveness, sex-atypical behaviors, and belief in the interchangeability of sex roles. If feminist activists, i.e., those that manufacture the public image of feminism, are indeed masculinized relative to women in general, this might explain why the views and preferences of these two groups are at variance with each other. We measured the 2D:4D digit ratios (collected from both hands) and a personality trait known as dominance (measured with the Directiveness scale) in a sample of women attending a feminist conference. The sample exhibited significantly more masculine 2D:4D and higher dominance ratings than comparison samples representative of women in general, and these variables were furthermore positively correlated for both hands. The feminist paradox might thus to some extent be explained by biological differences between women in general and the activist women who formulate the feminist agenda...

Even at a prominent women’s college, 32 out of 70 interview responses were clearly negative to feminism...

This rift between belief in equality and the feminist label raises the question of what exactly it means to self-identify as a feminist. Williams and Wittig (1997) found that major contributing factors to feminist self-labeling were (1) positive evaluation of feminists and (2) previous exposure to feminist thought. However, (3) recognition of discrimination and (4) support of feminist goals (which included items about equality) did not make any unique contributions to the probability of identifying as a feminist...

These authors, as well as Zucker (2004), thus make a distinction between “feminist activism” and “feminist views,” resulting in the somewhat counter-intuitive conclusion that self-labeling as a feminist is related to activism but not necessarily to having feminist views. This suggests the content of the most prolific attitudes and beliefs expressed by “feminist activists” might be quite different from the traditional definitions, such as that from Merriam-Webster. We will thus follow the terminology of Williams and Wittig (1997) and Zucker (2004), recognizing that feminist activists are those who primarily formulate the feminist agenda and contribute to shaping the public image of feminism.

One explanation that has been suggested for why women resent the feminist label is “the overwhelmingly negative portrayal of feminists and feminism by the popular media,” which has depicted “feminists as deviant, man-hating, unrepresentative radicals who were a threat to society” (Zucker, 2004, p. 425)... it may be that the feminist movement is in fact no longer limited to the “political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” (Merriam-Webster, 2013). While this may be what mainstream women still consider the core goals of feminism, those active in the movement may have turned to more radical goals. It has for example been reported that there are self-identified feminists who argue for the abolition of the nuclear family, that all men are potential rapists, and so forth (e.g., Stone, 2007). This has been described as a division between Gender feminism and Equity feminism (e.g., Hoff Sommers, 1995), and illustrates that feminism is not a corporation or a state institution that can decide top-down what its policies and goals are. Nor is it an academic discipline, in which the views of scholars with better arguments or data could gain more influence than others. It is therefore difficult to determine what the “correct” representation of feminism is...

While we are wary of misrepresenting contemporary feminism, there seem to be three central and characteristic beliefs: (1) A rejection of the idea of innate psychological differences between the sexes (Pinker, 2002, pp. 340–350; Hyde, 2005; Fine, 2010), which entails the view that sex-roles are arbitrary and interchangeable. (2) Sex differences are social constructions, meaning that they are arbitrary, and a function of social roles, structures, socialization, and attitudes rather than a result of essential and innate differences (e.g., Bussey and Bandura, 1999; Ridgeway, 2001). (3) There are general power imbalances between males and females, that are part of a social and gendered power structure (Williams and Wittig, 1997, p. 895; for a discussion, see Stewart and McDermott, 2004). Based on this model, males are seen as structurally advantaged economically, politically, socially, and sexually (Lyness and Thompson, 1997).

By contrast, evolutionary psychology observes that the basic pattern of psychological differences between the sexes can be explained by their having essentially different innate adaptations associated with, most importantly, women investing considerably more resources into offspring through pregnancy and breast-feeding... Females are on average more sociable and empathic than males, because caring for offspring and negotiating social relations that promote their survival until they reach reproductive age ensured that the mother’s genes live on. Hence women dominate professions where these traits are maximally valued, such as teaching, social work, and in human and veterinary medicine (Lippa, 2010). This social dimension is tapped by one pole of the people-things dimension (Prediger, 1982), which exhibits an effect size in excess of 1.0 and ranks amongst the largest inter-sex differences (Lippa, 2010).

Another possible explanation of why feminism represents a minority position amongst women is therefore that the activists who shape feminist attitudes and beliefs are themselves generally more physiologically and psychologically masculinized than is typical for women (Wilson, 2010). This might for example explain their belief in sex-role interchangeability, as they may perceive the behaviors and interests of sex-typical women as incomprehensible and at variance with their own more masculinized preferences in terms of child-rearing and status-seeking. This might then lead them to infer that women in general have been manipulated to become different from themselves by external forces, as embodied by notions of social constructions or gender systems (e.g., Grossman et al., 1997, p. 84). Zucker (2004) notes that “…many women are exposed to women’s and gender study courses and may find some of the information about sexism compelling, but not all of them go on to engage in women’s right activities to remedy those situations. Perhaps there is something about the willingness to claim the identity that helps people engage in activism” (p. 425). We suggest that this willingness may thus be related to a women’s level of masculinity...

In summary, the feminist activist sample had a significantly smaller (i.e., masculinized) 2D:4D ratio than the general female samples. The size of this difference corresponds approximately to a 30% difference in prenatal testosterone/estradiol ratio, which was the index found to have the strongest association with 2D:4D (Lutchmaya et al., 2004). Directiveness self-ratings also exhibit a large and highly significant difference in the predicted direction. It is notable that the feminist activist sample 2D:4D was also more masculinized than those of the male comparison samples, except for the left hand in the aggregate sample...

Given the wide and cross-disciplinary scope of our theory, we solicited comments from a number of experts in relevant fields. In addition to many insightful suggestions that were easily incorporated, there remain three recurrent themes. One was the representativeness of the study sample, given that we could not measure their agreement with various feminist statements, lest it be even smaller and more self-selected. The other theme is that feminism may mean different things to different people, with the implication that it is not a valid concept or that our use of it lacks validity. Thirdly, concerns were voiced that the present results can be construed as controversial and potentially offensive.

We start with a few disclaimers related to the last point, and note that 2D:4D and Directiveness were analyzed on the group level. Correlations and effect sizes cannot be used in inferring anything about an individual, except in terms of probabilities. Moreover, the target population studied here is not necessarily representative for anyone who sympathizes with feminism or self-identifies as a feminist. As our data pertain to feminist activists, we cannot and do not bring them to bear on women in general. The only connection to women in general consists of figures and statistics based on the works of other scholars cited herein. It would therefore be logically incorrect to infer that, for example, all feminist activists are masculinized or that all groups that are more masculinized are also feminist activists. On the contrary is it highly likely that professions and other activities that benefit from the practitioner being stronger, more aggressive and risk-taking, considered as more masculine traits (e.g., Buss, 2012), would also see a larger proportion of masculinized women among the more successful individuals. Finally, we note that any new knowledge related to any group of individuals may potentially be perceived as offensive by members of that group, but that can obviously not be taken as an argument to suppress such research or to interpret it in a biased fashion."

Not only do feminists not speak for all women, claims of doing so might even be inherently problematic.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Links - 24th November 2014

Who can adopt? - Ministry of Social and Family Development - "If you are a single male, you are not allowed to adopt a girl, unless there are special circumstances to justify the adoption. This is in accordance with Section 4(3) of the ACA."
Naturally, AWARE is silent about this

Why So Many Pakistanis Hate Their Nobel Peace Prize Winner - "The BBC quoted Tariq Khattack, editor of the Pakistan Observer, condemning the prize and Malala: “She is a normal, useless type of a girl. Nothing in her is special at all. She’s selling what the West will buy”... For Malala to be so uniquely honored when so many young girls in the Swat Valley face similar dangers engendered a lot of jealousy among many in Pakistan. The CIA angle is a common one in Pakistan, which tends to see “foreign hands” as the root of the country’s problems. As I noted shortly after Malala was shot in 2012, everything that happens in Pakistan is a plot by the Indians, America, or Israel. Or all three. The Taliban, power cuts, corruption, economic stagnation, Osama bin Laden, all of it. The tendency to see plots and enemies behind every tree is a common trait of the English-speaking Pakistani middle class, which is overwhelmingly conservative, nationalistic, and suspicious of the West. Non-Muslims, foreigners, anyone embraced by the United States (such as Malala), and even minority religious sects in Pakistan are all seen as agents of foreign powers... Dissing its Nobel laureates is a bit of a tradition in Pakistan, too. Before Malala, in 1979, Dr. Abdus Salam won the Nobel Prize for Physics. He, too, is a pariah in Pakistan, rarely acknowledged and never claimed as the “pride” of the nation. His crime? He was an Ahmadi, a minority Muslim sect that Pakistan has declared un-Islamic and against which it discriminates horribly. Like Malala he, too, was in exile when he won the prize."

Reza Aslan is Wrong About Islam and This is Why - "Only those who themselves aren’t very “schooled” in Islam and Muslim affairs would imply that Aslan does anything but misinform by cherry-picking and distorting facts. Nearly everything Aslan stated during his segment was either wrong, or technically-correct-but-actually-wrong. We will explain by going through each of his statements in the hopes that Aslan was just misinformed (although it’s hard for us to imagine that a “scholar” such as Aslan wouldn’t be aware of all this). Aslan contends that while some Muslim countries have problems with violence and women’s rights, in others like “Indonesia, women are absolutely 100 percent equal to men” and it is therefore incorrect to imply that such issues are a problem with Islam and “facile” to imply that women are “somehow mistreated in the Muslim world.” Let us be clear here: No one in their right mind would claim that Indonesia, Malaysia, and Bangladesh are a “free and open society for women”... we come to Turkey, a country oft-cited by apologists due to its relative stability, liberalism, and gender equality. What they consistently choose to ignore is that historically, Turkey was militantly secular. We mean this literally: The country’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, created a secular state and pushed Islam out of the public sphere (outlawing polygamy, child marriages, and giving divorce rights to women) through (at times, military) force. He even banned the headscarf in various public sectors and is believed by some to have been an atheist. Only apologists would ignore the circumstances that led to Turkey’s incredible progress and success relative to the Muslim world, and hold it up as an example of “Islamic” advancement of women’s rights... is there any credence to the claim that Islam supports FGM? In fact, there is. To name two, the major collections of the Hadith Sahih Muslim 3:684 and Abu Dawud 41:5251 support the practice. Of the four major schools of thought in Sunni Islam, twomandate FGM while two merely recommend it. Unsurprisingly, in the Muslim-majority countries dominated by the schools which mandate the practice, there is evidence of widespread female circumcision. Of particular note: None of the major schools condemn the practice."

This is Clean Privilege - "Queer. Genderfucked. Polyromantic. Demisexual. Have social anxiety, aspergers and depression. Unfortunately white, but checking my privilege every day. And yes, I refuse to bathe. Have a problem with that? Then congratulations. This blog is about you.
My filthy body. My fucking business.
This blog is an intolerant of intolerance zone. Check your privilege at the door and realise that oppressive language and thoughts will be mocked. Revolutions were never won with smiles. You have been warned."

Cosmos, the no-data connection browser, is now in the US Play Store - "Cosmos emerged out of a 36-hour hackaton session by four college and high-school students in the US. Here’s how it works: when you enter a URL in the address bar, Cosmos sends it via SMS to a web service made with Twilio and Node.JS, which loads up the website content, removes any CSS, scripts, and images, archives the minified version and sends it back to the device via one or more text messages. The app intercepts the messages, reassembles the content, and displays the requested web page. Because all the communication goes through SMS, there’s no need for a data connection."

This Girl's Tinder Prank Shows How Superficial Some Lads Can Be - "The prankster, Sara, posted dozens of pictures of herself looking slim which attracted plenty of "swipe rights"... She then arranged meetings with several of the guys that she'd met through the app. However, when she turned up to the dates Sara was slightly larger than they expected... The 24-year-old arrived wearing an enormous fat suit, just to see the lad's different reactions."
Comments: "Right, how "superficial" of them to be put off by the fact she lied about her looks on a hook-up app."
"People who misrepresent their appearance can't turn things on others by calling them 'superficial'. To quote Alan Partridge; "A lie is a lie"."
"If somebody lies about what they look like before you meet then you are 100% right to walk away. It's not shallow to not date liars"

Sumo Wrestlers Try To Make Babies Cry On Purpose In Unusual Japanese Tradition - "“The babies’ cries are intended to reach God and parents hope that their little ones will grow healthy and strong,” explained Yoshimi Morita, a priest at the shrine, where screams and squawks filled the air."

Death-Row Dining - "If, as the French epicure Anthelme Brillat-Savarin suggested, we are what we eat, then a final meal would seem to be the ultimate self-expression"

Does Neil deGrasse Tyson make up stories? - "Sean Davis makes a strong case that Tyson has a habit of telling tall tales. The details of one personal story – what happened when Tyson was called for jury duty — vary with each telling. Other tales, such as quotes attributed to members of Congress and unnamed journalists, seem too good to be true, and prove difficult to verify. Most significantly, Tyson attributes a quote to a September 2001 speech by former President George W. Bush that no one can seem to find... Note that the claims Davis contests are not casual remarks in conversation or responses to questions, but planned and repeated accounts. The various stories Davis challenges are regularly repeated in Tyson’s lectures, and the Bush anecdote is highlighted on the Hayden planetarium Web site. They are the sorts of claims someone of Tyson’s stature should not be making in public lectures unless they are, in fact, true. Politicians are routinely flayed for less — and we know Tyson is much smarter than the average politician. He should not be held to a lower standard... On his Facebook page, Neil deGrasse Tyson responds to the allegations and, in the process, did not do himself any favors... Tyson claims to be a man of science who follows the evidence where it leads. The evidence here clearly shows Tyson screwed up. Whether knowingly or not, he regularly repeated a false account in order to cast aspersions on another public figure. The only proper thing to do is recant and apologize"

Who Is a Feminist Now? - NYTimes.com - "In a recent interview with Time magazine, the actress Shailene Woodley was asked if she considered herself a feminist. “No,” said Ms. Woodley, 22. “Because I love men, and I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need balance.” It was a somewhat surprising response from an actress known for portraying strong-willed women in films like “The Spectacular Now,” “Divergent” and “The Fault in Our Stars,” to be released soon... Whether a woman in the public eye calls herself a feminist is an exercise in semiotics, she said, and the hesitation among celebrities to fully embrace the cause is a fear that: “ ‘If I don’t say the exact right thing or express it in the right way, I’ll be rejected.’ It makes the movement seem judgmental or unwelcoming”... ambivalence like Ms. Woodley’s is as much a part of the discussion. Monica Lewinsky, 40, wrote in Vanity Fair’s June issue, “Given my experience of being passed around like gender-politics cocktail food, I don’t identify myself as a Feminist, capital F.” And she is joined by a host of other celebrities who question the usage, including Lady Gaga, 28, who was quoted telling a Norwegian camera crew, “I’m not a feminist! I love men! I hail men.” Kelly Clarkson, 32, told Time last October, “I think when people hear feminist, it’s like, ‘Get out of my way, I don’t need anyone’.” Carrie Underwood, Katy Perry, Carla Bruni, Sandra Day O’Connor and Taylor Swift have similarly distanced themselves from the designation during their careers. When Marissa Mayer, 38, the chief executive of Yahoo, appeared in the PBS/AOL documentary “Makers,” she spoke of her own issues with the term. “I don’t think that I would consider myself a feminist,” she said. “I think that, I certainly believe in equal rights. I believe that women are just as capable, if not more so, in a lot of different dimensions. But I don’t, I think, have sort of the militant drive and sort of the chip on the shoulder that sometimes comes with that.”"

The truth about “stopping power” - "How long does it take to truly incapacitate someone? The only guaranteed instantaneous incapacitation is in the head; the brainstem. Every other location of the body is a delayed incapacitation at best. What about shooting someone in the heart? Well, the heart is a muscle and outside of large caliber rifles, bullets are not big enough to totally explode the heart. Assuming that a round fired from a normal defensive weapon could totally explode the heart, your bad guy still has time to fight because his brain and limbs will have enough oxygenated blood in them to allow him to fight. Cutting all blood flow to the brain, your bad guy has up to 10 seconds until unconsciousness and approximately 20 seconds until total electrical failure. That’s a long time – especially if that person is trying to “incapacitate” you.

Working for MyGirlFund - "Thousands Of Men Are Renting Platonic Internet Girlfriends For Long-Term Relationships"

How Sugar Daddies Are Financing College Education - ""Dating a college woman fulfills these guys’ wildest dreams. They want someone highly educated who is eager to learn"... “They want someone who doesn’t look like a bimbo.” On Seeking Arrangement, intellect is important—maybe even more important than looks. If the sugar baby can understand what the “daddy” does at work and engage in topics he finds interesting, he is more likely to feel he’s in a real relationship. “The guys eventually want to feel like, ‘That girl likes me for me,’” Amanda said. While some men on the site use it exclusively for sex, the majority want sex and something else... avoiding a conversation about money actually led to more of it... “I get to a point in these relationships when the guy starts to naturally want to pay for things for me. They prefer giving me a credit card because it feels more informal. There is no direct exchange of money,” Amanda said."

Sacrificing one black man to save the lives of a hundred white men

The motivated use of moral principles
Eric Luis Uhlmann, David A. Pizarro, David Tannenbaum and Peter H. Ditto

"Not only do we believe that our moral judgments are correct, but we believe that (unlike our attitudes toward, say, chocolate ice cream) everyone else should agree with us. This has not only been pointed out by philosophers as a key component of moral beliefs (e.g., Hare, 1952), but also confirmed by psychologists as an important feature of lay moral intuition (Haidt, Rosenberg, & Hom, 2003; Skitka, Bauman, & Sargis, 2005; Turiel, 1998). However, a problem arises when defending moral judgments. Defending a moral judgment by appealing to our subjective preferences (e.g., “abortion is wrong because I don’t like it”) is unpersuasive, inasmuch it fails to provide a compelling reason why others should agree. Yet, as some philosophers have argued, moral claims seem to lack an obvious set of objective criteria to demonstrate their truth (Mackie, 1977). These features make disagreement in the moral domain a tricky problem (Pizarro & Uhlmann, 2006; Sturgeon, 1994; Sunstein, 2005).

What individuals often do, however, is defend a specific moral judgment by appealing to a general moral principle... we sought to demonstrate the motivated use of moral principles by comparing the judgments of political liberals and conservatives to scenarios that either meshed or conflicted with their political leanings...

Of greatest interest for us were the items assessing the moral relevance of race and nationality. In both cases, the overwhelming majority of participants (87%) reported that these features were morally irrelevant. Furthermore, none of the item responses were reliably correlated with political orientation at the p < .05 level, suggesting that liberals and more conservative participants were not in strong disagreement about whether such features were morally relevant or irrelevant... Participants received one of two scenarios involving an individual who has to decide whether or not to throw a large man in the path of a trolley (described as large enough that he would stop the progress of the trolley) in order to prevent the trolley from killing 100 innocent individuals trapped in a bus. Half of the participants received a version of the scenario where the agent could choose to sacrifice an individual named “Tyrone Payton” to save 100 members of the New York Philharmonic, and the other half received a version where the agent could choose to sacrifice “Chip Ellsworth III” to save 100 members of the Harlem Jazz Orchestra. In both scenarios the individual decides to throw the person onto the trolley tracks. While we did not provide specific information about the race of the individuals in the scenario, we reasoned that Chip and Tyrone were stereotypically associated with White American and Black American individuals respectively, and that the New York Philharmonic would be assumed to be majority White, and the Harlem Jazz Orchestra would be assumed to be majority Black... Liberals (defined as 1 SD below the mean; Aiken & West, 1991) were more likely to endorse a consequentialist justification when the victim had a stereotypically White name than when the victim had a stereotypically Black name, b = −.40, SE = .12, t = 3.27, p = .002. More conservative participants (1 SD above the mean) did not give reliably different endorsements of consequentialism across scenario versions, b = .01, SE = .13, t = .09, p = .93... We also asked participants in the community sample if they would give different judgments had the victim been of a different race. The overwhelming majority (92% of participants) said they would not, and responses to this counterfactual question did not vary by scenario, χ2 < .05, or by participants’ political orientation, r = .10, p = .40. When asked directly, most participants stated that race was irrelevant to their moral judgments... Antipathy toward anti-Black prejudice played a greater role in liberals’ judgments. A recent meta-analysis by Jost, Glaser, Kruglanski and Sulloway (2003) indicated that one of the fundamental differences between liberals and conservatives lies in conservatives’ greater tolerance for social inequality. Research on the moral foundations underlying liberal and conservative ideologies also suggests that fairness concerns are particularly acute for political liberals (Haidt & Graham, 2007), and that race is likely a key symbol evoking these concerns in contemporary America. As such, it is possible that our scenarios describing the sacrifice of a Black man simply held more motivational power for liberals than for comparatively conservative participants. Our Chip-Tyrone manipulation presented liberals with choices likely to alert their sensitivities to issues of racial inequality, and they responded more negatively when asked to sacrifice a Black life than a White life. Comparatively conservative participants, even if not overtly prejudiced, may simply have lacked these acute sensitivities regarding inequality, and responded in a more evenhanded fashion as a result. Regardless of the source of motivation, however, these results suggest that moral principles generally held to apply across situations can be selectively applied in order to fit a desired moral judgment... In their open responses to the normative question concerning race, every participant indicated that race should not be used as a factor in making such judgments. This was exemplified by statements such as “No, race is unimportant in these matters unless you are a racist” “No, race should have no influence on whether or not one should be sacrificed. This decision should be purely based on means to the end goal” and “No… no one’s life should be sacrificed intentionally, no matter what race they are.” In sum, Study 2 provided additional evidence that political orientation contributes to a selective use of moral principles... The disturbing implication of recent research, however, is that we have no easy way of verifying whether the principles we passionately invoke for our moral judgments are truly guiding our judgment in the unbiased fashion we think they are."

In other words, Liberals are racist because they favour black people over white people (though somehow this is spun as Conservatives being covertly 'prejudiced' despite their being evenhanded).

This is a lot more reliable as a measure of bias than the Implicit Association Test.

(One of the studies shows that conservatives endorse collateral damage more when the innocents are Iraqis than when they are Americans and uses this to conclude that conservatives are also biased, but that is not a fair comparison since we are looking at American troops attacking Iraqi insurgents vs Iraqi insurgents attacking American troops - which is not an Apple-Apple comparison)

Addendum: As Sam Harris summarises this:

"In a recent study of moral reasoning, subjects were asked to judge whether it was morally correct to sacrifice the life of one person to save one hundred, while being given subtle clues as to the races of the people involved. Conservatives proved less biased by race than liberals and, therefore, more even-handed. It turns out that liberals were very eager to sacrifice a white person to save one hundred non-whites, but not the other way around, all the while maintaining that considerations of race had not entered into their thinking. Observations of this sort are useful in revealing the biasing effect of ideology—even the ideology of fairness."
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