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Friday, March 20, 2015

The Cult of Personality

A: All my life, from a young age till today, I have always respected Mr Lee Kuan Yew. The respect has grown over the years as I mature, travel the world, and learn to question conventional wisdoms. My views of the world, religion and the universe have been shaped by life's experience and by science and technology besides, the other branches of human kowledge. Some of my views of the world and of life have changed, for the better. One constant that has remained steadfast is my view of LKY as a person of the highest integrity, intellect, and EQ. The tribute of his personal driver and his bodyguard are examples of how he treated others. His love for Singapore is second only to his wife, Mrs Lee. With her passing, I could sense and see that a big part of him had vanished from the visible world, never to be recovered. But, I know that he knows, that when the time comes for him to leave this world (which I hope later than sooner), Singapore will continue not only to be but to flourish. That certainty is another constant in my life.

Me: Integrity:

"Repression, Sir is a habit that grows. I am told it is like making love-it is always easier the second time!"

"If we say that we believe in democracy, if we say that the fabric of a democratic society is one which allows for the free play of idea...then, in the name of all the gods, give that free play a chance to work within the constitutional framework."


"It's like with dogs. You train it in a proper way from small. It will know that it's got to leave, go outside to pee and to defecate. No, we are not that kind of society. We had to train adult dogs who even today deliberately urinate in the lifts."

"I will put on knuckle-dusters and catch you in a cul de sac...Anybody who decides to take me on needs to put on knuckle dusters. If you think you can hurt me more than I can hurt you, try. There is no other way you can govern a Chinese society."

"If Aljunied decides to go that way, well Aljunied has five years to live and repent."

"Look, Jeyaretnam can't win the infighting. I'll tell you why. WE are in charge. Every government ministry and department is under our control. And in the infighting, he will go down for the count every time... I will make him crawl on his bended knees, and beg for mercy. "

B: Citizens are like children. We don't see the world as it is and how it is beyond the classroom. All we want is not do homework, eat chocolates and relax one corner.

LKY is like a parent, he tries to warn us of the dangers of doing so. He promotes (advertises) the dangers of doing so. He scolds us for doing so. If we still refuse to listen, he did what all parents would do.... Take out that big fat cane.

Every parent knows their kids will hate them for it, but yet, they do it.

Smile brother and sisters, just a touch and your camera phone will switch to selfie mode, smile wide and take a video saying 'OMG, damn to LKY coz we have 4G and the latest phones because we are poor and suffering. Damn LKY coz I prefer to rent a small room for my whole family to live like back in he kumpong spirits of the 50s and 60s. Damn LKY coz I rather have that and not live in a 3/4/5 room house with my family and my mom and dad.'


Lee Il Sung


"On Monday morning of 23rd January 2015, I awoke momentarily at around 1.30 am. At around 4 am, I awoke again and heard the audible alert sound of my i-phone. I checked my whatsapp message and to my shock, saw and read PMO's official announcement that Mr Lee Kuan Yew had passed away at 3.18 am. I told my wife and then spontaneously burst into tears. The moment that I dreaded had come to pass. My beloved Mr Lee Kuan Yew is no longer alive!

Deep within me, I know that his indomitable spirit and his legacy lives on in me and my fellow Singaporeans. It's been two days since his passing on. Over this period, I have been following the spontaneous outpouring of grief and citations of his life's accomplishments from people of all walks of life. They further reinforce and validate what I already know of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and have taken the knowledge to a higher plane. For example, the Red Box recounted By Education Minister, Mr Heng Swee Keat. It exemplifies the total commitment and dedication of Mr Lee's waking life seven days a week to thinking through on Singapore since the day he became our First Prime Minister in 1959 till the day he was warded at SGH on 4th February 2015! Indeed, modern Singapore, to a large extent, is created out of his sheer brilliance and unparalled genius!

I shall always remember and honour you for the rest of my life. I shall try my best to live up to your values and ideals. You, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, will forever be remembered by your legacy through your:

1. superior intellect that you applied meticulously and consistently for the good of Singapore and the world.

2. your deep fluency in the English Language, your fluency in Mandarin and Malay, and your grasp of Hokkien, meant that you were a master communicator and learner.

3. your deep understanding of the cultures and fabric of Western, Eastern and Middle-eastern meant that you could bridge the inherent divide across race, religion and geographical boundaries. Your wise counsel sought by many world leaders of diverse political culture exemplifies it perfectly.

4. Your crystallised intelligence combined with your superior intellect gives you your capacity for great foresight which you used to very effective result in anticipating problems before they arose and taking measures to mitigate them.

Now, I understand more than ever why you were able to create Singapore from Third World to First World in one generation, a feat unparalleled in history. Your life's work has been superbly completed as a husband to your beloved wife, Mrs Lee, as a father to your children and as a founding father of modern Singapore. As a true-blue Singaporean, I pledge to uphold your ideals and values in my life.

RIP Mr Lee Kuan Yew!"

"I nearly burst into hysterical laughter when I overheard some colleagues describing him as "humble" among myriad other positive qualities. Looks like the PR team has done a really effective job softening the memory of his image."

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Links - 19th March 2015

Strauss-Kahn fends off pimping accusations in French court - "Strauss-Kahn steadfastly denies knowing that the women with whom he engaged in "free and friendly" libertinism were prostitutes, saying paying for sex would be too great a risk for a man at the head of the International Monetary Fund, which was busy "saving the world from an unprecedented" financial crisis. He also said that as an unabashed libertine, the fun for him lay in the "playful party atmosphere" and the presence of prostitutes would render his soirees seedy. "I am horrified at the practice of using prostitutes," he said. Strauss-Kahn also objected to the impression given by the prosecution of a "frenetic" programme of sex parties, saying he only took part in such "recreational outlets" four times a year between 2008 and 2011... "Everyone has the right to a private life," said Strauss-Kahn, the most high-profile of the accused who include a colourful cast of characters in interlocking vice cases, including police, a prostitute, lawyer and notorious brothel owner known as "Dodo the Pimp." His section of the trial has focused on one of the sex parties, held at a chic Parisian hotel. The court has tried to understand if what went on was akin to so-called classic libertinism, which would point to whether Strauss-Kahn could have known the women at the parties were prostitutes. "It has happened 10 times that a woman offers herself to me. It is nothing unusual to me," Strauss-Kahn said. Asked to define a libertine party, Strauss-Kahn said it was when men and women "came together for the pleasure of sex." However one former prostitute, Jade - who attended several parties with DSK - described scenes of "carnage" at such a party at a chic Parisian hotel. "There was (DSK) surrounded by women" on a bed. "That isn't libertinism, there were no other men. No one asked my name, there was just a hand on my head to perform fellatio," she said. However Strauss-Kahn's female lawyer Frederique Baulieu read evidence from a girlfriend who accompanied him to the party and described it as "free and friendly" - prompting court judge Bernard Lemaire to say "this shows people have different views of libertinism". Baulieu also carefully picked apart Jade's assertion that Strauss-Kahn was covered in up to eight women, forcing the former prostitute to concede on second count there could only have been three at most with him."

Dominique Strauss-Kahn prostitute travelled with him to IMF HQ in Washington - "She did not take part in the sex party, which she described as 'a massacre' with a 'mishmash' of writhing bodies... Giving evidence, Strauss-Kahn denied claims that his 'brutal' treatment of prostitutes proves he knew they were being paid, saying: 'I have a rougher sexuality than the average man.' Then, losing his temper, he said: 'I've started to have enough. I have not been charged over my sexual behaviour. 'No one is obliged to appreciate it, but what interest is there in the court constantly going back to my sexuality?'... Witnesses at the orgies have described 'carnage with a heap of mattresses on the floor' with Strauss-Kahn enjoying 'pure sexual consummation'...
'It was a slaughterhouse. They were lying on the mattress in all directions. It was a rather degrading scene.
'I didn't know whether these people had showered. I didn't want any part of it.'
Ex-prostitute known as 'Jade' testifying about a 2009 orgy with Strauss-Kahn at a Belgian sex club...
'We met 12 times in four years. It wasn't the frenetic, unbridled activity that the investigating magistrates' report makes out.
'At the time, I mention without pretension, I had other things to do.'
Strauss-Kahn in response to questioning over the frequency of his orgies during the period in which he is accused of organizing a prostitution ring...
'I had a very hectic life, with just a few outlets for recreation, and these sessions were part of that.'
Strauss-Kahn explaining how the function of IMF chief limited his occasions for sex parties.
'People say that at these soirees, the girls were gifts, but in fact at these parties the gift was Dominique Strauss-Kahn.'
Co-defendant Fabrice Paszkowski testifying about the organisation of Strauss-Kahn's orgies...
'I dare you to distinguish between a prostitute and a naked socialite.'
Strauss-Kahn lawyer Henri Leclerc, explaining the difficulty Strauss-Kahn had in identifying his sex partners as prostitutes."

New Study Claims People Who've Had More Sexual Partners Report Unhappier Marriages - "The study comes to us from The National Marriage Project, based off research from two University of Denver professors, Galena K. Rhoades and Scott M. Stanley, who looked at relationship data collected from 2007 to 2008 of 1,000 unmarried Americans ages 18 to 34. During the following five years, 418 of the participants got married... They claim this finding is especially true for women, writing in the report, "We further found that the more sexual partners a woman had had before marriage, the less happy she reported her marriage to be"... "There are a wide variety of reasons that may lead people to have multiple partners before marriage and, independent of how many partners they have, also be less satisfied in marriage," Dr. Jim McNulty, a social psychology professor from Florida State University who has published a plethora of research on the topic, wrote in an email. "For example, people who tend to avoid commitment in general may have more sexual partners and be less happy when they settle down. It’s not the fact that they have more sexual partners that leads them to be less happy, it’s the fact that they don’t really like commitment. I would be very surprised if having multiple sexual partners before marriage, independent of any other factor, has a direct causal influence." In other words, correlation should never be confused with causation. "We cannot make any conclusions about cause-and-effect," says Justin Lehmiller, PhD, sex educator and researcher at Purdue University, adding, "Could it be that multiple premarital partners impacts marital happiness? Maybe. But it could also be that people who have more partners have different personalities or different attitudes toward marriage or relationships." Beyond that, Lehmiller says there may be flaws in the way data was analyzed -- the way in which good marriages were separated from bad marriages was "rather odd" he says. "Even the authors admit that they were 'arbitrary' in their report. They defined 'higher quality marriages' as those in which individuals scored in the top 40 percent ... Why the top 40 percent?" McNulty also points out that though the authors are respected researchers, the study was not reported by an academic journal nor was it peer-reviewed."

Otelli Edwards | Everything Also Complain - "He (Ananda Pereira) saw news anchor Otelli Edwards wearing a ‘shiny black dress’ (On Deepavali night)…asking ” Who was she mourning for on Deepavali night, the day of the festival of lights which brings sacred, spiritual joy to Hindus”"

How and Why the Chinese Still Use Crossbows - "In China, we’ve seen troops using crossbows in photos at least since 2008, and they figured prominently in the reaction to the 2009 riots in Xinjiang. Many suspected that the choice was cultural, reflecting the Chinese origins of the mechanized, bolt-throwing device back in 400 B.C. But this assumption, that the Chinese would use an outdated weapon for cultural reasons alone, was inherently flawed. In fact,many other modern militaries have utilized crossbows in tactical and combat situations that have no clear historical or cultural ties to the crossbow, including Brazil, Greece India, Peru, Serbia, the Soviet Union, Turkey, and the United States. In every case, it’s not the culture or image of crossbows that gets them on a soldier’s back, it’s their unique tactical capabilities. Modern crossbows with optical and thermal sightings can still pierce armor—or even a car—with metal bolts or bullets. Yet unlike a longer-ranged rifle, the light, foldable crossbow is a stealth weapon, offering no recoil, muzzle flash, or noise. As such many troops prefer them for close-range and quiet missions, and especially for disarming those who may be carrying explosives, as a crossbow bolt is fairly disabling, but entirely unlikely to trigger an accidental detonation upon impact. If greater firepower is needed, though, it’s easy to attach an explosive to the head of the bolt and fire away."

Up Your Online Dating Game with Evidence-Based Strategies - "The review is in the journal Evidence-Based Medicine. [Khalid S. Khan and Sameer Chaudhry: An evidence-based approach to an ancient pursuit: systematic review on converting online contact into a first date]... pick a user name that starts with letters in the first half of the alphabet—A through M seem to up the odds. And when filling in your profile, keep in mind the golden 70/30 ratio: 70 percent stuff about you, 30 percent what you're looking for. A profile all about you might come across as self-absorbed. As for photos, previous studies suggest a genuine smile and a slight head tilt will boost your appeal. And group photos that showcase the fact that other people have fun around you are a good thing—especially if you're in the center of the shot. The researchers also write that women find men more attractive when they see other women smiling at him"

Canada's 'anti-prostitution law' raises fears for sex workers' safety - "not a single voice talked about quitting the game. “It was like, ‘give yourself a day to be sad, then get up tomorrow and go work’”... The battle over prostitution has divided the nation. Before the ink was even dry on the statute, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne declared that she had asked the province’s attorney general to investigate the constitutional validity of the new law because of “grave concern” that the legislation would not protect sex workers... “We had so much hope,” said Delight, who asked not to be named because she fears she could now face prosecution. “Now we’re shattered and less safe. Women will die because of this new law”... Another unintended consequence of the measure could see prostitutes pushed towards criminality. The government says it will target the johns who pay for sex, not those who sell it, but there is nothing in the law that specifically protects prostitutes against criminal charges, said Daniel Brown, a criminal defence lawyer in Toronto. “We have party liability in Canada, which (means) anyone that aids or encourages a person to commit an offence is guilty of that same offence,” said Brown... critics are already proposing to defy the law, part of which makes it illegal for third parties to publish sex adverts. Magazines or websites that do so could face charges, but Alice Klein, co-founder and editor of independent Toronto magazine NOW, has already said she won’t comply. Writing in the magazine, which dedicates more than 10% of its pages to sex ads, she said: “We are mindful of the fact that advertising benefits independent sex workers in particular, as it offers a much safer and more secure way to connect and do business with clients”... sex workers’ rights groups argue that the Nordic model has been a failed experiment and has increased the stigma against them. Critics point to a UN HIV Law Commission report [PDF] which states that “since its enactment in 1999, the law has not improved – indeed, it has worsened – the lives of sex workers”. The report says that while street work has halved, the sex trade remains at pre-law levels... Sex worker groups, both in the country and beyond, will continue to push for the new law to be struck down in the supreme court - this time definitively... Critics may have to wait for a charge to be made so the law can be challenged on a constitutional basis – a process which could take years. Delight believes the law has already had a violent impact. She speaks of a friend and fellow escort who was set to meet a man at a hotel near Toronto Pearson International Airport early on Tuesday morning. Three men barged into her room, where two of them sexually assaulted her before beating her and stealing her money and clothes. “It’s a terrible time to be an escort in Canada,” Delight said. “A terrible time.”"

New prostitution laws unlikely to be challenged soon, legal experts say - "If the Ontario review finds that the new laws may diminish the safety of sex workers and have little impact on community safety — two issues that the Supreme Court cited in coming to its conclusions — Kempa says the province may decide to direct policing resources elsewhere, since it wouldn't see the law as assisting justice and safety... Police have some discretion as to which laws they choose to enforce, and Kempa says that, because of the huge number of laws that exist, police are, by necessity, selective about which ones they give priority. "That is based less on the content of the law and much more on their perception of what's best for community safety," he says. So Kempa feels it could be anywhere from six months to three or four years before police practices regarding the new prostitution laws change. Kempa's research indicates that police forces in North America and Western Europe tend not to see prostitution laws as important for community safety. That shows in the prostitution-related crime stats, which have been very steady for 50 years, despite many changes in the laws. He says police forces don't aggressively enforce those laws, but use them as a law of convenience, to move along troublesome people, for example. And since charging johns, now law-breakers by definition, would clog up an already over-strained court system, Kempa, who is seeking a federal Liberal nomination in Scarborough, Ont., suggests that "prosecutors and the police will probably choose not to act on most of those new laws. They don't have the capacity"... Although he says "this law may just self-implode on its own," Young says it would be sounder if provinces declare they aren't enforcing the law because, in their view, it violates certain constitutional rights. That would still leave the law on the books. To get it to another Supreme Court challenge would take five to six years even if a charge were laid right away, Young estimates. Without charges, there aren't many opportunities to challenge a law in court... he fears that it could be enforced "at the discretion or whim of the police," something that can change at any time."

The prostitution bill is a bizarre work of moral panic - "[It] is drawn from the lore of radical feminism, which identifies heterosexual relations with patriarchal domination. The bill is an unfortunate departure from the British legal tradition. Neither the sale nor the purchase of sex has been illegal in Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Rather, parliaments in the British tradition have legislated to contain the evils associated with prostitution... Harm reduction is not naive libertarianism. Realistic containment and reduction of harm is a genuinely conservative approach, based on a sober assessment of human weakness. Eradication is for moralistic crusaders and millenarian transformers of the human condition. Campaigns for the complete eradication of alcohol, gambling, prostitution, and drugs have marked the history of the United States, whose Puritan founding has given its political culture a millenarian flavour. Canada has not been immune to such moralistic temptations; but our British legal heritage, reinforced by the Catholic permissiveness of Quebec, has generally prevented us from going as far as American crusaders. Perhaps the most alarming thing about Bill C-36 is its potential to reunite the coalition of radical feminists, social conservatives, and law-enforcement authorities that gave us the triple moral panic of the 1980s over imaginary sexual abuse of children: satanic abuse in child-care centres, repressed-memory syndrome, and pedophile rings. Families were shattered and people were sent to jail, mainly in the U.S. but also in Canada, for having committed implausible or even impossible sexual offences. Radical feminists wanted to strike at male domination of women and children, social conservatives were worried about sexual permissiveness, and law-enforcement authorities were pioneering new methods of investigation and interrogation. It was a potent combination... The Minister of Justice has started to create a new class of folk devils by calling the customers of prostitutes “perverts.” Think about that. For decades medical and social researchers have tried to expunge unscientific words such as “deviant” and “pervert” from scientific and popular discourse, seemingly with success. Now the highest law officer of the Crown casually labels a large number of people as “perverts” because they have paid for sex."

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Le subjonctif

"Louis XVI fut éxécuté le 21 janvier 1793, place de la Révolution, aujourd'hui place de la Concorde.

Louis XVI was executed the 21 st of January, 1793, on what was then the Place de la Revolution, today Place de la Concorde.

TV announcers use the passé simple. Professors use it. Stu- dents use it as a joke when they want to sound pretentious.

I used to get emotional about tenses when I taught grammar. I'd invent personalities for each tense. The passé composé was easy—that was Meursault’s tense, one time only in the past, easy come easy go. The imparfait was just that- imperfect—it captured those indefinite, unsatisfied human conditions. The subjunctive: most of life takes place in the subjunctive, not the inclicative—one action subjecting, subjugating itself in the subordinate clause to a realm of feeling or doubt. “I am afraid [feeling] that you don't understand [subjunctive]” versus “I know [certainty] that you understand [indicative]."

The subjunctive has a schoolyard reputation for extreme formality since it's the last verb form people learn in the grammar sequence—second year. I remember my feelings of expertise when I could rattle off my tongue, “Il va falloir que je m'en aille” (I'm going to have to go now), and glide out of a room. The subjunctive is really something else; realm of doubt, desire, fear and trembling before language.

I think about the tenses all the time, especially that slash in the imperfect time line, proving that a sudden event can come and disturb the smooth thoughtlessness of everyday living. The time line is my theory of history; my own history fits it to a tee."

--- French Lessons: A Memoir / Alice Kaplan

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Links - 18th March 2015

400 Million Chinese Can't Speak Mandarin and Beijing Is Worried - "About 30 percent of China’s 1.3 billion population, 400 million people, can’t communicate in Mandarin, according to Li Weihong, director of the State Language Commission, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Sept. 21. Include only those who speak the official dialect fluently, and the number shrinks further. “About 70 percent of the total population can speak Putonghua, and 95 percent of the literate population knows how to use standard Chinese characters. However, only 10 percent [of that 70 percent] can speak standard Putonghua fluently”"
Mandarin: so hard that 400 million Chinese can't speak it

Syria: Rebels blown up by their own Bomb - YouTube - "Celebrating Syrian Insurgents are taken by surprise when a bomb they had been preparing explodes in the middle of a gathering. The number of casualties is not known but it appears as if the explosion caused significant damage considering it took place in the proximity of so many terrorists."

It's No Joke: Humor Rarely Welcome in Research Write-Ups - "a dash of humanity can serve a practical function, contends Peter McGraw, the author, along with Joel Warner, of The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny. Mr. McGraw, a psychologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder, argues that how research is presented has "huge implications" for how willing readers are to accept it. "If you make it hard on the reader to understand what you’re writing, it makes it that much more difficult to convince that person," he says. "A well-placed quip, a well-executed joke—it hinges on it being well-executed—seems to help".. The title of a 2011 physics paper—"Can apparent superluminal neutrino speeds be explained as a quantum weak measurement?"—isn’t funny on its own. The abstract is the punchline: "Probably not."

Curse of knowledge - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - "economists Camerer, Loewenstein, and Weber first applied the curse of knowledge phenomenon to economics, in order to explain why and how the assumption that better informed agents can accurately anticipate the judgments of lesser informed agents is not inherently true, as well as to support the finding that sales agents who are better informed about their products may, in fact, be at a disadvantage against other, less-informed agents when selling their products. This is said to be because better informed agents fail to ignore the privileged knowledge that they possess, thus "cursed" and unable to sell their products at a value that more naïve agents would deem acceptable."

Vietnam buries thousands of smuggled cats, some still alive - "Vietnamese authorities have buried thousands of cats, many apparently still alive, after they were caught being smuggled from China for restaurants... Vietnam banned trafficking cats and serving them at restaurants in 1998"
Damn, something I missed in Hanoi...

#SG50ShadesOfGrey is a success on Twitter because S’poreans and their filthy minds - ""Her legs shook as waves of pleasure rocked her body. Then the salesman asked,"Auntie, you buying this Osim chair or not?""
"She screamed for him to stop, but he kept pumping away. She wanted half tank, but the Shell uncle heard full tank."
"She grimaced as his strong hands pried folds apart to reveal the moist succulence within. She had not had durian before."
""Put it in now!" She gasped. Too late, they shot past the ERP gantry as he fumbled for a cashcard."
""I'm coming! I'm really coming!" She panted hard, breathlessly, over the phone as she rushed for her morning meeting.""

▶ Anaïs DELVA - "Libérée Délivrée" ("Let it Go" - Home-Made Version - "La Reine des Neiges") - YouTube

'Masturbation is good for health' and prevents cystitis, diabetes and cancer - "'For women, masturbation can help prevent cervical infections and urinary tract infections through the process of "tenting," or the opening of the cervix that occurs as part of the arousal process. 'Tenting stretches the cervix, and thus the cervical mucous. This enables fluid circulation, allowing cervical fluids full of bacteria to be flushed out.' They add that engaging in self-pleasure can also 'lower the risk of type-2 diabetes (though this association may also be explained by greater overall health), reduce insomnia through hormonal and tension release, and increase pelvic floor strength through the contractions that happen during orgasm.' Then there is cancer prevention. Studies have shown that men who regularly have sex may have a lower risk of prostate cancer - perhaps due to the release of toxins from the prostate gland - and they say that masturbation achieves this same effect. The Australian pair also argue that it can help prevent depression, due to the 'happy' endorphins produced and cause a slight hike in levels of the hormone cortisol, which may give the immune system a boost. They add that masturbation is also 'the most convenient method for maximising orgasms' - and that people who orgasm regularly have 'reduced stress, reduced blood pressure, increased self-esteem, and reduced pain'."

Bondage at the box office: All tied up in the Bible belt | The Economist - "Southern sexuality scholars say that watching Miss Steele being tied up and flogged by a handsome billionaire gives repressed women permission to delve into their inner naughtiness. “Repressed women like stuff about being further repressed,” says Rosemary Daniell, the author of “Fatal Flowers: On Sin, Sex and Suicide in the Deep South”."

Singapore singles at raunchy Valentine's Day party - "Singapore singles turned up the heat with sexy dances and raunchy poses at the annual Valentine Vendetta singles party."

Rent-A-Gent.Pink | Gentlement Companions For Every Occasion - "All of our Gents have been carefully selected by a diverse panel of women to satisfy the needs and wants of today’s modern woman... Some of the services of our Gents include singing, dancing, cooking, playing musical instruments, personal training, stripping and much much more"

Rizwan Hussein: Chief of Global Aid Trust 'resigns' over charity's alleged links to extremism - "According to the Government register of charities, the charity has five employees and 15 volunteers, and its activities include sponsoring orphans, distributing cows and sheep to families and running women’s empowerment programmes in countries such as Bangladesh and Syria. The documentary follows an undercover reporter posing as a volunteer. At one point, the reporter is introduced to a GAT worker Shaffiq Shabbar, who tells him of his admiration for the late extremist preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, who was believed to have inspired a string of terror attacks... The documentary also shows preacher Dawah Man speaking at an event in which he makes a series of anti-Semitic comments, and tells the audience that “America, European countries, whatever you call it, these countries are controlled by Zionists."

Immigrants and the Economics of Hard Work - New York Times - "The most comprehensive recent study of immigrant workers comes from the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that, unlike Mr. Bernstein's, advocates stricter controls on immigration. The study, by the center's research director, Steven A. Camarota, found that immigrants are a majority of workers in only 4 of 473 job classifications — stucco masons, tailors, produce sorters and beauty salon workers. But even in those four job categories, native-born workers account for more than 40 percent of the work force... "The idea that there are jobs that Americans won't do is economic gibberish," Mr. Camarota said. "All the big occupations that immigrants are in — construction, janitorial, even agriculture — are overwhelmingly done by native Americans." But where they compete for jobs, he said, the immigrants have driven up the jobless rate for some Americans. According to his study, published in March, unemployment among the native born with less than a high school education was 14.3 percent in 2005; the figure for the immigrant population was 7.4 percent... the average annual wage loss for all American male workers from 1980 to 2000 was $1,200, or 4 percent, and nearly twice that, in percentage terms, for those without a high school diploma. The impact was also disproportionately high on African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans, Professor Borjas found... There is one place and one category of work in which the "jobs Americans will not do" mantra appears to be close to true —the salad bowl of California... Last weekend, some 500,000 people took to the streets of Los Angeles to protest a tough immigration bill passed by the House in December and to put pressure on the Senate, which is debating the issue now. In the crowd were very few African-American faces, noted Ronald W. Walters, a professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland. Their economic prospects are directly threatened by the huge influx of illegal immigrants, he said. African-Americans are competing for jobs in construction, hotels and restaurants, meat packing and textiles, he said, and they lose out to immigrants willing to accept lower pay and fewer benefits. "The African-American leadership has a lot of angst about this," he said, adding: "It's not just a black problem, but we are the most acutely affected. The fact is, it's hurting us.""
If immigration has a disparate impact on the wages of Hispanics and Blacks, does itmean that being pro-immigration is racist?

Former English teacher from Hunan loses ability to speak Chinese after suffering stroke

Sarah Colwill's Chinese accent brought on by migraine attack

West Sucks Story - "Giving you all the reasons why the East is better than the West."
Zzz Easterners

How Texas Judge Used Liberal Supreme Court Rulings To Block Obama's Immigration Plans - "The federal judge in Texas who blocked President Obama’s plans to grant residency status to millions of illegal immigrants laced his 123-page ruling with citations to U.S. Supreme Court decisions that upheld cherished liberal positions, including the rights of states to be free from the effects of global warming and the rejection of Arizona’s attempt to enforce immigration laws... The judge distinguished the Obama administration’s plan with earlier lapses in immigration enforcement that were not subject to court review. In this case, it’s not just inadequate enforcement, he wrote, but “an announced program of non-enforcement of the law that contradicts Congress’s statutory goals.” He also got in a shot at President Obama, quoting a Nov. 25, 2014 press release in which Obama said “I just took an action to change the law.”"

It Was Unconstitutional Before It Wasn’t - "What is “constitutional” or “unconstitutional” according to Senate Democrats seems to depend on the outcome they are aiming for. In this case they are calling something constitutional that they previously said was unconstitutional in order to allow something truly unconstitutional to happen. If you can follow that logic, you should apply for a job in Washington."


Malcolm X and lessons about Hating the 'Oppressor'

"I recalled the constant vilification of the 'white devil,' the machinelike obedience of all [Black] Muslims, the suspicion and distrust they had for the outsider...

Malcolm said to me now, 'That was a bad scene, brother. The sickness and madness of those days - I'm glad to be free of them. It's a time for martyrs now. And if I'm to be one, it will be in the cause of brotherhood. That's the only thing that can save this country'...

It was this intentness on brotherhood that cost him his life. For Malcolm, over the objections of his bodyguards, was to rule against anyone being searched before entering the hall that fateful day: 'We don't want people feeling uneasy,' he said. 'We must create an image that makes people feel at home'...

'Brother, nobody can protect you from a Muslim but a Muslim - or someone trained in Muslim tactics. I know. I invented many of those tactics'...

'Strangely enough, listening to leaders like Nasser, Ben Bella, and Nkrumah awakened me to the dangers of racism. I realized racism isn't just a black and white problem. It's brought bloodbaths to about every nation on earth at one time or another'...

'Brother, remember the time that white college girl came into the restaurant—the one who wanted to help the [Black] Muslims and the whites get together—and I told her there wasn't a ghost of a chance and she went away crying?... Well, I've lived to regret that incident. In many parts of the African continent I saw white students helping black people. Something like this kills a lot of argument. I did many things as a [Black] Muslim that I'm sorry for now. I was a zombie then—like all [Black] Muslims—I was hypnotized, pointed in a certain direction and told to march. Well, I guess a man's entitled to make a fool of himself if he's ready to pay the cost. It cost me 12 years'...

Malcolm's years of ranting against the 'white devils' helped create the climate of violence that finally killed him"

--- Malcolm X, interview with Gordon Parks in Life, 5 Mar 1965

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Links - 17th March 2015

S’porean women angry that feminists are angry over Ritz Carlton high heels discount promotion | New Nation - "One angry non-feminist, Hen Ai, said: “I dug out my 10-inch heels just for next Tuesday. I was hoping to get a 100% discount and eat free. 10% off per inch and 10 times 10 is 100, right?” Her friend, Bo Lui, said angry feminists are ruining it for everyone: “This angry feminist who write the letter must be very free and must be quite rich too.” “Not everyone has $72 to blow away. She may not be able to wear heels but she shouldn’t stop those of us who can from enjoying the promotion. Now I’ll never be able to eat at the Ritz. It’s my greatest regret in life,” she said as she burst into tears. “Is she going to complain about Ladies’ Night being sexist next…?” Unfortunately she was unable to complete her sentence as she was slapped and reminded of the duo’s plans for the evening."

Sun set: Now Kingston University bans sale of 'The Sun' on campus due to Page 3 - "anti-abortion campaigners were banned from campus at the same time, after a "pro-choice" motion, proposed by Francesca Manning, was passed. This move came after a pro-life organisation had been permitted to attend the University’s Freshers' Fayre this year."
Freedom of speech means only saying what is right

'I don't debate with Israelis': George Galloway accused of racism after walking out of Middle East debate at Oxford - "A posting on Mr Galloway's Facebook page said: "I refused this evening at Oxford University to debate with an Israeli, a supporter of the apartheid state of Israel. The reason is simple: no recognition, no normalisation. Just boycott, divestment and sanctions, until the apartheid state is defeated. I never debate with Israelis nor speak to their media. If they want to speak about Palestine – the address is the PLO." The moderator of the debate, Michael Baldwin, a 3rd year reading Philosophy, Politics and Economics, said: "I was disappointed that a possibly fruitful discussion was prematurely ended by Mr Galloway’s refusal to debate someone just because of their nationality.""

Winamp 2 Has Been Immortalized in HTML5 For Your Pleasure

Why free speech is fundamental - "How did the monstrous regimes of the 20th century gain and hold power? The answer is that groups of armed fanatics silenced their critics and adversaries. (The 1933 election that gave the Nazis a plurality was preceded by years of intimidation, murder, and violent mayhem.) And once in power, the totalitarians criminalized any criticism of the regime. This is also true of the less genocidal but still brutal regimes of today, such as those in China, Russia, African strongman states, and much of the Islamic world. Why do dictators brook no dissent? One can imagine autocrats who feathered their nests and jailed or killed only those who directly attempted to usurp their privileges, while allowing their powerless subjects to complain all they want. There’s a good reason dictatorships don’t work that way. The immiserated subjects of a tyrannical regime are not deluded that they are happy, and if tens of millions of disaffected citizens act together, no regime has the brute force to resist them. The reason that citizens don’t resist their overlords en masse is that they lack common knowledge — the awareness that everyone shares their knowledge and knows they share it. People will expose themselves to the risk of reprisal by a despotic regime only if they know that others are exposing themselves to that risk at the same time. "

Passive Resistance - "The passive voice has long been dismissed as a hallmark of turgid prose. “Many a tame sentence,” wrote Strunk and White in The Elements of Style, “can be made lively and emphatic by substituting a transitive in the active voice for some such perfunctory expression as there is, or could be heard.” George Orwell, in “Politics and the English Language,” agreed: among the “tricks by means of which the work of prose construction is habitually dodged” is that “the passive voice is wherever possible used in preference to the active.” But did you notice something about these advisories? They use the passive to bad-mouth the passive. This hypocrisy reminds us that prohibition is bad policy. No construction could have survived for millennia if it did not serve a purpose."

Why Academics' Writing Stinks - "I suffer the daily experience of being baffled by articles in my field, my subfield, even my sub-sub-subfield. The methods section of an experimental paper explains, "Participants read assertions whose veracity was either affirmed or denied by the subsequent presentation of an assessment word." After some detective work, I determined that it meant, "Participants read sentences, each followed by the word true or false." The original academese was not as concise, accurate, or scientific as the plain English translation. So why did my colleague feel compelled to pile up the polysyllables?... Most academic writing... is a blend of two styles. The first is practical style, in which the writer’s goal is to satisfy a reader’s need for a particular kind of information, and the form of the communication falls into a fixed template, such as the five-paragraph student essay or the standardized structure of a scientific article. The second is a style that Thomas and Turner call self-conscious, relativistic, ironic, or postmodern, in which "the writer’s chief, if unstated, concern is to escape being convicted of philosophical naïveté about his own enterprise... Self-conscious writers are also apt to kvetch about how what they’re about to do is so terribly difficult and complicated and controversial... In the classic style, the writer credits the reader with enough intelligence to realize that many concepts aren’t easy to define, and that many controversies aren’t easy to resolve. She is there to see what the writer will do about it... Writers use hedges in the vain hope that it will get them off the hook, or at least allow them to plead guilty to a lesser charge, should a critic ever try to prove them wrong. A classic writer, in contrast, counts on the common sense and ordinary charity of his readers, just as in everyday conversation we know when a speaker means in general or all else being equal. If someone tells you that Liz wants to move out of Seattle because it’s a rainy city, you don’t interpret him as claiming that it rains there 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just because he didn’t qualify his statement with relatively rainy or somewhat rainy. Any adversary who is intellectually unscrupulous enough to give the least charitable reading to an unhedged statement will find an opening to attack the writer in a thicket of hedged ones anyway... Many of the most stylish writers who cross over to a general audience are scientists (together with some philosophers who are fans of science), while the perennial winners of the Bad Writing Contest are professors of English"
Sadly, lots of people - even outside Academia (e.g. on Quora) - will attack people for unhedged statements that can be misinterpreted without using common sense

Drunk sex on campus: Universities are struggling to determine when intoxicated sex becomes sexual assault. - "Last month, two ex–Vanderbilt University football players attempted to claim that they should not be held responsible for raping an unconscious woman because they were too drunk to know what they were doing at the time. They were convicted of four counts of aggravated rape each. Good. Being drunk is not an excuse for raping another person. “If you’re blackout drunk, and you harm someone, does that make it less bad? Are you less culpable? No,” says Laura Dunn, founder and executive director of SurvJustice, a nonprofit that advocates for sexual assault survivors. “You don’t get an accidental rape for free”... Sokolow argues that the onus being put on men is not about gender bias, but about anatomy. His report says that “courts operate on the presumption that if a man is able to engage in and complete the act of sexual intercourse, he is not incapacitated.” Or as Dunn put it: “People who are truly incapacitated can’t get erections.” That’s an assumption that dates back to Shakespeare, but it’s not backed up by modern science. “It’s true that orgasm is impaired in both sexes” when people drink, says Dr. George Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “With even tiny levels of alcohol,” sexual response “slows down, and delays, and sometimes goes completely.” But Koob also cautioned that there’s no absolute line past which all men are incapable of having an erection and that a total loss of sexual function is less likely for young men, the ones who are implicated in most campus sexual assault disputes... The colleges that outlaw sex between students who are simply “drunk” or “intoxicated” are setting an impossible standard that pathologizes many normal, healthy, consensual sexual encounters"
If you're incapable of consenting to sex when drunk, how can you rape when drunk?!
The moral of the story seems to be that men should not get drunk, since if they have sex when drunk they're responsible for their actions Ironically this is a flip side of how some people that if a woman is drunk, it's not rape.

NSFW!Kink & Perversion To The Next Level…TOSHIO SAEKI, Godfather Of Japanese Erotica

24 differences between locals and tourists in Paris - "1. Tourists think the accordion players in the metro are cute and quintessentially European; locals sigh and change metro cars.
6. Guess who is wearing the beret and the striped shirt? Yes, that’s a tourist with the jauntily tied scarf, too.
12. Tourists wear wedding dresses and tuxedos to pose for pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomphe. A lot of locals don’t even get married; they just end up being PACS-ed and, if they do have a ceremony, it is usually outside Paris.
13. Tourists buy locks to put on the Pont des Arts. Locals know that the locks are a safety hazard and that the city cuts off this symbol of eternal love regularly.
15. Tourists wear shirts that say ‘I heart Paris.’ Parisians have bumper stickers that say ‘I heart nothing, I’m Parisian.’
17. Tourists want to go to Disneyland Paris, while a lot of locals venture out to Parc Asterix.
18. Tourists would laugh at you if you said you were going to see the Statue of Liberty in Paris (“Wrong city!”) while locals know that there is indeed a mini Statue of Liberty in Paris.
23. Tourists want to eat “real” French food at restaurants in Paris. Parisians are basically obsessed with sushi.
24. Tourists are in Paris in August. Parisians are everywhere but Paris in August."

Public holiday entitlement varies greatly around the world - "Finland has the most generous provision of public holidays (15) in Europe, followed by Spain (14) whereas Hungary, UK and the Netherlands, have the fewest (8)... Latin America is home to the highest and lowest public holiday provision of any of the countries surveyed. Colombia has the most generous number of public holidays (18) while Mexico has the lowest (7). Argentina and Chile have 15 public holidays with Brazil offering 12... Employees in India (along with Colombia) have the highest public holiday provision worldwide (18). Australia and New Zealand both dictate fewer public holidays than the region’s average with 9 and 11, respectively. Thailand and South Korea offer 16 public holidays followed by Japan (15), Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines (14). Pakistan (13) is followed by Hong Kong and Taiwan (12). Vietnam (10) has the lowest number of public holidays in the region below China and Singapore (11)."

"The parties are advised to chill"

"Having to read a footnote resembles having to go downstairs to answer the door while in the midst of making love" - Noël Coward



"If this were a sci-fi melodrama, it might be called SpeechZilla meets Trademark Kong.

Barbie was born in Germany in the 1950s as an adult collector’s item. Over the years, Mattel transformed her from a doll that resembled a “German street walker,” as she originally appeared, into a glamorous, long-legged blonde. Barbie has been labeled both the ideal American woman and a bimbo. She has survived attacks both psychic (from feminists critical of her fictitious figure) and physical (more than 500 professional makeovers). She remains a symbol of American girlhood, a public figure who graces the aisles of toy stores throughout the country and beyond. With Barbie, Mattel created not just a toy but a cultural icon.

With fame often comes unwanted attention. Aqua is a Dan- ish band that has, as yet, only dreamed of attaining Barbie- like status. In 1997, Aqua produced the song Barbie Girl on the album Aquarium. In the song, one bandmember imperson- ates Barbie, singing in a high-pitched, doll-like voice; another bandmember, calling himself Ken, entices Barbie to “go party.” (The lyrics are in the Appendix.) Barbie Girl singles sold well and, to Mattel’s dismay, the song made it onto Top 40 music charts.

Mattel brought this lawsuit against the music companies who produced, marketed and sold Barbie Girl: MCA Records, Inc., Universal Music International Ltd., Universal Music A/S, Universal Music & Video Distribution, Inc. and MCA Music Scandinavia AB (collectively, “MCA”)...

A trademark is a word, phrase or symbol that is used to identify a manufacturer or sponsor of a good or the provider of a service. See New Kids on the Block v. News Am. Publ’g, Inc., 971 F.2d 302, 305 (9th Cir. 1992). It’s the owner’s way of preventing others from duping consumers into buying a product they mistakenly believe is sponsored by the trademark owner. A trademark “inform[s] people that trademarked products come from the same source.” Id. at 305 n.2. Limited to this core purpose—avoiding confusion in the marketplace —a trademark owner’s property rights play well with the First Amendment. “Whatever first amendment rights you may have in calling the brew you make in your bathtub ‘Pepsi’ are easily outweighed by the buyer’s interest in not being fooled into buying it.” Trademarks Unplugged, 68 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 960, 973 (1993).

The problem arises when trademarks transcend their identifying purpose. Some trademarks enter our public discourse and become an integral part of our vocabulary. How else do you say that something’s “the Rolls Royce of its class?” What else is a quick fix, but a Band-Aid? Does the average consumer know to ask for aspirin as “acetyl salicylic acid?” See Bayer Co. v. United Drug Co., 272 F. 505, 510 (S.D.N.Y. 1921). Trademarks often fill in gaps in our vocabulary and add a contemporary flavor to our expressions. Once imbued with such expressive value, the trademark becomes a word in our language and assumes a role outside the bounds of trademark law...

The trademark owner does not have the right to control public discourse whenever the public imbues his mark with a meaning beyond its source- identifying function. See Anti-Monopoly, Inc. v. Gen. Mills Fun Group, 611 F.2d 296, 301 (9th Cir. 1979) (“It is the source-denoting function which trademark laws protect, and nothing more”)...

The song does not rely on the Barbie mark to poke fun at another subject but targets Barbie herself. See Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., 510 U.S. 569, 580 (1994); see also Dr. Seuss Ents., L.P. v. Penguin Books USA, Inc., 109 F.3d 1394, 1400 (9th Cir. 1997). This case is therefore distinguish- able from Dr. Seuss, where we held that the book The Cat NOT in the Hat! borrowed Dr. Seuss’s trademarks and lyrics to get attention rather than to mock The Cat in the Hat! The defendant’s use of the Dr. Seuss trademarks and copyrighted works had “no critical bearing on the substance or style of” The Cat in the Hat!, and therefore could not claim First Amendment protection...

If we see a painting titled “Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup,” we’re unlikely to believe that Campbell’s has branched into the art business. Nor, upon hearing Janis Joplin croon “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz?,” would we suspect that she and the carmaker had entered into a joint venture. A title tells us something about the underlying work but seldom speaks to its origin...

Rogers concluded that literary titles do not violate the Lanham Act “unless the title has no artistic relevance to the underlying work whatsoever, or, if it has some artistic rele- vance, unless the title explicitly misleads as to the source or the content of the work”...

Mattel separately argues that, under the Federal Trademark Dilution Act (“FTDA”), MCA’s song dilutes the Barbie mark in two ways: It diminishes the mark’s capacity to identify and distinguish Mattel products, and tarnishes the mark because the song is inappropriate for young girls. See 15 U.S.C. § 1125(c); see also Panavision Int’l, L.P. v. Toeppen, 141 F.3d 1316, 1324 (9th Cir. 1998).

“Dilution” refers to the “whittling away of the value of a trademark” when it’s used to identify different products. 4 J. Thomas McCarthy, McCarthy on Trademarks and Unfair Competition § 24.67 at 24-120; § 24.70 at 24-122 (2001). For example, Tylenol snowboards, Netscape sex shops and Harry Potter dry cleaners would all weaken the “commercial magnetism” of these marks and diminish their ability to evoke their original associations...

After Mattel filed suit, Mattel and MCA employees traded barbs in the press. When an MCA spokeswoman noted that each album included a disclaimer saying that Barbie Girl was a “social commentary [that was] not created or approved by the makers of the doll,” a Mattel representative responded by saying, “That’s unacceptable. . . . It’s akin to a bank robber handing a note of apology to a teller during a heist. [It n]either diminishes the severity of the crime, nor does it make it legal.” He later characterized the song as a “theft” of “another company’s property.”

MCA filed a counterclaim for defamation based on the Mattel representative’s use of the words “bank robber,” “heist,” “crime” and “theft.” But all of these are variants of the invective most often hurled at accused infringers, namely “piracy.” No one hearing this accusation understands intellectual property owners to be saying that infringers are nautical cutthroats with eyepatches and peg legs who board galleons to plunder cargo. In context, all these terms are nonactionable “rhetorical hyperbole,” Gilbrook v. City of Westminster, 177 F.3d 839, 863 (9th Cir. 1999). The parties are advised to chill."

Meet the student who turned his dorm room into an unsafe space

Meet the student who turned his dorm room into an unsafe space | Down with campus censorship!

"A blob is spreading through British universities, devouring once chatty, free-speaking students and pooping them out the other end as self-policing offence-avoiders. It turns every bit of campus it touches into staid zones in which nothing fun ever happens and nothing foul, or even just naughty, is ever said. The blob is called the Safe Space Policy. And as spiked’s Free Speech University Rankings revealed this week, 13 per cent of UK unis now have one...

At Columbia, the Ivy League, super-supposedly-liberal university in NYC, one student rebelled against a request that he, and every other student, hang a sign in their dorm-room windows declaring that their living quarters were ‘safe spaces’ in which ‘homophobia, transphobia, transmisogyny, racism, ableism, classism and so on’ will not be permitted and everyone who enters will be expected to ‘not be oppressive in [their] interactions’. Most students dutifully displayed the Safe Space sign, but one Adam Shapiro, a junior majoring in history, refused. In fact, he hung up a different sign, his own one, declaring his room an unsafe space...

‘People call them safe-space zones, but actually they’re censorship zones, that’s exactly what they are’, Shapiro tells me. ‘Students need to fight back and have dangerous spaces.’ Towards the end of last year, Columbia — home to some of the most PC, word-watching students in the modern West — had at least one ‘dangerous space’: Shapiro’s room. Instead of hanging up the sad ‘safe space’ sign shoved under his and every other students’ dorm door, Shapiro wrote and displayed a sign headlined ‘I do not want this to be a safe space’. His room, the sign said, is a place where all who enter will be expected ‘not to allow identity to trump ideas [or] emotion to trump critical thinking’. ‘Whether you’re black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, bi, transgender, fully abled, disabled, religious, secular, rich, middle class or poor, I will judge your ideas based on their soundness and coherence, not based on who you are’, his sign declared. Then there was the sign-off, in bold, a warning to anyone who thought they could pop into this student’s room and arrogantly expect that certain things would not be thought, said, or argued out: ‘This is a dangerous space.

‘I came to university because I wanted to be in a dangerous space in which controversial ideas could be explored’, Shapiro tells me. But safe-space policies, he says, militate against such open-ended, free-wheeling and, yes, sometimes difficult thought-excavation by chilling what can be thought and discussed. ‘The idea behind them seems noble: to be kinder to each other — I’m all for that. But the underlying principle is that there are certain rules that you can’t break and certain things that, if you say, the discussion will be closed.’ Once a safe-space is created, he says, anyone can say to anyone else ‘That’s really offensive, and shut an idea down and not engage with it’. So what is presented as a morally upstanding stab at keeping students safe from harm is in fact more about cushioning them from controversy, from ideas. ‘That isn’t what I came to university for’, Shapiro says.

In many ways, Shapiro’s self-made ‘dangerous space’ sounds a lot like the ideal of the university itself — a space in which, as he put it in his college magazine the Columbia Spectator, ‘we can be relaxed enough to be embarrassed by our ignorance… we can be embarrassed and embarrass each other’. He tells me he often thinks of the words of US philosopher Cornel West, who said education is a process through which you’re ‘unearthed and unsettled’. College should be about ‘giving up old ideas and challenging assumptions’, Shapiro tells me, but ‘this isn’t happening now, because as soon as someone is uncomfortable, the discussion is quickly shut down, whether that’s in a student group, a dorm or a classroom’. Yet despite standing up for the pretty historic and Enlightenment-bolstered notion of the university as a place where one is made precisely uncomfortable — by books, by words, by ideas that call into question what we think we know and think is good — Shapiro received a load of flak for his ‘dangerous space’ sign and the article he wrote about it. Angry students played the privilege card, saying it was typically arrogant of a straight, male, white student — ‘what they presumed to be my identity’, says Shapiro — to say ‘let all ideas be heard’. The safety-worshipping students never stop to think how insulting they are being to ethnic-minority students and other identity groups when they say that free and open debate is too difficult for them and is something only the white and middle class can properly cope with.

Shapiro recognises the danger to coming out in favour of ‘unsafe spaces’ — which is that people will paint you as someone who thinks students should be physically unsafe, forced to negotiate their way through insults and maybe even a bit of argy-bargy. But he makes clear that he’s challenging the nonsense idea of ‘mental safety’. ‘No one should be threatened physically or insulted purposefully’, he says. ‘But anything which explores an idea should be preserved. There’s a difference between calling someone a faggot and saying “I wonder if a family is best raised by a mother and a father?”. I happen to think that position is wrong, but I think it’s a position that should be fully explored in a university. Right now, though, if you were to bring that up in a classroom, you would be eaten alive.’ Of course students, like all citizens, have a right to be free from physical harm. But a right to feel mentally comfortable, and never truly challenged? ‘That isn’t a right’, says Shapiro, and if instituted, it would threaten university life, he says...

Shapiro sees trigger warnings, in which students expect to be warned in advance about potentially upsetting class content, and microaggressions, where pretty much any kind of speech can be treated as aggressive to a certain group of people, as standing alongside safe-space policies to form a kind of Holy Trinity of anti-intellectualism, debatephobia, hostility towards difficult ideas. He thinks this infantilisation of students will impact hard on the content of intellectual life in the West. ‘It will be interesting to see the quality of thought that comes out of Columbia, Yale, Harvard, Cambridge and Oxford 20 years from now, because right now people are being infantilised and are not being pushed beyond their limits, to truly think.’

Shapiro says one of the most frustrating things about the response to his creation of a dangerous space — of a small corner of old-style university life on an otherwise safety-colonised, trigger-warned campus — is that some students accused him of defending prejudice and hate. Not so. In fact, as he made clear in his Columbia Spectator piece, he wants freedom of thought and openness to controversy on campus precisely as a means to defeating backward ways of thinking. ‘We need dangerous spaces where bad ideas can die and good ones can flourish’, he wrote. He tells me: ‘When someone says something hateful and heinous and it makes us feel awful, it also actually makes us stronger for having to interact with it and deal with it. And we should deal with it, not hide from it.’"


Response to a hate-filled and incoherent comment on the original op-ed, Safe spaces at Columbia University inhibit discourse:

"The moment you stop listening to what other people have to say, is the moment you become powerless to understand their perspective and, perhaps, change their minds. And while nobody has the right to deny your right to exist as you wish, occasionally, the person with that disagreeable opinion might change your mind on an issue. Creating an environment in which disagreeable ideas are suppressed, rather than debated, should be avoided anywhere, but particularly at a university."

Other comments:

"condoning oppressive behavior under the guise of 'creating dialogue' is still condoning oppressive behavior."
"Bananas under the guise of being plantains are still bananas."

"The specificity of the wording on the poster is disturbing. It's almost like an oath of membership and reminds me of something one might have seen in the Cultural Revolution.

I'm gay; I was bullied in school. But never have I thought "I'm exhausted" and then made the leap that I need to avoid people that have simple disagreements with me or have questions. I certainly would never have wanted this in college. (I can see the need for safe spaces in counseling or support groups.)"

"We don't dismiss a black man by referring to him as "boy", so we shouldn't refer to a white man as "boy" either, should we? I usually don't police people's language, but I wonder if "safe space" supporters watch their own language so closely when the person being discussed is straight or white or a male. Doesn't everybody deserve to feel "safe", too, from words or phrases that are triggering or threatening or erasing new?"

Related article:

Reflexive PC-ness is problem for Theta, Chad Washington

"Yesterday, members of Kappa Alpha Theta were “outed” as un-PC for brandishing “Mexican” paraphernalia at an Olympics-themed party. Immediately, I was reminded of Chad Washington’s arrest last spring. Online commentators claimed racism was at work, expressed sentiment against the athletic community, and relayed condemnation from the student body—all within five minutes, and with hardly a peep of concern for the victim...

Enter the “Political Correctness Police,” the term I use for those as vocal as they are misguided when it comes to social justice. The PCP were the most aware of Washington’s identity as an African-American athlete, and this detail figured in their commentary days before anyone knew the circumstances of the incident. Similarly, the PCP pounced on the members of Theta for their alleged cultural appropriation, placing the emphasis of the story around sorority girls dressing in sombreros and mustaches to represent Mexican culture, and omitting the other nationalities equally stereotyped and poked fun at, such as the “German Olympic team” wearing lederhosen and the “French Olympic team” brandishing berets and baguettes.

Columbia students have a proud and well-earned reputation for speaking out, but the diatribes of our most vocal today reflect a culture of outrage on campus. Columbia students—especially the PCP—often rush to condemn remarks that fall out of line by pulling the “racist,” “sexist,” or “elitist” cards, prefaced by the ubiquitous phrase, “check your privilege.”

But where PC-ness is meant to minimize offense against the disadvantaged, we have instead made any calm discussions on race, gender, and socioeconomic status off-limits. The PCP take issue with people of privilege approaching situations that include any kind of minority, and then condemn them for that privilege. This is wrong. The discussion cannot just be about the underprivileged—not when the privileged are in a position to effect change. We have to realize that change requires extending compassion to those whose worldviews are less politically correct than our own.

This “reflexive” PC-ness also reinforces the otherness of social groups. For instance, the PCP used the controversial tweets and other “public displays of bigotry” to perpetuate the “nasty athlete” stereotype. A similar projection emerged with the “privileged prep school brat” stereotype that monopolized Overheard Columbia, based on submissions of questionable authorship.

The PCP’s impulse to think in terms of groups instead of individuals comes from an admirable intention, but reflects a perversion of the ideology behind social justice movements, and has to stop. No lone individual is truly characteristic of a group. We should thus never chalk one person’s behavior up to characteristics that implicate entire groups...

We can never hope to achieve a post-racist, post-sexist, post-elitist society if every aspect of our lives is an issue of group identity. Especially not when the language we use in the name of PC-ness only reinforces the barriers that we seek to eliminate—including those dividing the majority from the minority, and minority groups from each other. How can we reap the benefits of student diversity when the lingering fear of sounding un-PC to people of diverse identities forces us to walk on eggshells during discourse for fear of offending them?

We must end the PCP’s monopoly on justice, in which individuals are barred from discourse and criticized for their private expression due to their position of privilege. Those who’ve challenged the PCP in the past failed to upend the establishment because their personal privilege undermined the credibility of their arguments. I’m different because I’m a lower-middle class gay Dominican—a collective of marginalized identities that spares me from PCP scrutiny and allows me to have a say in these issues, which is an ironic privilege in itself. Just think about how you’d be reading this article if I were a rich, white, heterosexual male...

Join my cause and make PC-ness something more than a cause in and of itself. Spend some time with the less politically correct. Promote diversity by living it. Then we’ll talk."

Monday, March 16, 2015

Links - 16th March 2015

Internet Explorer 12 to shed legacy cruft in bid to BEAT Chrome - "According to the prolific Redmond rumormongers at Neowin, the software giant has forked the code for IE's Trident rendering engine into a new, leaner version that should consume fewer resources – and Windows 10 will ship with both versions."

I'm an atheist, but I have no interest in joining your 'movement' - "It wasn’t until relatively recently that I realized that not all believers center their every decision around religion: for them, their religious convictions are something softer to check in with from time to time, not the brash fire-and-brimstone philosophies I saw from those who made religious identity their public faces. For some people, belief is a part of their lives, not the whole of their identity. For me, atheism is similar: my life is bigger than my non-belief. I have the freedom to find my own community of believers and non-believers – of people who share my interests and those who don’t – who I just enjoy for who they are. God, or no-god, has nothing to do with that."

What it’s Really Like Being a Lawyer in Singapore - "the legal industry experiences embarrassingly high attrition rates, with 3 out of 4 local lawyers leaving practice within the first 10 years. If attractive salaries aren’t enough to keep them in practice, something must be wrong... The general consensus amongst the young lawyers I spoke with was that law pays well enough, but the high salaries come at a price—awful work-life balance. While there are (admittedly rare) exceptions, most lawyers work a minimum of 10-12 hours a day, with many working until the wee hours of the morning in the weeks before an important deadline... “I hate being chained to my phone even when I am on leave,” he says. “It’s like I don’t deserve a break. I despise the fact that clients have no respect for my personal time and even the bosses expect work to be done over the weekends and while on leave”... “I’ve been a litigation lawyer for 3 years already and I still feel bloody clueless,” says, Brian, 30. “When you first start practising, you’re basically thrown in the deep end, and most of the time you have to figure things out on your own because your boss is too busy and stressed out to hold your hand”... “Take up dentistry instead,” says Nigel. “You get paid a decent salary but you leave at 6 on the dot.”"

The Dutch Artist Who Turned His Dead Cat Into A Drone Is Keeping A Badger In His Freezer To Build A Submarine - "Jansen managed to get his hands on a juvenile white tip reef shark from a local aquarium that had died of a bacterial infection, and the enterprising Dutchman strapped wings and a jet engine to the animal before sending it soaring through the air. Now Bart Jansen's at it again. When a friend offered him a dead badger, he immediately accepted, and soon settled on a use for it: a submarine. The project is called "Das Boot," a play on the famous German U-boat film "Das Boot," as well as the Dutch word for "badger" — "das."

Genetic Testing and Tribal Identity - "Some of the questions geneticists seek to answer are also provocative among Native Americans. The first is the issue of migration: Where did different people come from? Who colonized the United States first? Where did they go once they arrived? These are questions that archaeologists and geneticists are really interested in because they help paint a picture of how migrations patterns occurred in the United States before white settlers arrived, and how European settlement changed things. But figuring out where your ancestors came from becomes complicated when it entails a legacy of exclusion of displacement. Tribes each have important cultural histories, that include their origin stories. Many of their histories say that the tribe came from the land, that they arose there and have always lived there. And many of them have more modern histories that include white settlers challenging their right to live where they did. So to many tribal people, having a scientist come in from the outside looking to tell them where they’re “really” from is not only uninteresting, but threatening. “We know who we are as a people, as an indigenous people, why would we be so interested in where scientists think our genetic ancestors came from?” asks Kim Tallbear, a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, the author of Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science, and a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribe... Once he was asking a tribe to do two studies: one on migration patterns and one on diabetes. He expected they might reject his work on their history, but instead they said no to the health study. Apparently a nearby tribe had cooperated with a researcher looking into a health question, and the results of the study hadn’t been all that complimentary to the community. “‘We’d rather not go down that path,’ they said.”"
Disease comes about from evil spirits. Why would we be interested in what scientists think causes disease?

Business | More Youths Believe In Ufos Than Social Security - Poll - "According to its poll, only 9 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 34 believe Social Security will have the money to pay their retirement benefits. Just over one-fourth say Social Security will still exist when they retire, compared with 46 percent who think that there are unidentified flying objects, or UFOs."

Most diners would not pay for tap water at a restaurant, Straits Times online poll shows - "Around one in 10 restaurants now charge for water, at least twice the number from just two years ago. They typically charge between 30 cents and 80 cents."
Where do you get stats on who charges for water?!

Cyber-harrasment & cyber-bullying - "Arguing politics online. It gets heated and the people get vicious. Just scan through the comments section on political websites or Facebook pages and you can see the ugly side of people very quickly. But now, a Facebook page has the dubious honor of hitting a new low. Fabrications About the PAP, a Facebook page started and run by Jason Chua Chin Seng, has resorted to cyber-bullying a netizen whose only crime seems to be saying what people don’t want to hear. For that, he had his profile picture and “offending” comment posted on the page."

Singaporean Bragged of Sex With Girl In Cambodia - "Mr. Seila said, however, that Singapore should not have used Cambodia’s reputation as a haven for pedophiles as a means of incriminating possible child abusers. “Sex offenders should not be attracted to Cambodia for whatever investigative purposes,” he said. “We are already vulnerable, our children are already vulnerable to sex offenders.”"

Tinder in Brooklyn

Dear Prudence: Feminists are upset that I don’t have much sexism to complain about in my STEM career. - "Q. Excessive Feminists: I’m a woman in a very masculine scientific field, and I’ve found that many women involved in feminist circles want to hear about my experience. I absolutely agree that there are biases against women in the workplace and love a good discussion, but I have never really suffered from sexism. First, I’m young enough (27) that I’m not eligible for senior positions anyway, and second, I’ve never been flirted with in an inappropriate manner, or felt I wasn’t listened to. Maybe I’m just awesome at playing the man’s game (or in denial and don’t have an eye for sexism?). More probably, I landed in a great environment that just suffers from a dearth of females because there are too few candidates. But even quite reasonable and pleasant women get aggressive when I don’t have anything to contribute to their list of crimes committed by the patriarchy. I don’t want to lie, but I’m not sure how to handle inquiries when I can’t give them the story they want.
A: How strange that people who say they are fighting for equality are dismayed when they encounter it. How sad that they don’t want to hear the good news that you have been welcomed into this traditionally male field, that your male peers and bosses treat you wonderfully, and that you are thriving. It’s exciting this has been your experience—what a great ambassador you can be for younger women seeking to enter your field. There is an unfortunate strain of obsessive grievance-mongering in feminism today. It’s a kind of sport for these self-proclaimed guardians to venomously attack those they feel don’t precisely toe their line. You’re a scientist who lives in the world of facts. You are finding that ideologues aren’t interested in facts, thus they go after you when your reality trumps their ideology. My general advice is that it’s best not to engage with unpleasant people, especially those who seek to lecture you about your own experiences. Feel free to extract yourself and say, “You’ll have to excuse me, but I’ve got to get back to the lab.” But if you feel like it, you can also counterpunch by saying something like, “It’s funny, but the only people who try to bully me are women who aren’t in my profession.”"

Is that woman pregnant or fat? - "1. Listen for huffing and puffing
2. Belly or back-rubbing
3. Check the feet
4. What's she reading?
5. Inflated ankles
6. A waddling walk
7. A well-defined and solid bump will clearly not be squishy fat"
Comments: "After being verbally abused for offering my seat to a woman who very much looked like she was nine months pregnant, I haven't done it since, unless i am completely sure. Using the seven steps given would not really have helped as the only thing she wasn't doing was reading was a baby book!"
"Why is it so important to give up seats to pregnant women? What about people with conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, or those who've recently had surgery? They're on public transport too. They never stand there choking back tears of indignant anger when no one offers them a seat, and they're in far more need of one than pregnant women are. This I know from personal experience."
"I was once confronted with the usual "Is she fat/isn't she" dilemma when I found myself getting in such a stew I found the easiest solution was to simply get off the tube at the next stop and get the next one! "
"If I were a 'plump' woman who was offered a seat I'd just play along with it, rub my belly hold my back as I took the seat and think - it's not all bad being a little overweight..."
"I once witnessed a guy on a tube say to an average size lady "If you're pregnant you can have my seat, if you're just fat you can stand". Quick as a flash she replied "I'm pregnant" and took his seat. Once seated she added "I'm also a very good liar and you are a *******!""
"I will gladly offer my seat to an elderly person , I believe that you choose to get pregnant , but aging is one thing you cant avoid!"

13 things that have been banned by UK universities - "Blurred Lines
“Racist” Fancy Dress
The Sun and Daily Star
‘Lads Mags’
Dapper Laughs
George Galloway
A Satirical Jesus/Mohammed T-shirt
Payday Loan Adverts
Pub crawls
Sunbed Advertisements
Julie Bindel
A pineapple Mohammed"

How Many People were at Pink Dot 2014?

So I saw this image circulating questioning attendance figures for every Singaporean Liberal's Favourite Annual Event, Pink Dot:

"If this SGO LOGO is 3,000 people .... Can this be 26,000 people?"

Various objections were raised to this comparison. Among which:

- The scale/camera distance is different
- The SG50 people are using umbrellas
- The venue is different (Bishan Park vs Hong Lim Park)

Yet, if one opens an umbrella, one can accommodate at most one other person underneath (if you blow up the SG50 photo you will see that everyone is using standard one-person umbrellas [not the huge ones]).

So I decided to make some estimates.

Let us make the simplifying assumption that Hong Lim Park is a rectangle.

This inflates the estimate a bit by including some road, Telok Ayer Hong Lim Green Community Centre and Kreta Ayer NPP.

Rotating the Google Maps image (Google Maps no longer allows you to rotate the maps grr), we find that Hong Lim Park is 338 px by 181 px. It is also a trapezium, but assuming it is a rectangle it more-or-less cancels out.

Following the onscreen scale, we note that 83 pixels is 50m in length. So Hong Lim Park is about 204m by 109m, for an area of 22,236 square metres.

According to Wired, in a packed crowd each person takes up 2.5 square feet (~0.25 square metres). Other estimates I've seen are similar.

So if the whole area of Hong Lim Park were packed with people, we would have 88,944 people in there, which is even bigger than the supposed event attendance of 26,000.

However, what we see in the original photo (or others) is not a packed crowd.

Returning to Wired:

In a loose crowd, where people are at an arms length of each other, figure about 10 square feet of space per person.

In the photo (and others), we can see that people are on average from one to half an arms length from each other, so that gives us a crowd of 22,000 to 44,000 people.

Yet, note that this is assuming the *whole* of Hong Lim Park was filled. In reality it looks like maybe a third to a half of the total area was filled with the crowd.

So there can't have been more than 22,000 people there, and that is being generous. A lower bound for event attendance would be about 7,000.

Alternatively, measuring the size of the lightup it seems to take up about 1/6 of Hong Lim Park, which when combined with the packed crowd calculations gives 15,000 at most.

I heard that event attendance for Pink Dot was estimated by clocking people walking in and out, so there would've been a lot of double and triple-or-more-counting.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Links - 15th March 2015

Hamas Focuses on Rebuilding Tunnels as Gazans Suffer - "The project, which resumed weeks after the battles in Gaza subsided at the end of August, employs hundreds of skilled Palestinian workers and numerous transport vehicles, such as trucks and tractors, and heavy machinery. As a result, the work, which is supposed to be secret, is exposed for almost everyone in Gaza to see. Some people speak about it in broad terms on social media. Gaza residents have noted that the areas near the Israeli border, in the south and north of Gaza, are teeming with trucks moving earth. Hamas has declared the areas of the work off-limits and has posted movement members to stand watch... The rampant tunnel reconstruction is not only indicative of the military wing’s conduct, but also of the warped priorities of a movement that started out as a welfare organization. The military wing has risen against its founders. Operation Protective Edge inflicted immense damage on Gaza, resulting in more than 2,200 fatalities, thousands of wounded and unprecedented devastation to houses and infrastructure. A quarter of the population is homeless. Still today, thousands of families whose homes were destroyed live in public buildings. Discussion of Gaza’s rehabilitation and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' role in making it happen has remained mere talk. Once again, Hamas is investing the scant resources it can get its hands on in preparing for the next war. From talks I have had with Hamas activists in the past, they do not consider their armament and organizational activities offensive preparations, but rather defensive actions, against Israel’s aggression. Even if one accepted this argument at face value, it is hard to understand why the movement, recently declared by Egypt a terrorist organization, isn't engaged in some soul-searching instead of adopting a business-as-usual approach while making jihad against Israel its top priority."

France upholds the ban on paternity tests - "French men are forbidden by law to attempt to find out whether the child they are paying for is in fact their child or not... Paternity fraud is one of the very few crimes that indeed has a sex. Violence doesn’t have a sex. Rape doesn’t have a sex. Heck, not even breast cancer has a sex. But paternity fraud is a crime of deceit that has a sex – and it’s the female sex. It’s an offense committed solely by women against men and children. And it’s an offense that is not only legal almost everywhere, but actively encouraged by the French state by putting men who seek the truth in jail and making them pay huge fines (15,000 euros is earned by the average Frenchman in 4 to 7 months)."

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Has Perfect Response When Asked About Women On The Supreme Court - "The 81-year-old Supreme Court justice, who has attained somewhat of a cult following for her stance on gender equality, told a gathering of law students Wednesday that people often ask her when she thinks there will be enough women on the court. "And my answer is when there are nine," she said, as if the question even needed to be asked."
"Gender equality": when there're no more men left

Genes make for a life of success - "Genes play a greater role in forming character traits than was previously thought, new research suggests. A study of more than 800 sets of twins found that genetics were more influential in shaping key traits than a person’s home environment and surroundings."

How to Make Breakfast With Your Vagina - "She knew enough about the chemistry of the vagina to think that eating a batch of yogurt made from her ladyjuices would be good for her"

Women's prison mass jail break after inmates in dominatrix gear handcuff male guards expecting 'mass orgy' - "The women reportedly drugged the prison guards by giving them spiked whisky after convincing them to take part in an orgy, according to investigators. Inmates then left the prison through the main doors, even taking with them guns and munitions they had taken from prison caches."

Could we stop the anti-vaxxers if we said measles contains gluten?

Good science = Poor English? - "WHAT is the difference between a bird and a lion? If your answer is "the bird has feathers but the lion does not", your answer would have been marked as incorrect for the Primary 3 science paper. The correct answer prescribed by the teacher was: "The bird has feathers but the lion does not have feathers"... I wrote to clarify this with my child's school. The head of department for science replied to say that there was no mistake; it was what was expected in the marking scheme for primary level science - to ensure that the answer was absolutely clear. Is there rigidity in the teaching of science? It would certainly appear so (that there is rigidity in the teaching of science)."

Why Ex-Muslims Pig Out - "In my research on Islamic apostasy, I found that pig meat has a special place in the hearts and minds of former Muslims. For many, the consumption of pig meat was a crucial point in their passage out of Islam. It signified the death of the old Muslim self and the re-birth of the new, non-believing self. Just as having sex for the first time is an established ritual for entry into adulthood, eating pig meat is an important ritual that many ex-Muslims perform to mark their embrace of unbelief."

Vladimir Putin suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, Pentagon report claims - "The study from 2008, which was based only on videos of Putin, claimed that the Russian president’s mother had a stroke whilst pregnant with him that left lasting damage. As a result his "neurological development was significantly interrupted in infancy," the report says. Putin’s authoritarian style and obsession with "extreme control" is a way of overcompensating for his condition, the researchers concluded"

Surprise! Here's What's Actually In Your Supplements - "four out of five of the most popular herbal supplements sold at those major retailers contained precisely zero of the ingredients listed on their labels. Instead, the products, which are typically used as alternative medicine treatments, were found to contain cheap fillers such as rice, a common house plant called dracaena and (weirdly) asparagus. The unlisted ingredients also included substances like pine and wheat, which could be potentially harmful for people with food allergies."

Asra Q. Nomani: Meet the honor brigade, an organized campaign to silence debate on Islam - "in the past decade, such attempts at censorship have become more common. This is largely because of the rising power and influence of the "ghairat brigade," an honor corps that tries to silence debate on extremist ideology in order to protect the image of Islam. It meets even sound critiques with hideous, disproportionate responses. The campaign began, at least in its modern form, 10 years ago in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, when the Organization of Islamic Cooperation -- a mini-United Nations comprising the world's 56 countries with large Muslim populations, plus the Palestinian Authority -- tasked then-Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu with combating Islamophobia and projecting the "true values of Islam"... It's made up of politicians, diplomats, writers, academics, bloggers and activists... Alongside the honor brigade's official channel, a community of self-styled blasphemy police -- from anonymous blogs such as LoonWatch.com and Ikhras.com to a large and disparate cast of social-media activists -- arose and began trying to control the debate on Islam. This wider corps throws the label of "Islamophobe" on pundits, journalists and others who dare to talk about extremist ideology in the religion. Their targets are as large as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and as small as me The official and unofficial channels work in tandem, harassing, threatening and battling introspective Muslims and non-Muslims everywhere. They bank on an important truth: Islam, as practiced from Malaysia to Morocco, is a shame-based, patriarchal culture that values honor and face-saving from the family to the public square... Charlie Hebdo is not the only evidence that, to self-appointed defenders of the faith, a call to kill the message can very easily become a plan to kill the messenger. In January 2011, a security officer for the governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, Salman Taseer, assassinated him after Taseer defended a Christian woman accused of blasphemy. In court, supporters laid flowers on the shoulders of the assassin in approval. Murderers like him would be much harder to radicalize in a climate that welcomed debate about Islam rather than seeking revenge on its critics... Observant members of the flock are culturally conditioned to avoid shaming Islam, so publicly citing them for that sin often has the desired effect. Non-Muslims, meanwhile, are wary of being labeled "Islamophobic" bigots. So attacks against both groups succeed in quashing civil discourse"

Stormtrooper armour saves charity walker Scott Loxley from deadly snake - "It may not be much good against blaster bolts or inconveniently low doorframes, but stormtrooper armour can apparently stop a snake bite. Australian Scott Loxley, who is walking around the country dressed as a stormtrooper to raise money for a Melbourne children’s hospital, accidentally tested the armour as he was marching out of Yalboroo in north Queensland on his way to Mackay on Wednesday."

Nature and Origin of “Squirting” in Female Sexuality - "The present data based on ultrasonographic bladder monitoring and biochemical analyses indicate that squirting is essentially the involuntary emission of urine during sexual activity, although a marginal contribution of prostatic secretions to the emitted fluid often exists"

Apple's iPad turns 5: Has it lived up to Steve Jobs' 2010 keynote? - "Is an iPad “far better” than a smartphone for reading or doing email on the go? It may have been when it was released. But smartphones have come a long way. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and their Android equivalents are now convenient enough for most mobile computing tasks that there’s no need to carry around a tablet as well. Is an iPad “far better” than a laptop for watching a movie or browsing the Web on your couch? Not if you have a MacBook Air, or a Chromebook for that matter. And it’s clunkier than either of those when it comes to things like email that require the use of a keypad. To slightly twist Jobs’ jab at netbooks, iPads today aren’t “far better” than other categories of devices at anything—they’re mostly just bigger smartphones... In general, tablets are nice for doing things while you’re also doing other things, which is why they’ve also found important niches in the workplace. They’re also great for entertaining kids who can’t be trusted with something as important as your phone or laptop. But two other companies have actually pushed tablets further in these directions than Apple has. Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 is better optimized for work. And Amazon’s Fire HD Kids’ Edition, with its low price, thick rubber case, and lifetime “no-questions-asked” return policy, is the smarter choice for a children's toy. And yet, five years on, the fundamental question that greeted the iPad on its arrival—do people really need a third type of computer?—has not melted away. If anything, the convergence between laptops and smartphones has made it more relevant than ever. That helps explain why iPad sales have plateaued, rather than continuing to ascend to the stratospheric levels of the iPhone"

Cumberbatch controversy is ridiculous, says Selma star David Oyelowo - "David Oyelowo has defended fellow British actor and friend, Benedict Cumberbatch, for using the term "coloured" during an interview... "To attack him for a term, as opposed to what he was actually saying, I think is very disingenuous and is indicative of the age we live in where people are looking for sound bites as opposed to substance"... Oyelowo suggested there needed to be more diversity among people with the power to finance and get films made. "Excellence is the best weapon against prejudice. I intend to be part of the solution and not the problem. "You've just got to keep on banging out good performances."

Egypt Condemns Western Outrage at Fatal Shooting of Protester - NYTimes.com - "Egypt’s Foreign Ministry expressed dismay on Tuesday that the killing of a female activist in Cairo, which occurred as riot police used force to disperse a peaceful protest, had drawn widespread condemnation from the West... The Foreign Ministry statement released Tuesday suggested that Western reports focusing more on the shooting of Ms. Sabbagh than on the clashes were “unbalanced.” Such “reviews” of the weekend’s violence, the ministry said, “failed to convey the reality, choosing to turn a blind eye to acts of killing, burning and horror conducted by supporters of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood group,” which the authorities blamed for protests on Sunday, the fourth anniversary of the start of the 2011 uprising."
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