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Saturday, May 09, 2015

Links - 9th May 2015

Pirate hunter Daniel Macek's evidence, integrity under fire in Australian landmark web piracy case - "It was revealed under cross-examination that he didn't prepare his own expert witness affidavit, which was instead prepared by the firm involved in the case that is trying to protect its copyright. And it was also demonstrated that he simply did not know how to interpret the log files generated by his own company's software that will be key to the judge overseeing the case, Justice Nye Perram, determining whether it should proceed."

The Arrest of YouTube Star Amos Yee - "On Friday, March 27th, Yee uploaded a video that criticized Lee Kuan Yew, the recently deceased founding father of postwar Singapore, and also took a swipe at organized Christianity. By the following Monday, after formal complaints from some fellow Singaporeans, Yee had been arrested under Section 298 of the country’s penal code, which forbids the uttering of words that might hurt the religious feelings of any person, and the Protection from Harassment Act, a recent law ostensibly set up to guard against cyberbullying. His blog, where he had posted an illustration of Lee and Margaret Thatcher in flagrante, was censored; it earned Yee an obscenity charge under Penal Code Section 292... If most teen-agers deploy sarcasm and snark, he has a sense of higher-order irony—a pearl-like virtue in a society that tends to disdain intellectual risk... Yee’s arrest doesn’t just underscore his complaints about Singapore’s backwardness on rights and freedom. It shows the country’s dire need for cultural education through intelligent dissent. In the days after Yee’s arrest, a slew of local celebrities, including three Singaporean starlet types, were interviewed about his videos on national TV. In sequences depressing to watch, they all sided with the state. “If you say that, ‘Oh, people can say whatever they want, all the time,’ then what about those people who are listening?” Joshua Tan, a young actor, said. Well, what about them? The suggestion that citizens should withhold political criticism for fear of offense is preposterous—far more embarrassing to Singapore than any videos by Yee could be. The citizens of developed nations in the twenty-first century should not need to be told that free expression is a basic attribute of political health. It’s part of Yee’s precocity to realize that a population molded into sheeplike complaisance is ideologically vulnerable... If people like Amos Yee end up the custodians of our profession, the future of countries like Singapore can be brighter than their past"

Prof, no one is reading you - "In the 1930s and 1940s, 20 per cent of articles in the prestigious The American Political Science Review focused on policy recommendations. At the last count, the share was down to a meagre 0.3 per cent. Even debates among scholars do not seem to function properly. Up to 1.5 million peer-reviewed articles are published annually. However, many are ignored even within scientific communities - 82 per cent of articles published in humanities are not even cited once. No one ever refers to 32 per cent of the peer-reviewed articles in the social and 27 per cent in the natural sciences. If a paper is cited, this does not imply it has actually been read. According to one estimate, only 20 per cent of papers cited have actually been read. We estimate that an average paper in a peer-reviewed journal is read completely by no more than 10 people. Hence, impacts of most peer-reviewed publications even within the scientific community are minuscule... We know of no senior policymaker or senior business leader who ever read regularly any peer-reviewed papers in well-recognised journals like Nature, Science or Lancet. No wonder. Most journals are difficult to access and prohibitively expensive for anyone outside of academia. Even if the current open-access movement becomes more successful, the incomprehensible jargon and the sheer volume and lengths of papers (often unnecessary!) would still prevent practitioners (including journalists) from reading and understanding them... If academics want to have an impact on policymakers and practitioners, they must consider popular media"

Selfies At Serious Places

Heart recipient, Anthony Stokes, dies in high-speed police chase crash in Roswell, Georgia - "A teenager who received a life-saving heart transplant two years ago after initially being denied because of his bad behavior has died following a high-speed car chase with police... He had been given just six to nine months to live but the hospital initially refused to put him on the waiting list for a new organ because they thought he would be 'non-compliant' with the treatment. Patients can be disqualified from getting a transplant if a hospital doubts they'll stick to the medication regimen after the operation. At the time, the hospital said that Stokes had failed to take his medication in the past, so his history of non-compliance meant he was not put on the waiting list. But family and friends alleged that his low school grades and brushes with the law were the real reason he had been ruled out. Stokes' mother, Melencia Hamilton, told reporters that her son, who wore a court-ordered monitoring device, had been stereotyped as a troubled teen. Following pressure from national media coverage, the boy's family and civil rights groups, the hospital backpedaled in August 2013, and the teenager received a new heart."

How often do you need to see a dentist? - "In 2000, three-quarters of dentists surveyed in New York were recommending six monthly check-ups, despite the absence of studies examining whether the frequency of visits made a difference to patients at low-risk of tooth decay or gum disease. Today, many organisations such as the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry still recommend six monthly check-ups. But for several decades some have been arguing that the choice of six months as the ideal space between visits is rather arbitrary. Back in 1977 Aubrey Sheiham, a professor of dental public health at University College London, published a paper in The Lancet bemoaning the lack of evidence for six monthly check-ups. Almost 40 years on, he’s still making the same point... They recommend that children go at least once a year because their teeth can decay faster, while adults without problems can wait as long as two years. They even go as far as to say that longer than two years is OK for people who have shown commitment to caring for their teeth and gums. Similar advice is given elsewhere. An expert group reviewing the evidence in Finland back in 2001 recommended that under-18s who are at low risk could visit between every 18 months and two years."

An analysis of methods of toothbrushing recommended by dental associations, toothpaste and toothbrush companies and in dental texts. - "There was a wide diversity between recommendations on toothbrushing techniques, how often people should brush their teeth and for how long. The most common method recommended was the Modified Bass technique, by 19. Eleven recommended the Bass technique, ten recommended the Fones technique and five recommended the Scrub technique. The methods recommended by companies, mainly toothpaste companies, differed from those of dental associations, as did advice in dental textbooks and research-based sources. There was a wide difference in the toothbrushing methods recommended for adults and for children."

Near-Death Experiences Likely Caused by Lack of Oxygen - "A new study in which researchers induced anoxia in rats offers more support for near-death experiences (NDEs) as happening inside the dying brain and being interpreted as an out-of-body or spiritual experience... Researcher Susan Blackmore, author of “Dying to Live: Near-Death Experiences” (Prometheus Books, 1993), notes that many NDEs (such as euphoria and the feeling of moving toward a tunnel of white light) are common symptoms of oxygen deprivation in the brain... many classic NDE symptoms are reported by people who were never actually in danger of dying and thus are not necessarily correlated with near-fatal trauma... Additional evidence for an earthly explanation for near-death experiences can be found in the fact that the phenomena can be chemically induced. The drug ketamine, for example, sometimes used in anesthesia, is similar to PCP and can create visual and auditory hallucinations such as those reported in NDEs."

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Obama Must Confront the Threat of Radical Islam - "Even as writers and public intellectuals explore the theological factors pertaining to Islamist violence, however, the Obama Administration has conspicuously avoided any discussion of Islamic theology, even avoiding use of the term radical Islam altogether. The White House this week held a Summit on Countering Violent Extremism (a rather nebulous concept) while intentionally avoiding mention of radical Islam... President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have argued in recent days that economic grievances, a lack of opportunities, and countries with “bad governance” are to blame for the success of groups like ISIS in recruiting Muslims to their cause. Yet, if this were true, why do so many young Muslims who live in societies with excellent governance—Denmark, the Netherlands, the U.K., the U.S.—either join ISIS or engage in jihadist violence in their own countries? Why do young Muslims with promising professional futures embark on the path of jihad?... I am glad that in the late 1940s the U.S. had people like George Kennan employed in its service to see the communist threat clearly and to describe it clearly. But where is today’s Kennan in this Administration? Who in the U.S. government is willing to describe the threat of radical Islam without fear of causing offense to several aggressive Islamic lobby groups? U.S. policymakers do not yet understand Islamism or what persuades young Muslims to join jihad: sincere religious devotion based on the core texts of Islam, in particular early Islam’s politicized and aggressive period in Medina (compared with Islam’s spiritual and ascetic period in Mecca). How does one tackle the misguided religious devotion of young Muslims? The answer lies in reforming Islam profoundly—not radical Islam, but mainstream Islam; its willingness to merge mosque and state, religion and politics; and its insistence that its elaborate system of Shari‘a law supersedes civil laws created by human legislators. In such a reform project lies the hope for countering Islamism. No traditional Islamic lobbying group committed to defending the reputation of Islam will recommend such a policy to the U.S. government. Yet until American policymakers grapple with the need for such reform, the real problem within Islam will remain unresolved"

What is it like to be poor at an Ivy League school?

Study finds being exposed to Buddhist concepts reduces prejudice and increases prosociality

Cambridge cyclists warned in Latin and ancient Greek - "Classicist Prof Mary Beard, from Newnham College, said the Latin part of the sign translates as "two wheels [cycles] left/abandoned here will be removed"."

Swedes are now a minority in many local communities

Swedes are a minority in Sweden's third largest city

Sex education has a new role in Europe: Encouraging pregnancy

Boy entering all-girls high school creates real-life harem anime

Muslims can now use toilet paper: Turkey’s top religious authority - "Islamic toilet etiquette, called the Qadaa al-Haajah, contains rules that predate the invention of toilet paper. According to the strict code, Muslims must squat or sit – but not stand – while relieving themselves. They also must remain silent while on the toilet and leave with the right foot while saying a prayer."

Squeeze them until the pips squeak!

"It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail." - Gore Vidal


"You're playing Monopoly.
One player is given all the property except Whitechapel Road. They are also given 95% of the bank.

You are expected to succeed with what's left.

Of course, you lose immediately. Why? It must be because you're lazy."

If success is seen as a zero sum game like Monopoly where only one person can win, and you win by making everyone else bankrupt, it's no wonder that crippling the powerful and hurting the rich is seen as helping the powerless and poor.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Are Women Are Just As Into Casual Sex As Men Are?

Provocative Huffington Post headline I read today:

Women Are Just As Into Casual Sex As Men Are, Unsurprising Study Suggests

"Turns out, when you remove societal judgement and safety risks, women are just as DTF as men are. Who knew safe, sex-positive environments were such a turn on for women? Well, hopefully everyone now"

Unsurprisingly, the paper reports something rather different from what the Huffington Post summary does:

Gender Differences and Similarities in Receptivity to Sexual Invitations: Effects of Location and Risk Perception
Addendum: This is Baranowski & Hecht (2015)

"Subjects were recruited by announcing online that the psychology department was looking for participants in a dating study. The ad mentioned a cooperation with a large online dating site developing and validating a novel match-making process. Subjects would have the chance to meet people and learn more about their dating behavior...

Of all male subjects, 100% agreed to have a date or sex with at least one woman. This rate did not differ from the female consent rate (97%). Men chose on average to meet 3.67 (SD=1.45) women for a date and 3.57 (SD=1.16)women to have sex with. Women chose on average to meet 2.80 (SD=1.21) men for a date and 2.73 (SD=1.87) men to have sex with...

Results of both experiments can be explained with both evolutionary and social theories. Sexual strategies theory (Buss & Schmitt, 1993) predicts that women are less likely to engage in casual sex than men. This was found in the first experiment. However, women do engage in casual sex as a means to evaluate or attract potential long-term partners or to mate with males who have highly desirable traits, genes, positions, and/or resources (Hald & Høgh-Olesen, 2009). This would explain the findings of the second experiment.When given the chance to choose from a range of males, women did not hesitate to select the most attractive. Thus, the high consent rate to casual sex might be explained in evolutionary terms as a high consent rate to evaluate a potential partner through short-term mating. Alternatively, the result can be explained by the sexy son hypothesis, stating that females engage in short-term mating with attractive males as a mean to get physically attractive sons, who in turn will produce more grandchildren (e.g., Dawkins, 1976)...

It is very likely that only subjects who were interested in meeting potential partners applied for Experiment 2. This might lead to a limitation of the generalizability to the general population...

We also found that women were rated as significantly more attractive than men by the subjects in both studies. This was not due to poor sampling but represents the actual population. Men are generally perceived as less physically attractive than women by both sexes (Grammer, 1994; Symons, 1979)."

[Addendum: The most important flaw of this study (which I unfortunately missed) is highlighted by Professor David P. Schmitt of Bradley University on the Huffington Post article:

"In the second study, from the original article…“Of all male subjects, 100% agreed to have a date or sex with at least one woman. This rate did not differ from the female consent rate (97%).” Nowhere in this second study is it reported what the percentages are of men versus women specifically agreeing to date, and what the percentages are of men versus women specifically agreeing to have sex. Why? What are they hiding? How could the authors possibly think it’s OK to skip over that rather important detail?

As it stands, it might be that men agree to a date 100% of the time and to sex 100% of the time, whereas women agree to a date 97% of the time and to sex 1% of the time. We can't know this from their reported results, though. It's unbelievable that this got published.

Regarding the claim by the authors about "the same proportion of men and women consenting to a date or sex" in the abstract, this was actually not about sex differences in consenting to sex disappearing. It was about the difference between dating and sex being the same within men compared to within women in the second experiment. Sex differences are still there in consenting to sex with strangers in terms of the only reported data that could evaluate that question, which is number of strangers chosen (d = .58). Very tricky wording. Suspicious slight of hand."]

The fact that the standard deviation for the number of men women chose to (meet to) have sex with shows that the skew is high - most women probably chose 1 or 2 men to have sex with. In contrast the standard deviation for the number of women men chose to (meet to) have sex with was only a third, which shows that there's a lot more consistency there - men are indeed much more interested in casual sex than women.

Other points to note:

- "The majority of subjects were students at the University of Mainz." (sometimes, the unrepresentativeness of the sample is used when people want to dismiss results they don't like - but not when they like them)
- Only 30 men and 30 women were involved (sometimes, the small sample size is used when people want to dismiss results they don't like - but not when they like them)
- Maybe I should move to Germany

"men were more liberal in their choice in either condition, compared to the female subjects. We conclude that while gender differences remained in both experiments, women were more liberal in a subjectively safer situation"

Links - 8th May 2015

The Malaysian Bar - Lina Joy v Majlis Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan & 2 Ors 2005 [CA] - "The learned judge heard the originating summons and dismissed it. Among his reasons were the following. The appellant being originally a Malay, by reason of the definition of "Malay" in Clause (2) of Article 160 of the Federal Constitution, with its requirement of professing the religion of Islam, the appellant will remain a Malay to her dying day and cannot renounce Islam. The freedom to profess and practise the religion of one's choice guaranteed by Clause (1) of Article 11 does not include freedom of choice of religion. Only the Syariah Court is competent to determine the question of renunciation of Islam by a Muslim. With the dismissal of the originating summons, the judge found the defendants' striking-out applications to be academic and struck them out. "

Chinese hackers target Southeast Asia, India, researchers say

Parents hire tutors to do kids' school and tuition assignments - "Madam Irene Tan's son, a Secondary 3 student in a top boys' school says: "It gets so crazy some days that I just want to give up school. I don't mind the lessons but I hate doing all the stupid homework." So what does Madam Tan do?
A. Cut down on tuition?
B. Help him with his assignments herself?
C. Hire people to do his school and tuition assignments when he is too tired to do them?
Yes, it's option C... She pays the specialised tutors $200 per hour if they have to swing by before midnight and $250 an hour when it's later. She found out about the tutors through word-of-mouth as they do not advertise... Madam Tan says: "They will finish whatever homework (that is) left while he goes to bed." The tutors do what he can't finish so he can get some sleep. And, they don't have to explain the workings or formulas. She says: "It's not like my son doesn't know how to do it. He just does not have the time." Madam Tan insists it's fine because it has not affected her son's grades... The New Paper on Sunday polled 80 parents outside some elite tuition centres and found that nearly half had hired or will hire such tutors... her tutors are hired to help with her children's assignments from the elite tuition centre. Given that the centre demands students get consistently good results, Mrs Soh, 40, a civil servant, says it can get tough for her daughters to cope with "mounting school assignments plus the extra homework"... Most school days, he returns home only after 5pm and deals with lots of homework. He usually manages to finish the work and hop into bed before midnight. Until this week. And this mum's heart broke. He had so much homework that he went to bed at nearly 1am. Five hours later, he was expected to be up and ready for the school bus to pick him up for another 10 hours in school."
Hiring tutors to do other tutors' homework just might be Uniquely Singapore

Tutors tackling kids' homework for $250 an hour - "Some tutors are even hired to complete primary school-level homework set by elite tuition centres... Housewife Wendy Zeng, 40, feels that her 15-year-old daughter's assignments "serve no purpose". When quizzed, she names project-based work that has no direct relevance to the subjects her daughter is studying, for instance a project on volunteerism, where the students had to dissect the pros and cons of being a volunteer. "But they still have to hand in their homework. I prefer to get her to focus on what is more important. It is not like her grades have dropped or anything." Madam Zeng spends about $800 a month on such services by tutors."

China to blacklist tourists behaving badly abroad - "In Thailand in February, Chinese tourists outraged Thais by drying underwear in an airport, defecating in public and kicking a temple bell. In December, a group of Chinese tourists abused Thai staff on a flight from Bangkok... "Uncivilized behavior when traveling overseas has to some extent already affected the image of Chinese people," the China National Tourism Administration, a government agency, said on its website Tuesday. Such incidents "make Chinese people blush with shame," it said. To save Chinese face, the CNTA announced new rules Monday to establish a "blacklist" of offenders who demonstrate illegal or inappropriate behavior abroad. The six types of banned behavior include causing disturbances on public transport, damaging cultural relics, ignoring social customs and engaging in gambling or prostitution... being blacklisted could affect a person's ability to travel abroad again or secure a bank loan, as an offender's information may be passed to law enforcement, customs, transport and banking authorities."

Singapore to toughen laws against unruly air travellers - "Mr Tim Colehan, assistant director for member and external relations at the International Air Transport Association, said there has been a rise in unruly behaviour on aircraft in recent years... "It is possible that the worsening situation simply reflects societal changes where antisocial behaviour is increasingly prevalent. However, what is deemed acceptable on the ground takes on a completely different complexion in the confined environment of an aircraft cabin at 35,000 feet.""

The Free-Speech Crisis - "It was our responsibility as believers to kill him. So we killed him”... The deaths of Rahman and Roy would hardly be worth noting, except for the idea that got them killed—one that is indispensable but increasingly endangered around the world... Even in this country, the loathsomeness of an incident in which University of Oklahoma students were caught on video singing a racist song made it seem churlish to argue that their expulsion from a public institution might be unconstitutional. Creating a “hostile environment” is what the Bangladeshi bloggers stood accused of. Hate-speech regulations put actual feelings, often honorable ones, ahead of abstract rights—which seems like common sense. It takes an active effort to resist the impulse to silence the jerks who have wounded you. In a blog post, Rahman, using gently withering irony, addressed the notion that people like him are the problem, and that if only he would show some restraint things could settle down: “No, I will not write about war crimes, Islamic extremism, the country, or politics anymore. Writing does not change anything anyway; it serves only to appease the rage in my heart. Even then, writing is said to hurt people’s feelings, ruin the ‘peace,’ and impede progress. Therefore I should write only about topics that nobody would take any offense at.” So he set out to write about plants, education, movies, love, and himself—except that each of these inevitably led him into controversies that, he said, would bring down the wrath of the majority... In India, books are frequently withdrawn after publication because of dubious legal cases brought on behalf of supposedly aggrieved groups. Last year, to settle a lawsuit, Penguin Books India—part of the world’s largest trade publisher—agreed to recall and pulp the critically acclaimed work “The Hindus: An Alternative History,” by Wendy Doniger. As part of the settlement, Penguin had to affirm that “it respects all religions worldwide”—a nice sentiment that has nothing to do with intellectual freedom. The problem with free speech is that it’s hard, and self-censorship is the path of least resistance. But, once you learn to keep yourself from voicing unwelcome thoughts, you forget how to think them—how to think freely at all—and ideas perish at conception. Washiqur Rahman and Avijit Roy had more to fear than most of us, but they lived and died as free men"

Why I left Singapore for Malaysia
Followup: Singaporean In Malaysia - My Response To The Naysayers | Just An Ordinary Girl: "The personal income tax rate in Singapore may be one of the lowest in world, but Singaporeans actually pay 3.5 times more into indirect tax than direct tax... in Malaysia, basic necessities such as rice, sugar, flour, cooking oil, vegetables, poultry, water and utilities usage are categorized as zero-rated items. Private healthcare, education services and public transportation are also categorized as exempted items in Malaysia... After reading through all the comments, I can further confirm one thing - that Singaporeans are arrogant who love to brag and put others down. Why are Singaporeans always trying to put their neighbour down? Does it make them feel much better about themselves? No matter how many times I have stressed upon the importance of work-life balance, some people just remain too blinded to see. Between money and a balanced life, I have chosen the latter. For those who said that I have no right to rant, then what gives you the right to judge my decision."

Here's Google's Secret to Hiring the Best People - "“YOU NEVER GET a second chance to make a first impression” was the tagline for a Head & Shoulders shampoo ad campaign in the 1980s. It unfortunately encapsulates how most interviews work. There have been volumes written about how “the first five minutes” of an interview are what really matter, describing how interviewers make initial assessments and spend the rest of the interview working to confirm those assessments. If they like you, they look for reasons to like you more. If they don’t like your handshake or the awkward introduction, then the interview is essentially over because they spend the rest of the meeting looking for reasons to reject you."

Outsourcing Is Not (Always) Evil - NYTimes.com - "“We’re focusing on the lowest rung of outsourcing work that even the big Indian companies don’t want any more because it’s priced too low for them,” explained Leila Janah, the founder of Samasource, a nonprofit organization that currently channels “microwork” ― small tasks like entering, cleaning or verifying data ― to 1,600 people in Haiti, India, Kenya, Pakistan, Uganda and South Africa. “At higher prices, it simply wouldn’t make sense for many businesses to offer most of this work,” she said, because they wouldn’t be able to make a profit on the output. Now that such microwork can be distributed and managed affordably around the world, it’s possible to create jobs that would otherwise have been handled poorly by machines or not handled at all. “To our knowledge, none of the assignments we’ve taken were for work previously done in the U.S.,” explained Jeremy Hockenstein, the founder of Digital Divide Data, which employs 900 people in Cambodia, Laos and Kenya. He offered an example. “The Harvard Crimson would never have paid $5 million to digitize its archives — but they could afford to pay a few hundred thousand dollars to do it”... Although Samasource highlights the marquee companies it has worked with, most of the requests for its services actually come from small businesses, start-ups, nonprofits and educational institutions. “For resource-strapped organizations like these, outsourcing labor is the only option,” adds Janah. “They cannot afford to innovate with American labor, both because of the high costs, and because it’s extremely complicated to hire someone in America”... According to the World Bank, in 2010 per capita income was $780 per year in Kenya and $760 per year in Cambodia. Even the minimum salary of $5 a day represents more than a 65 percent increase over these averages (assuming five days of work per week for the full year). But many workers earn more... it’s not just Americans who need jobs; people around the world are suffering in poverty. And an earnings increase that would be barely significant in the U.S. context ― say, $3 a day ― can, in a country like India or Kenya, mean the difference between families eating well, having decent clothing, and being able to send their children, especially daughters, to school."

What is the Singaporean equivalent of a "basic bitch"? : singapore - "GCPs are Singapore's basic bitches.
Claims to be wanderlust after visiting one other continent, quotes "not all who wander are lost".
Calls herself a foodie, when all she eats are Eggs Benedicts. /s"
"Describes herself as very 'weird' and 'not like other girls'
"Wears hoodies/ jackets but tiny shorts
Waves to friends with head tilted laterally and hand outstretched in full extension
Bakes mediocre shit but can't cook"
"Wears those shorts that go really high halfway up their waist."
"omg yes I can never walk around town without seeing cotton on crop tops at least 5x"
"screaming when they see each other is a typical girl reaction actually. most girls do it."
"Don't forget the normal-sized cardi that is longer than their dresses"
"Takes some random photo and post some inspirational quotes from some famous person u admire on Instagram. Quit ur bullshit! I know u googled that shit 20 seconds ago and copy pasted that."

The Myth of Multiracialism in Post-9/11 Singapore: The Tudung Incident

One of the more hysterical papers I've read:

The Myth of Multiracialism in Post-9/11 Singapore: The Tudung Incident

"A powerful consensus developed between the government, pro-government politicians, and a large section of the public and this exerted enormous pressure on these parents [who insisted that their daughters wear tudungs], a rare situation in Singapore...

Unfortunately, there are no official historical records concerning whether the British colonial government had any written rules permitting or forbidding Muslim girls to wear the tudung at school. The government failed to provide any documents to support its position that wearing the turban was permitted under British colonial rule. The colonial government considered Malays too obtuse to be educated, and believed that they were better retained in the agricultural sector; it deliberately only established primary schools for Malays where only the Malay language and some basic general knowledge were taught... I easily found school photos taken in colonial times, in which most of the Malay girls were wearing the tudung. Therefore, it is hardly convincing for the Singaporean government to justify its favourable and particularistic treatment of the Sikh turban in contrast to its biased and harsh measures regarding the Muslim headscarf by reference to historical practice...

The tudung incident revealed the marginalisation of Malay Muslims in terms of religious rights and social mobility. Its deeper significance is the exposure of a perceived incompatibility between their religious ethos and the PAP’s creed of economic growth. Because of their religion, Malays are targeted, with more and more pressure imposed upon them. In 1993 Prime Minister Goh initiated a survey on Malays’ orientation of living and thoughts, and discovered that they were not interested in economic matters at all. Instead, they paid most attention to religious concerns, such as whether their children could be enrolled in the madrasahs. Goh was frustrated by this result and considered it inappropriate to put religious concerns above the economic growth of the country. Goh went even further by stating that such an attitude would hinder the development of the national economy. Evidence shows that Goh has borne a grudge for many years. He has continuously satirized Malay parents who were eager to send their children to madrasahs. A survey in May 2002 showed that 15,000 Malay parents planned to send their children to madrasahs. Goh’s cabinet was very irritated about this, and his religious advisor, Abdul Hamid, warned “ their action will cause the Muslims to become weak when importance is only attached to individuals’ obligations to God without including their obligations to the betterment of their society in terms of acquiring knowledge and management technology and economy”. With beliefs considered incompatible with the dominant ideology, and governed by the “ superior” Chinese-PAP, how can the “ inferior” Malay Muslims in Singapore escape marginalization?...

The pressure exerted by the government and the public on the concerned parties in the tudung incident has proved, to a certain extent, that the space for the future development of civil society is quite limited. Goh dismissed the symbolic importance of religious attire and exhorted parents by saying that it was not right to strangle education for girls for such an insignificant matter. He further warned that many people had lost their trust in Malay Muslims after this incident and some Chinese employers might no longer hire them. The Prime Minister was seemingly making an earnest plea in the best interests of the Malay Muslims, but also obviously warned those disobedient Malays that they would always be the losers in their confrontation with the government. Echoing the Prime Minister’s tone, ministers have emphasized the greater importance of economic recovery over other issues at a time when the country has been making efforts to strengthen the economy. In the face of this primary target, the people should rationally put aside religious issues.

A recent poll reported that on this issue most Singaporeans side with the government; the proportion of the non-Muslim population is 80%. For a long time, the government has placed more emphasis on meeting people’s materialistic wants than on safeguarding other human rights. According to Internet and newspaper sources, most Singaporean Chinese thought that the Malay parents were causing trouble for little or no reason. However, whether this kind of consensus reflects the genuine opinions of the public is always hard to tell. As a matter of fact, major local media have always constrained themselves by following the government, and self-censorship has been a common and conscious practice among most newspaper editors and reporters. As one critically examines the content of the Straits Times, one will notice that from January, when the incident took place, until the open comments by the government on the 3rd of February, there were quite a number of articles either showing sympathy for the Muslim parents or commenting impartially. However, after the Prime Minister and the Minister of Education made their public comments on 3rd February, fewer and fewer articles delivering opposing opinions were published. The people supporting the Malays then found out that they had no public means to voice their concerns. Political parties and social activists used the Internet to condemn the Straits Times for its refusal to publish their articles. Websites that were blacklisted by the administration for posting radical opinions were even closed down temporarily. Scholars and young intellectuals claimed the government showed its immaturity by limiting the public sphere for debate to the extent that public opinion could easily be manipulated or repressed. Reporters disclosed that even though some leaders of the Muslim community and Muslim MPs had privately canvassed government officials for support, they were reluctant to side with their Muslim fellows and had chosen to back the government in public. Yet, we still cannot underestimate the significance of the civic disobedience of the Malay Muslims. That the pressure from government and the public has not stopped shows that the firm stand of those parents frightened the government...

In Singapore the term “ political” has negative connotations in social discourse. Goh’s cabinet has been successful in pressuring parents. In his February speech, he described those parents who criticized Muslim MPs as “ politically motivated.” In May, Dr Abdul Hamid suggested that the Muslim parents might have received the support of the opposition Muslim party for reasons of politics. Two months later he even suggested that the Malay opposition party, the Singapore National Front, had been in touch with the parents for a political purpose. Such a strategy yielded the desired result. The parents were then alerted, resisted being regarded as “ political” , and so refused to align themselves with any political group. Their resistance puzzled those who are concerned with the development of civil society in Singapore...

Early in November 2001, Goh complained about the Muslim community’s uncooperative stand on America’s war in Afghanistan, and even labelled it a threat “ to split the nation apart.” In fact, according to a recent poll on America’s war against terrorism, 75% of Muslims and 84% of non- Muslims in Singapore supported the US. Although the difference was only nine percent, it was sufficient to make the government and the public nervous...

For more than 10 years, Goh has been complaining about Malay Muslims’ poor support, in contrast to Chinese support, for the Chinese-dominated PAP in parliamentary elections. However, what has bothered him may only be a 5-10% difference between these two ethnic groups. In response to this insignificant difference, in allocating public housing Goh has limited the proportion of Malay families and their relatives living in the same district to avoid any potential negative influence on his party in elections. He has gone even further by restricting the enrolment of Malays in the army to avoid any possibility of their collusion with Islamic extremists in neighbouring countries. Goh’s policies have been so discriminative that even Habibi, the moderate President of Indonesia, did not hesitate to express concern about the suffering of his fellow Muslims in Singapore.

In the tudung incident, I noticed the following paradox: the more critical the responses and interventions received from the neighbouring countries, the more severe the oppression imposed by the Singaporean government upon Malay Muslims. It seems that ever since independence, the Singaporean government, like the Israeli government, has been moulded by crisis thinking... to be sensitive to threats and hence oriented by crisis thinking is quite different from being moulded and hence limited by crisis thinking. The Singapore Government has been well known for a form of crisis management that is always ready to surrender to authoritarianism and the violation of peoples rights for the sake of the so-called national security. In the case of the Muslim headscarf, we witness the same line of reasoning...

In the case of Malay Muslims, the origin of wearing the headscarf has a direct relationship with the dakwah religious movement of the 1970s. According to Nagata, the clothing of Malay women was quite casual before the movement, but with the dramatic change in Malaysia’s economy during the 1970s and 1980s, women grew up in that period consciously feeling that they could barely hold on to their spirituality in the face of rapid modernization and urbanization. In search of Muslim tradition, university students and young women professionals living in the cities thus began to launch the dakwah to look for self-assertion with the help of Islamic spirituality. By dressing in religious clothing, they showed their faith in Islam, identified themselves with traditional culture and, most importantly, made a gesture to resist the intrusion of Western secular clothing into their Islamic country. What is most interesting is the fact that most of them had received higher education, and cared much about their self-image. Hence, it is beyond doubt that wearing the headscarf was a self-assertive personal choice. Such a rational and self-conscious movement should not be perceived as equivalent to a religious extremism that forces women to cover their faces with headscarves... To Malay women, no matter whether they are wearing the tudung nowadays or were wearing a selendang (a headscarf loosely covering the head and neck) in the early days, their religious act has the same message: to discourage male sexual fantasies, a woman should not expose her hair and neck (not necessarily including the face) in public. Some Islamic women even go further to insist that by wearing the headscarf they gain more respect from other people. Men will then not treat them as targets of sexual assault; and there is no need to dress themselves up just to please other people and to make themselves adherents of the Western fashion industry"

Weird pizza

Best places for pizza in Singapore:

"Skinny Pizza

As its name suggests, Skinny Pizza specialises in pies with wafer-thin crusts instead of the usual thick, chewy Singapore pizza that we've become so accustomed to. And what a welcome change they are!

Skinny Pizza's take on pizza is delightfully light and crunchy. Most importantly though, their slices are easy on the palate even after more than a couple of pieces -- an admirable feat, considering how many pizzas tend to overwhelm after one too many slices.

Try the English Breakfast pizza for a sinfully delicious combo of bacon, tomatoes and poached eggs concoction."

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Links - 7th May 2015

Why a long night's sleep may be bad for you - "Prof Shawn Youngstedt of Arizona State University carried out a small study involving 14 young adults, persuading them to spend two hours more in bed per night for three weeks. They reported back that they suffered from "increases in depressed mood" as Youngstedt puts it, and also "increases in inflammation" - specifically, higher levels in the blood of a protein called IL-6, which is connected with inflammation. The participants in the study also complained about soreness and back pain. This makes Youngstedt wonder whether the problem with long sleep is the prolonged inactivity that goes with it."

A photographic guide to the world’s embalmed leaders

Study reveals sexual appeal of war heroes - "Women are more attracted to war heroes than regular soldiers or men who display heroic traits in other fields, such as in sports or natural disaster work, according to new research from the University of Southampton and partners in Europe. The findings also suggest that men did not find heroism to be a sexually attractive trait in women... Women were more likely to find a soldier attractive, and were more inclined to date him, if he had been awarded a medal for bravery in combat. Interestingly, whether or not a non-decorated soldier had seen combat in a warzone or remained in the UK did not have a statistically significant effect on his attractiveness. Displays of heroism in other fields, such as in sports or in business, also had no effect on how likely women were to find them attractive... The experiments supplement a historical analysis undertaken by the research team, which looked at numbers of children fathered by US Medal of Honor recipients in World War II compared to the numbers of children fathered by regular veterans. The analysis shows Medal of Honor recipients had an average of 3.18 children, while regular veterans averaged 2.72 children, suggesting decorated war heroes sired more offspring than other veterans."

Race Baiting And Ferguson - "The first report deals in depth with the shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. The report recommended that the case against him be closed. The second DOJ report contained a scathing indictment of the sad state of affairs within the entire criminal justice system of Ferguson. The combined effect of these two reports is likely to make matters worse in Ferguson by combining the back-handed exoneration of Darren Wilson with the unstinting condemnation of the City of Ferguson... why pick on Ferguson after Wilson was exonerated? It would be one thing to argue that the illegal killing of Michael Brown stemmed from a corrupt and racist culture inside that department. But once it is established that Wilson was fully justified in acting as he did, it is impossible to explain how the culture and norms of the police could have contributed to any illegal act. Indeed, the only plausible inference cuts the opposite way. The ability of Wilson to handle himself well under extreme pressure reflects approvingly on his conduct and on the ethos of the Ferguson Police Department."

Does Cadbury chocolate taste different in different countries? - "In a test conducted by BBC Newsround, British and American children tasted the two types of Cadbury chocolate. Surprisingly, most of the American children preferred the British-made Cadbury chocolate, while most of the British children liked the US-made version better."

White students asked to leave anti-racism event at Ryerson

Op-Ed: I Sexually Identify As An A-10 Thunderbolt - "I was 12 years old when I realized that I’m not really a man at heart, but rather a 19 foot, 10.5 inch long gatling gun strapped onto a 24,959 pound airframe. All my life has been a lie but I’m setting that right today. I was designed to kill Soviet tanks. From now on, call me “Warthog.” That’s my real name."

Did a Student's Non-PC Views on Rape Statistics Get Him Banned from Class? Maybe, Maybe Not. - "Savery is known for being an ardent defender of free speech, which makes his apparent decision to remove True from class all the more baffling. While Reed College is a private institution not bound to follow the First Amendment or extend free speech rights to its students, this certainly seems like another incident where feelings-protection trumped open dialogue and violated the ethos of the law. If students can't debate cultural issues and facts in a classroom discussion, what kind of education are they getting?... Savery declined comment to BuzzFeed, but I was able to reach him via email. He confirmed that he was a "strong believer in the First Amendment," and maintained that the student's views were not the issue. "He was not banned because of what he said but because of a series of disruptive behaviors," Savery told Reason. I also reached True via email, and asked him whether he had been rowdy or disruptive in class. He responded by making a bizarre request. This was his email back to me:
Before I interview with you, you must agree to make "nigger" be the first word in your article.
I declined this ultimatum, and he declined to answer my questions. Needless to say, I've grown a lot more skeptical of True's side of the story. If I find out anything more that backs up either person's assertions about what happened, I'll update this story."

In search of honor - "I find this idea more persuasive than the oft-heard one that the white knight is performing in search of sex. Too many times, I've seen men go into white knight mode on behalf of a woman they don't even know, don't intend to approach, and clearly have no expectation of ever meeting, let alone having sex with. And one thing I've noticed is that the white knight's behavior is always about him and how he sees himself, not about the woman he is defending. So, the idea that white-knighting is just a warped and misplaced sense of honor does make sense, if one accepts the idea that honor is a man's gift to himself."

John Major as political fashion icon: How a boring grey suit become shorthand for constancy, security and tradition

Jharkhand cops take prisoner to redlight area in Bengal, caught in raid - "The prisoner, identified as Baiju Yadav, returned to the prison on Friday night and told authorities that he was “forcibly” taken to the red light area, jail sources said.The four police personnel, who are said to have been drunk at the time of the raid, are in custody of Asansol police."

Thai model who ranted about Chinese tourists at Jeju airport under attack - "The Thai model who last week recorded a video in which she ranted about the behavior of Chinese tourists has since seen her Facebook page overrun by people insulting her in both Chinese and English.... Hong Kong publication Passion Times speculates that those lashing out at the model are angry Chinese who have somehow circumvented Chinese internet restrictions, wumao commentators hired by the Chinese government to shape public opinion, and Blue Ribbon supporters in Hong Kong. Most of the comments follow a general theme, accusing Duangjai of being transgender, having gone through plastic surgery, or insulting Thailand for being a poor and degenerate country"
At least that proves her point

The Curse of Lee Kuan Yew - "From Ukraine to Kyrgyzstan I heard revolutionary thinkers and leaders similarly point to Lee Kuan Yew as an alternative to the EU’s path. Not only the revolutionaries but the counter-revolutionaries too began citing Lee Kuan Yew as their master-mentor. While working as an analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations in London, from 2010-2012, I frequently attended briefings by visiting Ukrainian diplomats who would justify Yanukovych’s practices by pointing to the success of Singapore. No country in Eastern Europe fell in love with Lee Kuan Yew quite as much as Russia, as I discovered while I was researching my book Fragile Empire in 2011-2012. I was frequently told by both Kremlin insiders in Moscow and regional governors that Lee Kuan Yew was the inspiration of Russia’s deepening authoritarianism... Thanks to the myth of Singapore, Kremlin elites came to believe—for the first time since the 1980s–that there could be a third way between Western liberal democracy, especially following the path of the European Union, and despotic authoritarian rule. This has turned out to be a bitter illusion during Putin’s third term as president. The cult of Lee Kuan Yew helped to keep the liberals in thrall to Putin when they had the power to halt his slide into expansionist nationalism. Many of those very those same advisers and politicians who once lauded the Singapore option can now be heard darkly muttering about Putin’s creeping dictatorship at think-tank conferences across Europe."

Putting Singapore’s GDP in perspective - "In 1959, when the PAP first took power in Singapore, Singapore’s GDP per capita (US$2186) in constant 1990 USD (hence adjusted for inflation and PPP) was second only to Hong Kong’s (US$3027) and Japan (US$3554) in East Asia. In this respect, Singapore was already ahead of all the countries in East Asia including China and Taiwan, and South Korea... These figures are a far cry from the nominal US$500 GDP per capita in 1959 often cited by PAP supporters which ignores both PPP and inflation adjustment. Fast forward to 2008, Singapore’s GDP per capita has overtaken Japan (which was mired for a decade and has yet to recover) but still trails Hong Kong. Secondly, it is misleading to use GDP per capita when comparing between countries because Singapore only comprises of a single city whereas larger nations have rural areas and smaller towns... Singapore’s GMP per capita PPP when measured against other cities worldwide ranks only at 53rd out of 100 (many other cities above belong to the same country), whilst not a bad showing is far from its spectacular perch of 9th ranking if one considers ranking by country only. This is certainly nothing to crow about. Lastly, GDP (per capita) suffers from the fatal flaw as a economic indicator because it does not subtract profits earned in Singapore but which is remitted back to foreign shareholders and foreign investors. It also ignores incomes sent back by Singaporean corporations overseas. A more appropriate measure would be gross national product (GNP), which measures national income and profits held by Singaporean firms and residents (citizens + PRs) only. The latest figures for 2009, show that Singapore’s GNP for that year was S$182.536 bn, compared to its GDP of S$265.057bn. In other words, total income and profits for 2009 earned by Singapore residents and firms is only a mere 69% of GDP; the remaining 31% is repatriated overseas. How does this compare to other countries? Expressing GNP as a proportion of GDP and ranking all the countries worldwide shows that Singapore is ranked only at 32nd place"

Why North Korean Defectors Keep Returning Home

Statutory rape victim forced to pay child support - "Feit said if the roles were reversed and the woman was the victim, the scenario would be unthinkable. "The idea that a woman would have to send money to a man who raped her is absolutely off-the-charts ridiculous," he said. "It wouldn't be tolerated, and it shouldn't be tolerated."

Oxford vs Cambridge

Medieval universities and an unlikely friendship | Podcast | History Extra

Hannah Skoda: They think about themselves in sort of special ways as well.

There's a recent article by Ad Putter, who's a medievalist at the University of Bristol. About the origins of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Not in real terms but in terms of what scholars were saying about their origins in the 15th century.

And he unearths a text by Nicholas Cantaloupe (?), a scholar from Cambridge, who claimed that Cambridge had been founded by King Arthur and was therefore older than Oxford.

And Oxford responded by saying that: no, Oxford was older than King Arthur because they were founded by a group of Greek masters who were studying at Cricklade, near Oxford, and then gradually migrated towards Oxford. So their roots are actually Greek.

And then Cantaloupe (?) responded by saying, well Cambridge, in Latin, sounds a bit like Cantabria, meaning Spain. So Cambridge was actually founded by a group of Spanish scholars who predated those guys from Cricklade.

Always Be Yourself

Always be yourself. Unless you can be a Unicorn. Then always be a Unicorn.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Links - 6th May 2015

Will police act if you're punched? It's not so simple - "the most problematic area lies in the distinction between voluntarily causing hurt (a non-seizable offence) and voluntarily causing grievous hurt (which is seizable)... the hands of the police are tied by the law and how it distinguishes a 'simple' hurt case from one which is 'grievous'. The law states that for an injury to be 'grievous', it has to meet one of 10 criteria set out in the Penal Code. The criteria include permanent loss of sight or hearing, castration, fracture and permanent loss of limb or joint. There is also one where the classification of grievous hurt hinges on whether the victim is hurt badly enough to feel pain and cannot go about his normal activities for 20 days or more... Singapore Management University law lecturer S. Chandra Mohan said it was 'not in the public interest' to subject all people who have been accused of committing a minor offence to the process of being arrested, detained and bailed out. 'That sort of ready interference with the liberty of a citizen, upon a mere allegation of the commission of a non-seizable or minor offence, would be intolerable in Singapore,' he said. Prof Hor also felt such 'drastic steps' of making simple hurt a seizable offence were not necessary. 'The consequence may well be that valuable resources might have to be spent on relatively trivial offences against the good judgment of the police, at the expense of proper investigation of the more serious offences,' he said. Police received 8,288 reports of causing simple hurt last year and investigated about 20 per cent of these. Going by these figures, if causing simple hurt became a seizable offence, the police would have an extra work load of about 23 cases a day. On the other hand, grievous hurt cases numbered a much more manageable 106 last year and 85 in 2006 - about one case every three or four days. Prof Hor said: 'We could include simple hurt in the list of seizable offences - but that would mean that every slap or punch will have to be investigated, so long as it causes some pain, no matter how slight.' Many simple hurt cases include situations such as parents slapping children, family disputes and quarrels getting out of hand. Most are resolved quickly without the need for the police to intervene or press charges."

Why some critics think Japan’s Miss Universe contestant isn’t Japanese enough - "The Japanese like to think of their society and culture as having a unique identity that is “inaccessible to foreigners,” according to Theodore Bestor, a professor of anthropology and Japanese studies at Harvard University. “One of the ways in which Japanese think of their own society as ‘unique’ is to emphasize the homogeneity of Japanese society, and indeed by lots of comparisons, Japan is certainly a much more homogeneous society than say the United States,” Bestor told Columbia University‘s Asian Topics. “And, it’s often said by Japanese that they are ethnically homogeneous, that there are no real foreign populations in Japan”... Some Japanese women, hoping to replicate the Western beauty standards that are reflected in Japanese pop culture, are even seeking out foreign men for children"

Pope finally gets his pizza - albeit hand-delivered - Yahoo News - "Francis said what he misses most being pope is going out to get a pizza. Now, he eats in the communal dining room of the Vatican hotel, serving himself cafeteria-style like the rest of the guests at dinner... The Naples' archbishop, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, who made a special dispensation so the nuns could come out of cloister for the papal visit, admonished the nuns for their behavior. But he said their cookies are very good and that he eats them for breakfast with milk every day."

Vaccination as “rape”: Meryl Dorey and the Australian Vaccination Network - "The mother produced opposing evidence that the vaccinations were unnecessary, but was criticized in the judgment for submitting evidence from an “immunization skeptic”, who made what the magistrate described as “outlandish statements unsupported by any empirical evidence”. Meryl Dorey naturally wasn’t happy about this (it is unknown if she was the “immunization skeptic”) and made it clear in a most distasteful post on the AVN Facebook page, where she said this after a link to the story:
“Court orders rape of a child. Think this is an exaggeration? Think again. This is assault without consent and with full penetration too.”
Rape of a child is akin to vaccination? Wow. I don’t think anyone who has been subject to this type of sexual assault would agree with you Meryl."

Twitter Data Mining Reveals the Origins of Support for Islamic State - "Studies of people who have joined these kinds of organizations suggest that they tend to be better educated, financially better off, more exposed to Western culture and generally more accomplished than average. Neither do these individuals show evidence of psychological disorders. On the contrary, they appear to be more psychologically robust than average... "a major source of support for ISIS stems from frustration with the missteps of the Arab Spring,” say Magdy and co. “As for opposition to ISIS, it is linked with support for other rebel groups, mostly in Syria, that have been targeted by ISIS, support for existing Middle Eastern regimes, and Shia sectarianism.”"

A year in Oxford for NUS students - "Prof Shim noted: "This is probably the only place in the world where both Oxford and Cambridge students can sit side by side, and compete in the same team instead of opposing teams.""

Teen may face probation for beating up foreign workers -- to hone fighting skills - "Lim had said they were feeling bored, and he wanted to practise his fighting skills, and had negative encounters with foreign workers, so they were chosen as targets."

Youth sentenced to reformative training for extorting from man he slept with - "Naveenthiran hatched a plan to extort money from Kanthimathi. He would proceed to have sex with Kanthimathi and take a video while doing so. He would then send a text message to his two friends who would then show up at the flat, claiming to be Naveenthiran's elder brothers. They would tell Kanthimathi that their supposed brother was underaged and would report the matter to the police unless Kanthimathi paid them some money."

Caning is constitutional, Court of Appeal rules in drug trafficker's case - "M Ravi argued that caning violated the Constitution as it was discriminatory and that it amounted to torture, which is prohibited by international law and common law. On Wednesday, the appeal court, after examining cases from Europe, Africa and elsewhere, held that caning as administered in Singapore does not amount to torture. Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, delivering the court's decision, said that even though international law prohibits torture, international law and domestic law are two separate legal systems. A domestic court cannot strike down a piece of domestic legislation by reason alone of its incompatibility with international law, he said. In the same way, a state cannot rely on domestic legislation to justify a breach of its international obligations."
If international law cannot affect domestic law, doesn't that mean a country can sign any treaties it wants and not honour them

Man fined $1.5k for throwing hot milk at doctor who accused him of 'tantrums' - "A homeless man who splashed a jug of hot milk at a doctor after she wrote that he was prone to tantrums was fined the maximum $1,500 on Monday.
When Dr Parvathy Babu Surendra Babu, 31, refused to delete the comment, 63-year-old Abdul Aziz Selamat told her that he would "show what a tantrum was", then grabbed the jug from a nearby pantry at Thye Hwa Kwan Hospital... The prosecution admitted to being unable to ascertain the temperature of the milk."
At least the accuracy of the remark is confirmed

Peanut allergy 'cut by early exposure' - "Eating peanut products as a baby dramatically cuts the risk of allergy, a study suggests. Trials on 628 babies prone to developing peanut allergy found the risk was cut by over 80%. The King's College London researchers said it was the "first time" that allergy development had been reduced."

Why Putin -- and Some of His Female Fans -- Go Shirtless - ""masculinity" is not only about what men do. A male politician's "manly" image can also be enhanced by portrayals of attractive young women's support for him. And Putin's image makers have embraced this tactic. In 2010, as a gift for Putin's birthday, twelve female students and alumni of Moscow State University's prestigious journalism department published a calendar featuring photos of themselves in lingerie, each woman suggesting herself as a potential lover for Putin. "You put the forest fires out, but I'm still burning," smiled a student illustrating the month of March. In a similar vein, in 2011, an all-female group called "Putin's Army" announced an "I'll Rip [it] for Putin" contest via an Internet video clip that ended with a cleavage-boasting young woman ripping open her tank top to demonstrate her dedication to Putin. That same month, a bikini car wash took place in Moscow in Putin's honor, where scantily-clad young women from the "I really do like Putin" group volunteered to wash Russian-made cars for free... In 2011, Putin's Army continued its activity by filming a video for Putin's birthday. Promising that their birthday gift would be "the sweetest," a handful of women wearing only underpants and white button-down shirts were shown baking their idol a chocolate birthday cake (decorated with a heart) while squirting whipped cream into their mouths."

Putin Visibly Amused by Topless Femen Protest in Germany - "The Russian president appeared unperturbed by the criticism, smiling and even giving two thumbs up to the bare-breasted activists, who accused him of being a dictator."

Secret society groups canvassed votes for Lee Kuan Yew

Circumcision and AIDS - "Does male circumcision actually help prevent HIV/AIDS?
Studies linking male circumcision and AIDS are conflicting. Two studies completed in 2006 in Kenya and Uganda concluded that male circumcision had a 48% - 53% protective effect against HIV over a 14 month period, and an earlier published Auvert Study (criticized for having methodology flaws and overly optimistic conclusions) found that circumcision reduced HIV transmission in South African men by 63% over a period of 21 months. The multi-country Mishra study concluded that circumcision may actually increase transmission of the AIDS virus, however, which is what many earlier studies found. The Brewer Study published in March 2007, also concluded that circumcision in Kenya, Lesotho, and Tanzania increases the transmission of AIDS, and the Connolly study published in November 2008 found that circumcised men in South Africa are just as likely to be HIV-positive as uncircumcised men.
What about female circumcision and AIDS?
The relationship between female circumcision and AIDS has also been studied, with similar conflicting results. The Stallings Study found that female circumcision reduces transmission of the AIDS virus, while other studies have shown that it increases transmission."

Circumcision and HIV - "Using or promoting unnecessary surgery when much less invasive, much less costly, and much more effective methods are available (e.g., condoms) raises ethical concerns and conflicts with common sense. The cost of one circumcision in Africa can pay for 3000 condoms. Significantly, the studies recommend the use of condoms in addition to circumcision. Because of the superior effectiveness of condoms, circumcision adds little additional protection. Unlike circumcision, condoms also have the advantage of also protecting women, and there are no surgical risks and complications.
If circumcision results in lower condom use, the rate of HIV infections will increase. Unfortunately, with the promotion of circumcision as a "natural condom," some African men have chosen circumcision with the mistaken belief that they will not have to use condoms. In addition, circumcision with instruments that are not sterilized would also increase the transmission of HIV...
In a survey of men who were circumcised after they became sexually active, there was a reported decrease in sexual enjoyment after circumcision. One described it as like seeing in black and white compared to seeing in color. If you have less, you feel less. A study showed that circumcision removes the five most sensitive parts of the penis. (For this reason, many circumcised men are reluctant to use condoms because it contributes to further decreased sensation. Reduced condom usage adversely affects the HIV infection rate.) In a survey of those with comparative sexual experience, women preferred the natural penis over the circumcised penis by 6 to 1."

Magna Carta as Compromise

Magna Carta and the Holocaust | Podcast | History Extra

David Starkey: Think about Magna Carta not as some kind of sainted origins of the English Constitution, but a product of crisis, of revolution narrowly averted, and of the thing that we've all become so contemptuous of, which is the political process.

Which is compromise. Which is wheeler-dealing. Which is not getting quite everything that you want. Which is about recognising that your opponents may have a point.

Now we've become very contemptuous of all of those things. It is very dangerous to be contemptuous of those things, cos that's the root of a Robbespierre or a Lenin. English history is a very different lesson: it's a lesson of this perpetual compromise. Perpetual accommodation.

A Popular Debating Tactic

"LALALALALA...I Can't Hear You!"

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Links - 5th May 2015

Journal rejects female-authored study: “Find one or two male biologists to work with”
This was an article about gender differences. So if you find an all-male conference on female rights an absurdity, think someone of Group A can never fully understand Group B or otherwise subscribe to some strains of identity politics, this would be absolutely justified (if this were a male-authored study being rejected for having no female coauthors)

Infinity Stone Manifestations Seem To Be Spelling Out Thanos - "Marvel fans have noticed that the precious infinity stones are manifesting in objects that spell out the name of Thanos. This could be a coincidence or Marvel President Kevin Feige is even more clever than we originally thought."

Muslim husbands can’t ‘pull out’ during sex without wife’s consent, says Perlis mufti - "Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin claimed today that a Muslim husband is obliged to fulfil his wife’s sexual desires, to the point that he should not even perform coitus interruptus without consent from the wife. Weighing in on the marital rape debate, the Perlis mufti said that despite the obligation, sexual relations between husbands and wives must happen in a “harmonious situation” without physically harming each other. “Rough and painful sex is forbidden in Islam. Therefore, all couples must find the best sexual method that fulfils the personal desires of both parties”... The Perlis mufti said a husband who refuses to have sex with his wife has committed a sin for neglecting his marital duties, and similarly with a wife who refuses sex with her husband without “acceptable reasons”... Yesterday, Malay Mail Online reported religious scholars saying that it is sinful for a Muslim man to force his wife to have sex when she is ill or menstruating, while insisting that the concept of marital rape does not exist in Islam."

Israel as Middle Eastern hegemon - "Israel's prowess in the arts matches its accomplishments in technology and business. Israel has become something of a superpower in that most characteristically Western art form, classical music. In a July 21, 2010, survey of Israeli music for the webzine Tablet, I wrote, "Israelis take to classical music - the art form that most clearly creates a sense of the future - like no other people on earth, to the point that music has become part of Israel's character, an embodiment of the national genius for balancing hope and fear." Israel has one the largest local audience for chamber music recitals of any country in the world, and its leading musicians occupy top slots around the world - for example Guy Braunstein, concertmaster (principal violin) of the Berlin Philharmonic. This, I believe, explains the implacable hostility of Israel's neighbors, as well as the Europeans. It is the unquenchable envy of the dying towards the living. Having failed at Christianity, and afterward failed at neo-pagan nationalism, Europe has reconciled itself to a quiet passage into oblivion. "

Hamas Envisions West Bank Takeover, Destruction of Israel - "“[Some] have said Hamas wants to create an Islamic emirate in Gaza. We won’t do that, but we will build an Islamic state in Palestine, all of Palestine,” stated Al-Zahar, a senior Hamas political bureau member. Moreover, Al-Zahar believes that if Hamas established a military position in the West Bank it would be capable of destroying the Jewish State... In August, a Hamas spokesman admitted that Hamas’ main objective is the “liberation of our Palestinian land” and not simply the lifting of Israel’s internationally legal blockade of Gaza. “The time has come for us to say that our true war is not aimed at opening the border crossings. Our true war is aimed at the liberation of Jerusalem, Allah willing,” said Sami Abu Zuhri to a cheering Palestinian crowd... A recent Palestinian poll confirms that Hamas’ popularity remains higher than the Palestinian Authority (PA) in both Gaza and the West Bank. According to the Palestinian Center for Policy Research, if elections took place in the West Bank between Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Haniyeh would emerge victorious with 55 percent support over Abbas’ 38 percent."

Performance Pay, Competitiveness, and the Gender Wage Gap: Evidence from the United States - "Evidence that women are less likely to opt into competitive compensation schemes in the
laboratory has generated speculation that a gender difference in competitiveness contributes to the gender wage gap. Using data from the NLSY79 and NLSY97, we show that women are less likely to be employed in jobs using competitive compensation. The portion of the gender wage gap explained by gender segregation in compensation schemes is small in the NLSY79 but somewhat larger in the NLSY97 – suggesting an increasing role for competitiveness in explaining the gender wage gap"

Scientists Seek Ban on Method of Editing the Human Genome - NYTimes.com - "Writing in Nature last week, Edward Lanphier and other scientists involved in developing the rival zinc finger technique for genome editing also called for a moratorium on human germline modification, saying that use of current technologies would be “dangerous and ethically unacceptable.” The International Society for Stem Cell Research said Thursday that it supported the proposed moratorium."
The objections sounds like those to IVF when it first started. The slippery slope will move on

Person Putting “Whites Only” Stickers Around Austin Turns Out to be Liberal Social Justice Warrior

Was James Bond the Result of Ian Fleming's Midlife Crisis? - "In the early years, he spent his Jamaican vacations fishing with harpoon guns and steel tridents (not unlike the unique, yet totally preposterous, underwater battle in Thunderball). He tempted fate by carrying on conspicuous affairs with many of the island’s expatriate British elite, most of whom were taken (his most important mistress, Anne Rothermere, was married to a viscount who was the proprietor of the Daily Mail). He purportedly drank a bottle of gin a day and insisted his staff call him “the Commander.”"

Guess what? More people are living in peace now. Just look at the numbers - "For John Gray, this is a big problem. As a part of his campaign against reason, science and Enlightenment humanism, he insists that the strivings of humanity over the centuries have left us no better off. This dyspepsia was hard enough to sustain when Gray first expressed it in the teeth of obvious counterexamples such as the abolition of human sacrifice, chattel slavery and public torture-executions. But as scholars have increasingly measured human flourishing, they have found that Gray is not just wrong but howlingly, flat-earth, couldn’t-be-more-wrong wrong. The numbers show that after millennia of near-universal poverty and despotism, a steadily growing proportion of humankind is surviving infancy and childbirth, going to school, voting in democracies, living free of disease, enjoying the necessities of modern life and surviving to old age... In a last diversionary tactic, Gray serves up a prolix disquisition on Aztec obsidian mirrors, which is somehow meant to show that quantification is like “sorcery”, “auguries”, “amulets”, and “prayer wheels”. But the inescapable fact is that whenever you use the words “more”, “less”, “rise”, or “fall” you are making a claim about numbers. If you then refuse to look at them, no one should take your claims seriously."

Timeline Photos - WXMG Magic 106.3 - "This is a crocodile wrapped in bacon, with a chicken in it's mouth. A Bacrocken? It's the Turducken of Australia. Would you try it?"

Not so sexy: hipster beards dirtier than toilets - "Bearded men are exponentially more exposed to skin infection than their shaved counterparts, as dirty hands and food crumbs leave residues that eventually decompose amongst the hairs. Even if washed regularly, beards contain bacterias that can lead to greater susceptibility to the common cold or eczema."

Bronze Bust of Putin as Roman Emperor to Be Unveiled

I Have Come to Indoctrinate Your Children Into My LGBTQ Agenda (And I'm Not a Bit Sorry)
Comments: "If you have a problem with the notion of "love the sinner, but hate the sin", then you have a problem with parenting. Parents operate according to this paradigm ALL the time. They love their children, but hate their disobedience or other undesireable behaviors"
"Buddhists believe that eating meat is misconduct, but I've never felt persecuted by them for liking steak. I'm perfectly cool with other people thinking some of the stuff I do is wrong. They're probably right about at least some of it."
"There is NO such thing as LGBTQ or what ever acronym is made up this week. As a gay man I wish people would stop lumping me in with what ever group catches some activists fancy. Im Gay, not TBLGQEIEIO"

Was Lee Kuan Yew an Inspiration or a Race Traitor? Chinese Can’t Agree | Foreign Policy - "Global Times, a state-owned newspaper, identified four watchwords of Lee’s legacy – “stability, orderliness, lack of graft, and rule of law” – that could also easily describe Xi’s domestic agenda. But more liberal-minded Chinese, like lawyer Tao Jingzhou, believed that the secret ingredient to Singapore’s success was Lee’s Western outlook and a legal system bequeathed by British colonists. Columnist Liu Shengjun wrote that Singapore’s stability and efficiency are built on “Lee’s authoritarian charisma,” which has limited appeal in China’s consensus-driven government. Then there are Chinese vocal nationalists and leftists, who have offered much harsher post-mortem assessments of Lee. Since he was an embodiment of state-led capitalism that many Chinese leftists despise, some nationalists and Maoists condemned Lee’s legacy and attacked China’s state-owned media, including CCTV, for their flowery tributes. Vindictive essays detailing Lee’s offenses against communists circulated on Chinese social media among leftist circles after his death, calling him a “fascist pawn of imperialism.” Since more than 74 percent of Singaporeans are ethnic Chinese, including Lee and most of its senior leadership, some Chinese tend to think of Singapore as a nation of long-lost cousins that should, one way or another, rotate close within China’s orbit. Hardcore Chinese nationalists loathe the idea that Lee instead vouchsafed Singapore’s own national interests, which sometimes brought the country closer to the United States than to China. Lu Qi, a nationalist scholar, took the vitriol a step further when he called Lee a hanjian – that is, a traitor to the Chinese nation — because Lee “embarked on a large de-Sinicization campaign in Singapore, and most ethnic Chinese Singaporeans could not speak Chinese.”"

Monica Lewinsky: The price of shame - ""Public shaming as a blood sport has to stop," says Monica Lewinsky. In 1998, she says, “I was Patient Zero of losing a personal reputation on a global scale almost instantaneously.” Today, the kind of online public shaming she went through has become constant — and can turn deadly. In a brave talk, she takes a hard look at our online culture of humiliation, and asks for a different way."

"Shanghai has all the vices of Paris and more but boasts of none of its cultural influences"

"Shanghai has often been called the Paris of the Orient. This is only half true. Shanghai has all the vices of Paris and more but boasts of none of its cultural influences. The municipal orchestra is uncertain of its future, and the removal of the city library to its new premises has only shattered our hopes of better reading facilities. The Royal Asiatic Society has been denied all support from the Council for the maintenance of its library, which is the only center for research in this metropolis. It is therefore no wonder that men and women, old or young, poor or rich, turn their minds to mischief and lowly pursuits of pleasure, and the laxity of police regulations has aggravated the situation."

- China Weekly Review, June 14, 1930

National Education lesson: Censorship

Another Social Studies lesson that Singapore can learn from other countries:

"That Mussolini considered the control of the press to be a major priority was hardly surprising, in view of his own experience as a newspaper editor. Early measures included the suppression of many papers by the exceptional decrees of 1926 and, in 1928, the compulsory registration of all journalists with the Fascist Journalist Association. The press office under Rossi controlled news and censorship. The process was extended in the early 1930s when the press office came under the control of Polverelli. He increased the control over individual journalists and was responsible for the development of the cult of the Duce in the press. He managed to exert effective control over what was published; in difficult cases the government called upon the local prefects to enforce its decisions. Further changes were made when Ciano established the Ministry for Press and Propaganda - another example of radicalization for the purpose of presenting the Ethiopian campaign in the most positive way. By and large, Mussolini's regime of journalism was more successful than most other elements of the totalitarian state. There was, however, a price: constant distortion of the facts about Italy's record in her three wars led eventually to the entire government being misinformed. Mussolini, in particular, lost all contact with reality, even though - or because - he spent several hours each day reading the newspapers."

--- European Dictatorships 1918–1945 / Stephen J. Lee

Regulation of the press (and state writing of history) leads to the government losing touch with reality and being misinformed.


National Education lesson: Fifth Columns

Monday, May 04, 2015

Why economists support bigamy

An Economist beautifully explained two reasons for having 2 wives.

A- Monopolies should be broken.
B- Competition improves the quality of service.

If you have 1 wife, she fights with you.
If you have 2 wives, they will fight for you!
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