When you can't live without bananas

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Trans activists vs feminists - who will win?

What Makes a Woman? - NYTimes.com

Do women and men have different brains?

Back when Lawrence H. Summers was president of Harvard and suggested that they did, the reaction was swift and merciless. Pundits branded him sexist. Faculty members deemed him a troglodyte. Alumni withheld donations.

But when Bruce Jenner said much the same thing in an April interview with Diane Sawyer, he was lionized for his bravery, even for his progressivism.

“My brain is much more female than it is male,” he told her, explaining how he knew that he was transgender.

This was the prelude to a new photo spread and interview in Vanity Fair that offered us a glimpse into Caitlyn Jenner’s idea of a woman: a cleavage-boosting corset, sultry poses, thick mascara and the prospect of regular “girls’ nights” of banter about hair and makeup. Ms. Jenner was greeted with even more thunderous applause. ESPN announced it would give Ms. Jenner an award for courage. President Obama also praised her. Not to be outdone, Chelsea Manning hopped on Ms. Jenner’s gender train on Twitter, gushing, “I am so much more aware of my emotions; much more sensitive emotionally (and physically).”

A part of me winced.

I have fought for many of my 68 years against efforts to put women — our brains, our hearts, our bodies, even our moods — into tidy boxes, to reduce us to hoary stereotypes. Suddenly, I find that many of the people I think of as being on my side — people who proudly call themselves progressive and fervently support the human need for self-determination — are buying into the notion that minor differences in male and female brains lead to major forks in the road and that some sort of gendered destiny is encoded in us.

That’s the kind of nonsense that was used to repress women for centuries. But the desire to support people like Ms. Jenner and their journey toward their truest selves has strangely and unwittingly brought it back.

People who haven’t lived their whole lives as women, whether Ms. Jenner or Mr. Summers, shouldn’t get to define us. That’s something men have been doing for much too long. And as much as I recognize and endorse the right of men to throw off the mantle of maleness, they cannot stake their claim to dignity as transgender people by trampling on mine as a woman.

Their truth is not my truth. Their female identities are not my female identity. They haven’t traveled through the world as women and been shaped by all that this entails. They haven’t suffered through business meetings with men talking to their breasts or woken up after sex terrified they’d forgotten to take their birth control pills the day before. They haven’t had to cope with the onset of their periods in the middle of a crowded subway, the humiliation of discovering that their male work partners’ checks were far larger than theirs, or the fear of being too weak to ward off rapists.

For me and many women, feminist and otherwise, one of the difficult parts of witnessing and wanting to rally behind the movement for transgender rights is the language that a growing number of trans individuals insist on, the notions of femininity that they’re articulating, and their disregard for the fact that being a woman means having accrued certain experiences, endured certain indignities and relished certain courtesies in a culture that reacted to you as one.

Brains are a good place to begin because one thing that science has learned about them is that they’re in fact shaped by experience, cultural and otherwise. The part of the brain that deals with navigation is enlarged in London taxi drivers, as is the region dealing with the movement of the fingers of the left hand in right-handed violinists.

“You can’t pick up a brain and say ‘that’s a girl’s brain’ or ‘that’s a boy’s brain,’ ” Gina Rippon, a neuroscientist at Britain’s Aston University, told The Telegraph last year. The differences between male and female brains are caused by the “drip, drip, drip” of the gendered environment, she said.

THE drip, drip, drip of Ms. Jenner’s experience included a hefty dose of male privilege few women could possibly imagine. While young “Bruiser,” as Bruce Jenner was called as a child, was being cheered on toward a university athletic scholarship, few female athletes could dare hope for such largess since universities offered little funding for women’s sports. When Mr. Jenner looked for a job to support himself during his training for the 1976 Olympics, he didn’t have to turn to the meager “Help Wanted – Female” ads in the newspapers, and he could get by on the $9,000 he earned annually, unlike young women whose median pay was little more than half that of men. Tall and strong, he never had to figure out how to walk streets safely at night.

Those are realities that shape women’s brains.

By defining womanhood the way he did to Ms. Sawyer, Mr. Jenner and the many advocates for transgender rights who take a similar tack ignore those realities. In the process, they undermine almost a century of hard-fought arguments that the very definition of female is a social construct that has subordinated us. And they undercut our efforts to change the circumstances we grew up with.

The “I was born in the wrong body” rhetoric favored by other trans people doesn’t work any better and is just as offensive, reducing us to our collective breasts and vaginas. Imagine the reaction if a young white man suddenly declared that he was trapped in the wrong body and, after using chemicals to change his skin pigmentation and crocheting his hair into twists, expected to be embraced by the black community.

Many women I know, of all ages and races, speak privately about how insulting we find the language trans activists use to explain themselves. After Mr. Jenner talked about his brain, one friend called it an outrage and asked in exasperation, “Is he saying that he’s bad at math, weeps during bad movies and is hard-wired for empathy?” After the release of the Vanity Fair photos of Ms. Jenner, Susan Ager, a Michigan journalist, wrote on her Facebook page, “I fully support Caitlyn Jenner, but I wish she hadn’t chosen to come out as a sex babe.”

For the most part, we bite our tongues and do not express the anger we openly and rightly heaped on Mr. Summers, put off by the mudslinging match that has broken out on the radical fringes of both the women’s and the trans movements over events limited to “women-born women,” access to bathrooms and who has suffered the greater persecution. The insult and outright fear that trans men and women live with is all too familiar to us, and a cruelly marginalized group’s battle for justice is something we instinctively want to rally behind.

But as the movement becomes mainstream, it’s growing harder to avoid asking pointed questions about the frequent attacks by some trans leaders on women’s right to define ourselves, our discourse and our bodies. After all, the trans movement isn’t simply echoing African-Americans, Chicanos, gays or women by demanding an end to the violence and discrimination, and to be treated with a full measure of respect. It’s demanding that women reconceptualize ourselves.

In January 2014, the actress Martha Plimpton, an abortion-rights advocate, sent out a tweet about a benefit for Texas abortion funding called “A Night of a Thousand Vaginas.” Suddenly, she was swamped by criticism for using the word “vagina.” “Given the constant genital policing, you can’t expect trans folks to feel included by an event title focused on a policed, binary genital,” responded @DrJaneChi.

WHEN Ms. Plimpton explained that she would continue to say “vagina” — and why shouldn’t she, given that without a vagina, there is no pregnancy or abortion? — her feed overflowed anew with indignation, Michelle Goldberg reported in The Nation. “So you’re really committed to doubling down on using a term that you’ve been told many times is exclusionary & harmful?” asked one blogger. Ms. Plimpton became, to use the new trans insult, a terf, which stands for “trans exclusionary radical feminist.”

In January, Project: Theatre at Mount Holyoke College, a self-described liberal arts college for women, canceled a performance of Eve Ensler’s iconic feminist play “The Vagina Monologues” because it offered an “extremely narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman,” explained Erin Murphy, the student group’s chairwoman.

Let me get this right: The word “vagina” is exclusionary and offers an extremely narrow perspective on womanhood, so the 3.5 billion of us who have vaginas, along with the trans people who want them, should describe ours with the politically correct terminology trans activists are pushing on us: “front hole” or “internal genitalia”?

Even the word “woman” has come under assault by some of the very people who claim the right to be considered women. The hashtags #StandWithTexasWomen, popularized after Wendy Davis, then a state senator, attempted to filibuster the Texas Legislature to prevent passage of a draconian anti-abortion law, and #WeTrustWomen, are also under attack since they, too, are exclusionary.

“Abortion rights and reproductive justice is not a women’s issue,” wrote Emmett Stoffer, one of many self-described transgender persons to blog on the topic. It is “a uterus owner’s issue.” Mr. Stoffer was referring to the possibility that a woman who is taking hormones or undergoing surgery to become a man, or who does not identify as a woman, can still have a uterus, become pregnant and need an abortion.

Accordingly, abortion rights groups are under pressure to modify their mission statements to omit the word woman, as Katha Pollitt recently reported in The Nation. Those who have given in, like the New York Abortion Access Fund, now offer their services to “people” and to “callers.” Fund Texas Women, which covers the travel and hotel expenses of abortion seekers with no nearby clinic, recently changed its name to Fund Texas Choice. “With a name like Fund Texas Women, we were publicly excluding trans people who needed to get an abortion but were not women,” the group explains on its website.

Women’s colleges are contorting themselves into knots to accommodate female students who consider themselves men, but usually not men who are living as women. Now these institutions, whose core mission is to cultivate female leaders, have student government and dormitory presidents who identify as males.

As Ruth Padawer reported in The New York Times Magazine last fall, Wellesley students are increasingly replacing the word “sisterhood” with “siblinghood,” and faculty members are confronted with complaints from trans students about their universal use of the pronoun she — although Wellesley rightly brags about its long history as the “world’s pre-eminent college for women.”

The landscape that’s being mapped and the language that comes with it are impossible to understand and just as hard to navigate. The most theory-bound of the trans activists say that there are no paradoxes here, and that anyone who believes there are is clinging to a binary view of gender that’s hopelessly antiquated. Yet Ms. Jenner and Ms. Manning, to mention just two, expect to be called women even as the abortion providers are being told that using that term is discriminatory. So are those who have transitioned from men the only “legitimate” women left?

Women like me are not lost in false paradoxes; we were smashing binary views of male and female well before most Americans had ever heard the word “transgender” or used the word “binary” as an adjective. Because we did, and continue to do so, thousands of women once confined to jobs as secretaries, beauticians or flight attendants now work as welders, mechanics and pilots. It’s why our daughters play with trains and trucks as well as dolls, and why most of us feel free to wear skirts and heels on Tuesday and bluejeans on Friday.

In fact, it’s hard to believe that this hard-won loosening of gender constraints for women isn’t at least a partial explanation for why three times as many gender reassignment surgeries are performed on men. Men are, comparatively speaking, more bound, even strangled, by gender stereotyping.

The struggle to move beyond such stereotypes is far from over, and trans activists could be women’s natural allies moving forward. So long as humans produce X and Y chromosomes that lead to the development of penises and vaginas, almost all of us will be “assigned” genders at birth. But what we do with those genders — the roles we assign ourselves, and each other, based on them — is almost entirely mutable.

If that’s the ultimate message of the mainstream of the trans community, we’ll happily, lovingly welcome them to the fight to create space for everyone to express him-, her- or, in gender neutral parlance, hir-self without being coerced by gendered expectations. But undermining women’s identities, and silencing, erasing or renaming our experiences, aren’t necessary to that struggle.

Bruce Jenner told Ms. Sawyer that what he looked forward to most in his transition was the chance to wear nail polish, not for a furtive, fugitive instant, but until it chips off. I want that for Bruce, now Caitlyn, too. But I also want her to remember: Nail polish does not a woman make.

The first page of comments on Readers' Picks are virtually all "transphobic" (i.e. they support the feminist side more than the trans activist side)

Links - 12th June 2015

Hillary’s Constitutional Aversion to Criticism - WSJ - "Progressivism’s ever-tightening grip on the Democratic Party is on full display in Hillary Clinton’s presidential platform. Starting with her kickoff speech in Iowa, and in subsequent venues across the country, she spoke of her campaign’s “four fights,” one of which is a constitutional amendment on campaign finance. This marks Mrs. Clinton as an adherent to one of the newest and most fervently held tenets of modern progressive teaching: Citizens United v. FEC is an evil that must be destroyed at any cost... The justices struck down this prohibition, ruling that “the First Amendment protects political speech.” Chief Justice John Roberts was even more blunt, arguing that such bans subvert “the vibrant public discourse that is at the foundation of our democracy.” There was a time when most Americans agreed with this logic. The American Founding was partially triggered by the Stamp Act, which squelched speech by mandating that publications possess a stamp purchased from the British government. Following the Revolution and the ratification of the Constitution, the first Congress wisely passed the First Amendment to prevent politicians from banning speech that criticizes officeholders. Throughout American history, this constitutional guarantee of free speech has been the bulwark of the country’s experiment in self-government. Yet this consensus disappeared following Citizens United. The Democratic Party’s leadership, fearing the electoral losses that ultimately came to pass, called for a crusade to undo the Supreme Court’s decision. Their holy war found its fullest expression in the demand for a constitutional amendment that would, in essence, repeal the First Amendment."

Take off that Fitbit. Exercise alone won’t make you lose weight. - "Physical activity has a multitude of health benefits — it reduces the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and possibly even cancer — but weight loss is not one of them."

Share price of South Korea's biggest condom maker surges after court decriminalises adultery - "The law had been enacted in 1953 to protect women in a male-dominated society where divorce was rare and had made marital infidelity punishable by jail."

Supreme Court gay marriage arguments: The 8 most awkward moments - "1. Arguing that animosity or prejudice might not be motivation for same-sex marriage bans, Justice Samuel Alito notes that not all cultures that historically rejected same-sex marriage were hostile to gays
2. Alito asks whether, if states are forced to recognize gay marriage, they could hold the line against (for lack of a better term) two-on-two marriage
4. Alito raises yet another potential human pairing, that of unmarried siblings, asking if a state could bar them from marrying
6. So-called plural marriage arises again, with Scalia asking if states could choose not to recognize a polygamous marriage solemnized overseas
7. As the justices debated when states could ignore other states’ marriages, Alito asked if a state would be compelled to recognize the marriage of a pre-teen just because another state did
8. The exchange led Justice Sonia Sotomayor to bring up another marriage restriction — limits on marrying relatives — and asked whether a state could ignore a marriage another state authorized between two cousins who are related only by other relatives’ marriage and not by blood. That discussion eventually turned to one of inces"

Is Al Jazeera Sexist, Anti-Semitic, and Anti-American? - "The lawsuit contends: “As an employee at AJAM, Mr. Mahmud’s discriminatory conduct included, but was not limited to, removing female employees from projects to which they had been previously assigned by other management level employees, excluding women from emails and meetings relevant to their assignments, and making discriminatory, anti-Semitic and anti-American remarks such as ‘whoever supports Israel should die a fiery death in hell.’ ” [Emphasis in the original.] A screen grab of another incendiary comment, allegedly posted by Mahmud on his Facebook page—which apparently has been scrubbed or made private in recent days—has also been making the rounds among colleagues, detractors and media reporters, along with concerned AJAM execs.
“The enemies of Muslims in Egypt, their puppets and blind supporters are due to face death in the hospitals and streets of Egypt, starting from this evil man,” reads the comment, time-stamped July 29, 2014 at 2:32 a.m., apparently a reference to Egyptian television presenter and Muslim Brotherhood opponent Tawfik Okasha.
It’s hardly the sort of sentiment one expects from a senior manager of a journalistic organization."

Getting an Aussie skilled migrant visa can take years

Ayushi Mona's answer to Do women objectify men? - Quora - "In literature and cinema, geared towards women, the men are never:
Unattractive (even scarred military heroes have some je ne sais quoi about them).
Mean bad boys; they are always up for reforming."

For Asian Americans, a changing landscape on college admissions - "Lee is the co-founder of HS2 Academy, a college prep business that assumes that racial bias is a fact of college admissions and counsels students accordingly. At 10 centers across the state, the academy's counselors teach countermeasures to Asian American applicants. The goal, Lee says, is to help prospective college students avoid coming off like another “cookie-cutter Asian.” “Everyone is in orchestra and plays piano,” Lee says. “Everyone plays tennis. Everyone wants to be a doctor, and write about immigrating to America. You can't get in with these cliche applications.”

▶ International Women's Day & Daylight Savings Time - conspiracy of the Patriarchy????? - YouTube

Learning From Mistakes - NYTimes.com - " if there were no World War II, you wouldn’t have had the infusion of women into the work force. You wouldn’t have had the G.I. Bill and the rapid expansion of higher education. You wouldn’t have had the pacification of Europe, Pax-Americana, which led to decades of peace and prosperity, or the end of the British and other empires. History is an infinitely complex web of causations. To erase mistakes from the past is to obliterate your world now. You can’t go back and know then what you know now. You can’t step in the same river twice... There’s a fable going around now that the intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was all cooked by political pressure, that there was a big political conspiracy to lie us into war.That doesn’t gibe with the facts. Anybody conversant with the Robb-Silberman report from 2005 knows that this was a case of human fallibility. This exhaustive, bipartisan commission found “a major intelligence failure”"

Kirsten Powers on Obama's Attempt to 'Delegitimize' Fox News - ""It goes without saying that if George Bush had done this, he would have been Hitler"... Fox News isn’t alone. For years, the White House has resorted to bullying tactics and withholding information. It has prompted complaints from prominent journalists and the White House Correspondents Association... she came to see conservatives as the most ardent defenders of free speech—welcoming debate rather than attempting to stifle it like many liberals in media and academia... “I don’t understand this idea that people need to be pushed out of jobs and the public square for disagreeing with you on one issue”"

NYT reporter: Obama administration ‘the greatest enemy of press freedom’ in a generation - "New York Times reporter James Risen called the Obama administration “the greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation” on Friday, explaining that the White House seeks to control the flow of information and those who refuse to play along “will be punished.”"

Bahar Mustafa: Goldsmiths diversity officer could lose job after tweeting hashtag 'kill all white men' - "Bahar Mustafa, the university union's welfare and diversity officer, caught the media's attention after telling white people and men not to come to an event about diversifying the curriculum. She then defended her position on camera, saying ethnic minority women cannot be racist as they "do not stand to gain" from inequality... "The current welfare and diversity officer has used hate speech based on race and gender," the union petition, which closes on May 26, reads. "For example, the consistent use of hashtags such as #killallwhitemen and #misandry, and publicly calling someone 'white trash' under the official GSU Welfare and Diversity Officer Twitter account"... Ms Mustafa said the use of the term "white trash" - an offensive American term referring to poor white people following the Great Depression - on an official account had been "not professional". But she added the uses of hashtags such as "kill all white men" on her personal account were "in-jokes and ways that many people in the queer feminist community express ourselves". "It's a way of reclaiming the power from the trauma many of us experience as queers, women, people of colour, who are on the receiving end of racism, misogyny and homophobia daily""
Being racist and sexist is a way of recovering from "trauma"?

The new Gamergate: Angry white men are trying to shut down diverse comics
Comments: "Thor, however, is the actual real name of the character, and not a persona. It would be like making a female Bruce Banner.It makes no sense..why not just promote a female Asgardian that already exists, like Lady Sif, instead of making a male character with a male name into a female character, nonsensically?"
"1# It's not an angry white guy issue,it's a poor writing issue... Absorbing man blatantly represented "the dude bros" and female Thor was the caricature of feminism putting those "nasty sexist men" in their places. In that instant they ceased to become people and just became symbols pushing an ideological slant. Sorry,but that's NOT good or clever narrative. It might as well be those terrible Christian themed Chic comics.(Remember kids, Dungeons & Dragons leads to witch-craft!)...
3# This is written like you WANT to stir some trouble. Why do you have to use the word "White" with such disdain? Furthermore, why do you deny the very existence of #notyourshield,a sub-sect of #gamergate composed entirely of lgbts,minorities,and the disabled?"

Ian McEwan Gives Impassioned Graduation Address On Free Speech - ""It can be a little too easy sometimes to dismiss arguments you don’t like as hate speech or to complain that this or that speaker makes you feel disrespected," McEwan said. "Being offended is not to be confused with a state of grace; it’s the occasional price we all pay for living in an open society.""

Protesting The Commencement Speaker Is All The Rage These Days - ""The irony," said Wilde, "is that for most graduates, if you can remember who your commencement speaker was it's a miracle. And if you can remember what they said, that's really extraordinary.""

Bare Necessities of Air Security

I was quite disappointed when, after the underwear plot, we were still allowed to wear underwear onto planes.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Links - 11th June 2015

Non, « Charlie Hebdo » n’est pas obsédé par l’islam - "Pour apporter une réponse raisonnée à cette question, nous analysons les 523 « unes » du journal de janvier 2005 (n°655) au 7 janvier 2015 (n°1177). Si les « unes » de Charlie Hebdo ne résument pas à elles seules le journal, elles en sont toutefois la vitrine, que même des non-lecteurs peuvent voir en devanture des kiosques. Le faible nombre d’abonnés que comptait Charlie Hebdo avant les assassinats laisse d’ailleurs supposer que c’est sur la base de ses « unes » que le journal a été accusé d’islamophobie. De cette analyse, il ressort plusieurs enseignements. Quatre grands thèmes émergent des « unes » de Charlie Hebdo : la politique ; les personnalités médiatiques du sport et du spectacle ; l’actualité économique et sociale ; et la religion. Sur les 523 « unes » parues au cours des dix dernières années, près des deux tiers (336) concernent la politique. L’actualité économique et sociale vient ensuite (85 « unes »), puis les personnalités médiatiques du sport et du spectacle (42). La religion n’est le thème que de 7 % des « unes » (38)... Parmi les 38 « unes » ayant pour cible la religion, plus de la moitié vise principalement la religion catholique (21) et moins de 20 % se moquent principalement de l’islam (7)... Au total, de 2005 à 2015, seulement 1,3 % des « unes » se sont moquées principalement des musulmans... Ce qu’il faut expliquer, donc, ce n’est pas pourquoi Charlie Hebdo était islamophobe, mais pourquoi, de nos jours, seuls des extrémistes se revendiquant de l’islam cherchent à museler un journal qui se moque – entre beaucoup d’autres choses – de leur religion."
Keywords: historically attack right wing

Asian Americans lack “good character” - "Asian Americans are not seen as plausible leaders. Especially by the established oligarchs, who would prefer their own offspring to inherit the mantles of power. Asian males in particular exhibit a “penalty” in the dating game. White females perceive them to be sexually impotent (on average), and for better or worse the opinions of white females as to who is a plausible leader in our society is very telling. If American women won’t want have to have sex with them, then why would the broader society see them as creditable leaders? This is related to something Josh Harkinson at Mother Jones pointed out recently: Asians are far underrepresented in top management in relation to their representation among rank and file workers, especially in technical positions, in Silicon Valley"
If the under-represented 'minority' were women, Blacks or Hispanics...

Chinese billionaire pays £5million to hire Japanese porn star as his 'personal assistant' for 15 years - "In a move which echoes hit 90s film Pretty Woman, the mysterious businessman has hired Rola Misaki as his personal assistant for the next 15 years. The 22-year-old, who is half-Russian and half-Japanese, recently appeared in Beijing with the man -who was wearing a mask at a public event... He is said to have secured the star with a 15-year acting contract to help develop her career as well as being his personal assistant. But the display of affection at the recent event caused many to presume that the contract also includes an 'intimate relations' clause. Misaki was born in 1992 and due to her cute features quickly found fame on Youtube with a series of revealing videos and photos. She made her AV debut under the name of Rola Takizawa in 2012 with the Prestige label. With a D-cup chest and slender frame, she never garnered a huge following in Japan, but is loved in China. Her following on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, is more than 4.8 million. She has been dubbed Japan's 'National Treasure Beauty' as well as 'Number 1 men's goddess'."

Gay Manifesto - "We Shall Sodomize Your Sons" ["gay" fantasy come true?] - "This essay is an outré, madness, a tragic, cruel fantasy, an eruption of inner rage, on how the oppressed desperately dream of being the oppressor.
We shall sodomize your sons, emblems of your feeble masculinity, of your shallow dreams and vulgar lies. We shall seduce them in your schools, in your dormitories, in your gymnasiums, in your locker rooms, in your sports arenas, in your seminaries, in your youth groups, in your movie theater bathrooms, in your army bunkhouses, in your truck stops, in your all male clubs, in your houses of Congress, wherever men are with men together. Your sons shall become our minions and do our bidding. They will be recast in our image. They will come to crave and adore us."

How to get chicks without being a jerk - "All of which raises the question of what reasonable, inoffensive advice on wooing women would look like. Clarisse Thorn, author of “Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser,” has put a great deal of thought into the question. “Ethics was a central question in my book,” she told me in an email. “ It’s a very complicated topic, but I think that ethical pickup artistry boils down to using ‘tactics’ that are mutual rather than adversarial.” There is plenty in the pickup artist, or PUA, community that is “ sleazy and misogynistic,” she says, but there are also self-help aspects that seem relatively harmless and legitimately therapeutic. “Some cognitive-behavioral therapists suggest that patients with social anxiety keep a log of successful social encounters in order to build up self-confidence — and PUAs sometimes do this by writing what they call ‘Field Reports,’” she says."

Make Parking a Cinch with This Parking Guide Infographic

La Communauté des français à Singapour - "Le nombre de français à Singapour a plus que doublé depuis 2007 avec notamment un bond de 20% en 2011. On apprends également que près d’un tiers des français ont moins de 18 ans et que 35,8% des français ont entre 26 et 40 ans"

fuckyeaheurope - "a blog of lovely places in europe. warning: this blog will just worsen your depression."

The three most unattractive women’s hairstyles (according to Japanese men) - "3 – Straight bangs
2 – Very short
1 – Bob cut"

Western Wives, Chinese Husbands - "I wonder if foreign women realize what great husbands Chinese men make. I think they're an undiscovered, valuable resource"

Unicorns of Social Psychology - "List of failures to replicate classic social psychology studies...
self-fulfilling prophecy effects do occur. They just do not occur very often or very powerfully. Rosenthal himself (Rosenthal & Rubin, 1978) found that almost 2/3 of experiments produce no statistically significant evidence of self-fulfilling prophecy"

Here are the perfect male and female bodies, according to men and women

Cartoon: Our Ancestors Had Tails…

Butthurt Report Form, Internet Version

S’porean self-proclaimed influencer has tough time convincing herself with her own status updates | New Nation - "Eubel said she made the stunning realisation that there exists a record of all her social media status updates online and when they are compiled across time, they revealed contradictions in what she said in her status updates and she is depressed about it."

Kristy Love with 48NN breasts documents her struggle in TLC's Strange Love - "Kristy's breasts weigh a vast 15.8lbs each, and combined, tip the scales at 31.6lbs - the weight of an average toddler. On one hand, they present a hazard, particularly in the kitchen. 'Sometimes they get in the pot, sometimes they get in the pan, sometimes they get caught on the burner,' she admits. On the other hand, they are mighty useful. Kristy's cleavage is so deep that she uses it in absence of a handbag, wedging her perfume, cell phone, car keys and driving licence between her breasts... Kristy makes an much as $1,300 daily, treating clients to the 'Happy Man Works', which involves 'squishing' and 'smothering' them with her breasts. Some clients even enjoy 'being hit over the head' with them, or have her glide over their bodies covered in oil. 'I have to keep an eye out when I'm squashing someone,' she explained. 'I look at their feet and their fingers to make sure there is still movement there and they’re still breathing.'"

Poor Little Rich Women - NYTimes.com - "I met the women I came to call the Glam SAHMs, for glamorous stay-at-home-moms, of my new habitat. My culture shock was immediate and comprehensive. In a country where women now outpace men in college completion, continue to increase their participation in the labor force and make gains toward equal pay, it was a shock to discover that the most elite stratum of all is a glittering, moneyed backwater... The worldwide ethnographic data is clear: The more stratified and hierarchical the society, and the more sex segregated, the lower the status of women"

Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government - "Why does public conflict over societal risks persist in the face of compelling and widely accessible scientific evidence? We conducted an experiment to probe two alternative answers: the “Science Comprehension Thesis” (SCT), which identifies defects in the public’s knowledge and reasoning capacities as the source of such controversies; and the “Identity-protective Cognition Thesis” (ICT) which treats cultural conflict as disabling the faculties that members of the public use to make sense of decision-relevant science. In our experiment, we presented subjects with a difficult problem that turned on their ability to draw valid causal inferences from empirical data. As expected, subjects highest in Numeracy — a measure of the ability and disposition to make use of quantitative information — did substantially better than less numerate ones when the data were presented as results from a study of a new skin-rash treatment. Also as expected, subjects’ responses became politically polarized — and even less accurate — when the same data were presented as results from the study of a gun-control ban. But contrary to the prediction of SCT, such polarization did not abate among subjects highest in Numeracy; instead, it increased. This outcome supported ICT, which predicted that more Numerate subjects would use their quantitative-reasoning capacity selectively to conform their interpretation of the data to the result most consistent with their political outlooks. We discuss the theoretical and practical significance of these findings."
For both Liberal Democrats and Conservative Republicans, better Numeracy skills did not help them reach the correct conclusions on an ideologically-charged issue - rationality is cancelled out by ideology/emotion.
One implication is that technocracy is not necessarily effective - unless you can find ideologically neutral (or at least ideologically diverse) technocrats

Kindly Inquisitors, Revisited

Kindly Inquisitors, Revisited

"Today, what I called in 1993 "the new attacks on free thought" are no longer new. The regulation of speech deemed hateful or discriminatory or harassing has spread internationally and dug in domestically. In the United States, hate-speech laws as such are unconstitutional. But indirect, bureaucratic prohibitions have burrowed into workplaces and universities. Federal law holds employers civilly liable for permitting the workplace to become a "hostile environment"-a fuzzy concept which has been stretched to include, for example, a Bible verse printed on a paycheck (could upset an atheist) or a Seventh-Day Adventist's discussion of religion ("religious harassment" because it "depressed" a plaintiff)...

Brandeis University found a professor guilty of racial harassment for explaining the origin of the word wetbacks. But the idea that minority rights justify speech codes and quasi-judicial inquisitions is barely controversial among academic administrators. History will someday wonder how the very people who should have been most protective of intellectual freedom took such a wrong turn.

Abroad, without a First Amendment to act as a buffer, direct government restrictions on hate speech have become the norm, enacted by many countries and encouraged by several human rights treaties... The United States and Hungary, according to the British political theorist Bhikhu Parekh, are the only countries which have recently resisted the trend to ban hate speech...

Version 2.0 of the case for bans on speech relies less on metaphorical notions like "words that wound" and "verbal violence," which could mean almost anything. Instead it looks to a narrower hostile-environment doctrine which justifies penalties only in relatively extreme cases, such as when speech seems likely to create a pervasively demeaning or threatening social environment for recently persecuted minorities, denying them (the theory goes) equal status as fully protected citizens...

I don't think Version 2.0 has succeeded in answering the challenges that I and others have posed. It has not demonstrated that hate speech silences minorities, rather than mobilizing or energizing them; it has not shown that restrictions ameliorate hate or silence haters, rather than intensifying hate and publicizing haters. It has not figured out how to make political authorities interpret and enforce political restrictions apolitically, or how to prevent majorities and authorities from turning restrictions to majoritarian and authoritarian ends. It does not reckon the cost of overdeterrence and of chilling important but controversial conversations; or the cost of stereotyping minorities as vulnerable and defenseless; or the cost of denying the agency of the listener, who, after all, can choose how to react to the maunderings of haters. It has yet to enunciate a limiting principle. Why, after all, stop with speech deemed harmful to minorities, when there is so much other socially harmful speech in the world? Doesn't it harm society to let climate-change deniers yammer on?...

Society benefits from the toleration of hate speech, and so do targeted minorities...

The case for hate-speech prohibitions mistakes the cart for the horse, imagining that anti-hate laws are a cause of toleration when they are almost always a consequence. In democracies, minorities do not get fair, enforceable legal protections until after majorities have come around to supporting them. By the time a community is ready to punish intolerance legally, it will already be punishing intolerance culturally. At that point, turning haters into courtroom martyrs is unnecessary and often counterproductive.

In any case, we can be quite certain that hate-speech laws did not change America's attitude toward its gay and lesbian minority, because there were no hate-speech laws. Today, firm majorities accept the morality of homosexuality, know and esteem gay people, and endorse gay unions and families...

To appeal to a country's conscience, you need an antagonist. Suppression of anti-gay speech and thought, had it been conceivable at the time, would have slowed the country's moral development, not speeded it. It would have given the illusion that the job was finished when, in fact, the job was only beginning. It would have condescended to a people fighting for respect...

You cannot be gay in America today and doubt that moral learning is real and that the open society fosters it. And so, 20 years on, I feel more confident than ever that the answer to bias and prejudice is pluralism, not purism. The answer, that is, is not to try to legislate bias and prejudice out of existence or to drive them underground, but to pit biases and prejudices against each other and make them fight in the open. That is how, in the crucible of rational criticism, superstition and moral error are burned away.

I believe the hope of living in a world free of discrimination and prejudice is a utopian pipe dream, and is as anti-human and dangerous as most other utopian pipe dreams. The quest to stamp out discrimination or bigotry or racism wherever it appears is a quest to force all opinion into a single template. I reject the premise-not just the methods-of the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which calls on signatory countries to prohibit "all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred." In my view, if minorities know what is good for us, we should at every turn support pluralism, with all its social messiness and personal hurt. Politicians and activists, however well intentioned, who would shelter us from criticism and debate offer false comfort.

History shows that, over time and probably today more than ever, the more open the intellectual environment, the better minorities will do. It is just about that simple. So here is a reply to advocates of hate-speech regulation who wonder if, today, it really serves any purpose to let people go around touting The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The answer is yes, it does. We cannot fight hate and fraud without seeing them and debunking them. John Stuart Mill, writing in On Liberty in 1859, was right. "Wrong opinions and practices gradually yield to fact and argument: but facts and arguments, to produce any effect on the mind, must be brought before it."

Today I fear that many people on my side of the gay-equality question are forgetting our debt to the system that freed us. Some gay people-not all, not even most, but quite a few-want to expunge discriminatory views. "Discrimination is discrimination and bigotry is bigotry," they say, "and they are intolerable whether or not they happen to be someone's religion or moral creed"...

Those of us in the gay-rights movement-and in other minority-rights movements... should be the last people on the planet to demand that anyone be silenced.

Partly the reasons are strategic. Robust intellectual exchange serves our interest. Our greatest enemy is not irrational hate, which is pretty uncommon. It is rational hate, hate premised upon falsehood. (If you believe homosexuality poses a threat to your children, you will hate it.) The main way we eliminate hate is not to legislate or inveigh against it, but to replace it-with knowledge, empirical and ethical. That was how Frank Kameny and a few other people, without numbers or law or public sympathy on their side, turned hate on its head. They had arguments, and they had the right to make them.

And partly the reasons are moral. Gay people have lived in a world where we were forced, day in and day out, to betray our consciences and shut our mouths in the name of public morality. Not so long ago, everybody thought we were wrong. Now our duty is to protect others' freedom to be wrong, the better to ensure society's odds of being right. Of course, we can and should correct the falsehoods we hear and, once they are debunked, deny them the standing of knowledge in textbooks and professions; but we equally have the responsibility to defend their expression as opinion in the public square...

Minorities are the point of the spear defending liberal science. We are the first to be targeted with vile words and ideas, but we are also the leading beneficiaries of a system which puts up with them. The open society is sometimes a cross we bear, but it is also a sword we wield, and we are defenseless without it.

We ought to remember what Frank Kameny never forgot: For politically weak minorities, the best and often only way to effect wholesale change in the world of politics is by effecting change in the world of ideas. Our position as beneficiaries of the open society requires us to serve as guardians of it. Playing that role, not seeking government protections or hauling our adversaries before star chambers, is the greater source of our dignity.

Frank Kameny, an irascible man with a capacious conscience, had it right. In more than 50 years of activism, he never called for silencing or punishing those he disagreed with, but he never cut them any argumentative slack, either. In his spirit, I hope that when gay people-and non-gay people-encounter hateful or discriminatory opinions, we respond not by trying to silence or punish them but by trying to correct them."

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Links - 10th June 2015

Women tortured man by burning hair tongs and lighter on to his genitals - "Earles, of Scarborough, was spared a jail sentence because she had spent five months on remand and was 'clearly a troubled woman with a history of psychological difficulties'. She was given a two-year community order with supervision, ordered to attend the Women's Community Project in Scarborough for a 20-day course, and made to pay a £60 victim surcharge. Teale, of Malton, was jailed for 12 months for actual bodily harm, burglary and the handling offence. Lilley, of Scarborough, was given a two-year community order with supervision and 100 hours' unpaid work. White was also given a two-year community punishment and ordered to take part in a 16-day course at the Women's Community Project."
If it'd been 3 men assaulting a woman...

Florida church loses tax-exempt status over raunchy ‘wet-n-wild’ spring break ‘twerking’ parties - "Club Amnesia’s since-deleted Facebook page advertised raves, pajama and lingerie “slumber” parties, and “anything but clothes” paint parties."

Parkinson's law of triviality - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - "Parkinson's law of triviality, also known as bikeshedding, bike-shed effect, or the bicycle-shed example, is C. Northcote Parkinson's 1957 argument that organisations give disproportionate weight to trivial issues. Parkinson observed and illustrated that a committee whose job is to approve plans for a nuclear power plant spent the majority of its time with pointless discussions on relatively trivial and unimportant but easy-to-grasp issues, such as what materials to use for the staff bike-shed, while neglecting the less-trivial proposed design of the nuclear power plant itself, which is far more important but also a far more difficult and complex task to criticise constructively."

10 signs that you’ve become an auntie - "8. You have more handbags instead of schoolbags
Nike becomes Coach. Adidas becomes LV."

Slow jogging or fast running? Tortoise outlives hare in new sports study

Finally: A Wearable That Lets You Charge Your Gadgets by Jerking Off

Russian man has testicles STOLEN after he's drugged by woman working for organ traffickers

Michigan woman fatally shoots self while adjusting bra holster - "A 55-year-old town official from Michigan died after shooting herself in the eye while attempting to adjust her bra holster"

Singapore Botanic Gardens recommended for World Heritage Site inscription by panel - "If the Botanic Gardens is successfully inscribed, it will join two other Unesco-listed gardens: The 1759 Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England, and the 1545 Orto botanico di Padova in Padua, Italay (sic)... He noted that the Gardens is already favoured among locals and visitors, but added: "Just like any Unesco site, tourists would deliberately include the Gardens as part of their itinerary and it will become another avenue to promote Singapore if the bid is successful.""
It is obvious what the least impressive of the 3 is

Man gets six years' corrective training for serial theft and wearing only g-string in public - "A man who went on a six-month crime spree which included theft and appearing nude in public was sentenced to six years' corrective training on Thursday. In one incident last September, Loh Tzu Chye, 35, was spotted running towards Block 333 Kreta Ayer Road at 1.45am, wearing only an orange G-string, a type of underwear which exposes the buttocks. Under the law, appearing nude includes being dressed in a way which offends public decency or order."
In Singapore nude isn't nude
If I'm offended by women in bikini tops and hot shorts can I make a police report?

Squatch Says — They were really going for authenticity with these... - "They were really going for authenticity with these posters weren’t they?"

“Deflowering” services for virgin women are now a thing in Japan, apparently - "He claims to have “helped” over 200 women lose their virginity, describing himself as the “Virgin Master” whose services are “100% guaranteed pain-free”."

What's on Captain America's To-Do List Across the Globe? - "While the first five items are exclusive to individual territories, the last five items on Cap's to-do list are the same in every country. They are "Thai Food," "Star Wars/Trek," "Nirvana (band)," "Rocky (Rocky II?)," and the current addition, "Troubleman (soundtrack)." See, we're not all that different after all."

General Sisi and the death of democracy - "Egypt is one issue on which the human-rights industry - all those observers, international lawyers and NGOs who normally love telling anyone who will listen how outraged they are by foreign tyrants - are at worst silent and at best sheepishly critical... Last August, following Sisi’s military coup against Morsi, Islamists who had voted for Morsi took to the streets to demand his reinstatement. They were massacred in their hundreds. It is estimated that at least 1,000 were killed, ‘probably more than the number killed in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square’... A writer for the New York Times said the election of Morsi in 2012 showed that the Egyptian masses ‘lack the mental equipment to govern’. A writer for the UK Daily Mail said Morsi’s victory confirmed that ‘elections merely empower tyrannical regimes’. A columnist for USA Today said it would be better to have ‘a return to dynastic rule in Egypt’ than to have one unpredictable election after another"

China’s poor treated to fake rice made from plastic: report

42 Principles Of God Maat 2000 Years Before Ten Commandments - "Moses was, assuming he existed, an Egyptian. He supposedly grew up believing he was not Hebrew and was taught about, and believed in, the Egyptian Gods and Goddesses. It can be concluded, then, that Moses must have known about Maat and the 42 Principles."

If leftwingers like me are condemned as rightwing, then what’s left? - "The more politics becomes about identity, the less it becomes about the back and forth of rational argument... My stance on these issues makes some people in my “tribe” very angry. It is the anger of the pure believer towards the apostate... that’s what the mainstream left specialises in: generating shame. This shame comes from the phenomenon of what I call assumption creep – the assumption that if you believe one thing you probably believe another thing, which you are hiding. If you believe women behave differently in the real world from men, whether for cultural or biological reasons, you also (secretly) believe women are more suited for domestic life than careers."

Hating the Daily Mail is a substitute for doing good - "It’s noticeable how often virtue signalling consists of saying you hate things. It is camouflage. The emphasis on hate distracts from the fact you are really saying how good you are. If you were frank and said, ‘I care about the environment more than most people do’ or ‘I care about the poor more than others’, your vanity and self-aggrandisement would be obvious, as it is with Whole Foods. Anger and outrage disguise your boastfulness. One of the occasions when expressions of hate are not used is when people say they are passionate believers in the NHS. Note the use of the word ‘belief’. This is to shift the issue away from evidence about which healthcare system results in the greatest benefit for the greatest number of people. The speaker does not want to get into facts or evidence. He or she wishes to demonstrate kindness — the desire that all people, notably the poor, should have access to ‘the best’ healthcare. The virtue lies in the wish. But hatred waits in reserve even with the NHS. ‘The Tories want to privatise the NHS!’ you assert angrily. Gosh, you must be virtuous to be so cross!... No one actually has to do anything. Virtue comes from mere words or even from silently held beliefs. There was a time in the distant past when people thought you could only be virtuous by doing things: by helping the blind man across the road; looking after your elderly parents instead of dumping them in a home; staying in a not-wholly-perfect marriage for the sake of the children. These things involve effort and self-sacrifice. That sounds hard! Much more convenient to achieve virtue by expressing hatred of those who think the health service could be improved by introducing competition. In the jargon of economics, the assertion of moral superiority is a ‘positional good’ — a way of differentiating yourself from others... Twitter lends itself very well to virtue signalling, since it is much easier to express anger and scorn in 140 characters than to make a reasoned argument"
Addendum: This is now called "The awful rise of ‘virtue signalling’"
Additional extracts: "as Kristian Niemietz of the Institute of Economic Affairs has observed, one difficulty about positional goods is that others may encroach on your ‘position’. If George Osborne says he wants a higher minimum wage, then to keep your ‘positional good’ as a person who cares more about the low-paid than others, you have to demand a higher minimum wage. So there is a bidding war. If he wants £7, you want £8. If he wants £8, then you up the stakes to £8.50 or — to hell with it! — £10! You will not be outbid when it comes to your kindness... Mild forms of virtue bidding wars have entered daily life. People now sometimes say to each other, ‘Have a great evening!’ These people are effortlessly showing themselves more generous and warm-hearted than those who only wish us a ‘good’ evening. I recently got an email wishing me a ‘fantastic’ evening. What next? ‘Ecstatic’? ‘Orgasmic’? There was a time when Britain had a form of Christianity in which pride was considered a sin. Maybe that is part of why some of us find all this virtue signalling obnoxious"

David Mamet: Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal' - "I found not only that I didn't trust the current government (that, to me, was no surprise), but that an impartial review revealed that the faults of this president—whom I, a good liberal, considered a monster—were little different from those of a president whom I revered. Bush got us into Iraq, JFK into Vietnam. Bush stole the election in Florida; Kennedy stole his in Chicago. Bush outed a CIA agent; Kennedy left hundreds of them to die in the surf at the Bay of Pigs. Bush lied about his military service; Kennedy accepted a Pulitzer Prize for a book written by Ted Sorenson. Bush was in bed with the Saudis, Kennedy with the Mafia. Oh. And I began to question my hatred for "the Corporations"—the hatred of which, I found, was but the flip side of my hunger for those goods and services they provide and without which we could not live. And I began to question my distrust of the "Bad, Bad Military" of my youth, which, I saw, was then and is now made up of those men and women who actually risk their lives to protect the rest of us from a very hostile world. Is the military always right? No. Neither is government, nor are the corporations—they are just different signposts for the particular amalgamation of our country into separate working groups, if you will. Are these groups infallible, free from the possibility of mismanagement, corruption, or crime? No, and neither are you or I. So, taking the tragic view, the question was not "Is everything perfect?" but "How could it be better, at what cost, and according to whose definition?" Put into which form, things appeared to me to be unfolding pretty well."

Matt Ruins Feminisms Shit (Silicon Valley Dialogue That DemonstratesThe Fallacy Of Affirmative Action) - "Richard: “Okay just to be clear, our top priority is to hire the most qualified person available right?”
Jared: “Of Course.”
Dinesh: “But it would be better if that someone was a woman…even though the woman part of that statement is irrelevant?”
Jared: “Exactly, it’s like we’re the Beatles and now we just need Yoko.”
Dinesh: “That’s the worst example you could have used.”
Jared: “We want to hire the best people, who happen to be women. Regardless of whether or not they are women, that part is irrelevant.”"

What can happen even when a minority has "power"

Liberals like to talk about protecting the rights of "minorities", and are instinctively sympathetic towards them.

Technically, Christians are a minority in Singapore. According to the Census of Population 2010, Christians make up 18% of Singapore's population.

Naturally, this calls into question why they, in Singapore, are a favourite Liberal punching bag.

The followup claim is, then, that a "minority" is also defined by "power".

To which the following comes to mind:

"Jews were never a large percentage of the total German population; at no time did they exceed 1.09 percent of the population during the years 1871-1933...

They were overrepresented in business, commerce, and public and private service... They owned 41% of iron and scrap iron firms and 57% of other metal businesses... They were especially visible in private banking in Berlin, which in 1923 had 150 private (versus state) Jewish banks, as opposed to only 11 private non-Jewish banks...

Jews were very active in the stock market, particularly in Berlin, where in 1928 they comprised 80 percent of the leading members of the stock exchange. By 1933, when the Nazis began eliminating Jews from prominent positions, 85 percent of the brokers on the Berlin Stock exchange were dismissed because of their "race"...

In 1905-1906 Jewish students comprised 25 percent of the law and medical students and 34 percent of the graduate students in philosophy... Jews were in general more highly educated than non-Jews... between 1905 and 1931 ten of the thirty-two Germans who received Nobel prizes for contributions to science were Jews. Because of their success at attaining high levels of scholarship, Jews were extremely overrepresented among the leading and middle positions in commerce, banking, joint-stock companies, the stock market, the civil service, and the free professions...

In 1931, 50 percent of the 234 theater directors in Germany were Jewish, and in Berlin the number was 80 percent; 75 percent of the plays produced in 1930 were written by Jews; the leading theater critics were Jewish; and a large number of prominent actresses and actors were Jewish... Even in 1881 Jews comprised 9 percent of all journalists, and this percentage increased very substantially by 1933...

In 1905 Jews comprised nearly 5 percent of the total Berlin population, yet they represented over 14 percent of all residents liable for an income tax of more than 21 marks... By 1929 it was estimated that the per capita income of Jews in Berlin was twice that of other Berlin residents...

In twenty-nine other Prussian cities Jews paid between three and nine times the taxes of non-Jews; higher taxes were also paid in non-Prussian cities. For Germany ass a whole, Jews paid an average of nearly 4 percent of the income tax, or over four times their percentage in the population"

--- Hitler, Germans, and the Jewish Question / Sarah Ann Gordon

Keywords: Jews were overrepresented, steel, industry, professionals, owners, theatre, factories, 1930s

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Change the System

"Don't like ISIS?
Join them and change the system from within"

On the Singaporean kids' deaths on Mount Kinabalu

"It hurts me to acknowledge that society at its current state, gives more fuck about the inevitable than the preventable.

Deaths from the quake is something of a necessity, a product of Fate. Because we are not omniscient beings, we could not have anticipate these natural calamities. It is no one's fault.

But children dying from preventable diseases is an ongoing event. To see the problem persist for one more day is truly lamentable.

So forgive me if I do not partake in Social Sensitivity. Spinoza once said that freedom is knowledge. He means to say that when you appreciate the inevitability and the futility of Nature, you become liberated. I interpret that to mean that sometimes, when things that I know I am powerless to overcome, or when humanity is pit against Fortune, if the odds don't work out in my favor, I don't have to feel guilty or grief because it is just the way it has to be. No amount of grieving or depression will negate or transform reality."

Links - 9th June 2015

500 S’porean men, women & children start volunteer army to protect MINDEF from online harassment | New Nation - "Concerned that the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) is unable to sufficiently protect itself from repeated online harassment, 500 Singaporean men, women and children have started a volunteer army unit to help stave off any further intimidation... One of the local men, Jin Seow Onn, who is chief commander of the volunteer army, said he, his wife and three children were deeply moved by the plight of MINDEF after reading about it in the news detailing its struggle to put up a resistance against an online website run by a handful of volunteers: “I cannot sit idly by as MINDEF is getting cyber assaulted by shadowy, nebulous figures on the Internet,” he said as he wiped the tears of patriotic anguish from his eyes... Other Singaporean men said MINDEF’s struggle at fending for itself is proof that Total Defence is a mindset that needs to be cultivated from young."

10 things Singapore does better than anywhere else - "8. Street food for wimps
While Singapore has more than its share of international celebrity chef restaurants, there's also cheap food everywhere. Yes, other places lay claim to great street fare but Singapore has a more orderly (of course) approach. Translation: If you're a bit of a street food wimp, this is the place to try it."

The Economist explains: Why so many Dutch people work part time | The Economist - "the high prevalence of part-time jobs is largely down to the wide availability of good quality, well-paid “first tier” part-time jobs in the Netherlands: jobs often considered inferior in many other countries."

It is about being respectful to my religion Storm of controversy over sign banning Muslim staff from washing their feet in city office public toilet before their daily prayers - "Paul Culbi from Jamesons, the strata managers of the building, said the cartoon was 'racist, defamatory and a breach of owner corporation guidelines'."

Norwegian sex-ed show teaches kids how to French kiss and masturbate
If a parent taught a child how to masturbate that would probably be considered sexual abuse

Our national nightmare is brought to life in Star Wars: The Binks Awakens parody

If the Fish Liver Can’t Kill, Is It Really a Delicacy? - New York Times - "Thanks to advances in fugu research and farming, Japanese fish farmers are now mass-producing fugu as harmless as goldfish. Most important, they have taken the poison out of fugu’s liver, considered both its most delicious and potentially most lethal part, one whose consumption has left countless Japanese dead over the centuries and whose sale remains illegal in the country. But what could be seen as potential good news for gourmands has instead been grounds for controversy: powerful interests in the fugu industry, playing on lingering safety fears, are fighting to keep the ban on fugu livers even from poison-free fish."

Spare a thought for the Western men trapped in Japan - "According to a survey conducted by OZmall, a popular Japanese women’s information site, 72 percent of women would not be willing to marry “without money” — presumably meaning a case where the couple concerned had no money to speak of between the two of them... Sebastian, a 32-year-old university student with several part-time jobs and 12 years of service in the German Federal Armed Forces, discovered this disconnect the hard way when a Japanese girlfriend he had been together with for a year and had proposed to dumped him because he had “no future.” According to her, his Japanese major was not a promise of a successful career and, not being a native speaker of English, he could not secure teaching jobs. “Why is it always about money?” he asks. To borrow from the headline of a past column by Kaori Shoji from these pages, “Marriage has little to do with romantic love.” No wonder foreign husbands often complain about Japanese women suddenly transforming from sweet and cute girlfriends into shufu — professional housewives emotionally and physically distant from their husbands and fully devoted to their children and home. Men can be sidelined when it comes to participation in child-rearing and other home-related matters, such as controlling the family budget. As opposed to a safe haven from the pressures of work, marriage can become an additional source of stress for men."
Followup: Do Western men have it bad in Japan? Readers discuss

Is Africa fated to be a metaphor of disaster? - "Why is Africa perennially announced to the world as a problem, but African voices hardly feature in analyzing their continent, in charting the path out of crises? Why is the EU meeting, speaking and setting the agenda on Africa’s latest graveyard in the Mediterranean, but the AU remains staunchly taciturn? Why are Brussels, London, Rome and Paris pronouncing on the hordes of African desperadoes staking everything to reach Europe while the tongues of Abuja, Pretoria, and N’Djamena remain cold, stilled?... "The prediction of Africa’s imminent collapse is a long-founded cottage industry. Africans will once again outlive the current frenzy of dour prophecies and gloomy forecasts.” These days, watching events in South Africa, watching images of Africans flailing and drowning in the Mediterranean in their thousands, one isn’t so certain about the sense of confidence."

How Can There Still Be a Sex Difference, Even When There Is No Sex Difference? - ""genetic mosaicism" of women's brains may lead to an interesting sex difference that spans many different traits: men show more within-sex variability than do women. This means that there can be a sex difference between men and women on a trait even when their group averages are the same... This finding of greater male variability in IQ scores has been replicated with many different populations and in more modern times"

Daniel Radosh's Rapture Ready! - "Show a kid a Christian comedian, and soon he's likely to discover that the guy is a pale imitation of this much funnier guy—Jon Stewart—who's not a Christian at all, and doesn't even like Christians. Which might then lead to a whole new set of anxieties, such as: Why are Christians so constitutionally unfunny? And, what is the point of Christian culture, anyway? In the '80s, Christians were known as the boycotters, refusing to see movies or buy products that offended them. They felt about commercial culture much the way a Marxist might: that it was a decadent glorification of money and meaningless human relationships. Then, sometime during the '90s, when conservative evangelicals started coming out of their shells, they took a different tack. The boycotters became coopters and embarked on the curious quest to enlist America's crassest material culture in the service of spiritual growth... Every American pop phenomenon has its Christian equivalent, no matter how improbable... There are Christian raves and Christian rappers and Christian techno, which is somehow more Christian even though there are no words. There are Christian comedians who put on a Christian version of Punk'd, called Prank 3:16. There are Christian sex-advice sites where you can read the biblical case for a strap-on dildo or bondage (liberation through submission)... When you make loving Christ sound just like loving your boyfriend, you can do damage to both your faith and your ballad... "Christian subculture was nothing but a commercialized rip-off of the mainstream, done with wretched quality and an apocryphal insistence on the sanitization of reality""

How Ignorant Are Americans? - "The current conflict over government spending illustrates the new dangers of ignorance. Every economist knows how to deal with the debt: cost-saving reforms to big-ticket entitlement programs; cuts to our bloated defense budget; and (if growth remains slow) tax reforms designed to refill our depleted revenue coffers. But poll after poll shows that voters have no clue what the budget actually looks like. A 2010 World Public Opinion survey found that Americans want to tackle deficits by cutting foreign aid from what they believe is the current level (27 percent of the budget) to a more prudent 13 percent. The real number is under 1 percent. A Jan. 25 CNN poll, meanwhile, discovered that even though 71 percent of voters want smaller government, vast majorities oppose cuts to Medicare (81 percent), Social Security (78 percent), and Medicaid (70 percent). Instead, they prefer to slash waste—a category that, in their fantasy world, seems to include 50 percent of spending, according to a 2009 Gallup poll. Needless to say, it’s impossible to balance the budget by listening to these people. But politicians pander to them anyway, and even encourage their misapprehensions. As a result, we’re now arguing over short-term spending cuts that would cost up to 700,000 government jobs, imperiling the shaky recovery and impairing our ability to compete globally, while doing nothing to tackle the long-term fiscal challenges that threaten … our ability to compete globally... James Fishkin has been conducting experiments in deliberative democracy. The premise is simple: poll citizens on a major issue, blind; then see how their opinions evolve when they’re forced to confront the facts. What Fishkin has found is that while people start out with deep value disagreements over, say, government spending, they tend to agree on rational policy responses once they learn the ins and outs of the budget. “The problem is ignorance, not stupidity”"

This Is Not "Fuck You" in Japanese Sign Language

Love, and Gay Marriage - "I don’t come to my understanding of marriage because, as some will undoubtedly assume, because I am a “bigot,” or have animus toward gays and lesbians. I have been reflecting on the issue in a philosophical and historical way for more than a decade now... I love my sister not for (or against) her sexuality, but for her total personality, which includes humor, intelligence, beauty, kindness, and generosity. In a word, I love her character. Mary and I live in a pluralist age when people of goodwill often hold radically different views. This calls, I think, for tolerance of the old-fashioned kind, not persecution of those who differ...tolerance calls for civility despite differences. At root, I believe it calls for love...
I had a conservative upbringing in South Louisiana, where “coming out” was reserved for debutante balls... Despite many conversations and attempts at persuasion, they still insist on buying pure-breed dogs. They are doing something that we, on moral grounds, wouldn’t do ourselves. So are we required to hate them, or their dogs? Should we refuse to associate with them, and wish them ill? Of course not. Our views are in a certain sense independent of our friends and family; and while we wish they agreed with us, we accept that they sometimes won’t, no matter what we say to them... Of course being gay is a huge part of who I am, but it’s definitely not all that I am... I choose at once to love my sister and disagree with her on gay marriage
Should vegetarians hate meat-eaters?

Muslim man argues he cannot serve on jury as religion forbids him from judging others - Telegraph

North Korea executes defence chief with an anti-aircraft gun: South Korea agency - "Hyon Yong Chol, who headed the isolated nuclear-capable country's military, was charged with treason, including disobeying Kim and falling asleep during an event at which North Korea's young leader was present"
Do the crime, serve the time!

Why So Many People Care So Much About Others' Sex Lives - "Casual sex is psychologically good for you if you if think it’s acceptable, but not if you don’t... promiscuity—by both men and women—is more likely to be considered a moral violation in places where women are economically dependent on men... We’ve evolved to consider sex, the researchers argue, as a game of finite resources. For our ancestors, multiple sexual partners meant things could get knotty when it came to proving whose kids were whose. For women who depended on men for their livelihoods (and the livelihoods of their offspring), that uncertainty meant losing out on the support of their male partners. Bad news. For men, it meant investing in the well-being of children they hadn’t necessarily fathered. Also bad news. The connection between sexual behavior and morality, then, may have come about as a way of keeping a gender-based social order intact... women, in particular, are hardwired to slut-shame out of self-interest"

'I was bashed with a dildo by man in leather mask' - "AN Andergrove mother was bludgeoned with a rubber dildo wrapped in duct tape by a home invader who also killed her little pet dog by strapping it up to a palm tree in a public park"

Monday, June 08, 2015

Throw off oppression!

"I am already against:
The next war
The next bill
The next tax
The next stimulus
The next violation of my rights
The next president"
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