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Saturday, July 04, 2015

Euthanasia and the Slippery Slope (links)

The role of nurses in physician-assisted deaths in Belgium - "By administering the life-ending drugs in some of the cases of euthanasia, and in almost half of the cases without an explicit request from the patient, the nurses in our study operated beyond the legal margins of their profession."
Slippery slope is a logical fallacy, they said.
Amusingly, some people claim that because in almost half of cases there was some form of discussion of the patients' or relatives' wishes, involuntary euthanasia is not an issue

Physician-assisted deaths under the euthanasia law in Belgium: a population-based survey - "208 deaths involving the use of life-ending drugs were reported: 142 (weighted prevalence 2.0%) were with an explicit patient request (euthanasia or assisted suicide) and 66 (weighted prevalence 1.8%) were without an explicit request"
Addendum: One cope I've gotten from pro-euthanasia people is that even if there was no explicit request, the topic was discussed so this is good. But "Of the deaths without an explicit request, the decision was not discussed with the patient in 77.9% of cases."

Euthanasia: the horrifying slippery slope - "In Belgium, which legalised euthanasia in 2002, there has been a 500% increase in euthanasia deaths over ten years between 2003 and 2012. High profile cases include Mark and Eddy Verbessem, the 45-year-old deaf identical twins, who were euthanised by the Belgian state, after their eyesight began to fail; then there is Nathan/Nancy Verhelst, whose life was ended in front of TV cameras, after a series of botched sex-change operations. His mother said she hated girls, found her child 'so ugly' at birth and did not mourn his death. And then there is Ann G, who had anorexia and who opted to have her life ended after being sexually abused by the psychiatrist who was supposed to be treating her for the life-threatening condition... Already in parts of Belgium one in three cases of euthanasia is involuntary and half go unreported. And there has been not one prosecution for abuses in the last ten years – perhaps because the one of the lead euthanasia practitioners – Distelmans – chairs the very committee that is meant to regulate his activity... Dignitas has attracted much criticism in recent years over accounts of discarded cremation urns dumped in Lake Zurich, reports of body bags in residential lifts, suicides being carried out in car parks, the selling of the personal effects of deceased victims and profiteering with fees approaching £8,000 per death... notable are two people with cancer – Randy Stroup and Barbara Wagner – who were told that the Oregon Health Authority would not pay for their chemotherapy but would happily pay for their assisted suicide – which was of course much cheaper... We have seen this already with abortion. We began with a very strict law which allowed it only in limited circumstances. Now there are 200,000 cases a year... And only one conviction for illegal abortion in 45 years."

Boer: I was wrong — euthanasia has a slippery slope - "In 2007, I wrote that “there doesn’t need to be a slippery slope when it comes to euthanasia. A good euthanasia law, in combination with the euthanasia review procedure, provides the warrants for a stable and relatively low number of euthanasia.” Most of my colleagues drew the same conclusion. But we were wrong — terribly wrong, in fact... Under the name End of Life Clinic, the Dutch Right to Die Society NVVE founded a network of travelling euthanizing doctors. Whereas the law presupposes (but does not require) an established doctor-patient relationship, in which death might be the end of a period of treatment and interaction, doctors of the End of Life Clinic have only two options: administer life-ending drugs or send the patient away... Whereas in the first years after 2002, hardly any patients with psychiatric illnesses or dementia appear in reports, these numbers are now sharply on the rise. Cases have been reported in which a large part of the suffering of those given euthanasia or assisted suicide consisted of being aged, lonely or bereaved. Some of these patients could have lived for years or decades. Whereas the law sees assisted suicide and euthanasia as an exception, public opinion is shifting toward considering them rights, with corresponding duties on doctors to act. A law that is now in the making obliges doctors who refuse to administer euthanasia to refer their patients to a “willing” colleague. Pressure on doctors to conform to patients’ (or in some cases, relatives’) wishes can be intense"

Belgian serial rapist will not be euthanised - Telegraph - "The Belgian serial rapist and murderer will not be killed later this week after doctors pulled out of of the euthanasia procedure. Frank Van den Bleeken was to be granted his wish to die by a medical euthasia procedure in the infirmary of Bruges prison on Sunday until doctors withdrew, it is thought, on legal grounds... Following Van den Bleeken’s successful demand for euthanasia on the grounds that his life sentence was causing him “unbearable psychological suffering” Belgium is to introduce a special institution for long stay prisoners... It is known that 15 other Belgian prisoners had also demanded euthanasia on the same grounds... Belgium has seen a fast growth in the number of cases of euthanasia, and has expanded the practice beyond terminally ill adults. It can now be used in cases of intense pain and psychological distress, while last February the right to euthanasia was extended to terminally ill children, as long as their parents gave consent. In 2013, the last year for which full records have been published, the number of euthanasia cases in Belgium rose to 1,807, up 27 per cent on the year before. More than a third of euthanasia cases are in those under 60, and although the vast majority of approvals are given to those in unrelievable physical pain or terminally ill, 67 cases last year cited psychological grounds, including dementia and psychosis"

Belgium’s insane right-to-die laws - "We have here a peculiar inversion of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. In the novel, a self-diagnosis of insanity demonstrated sanity; in Van Den Bleeken’s case, though he was declared insane and therefore not responsible for his actions, his wish to kill himself is somehow seen as sensible and reasoned. This is despite the fact that he himself argues that he is too mentally ill ever to be freed from prison. Carine Brochier, a project manager with the Brussels-based European Institute of Bioethics, is surely right to say that if the original sentence was correct, Van Den Bleeken should not be allowed to die but should instead receive proper treatment... What does it say about the Belgian justice system when prisoners may singlehandedly overturn the will of parliament, which has decided that particular sentences fit particular crimes? The motivation behind supporting Van Den Bleeken is ostensibly compassion, but the outcome of Belgium’s liberal experiment is death on demand – for anyone, and for any reason. Even if you’re clinically insane! Because once you admit that death is an appropriate treatment for some, how can you deny it to others? Jaqueline Herremans, president of Belgium’s right-to-die association and government-appointed member of Belgium’s euthanasia commission, said of Van Den Bleeken’s request: ‘Regardless, he’s a human being; a human being who has the right to demand euthanasia.’ So slippery is the slope, it seems, that euthanasia has become a right to be extended to all human beings. The problem at the base of these disturbing events is the collapse of authority in Belgium. As the German daily Die Welt noted after the decision to extend euthanasia to children of any age, Belgium is now a ‘failed state’. A handful of moral entrepreneurs have pushed at an open door allowing situations whereby a prisoner – who has been declared insane and still insists he is insane – both diagnoses himself as incurable and pronounces his own sentence, overturning a ban on executions implemented by parliament. Prepubescent children, whose parents ordinarily tell them what clothes to wear, can now decide they wish to die, and, if they can argue for it consistently, they, too, will be executed."

Quarter of Dutch doctors would provide assisted suicide to those 'tired of living' - "Almost 20% would consider the request even if the patient had no medical grounds for suffering, apart from their lack of enthusiasm for life"

GPs back euthanasia for old people 'tired of life' - "ONE in three GPs in major cities believe people older than 70 who feel "tired of life" should have the right to professional help in ending it, according to a poll conducted for Philip Nitschke's Exit International. More than 33 per cent of 500 doctors surveyed in Sydney (35 per cent), Melbourne (36 per cent) and Adelaide (43 per cent) agreed with the provocative question. In Perth, 28 per cent endorsed it, according to The Australian."

Agra dad wants euthanasia for 6 kids suffering from rare neuro disorder - "In a rare case of a debilitating neurological disorder affecting six kids in the same family, a 42-year-old man, unable to afford treatment for his children, has written to the district collectorate requesting that he be allowed to end the lives of his kids, aged between 8 to 18 years. The daily wage labourer, who earns Rs 5,000 per month, says that even though doctors have told him the disease is curable, he can't afford the expensive treatment and is therefore contemplating the extreme step for his children."

"Female scientists 'too concerned about how they're perceived'"

BBC Radio 4 - Today, 12/06/2015, Female scientists 'too concerned about how they're perceived':

Prof Dame Valerie Beral, director of Oxford University's Cancer Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford:

There's been a lot of research of a certain sorts on that, and it's completely clear that one major reason is that women do not apply for senior jobs.

Women who are equally qualified as men will not apply. And I think there's some truths in what, possibly truths, I mean what I've said so far is factual, but I think that some of the things Tim said have to be thought about, and I think that even though he said them awkwardly and have been misinterpreted, I think, I think they are directly relevant to *something*.

I think women find, I mean very exciting to work in a lab out of university with all these very bright people doing interesting work. But things happen in that context.

As he said, people fall in love, out of love, have affairs, criticise each other - often very intensely. And I think, and I think this is something we really should be thinking about quite seriously, that maybe women really find that sort of environment too difficult to cope with - not intellectually, not intellectually, not work-wise, but emotionally.

I think women are much more likely to take criticism personally, think that there's something wrong with themselves, rather than with, y'know, the work which might've been criticised, and I think this is the problem that we really should be thinking about...

There is this, to me, problem that women don't feel, they're too concerned about the way they're perceived rather than the way their science is perceived...

Caroline Criado-Perez: If it was literally just because of these comments, no I don't think that resigning was absolutely the, the only thing that could be done. I think that we could've, they could've perhaps reviewed the decisions that he was taking, and the positions where he had authority over women's careers.

I think that there is, I do feel slightly concerned over a, the sort of progressive section of society that seems to leap from someone making a comment that we disagree with to immediately they are cast out and ostracised.

Host: It's hounding.

Caroline Criado-Perez: It is hounding.

And I do worry about, well, for two reasons.

One is that, the idea that it is just a couple of bad apples actually I think takes away from what is a structural problem and I don't think it's just about getting rid of a few sexist men.

But also this idea that people can't learn and they can't change and that we can't educate people. And I think that's really what we need to be doing is changing people's minds rather than just saying "You are no good, get out of here"...

Prof Dame Valerie Beral: I've read a lot of things in the last 24 hours and the one thing you really cannot accuse Tim Hunt of being is sexist.

He's very supportive of women in the lab. There's been a lot of online comments of how, how much he's liked and has always been supportive of women.

And it's just, he said very odd things which I absolutely agree sounded terrible and he stood by them in the sense of saying, of honesty. He's sort of scrupulously honest, he said: "Yes, I did say that"...

He just said they're things that happen and that's what happened to me and I confirm that's what happened to me and I think that anyone in any field where there are intense, lots of bright young people working together, it could be in the City, it could be anywhere - have seen these sorts of things happen.

And I just think women take these intense environments a bit too seriously, and if something goes wrong, they take it too personally"

Links - 4th July 2015

For Some, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Falls Short of Expectations in Myanmar - NYTimes.com - "human rights advocates and even members of her political party are raising questions about her performance in the broader political arena. In the four years since she emerged from house arrest as a world-famous champion of democracy, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, 69, has hesitated to take on many of her country’s biggest issues, critics say, and has failed those who expected a staunch human rights advocate. She has instead emphasized a general call for rule of law, a critical issue for a country emerging from a half-century of dictatorship but one, they say, that falls short of addressing particular grievances... Perhaps most surprising of all, she has refused to admonish the government for its harsh policies against the Rohingya Muslim minority... In public comments, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi has equated the plight of the Rohingya with that of the region’s Buddhists, saying that it was important “not to forget violence is committed by both sides.” Human rights advocates, who argue that most of the violence has been committed by the Buddhist majority against the Rohingya minority, say they are astonished that she has abdicated what they see as her moral responsibility to shine a light on obvious human rights abuses"
It is harder to be a politician than an activist

The Gallup Poll - FAQ - "People generally believe the results of polls, but they do not believe in the scientific principles on which polls are based. In a recent Gallup "poll on polls," respondents said that polls generally do a good job of forecasting elections and are accurate when measuring public opinion on other issues. Yet when asked about the scientific sampling foundation on which all polls are based, Americans were skeptical. Most said that a survey of 1,500-2,000 respondents -- a larger than average sample size for national polls -- cannot represent the views of all Americans... Common sense - and sampling theory - tell us that a sample of 1,000 people probably is going to be more accurate than a sample of 20. Surprisingly, however, once the survey sample gets to a size of 500, 600, 700 or more, there are fewer and fewer accuracy gains which come from increasing the sample size. Gallup and other major organizations use sample sizes of between 1,000 and 1,500 because they provide a solid balance of accuracy against the increased economic cost of larger and larger samples. If Gallup were to - quite expensively - use a sample of 4,000 randomly selected adults each time it did its poll, the increase in accuracy over and beyond a well-done sample of 1,000 would be minimal, and generally speaking, would not justify the increase in cost... Anyone using the Gallup Poll can do so with assurance that the data were obtained with extremely careful and reliable sampling and interviewing methods"

Stressed and Depressed, Koreans Avoid Therapy - The New York Times - "“Talking openly about emotional problems is still taboo,” said Dr. Kim Hyong-soo, a psychologist and professor at Chosun University in Kwangju. “With depression, the inclination for Koreans is to just bear with it and get over it,” he said. “If someone goes to a psychoanalyst, they know they’ll be stigmatized for the rest of their life. So they don’t go”... Meanwhile, the suicide rate in South Korea is nothing short of alarming, nearly three times higher than in the United States. The rate here doubled in the decade between 1999 and 2009. Suicide pacts among strangers who meet online is a growing phenomenon. Suicides by drinking pesticides, hanging or jumping from tall buildings are the most common... Consulting a shaman is still common among many Koreans, usually when they come down with the blues, the odd illness or a run of bad luck. Indeed, shamanism has made something of a comeback in South Korea in recent years, with an estimated 300,000 shamans ministering to clients. Many shamans, known as mudang, even operate sophisticated Web sites these days (complete with online fortunetelling), even as they continue to strangle chickens, walk barefoot on razor blades and commune with dead relatives whose spirits reside in trees, chimneys or woodland creatures. “More Koreans see fortunetellers than psychiatrists,” said Dr. Yoon Dae-hyun, a psychiatrist at Seoul National University Hospital and an official with the Korean Association for Suicide Prevention. “Our biggest competitors are fortunetellers and room salons. They certainly make more money than us.” Room salons are after-work clubs frequented by hard-drinking businessmen who select from a bevy of personal hostesses who ply them with expensive drinks and listen to their problems over the course of an evening... Young people in South Korea are certainly unhappy, even chronically so, in part because of ferocious academic pressures that begin early on. A recent survey here found that young Koreans — for the third straight year — were the unhappiest youngsters in a subset of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries."

Are Male Executives Too Nervous to Mentor Younger Women? - "A 2010 study from the Center for Talent Innovation (formerly the Center for Work-Life Policy), found that nearly two-thirds of men in senior positions pulled back from one-on-one contact with junior female employees because of fear of being suspected of having an affair. Meanwhile, half of junior women reported being nervous about one-on-one contact with senior men for the same reason."
Actually, the report says: "Interestingly, sexual politics are less of a barrier to sponsorship in the UK. While 64 percent of senior men in the US are hesitant to have one-on-one contact with junior women for fear of gossip or lawsuits—a sentiment reciprocated by 50 percent of junior women—only 38 percent of senior men and 26 percent of junior women in the UK feel the same way."
Addendum: Th US-UK differential is telling - the lawsuit-happy culture in the US doubtless explains this

Opinion: Obama comment sexist? I call it a compliment - ""Thank you, Mr. President, you're not such a bad-looking guy yourself." That would have been my response if I were California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who finds herself in the middle of a media dustup after President Obama introduced her as: "by far the best-looking attorney general in the country," at a fundraiser earlier this week... President Obama's observation is not a major offense to women around the globe. Ridiculous flaps such as this one have always made me uncomfortable with calling myself a feminist, especially if that means I have to fly into a fit each time a man makes an awkward comment about a woman... Luckily, sometimes life isn't serious. Sometimes, we can laugh at ourselves and know that not every man is out to hold us down"

Nude Photography by Leonard Nimoy - The Art History Archive - " In addition to being a movie director, producer, author and actor (Spock from Star Trek), Leonard Nimoy has been a professional photographer for 40 years. His topic of choice? Nude women."

Giuliani: 93 Percent of Blacks Are Killed by Blacks - "Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani says that the media focusing on the Ferguson, Missouri grand jury should spend more attention on why white police officers are in black neighborhoods to start with. "I find it very disappointing that you're not discussing the fact that 93 percent of blacks in America are killed by other blacks," Giuliani said Sunday on "Meet the Press." The case of white police officers killing blacks are the exception rather that the rule, he said. "We are talking about the significant exception," Giuliani said... Giuliani said 70 percent to 75 percent of crime in New York City takes place in predominantly black areas, and that's why there is a large police presence in those places. "The white police officers wouldn't be there if you weren't killing each other," Giuliani said."

Female Thor Is What Happens When Progressive Hand-Wringing And Misandry Ruin A Cherished Art-Form - "Thor a woman? It’s hard to believe the most macho, overtly masculine character in the comic canon could possibly be reimagined as a broad. But that’s almost certainly precisely the reason Thor was chosen: as a screw-you to so-called nerdbros from the achingly progressive staff of today’s comic book establishment. This has led to some questions from comic book fans. Questions such as: will Wonder Woman turn out to be a tranny? Is the Incredible Hulk only incredible because he endured cruel fat-shaming as a teen but didn’t let his size define him? And shouldn’t Spider-Man be a gay latino?... We’re told “erasure,” whereby people’s pasts are scrubbed out by those in authority, is a social justice issue. Well, right now there’s erasure going in the basic, canonical biographies of some of Marvel’s most cherished superheroes... What sticks in the craw of the fans I’ve spoken to about female Thor is how utterly transparent the political posturing is behind the change. No one likes their thunder stolen but there is simply no good literary justification for making Thor a woman, they say–and the results have been execrable. You can write intelligent satire about masculinity without making a classic masculine icon into a girl, an observation that seems to have escaped Marvel’s writers...
'If I was directly addressing the Thor creative team and editors who seem to want gender equality in the Thor line, this is what I’d say. Make a damn effort to promote Thor’s female support cast; Jane Foster, Roz Solomon, Lady Sif, Valkyrie, hell even Angela since you’re bringing her in (and I have the feeling Angela is going to be the new Thor now.) Believe me when I say female characters need more promotion and treatment in comics but make them new characters or flesh out the old ones you have. Don’t shoe horn a female character into a male hero’s position as, at the end of the day, she’s still defined by the male character, not her own legacy. I know Marvel are going for the “anyone can wield the power of Thor, even women” approach but this is ultimately detrimental to the female hero. Why? Because making a female version of a male hero demeans the male hero and leaves the superheroine being solely defined as a female replacement of the male hero."

Vox Popoli: Men in women suits - "I have three main objections to strong female characters. First, the basic concept is a lie. Barring mystical powers or divine heritage, the strong female character is simply nonsense. They don't exist, they aren't convincingly imagined or portrayed, and they're essentially nothing more than token feminist propaganda devices. Freud would, in this case correctly, put the whole phenomenon down to penis envy. Second, it is tedious. As both women note, strong female characters are neither new nor interesting. If you're blindly copying a trope that hasn't been new for three decades, you're just boring the reader. And third, it is dreadful writing. Most "strong female" characters observably are not women, they are simply male characters dressed in female suits. They don't talk like women, they don't act like women, and when we're shown their interior monologues, they don't think like women either. They're about as convincingly female as those latent serial killers who like to wear those bizarre rubber women suits. They are, in fact, the literary equivalent of those freaks... Ironically, men tend to write more interesting "strong female characters" because at least they know what men think like when they are writing about men in women suits. When women do it, they're writing what they imagine the man the female writer is pretending is a woman would think like. It's convoluted, it's insane, and it should be no surprise to anyone that most stories based on such self-contradictory characters don't turn out very well... the behavior of the character and its interior monologue is so haplessly inept and unrealistically bland that the reader cannot even ascertain something as intrinsically basic to human identity as the mere sex of the character. Can you imagine if you couldn't tell from their behavior if Anna Karenina was a woman or if Aragorn was a man? Would that inability improve or detract from the story?"

leesjuanpat world: The difference between Joshua B.Jeyaretnam and Kenneth Jeyaretnam. - "Due to KJ unreasonable leadership, a mass resignation began when about 10 RP members resigned enbloc when the GE 2011 was drawing near. Two scholars in Hazel Poa and husband Tony Tan were in the mass exodus. So, RP was crippled for good... KJ got to swallow his own medicine as the most incompetent Secretary-general to be so disgraced by nobody but himself! With that, National solidarity Party (NSP) gained by the exodus when many ex-RP members including Nicole Seah joined NSP. Suddenly NSP was a 'force' to reckon and RP sank deep into the abyss. To this day RP is so mediocre and devastated. The party is almost a shell only !"

Startling dating graphs reveal what ages men and women find the most attractive in a partner - "Women who are, say, 28 find guys who are also 28 about the most attractive, and so forth. Up until about 40, when that’s getting too old”... But the male version is very, very different... So women over 22 are disregarded when it comes to men on dating sites?"

Friday, July 03, 2015

Christianity and Islam in England: 1990 vs 2013

"Christian" vs "Islam"

Links - 3rd July 2015

Wal-Mart Store Apologizes For Baking ISIS Battle Flag Cake [VIDEO] - "Wal-Mart is apologizing for a store in Slidell, La., which refused to bake a cake designed as the Confederate battle flag but accepted a request to bake a cake that looked like the ISIS battle flag. Chuck Netzhammer, a local resident, presented his story in a YouTube video Friday, saying, “Alright, Wal-Mart, you’ve got some explaining to do. I went to go buy a cake from you all the other day with this image on it and y’all wouldn’t do it. I went back yesterday and managed to get the ISIS battle flag [cake instead].”"
If a Muslim asks a bakery to make an ISIS cake and it refuses, can he sue for religious discrimination?

“We did not send her the text” says boss at the heart of #Hedi racist SMS - "The messages was racist, narrow minded and reflects the ignorance of some Chinese bosses in Singapore. In short, the SMS to Heidi Heng flat out told her that If she doesn’t eat pork and can’t assimilate with their group, you can’t be part of our team. We paid a visit to Light Art Studio Pte Ltd and spoke with Bosco Cheng, the Director of the company allegedly held by Heidi to have sent the text. “No one from my company sent that message to her”, said Cheng. “We are not even hiring!” Cheng is furious at the accusations. “It is a screen capture and the internet makes blind assumptions that the person in the text was from my company”. Cheng had made a police report, although it was not clear if the reports were directed at Heidi or towards the threats coming in from the public. Ever since the screen capture went viral, Cheng had been receiving annonymous calls with threats, vulgarities and pranks. “I don’t even dare to step out of my shop now, I’ve even parked my car far away!” Customers have called to cancel orders with him and some have called to express their concern and anger... Cheng attempted to contact Heidi throughout the day, but had received no replies from her. “…and finally this girl replied me at 6+pm and clarifies that this person in the SMS claims to be from his company… that’s it!” he said with an amazed look."
Harassing alleged racists is worse than "racism". That's what intolerance of "intolerance" gets you

“Stern warning” for grassroots leader over threatening statement online against Amos Yee - "Mr Tan had posted the comment earlier in March (shown above), “For me, I would cut his dick and put in his mouth for blemish Jesus Christ.”, referring to Yee... Mr Lee also shared that the police officer had asked why he felt distress about Mr Tan’s Facebook comment. He replied that any ordinary person would feel distressed when they see someone threatening bodily harm against another and Mr Tan’s offence is worse than Amos’ as Amos didn’t threaten anyone with physical harm."

WhatsApp users are putting their personal data at risk, says damning report - "Out of a possible five stars, WhatsApp earned just one star. That’s despite the fact that EFF gave the company a year to prepare for it. The Facebook owned service was criticized for not requiring a warrant before handing over customer messages and other data to authorities. This is particularly worrying for people living under regimes where swearing can land you in jail."

Male and female are different: hardly earth-shattering news - Telegraph - "What did he say, to make the plaster fall off the ceiling? Why did the seismograph yaw so crazily? Well, he was speaking flippantly, ironically – or so he thought – about men and women working together in the lab. Or rather, he spoke about his own experience. “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls,” he said. “Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticise them, they cry.” Now the first two observations are surely uncontentious. Men fall in love with women, women fall in love with men. It’s been going on a long time, and thank goodness, because otherwise our species would die out. It is the third point – about crying – that has earned him the wrath of the Twittersphere, and the most venomous hatred. The first question to ask, when someone is accused of saying something unacceptable – even in a semi-satirical way – is whether or not that statement is true. Is there any foundation to this casual assertion, that women cry more readily than men? Well, yes, there is. Some men cry at the drop of a hat: Churchill was famously lacrimose. But the world’s leading expert on crying, Professor Ad Vingerhoets of Tilburg University, has shown that women on average cry 30-64 times a year, while men cry only between six and 17 times a year; and the Dutchman also claims that women cry for an average of six minutes, while men cry for only two to three minutes... Until we work out how to handle and how to compensate for these gender differences, we will continue to see too few female scientists, and too many male kids who are getting left behind by the system. The first step is to recognise that these emotional differences do indeed exist, and to be honest about them. Sir Tim Hunt was doing what he has done all his life – pointing out a natural phenomenon he had observed. He did not deserve to be pilloried, and should be reinstated forthwith to his academic positions"
Comment: "The Ayatollah Khomeini said there was no room for humour in Islamism. The same applies to contemporary Western liberalism"

Why You Can't Block Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook - "many assumed that was an Easter egg created by Facebook developers, it turns out that's not the case. Rather, Zuckerberg is unblockable because of an automated system that kicks in when too many people try to block one user...
' In very rare instances, a viral campaign will develop instructing lots of people to all wrongly block the same person. The purpose of this system is to protect the experience for people targeted by these campaigns'"

Malaysia car thieves steal finger - "Police in Malaysia are hunting for members of a violent gang who chopped off a car owner's finger to get round the vehicle's hi-tech security system."

Girl Goes On Profanity-Laced Rant Over Job Rejection Because Of "Unprofessional" Clothes - "A soon-to-be college graduate posted a profanity laced rant on Facebook after she was denied a programming job allegedly because she wore “unprofessional” attire to the job interview... How you present yourself matters. It says a lot about you. That might require investing in an outfit a step above Charlotte Russe and Forever 21 to get the job you want. This isn’t patriarchal oppression. If a dude showed up wearing something “mildly sexual” for a job interview, he’d probably be escorted from the building. It just isn’t the time or place for all that...
“they would have definitely have hired me based on my techinical [sic] skills and personality.”
That personality doe. Could it be that the employer sensed that you have “DRAMA!” written all over you? You’re not auditioning for the Real Programmers of Silcoin Valley.
“You clearly are too stupid to realize who just turned down.”
Right. More like, “Phew. Dodged that bullet.” You told a company in your desired field to go F themselves on social media. I’m sure the calls from prospective employers are just rolling in because YOU’RE GOING TO CHANGE THE WORLD and they better recognize.
Oh, you seem to have forgotten a few details in your social media rant. You were late to the interview. That’s like the number one “don’t” of job interviewing... The job recruiter did you a favor by telling you what you did wrong. You should have used this as a learning experience to improve for next time but it’s so much easier to blame your mistakes on other people."

Millennials' Biggest Interview Mistake Is 'Inappropriate Attire,' According To Hiring Managers - "About 75 percent of the 501 hiring managers polled by Adecco, a human resources consulting company, said that Millennials, those born between 1981-2000, frequently fail to wear appropriate interview attire. Fashion gaffes were the most common mistake observed, followed by Millennials posting “compromising content” on social media channels like Facebook (70 percent of hiring managers saw this) and lack of research on the prospective position (62 percent saw this.) Millennials can hardly afford to appear unprofessional. Hiring managers surveyed by Adecco said they were three times as likely to hire a mature worker, defined as age 50 or above, as they were to hire a Millennial. Recent employment data confirm that young Americans are getting left behind in the economic recovery as companies tap older workers to fill expanding payrolls... For every study showing that formal dress improves productivity by creating a professional environment, there’s another showing that casual threads do the same by increasing employee morale."

Better, Faster, Cheaper Is Not Innovation: Kodak and Microsoft - "“There is no statistically significant relationship between financial performance and innovation spending, in terms of either total R&D dollars or R&D as a percentage of revenues. Many companies — notably, Apple — consistently underspend their peers on R&D investments while outperforming them on a broad range of measures of corporate success, such as revenue growth, profit growth, margins, and total shareholder return. Meanwhile, entire industries, such as pharmaceuticals, continue to devote relatively large shares of their resources to innovation, yet end up with much less to show for it than they — and their shareholders — might hope for”... Far too often, companies spend most of their innovation dollars on making their products cheaper, operate better, faster or do more. Clayton Christensen pointed this out some 15 years ago in his groundbreaking book “The Innovator’s Dilemma” (HBS Press, 1997). Most R&D, in most industries, and for most companies, is spent trying to sustain an existing technology – not identify or develop a disruptive technology that would have far higher rates of return."

Nationally-recognized LA teacher suspended for (spins wheel) reading a passage from Huck Finn to his students. In this case, LA stands for Los Angeles and not Louisiana but the levels of ignorance are indistinguishable from one another

How to Disable Infinite Scrolling on Tumblr

Singapore Divorce-Rape Laws (Robin Williams Case Study) - "That’s about $20 million paid in total to the ex-wives. It doesn’t matter how much Robin Williams makes (despite the fact that the man will gradually slow down and make less movies/productions/tv shows as he ages and eases into the retirement he so richly deserves) in years after the divorces. In fact the monetary compensation from the divorces left Robin Williams close to bankruptcy. Lifetime alimony is just wrong because it does not give the woman any initiative to stand on their own two feet and making a fucking living for themselves (child support can continue until the children reach 18). Do they really need that kind of money even after all these years? Can’t they make their own money or least stop leaching off money from Robin Williams."

11 Sexting Acronyms From the 1930s - "“We think abbreviating with acronyms is new with texts and email, but it’s been going on for two thousand years,” Garfield says. “Back when a Roman would write to his friend, he would begin a letter, ‘I hope you’re well, I’m fine.’ But they got bored with that, so they would shorten it to the Latin acronym ‘SVBEEQV,’ which stood for si vales bene est, ego quidem valeo: If you’re well, that’s good—all’s well with me”...
5. MALAYA: My Ardent Lips Await Your Arrival
6. EGYPT: Eager to Grab Your Pretty Tits
7. BURMA: Be Undressed/Upstairs Ready My Angel
8. NORWICH: (k)Nickers Off Ready When I Come Home
9. ENGLAND: Every Naked Girl Loves A Naked Dick
10. VENICE: Very Excited Now I Caress Everywhere
11. CHINA: Come Home I’m Naked Already"

Your name may be a sign of the times

Your name may be a sign of the times | My Paper | 我报

PEOPLE'S names are markers of time, according to Chinese onomastician Ji Changhong, as certain names are peculiar to or popular in certain periods.

Therefore, if you were a writer spinning a tale about Singapore in the 1960s, you should know that Chinese names such as Han (meaning refined) or Yu (universe) were rare, if not non-existent, at that time.

To capture the atmosphere of the era, go for names such as Ah Fu (blessing) or Ah Fa (prosper) for males, and Ah Lian (lotus) or Ah Hua (flower) for females.

I know these are now names associated chiefly with Chinatown or Geylang, but they were everywhere in the past.

The so-called more "elegant" (wenya) names began to proliferate only in the 90s and noughties as parents started to see more alternatives.

Indeed, look around you now and you will find that many young people sport names with Han and Yu in them.

And names like Fu and Lian seem to be disappearing.

Zhou Yanmei, a former Chinese national who runs a tuition centre here, is one who has noticed the shift, and concluded that name-giving is like fashion - different kinds of names mushroom in different periods.

Her classes support her view as, besides Han and Yu, she is now encountering many Xuan (daylily) among her female students, Wei (majestic) among the boys and En (benevolence) among both sexes.

"These characters could make up a Chinese 'alphabet soup'," she mused.

While tastes have changed, young parents still seem to have tunnel vision, as they stick to only a narrow range of "elegant" names.

Ms Zhou has an explanation.

"The young might know more Chinese characters than their parents, but not much more, due to the language environment here," she pointed out.

"There is a huge iceberg of Chinese characters that they find strange and won't want to explore.

"Off the radar are also those characters considered to be coarse, outdated or inauspicious. So the choices left for them are few."

But according to noted Chinese folk tradition expert Tong Noong Chin, we should look beyond our borders for the main reason.

South Korea, to be exact.

Mr Tong, a fortune teller in Singapore who proposes auspicious names for Chinese babies for a fee, said many parents come to him already with a name in mind - that of a South Korean star.

Their visits are only to check whether the Chinese version of the Korean name will adversely affect the future of their child, he said.

At one time, Mr Tong recalled, there was such a craze over South Korean movie heart-throb Bae Yong Joon that many parents wanted their sons to be a Yong Jun, the Chinese version of Bae's name, or at least a Yong (brave) or a Jun (handsome).

Another name that has won hearts here is Xi (bright), thanks to another South Korean star, Kim Hyun Hee. One of the characters in the Chinese version of her name is Xi.

And, of course, Xian (wise) is all the rage now as the male and female leads of the immensely popular South Korean television drama series My Love From The Star both have this Chinese character in their names.

I used to believe that the choosing of a child's name depends on what catches the fancy of the parents.

This is still true, but it has also become clear to me that what seems to be personal fancy in the choosing of names is often shaped by social influences.

One striking phenomenon in China now is the trend of single-character names being on the wane and that of double characters on the rise.

A single-character name comprises just a surname and a given name, such as those of Chinese actresses Gong Li and Zhou Xun, while Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have double-character names.

The swing is so unequivocal that you might think the nation voted for it in a referendum.

Single-character names were the norm throughout much of Chinese history, until the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).

The Mongols, with their un-Chinese ways, caused the Han Chinese to finally accept double-character names as not against ancient tradition.

It was probably the iconoclasm of the Chinese Communists, rather than nostalgia, that brought single-character names back in the 1970s, after double-character names predominated over the past few centuries.

The trend was likely revived during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), during which austerity was worshipped in China, such as the living conditions of the peasants.

And a single-character name is definitely simpler.

But the trend was short-lived, as it took only 30 years for double-character names to return with a vengeance, boasting a poetic feel - a trait which during the Maoist time would be seen as anti-socialist and "counter-revolutionary".

Some said such "poetic" names are inspired by the romantic TV dramas of Taiwan, particularly those adapted from the novels of the island's Barbara Cartland, Chiung Yao, whose main characters all have dreamy names.

But not everyone welcomes the change.

One mainland parent recently wrote online that in the nursery his son is attending, there are just so many Zixuans (sagely and dignified) and Yuhans (universal and refined) among the pupils that he felt these are not lyrical names, but product brands.

According to a recent BBC report, Emma was again one of the most popular names for female babies last year in the United States, since it caught on in 2002 after a character in the TV show Friends gave her baby this name.

Religion and pop culture have been major influences in the baby-naming trends throughout history, said the BBC.

While Christian babies in Singapore would continue to be christened according to the prevailing fancy in their community, the picking of Chinese names has come under the sway of pop culture.

So, 20 or 30 years from now, we would still be able to see the legacy of the hallyu sweeping us now - in the names of those born around this time.

Note: Most Chinese characters have multiple meanings. Those given here are just the primary meanings.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Links - 2nd July 2015

Timeline Photos - SMRT Ltd (Feedback) - "Pondan: Pukis"
"Pondan means ladyboy
Puki means pussy
DAMN FUNNY LA. like to be a ladyboy need to know how to make pussy."

'Credits for sex’ scam victims lost S$1.25m from Jan to May - "Earlier this month, a variation of the scam emerged: Victims were asked to hand over their ATM cards and PIN before they could meet the women. They were instructed to leave their ATM cards at public locations, and told that their cards would be returned to them after they met the women."
No one ever underestimated human stupidity

Legalized Medical Marijuana Doesn't Increase Teen Usage, Study Finds

Final Thoughts on Chomsky : Sam Harris - "Here, I would draw a distinction between a conversation and a debate. They’re superficially similar when the parties disagree, but to have one’s mind changed in a debate is to lose the debate and, very likely, to lose face before one’s audience. This is an incredibly counterproductive way to frame any inquiry into what is true... many people seem to think that these insults were a sign of the man’s moral seriousness. Many seem to think that belligerence and an unwillingness to have a civil dialogue is a virtue in any encounter like this, and that simply vilifying one’s opponent as a moral monster, by merely declaring him to be one, is a clever thing to do... This kind of masochism and misreading of both ourselves and of our enemies has become a kind of religious precept on the Left. I don’t think an inability to distinguish George Bush or Bill Clinton from Saddam Hussein or Hitler is philosophically or politically interesting, much less wise. And many people, most even, who are this morally confused consider Chomsky their patriarc—and I suspect that’s not an accident"

The Pop-Up Store Where Women Pay Less Than Men - "Earlier this month, graphic designer Elana Schlenker made headlines for her pop-up store 76<100 where women pay less than men for everything on the shelves. Specifically, they pay 24% less, highlighting the pay gap in Pennsylvania where women make just 76 cents to every man's dollar... They pointed us to a student named Dennis Koire who took his complaint about male discrimination all the way to the California Supreme Court in 1985 and won, with California Supreme Court Chief Justice Rose Bird insisting that “the legality of sex-based price discounts cannot depend on subjective value judgments about which types of sex-based distinctions are important or harmful.”"
Since women live longer than men, how about medical treatment where the women get treated worse than the men?

A Postmodern Analysis of a Primary 5 Social Studies Chapter - "I focus on two binary opposites: (1) the idea of an active government and a passive people; and (2) the PAP and other political parties. Hong and Huang (2008) state that Singapore’s history is narrowly focused on leadership struggles that emphasize the triumph of the morally upright PAP over the communists. Focusing on Singapore’s struggle for government, the text presents the government’s perspective and highlights the actions taken at the bureaucratic level to achieve full internal self-government. It neglects the people’s voices and portrays voting as their only passive means of participation in the journey of self-government. The chapter, however, leaves out the issue of how self-government can affect and benefit its people... Another pair of binary opposites identified in this chapter is the PAP and the other political parties in the 1959 Election. It is interesting to note the outright endorsement of the PAP since it is the only political party mentioned. Other parties such as Singapore People’s Alliance (SPA), United Malays National Organization (UMNO), Liberal Socialist Party (LSP), Workers’ Party (WP) and Labour Front (LF) are simply termed “the other political parties.” The textbook further puts the PAP in a positive light by saying that many voters were impressed by the PAP with their clear plan on what it would do for the people if elected to govern Singapore... Interestingly, there is little mention of the background of the Communists and who they were in Singapore. They are simply presented as a disembodied group of people who were instigators of the strikes carried out by workers and students. The Hock Lee Bus rioters are painted as belonging to a union “controlled by the Communists” who “encouraged” workers to go on “strike to ask for higher pay and shorter working hours” (p. 22). Language is used to evoke aggressive images when describing the rioters’ retaliation at the police force (e.g., “Let us throw stones at them” p. 23). The text serves to deflect attention from the poor working conditions and the low pay and long working hours of the bus drivers. The bus company owner’s mistreatment of his workers and refusal to recognize their legitimate union, as well as the long history of bitterness and bad faith between the bus company and its workers have also been omitted (Thum, 2010). Instead, the text focuses exclusively on the riot and explicitly blames the Communists. There is, however, no information about the students and their agenda in supporting the riot. Once again, the larger context is omitted."

Answer to What do white women think about Asian men? - Quora - "Okay, we've given our PC answers, now let's just cut the bullshit.
Speaking as a white woman who's lived for 3 years in a Southeast Asian country and travelled around Asia, here are some of the unpopular conclusions I've reached and had directly and indirectly affirmed by other white female expats.
a) Asian men are feminine...
...and yet, at the same time:
b) Asian men often treat their womenfolk like dirt... Romantic courtship involves fantasies of being the hero and caretaker to a helpless bimbo of a woman - showering her with gifts and affection in exchange for a girl's greatest asset: her virginity. Sex is mechanical and something to be endured, typically with zero thought to the woman's pleasure"

Huge numbers of Muslims are turning to ISIS because they want SEX

Japan's tourism boom lifts economy, but brings headaches - "The Laox duty free shop in Ginza was crammed with Chinese buying watches, cosmetics, robotic vacuum cleaners and space-age rice cookers. Ultra high-tech, detachable toilet seats with automatic lighting and lid opening and closing, that warm, wash and dry are another big must-have among Chinese, even though the products are made-in-China for export to Japan. "The new status symbol in China is buying things and having experiences," said Rein. "It's not just buying a Louis Vuitton bag but how you bought it and how you did something cool." Since globally, tourism and travel account for about 9.5 percent of GDP compared with just 2.2 percent in Japan, there should be ample room for growth"

China bans Ramadan fasting in mainly Muslim region - "China has banned civil servants, students and teachers in its mainly Muslim Xinjiang region from fasting during Ramadan and ordered restaurants to stay open... The education bureau of Tarbaghatay city, known as Tacheng in Chinese, this month ordered schools to communicate to students that "during Ramadan, ethnic minority students do not fast, do not enter mosques ... and do not attend religious activities"."

Chinese city bans beards and veils on buses - "A city in northwestern China's Xinjiang region has banned people with large beards or Islamic clothing from boarding buses, state media has said. Authorities in Karamay banned people wearing headscarves, veils, niqabs, or clothing with the Islamic star and crescent symbol from taking local buses, the ruling Communist Party-run Karamay Daily said on Monday."

Pay low-income families more to boost economic growth, says IMF - "A report by five IMF economists dismissed “trickle-down” economics, and said that if governments wanted to increase the pace of growth they should concentrate on helping the poorest 20% of citizens. The study – covering advanced, emerging and developing countries – said technological progress, weaker trade unions, globalisation and tax policies that favoured the wealthy had all played their part in making widening inequality “the defining challenge of our time”. The IMF report said the way income is distributed matters for growth. “If the income share of the top 20% increases, then GDP growth actually declines over the medium term, suggesting that the benefits do not trickle down. In contrast, an increase in the income share of the bottom 20% is associated with higher GDP growth,” said the report... The study said there was growing evidence to suggest that rising influence of the rich and stagnant incomes of the poor and middle classes caused financial crises, hurting both short- and long-term growth. “In particular, studies have argued that a prolonged period of higher inequality in advanced economies was associated with the global financial crisis by intensifying leverage, overextension of credit, and a relaxation in mortgage-underwriting standards, and allowing lobbyists to push for financial deregulation,” it said."

Welcome to Cat Recipes dot com

Singapore must ease ‘bandwidth tax’ on the poor - "Recent research on the psychology of poverty suggests that much rethinking of the design of the welfare system in Singapore is required. Perhaps the most important finding in this growing field of research is that poverty imposes a large cognitive tax... Likewise, the poor might be aware that a certain course of action, such as applying for social assistance, would be good for them, but they may not pursue it because they lack the requisite bandwidth. One implication of their research is that the poor are poor not because they suffer from some cognitive or cultural deficit, as popular myths suggest. Rather, these perceived deficits are themselves the results of being poor... Prof Esther Duflo, an MIT economist, has argued that the poor pay a lot more for doing nothing than do other people. This is because the more privileged an individual is, the greater the number of decisions that are made automatically for that person. Take public housing subsidies in Singapore as an example. The subsidies that benefit middle and upper-middle income groups, such as the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Housing Grant for families purchasing Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) flats and Executive Condominiums, are provided automatically when these families purchase their flats. In contrast, the Additional CPF Housing Grant and the Special CPF Housing Grant aimed at lower-income Singaporeans require applicants to fill up forms, submit documents that prove that they have been employed continuously in the past 12 months and show the income they earned during that period. Their application has to reach HDB within a given deadline. Prof Duflo argues that instead of berating the poor for not taking personal responsibility, we should think of ways of “providing the poor with the luxury that we all have, which is that a lot of decisions are taken for us. If we do nothing, we are on the right track. For most of the poor, if they do nothing, they are on the wrong track”."

Many poor Malays 'do not seek social aid' - "About two-thirds of low-income Malay/Muslim households do not seek help from social services despite hopes that their children can escape the poverty trap, according to a new study commissioned by community self-help group Mendaki... the 18-month study of 25 households revealed a lack of awareness of available schemes and, more worryingly, she said, an undercurrent of fear at stigmatisation... members of the low-income families she studied were held back by a sense of shame... The study also pointed to a need for agencies to revise a social assistance system reliant on the submission of a large volume of forms, which low-income families are often unable to cope with."

Catholic Mini-Protests

Terror in Elizabethan England | Podcast | History Extra:

"In 1570, when Pope Pius V excommunicated Elizabeth I, he not only cut her off from the Catholic Church and declared her a heretic, but he declared her illegitimate. He said she had no right to rule, and he enjoined all the Catholics of England to disobey her, upon pain of anathema he said she should not be obeyed.

So what do they do? They're in this bind, this terrible bind.

Y'know, do you obey the Pope, and save your soul but submit your body to temporal punishment? Or do you obey the Queen and condemn your soul to the flames of Hell forever? Not easy.

Actually, what most of them did was they crossed their fingers. Y'know, they would go to church and they would cross their fingers and they would sort of register little mini-protests that they thought - hoped - would sit well with God. So they might keep their hat on during the service, or they might chatter during the sermon, or, or my favourite was Sir Richard Charthem (sp?) of York who for two decades of attendance, every time he went into church he put a little bit of cotton in each ear.

And I guess they kind of hoped that God would think that was alright. And these guys were known perjoratively as "Church Papists"."

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

The Straits Times: Your One Stop Shop for Underaged Sex Stories

So the Straits Times has just launched its revamp today, July 1st 2015.

Besides possibly contributing to broken links as well as to 2 different versions of the same story, one of which leaves out a crucial detail, we now also have tags (well, if we had them before I didn't notice it).

(incidentally, the broken link is supposed to go to one of the 2 stories)

And there is this tag called SEXUAL PENETRATION OF A MINOR.

So now it is easy to keep track of (almost) all the underaged sex stories in Singapore!

I say (almost) all because weird cases like causing a minor to have sex (the photographer who unknowingly hired a 15 year old boy to have sex with a female model) get other tags.

Like "threesome".


39-year-old jailed for sex with underage girl

"Sachin Pravin Dere was jailed for 20 months after pleading guilty to three of five counts of sex with a girl aged below 16...

He asked how old she was as he felt that she looked very young. She told him she was 16.

He also asked if she had had sex before and she said she had not.

After sex, he asked her to follow him to the bathroom where he sexually abused her before she said she wanted to stop...

Deputy Public Prosecutor Delicia Tan said Dere knew that the victim was a virgin, yet that did not stop him from exploiting her for his sexual gratification."

So once again the moral of the story is: "ask a girl for her IC before you have sex with her". Though of course if her ID is fake you're still criminally culpable.

And apparently in Singapore you're not supposed to "exploit" virgins who tell you they are 16 for "sexual gratification".

Or even better, you're not supposed to have sex with virgins since that is "exploiting"?

Links - 1st July 2015

"Everybody" does not need to learn to code. - "if you aren’t dreaming of becoming a programmer—and therefore planning to embark on a lengthy course of study, whether self-directed or formal—I can’t endorse learning to code. Yes, it is a creative endeavor. At its base, it’s problem-solving, and the rewards for exposing holes in your thinking and discovering elegant solutions are awesome. I really think that some programs are beautiful. But I don’t think that most who “learn to code” will end up learning anything that sticks... This is my nightmare vision—“everyone” approaches programming as a set of arbitrary technical details just because he or she should. With only bits and pieces, users can’t appreciate the ways that languages are designed to solve problems, and they are left with an even larger black box. With this approach to programming, their knowledge will eventually float into the ether in the company of other meaningless knowledge, like how to talk nicely to that broken Nintendo 64 cartridge... to mandate programming as a general education requirement would displace something else that we’re already failing to teach, and that’s not good, either. We don’t need everyone to code—we need everyone to think. And unfortunately, it is very easy to code without thinking."

Brazil to sue Facebook for blocking photo of indigenous woman from 1909 - "

“For us it is a serious issue because it is an assault on our sovereignty, our legislation. It is disrespect to our cultural diversity and to the indigenous peoples of Brazil,” said Brazil’s Minister of Culture Juca Ferreira. “If the Indians may not appear as they are, it means they may not appear indigenous, which is great cruelty.”"

Facebook bans ABC trailer featuring Aboriginal women with bare breasts

Game of Thrones season 5 finale recap: 'Mother's Mercy' - "Today we use terms like “walk of shame” and “slut shaming” to describe comparatively mild everyday situations—a semi-awkward walk home, a sarcastic tweet. Thrones once again brings the medieval version of a modern idea and shows us the full horror of how humanity treats the powerless (in Cersei’s case, it’s somebody who has lost her power to somebody more powerful). As Martin explains, this sequence was not some fiction writer’s fantasy; the penance walk was a real thing.... Game of Thrones isn’t simple. This show has prompted more outraged and analytical headlines than any TV series I can remember, particularly this season. Some point to these stories and say, “Look, Thrones is doing something really wrong.” I see all the debate and wonder if any piece of popular art that generates so much passionate discussion isn’t inherently doing something right. Many will disagree with that, as is, I suppose, part of the point."

Homosexual Activist Admits True Purpose of Battle is to Destroy Marriage - "'(F)ighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there — because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie'... When given the opportunity to marry, after laws have been struck down relatively small percentages of homosexuals actually bother to marry compared to their heterosexual counterparts. This raises question about the true need to unravel marriage for the “fair” extension its benefits. Only 12 percent of homosexuals in the Netherlands marry compared to 86 percent of their heterosexual peers. Less than 20 percent of same-sex couples already living together in California married when given the chance in 2008. In contrast, 91 percent of heterosexual couples in California who are living together are married. "

Predicted Consequences of Same-Sex Marriage Are Becoming a Reality - "E.J. Graff, senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, who said that once “same-sex marriage becomes legal, that venerable institution will stand for sexual choice, for cutting the link between sex and diapers.” Or author and radio host Michelangelo Signorile, who suggested that same-sex couples should “demand the right to marry not as a way of adhering to society’s moral codes but rather to debunk a myth and radically alter an archaic institution” (“Bridal Wave,” OUT magazine, Dec.-Jan. 1994, p. 161)... Or Boston College Professor of Law Kent Greenfield, who has written that supporters of marriage are right when they “argue[] that [redefining marriage] will lead to marriages among more than two people and between adults who are related”... Justice Samuel Alito asked U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli whether a university or college that opposed same-sex marriage stood to lose its tax-exempt status as a result, and the federal government’s chief litigation officer quite candidly, perhaps even unwittingly, admitted that “it’s certainly going to be an issue”... Not too long ago, we were told that laws passed to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity were merely designed to ensure equality, inclusion, and tolerance—they were emphatically not surreptitious attempts to seek official government sanction for same-sex relationships. “We just want to be left alone!” was the mantra. Then we were told that the state must officially recognize same-sex couples in some manner, but only for the purpose of garnering the same rights and benefits as married couples. “Why would we want marriage?” was the query. Then we were surprised to learn that by withholding the official title of marriage, the state inflicted not only an epic dignitary harm to same-sex couples, but also an unconstitutional deprivation that demands an immediate judicial remedy... Throughout this deliberate progression, activists reassuringly promised us that no Americans would be forced to compromise their faith. Any such concerns were dismissed as completely unfounded—mere scare tactics floated by recalcitrant religious cranks. But now the mask has been removed. Now we know the truth. “It’s certainly going to be an issue”... after courts rewrote the marriage laws in the District of Columbia and Massachusetts, Catholic Charities, one of the world’s most effective and reliable adoption and foster-care placement agencies, was forced to stop doing what it does best simply because its religious precepts prevent it from placing children with same-sex couples. Driving Catholic Charities from this vital work deprives vulnerable children of a great resource for finding a permanent home with a mom and a dad. Apparently, same-sex marriage advocates trot out the “for the dignity of the children” rationale only when it suits their purposes"

Richie Benaud: Golden rules of commentary - "There are no teams in the TV world called ‘we’ or ‘they’.
Never say “That’s a tragedy or a disaster ...” — the Titanic was a tragedy, the Ethiopian drought a disaster, and neither bears any relation to a dropped catch."

Is it ever OK for politicians to lie? - "it's also said that politicians can be sparing with the truth, because they rightly judge that we don't want to hear it. So let's not tell the voters about those spending cuts or that noisy new airport as they'll only get upset."

Be Aware: Your Tattoos Could Cause False-Positive Results for Cancer - "When you tattoo, some of that ink will be absorbed in the cells in the lymphatic system and migrate to levels of lymph nodes"

Language Crimes: A Lesson in How Not to Write, Courtesy of the Professoriate - "No one denies the need for a specialized vocabulary in biochemistry or physics or in technical areas of the humanities like linguistics. But among literature professors who do what they now call “theory” — mostly inept philosophy applied to literature and culture — jargon has become the emperor’s clothing of choice... The writing is intended to look as though Mr. Fry is a physicist struggling to make clear the Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. Of course, he’s just an English professor showing off. The vatic tone and phony technicality can also serve to elevate a trivial subject. Many English departments these days find it hard to fill classes where students are assigned Milton or Melville, and they are transforming themselves into departments of so-called cultural studies, where the students are offered the analysis of movies, television programs, and popular music. Thus, in a laughably convoluted book on the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding affair, we read in a typical sentence that “this melodrama parsed the transgressive hybridity of un-narratived representative bodies back into recognizable heterovisual modes.” The pretentiousness of the worst academic writing betrays it as a kind of intellectual kitsch, analogous to bad art that declares itself “profound” or “moving” not by displaying its own intrinsic value but by borrowing these values from elsewhere. Just as a cigar box is elevated by a Rembrandt painting, or a living room is dignified by sets of finely bound but unread books, so these kitsch theorists mimic the effects of rigor and profundity without actually doing serious intellectual work. Their jargon-laden prose always suggests but never delivers genuine insight... To ask what this means is to miss the point. This sentence beats readers into submission and instructs them that they are in the presence of a great and deep mind. Actual communication has nothing to do with it."

Bad Writing's Back - "The back cover proclaims an equable attempt "to inform and deepen the debate by asking what values, history, politics, and stylistics are implicated, on both sides," but everyone here is a theorist, believes in theory, and resents anti-theory tastes. The editors might have asked a critic of bad writing to repeat the case or compose a reply, but a few paragraphs of their introduction reveal that they don't consider their antagonists worth the time. Conservative positions turn up in caricature or in snotty asides... David Palumbo-Liu thinks a petty politics lies behind it all: "The criticism of bad writing has less to do with lofty moral issues than with social practice and power. Students are to be cured of their ignorance, but equally important for the critics of 'bad writing' is the reproduction of healthy bodies, not only to legitimate their own endeavors but to add to their numbers" (p. 175). The cheap partisan spirit reinforces the point made by Dutton, David G. Myers, Katha Pollitt, and others that the jargon and bloat of theory prose excludes every readership but other theorists—a damning claim given that the theorists purport to labor for social justice... for theorists to attribute the publicity entirely to personal or ideological factors and never to mention their own personal or ideological agendas, though a common enough tactic in humanities disputes, only makes things worse here. Non-academic intellectuals aren't as easily cowed as are professors, and they will hold up every such accusation as evidence of the elitist, smug world of the ivory tower... What the theorists lost in public prestige was balanced by their enhanced adversarial conscience. Like the theories they embrace, theorists absorbed hostile responses as signs of their own righteousness, and while the world moves on they now make the same arguments, cite the same texts and master theorists (de Man's "Resistance to Theory" surfaces several times), and trust that their interrogations are sure to make a difference beyond the classroom and the department... They defend an endeavor that profits only theorists and that only theorists esteem. In crude terms, if these theorists win, the humanities lose"

The big fat diet myth - "The well-documented “Snackwell’s Effect,” in which people overeat low-fat foods as a healthier alternative to their full-fat counterparts, led to binging on chemical junk far higher in taste-bud-fulfilling sugar and salt."

Four views on the twilight Kingdom - "“What we are seeing in the country today,” says Davies, “is the final decay of the old pillars of Britishness. British identity was built after the Act of Union with Scotland in 1707 around several pillars, foremost — the empire, the navy, the aristocracy, the Protestant ascendancy and the monarchy. What we have seen in the reign of Queen Elizabeth II is that these pillars have either vanished, or been rendered very, very brittle”... Britishness, argues Davies, was forged in opposition to things that no longer exist. A Protestant Island, on the edge of a hostile, Catholic Europe, means little in a society that no longer defines itself as Christian... Protestant ritual has evaporated in everyday Britain. In 1900, over 70 percent believed Jesus Christ was the Son of God and 90 percent of babies were baptized — whereas in 2011 only 30 percent believed in the divinity of Jesus and barely 10 percent of newborns were baptized... Since 1952, Labour has ceased to be a one million-strong British workers movement, with its clubs, galas, and parades — and become primarily a skeletal election-winning machine, its members, barely over 220,000, having joined mostly for political patronage. This, says McKibbin, is reflecting Britain’s new class structure... The Royal Navy may now have twice as many Admirals as warships"
Yet liberals still say religion is too powerful

Marriage Equality

Freedom of Marriage | C-Section Comics:
"It seems that "Freedom of Marriage" has different meanings in different cultures"

White man on other man: This is my husband
White woman: That's wonderful!

White man on 2 women: These are my two wives!
White woman: Arrest this man!

Arab man on 2 women: These are my two wives!
Arab man: That's wonderful!

Arab man on other man: This is my husband
Arab man: Arrest this man!

A Critique of Moral Vegetarianism

A Critique of Moral Vegetarianism
Michael Martin

"One job of a moral philosophy should be to evaluate vegetarianism as a moral position, a position P will call moral vegetarianism. Unfortunately, there has been little critical evaluation of moral vegetarianism in the philosophical literature. Most moral philosophers have not been concerned with the problem, and those who have, e.g. Nozick, have made little attempt to analyze and evaluate the position. As a result, important problems implicit in the moral vegetarian's position have gone unnoticed, and unsound arguments are still widely accepted...

Suppose you are marooned on a desert island inhabited by edible birds. Suppose there is no edible plant life on the island and you have a gun. For nonvegetarians the choice is easy. You should survive as best you can, and killing the birds and eating them is the only way, given the situation as described. But what does the nonvegetarian assume in arguing in this way? Presumably that a bird's life is less valuable than one's own. This is exactly what strict moral vegetarians would question.

Consider a different situation. Suppose that instead of birds the island contains people. Would it be morally permissible for you to kill some people and eat, them?... It would be argued that to suppose that a bird's life is less valuable than a human life is a form of speciesism, a doctrine of prejudice analogous to racism and sexism. Ow this hard-line view one ought never to kill any nonhuman animal unless it were right to kill a human being in the same circumstance. Clearly in our second hypothetical situation, it would be said, it would not be right to kill a human being for food. Consequently it would be wrong to kill and eat a bird.

A vegetarian holding a moderate position might argue that it is prima facie wrong to kill an animal for food but that certain human rights, e.g., the right to life, can override this prima facie wrong. On this view there are cases in which it would not be right to kill a human being but it would be right to kill an animal. One such case would be where human life depended on the nourishment that animals give when killed and eaten. Note that this would not justify the killing and consuming of animals in contemporary society where various meat substitutes are available. An important question for the moderate is: On what plausible moral principle can the distinction between animals and human beings be made?

A vegetarian holding a moderate position might argue that it is prima facie wrong to kill an animal for food but that certain human rights, e.g., the right to life, can override this prima facie wrong. On this view there are cases in which it would not be right to kill a human being but it would be right to kill an animal. One such case would be where human life depended on the nourishment that animals give when killed and eaten. Note that this would not justify the killing and consuming of animals in contemporary society where various meat substitutes are available. An important question for the moderate is: On what plausible moral principle can the distinction between animals and human beings be made?

With respect to traditional moral vegetarianism some problems immediately come to the fore. Who exactly is not supposed to eat animals or produces of animals? This problem is especially acute with respect to carnivorous animals. What animals is it morally wrong to eat? The answer to this becomes problematic with respect to micro-organisms but also with respect to animals that might be capable of consenting to being eaten. If animals could be created by genetic engineering, could they be created so that there were no moral objections to eating them? Depending on the answer to this question, moral arguments for vegetarianism could be undercut by technology. What exactly is an animal product, and how does an animal product differ morally from an animal part? This brings up the question of how one can distinguish between what is forbidden by lactovo moral vegetarianism and vegan moral vegetarianism. Let us consider some of these problems in more detail.

Vegetarians certainly cannot think that only vegetarians have a prima facie duty not to eat animals or animal products. For if they base their beliefs on a moral position it must be universalizable. But what is the extent of the universal moral principle? Presumably it would include all human beings, whether they are in the habit of eating animals or not. But why would it not extend to all animals, including carnivorous animals?

One might be inclined to say that this question is beside the point. Since animals cannot be judged morally praise-worthy or blameworthy, the question of whether it is morally wrong for them to eat meat cannot be raised. But this reply is based on a confusion between the praiseworthiness or blameworthiness of a moral agent and the rightness or wrongness of the action of an agent. Although animals may be free from blame in eating meat since they are not moral agents, animals in eating meat may still be doing something that is prima facie wrong...

Even if dogs needed meat to live, it is not obvious that it is prima facie less wrong to eat meat than wrong to sacrifice a dog's health or life. This becomes especially true when one realizes that vegetarians often argue that a reason that it is prima facie wrong to eat animals is that animals must be killed to provide the food. So in order to save the dog's life or health, another animal must die.

The vegetarian with a dog might also argue that, even if a dog could survive on a nonmeat diet, to refuse to give the dog meat would not be in keeping with the dog's right to eat what it wants and what dogs want is meat. This argument cuts too deep, however. Many humans want to eat meat, but this does not stop vegetarians from saying that it is wrong for people to eat meat. Moreover, it is unclear why the dog's wants should overrule the alleged prima facie wrong of eating meat, especially when this wrong is based on the alleged prima facie wrong of killing an animal.

The issue of what the vegetarian should feed his dog is just the beginning of the problem. What should the attitude of a vegetarian be toward ""nature red in tooth and claw"? The vegetarian knows that some animals in the wild eat other animals. Should he oppose this eating? If so, how? What other values should be sacrificed in order to prevent the killing and eating of wild animals by other wild animals? Suppose it were discovered that with proper training lions and tigers could live on zebra-flavored soy products. Should vegetarians promote a society that trains lions and tigers to eat such meat substitutes? This training would involve interfering with the freedom of lions and tigers, with the ecological balance, and so on. Many morally sensitive persons would look with disfavor on this interference. How much should the disvalue of this interference be weighed against the prevention of the killing of animal life?

What is forbidden meat? Most moral vegetarians list fish and fowl as animals one should not eat. But what about microorganisms? Vegan vegetarians who eat only vegetables, fruit, and nuts do not completely remove all micro- organisms from their food, even with repeated cleaning. Has the vegetarian who eats microorganisms along with his salad sinned against his own principles? Vegetarians may attempt to justify the eating of microorganisms in three different ways.

First, it may be argued that only animals who can feel pain are not to be eaten. Since it is unlikely that microorganisms can feel pain, the vegetarian can eat them without scruples, But this suggestion has a peculiar implication. If beef cattle who could not feel pain were developed, then it would be permissible to eat them. The ability to feel pain is not an obviously plausible way of morally distinguishing microorganisms from other organisms...

Why should microorganisms be sacrificed rather than humans? Why is human life more valued than the life of microorganisms?...

In his comic strip, Little Abner, Al Capp created an animal called a shmoo whose greatest joy was to be eaten. We may smile at the absurdity of this idea. But shmoo-type creatures may not just be creations of cartoonists in the next century; they may be creations of genetic engineers...

Furthermore, genetic engineering may develop animals that lack all of the properties that vegetarians usually associate with the wrongness of killing animals for food: (1) the ability to feel pain, (2) consciousness, (3) having a self-concept. Suppose that by genetic engineering we could develop beef cattle that were born unconscious and remained unconscious all of their lives (they would be fed and bred artificially). Such animals would be incapable of feeling pain or having experiences of any kind. Would it be permissible to eat them? If not, why not?

Furthermore, genetic engineering might be able to produce meat-bearing animals that could be used for food without being killed. If so, no moral objection based on the killing of animals could be raised to the eating of meat...

Suppose someone enjoys drinking the blood of cattle and hogs. Suppose further that such blood is obtained without killing the animal and without causing the animal pain. Would the blood drinker be sinning against the principles of lactovo moral vegetarianism or just the principles of vegan moral vegetarianism? Would the blood be analogous to milk or eggs?...

A variety of arguments have been given for vegetarianism. Sometimes they take such a sketchy form that it is not completely clear they are moral arguments... Even when it is clear that a moral argument is intended, however, exactly what the premises of the argument are is not always clear. There appears to he a gap in some of the arguments that it is difficult to fill with plausible premises...

Mel Morse, former president of the Humane Society of the United States, once remarked: "If every one of our slaughter houses were constructed of glass this would be a nation of vegetarians"... One suspects that there would be fewer peanut butter lovers if the walls of peanut butter factories were made of glass, for it has been reported by Consumer Reports (May 1972) that rodent hairs and other disgusting materials were found in many of the jars of peanut butter they tested. Conditions inside peanut butter factories may be less than appetizing, yet this hardly provides moral grounds for refraining from eating peanut butter...

According to [speciesism], the view that eating the meat of nonhuman animals is morally permissible but eating the meat of human beings is morally forbidden is analogous to racism or sexism. Just as racism and sexism are to be morally condemned, so is speciesism... the animal kingdom per se (in contrast to particular animal species) does not provide any morally relevant grounds for the positive content of vegetarianism. To suppose otherwise would be a form of kingdomism, no different in principle from the speciesism, racism, and sexism that this argument condemns. After all, what is the justification for eating plants and not animals? Is there a morally relevant difference between the two? The vegetarian, to make his case, must draw a line - a morally relevant line - between the plant kingdom and the animal kingdom. For this another argument is needed.

The argument usually provided by vegetarians to fill the void created by the argument from speciesism is this: Animals are sentient creatures; they feel pain and have other feelings. But no plant is sentient; no plant can see, hear, or feel. Consequently, it is wrong to eat animals but not wrong to eat plants.

Two questions can be raised about this argument from sentience. First, is it really true that plants feel no pain? The recent bestseller, The Secret Life of Plants, and other less well known studies may give us some pause.? To be sure, most biologists have not taken the thesis of the mental life of plants seriously, and in the light of our present evidence they are undoubtedly justified. But what if new biological findings were to indicate that speculations about the mental life of plants should be taken seriously? Should we then stop eating plants as well as animals?

Without new discoveries in synthetic food made from inorganic material, our refraining from eating plants would spell the end of the human species. But is species suicide really necessary? After all, why should the discovery that plants feel pain have any effect on whether we eat them or not? Presumably this discovery should have some effect on how we kill plants. If we knew that plants felt pain, our killing them would, or at least should, take a humane form. We might somehow anesthetize grain before it was harvested, and so on. But it is completely unclear why the knowledge that plants feel pain should prevent our eating them...

Still, it may be objected that this is to overlook actual practice. In fact, animals used for food do suffer a great deal...

It might be a much more efficient means of changing practice to stage protests at meat-packing companies, put pressure on congressmen, and work through existing humane organizations. One suspects that the SPCA and the American Humane Society have done more to stop cruelty to animals than vegetarians ever could. That these organizations have not gone far enough and that wide areas of animal cruelty still exist does not show that their methods are wrong. In any case, which various political strategies would be most efficient for achieving humane treatment of animals is an empirical question. Vegetarianism is not obviously the best strategy, and its worth would have to be shown...

Although it might be argued that there is something of an inconsistency in persisting in eating meat while maintaining that animals are being treated cruelly in producing meat, it is hard to see why this is so. It does not seem to be true in general that one is inconsistent if one uses a product that is produced, by some process that one believes violates one's moral principles. Am I inconsistent if I drink fluoridated water rather than buy pure water when I believe that the government has no right to fluoridate water? Am I inconsistent if I am opposed to exploitation and buy an automobile from a company that I believe produces cars by exploiting labor? (If I were, then there would be an inconsistency in a Marxist living in a capitalistic society or buying anything produced by that society .) The answer seems to be: not necessarily. It is not obvious why the case of eating meat is different. We do well to remember that an inconsistency between an agent's moral principles and his practices can only be shown via the agent's other beliefs concerning the practice. Consequently, a moral principle and what might seem like an inconsistent practice can be consistent given other appropriate beliefs.

[Ed: Similarly, it is not inconsistent for those who are against gay rights to use Facebook]

In sum, then, not eating meat may well be used as a protest against cruelty to animals. But there is certainly no moral duty to protest in this way even if one thinks animals are being treated cruelly, and indeed, such a protest may not be the best means available...

It is argued [in a proof by contradiction] that since every animal will suffer at least once in its life, we have a duty to kill all animals painlessly to prevent this future suffering...

John Harris advances the following consideration to show the immorality of eating meat.

Suppose that tomorrow a group of beings from another planet were to land on Earth, beings who considered themselves as superior to you as you feel yourself to be to other animals. Would they have the right to treat you as you treat animals you breed, keep, and kill for food?

The implication is certainly that it would be inconsistent for us to think that it is morally permissible for us to eat nonhuman animals but wrong for superior aliens to eat us.

But it is not clear that it is inconsistent if there is a relevant moral difference between animals and humans not found between humans and superior aliens. Our discussion above of the concept of person suggests a difference. Most human beings and presumably all of Harris's aliens are persons. Most animals are probably not persons. Consequently, if personhood is the ground for the right to life, there need be no inconsistency in maintaining that it is morally permissible for us to kill and eat most animals, given that we cause them no pain, preserve the ecological balance, and so on, and that it is wrong for the aliens to kill and eat us, even though they kill us painlessly and so on...

It is argued that beef cattle and hogs are protein factories in reserve... Given the people in the world who are hungry or even starving, we should not eat meat, since in eating meat we are, as it were, wasting grain that could be used to feed the hungry people of the world...

One must be clear on what this argument assumes in order to arrive at its conclusion. First of all, it assumes that if many people in countries with surplus grain, e.g., in the United States, did not eat grain-fed meat this would cut down on the amount of grain used to feed animals that produce meat. Second, it seems to assume that not eating meat is the best way to conserve grain. Third, the argument assumes that if the grain used to feed cattle in the United States, e.g., was not fed to cattle, the grain would be used to feed the hungry people.

None of these assumptions seems plausible...

If beef cattle and other meat-producing animals were fed on waste products instead of on grain, there would be no reason not to eat meat in order to feed the hungry people of the world. Indeed, one might feel that there was an obligation to eat meat. Eating meat from animals fed on waste products would be a way of saving grain that could be shipped to the hungry people of the world...

To put it in a nutshell, without vast changes in the economic systems and the policies of governments with surplus grain, not eating meat in order to help the starving people of the world is an idle gesture. Such a gesture may make people happier and may make them feel less guilty, but it does no good...

One has no moral duty not to eat meat as a symbolic commitment to help the hungry people of the world, although one may have a duty to help the hungry people of the world. One may have a duty to be committed to some worthwhile cause without having the duty to express that commitment in some particular symbolic way...

It is argued that the killing and eating of meat indirectly tends to brutalize people. Conversely, vegetarianism, it is argued, tends to humanize people...

Pacifists like Gandhi are often cited as examples of people who are vegetarians and who are opposed to violence. But Hitler was also a vegetarian. Indeed, Hitler's vegetarianism is a constant source of embarrassment to vegetarians, and they sometimes attempt to explain it away...

It might be suggested that although becoming a vegetarian as a protest against animal suffering or a way of committing oneself to helping the hungry people of the world is not a moral duty, it is still a moral act; it is a supererogatory act. This view is not implausible, but it needs to be qualified in certain ways. A supererogatory act, whatever else it is, is an act that is good but not obligatory. The question is whether becoming a vegetarian in order to protest animal suffering or as a way of committing oneself to feeding the hungry people of the world is good but not obligatory...

If becoming a vegetarian is not the best way to [fulfil one's moral aims], however, moral vegetarians would deserve some praise but not as much praise as some other people who protest cruelty to animals and commit themselves to feeding the hungry people of the world. Indeed, it is not implausible to claim that moral vegetarians deserve some criticism. Their moral idealism is in a sense wasted or at least used badly. One is inclined to say: "'If you really want to protest animal suffering or commit yourself to helping hungry people, instead of not eating meat you should . . ." (see above for various suggestions)

There is, I believe, nothing paradoxical about the idea that a supererogatory act can be blameworthy. Jumping in a swift river and saving a drowning man when you are only a fair swimmer is a paradigm case of a supererogatory act and deserves praise. But such an act may deserve some criticism as well if the drowning man could have been easily saved by tossing him a life buoy."
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