When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Explaining the Rule of the West

Rationally Speaking | Official Podcast of New York City Skeptics - Current Episodes - RS138 - Ian Morris on, "Why the West rules -- for now":

"Since about 200 years ago, a pretty small group of nations around the shores of the North Atlantic started dominating the whole planet, in a way that nothing like that had ever really happened before...

"Oh, no, no. We live in a place where the climate is just perfect." This was a popular argument again in the 19th century.

There's a guy, a professor of geography at Yale University, who came to the conclusion in the 1890s that climate had made the West dominate the world. And he said the place with the perfect climate in the entire planet was England...

"Yes, of course culture plays a part in what happens." We're all just aware of this in our everyday lives if you travel at all, you're aware of the power of culture. The question, I think should always be, "Well, why do we get the cultural changes that we do get? Is culture this like totally independent force that acts on people, or is it something else driving the culture?" I think with the case of Chinese conservatism, you can see really clearly it's an example of a bigger pattern where larger forces drive conservatism in societies.

Something I think we see over and over again in history, is that when one society, one region has been doing really well, and then things go wrong, people often turn inward and start looking backward. In a sense, they become fundamentalist. They look back into their past and say, "Oh boy! What was it we were doing so well, back then, that we're now not doing? And how can we go back and recapture the excellence of the past and bring it forward into our modern world?"

I think China, like every part of the world, has had phases of being like this. One very big phase begins in China in the 13th and 14th centuries. They suffer a lot of defeats at the hands of these steppe nomads, the Mongols in particular, and Kublai Khan takes over the whole of China, and the Mongols rule China for awhile. Black Death ravages China. Just all kinds of stuff is going wrong.

People start saying, "What can we do?" The intellectual elite start saying, "What can we do to recapture the greatness of Confucianists, the way it used to be?" And they become very aggressively conservative, and very opposed to new ideas, at a very unfortunate time for this to happen. This is just the moment when the world is beginning to open up. This is a disaster for China in a lot of ways.

But it's not something that just pops out of nowhere. It's a reaction to a set of problems, these invasions from overseas that are ultimately driven by geographical forces. I think there are, like I said, lots of examples of this.

In some ways I would say that Islamist Fundamentalism is another great example of this"

Friday, July 17, 2015

Links - 17th July 2015

The Current Age of Consent of 16 Doesn't Protect Young People, It Criminalises Them - "Half of all UK teenagers have their first sexual experience by the age of 14, according to the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles. This experience includes intercourse, oral sex, mutual masturbation and sexual touching. Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, all these sexually active young teens are criminals and sex offenders. They are lumped together with rapists and paedophiles... The existing consent at 16 law was introduced over 100 years ago in a puritanical Victorian era. Since then, society has moved on to more informed and enlightened attitudes about sex. Most importantly, the average age of puberty and sexual arousal has fallen dramatically to around ten to 11. In the light of new evidence, the issue should be revisited and re-examined. Whether we like it or not, under-age young people are having sex with each other."

Singapore Chinese Muslim stunned by Halal dietary question in job application
Comments: "The department I worked received public fund to buy a fridge and a microwave for the staff lounge. Immediately, a very domineering Muslim staff labelled them as halal when there was about only 5% of the staff was Muslims. This meant that if we had pork or lad in our lunch boxes or ham sandwiches, they could not be put into the fridge and the microwave. Then one staff used her own money to buy another fridge and microwave. That Muslim woman said she did not like the idea of having two sets because non-Muslims might carelessly place non-halal food in the halal fridge and microwave. The halal fridge was then moved to another location. Later, a new Muslim staff came and once she was appointed to take care of the welfare of the staff, she immediately labelled the fridge which was bought by a non-Muslim staff with her own money "Halal". In the past, we had Lunar New Year yusheng low-hey together as the food and utensils were prepared by a Muslim. Later, that domineering Muslim woman wanted two separate dishes when we did the Low-Hey side by side. The other Muslim staff, under the pressure of this woman complied. Two Muslim lady staff who did not wear the tudung were ostracised."
"Muslim food catering service company would not even interview a non muslim person. Would that make them racist?"
"I have friends who work in supermarkets refusing to serve customers who buy pork because they are muslims and can't touch pork...even pork inside plastic bag..."
"I remember getting told off for excusing myself from a meeting that went into overtime for 5-10 minutes to do my obligatory noon prayer. Plus a few dirty looks as well."

Obama's reply to a trans woman proves LGBT advocacy stops at gay marriage | Meredith Talusan | Comment is free | The Guardian - "when Gutiérrez shouted, “President Obama, I am a trans woman. I’m tired of the abuse. I’m tired of the violence,” she was advocating for an issue that cuts to the heart of what it means for a person to be treated with basic human dignity, regardless of immigration status. President Obama’s response was bracing as it was heartless, especially being the child of one non-American himself. “Listen, you’re in my house,” he said. And later: “I am just fine with a few hecklers, but not when I’m up in the house. You know what I mean? You know, my attitude is if you’re eating the hors d’oeuvres – you know what I’m saying?”"
If a straight white man had been the one heckling Obama, a Guardian columnist would be accusing the heckler of racism
Comments: "When giving a speech and you don't want to be interrupted that is the same as crushing all minority rights and ignoring their oppression. I love reading the Guardian, you guys wonder why you got murdered at the election."
"I'm glad that the other members of the LGBTQ community in the room supported the common decency most of us learn in kindergarten."
"She was shut down like troll she is; not just by the President but by the entire room."
"What did you expect Obama to do? You really expect him to say, "Oh, look, someone is shouting at me, interrupting this event - quick, hold the press, let's all listen carefully to everything she says and I'll immediately produce an executive order to meet the demands of illegal immigrant transgender activists from Mexico"? Should he pause to hear every heckler from every interest group that comes his way? If he did that, he'd never leave the room."

Pakistan heatwave: Death toll crosses 800 people in Sindh - "Matters have been made worse by the widespread abstention from water during daylight hours during the fasting month of Ramadan."

Singapore ranks 6th most expensive city for beer in the world, 2nd in Asia - "Within Asia, the only other city more costly than Singapore in terms of beer purchasing power is Hong Kong, which ranks 74th on the list. The Swiss city of Geneva takes the top spot as the most expensive city for a beer while the Polish city of Krakow lands on the other end of the spectrum, being the cheapest place to grab a cold one. Eastern European cities generally dominate the affordable end with cities such as Kiev, Bratislava and Belgrade holding the No. 2, 3 and 8 spots respectively on the index. For those looking to get cheaper beer closer to Singapore, both Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok rank within the top 10 cheapest places to buy."

Ecstasy 'no more dangerous than horse riding' - Telegraph

Elasticity of demand: Can bungee jumping be addictive? - "In one of our studies, we used semi-structured interviews to explore the experiences and understandings of two small groups of participants engaging in either dangerous sports (i.e., bungee jumpers) or recreational drug use (i.e., Ecstasy users)."

Video: Lost New Zealand woman survives on breast milk - Telegraph - "A New Zealand woman has spoken of how she survived lost in rugged wilderness by drinking her own breast milk and burying herself in dirt. Susan O'Brien was taking part in a gruelling 12.5 mile run in forest south of Wellington on Sunday when she took a wrong turn and became disorientated."

Church allows nude worship because 'Jesus was crucified naked' - "Pastor Allen Parker, the leader of White Tail Chapel in the town of Southampton, said he came to the decision to allow naked worship after concluding the clothing requirements of other churches were overly 'pretentious', and decided his own flock should be free to forgo such materialism if they desire... Robert and Katie Church were one couple to have a naked wedding at the White Tail Chapel, with Mr Church saying attendees were far more interested in 'hearing the word of God and speaking the word of God' than analysing the naked bodies on display. Mrs Church wasn't a nudist before the couple met, but says she has since come to love the experience of going to church in the nude and now considers her fellow worshipers 'family'"

Mom of 8-Year-Old Gay Pride Marcher Responds to Critics - "There was plenty to marvel at during the New York City Pride March on Sunday, but one precocious 8-year-old boy stood out from the crowd: Desmond Napoles, of Brooklyn, who joyously strutted and vogued his way down Fifth Avenue in a rainbow tutu and gold sequined cap. And when critics reared their heads on social media Monday, suggesting his participation was inappropriate, mom Wendylou Napoles shut them down with grace and pride"
How many of those condemning 8 year old Muslim girls wearing burkhas would celebrate this?

The world's tallest cow dies after a lifetime of Photoshop accusations - "Blosom, the world's tallest cow, was measured to be a full 6-foot-2 inches tall (190 cm) from hoof to withers when this photo was taken in early 2015."

How Affirmative Consent Laws Criminalize Everyone - "Affirmative consent laws trivialize sexual assault by turning nearly everyone who has ever dated into a sexual offender. For example, if a student throws her arms around her boyfriend and kisses him without his permission, even if she has done this dozens of times before, she has violated affirmative consent policies. She can, at some later date, be hauled before a campus judiciary on charges of sexual assault. Victims of sexual assault should fear this new regime, because it will inevitably confuse rightful cases of abuse with capricious accusations. Journalist Cathy Young writes, “One would think that [our] legislators would have some second thoughts about endorsing a bill that essentially redefines some 95 percent of human sexual encounters as rape (including married sex, since the bill specifically states that a prior relationship creates no presumption of consent)”... Law school professors have been at the forefront of criticizing the way affirmative consent rules violate basic principles of due process and fair procedure... “As things escalate, is he supposed to ask before each of the twenty, thirty, sixty steps? Nobody talks like that, not even lawyers.” George Mason’s David Bernstein writes “There is one type of sexual relationship that . . . involves primarily explicit consent–the relationship between a prostitute and her (or his) clients, with exact sexual services to be provided determined by explicit agreement in advance”... Ezra Klein, editor-in-chief of Vox, admits that under affirmative consent “too much counts as sexual assault” and that innocent students will be branded as rapists. Yet he supports it anyway because “men need to feel a cold spike of fear.”"

Photographs of the Islamic Tuareg tribe where women embrace sexual freedoms - "Before a woman marries, she is free to take as many lovers as she wants. 'They turn a blind eye,' explained Butler. 'The young girls have the same great freedoms as the boys'... The preference for the women's line goes as far as man leaving his possessions to his sister's son as it 'is considered a stronger link to your family than to your own son'. In other words, it can be guaranteed that your sister's child belongs to your sister, rather than a man's son, who cannot be absolutely guaranteed to share his genes. But there is one tradition which is certainly far more unusual: it is highly rude for a man to eat in front of a woman who he cannot have sexual relations with, or any of his elders. In front of his mother-in-law it is especially shameful... 'They think they are superior to other races,' Butler said. 'They are very proud. They certainly consider themselves superior to us. 'Perhaps they consider other cultures a bit stupid and, dare I say it, primitive.'"
If Islamic State isn't Islamic, how about a matrilineal tribe which allows unlimited pre-marital sex and doesn't follow Islamic divorce law?
Also, is it racist to condemn their racism?

How to Measure What Muslims Really Believe - "some ‘moderate’ voices are actually far on the left of the spectrum of Muslim opinion... about 195 million Muslims worldwide support suicide bombing and other acts of violence against civilians... the global percentage is just 12 percent. The Anjem Choudarys of the world get the media attention—perhaps for lack of Muslim leadership, perhaps out of Western media bias—but nine out of ten Muslims disagree with him. For now"

More than 42 MILLION Muslims 'support Islamic State' - "More than 8.5million people view ISIS positively, and around 42million view them somewhat positively, according to the data."

On convincing others, trolling etc

“I ceased in the year 1764 to believe that one can convince one’s opponents with arguments printed in books. It is not to do that, therefore, that I have taken up my pen, but merely so as to annoy them, and to bestow strength and courage on those on our own side, and to make it known to the others that they have not convinced us.” – Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

"Je demande une grâce que je crains qu’on ne m’accorde pas : c’est de ne pas juger, par la lecture d’un moment, d’un travail de vingt années ; d’approuver ou de condamner le livre entier, et non pas quelques phrases. Si l’on veut chercher le dessein de l’auteur, on ne le peut bien découvrir que dans le dessein de l’ouvrage...

Je me croirais le plus heureux des mortels, si je pouvais faire que les hommes pussent se guérir de leurs préjugés. J’appelle ici préjugés, non pas ce qui fait qu’on ignore de certaines choses, mais ce qui fait qu’on s’ignore soi-même."

--- Préface, De l’esprit des lois (1748) / Montesquieu

"I ask for a favour that I fear will not be given me: to not judge, from a momentary reading, a work of twenty years; to approve of or condemn the whole book, and not just a few sentences. If one wants took find the intention of the author, one cannot do better than to look at the plan of this work...

I would believe myself the happiest of mortals if I could get men to rid themselves of their prejudices. I call "prejudices", not that which causes us to not know certain things, but that which causes one to not know himself"

--- Preface, The Spirits of the Laws (1748) / Montesquieu

Protecting the Elderly from Sexual Exploitationn

B: Older men have no business around kids even if it's the age of consent. Just because a 16 year old agrees to have sex with you doesn't mean you should.

Me: So the age of consent is meaningless?

What about older women and 16 year olds?

A: All adults should refrain from preying on kids. If they cannot vote, even if they're legal, why the heck do you want to manipulate children for sex for. Men and women.

Me: All adults should also refrain from preying on the elderly. If they need help to walk, you shouldn't be having sex with them!

A: Are you going around having sex with the elderly? I dunno if they're adult and around the same age (21 and 70? 60 and 70?) I don't think we should tell elderly people they cannot have sex.

Me: The Elderly are vulnerable and we should protect them from exploitation

Defense Attorney: What is your age?

Little Old Woman: I am 86 years old

Defense Attorney: Will you tell us, in your own words, what happened to you?

Little Old Woman: There I was, sitting there in my swing on my front porch on a warm Spring evening, when a young man comes creeping up on the porch and sat down beside me.

Defense Attorney: Did you know him?

Little Old Woman: No, but he sure was friendly.

Defense Attorney: What happened after he sat down?

Little Old Woman: He started to rub my thigh.

Defense Attorney: Did you stop him?

Little Old Woman: No, I didn't stop him.

Defense Attorney: Why not?

Little Old Woman: It felt good. Nobody had done that since my Abner passed away some 30 years ago.

Defense Attorney: What happened next?

Little Old Woman: He began to rub my breasts.

Defense Attorney: Did you stop him then?

Little Old Woman: No, I didn't stop him.

Defense Attorney: Why not?

Little Old Woman: Because his rubbing made me feel all alive and excited. I haven't felt that good in years!!

Defense Attorney: What happened next?

Little Old Woman: Well, I was feeling so spicy that I just laid down and said to him, "Take me... young man... Take me!"

Defense Attorney: Did he take you?

Little Old Woman: Hell no! He just yelled "April Fool" and that's when I shot the little bastard.

B: Elderly vulnerable? Try trying to exploit an old lady for sex and see whether the walking stick comes flying or not

A: ... Old lady =adult with XX years of experience right? Imagine if the old lady had dementia or Alzheimer's. How funny is the story? What's so wrong about saying that we adults should refrain from acts that may cause harm to those weaker, less experienced or more vulnerable than us?

Me: Why do con men and magic stone salesmen target the elderly?

B: Aiyo we talking sex not greed or fear

I don't think the elderly will so easily be conned into sex than say being cheated monetarily

Me: Heartbreak alley for lonely old men: STAR

"This was my personal encounter with a victim of a social ill frequently reported that arose from the influx of Chinese women who came with just one thing in mind – using sex to make their fortune from married or elderly men."

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Singapore and the Culture of Fear

"A lecturer in psychology at the National University of Singapore, [Chee Soon Juan] was sacked for improperly using research funds. The charge was filed by Chee’s departmental chair, who was also a PAP member of Parliament. Chee had used research funds to pay for courier services to deliver his wife's doctoral dissertation to an American university. The sum involved was $226. Chee and the university disagreed as to whether this use of funds was improper. At a later date, the head of Chee‘s former department brought charges of defamation against Chee. The Social Democratic Party and other Singaporeans perceived the action as a warning to professionals to avoid the opposition (Fong 1993). Reporters from the Straits Times talked with a small number of university academics, most of whom sympathized with Chee. All spoke on condition of anonymity because, as the reporter noted, according to “their terms of employment, they cannot comment on university policy“ (Insight 1993:14).

A Singapore judge found Chee guilty of defaming three university people, including Chee‘s former boss; damages and court costs to be paid by Chee amounted to about U.S. $156,000. At the time of the decision, Chee was broke and without a regular job (Straits Times Weekly Edition, 23 April 1994).

The same year as Chee's sacking, at a seminar concerning how to get young people politically involved, the discussion was dominated by expressions of fear for the fate that awaits critical Singaporeans. A Government spokesperson said such fear was unjustified. However one participant pointed out that even professors who were critical of the Government were harshly treated, and another noted that student unions at universities were forbidden to make political statements (Straits Times Weekly Edition, 10 July 1993).

Several newspaper personnel were tried in 1993 for violating the Official Secrets Act. At the time, “[a]lthough a number of reporters and editors expressed anger over the prosecutions, none would allow their name to be used, saying they feared retaliation from the Government" (Shenon 1993:Y12)."

--- The Struggle Over Singapore's Soul: Western Modernization and Asian Culture / Joseph B. Tamney (1996)

Nazi Women

"A male-dominated and male-oriented movement, nazism almost completely ignored women and women's issues during the early 1920s. The relatively few women who associated themselves with the Nazi cause in this phase of its development did so on their own initiative without encouragement, guidance, or control from the party. Although generally older than their male counterparts, Nazi women tended to share many similar characteristics with them. Of middle— and lower—middle—class origin, Nazi women were also predominantly Protestant, extremely nationalistic, anti-Marxist, and cultural traditionalists; some were also religious and anti-Semitic. Fearful of the rising tide of the socialist masses and distressed by the decline of the German middle classes after World War I, these women resented the modern economic and political trends of the Weimar Republic, which they held responsible for the social displacement of their class and the threats to their country. Moreover, these women were disillusioned with the female emancipation and legal equality provided by Wemiar. To some traditionalists, the rise of the “modern woman" degraded and endangered the natural role of women as mothers and wives. For other, the promises of emancipation and equality turned to disappointment and disillusionment. Instead of improving their economic condition, such changes really meant low—paying work or poverty, while stripping away traditional protections as well as the respect and status afforded by traditional roles for women in society. Reacting against the supposed causes of their plight as women and Germans, Nazi women sought a movement that would save their country and class through reestablishing a strong state and return the protection and stability for women that had been provided by stable families and traditional society."

--- A History of Nazi Germany: 1919-1945 / Joseph W. Bendersky

Links - 16th July 2015

Why we’re so scared of GMOs, according to someone who has studied them since the start - The Washington Post - "When Chipotle announced earlier this year that it would no longer serve food made with genetically modified organisms due to safety concerns, customers rejoiced. But there was one big problem: Just as more Americans grow wary of GMOs, the scientific community is moving in the opposite direction. There is now near unanimity among scientists that GMOs are safe to eat. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association have all said that GMOs are fine for consumption."

Apple is removing App Store games that show the Confederate flag - ""Now, it appears that Apple has decided to join them by pulling many Civil War wargames from the App Store. As of the writing of this story, games like Ultimate General: Gettysburg and all the Hunted Cow Civil War games are nowhere to be found. Apple is famous for reaching for the axe rather than the scalpel when it comes to political issues (like rejecting Hunted Cow's Tank Battle 1942 for depicting Germans and Russians as enemies), so this move doesn't come as a great surprise.""

Singapore ranks high in financial well-being, lags in other measures: Gallup study - "For financial well-being, which Gallup defined as “managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security”, Singapore was ranked ninth worldwide. Singapore was ranked 72nd worldwide for community well-being, defined as “liking where you live, feeling safe and having pride in your community”. It scored 111th in purpose well-being – “Liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals”; 127 in social well-being – “having supportive relationships and love in your life”; and 137th in physical well-being – “having good health and enough energy to get things done daily”. The index aggregates the scores in the five categories to arrive at Singapore’s overall 97th ranking. Among South-east Asian nations, the Republic ranked behind Myanmar (20), Malaysia (41), Philippines (43), Thailand (50), Indonesia (73), Vietnam (93). Cambodia came in slightly below Singapore at 99."
Maybe Maslow wasn't quite right

I spent the last 15 years trying to become an American. I've failed. - "American immigration law leaves the skilled immigrant feeling like an indentured serf... surveys show that of students from abroad studying at certain US universities, only 6 percent from India, 10 percent from China, and 15 percent from Europe expect to stay in America permanently, in large part because of the difficulties of the American immigration system... Never mind the tired, the poor, or the huddled masses. When the rest of the world sends America its best and brightest, America says, "Go away.""

The Tricks People Use to Avoid Debate - "Want to avoid a debate? Just tell your opponent to check his privilege. Or tell him he’s slut-shaming or victim-blaming, or racist, or sexist, or homophobic, or transphobic, or Islamophobic, or cisphobic, or some other creative term conveying that you are simply too outraged by the argument to actually engage it. Or, on the other side of the coin, accuse him of being the PC thought police and then snap your laptop smugly. In the art of debate avoidance, each political camp has honed a particular style. Conservatives generally aim for the prenup approach, to preempt any messy showdowns. If you want to join the club, then you have to sign a contract or make a pledge—no new taxes, no abortions, no gay marriage—and thereafter recite from a common script. Progressives indulge a shouting match of competing identities that resembles an argument but is in fact the opposite, because its real aim is to rule certain debates out of bounds."

Stan Lee Stands Up For White Spider-Man; Says Create New Characters - ""I wouldn’t mind, if Peter Parker had originally been black, a Latino, an Indian or anything else, that he stay that way,” Lee told Newsarama. “But we originally made him white. I don’t see any reason to change that”... “It has nothing to do with being anti-gay, or anti-black, or anti-Latino, or anything like that,” Lee said. “Latino characters should stay Latino. The Black Panther should certainly not be Swiss. I just see no reason to change that which has already been established when it’s so easy to add new characters. I say create new characters the way you want to. Hell, I’ll do it myself.”"

Jurassic World Called "Racist" Over Dinosaur Name - "Some viewers of Jurassic World are taking offense to the film, calling one of the lines in the movie "racist." Specifically, the abbreviation of the dinosaur Pachycephalosaurus. During the course of the film, the Pachycephalosaurus escape from their enclosures, leading one character to shout, "The Pachys are out of containment!" This has led news outlets and Twitter users to call the film "racist.""

A Tesco In London Is Promoting Ramadan With Bacon-Flavoured Pringles - "The smokey-bacon-flavoured Pringles are suitable for both vegans and vegetarians – they have bacon-flavoured seasoning to achieve the taste."
Why aren't Jews offended by Kosher Bacon Salt and Kosher Baconnaise?

Ramadan fasting: Modern opposition to age-old rules - "One primary-school trust grew so concerned about children fainting, becoming ill or missing out on parts of the curriculum, that it banned fasting this month... In many Muslim communities, there is a knee-jerk negative reaction to anything progressive or sensible, with certain people assuming that these measures automatically "water down" the faith. This is borne of an insecurity which deems the most severe version of a religion to be the most "authentic", and means that dissenting voices end up feeling isolated and unheard"

Algerians protest against mandatory fasting - "About 300 people in a restive northern region of Algeria have joined a public lunch during Ramadan to protest against what they say is persecution of people who refuse to observe the religious fast. The lunch on Saturday was highly unusual for North Africa, where people can be arrested for not fasting during the Muslim holy month."

Kind Taxi Driver Rewarded with LTA Summon - "To make it easier for the elderly lady, the driver said the stopped near a zebra crossing in the vicinity. The taxi driver is hoping that the LTA will take into account his kind intentions, and repeal the penalty."

Chef Wan: Malaysia should be 1st, not 6th on CNN’s food ranking - "The ranking was determined by CNN’s readers’ votes in a public poll on its Facebook page, with Taiwan topping the chart with 8,242 votes. At second place is the Philippines with 1,528 votes, a result that received scorn from Chef Wan who claimed the republic should have been right at the bottom. “Philippines is known to have the worst food in Asia, ask any chefs and they will tell you I am right," said the chef."

Guns in America: For every criminal killed in self-defense, 34 innocent people die - ""The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun." says Wayne LaPierre, the vice president of the National Rifle Association. That's become the kernel of the NRA's response to recent mass shooting tragedies -- if only more people carried guns for protection, the thinking goes, then they would be less likely to be victimized by gun-wielding criminals... guns are rarely used in self-defense -- especially relative to the rate at which they're used in criminal homicides or suicides... Or, look at it this way. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that in 2012 there were 20,666 suicides by gun. That works out to one self-defense killing for every 78 gun suicides. CDC data show that there were more than twice as many accidental gun fatalities as as justifiable killings."

Millennials' Political Views Don't Make Any Sense - "Millennial politics is simple, really. Young people support big government, unless it costs any more money. They're for smaller government, unless budget cuts scratch a program they've heard of. They'd like Washington to fix everything, just so long as it doesn't run anything." That's all from a new Reason Foundation poll surveying 2,000 young adults between the ages of 18 and 29. Millennials' political views are, at best, in a stage of constant metamorphosis and, at worst, "totally incoherent," as Dylan Matthews puts it... You get the sense, reading the Reason Foundation and Pew studies, that a savvy pollster could trick a young person into supporting basically any economic policy in the world with the right combination of triggers... Forty-two percent of Millennials think socialism is preferable to capitalism, but only 16 percent of Millennials could accurately define socialism in the survey"

British tobacco policy experts say Singapore ban on e-cigarettes and low-risk tobacco products, unscientific, unethical and harmful to health - "In a detailed letter to the Minister, Mr. Gan Kim Yong, the two veterans of the European and international struggle against tobacco-related disease, argue that banning low risk alternatives to smoking would be unscientific, unethical and harmful to health – and effectively a protection of the cigarette trade at the expense of the health of smokers."

Scientists show future events decide what happens in the past

Will your self-driving car be programmed to kill you if it means saving more strangers?

Disable Clipboard Manipulations in Firefox - "The solution is simple:
locate dom.event.clipboardevents.enable preference item in Firefox about:config, and set it to false (default is true)"
The costs of allowing websites to manipulate your clipboard are higher than the benefits. DIE, READ MORE SCRIPTS!!!
Addendum: This screws up sites like Facebook and Quora though so NoScript might be better
Keywords: tynt, adblock plus

A Wall Street ‘wolf,’ a Swedish model and a lurid $18 million sexual harassment battle - "“I saw a 6-foot-tall homeless black man named James lying on her bed,” Wey wrote to Bouveng’s father, according to evidence at the trial. “The man was totally naked, dirty, totally drunk and perhaps on illegal drugs.” Later that day, Wey fired Bouveng and kicked her out of the apartment. “He screamed, ‘You f—– bitch, I’m going to revoke your visa today,” Bouveng claimed in court... Wey did admit to visiting her cafe in Stockholm and persistently sending her messages, including a pornographic picture of a black sex toy being used on a white woman."

'Dancing aunties' in Hong Kong accused of offering prostitution services - "Residents near the Sai Yeung Choi public pedestrian area, located in the heart of Hong Kong's busy Mong Kok district, have voiced complaints over the proliferation of dancing aunties in the space, even accusing the middle-aged women of offering prostitution services in the guise of innocent square dancers. Most of the troupes are made up of middle-aged mainland women, the standard dancing aunties who've become notorious across China for their courtyard hobby, usually accompanied by loud music blaring out of speakers. Mong Kok residents, however, are claiming that some of the dancers' activities are more than just a nuisance—they're illegal"

Whisky made from diabetics' urine

Bad Malaysian Photoshop

While browsing the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra's (MPO) 2013/2014 Season Brochure, one of the pages struck me as odd:

On further reflection, one realises that there is a gaping hole near the conductor:

The woman who is presumably the First Violinist is playing without a music stand, and there is an odd open area beside her (and the conductor).

The MPO seems to have been a victim of Soviet-style photoshop!

One wonders what the (former) First Violinist did to deserve such a fate...

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Meaning of Don McLean's American Pie

Best of Today: The Meaning of Don McLean's American Pie (7/4/15)

Alexis Petridis (head rock and pop critic at the Guardian): I think the whole song, what it's saying, it's about a very, sort of specific moment in American popular culture.

The song comes out in 1971, at which point the sort of 60s dream, the late 60s kind of utopian flower power whatever you want to call it, dream, has curdled very dramatically, as a result of the Altamont festival, which is 1969 where people got murdered while the Rolling Stones were played by Hell's Angels.

And what it strikes me that American Pie is doing is looking back at the 60s and going, well all these things happened. It mentions John Lennon, it mentions Bob Dylan, it mentions The Birds, all these people.

But, for all these sort of advances that took place in music and popular culture, what happened to the original sort of innocence of rock and roll? Y'know? That seems to be the question that it's posing...

Host: We all think that music was at its greatest when we were, well when we're in our teens, I suppose.

AP: Absolutely, and that's why the song, I think, rings down through the ages.

Y'know, it's a long time since the sort of moment that I'm talking about, in the early 70s when this would've hit home... music is always most exciting when you're 15 years old. And everybody, everybody thinks that.

Links - 15th July 2015

Yes, we have spoken to Cardboard Uncles and Aunties. - "Looking at the comments of the past 24 hours, some referred to my team through our friends, one would have thought that we had committed atrocities and transgressions of the worst nature... It is not long after we realised that the collectors are reflecting the same sentiments as some of our previous interviewees... This is the moment when we realised that this community has diverse needs, each collector have their story to tell and implementing a blanket “solution” to problems we perceived to exist, would truly be an ostentatious form of “wayang”... These are our main findings:
1. Most cardboard collectors do it for the money (no doubts about it).
2. Minority does it for otherreasons – form of leisure/exercise, recycling (small but exists).
3. Most hold another job (in orderto earn enough/have other sources of income security, depending on how you seeit).
4. Most are financially able tosupport themselves/deny the need for assistance (again, depending on how you see it).
5. Most are supported/offeredsupport by their families, including a few who do not want their families to know,as they do not approve.
6. Cardboard collectors are facing competition from younger foreigners...
It was all worth it though, and especially heartwarming when the collectors start recognising you and initiate the morning greetings"
Not only can the subaltern not speak, but people don't believe him when he does

Why is Vladimir Putin always late? - "Putin’s tardiness is legendary, with journalists working in the Kremlin pool detailing regular waits of several hours as meetings rarely start on time. His lateness varies from leader to leader, and in Putin’s terms, an hour’s wait is a sign of respect. He was 50 minutes late for his first meeting with Pope Francis in 2013. Ukraine’s ousted president Viktor Yanukovych, however, was once kept waiting for four hours, while European leaders regularly report a wait of an hour or more... Given that Putin manages to make it on time to televised press conferences and set-piece events, the general assumption is that his tardiness when meeting with Russian and international politicians is a calibrated psychological policy. But being late is something Putin has done for a long time. His former wife Lyudmila Putina once recounted how his lateness to their first dates reduced her to tears. “I was never late, but Vladimir Vladimirovich always was. An hour and a half was normal. I remember standing around in the metro. The first 15 minutes of lateness are OK, half an hour also fine. But when an hour goes by and he’s still not there, you start crying.”

Getting naked on a mountain in Malaysia isn't half as offensive as what we let foreigners do in Britain - Telegraph - "Now, as a general rule, I think it’s a good idea not to do things that might get you arrested in foreign countries. I am not someone who generally has much sympathy for people who travel to another country, knowingly break the law, and then cry “foul” and wave their British passports around like a get-out-of-jail-free card. It isn’t. You do the crime, you do the time, whether it is smuggling drugs or, in this case, public nudity. But can we please get a sense of perspective here? The only reason anyone is offended by the prank is because the pictures were posted on Facebook by one of the group. No one else saw them strip off except their park ranger guide, who later reported it to police, and all the many millions of Malaysians who appear to have spent many hours searching Facebook for the offending photographs so they could be offended by them... What if Miss Hawkins had holidayed in Haiti and now stood accused of using voodoo to kill innocent Haitians – would we have to respect local cultures and beliefs then?... The only place where that rule doesn’t apply is in Britain, when anyone and everyone can travel to our country and be allowed to do and say whatever they want, even if it directly conflicts with the values and beliefs of most Britons. That is what we call “freedom”. Despite the blatant contradiction with our values of gender equality and inclusion, for instance, it is legal for a Muslim woman to cover her face with a burkha or niqab"

Judge says 'cultural context' should be considered when investigating allegations of parental child abuse - "A High Court judge has enraged child protection experts after saying that “cultural context” should be taken into account when investigating allegations of parental child abuse. Mrs Justice Pauffley said that within “many communities newly arrived” in Britain, children were “slapped and hit” for misbehaviour in a way which “at first excites the interest of child protection professionals.” Speaking about a particular case involving a boy who claimed he had been hit with a belt by his father, she said “proper allowance must be made” for the fact the family came from another culture - in this case, India... It is not illegal for a parent to hit their child as long as the smack amounts to “reasonable punishment”. Unreasonable punishment is classed as a smack that leaves a mark on the child, or the use of an implement to hit the child, such as a belt or cane."

Can You Make It Through This Post Without Saying WTF

An Hero | Know Your Meme - "Following Mitchell’s suicide, his friends and classmates created a Myspace memorial to him. As is the case with a typical seventh-grader’s Myspace, the comments contained grammatical errors; which unfortunately, trolls tend to exploit. One comment stood out in particular:
“He was such an hero, to take it all away. We miss him so, That you should know, And we honor him this day. He was an hero, to take that shot, to leave us all behind. God do we wish we could take it back, And now he’s on our minds. Mitchell was an hero, to leave us feeling like this, Our minds are rubber, our joints don’t work, Our tears fall into abyss. He was an hero, to take that shot, In life it wasn’t his task, He shouldn’t have had to go that way, before an decade’d past. Now he sits there in my heart, this hero of mine, Always there to make me smile, Make me feel just fine. He had courage,that boy did, courage in his heart. To take that shot, To end his pain, To tear us all apart. But in the end, he died in courage. Lacking, nevermore, He died a hero, Mitchell did, And we’ll love him forevermore. We love you like an brother. We miss you so much. We will always love you, kid. Rest In Peace Mitch. ~Lila”"
The suicide of a seventh-grader for unknown reasons is a heroic act?

Batman Begins: Why Christopher Nolan's origin story is the series' best - "Nolan and David S Goyer's screenplay shrewdly highlights the fact that Bruce Wayne has two masks, not one: the playboy douche is as crucial to maintaining his double life as the bat, and as destructive to his relationships. His apparent rich slacker lifestyle alienates childhood sweetheart Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes), while Alfred (Michael Caine) increasingly worries that he's getting lost inside the bat persona."

There's A Link Between Cat Ownership And Schizophrenia - "researchers theorize that the parasite Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii), which is found in cats and can be passed on to humans, could play some role in the development of the mental illness"

Death to All Juice | Know Your Meme - "On December 28th, 2008, New Jersey high school student Carlos Almonte attended a protest held outside of the Israeli embassy in New York against the bombing of the Gaza region. While protesting, he held up a picket sign that read “Death To All (Zionist) Juice.”"

Turkey Rebukes Erdogan - WSJ - "This is good news for the political life of Turkey because it shows an electorate alert to stop what has been Mr. Erdogan’s creeping authoritarianism. As Prime Minister from 2003-2014, he harassed opponents in business, the media, the military and even the courts. If he were able to coalesce more power into a dominant Presidency, he could rule like aVladimir Putin with Islamist characteristics."
The limits of a "mildly Islamist" government...

Phoenix nations - "Critical mass; plausible borders; sympathy abroad; a story; a diaspora; fragile overlords: where might these conditions next be met? Russia, itself an internal empire, could yet disintegrate. So, under the strain of democratisation, might China, perhaps opening a path to statehood for Tibet and the Uighurs, persecuted Muslims. Another realignment of the Middle East seems inevitable. If Syria falls apart, speculates Mr Ishak, the Assyrian, some of his scattered brethren might come back. In the very long term, there is always hope."

Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui

And the Pulitzer goes to… a computer - "Quill quickly learned to frame stories to suit its audience. If the readers were the supporters of a particular baseball team, it gave the match report from that team’s vantage. Likewise, if it is creating two company reports based on the same data, the machine can produce a positive emphasis for clients and a must-try-harder tone for employees. It has learned the art of spin. Much of that comes from analysis of narrative arcs, of basic plotlines. Like any decent hack, the machine is coming to learn that there are only five or six compelling tales available: back from the brink, outrageous fortune, sudden catastrophe and so on"

Somali brutally raped 12-year-old girl – sentenced to 180 hours of community service - "The court concluded that it is beyond reasonable doubt that he raped the girl vaginally, showered her face / head with blows and held a hand in front of her mouth. Nonetheless Mohamud was sentenced to a measly 180 hours of community service with probation because he had “some trouble with anxiety and sleeping” and was allegedly** 17 years of age at the time."

Cover up to ‘respect’ Muslims, Mufti tells non-Muslims in dress code rows - Non-Muslims should dress more “appropriately” in public places out of “respect” for Muslims who will sin upon seeing people, including non-Muslims, who do not cover their “aurat”, Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria said amid the controversy surrounding conservative dress codes enforced at government departments... Harussani said Malaysians should be more open to the idea of non-Muslims dressing “appropriately” as Malaysia is seen as an “Islamic role model country”."
"Do Muslims respect non-Muslims?

What Makes the Expat Lifestyle So Addictive? - Expat - WSJ - "the moment people become expats, they enter a whole new state of mind. “It’s like becoming a Switzerland, neutral – politically and emotionally – and experiencing a culture without having to be involved with the internal affairs”... Abroad, they feel free, independent, adventurous, curious, valued for their skills and self-aware. “As an expat, I have the ability to live in a foreign country and just be left alone to do,” says Mr. Middagh. In other words, a distilled sense of oneself in relationship to the world is the real expat “drug.” But this isn’t toxic, most expats argue. It’s a fantastic way of experiencing life."

24-Hour Mamak Stalls May Soon Cease To Exist, As Government Blames Them For Social Ills - "“Malaysia is perhaps the only country in the world where one can find eateries and restaurants open 24 hours,” he explained. “But it’s different here due to the presence of many who require the services of this industry, such as tourists, foreign migrants and so on. The leeway has contributed to social ills. “There are concerns that the young spend too much idle time in such places and get involved in unhealthy activities,” he elaborated further."
Malaysia Boleh!

Marina Mahathir: Malaysia undergoing ‘Arab colonialism’ - "“Kaftans are easy to wear. But what happened to our tradition, culture, everything? It’s lost,” she lamented, pointing out that Malay women below 50 generally do not know how to tie the ‘baju kurung’ skirt so that it falls into pleats and makes it easier to walk in. The eldest child of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Islam’s biggest problem in Malaysia is the fear of knowledge of the religion itself. “Islam has a very strong intellectual history, but there’s no intellect at all in the way Islam is taught here. We’re taught rituals; we’re not taught about the great thinkers and differences between them,” she said. “When you read the history of Islam when it first came down, it was about doing away with tribalism... but you now have this thing where you’re wanting to go to a tribe, or else, the other tribes, even though all are officially Muslim, are not allowed,” she added. The Sunni denomination is the prevalent ideology in Malaysia and any other Islamic schools of thought, including Shia, are considered deviant. Marina also criticised the authorities for “inventing new enemies all the time”"

Chinese privilege 102

An article that has since been deleted:

Chinese privilege 102
by Red Pill Dude

For anyone interested in finding out more about the Sangeetha Thanapal aka batshit crazy envious Indian woman who considers herself an expert on concept of ”privilege” and how it applies to the different races in Singapore, here’s a treat for you! Someone actually interviewed her to actually seek her opinion on Chinese privilege, gender and intersectionality in Singapore. It’s funny because the chick interviewing Sangeetha is equally mental (she is the author of this delightful article: To My Dear Fellow Singaporean Chinese: Shut Up When a Minority is Talking about Race)

Instead of wadding through the whole sorry interview, I’ll lessen both your and my pain by just extracting the best bits for me to mock and ridicule.

In recent years, the number of interracial marriages in Singapore have risen. This is to be expected–after all, we are a multiracial country with a multitude of races and cultures. In 2012, one in five marriages was interethnic.

Oh really? That’s good to hear. Men should be free to women of their choosing and vice versa. Let’s mix and melt it up baby.


Singapore prides itself on being a postracial society (Ed: wtf is a post racial society?!), and within the Indian community, there has been indeed been a strong increase of Indian men dating and marrying Chinese women. And yet, the reverse is rarely true–Chinese men do not usually date or marry Indian women.

Hmm…Indian men hooking up with Chinese chicks…but why???


Hmm…Chinese men rarely hooking up with Indian chicks…but why???


:) . I keed I keed. That’s just plain ole cherry picking ain’t it. There is a reason why Chinese men rarely date Indian women and why Indian men are increasingly dating and marrying Chinese women. Personally, as an Indian guy, I find that Indian women are generally unattractive both in physical appearance and character. They tend to be overweight and have really unpleasant personalities on top of being incredibly drama prone. Did I mention they tend to have pretty severe inferiority complexes? If I had a penny for every time one of my Indian female friends bitched about Chinese girls…either calling out their lack of booty or flat chests. I always make it a point to remind them that being fat and thereby having a large ass and boobs does not make you sexually attractive. Otherwise BBW would be all the rage in the porn industry.


Of course there are some that I find highly attractive but they are few and far between.


It is also important to realize that the Indian men who marry Chinese women are by and large extremely well-educated members of the higher Indian-Singaporean socioeconomic classes. Chinese women are not marrying blue-collar Indian men, but rather those considered most eligible.

You have any evidence for this? I highly doubt so. You are probably talking out of your large bountiful ass.

Indian men who date Chinese women are desperate to assimilate. They instinctively realize the privilege of being Chinese, and unable to access it any other way, aspire to marry a Chinese woman. They do not have to experience racism as much when their wives’ Chinese privilege protects them, and it gives them access to opportunities that are usually reserved for Chinese people. They are effectively deracializing themselves.(Ed: Wtf does this mean)


Hahahahaaaaa. In this statement, you see the mental gymnastics that is taking place in Sangeetha’s mind. In the convoluted labyrinthine that is her mind, Indian men’s increasing preference for Chinese women has EVERYTHING to do with grabbing some of that valuable Chinese privilege for themselves and NOTHING to do with Indian men finding Chinese women’s slim, fair taugeh bodies and/or personality attractive. Also, by boning Chinese woman, I experience less racism and more opportunities as an Indian guy?! Who wouldn’t want to marry Chinese woman lol

Heterosexual patriarchy is also at work here.

I was expecting for the ‘P’ word to pop up sooner or later…

Women are expected to marry up wherever possible.

Women want to marry up whenever possible. So do their parents. Marrying up, in terms of status/money, would allow the woman to live a more comfortable life and provide for her kids better than she could have if she married otherwise (down or across). It’s called hypergamy and explains why women love love love high status men.


Indian women occupy the lowest rung of the Singaporean race hierarchy, and Chinese men occupy the highest. For a Chinese man to date and marry an Indian woman means to marry far beneath his status. Chinese women of a middling socio-economic class can move up a class by marrying the wealthiest indian men in the country. These Indian men, lacking racial privilege, which is itself a ‘property right’, can also move up the racial class through gaining access to their wives’ racial privilege. Chinese men gain nothing and lose everything by marrying an Indian girl, while Indian men gain access to racial privilege and Chinese women to class privilege by marrying rich Indian men.

Hold yer horses. Firstly, you say that both Chinese woman and Indian men gain from marrying each other. Chinese woman gain class privilege aka money while Indian men gain racial privilege. You have any proof of this? That the Chinese woman are only marrying wealthy Indian men? I doubt so. From what I’ve seen, both sides are roughly at the same social status.

Secondly, you say that Chinese men gain nothing and lose everything by marrying an Indian girl eh. What about a scenario where a poor Chinese dude marries a wealthy Indian woman. Doesn’t that move them up a class privilege ladder? Why then don’t we see more Chinese men marrying Indian women?

But what about Indian women? Singapore does not break down interracial marriages by gender, which obfuscates this racist situation, but the number of people needing to marry into Chineseness shows how powerless the minority communities really are.

Really? See what you can find when you look past your (racist) prejudices and bother do actually do some research. Below is a graph of the inter-ethnic marriages in 2013 in Singapore that I managed to find within 5 minutes.


I do not even see Indian men and Chinese woman being registered in this list (Civil Marriages) at all. And why? That’s because they do not constitute any sizable percentage at all…These are statistics from 2013 but it should be fairly the same as the current situation now. So what does this all come to?

Indian women like me do not usually have access to the same opportunities Indian men have. Again, we observe the complex intertwinement of sexual, class, and race discrimination here, and the internal paradoxes and contradictions to official postracial, egalitarian Singaporean rhetoric are obvious.

What is obvious for all to see is that we have a professional victim moaning and whining about how disadvantaged she is due to her race. She goes on a long rant bitching about something she calls Chinese privilege and concludes that she is at the lowest in her imaginary privilege totem pole. So in conclusion,

So you're a professional victim that preys on people, who will feel bad for you.
Tell me again why I'm actually supposed to give a fuck?

Related: The double captivity of ‘Chinese privilege’

Good comment by Masturah Alatas:

"Others have responded critically to the line that Thanapal and Koh have been pushing regarding their work on Chinese privilege. Among the criticisms I have come across are: too many generalizations and sweeping statements, conflation of concepts, a ranting, hostile, emotional tone; denigration of Indian men and Chinese women re their choice of marriage partner, the choice of frivolous examples like beauty contests to talk about a serious issue like gender discrimination, use of terms without really understanding them etc.

Any term built on an already problematic and flawed concept like White privilege is bound to run into serious problems. Works such as Theodore Allen’s The Invention of the White Race, Noel Ignatiev’s How the Irish became White and Sander Gilman’s ‘Are Jews White?’ in his book The Jew’s Body show that there is no common or consistent understanding of whiteness as one thing to begin with. Nor is there a common sense of privilege.

It is also a language problem, what words do when they appear in speech. Of course privilege exists, some people may not be aware of its negative effects and it is useful to remind them. But the moment one drops a term like Chinese privilege into the discussion, the reaction is often ‘What does that mean?’, ‘What has ‘Chinese’ got to do with it? Many Malaysian Malays are like that too’, ‘Why not just use the term Chinese chauvinism?’, ‘Why only Singaporean Chinese…many Malaysian Chinese are the same way…’, ‘Why are academics always talking about China these days?’ and the discussion becomes very confusing, circuitous, inconclusive and unproductive.

There is good scholarship and good writing about Singapore, if you know how to recognise it. This is a challenge further complicated by the amount of material available online, on platforms that readers give credibility to.

One final thing. The interview carries the byline of its editor, Petra Dierkes-Thrun, which is unusual for an interview. We are not told how the interview, called a “conversation”, was conducted—whether face-to-face, recorded and transcribed, or via email. Lack of clarity is understandable and inevitable in spontaneous speech. But if responses were written, then edited, why is there still lack of clarity (and I am not refering to typos like “..think in terms of the language and social of the dominant group..”)? What are we to make of “…it places the blame for failure on those who did not work hard enough…” So they did not work hard enough, or they were perceived as not working hard enough? Here we have the return of the myth of the lazy native.

Moreover, why does the interviewer not ask for clarification or call the interviewee out in the face of her naive and troubling conviction that Singapore is the only decolonised state that “has a completely alien population control political and economic power, while the formerly decolonized indigenous people remain continuously marginalized”? Apart from the fact that Malays do vote in Singapore, and the Singapore government has always shared political power in a multiracial coalition, the notion of “alien population” is troubling. Are Singaporean Chinese still considered an alien population in Singapore today? When did they start to become one? And when, pray tell, will they stop? Do Native Americans still consider other Americans an “alien population”? For the record, the Chinese have been present on Southeast Asian territory since the tenth century, not just as merchants but also settling down and marrying local people.

If Adeline Koh chooses not to react because she is following her own advice to “shut up when a minority is talking about race”, then the question is: who is damaged in the end by this approach?"

Comments on The double captivity of ‘Chinese privilege’ – Masturah Alatas - The Malaysian Insider:

Masturah Alatas: "Does Alfian really think that mental captivity is simply about ‘borrowing imported concepts from the West’ and not about how
we borrow and use them? Does he really, seriously, believe that anybody who uses a ‘Western concept’ is a captive mind? How could S.H. Alatas have written the captive mind essay, let alone his books, if he himself believed in such an absurdity? Why would I have discussed Emerson and Du Bois together to make a point about creatively borrowing ideas and literary modernisms (see the New
Mandala site where my article originally appears)? Aren’t Du Bois and Emerson both writers who were located in that geographical, spatial entity we call the West? So doesn’t this show that captive mind theory isn’t only simply about borrowing “from” the West, but also about borrowing and exchange within the West?

Secondly, the phrase ‘borrowing imported concepts from the West’ appears nowhere in my article. So here, once again, we have confirmation of double captivity, of theory in action, as 801008’s sharp comment about framing discourses in one’s own notions of ‘white superiority’ also confirms. Alfian sees the West everywhere and brings it into the discussion even when there is no need to or, more importantly, it could have been done in a different manner.

Thirdly, it doesn’t matter if Alfian or others find the term ‘Chinese privilege’ useful to talk about meritocracy and other important matters. Good for them. The point is theoretical and political.
It is about claims to the radical work that the term can do.

What does all of this tell me? What I have known all along, so I have not discovered that boiling water turns into steam. Once again, I can confirm that even the members of the so-called Singaporean literati are not reading S.H. Alatas closely and carefully, otherwise perhaps they may have found interesting, not embarrassing, ways to critique his work. And why should they? Why should they see utility in his work? But my question is, why would anyone want to publicly admit this?

Clive Kessler sees bebalism as “the commonsense self-congratulatory pragmatism of the mediocre in their moments and from their improbable positions of power.” He sees bebalism as a form of careless mindlessness, about doing without envisioning how your actions reflect back on you. It is about thinking big and building big and then “Eh, apa ni?...” It is about building a ten star hotel with luxury bathrooms and finding the toilet paper holder in the shower.

It is fine if Alfian Sa’at considers bebalism to be less productive as a concept than Chinese privilege. Is there a contest between the two? But what is embarrassing is that we have an attempt on Alfian Sa’at’s part to diminish Syed Hussein Alatas’ contribution to knowledge. By the way, Alatas said that bebalism is transcultural, transpatial, and transtemporal. So the concept is so trans it has to do with more than just ‘native’ production of knowledge as Alfian asserts. I wonder why Alfian takes a dig at Alatas, what value he sees in this. Is he just being mindless?

In closing, one final reflection. Liew Meng speaks about working honestly to earn a livelihood. S.H.Alatas would have liked that because it is a simple statement against a very big and pervasive
problem: corrupt practices to get ahead.

The same kind of honesty, in theory, should also apply to intellectual work."

801008: "In any society, the majority race will almost inevitably exercise some form of social and cultural hegemony. Not necessarily economic dominance (minorities can control economic activity) but in Singapore, that too.

It cannot be denied that Singaporean culture is much more sino-centric. Mandarin, Hokkien, these are the de facto lingua franca in Singapore. Whether or not this translates to notions of "Chinese privilege" or, Chinese superiority/entitlement is arguable. I think at the very least, there will be some (and perhaps more than some) who hold on to ideas of Chinese privilege in Singapore. Can they be faulted? Are these notions "unnatural" in the context of Singapore's racial and cultural demographic and also its history?

This author does bring up an interesting point though. Would Rachel Yeoh have felt the same self-conscious notions of physical inferiority if she was in an African country? Or even, say, an Indian country? Would she have felt "not as good" as the majority? I am not so sure.

I suppose the question is this: When we complain about Chinese privilege (or any other non-white privilege), do we frame those complaints in the context of our own notions of white superiority? In simple terms: Do we feel that the Chinese in Singapore consider themselves to be "superior" because we self-consciously (and perhaps sub-consciously) consider white people to be superior and therefore simply mirror or superimpose those notions onto a Singaporean context? How much of Sangeetha and Adeline's views on Chinese "privilege" are informed by their own notions of white people?"
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