When you can't live without bananas

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Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Links - August 5th 2015

Spanish diplomat hit me, says Chinese writer - "CHINESE author Jiu Dan, who became a minor celebrity in 2001 after writing The Crows, a sensual novel set in Singapore, is back in the limelight... the Spanish media reported Mr Valencia - who is married - as telling Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Garcia-Margallo that the row was planned by Zhu to promote her new book, which was released in April in Taiwan. The book details how he had allegedly seduced her in 2013 and taken her to bed many times in the Spanish embassy, with many salacious details thrown in... "The beating has to do with the violent male chauvinist in this man and his treatment of women as sex toys. These should be the concerns," she told the magazine. "Also, the Chinese government is too weak in diplomatic matters. If an American woman is beaten in public by a foreign ambassador on American soil, how would President (Barack) Obama react?" she asked. Zhu, who lived in Singapore from 1995 to 2000, shot to fame after publishing The Crows, a Chinese book about how some women from China sell themselves for money or to secure permanent residence after coming to Singapore in search of a better life. Opinions in China's social media are divided over the incident involving Mr Valencia, with some saying that Zhu should have known better than to flirt with a married Westerner, and others lauding her for highlighting the sexual lust of foreigners in China."
She doesn't know about diplomatic immunity?

More singles than ever looking for love - ""When you're older, you're also more likely to know what you want and less likely to compromise".. When American men sent her online messages via OkCupid, an international dating website, she could find and identify them on Facebook and LinkedIn. Dating in Singapore was far less transparent. "There were men who didn't want to give their real names or say what they did for a living. Some said on their profiles that they were married but were looking for 'friends'," she says... Two years ago, she attended events organised by dating agencies, but found it "draining and depressing" when she did not find a suitable match. One criterion for her partner is that his salary should be similar to hers, that is, at least $9,000 a month, an amount she says is "realistic" for someone in his mid- to late-40s. He should also be pleasant looking and have good values... Life found that men's concerns tend to revolve around appearances and child-bearing abilities of their partners, while women's preoccupations centre on financial stability in their potential husbands. Private investor James Foo, 44, who has gone on dates via a dating agency, admits that he is "quite picky in terms of looks". But he counters that women in Singapore also have very high expectations. Those he dated tried to suss out, for instance, whether he owned a car by asking if he knew where to park at certain locations... She does not go clubbing and seldom takes the initiative to meet people, prefering to leave such things to chance. "Mainly, I work and spend time with my parents, who are very old, and the rest of my family. I sometimes spend weekends with my elder brother and sister and their children," she says. "A friend once said, 'You're content with the love you already have from your family.' I think it's a bit accurate"... At social events organised by a dating agency, he [in his late 40s] found himself sitting across women in their 20s. Problem was, he felt like he was talking to his niece, who is 24."
Somehow people think DFS (Drop From Sky) is a viable strategy in looking for dates
"if i earn 9k and am good looking, why the hell would i go for a 40 yr old grouchy and picky woman
she needs a reality slap in e face"

Woman Found Guilty Of ‘Assaulting Police Officer With Her Breasts’ - "The 30-year-old claimed that Chief Inspector Chan had tried to grab her bag but instead touched her left breast. However, Inspector Chan insisted that it was Lai-ying who bumped her breasts onto his arm before falsely accusing him of assault. The magistrate sided with Chan, telling Lai-ying: “You used your female identity to trump up the allegation that the officer had molested you.”"
Would the magistrate's statement fly in Singapore?

Marsiling knife attack: Slasher died from smoke inhalation - "A man who attacked two neighbours in Marsiling with a knife, before setting his flat on fire, died due to smoke inhalation... Blood stains on a parapet on the 13th floor of the HDB block were found to have belonged to Tan, proving that he may have tried to jump to his death but may have had difficulty due to his plump size. Neighbours reportedly referred to him as "Gemuk", which means "fat" in Malay... Mr Teo said Mr Majid had informed him of a quarrel with Tan before the slashing. This was after the Mr Majid had kicked a pig soft toy that the Tan was selling at the void deck. Tan was agitated by this but Majid apologised, stating that he did not know the toy belonged to Tan."

The Inconceivable Start of African-American Christianity - "Presbyterian theology and Anglican liturgy, however, held little appeal to most blacks. Not until Methodists and Baptists arrived—with their emphasis on conversion as a spiritual experience—did black Christianity begin to take off."

Why Prisons Thrive Even When Budgets Shrink - "According to Fordham law professor John Pfaff, the rate at which prosecutors chose to pursue heavy felony charges increased dramatically in the 1990s, leading to more incarcerations. Recent high-profile cases like those of Marissa Alexander, Aaron Swartz and Cecily McMillan show prosecutors pressing the harshest charges and requesting long prison sentences, far in excess of any conceivable notion of justice. Prosecutors, as county-level employees, are also in the unique position to gain the electoral upside of looking “tough on crime” while passing off the costs of incarceration to the state...  Many will seek to make our system of incarceration more “fair.” But as Naomi Murakawa argues in her new book The First Civil Right, it’s precisely this response that feeds an unjust system resources and lends it legitimacy. Many of the initial sentencing acts were meant to provide fair, predictable guidelines, but prosecutors took advantage of them instead to rapidly escalate incarcerations"

Marijuana possession laws, ACLU report: Why blacks are four times likelier than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession. - "cops tend to focus their attention on neighborhoods with high rates of crime. Those neighborhoods tend to be populated by members of low-income minority groups. Cops patrolling those neighborhoods are often empowered to stop and frisk residents on the slimmest of pretexts, and, because of that, they are likelier to find people who are carrying marijuana. So, in order to bring the crime rate down, they will arrest people on these marijuana possession charges, which helps foster the impression that poor neighborhoods have high rates of crime. It’s a stupid, self-perpetuating cycle. You can blame a lot of this on the controversial “broken windows” theory of policing, which essentially maintains that minor violations beget major ones, and that you can combat violent crime by rigorously enforcing small quality-of-life offenses."
Going by disparate impact theory, it is racist for cops to focus their attention on neighborhoods with high rates of crime

Overweight Teens Often Underestimate Their Weight - "A significant proportion of overweight or obese adolescents in the United States and the United Kingdom think they are just about the right weight and are not concerned about their weight status, two new studies suggest."
Despite lots of handwringing about the media giving people inaccurate perceptions of body image, a lot of overweight teens actually think they are normal weight. So it is clear where the real misperception (and problem) is

Self portrait with cropped hair - by Frida Kahlo - "She also cut off her long hair, which has attracted Diego so much. She was holding scissor in her right hand which means she did it all by herself. In her left hand she was holding her shorn hair which is a symbol of her sacrifice. In the background strands of hair are everywhere and it seems each one has its own life. Surrounded by the hair she was sitting on a chair with an empty expression. The space around her is uninhabited which adds to her despair. The lyrics of a song painted across the top of this potrait which reads:
"See, if I loved you, it was for your hair, now you're bald, I don't love you any more.".
After the separation with Diego, Frida choose to abandon her feminine image. She cut her hair shot, got rid of the Tehuana dress Diego is obsessed with and started to wear man's suit. The only thing she keeps as a feminine decoration is her earrings. This self-portrait expressed her desire to be independent and not relying on men"

The rise of games you (mostly) don't play - "Player retention is “amazing” on these games, Pecorella said, pointing out that three of the top 10 most played games on Kongregate in the last month have been idle-games and, extraordinarily, that there are even Twitch channels dedicated to watching a computer play a game itself"

The French Riviera: ‘A sunny place for shady people’

YourClassical from American Public Media - "According to the Boston Symphony historian Richard Dyer, Casella “made the only great mistake in the Pops' history: He sought to elevate the audiences.” Although he programmed popular pieces such as Gershwin's brand-new "An American in Paris," Casella also included entire Beethoven symphonies on his Pops programs and even works by contemporary avant-garde composers such as Arthur Honegger. Casella's contract was not renewed, and the Bostonians turned to one of their own, a 35-year-old viola player in the Boston Symphony named Arthur Fiedler, as Casella’s successor. "

'Star Wars': Michael Jackson Wanted to Play Jar Jar Binks, Says Ahmed Best - "Jar Jar Binks will go down as one of the worst and most hated characters from the Star Wars universe, but it could have all been so different, and a whole lot stranger, if Michael Jackson had got the role he coveted. In an interview with Vice, Ahmed Best, the man who voiced Jar Jar in Episode I — The Phantom Menace, revealed that George Lucas had told him Jackson was keen on the part and wanted to do it in prosthetics and makeup."

China curator replaced stolen masters with forgeries - "he was surprised to find his own fakes were being stolen and replaced with yet more copies... In 2012 Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that art forgery was "increasingly rampant" in the country. That year it became the world's largest market for art and antiques, according to the European Fine Art Foundation."

Children Benefit From Having a Working Mom - "Women whose mothers worked outside the home are more likely to have jobs themselves, are more likely to hold supervisory responsibility at those jobs, and earn higher wages than women whose mothers stayed home full time, according to a new study. Men raised by working mothers are more likely to contribute to household chores and spend more time caring for family members. The findings are stark, and they hold true across 24 countries.
Comments: "the positive effects were particularly strong among low income and single-parent households, but studies have shown negative effects on middle income and dual-income households. And most of people rejoicing with this study are likely from the latter."
"Working mothers in two parent households tend to be better educated than non-working mothers in two parent households. They also tend to be more emotionally stable. They naturally have smarter and better educated kids. This has all been documented in other studies."
I guess it's too much to ask for a Business School study to correct for omitted variable bias

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Joke of the Day: Lee Kuan Yew thought of himself as a Liberal

"Few people, if asked to categorise Lee and his political beliefs, would choose the word “liberal”. But this was how he described himself in an exchange with the authors:

Han: How would you describe your political beliefs, if you were a
democratic socialist in the ’50s?

Lee: Today, I would describe myself as a [long pause] in perhaps European terms, between socialists and conservatives, I would put myself as a liberal. As someone who believes in equal opportunities so that everybody gets an equal chance to do his best, and with a certain compassion to ensure that the failures do not fall through the floor.

I would put myself really as a [pause] a liberal democrat. Not in the Japanese sense of the word, the Liberal Democratic Party. A liberal, in that I want to run the system as efficiently as possible, but make allowances for those who will not be doing well because nature did not give them enough, or they cannot make that extra effort.

Han: That might surprise some people, that you would describe yourself as a liberal.

Lee: A liberal in the economic sense of the word, you know. Not a liberal in the sense of the American word “liberal”. The American word “liberal” means somebody who thinks that you should allow everybody to develop in his own way and do his own thing. So, that has a special meaning.

But a liberal in the classical sense of that word, in that I’m not fixated to a particular theory of the world, or of society. I’m pragmatic. I'm prepared to look at the problem and say, all right, what is the best way to solve it that will produce the maximum happiness and well—being for the maximum number of people. You call it whatever you like."

--- Lee Kuan Yew: The Man and His Ideas / Han Fook Kwang, Warren Fernandez, Sumiko Tan

Someone: You can be a social liberal (Liberal Democrat) or an economic liberal (neo-liberal); or both (libertarian).

LKY was non of these things.

If he was a market liberal, then he would have free market enterprise without all these government-linked companies and interventions.
If he was a social liberal, NS would not exist, protest would be both legal and legitimate, no literature or art or theater or cinematography would be banned or censured because it is up to adults to consume the arts and media that they wish to without government deciding for them... and a whole bunch of other policies designed to shape the actions and thinking of the populous would not exist.

One area where both the economic and the social meet is the media, and creative arts. These are areas where LKY was especially illiberal with both direct and indirect control of the media, arts, theater, etc. through a regulatory environment, government supervision of editors' and directors' work, with the threat of being closed down, being sued, having funding streams cut off, and other forms of coercion.

LKY was lots of things. But "liberal" isn't one of them.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Possibly the strangest spam email I've gotten

Really strange spam email I got:

Him: Respected sir

Can you have any chance to help me some money for buy a laptop
if possible sir please.

Thanking you
Yours faithfully Ramesh kamuni
Present address: Room no 212,B-Hostel,university of Hyderabad campus, hyderabad-46,India.
rameshkamunihcu at gmail dot com

mail ID Is From the link below
*someone else's Blogger profile*

Me: No

Why don't you get a job?

Him: Sir
I am trying but Unable to get up to now.And i have a confusion to which field i want go.

Ramesh kamuni

Me: So you need a laptop so you can research which field to go into?

Him: Title i think"Form of thought which is for the change materiel form" for some extent

*sends me scanned versions of his IDs*

Him (again - I didn't reply): Respected sir
Where are you sir?

Ramesh kamuni

Links - 3rd August 2015

Amanda Lee Koe - i read this online article about the impending... - "i read this online article about the impending closure of yangtze cinema last week and was a little upset because it felt to me largely like a collection of words pretending to be an article so that the author could make a heap of dick puns at the expense of elderly chinese uncles... if you sit around long enough and interact and bother to be more than a voyeur, you'll realize there is a community there that is more about the solidarity than the softporn"

'Victim culture' means seven out of ten feel oppressed - "Huge chunks of the population have been racing to join the ranks of the officially disadvantaged, a report found. Belonging to a victim group means the opportunity of financial gain and promotion at work, and the chance to denounce enemies to police or in the courts. The ranks of those given special rights because of their victimhood have now swelled so that they outnumber their alleged oppressors. The analysis by criminologist Dr David Green said that Government recognised victim groups now take in 73 per cent of the population... Dr Green said victim culture had now become so popular that, if the claims of some victim groups are taken seriously, there are more victims than people in the country. He said this is because of 'multiple discrimination', in which some people are said to be victims on more than one count. So gay lobby group Stonewall, for example, says that a black gay man experiences prejudice from blacks because he is gay, from gays because he is black, as well as racism and homophobia from everyone else. On this reckoning, the number of victims amounts to 109 per cent of the population, Dr Green said... In his report, We're (Nearly) All Victims Now, published by the Civitas think tank, he said: 'The political-recognised victim status described by this list of isms and phobias has begun to do lasting harm to our liberal culture.' 'Groups who have been politically recognised as victims are starting to use their power to silence people who have had the cheek to criticise them.' Dr Green added: 'Modern victim groups create entrenched social divisions by defining opponents as oppressors who not only must be defeated by the state, but silenced by the state.'... The report referred to the case of Lynette Burrows, the writer warned by the Metropolitan Police that she had been reported as causing a homophobic incident after she gave a BBC radio interview in which she questioned whether children always benefit from having gay adoptive parents"

We're (Nearly) All Victims Now, David G. Green - "Many were surprised to learn in June 2006 that the law now considers the murder of a gay man as a more serious crime than the murder of someone who is not gay. The murderers of Jody Dobrowski on Clapham Common were given 28 years when, according to the judge, if they had voiced no hostility towards the victim's sexuality, the sentence would have been halved. The case sparked some media comment. Was it really worse than the murder of medical student, Daniel Pollen, in Romford, Essex in July 2005-a killing that was captured on CCTV and appeared to be without obvious motive? The judge thought so in June 2006, and the 'starting point' for calculating the sentence of Daniel Pollen's killer will be only 15 years. Is animosity to gays a worse motive than, for example, a calculated killing to silence a witness-perhaps when a rapist murders his female victim to prevent her giving evidence?... Our democratic culture has been based on discussion, compromise, give-and-take, and mutual learning. Victimocracy creates entrenched social divisions between victims and their oppressors. It makes the political process more of a battle for advantage at the expense of other people instead of a search for the common good. By trying to put some issues beyond rational contradiction, victimhood reduces the role of reasoned discussion, and thus the part that can be played by ordinary people in puncturing the pretensions of rulers and elitists with brute facts. Moral equality is the belief that every individual has the potential for rational autonomy and seeing right from wrong. From this view, it follows that people should not be treated differently solely because of inherited group characteristics (p. 29): "civilisation has advanced by individuals pushing themselves to the limit-pursuing 'transcendental' values: truth, goodness and beauty-not wallowing in self pity and delighting in blaming others" (p. 23) An important part of victimocracy is the strategy is to establish that the victim is the sole judge of when language is offensive. To keep oppressors and sympathisers on the hop, every now and then they change the words that cause offence. Recently the commonly-used term 'mental handicap' has been redefined as insulting (pp.32-33). But sometimes the tactic backfires. Stonewall in Wales has decided that the term 'openly gay' is unacceptable. Its web page on hate crime warns journalists that including phrases in reporting such as 'the victim was openly gay' or somehow 'flaunted her/his sexuality' suggests to readers that the victim is somehow responsible for the crime. It suggests they 'brought it on themselves' and can serve to 'endorse some people's prejudices'. However, the penchant of victim groups for changing at very short notice the words they find insulting not only traps oppressors, it can also catch out fellow victims. Word had obviously not got through to Stonewall in London, whose website displays the Stonewall manifesto for the 2005 general election. It regrets the fact that there are still only a 'tiny number of openly-gay MPs'. (pp. 33-34)
Freedom for groups undermines freedom for individuals"

Automatic podcast downloads - Will they download whilst I'm away on holiday? - BBC - FAQs - Home - "We understand that this may not be possible or practical, so you may need to make other arrangements (e.g. asking a friend to download episodes on your behalf). It's also worth noting that many of the BBC's podcasts are available to download internationally. So if you have access to the internet while you are on holiday, you may not have to miss out."

Man jailed 12 months for underage sex following chat on mobile app - "Ngo Choon Seng was the final accused person convicted before the State Courts, after four other men were jailed for engaging in sexual acts with the same girl on separate occasions."
Some victims get victimised a lot...

Rachel Dolezal's Parents Say She Has A History Of 'Seeking To Reinvent Reality' - "Larry and Ruthanne Dolezal told hosts Marc Lamont Hill and Nancy Redd that their daughter has a history of "seeking to reinvent reality," according to her mother. She had "expectations of herself that were not realistic, and also just a negative sort of view of people and family –- that sort of thing was also concerning," Ruthanne added... The Dolezals view their daughter's dishonesty about her identity as a way of disowning them as parents, which "is the painful part of this," they said. "We're very fond of our African American friends. We've always enjoyed ethnicity and diversity and had friends, and Rachel grew up that way. Adopting the four children was an extension of that as well. [Rachel's] identification with African Americans is not hurtful to us, but for her to reject us as parents, that is what hurts, and the dishonesty is very concerning," her mother said."

Sikh postman 'wins turban battle with Disney' - "A Sikh postman at Disney World has won his fight over claims he had been made to work away from customers so they would not see his beard and turban. Lawyers for Gurdit Singh said he had been segregated from staff and customers at the Florida theme park because he violated a "look policy"."

Letter - On Mozart - A German, Not Austrian, Composer - NYTimes.com - "Salzburg did not become part of Austria until years after Mozart's death, and the city had been bound by historical and ecclesiastical connections to Bavaria (in what we now call Germany) since the ninth century. Furthermore, in Mozart's day most of the archdiocese of Salzburg, headed by the autonomous prince-archbishop, was still in Bavaria, not Austria. Remember, too, that Mozart's father came from Augsburg in today's southern Germany. That Mozart considered himself a "German" is beyond question"

Circumcised women can have healthy sex lives: expert - "Women who have been circumcised can lead healthy sex lives and achieve orgasms, an expert has told SBS's Insight. Anthropologist Fuambai Ahmadu specialises in female sexuality and health, and defends the right for women to undergo initiation rituals such as circumcision. "As an anthropologist who has studied female mutilation rituals in West Africa for many, many years and have written about it extensively," Ahmadu said, "most women do not experience it as mutilation and would never refer to themselves as mutilated." She also speaks from personal experience. Despite growing up and studying in the U.S., Ahmadu chose to be circumcised at age 21 in her home country of Sierra Leone. She was already sexually active at the time and told Insight that the traditional initiation ceremony, in which her clitoris and labia were cut, did not negatively impact her sexuality. “I was surprised to find out that there was absolutely no difference in terms of my sexual experience, sexual feeling, ability to achieve orgasm,” Ahmadu said. “There was absolutely no change at all”... some experts say the legal stance against female circumcision is contradictory, given the rise in labiaplasty in white Anglo-Saxon women. Sonia Grover is a Melbourne-based gynaecologist who has been working closely with the African community for almost two decades and thinks the current law is racially targeted."
Keywords: female circumcision

Rights Versus Rites - "In Senegal, in Gambia, in my country, Sierra Leone, there are words that we can use, as circumcised women, against uncircumcised women that are very insulting and very nasty and very offensive." Comparing these slurs to the word "mutilation," she continued, "I may be different from you and I am excised, but I am not mutilated. Just like I will not accept anybody calling me by the n-word to define my racial identity, I will not have anybody call me by the m-word to define my social identity, my gender identity." Ahmadu sees herself as speaking for African women who value female genital cutting but are shut out of the rarified realms of international civil society. "The anti-FGM activists have access to the media, and they have enormous resources, so they're able to influence the media in such a way that most of the women who support the practice cannot," she told me later that evening. "Even if they did, a lot of them are illiterate, so they can't even speak the necessary language, and they cannot respond to charges of backwardness and barbarity"... Opposition to anti-FGM efforts has been particularly strong in Ahmadu's native Sierra Leone, where, according to the United Nations, 94 percent of women have had clitoridectomies. The link to tradition is so valued that politicians have sponsored mass circumcisions to garner votes... For the Kono, circumcision is at the center of a girl's initiation into Bondo, a powerful female secret society (initiation into the male counterpart, Poro, also involves circumcision). "Among the Kono, Bondo is part of life; it's part of the culture," she said. "So in a sense it's your right. It is your privilege. And if you don't, then you are being denied your right. For me, it was something I was very excited to belong to . . . it was a question of when, not if.""

Why cocky guys get the girl - "“We found that, on average, overconfident people came across as a blend of highly desirable confidence and highly undesirable arrogance.” A key issue appeared to be whether there was competition for their romantic target. Women didn't necessarily find the cocky men more attractive initially. However, when men were given the opportunity to pit their profile against someone else’s, they were less willing to compete against cocky guys, while cocky guys were more willing to compete against others. Computer simulations based on the findings revealed that cocky men were more likely to succeed with women in a competitive environment like a crowded bar or club, because they were less likely to back down when competing for her attention and more likely to drive away the competition. The researchers also found that it wasn’t just men who benefited from being cocky – cockiness in women was equally as effective at deterring other women."

The Moral Hypocrisy of Ethicists

Rationally Speaking | Official Podcast of New York City Skeptics - Current Episodes - RS139 - Eric Schwitzgebel on "Moral hypocrisy: why doesn't knowing about ethics make people more ethical?"

Eric Schwitzgebel: Ethicist behavior [of ethicists] was basically identical across the board to the other groups of professors. There were some differences, but not very many, and not very strong. And overall, when you put it together, and you combine the data in various kinds of ways… It looks like there's no overall trend toward better behavior.

Although we did find, when we asked their opinions about various moral issues, that ethicists tended to have the most demanding opinions. They thought more things were morally good and morally bad, and were less likely to regard things as morally neutral, than were the other groups.

One of the types of behavior was regularly eating the meat of mammals, such as beef or pork. In response to that prompt, 60% of the ethics professors rated it somewhere on the morally bad side; 45% of the non-ethicist philosophers, and I think it was somewhere in the high teens for the non-philosophers, 17% or 19%, something like that for the non-philosophers. Big difference in moral opinion.

Then in the second part of the questionnaire, we asked, "Did you eat the meat of a mammal, such as beef or pork, at your last evening meal, not including snacks?" There we found no statistically detectable difference among the groups. Big difference in expressed normative attitude about meat eating; no detectable difference in self-reported meat eating behavior.

Julia Galef: Pretty interesting. I'm wondering whether this is a result of ethics professors not really believing their ethical conclusions, like, having come to these conclusions in the abstract?... One way you might detect this -- I don't know if this is actually measurable, but in theory at least, you could look at how torn or guilty do they feel about not living up to these standards...

Eric Schwitzgebel: If you're a consequentialist or utilitarian. If you think basically that doing right or good is about maximizing happiness, or something like welfare here in the world -- then every single thing you do… I think this is actually also true on other ethical views as well, but it's really especially clear for consequentialism.

Every single thing you do, every time you choose to buy a cup of coffee, you could've done something else. You're always short of the moral ideal. You could've taken that $2 for the cup of coffee and donated it to Oxfam, or whatever your favorite charity is. You've now done something that's ethically short of the ideal...

Once you see the world is ethically permeated, then you have to face the fact that you are doing things that are short of the ethical ideal all the time. That basically everything you do is ethically ... I don't know if flawed is the right word, although I think maybe flawed is okay. Anyway, ethically non-ideal.

Then I think once you acknowledge that, then you get put in this position of thinking, "Okay, how far short of the ideal am I comfortable being?" Maybe it's okay to do things that in fact I think are somewhat bad or wrong sometimes. Because now that the world is just permeated with all these decisions, I can't avoid being bad and wrong.”

This gives you another way of thinking about the person who intellectually says it's wrong to eat meat and yet chooses to do so. They might think something like, "Well, everything I do is so permeated with choice. I want to do some things that are wrong. I'm not aiming to be a saint. This is one of those wrong things that I'll just let myself do. It's not maybe super wrong, it's not super bad, so I'm going to do it.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Links - 2nd August 2015

1904 The Gay Apocalypse: The July Crisis, and Remoter Causes of the First World War | The History Network - "There are some 30,000 books written in English alone on the First World War and its causes. It follows that there must be a variety of opinion regarding not just the causes but also the responsibilities. Each of the belligerents needed to promulgate their exculpatory version of the causes in an effort to win neutral opinion and possible allies. Thus History has its History."

Sim Lim cheating cases: Jover Chew, accomplice face additional charges - "Chew, 33, now faces a total of 28 charges. The two fresh charges involve one count of cheating and one count of insulting behaviour. He is accused of making a customer from China, Ms Zou Jing Tong, pick up coins amounting to S$547 from the floor of Chew's now-defunct shop, Mobile Air, at Sim Lim Square. The refund was given to satisfy an order made by the Small Claims Tribunal."
Insulting behavior?!

Who’s Really Responsible for the Killing of Zimbabwe’s Lions and Other Wildlife? - "Zimbabwe was once celebrated as the “breadbasket of Africa,” whose fertile earth supplied the world with abundant tobacco, corn and wheat. Today, 76% of its rural population lives in abject poverty, dependent on foreign food aid and desperate measures — like the poaching of the wildlife that inhabits its otherwise barren lands, or rendering assistance to those who want to hunt or poach... Many conservationists believe allowing the community to reap the benefits of wildlife management — by, ironically, running the sorts of safaris on which Palmer shot his lion — will help curb illegal poaching. But it is impossible to have that debate while the world brays for the ruin of a lone Minnesotan dentist, and fails to criticize a regime whose policies were responsible for the almost complete extinction of Zimbabwean wildlife in the first place."

What Are Artificial Flavors? | DNews | TestTube - "The very flavors and scents of packaged food we buy-whether it's natural or not-are often manipulated by scientists. "Flavorists" play a huge role in the food industry and they work hard to mix chemicals that produce just the right flavor effect. An almond biscotti, for instance, often gets that almond flavor from apricot pits"

Beaver Butts Emit Goo Used for Vanilla Flavoring - "Beaver butts secrete a goo called castoreum, which the animals use to mark their territory. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration lists castoreum as a “generally regarded as safe” additive, and manufacturers have been using it extensively in perfumes and foods for at least 80 years... Castoreum is a chemical compound that mostly comes from a beaver’s castor sacs, which are located between the pelvis and the base of the tail. Because of its close proximity to the anal glands, castoreum is often a combination of castor gland secretions, anal gland secretions, and urine"

Single Maria Ozawa looking for boyfriend, open to dating bachelor PNoy - "The Japanese actress also admitted that it's hard to be in a stable relationship in Japan. “It's really hard. In Japan, it's really hard to find a decent people, decent man that would really travel with me. It's really hard to get a boyfriend.”"

Answer to Are girls treated well in all IITs? - Quora - "Let me tell you the most honest answer .
NO . Girls are not treated well in IITs , they are treated WAY BETTER than well...
2. Partiality in placements and internships
Inorder to maintain gender ratio , certain big companies hire girls even though there are boys with better achievements ready to join them ."

Appear Younger… By Smelling Like Grapefruit - "According to a study by the Smell and Taste Institute in Chicago, men perceive women to be up to six years younger than they actually are when they catch the scent of the citrus fruit"

The Use of Randomized Evaluations in Microfinance - "Dean Karlan, Professor of Economics at Yale University, has used randomized trial methodology to examine the impact of microcredit. He concluded that “the canonical case for microcredit– that access increases profits, business scale, and household consumption– is not supported on average.” Notwithstanding, in his research in the Philippines he found what he considers to be a valuable “social component” of microfinance, noting “(t)hat microloans increase ability to cope with risk, strengthen community ties, and increase access to informal credit. Thus, microcredit here may work, but through channels different from those often hypothesized by its proponents.”"

India's micro-finance suicide epidemic

Microcredit 'death trap' for Bangladesh's poor - "Repayments are generally due on loans from the first week after they are taken out, which does not give the borrower enough time to establish any form of income-earning enterprise. To cover those first payments, people often resort to taking out a further loan from a different company."

Danger! Daft health and safety laws under inspection - Telegraph - "the idea that he cannot live in a cave because it has no fire exits simply defies belief. It is one of those stories that over the years has had us all shaking our heads in bewilderment and asking how, and why, we have become so preposterously risk-averse. As Lord Young of Graffham, the former Tory chairman who has been asked to carry out a review of health and safety laws, says, they have become a joke and a rich source of material for the "you couldn't make it up" school of journalism... how did legislation that over the decades was directed at protecting those seen as most vulnerable, and which helped introduce safe practices for all workers, become an all-encompassing regime that stops people who change clocks from climbing ladders, requires Christmas trees to be kept behind barriers and prevents pantomime performers from throwing sweets to children in the audience?... Employers have to look at every activity in which they are involved and judge the potential dangers. Get it wrong and they face being fined by the HSE or sued by an employee or a member of the public. Yet many of these rules, unlike those that protected miners or construction workers, often have no obvious benefit. But the boxes must be ticked... This "health and safety" culture has even led to the creation of a ladder-awareness course, which costs over £200, a sum paid by the taxpayer or the consumer depending on whether the ladder user works in the public or private sector. Meanwhile, there is an army of inspectors who carry out checks to ensure ladders are safe; notes of the inspection have to be documented, and the paperwork has to be kept for three months. Something that had been commonsensical has morphed into something bureaucratic, expensive and time-consuming that treats grown-ups like children... Young people who cannot use Blu-Tack without wearing goggles, as pupils at one school were told, indulge in terrifying new crazes such as free-running and building-jumping. Did we really intend to produce a world in which an actor playing Nelson during a Battle of Trafalgar commemoration should be required to wear a life-jacket over his costume?"

Philosophical discussions boost pupils' maths and literacy progress, study finds

How to Detect Sarcasm in Writing: 5 Steps (with Pictures)

Uncovering the 'game against England' - "One of the enduring secrets of World War II is how German intelligence tricked the British into parachuting more than 50 Dutch agents into the hands of the Nazis... In the past year or so, the British Government has released more of its secret files on what the Germans called the "Englandspiel" - the game against England. But historians remain deeply divided over whether this was merely a tragic series of blunders by the SOE, or part of an elaborate strategy of deception by London - a "double-bluff"."

Marriott Won't Block Guest Wi-Fi Devices After All - "Marriott and the American Hospitality and Lodging Association filed a petition with the FCC, asking that the commission to allow hotels to remotely disable the smartphones, tablets and other devices that some patrons use to tether their computers to the internet via 3G or 4G cellular service."

Argument between two brothers over fasting leads to death - "Suspicion whether his sibling was observing his Fast in Ramadan, led to fatal consequences."
Malaysia Boleh!

Does Sex Offender Registration Deter Crime? - "One study did find that requiring sex offenders to register with police can significantly reduce the chance that they will re-offend. But the same study, conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan and Columbia University, found that making that same information available to the public can backfire... the reason public notification encourages recidivism is because the offenders may feel they have nothing else to lose... A broader study, conducted by a researcher at the University of Chicago, found no evidence that sex offender registries increase public safety. The study found that registries do not reduce crime trends, recidivism or local sex crime rates... those who did not have to register had slightly less recidivism rates."

Why does the Earth have only one moon? - "Outside of the orbit of Mars, the temperature was low enough, that there were not only flakes of metal and chunks of rock, but also many small pieces of ice. There was therefore more 'seeds' to form planets of. This caused the planetesimals to grow quickly, and to become large enough that their gravity could capture hydrogen and helium which was very abundant in the protoplanetery disk. The protoplanets captured so much gas, that they became 'tiny solar systems'"

Why Democracy

BBC Radio 4 - Today, 20/01/2015, The Public Philosopher: Why Democracy?

On Entitled Young People who don't vote and then complain they are being disenfranchised (a result of statistical inequality being taken as evidence of oppression):

Toni: I am Toni, I'm from London and I work for the National Union of Students...

Only 44% of young people voted in the last General Elections. We have a systematic problem with our political system when less than half of young people vote, when black people are much less likely to vote than white people, when people from... they don't [vote] because they are being disenfranchised from the system.

They are, because they are being disenfranchised by you. I think that young people, they don't get a political education, they don't understand how democracy works. They don't understand how their MPs get elected or what they do all day, or all week, and we have to invest in making sure that people actually understand how the system works and not just say, "you should vote because you can". And I spend my whole life trying to get people to engage in politics... democratic systems

Woman: Birmingham University's in my constituency. You're from their NUS. I throw out a challenge to you. The changes of legislation mean that universities are no longer as a whole registering students. They're not registering and you know why? Because a third of them only comes to being asked for their national insurance numbers, they can't be bothered to find it.

My challenge to you is, my challenge to you is, how many students will register to vote? Can you be bothered to sign on to register to vote? Cause if you can't be don't say you're disenfranchised. You've made a choice

Toni: ... This is why they don't get involved. Because this the way that they're treated when they say that here's a problem. They get shouted at and told that it's their fault...

Woman: That is not fair. If I respond to the charge of that you're disenfranchised, that I then say the challenge is, make sure you register and you vote, so you're not disenfranchised if you don't even register to vote.

Toni: But it has to go back to education and for you to feel included in that political system. And that it's not something that you are excluded from, that your opinion doesn't count. And I think if young people felt that their opinions were listened to more carefully then they probably would register and they would vote.

Tom McNally, member of the House of Lords: A lot of this conversation is the usual beating ourselves up. I first came in this place 50 years ago, I've worked in various capacities and in various parties.

But to suggest that the system has not carried through revolutionary changes by peaceful and democratic ways is to ignore the social changes that have taken place in our country over the last 50 years.

My father was a labourer. He never failed to vote, although he always voted in a heavily Conservative constituency, because he thought it was part of his social contract, that he participated in the democracy that protected all his rights, and to hear young people saying, "Oh, well, we're not educated enough". Or "we're not told enough". You go out and find out. You participate. You're not chicks in a nest waiting to be fed. You're citizens in an active democracy and if you want to change things, get out and change things, but don't just sit there complaining.

Levant from London: I'm no longer what's called very young, I'm in my 50s, but I'm very disappointed in what the young people have to say because I grew up in a poor working class area in London. Still poor, I'm still living in that area of London, but when I was 18 my parents told me that I had to vote. I was told by my parents that it was my right to vote and from that time I voted.

It's your moral responsibility as far as I'm concerned and it's my moral responsibility to vote on the issues of today, to pay attention to what is going on in this country...

On traditional democracy, money and popular legitimacy:

John Redwood: The phenomenon on the continent of Europe, I think, is fascinating and easy to understand. We see there that the traditional centre left and centre right dominant parties are in a state of decline and in many cases collapse.

In Greece at the moment they command about 35% of the vote in the opinion polls in Spain about 50% and even in Germany the centre left and centre right major parties have had to come together to form a government. And I think we see that collapse because they are simply not meeting the aspirations of the captive people in Euroland with very high unemployment, very poor performance and austerity policies that are doing a lot of damage.

United Kingdom has a less extreme version of this collapse of the two main parties. It certainly shows that money doesn't count because these main establishment parties have dominated in fundraising but they have been torn apart in Europe by bad policies...

On revitalising democracy:

Alex from Manchester: When you talked about, y'know our side not voting, young people not voting. You said well, my father. Your father probably lived through a war. Y'know, he really held on to his democracy.

The idea was that there is a lot more to consider and there is that social contract which has declined. We don't care about democracy because it hasn't been threatened. I mean now we're seeing threats and freedom of speech is picking up again.

I think people are going to be more engaged-

I think if the system is going to adapt I think things like Prime Minister's Questions, shouting across at each other, it's childish. And I genuinely believe it's retarded. I think wehn people, I think normal people in Britain, I think we're quite polite. I think there is that notion I think we are quite multicultural. If you look at Britain it's just old white people shouting at each other.

And I don't think; I would never speak like that to my mother, I would never speak like that to my enemy. It's just rude. And I think, I think if you look at the statistics... you'll see that most of the public agree. That y'know you're not debating things that are really y'know entitled to our daily lives. People say what's TI... there's no debate of that. It's just that someone shouts at David Cameron and he says, well you know, don't worry about it, it's not a problem. It's just this, it's just this idea.

And you have these preppy leaders as well. You have these preppy leaders because of the social media, you're very scared to be yourselves. I think you can look at UKIP and you can see. I think a lot of older people write for Nigel Farage... he's got the notion of, y'know I'm not a politician. And the problem with politics, you take these preppy people with nothing wrong with them, so they'll say, they'll toe the party line, so they don't say anything...

Michael Sandel: A second way of conceiving democracy, not only as a process, but in a way as a project.

Democracy as a project is about trying to revive the terms of public discourse so that they will be about things people care about.

Democracy as a project really I suppose is about a way of living together that makes us, if it works, that makes us better than we would be if we simply minded our own business and took no part in public affairs.

Democracy as a project isn't only about voting. It's about reasoning together, arguing together, about big questions, and some people feel that contemporary democratic politics isn't enough like that.

Democracy as a project involves contending with disagreements, cultivating the art of listening, especially listening to people with whom we disagree, hence the frustration with the shouting matches that we've heard referred to.

Democracy is a project when it goes well, is about cultivating the habits of civility, of mutual respect, of political engagement. It's about coming, ultimately, coming to care for the common good.

Radical Transparency

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Public Interest and the Press:

Claire Fox: I think that the drive at the moment towards transparency and the right to know is driven often by a real cyncism about what's going on behind closed doors, it's always assumed it's malevolent and evil.

What I'm suggesting is that I don't think that open transparency is actually the right thing to do, and I've tried to argue, I don't think that I will have a better understanding of the magazine that you work for it I know every single nook and cranny, but I'm sure that there are things to hide. People have things to hide...

I've seen the way freedom of information requests, transparency culture has paralyzed a lot of organisations, who are stymied from thinking out loud.
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