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Friday, November 06, 2015

Links - 6th November 2015

Peta sues to give copyright for 'monkey selfies' to macaque who snapped them - "The suit was filed in federal court in San Francisco by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta). It seeks a court order allowing Peta to administer all proceeds from the photos for the benefit of the monkey, which it identified as six-year-old Naruto, and other crested macaques living in a reserve on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi... Laurence Tribe, a Harvard Law School professor who supports animal rights, expressed misgivings about the litigation. “It trivializes the terrible problems of needless animal slaughter and avoidable animal exploitation worldwide for lawyers to focus so much energy and ingenuity on whether monkeys own the copyright in selfies taken under these contrived circumstances,” he said."
Somehow giving the copyright to the animal means giving it to Peta

PETA monkey selfie lawsuit: It's not just absurd. It's cruel. - "At this point, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is known largely as an organization devoted to executing tiresome publicity stunts that, while theoretically attached to the concept of animal rights, mostly function as self-promoting performance art. While irritating, this is generally not a great moral crime... OK. So, PETA filed a silly lawsuit. In other news, it was warm in Florida last week, and Starbucks is doing a brisk business in pumpkin spice lattes. The reason this suit is particularly galling, though, is that, in this case, the group has sued not a massive corporation with a significant legal budget, but a random nature photographer, who will likely have to drag himself into court and quite possibly spend some of his own money to defend this ludicrous claim, at least until a judge has the decent sense to dismiss it"

22 photographs showing that the world is more amazing than it first seems

If you don’t speak French, how can you judge if Charlie Hebdo is racist? - "Much of this anti-Charlie prissiness comes from how the magazine has been typified in the Anglo press. ie, idiotically for the most part. An infinity of pundits have made blithe diagnoses of general knavishness while not speaking any French at all... How can you make any sensible judgement about Charlie if you cannot read it? Is it enough to look at the pictures? Didn't we used to hesitate before doing something so confidently asinine? Can you imagine how enraged we would be if monolingual French people judged Private Eye or Spitting Image with the same blind assurance... I cringe with embarrassment every time a French person asks me what is going on. I’ve started pretending I’m Swedish... this is akin to saying the incomparable Jonathan Swift was a baby-eating Nazi and that A Modest Proposal was actually a cookbook... They have a weekly space for animal rights stories, for Chrissakes!!! Run by a woman who calls herself Luce Lapin. With the best will in the world, even if Lucy Rabbit wanted to be a racist or a fascist, how good at it would she be with a name like that? What would all the other racists and fascists think?... Yes, Charlie is tasteless and discomfiting. Have I somehow missed all the gentle, polite satire? That amiable, convenient satire that everybody likes."

What Descriptors Are Men And Women More Likely to Use on OKCupid? - "When Hawley analyzed the words appearing more on male profiles than female ones, he discovered an overwhelming use of terms describing professional occupations, including “engineer,” “software,” “musician,” and “construction.” (“Ladies” does, however, take the top spot.) Conversely, the words that appeared more on female profiles than male ones emphasized appearance and personality traits, with far fewer professional terms cracking the list. Instead, words like “girly,” “sassy,” and “curves,” dominated. “Nurse” was the sole exception."
People hate "stereotypes". Even if - or especially if - they're true.

civil engineering - How is the design life of a reinforced concrete structure calculated? - "History has shown that unreinforced concrete structures can last hundreds of years. The Romans have some examples of this such as the Pantheon. The problem with reinforced concrete is that eventually the reinforcing will corrode, expand in size, and cause the concrete to crack"

The NRA Myth of Arming the Good Guys - "If only Sandy Hook's principal had been packing heat, the argument goes, she could've stopped the mass killer. There's just one little problem with this: Not a single one of the 62 mass shootings we studied in our investigation has been stopped this way—even as the nation has been flooded with millions of additional firearms and a barrage of recent laws has made it easier than ever for ordinary citizens to carry them in public places, including bars, parks, and schools. Attempts by armed citizens to stop shooters are rare. At least two such attempts in recent years ended badly, with the would-be good guys gravely wounded or killed. Meanwhile, the five cases most commonly cited as instances of regular folks stopping massacres fall apart under scrutiny: Either they didn't involve ordinary citizens taking action—those who intervened were actually cops, trained security officers, or military personnel—or the citizens took action after the shooting rampages appeared to have already ended. (Or in some cases, both.)"

Trans-Pacific Partnership Seen as Door for Foreign Suits Against U.S. - The New York Times - "Under the terms of the Pacific trade chapter, foreign investors could demand cash compensation if member nations “expropriate or nationalize a covered investment either directly or indirectly.” Opponents fear “indirect expropriation” will be interpreted broadly, especially by deep-pocketed multinational companies opposing regulatory or legal changes that diminish the value of their investments. Included in the definition of “indirect expropriation” is government action that “interferes with distinct, reasonable investment-backed expectations,” according to the leaked document. The cost can be high. In 2012, one such tribunal, under the auspices of the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, ordered Ecuador to pay Occidental Petroleum a record $2.3 billion for expropriating oil drilling rights."
If a corporation can sue another for violating an agreement, why can't it sue a government for the same?

Facebook glitch leads to marriage

Letter to Daniel - "Your coming has turned me upside down and inside out, so much that seemed essential to me has, in the past few days, taken on a different colour. Like many foreign correspondents I know, I have lived a life that, on occasion, has veered close to the edge: war zones, natural disasters, darkness in all its shapes and forms. In a world of insecurity and ambition and ego, it's easy to be drawn in, to take chances with our lives, to believe that what we do and what people say about us is reason enough to gamble with death. Now, looking at your sleeping face, inches away from me, listening to your occasional sigh and gurgle, I wonder how I could have ever thought glory and prizes and praise were sweeter than life."

Why Can't You Pump Your Own Gas in Oregon and New Jersey? - "New Jersey and Oregon don't trust people to not blow themselves up while pumping gas, and the states would rather leave the job to professionals."

Why does Belarus President Lukashenko take son Kolya to work? - "There are claims Mr Lukashenko is grooming his youngest son to be his successor. Speaking to the BBC in 2012, Mr Lukashenko denied this and insisted the boy was so attached to him that he would not go to sleep without him."

We tried a Tobin tax and it didn’t work - FT.com - "One aim of the proposed tax is to improve the efficiency of financial markets by reducing speculation. Another is to generate tax revenues. Those were also the reasons why Sweden introduced a transaction tax in 1984. At that time, the outflow of capital from Sweden was limited by foreign exchange controls, which meant that Swedish investors were restricted in moving capital to foreign markets. Even so, investors fled the tax regime... By 1990, shortly after the last vestiges of the currency controls were abolished in Sweden, more than 50 per cent of the trading in Swedish shares had moved to London. Conversely, once the tax was abolished in December 1991, trading on the Stockholm stock exchange recovered... Rather than merely reducing speculative trading, the Swedish tax tended to reduce and redirect financial investments that reflected other needs than speculation. So Europe should learn from Sweden: a transaction tax is likely to lead to distortions in the form of short-term and long-term transactions migrating to other countries, and to untaxed financial instruments – or they might come to a complete halt."

Naked hookers in boxing match after dispute over $80

Public urinator shoots himself in the groin: police

Egg War: Why India's Vegetarian Elite Are Accused Of Keeping Kids Hungry - "Why this vehement opposition to eggs? Well, the local community of Jains, which is strictly vegetarian and also powerful in the state, has previously thwarted efforts to introduce eggs in day care centers and schools. Chouhan is an upper caste Hindu man who recently became a vegetarian... While these states as a whole may be mostly vegetarian, the poorest — and most malnourished — Indians generally are not. They would eat eggs, if only they could afford them, says Dipa Sinha, an economist at the Center for Equity Studies in New Delhi and an expert on India's preschool and school feeding programs... We often assume Indians are largely vegetarian, but that assumption doesn't hold up against data. A 2006 surveyby the Delhi-based Center for the Study of Developing Societies found that more than 50 percent of Indians are in fact non-vegetarian. They eat fish, chicken, beef and, yes, eggs, too. Vegetarianism is often limited to privileged, upper caste Hindu communities and a couple of other religions, like Jainism... "Wherever eggs are introduced, attendance goes up," says Sinha. "It's very popular, because children don't get it at home." Eggs are also an easy way to provide much-needed protein and fat to malnourished children, says Sachin Jain, the food rights activist. They are easy to procure locally, and storage and transportation aren't a problem. "No ... vegetarian food item is that good a source of protein," he says. Milk, which comes close and is often touted as a good alternative by vegetarians like Chouhan, comes with many complications. It is often diluted by suppliers and is easy to contaminate, says Jain. It also requires more infrastructure to store and transport to remote rural areas."
“The human body is meant to consume vegetarian food, which has everything the human body requires.”

Young Tech Worker Who Called 911 On Behalf Of Injured Cyclist Arrested, Roughed Up, Jailed - "SFist contacted the SFPD for comment. Spokesman Albie Esparza explains that Partensky was arrested for interfering, resisting arrest, and public intoxication. According to police, he was both drunk and disruptive as police and fire department medical personnel arrived, he was told several times by officers to back up and remove himself. "If someone calls 911," Esparza says, "They are expected only to be a good witness, and to obey anything they're told to do by arriving officers."During Partensky's ensuing detention, one officer sustained an injury when Partensky allegedly swung his elbow and struck the officer in the eye"
This is a followup to "Good Samaritan Backfire"
Also, notably, he is white

Putin’s Big Lie Turns Reality on Its Head - "Lavrov blithely declared that Putin “is the world’s most popular leader” and that many public opinion polls backed up his assertion. Regrettably Lavrov appeared unaware that, according to a Pew Research Center survey released August 5, Putin has a median trust rating of 24 percent and is viewed negatively throughout Europe, North America, Latin America and the Middle East. Nor did Lavrov let his audience of youth leaders know that since Russia’s takeover of Crimea—a violation of international law—and its clandestine war against Ukraine, people around the world overwhelmingly mistrust Russia these days."
Someone once claimed to me that everything reported about Russia in English is wrong. Maybe that's because all the Russian reporting is controlled by Putin

YAPFC (Yet Another Pointless Feminist Conversation)


This is sexist and exploits women: *Matt Taylor of Rosetta Comet Shirtstorm fame*
This does not: *Kim Kardashian's "Break the Internet" picture*

A: What the hell are you talking about? When the kim kardashian photographs came out there were hefty discussions about how it was a) sexist b) exploitative c) employed a racist trope. Using basic and ignorant memes to try to suggest there is some hypocrisy going on here only reinforces your utter ignorance. If you want to discuss these issues, have a conversation. Like a woman.

Also, B, when you reduce the struggles of women to a childish skirmish in which you assume all we do is bicker about sexism - as opposed to experience it in many violent, degrading, and often life threatening ways, you flatten and deny women their experiences of misogyny.

Me: Some research confirms that there was only the mildest of titterings about Kk. Whereas Taylor got a huge shit storm after being bullied by feminists.

Jezebel on kk:

Update: ​Kim Kardashian's Glistening Ass Did Not Break the Internet

Spoiler: it didn't criticise her at all

A: Ah, yes, research. Where you post a single anecdotal article to back up your already predetermined point. Good job.

The Big Problem With Kim Kardashian's Butt Photos Nobody Is Talking About

Kim Kardashian doesn’t realize she’s the butt of an old racial joke | theGrio

Kardashian photo plays off controversial black imagery

Of course, the fact that you pose the two episodes as a parallel comparison in the first place is laughable.

Me: It is indeed laughable because they are totally different and it expose feminist hypocrisy and sexism

One person wears a funky t-shirt which just happens to have women in bikinis on it, and the other contributes to the objectification of women with her naked image

As previously mentioned, "Some research confirms that there was only the mildest of titterings about Kk. Whereas Taylor got a huge shit storm after being bullied by feminists."

As observers noted at the time:

#Shirtstorm | EOInternational

"take Kim Kardashian’s picture featuring a photoshopped version of her gluttius maximus titled “Break the Internet.” None of these blatant onslaughts on people’s image of women attracted significant retaliation from feminists, nor did they lead to an apology from the oppressors"

From a feminist:

Matt Taylor and Kim Kardashian: The two sides of the sexist coinBy Archish Mazumdar

"on the day of possibly his greatest professional triumph this genius of a man was left weeping on national television. No, not for the overwhelming sense of achievement but for the fact that he was made to feel, he had sinned. He was overcome with guilt and shame for wearing what some people decided was an “inappropriate” shirt on television... Is it not us “feminists” that protest for women to be able to wear anything that they might choose? Why is it then that there is such a blatant case of double standards? On the other hand there is Kim Kardashian- a heroine and even an idol to some- deciding to bare all in her effort to garner publicity, to break the internet as some claim. No one seeks to engulf her in a tweetstorm of rage"

# Les limites du sexisme et du féminisme | okcowboy

"Donc au moment où Matt Taylor était accusé de sexisme et de vulgarité, Kim Kardashian, au sommet de sa gloire elle aussi, offrait une vision pure, artistique et probablement raffinée de la femme."

Dr Matt Taylor’s shirt made me cry, too – with rage at his abusers

"It’s the hypocrisy of it all that irritates me. Here is Kim Kardashian – a heroine and idol to some members of my family – deciding to bust out all over the place, and good for her. No one seeks to engulf her in a tweetstorm of rage. But why is she held to be noble and pure, while Dr Taylor is attacked for being vulgar and tasteless?"

In defence of Rosetta mission scientist Dr Matt Taylor and his controversial shirt

"in week where the biggest story on the planet was a picture of Kim Kardashian’s glistening naked arse with a f*cking champagne coupe balanced on it, I’d suggest that if we want to talk about harmful depictions of women, that should be our jumping off point."

All the sources are in agreement: the reaction to Matt Taylor dwarfed that to Kim K (inasmuch as there was any reaction at all).

Plus, I didn't see Kim K breaking down in tears after confessing on TV to having harmed women.

A: Right. I'm not disagreeing that Internet bullying over something like Matt Taylor's shirt is ridiculous. Neither am I disagreeing that the response to kim kardashian could have provoked a more robust debate. But you could draw multiple conclusions from this: 1) internet shaming goes overboard and doesn't produce productive discussions with people who might do troubling things; Matt Taylor may not have been right, but he did not deserve the lashing out he received. 2) there are inconsistencies with the way we apply feminist critique. kk's pictures deserve more attention because they represent the self exploitation of a woman who agrees to participate in a racist portrayal of her body. This is a problem. We should talk about it. And then there is the conclusion I can only assume you are drawing, which is 3) women should shame women for their self-exploitation as much as they shame men. If they don't, then not only are they hypocrites as individuals, but ALL OF FEMINISM is hypocritical and bullshit

Look dude, the fact that you use this comparison as the primary example of the problems of feminism, as opposed to trying to understand the long history of women's struggles and women's critique, shows that you know very little about what feminism is - the way it has, as a school of thought, as a site for political struggles, spanned from thinking about the exploitation of women's work to exposing femicides and sexual violence.. I could go on but you do not seem like the sort of person who wants to actually do your homework and read some feminist theory.

So if you're actually interested in a discussion that doesn't already confirm your ideological position, let me know and I can suggest a few books. I'm also tagging in C here (if he can see this) because he's an ally, and it gets really tiring for women to have to call men out every time they say something problematic on Facebook. I doubt this is the place for an engaged conversation on this stuff, and minds rarely ever change over fb threads. So I'm out.

Me: The problem with 1: why was Matt Taylor shamed but not KK?

2 isn't that different from 3

For 3, the Jedi Mind Trick is that feminism is "monolithic enough to praise but not monolithic enough to criticize."

And I don't know why feminists always assume that I don't know enough about feminism. There're so many problems with feminism that I can (and have) written long essays about them. I just don't launch into a critique of theory all the time, because it is not appropriate. Besides which most self-identified feminists do not invoke theory when they do their feminising

I also don't see what "the long history of women's struggles and women's critique" has to do with problematising modern day feminism. If 99% of black people are convicted by a court but 1% of white people are, you don't need to know Foucault to suspect that there is something going wrong here

You certainly are right that people don't change their minds. Feminists always assume that people who disagree with them don't know enough.

A: ^what you are problematizing is a tiny portion of internet age cyber feminism, which I often find superficial, thin, and not sufficiently rooted in ongoing women's struggles around the world. My problem is that you, by taking the Taylor/kk comparison to be exemplary of feminism, woefully ignore and miss out on what feminists movements are and have been doing around the world. We don't disagree that the Taylor response was ridiculous, nor that kk's photos required more calling out. What we do disagree on is the extent to which that allows us to draw conclusions about whether feminism is worth taking Seriously. You generalize from a small portion of the way -some- forms of feminist media is problematic to suggest -all- feminism is hypocritical. I am making a plea that you do some work to understand how multiple other forms of modern day, ongoing feminist movements may actually provide the same critique that you might, but then use it to ask how we can do this better. Or ask how this might take attention away from more serious struggles.

Indigenous women are going missing in Canada, rates of domestic violence and still shockingly high in the global north, and instead of asking why and how these are serious problems that threaten women's lives, You're interested in tearing feminism down as a whole. This throws the baby out with the bath water. I'm interested in building women up. Making the world a possible place for women to live without fear or subjugation. Doing so requires a more careful understanding of what feminism entails in its varied forms.

Me: Given that this is a mass movement, I don't think it makes sense to dismiss it as "a tiny portion of internet age cyber feminism". In fact it might have more claim to authenticity than feminist activists who work in other areas.

And oh, non "internet age cyber feminism" is problematic too

For example, feminist NGOs are trying to lobby for the rape of men to be ignored - since it will divert attention from the women

The rape of men: the darkest secret of war | Society | The Guardian

Also related to war, the deaths of male civilians in war is ignored, because everyone is focusing on women and children

Amazon.com: Innocent Women And Children: Gender, Norms And the Protection of Civilians (Gender in a Global/Local World) (Gender in a Global/Local World) (9780754647454): R. Charli Carpenter: Books

Feminists claim that only 2% of rape reports are false, but this figure is fabricated

"The Truth behind Legal Dominance Feminism's Two Percent False Rape Cla" by Edward Greer

At the same time they are using voodoo statistics to make it seem like the conviction rate for rape is low

Rape conviction rate figures 'misleading' - Telegraph

Meanwhile in Israel feminist groups lobbied for the law not to be changed so men could be raped

Women’s groups: Cancel law charging women with rape! - Israel - Jerusalem Post

And discourses on genital cutting of both genders is extremely problematic

Genital Cutting and Western Discourses on Sexuality

NOW claims that the gender wage gap is huge, though many researchers have shown that once you correct for various variables it's tiny

Gender Wage Gap May Be Much Smaller Than Most Think

We also have the White Ribbon Campaign which urges men to end violence against women - ignoring the fact that almost half of domestic violence victims are men

More than 40% of domestic violence victims are male, report reveals | Society | The Guardian

Closer to home AWARE (the official feminist group) wastes its time complaining about vodka promotions and army marching songs

As Hanna Rosin puts it, "The closer women get to real power, the more they cling to the idea that they are powerless"

The end of men: Why feminists won’t accept that things are looking up for women.

A: Omg you know what Gabriel you are like totally right, MEN ARE UNDER ATTACK! I am also sorry for my idiocy, after all I am a woman. Giggles and flips my hair.

I could give you counter arguments for every single one of your slanted, misguided, mis characterizations of women's movements. Many feminists talk about men's rape and see it as a real problem. But since it has Become clearer to me now more than ever that your project is not justice nor subtlety, my last response is going to be a very polite fuck you.

Me: So much for changing minds with evidence.

B: A that wasnt very polite either. I think we can have a discussion without all that vitriol. Yes, by all means present your counter arguments then - be you female or male, or whatever you consider yourself. Remember that you did engage first by posting on my post. besides, i dont think (i cant speak for gabe) that you are an idiot (i would have ignored you if you were) - you are opinionated for sure - remember how you told me to shove it and fuck you scientists when i said homosexual was the most neutral term (you insisted on lesbians and gays), you didnt seem very much interested in debating it. dare i even say that it borders on militancy? oh and when i tried to ask you our for dinner to further discuss this you replied along the lines of 'dont get me wrong i have a man i love very much ' (what was that about).

and where did all that 'giggles and flips my hair' even come from!?

C: With all due respect to all the strangers I don't know, I think A started out very patient and in good faith. Having been in her position before, I'm fairly sure I'd just have given up much earlier.

As one of those "self-identified feminists who do not invoke theory", I think whatever can be said artificial gender constructs and the impact they have on the lives of individuals has been said by/to most of the participants in the conversation. (In some cases, I'm factoring in prior conversations.) No one's going to change their mind here because people are standing on two sides of the privilege line, and that line makes the other side very hazy indeed. So I'm not even going to bother checking this after I make this "dump, wipe and leave post".

As for where did 'giggles and flips hair' come from? It came from the insistence that feminists either are fabricating a problem that doesn't really exist, just to have a cause, or simply don't know what they're talking about and have got things all wrong. Both dismiss the realities that women are living with and basically say "it's okay honey, you don't know any better".

Me: So basically feminists are infallible when talking to non feminists

And the "reality of lived experience" is more important than objective data

Now I have a dilemma

Do I consider A and countless other feminists who have reacted similarly members of the "tiny portion of internet age cyber feminism" (and thus insult them) or do I consider them part of feminism as a whole (and thus condemn feminism)?

Sadly A doesn't have the opportunity to reply since she has blocked me.


One defence response when the facts accumulate and cause cognitive dissonance is to curse "fuck you" and block the source.

As a good Bayesian I'm always open to new data to revise my priors.

But at some point you don't need new data.

If virtually all those who openly identify with feminism are irrational, intolerant and rude, should one really expect the next one to come along to suddenly be rational, tolerant and polite?

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Links - 5th November 2015

Twitter Language Use Reflects Psychological Differences between Democrats and Republicans - "the language used by liberals emphasizes their perception of uniqueness, contains more swear words, more anxiety-related words and more feeling-related words than conservatives’ language. Conversely, we predicted that the language of conservatives emphasizes group membership and contains more references to achievement and religion than liberals’ language... Democrat followers tend to use 1st person singular pronouns more often than Republican followers, which we interpret as their greater desire for emphasizing uniqueness. Democrats also tend to use words expressing anxiety and feelings. Conversely, the language of Republican followers highlights their group identity, relatively infrequent usage of swear words and religiosity. Our findings corroborate those indicating political differences in the agreeableness component of the Big Five, the in-group foundation in the Moral Foundations Theory and the self-direction and conformity values in the Basic Personal Vales model. These results suggest that language used on Twitter does, indeed, reflect individual differences between liberals and conservatives."

FFN - Fédération française de naturisme - Questions and answers - " Quelle est la différence entre le nudisme et le naturisme ?
Le nudisme, c’est tout simplement le fait de ne pas porter de vêtements ou de se baigner nu. Le naturisme va plus loin que le nudisme puisqu’il relève d’une certaine approche comportementale. Les naturistes se veulent près de la nature et recherchent un style de vie sain, un environnement naturel et préservé."

The Origin of English Surnames - "The surname Chambers comes from the same source, a man who looked after the king's or a noble's private chambers. The name Spencer comes from a man who dispensed stores. Other officials were the parker who looked after the game park and the warriner who looked after rabbit warrens. From him we get the surname Warner. The reeve was an important official in a Medieval village. Bailey is a corruption of bailiff, another important official. Dempster is derived from deemester, an old English word for a judge. Two other court officials were the summoner, who brought the prisoner before the judge and the beadle. At a feast people dipped their finger in water between courses and they dried them with towels provided by a napier. (Although some people think this surname may come from the Scottish 'nae peer'). The marshall was responsible for seating arrangements. A kitchener washed up. The surname Parsons was given to a parsons servant. There were also people who looked after certain things e.g. the hayward and the woodward. Coward is derived from cowherd. There was also a hog-ward who gave us the surname Hoggart. A stot was a young ox and the man who looked after him was called a stot herd, which has become the surname Stoddard. The surnames Yates and Yateman are corruptions of gates and gate man i.e. gatekeeper. A burgess was a well off man who had certain rights in the borough where he lived... The ending 'cock' meant young man. So we have Hitchcock (Hitch was a pet name for Richard). We also have Wilcock... Somebody who lived by the walls of a town might be given the surname Walls. If they lived on the edge of the town or village they might be given the surname Townsend. Or if they lived by towers they might get the surname Towers. The origin of the surnames Orchard and Pond are obvious... Many English surnames are derived from nicknames People who were arrogant might be called king, prince, bishop or abbot. (Although surnames like Bishop and Abbot may have come about because somebody worked for a bishop or an abbot. They may also have been children of clergymen)."

Indian tea tastes success in China - "Tea is one of the seven key necessities for any Chinese - wood, rice, oil, salt, soy sauce and vinegar being the other six."

Difference between Chinese and Indian Tea - Blog - Vintage Tea Company - "hile all teas in China come from the Camellia Sinensis variety, the majority of Indian teas come from the Camellia Assamica variety. The Camellia Assamica is characterized by its shorter life but considerably greater robustness to weather and altitude as well as considerably higher yields. As a result of the much higher yields, Indian tea production for most of the 20th century significantly exceeded Chinese tea production (although this has now reversed as a result of China dedicating more farmland to the mass production of tea). This factor also means that there is less variability in the taste of the tea leaf which comes from the various regions of India (although there are huge differences in production methods across India). The downside of the Camellia Assamica tree variety, however, is that the leaves have a much stronger and less complex flavor. Nevertheless, many people appreciate the more distinct taste of Indian teas than the more subtle taste of Chinese teas."

The Triumph of the Yell - "When people in power know that what they say will be scrutinized for weaknesses and probably distorted, they become more guarded. As an acquaintance recently explained about himself, public figures who once gave long, free-wheeling press conferences now limit themselves to reading brief statements. When less information gets communicated, opposition does not lead to truth. Opposition also limits information when only those who are adept at verbal sparring take part in public discourse, and those who cannot handle it, or do not like it, decline to participate. This winnowing process is evident in graduate schools, where many talented students drop out because what they expected to be a community of intellectual inquiry turned out to be a ritual game of attack and counterattack... This is the most dangerous aspect of modeling intellectual interchange as a fight: it contributes to an atmosphere of animosity that spreads like a fever. In a society where people express their anger by shooting, the result of demonizing those with whom we disagree can be truly demonic... when opposition becomes the overwhelming avenue of inquiry, when the lust for opposition exalts extreme views and obscures complexity, when our eagerness to find weaknesses blinds us to strengths, when the atmosphere of animosity precludes respect and poisons our relations with one another, then the culture of critique is stifling us. If we could move beyond it, we would move closer to the truth"

Across the Globe, a Growing Disillusionment With Democracy - The New York Times - "Consider a recent study by the political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, who analyzed who has been most successful in determining policy making in the United States over the past 30 years. It found that economic elites and narrow interest groups were very influential, while the views of ordinary citizens and mass-based interest groups had virtually no impact. “When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for,” Mr. Gilens and Mr. Page write, “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically nonsignificant impact upon public policy.” Their takeaway: “In the United States, the majority does not rule.”"

Skyrocketing prices of an anti-parasitic drug – the facts? - "the net effect of this price increase is pretty close to negligible. The total market is tiny. Most high risk patients without huge economic resources are protected from these prices. Finally, there are lower cost and better drugs available to patients. The pricing behavior of Turing is unsupportable, that’s clear. The effect on needy patients, however, is small."

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, The Best Nightclub in Africa - "[On Ukraine] Under an imposing statue of Lenin, the people of Donetsk appear to celebrate with gusto. There were red flags, Soviet songs and even some pictures of Stalin - a man who starved millions of Ukrainians to death in the 1930s. I confess, it was a baffling sight, testifying, perhaps, to the amnesiac effect of World War II, and decades of subsequent propaganda which disappeared for a bit after the collapse of Communism, but is now back with a vengeance"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, Europe's Migration Turmoil - "I sat down recently with the leader of the Czech Republic's newest political movement, something called Bloc against Islam... [He] has managed to garner 150,000 likes for a Facebook page called 'We don't want Islam in the Czech Republic', a country with a Muslim population of less than 0.1%. He's now considering political office. One thing he said in our 30 minute interview stayed with me. 'You know, we so looked up to you in Western Europe after the fall of Communism', he told me. 'Then we started traveling. We went to London, to Paris, to Berlin and we saw the mosques and the headscarfs. And we were - disappointed. This wasn't the Europe we imagined.' So the Continent faces a showdown between East and West"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, Dreams Deferred, Hope On Hold - "The railway staff are not in the least concerned if a train is running 7 or 8 hours late... the casual attitude of railway staff is an example of the well-known Indian attitude to life known as Dugar (sp?). Which means: why worry, everything will come out alright in the end. Once I was told that a train I was waiting for at a big junction was indefinitely delayed. Does that mean it's lost, I asked the official in the inquiry office, sarcastically. If you choose to say so, came back the disinterested reply. When I lost my cool, the official looked at me with contempt and said, you foreigners don't understand India. This is the land of Dugar. There was another train. It was lost, and now we found it. So you can take it... 'We're stll running the railways like you used to'. And the same goes for most of the activities of the government of India. There is one difference between the railways of the Raj and the railways of today. In the Raj, there were no politics. Today, politics are all-pervasive, and with them comes corruption...
[On China] We booked a stay in the oddly named 'Koala Youth Hostel', even though none of us was exactly in the first flush of youth. Throughout Asia, beds can be terribly hard, almost like sleeping on a plank, but at youth hostels, because they're mostly dealing with foreigners, the beds tend to be softer"
Is it ethnocentric to expect trains to be on time? It's okay, wanting high economic growth is ethnocentric too

Witold Chrab's answer to Why do tourists (especially from the West) visit India, when all they do is complain? - Quora - "no one wastes their time going somewhere and spending lots of money somewhere with the plan to criticize and hate that place. What would be the point of that? In fact, people tend to have an increasingly positive and defensive attitude for their choices - in this case, traveling India - the more money, time, and effort they spend on something...
Their expectations were not met. People had high hopes, spend a lot of time and money to get to India, and these hopes and expectations were not fulfilled. They arrived with a positive attitude and left with a negative attitude. India fell short for them. India is one of these countries where people are promised a lot, but often delivered very little. Customer service is terrible. The service industry runs the gamut from absolutely terrible and scammy to excellent. Plenty of people end up with legitimately poor experiences. Trying to make your way through the maze of tours and scammers in Agra sours the experience...
some Indians who have this attitude take things very personally and extrapolate simple statements into something that is not there. I generally loved my trip to India. I hope to go back. But that doesn't mean that everything I say or write about India looks like some kind of public relations advertisement. I saw both good and bad - and I mention both good and bad.

60% of financial services expats want to stay in Singapore for good: survey - "Expats are keen to stay because of attractive pay rates. Average salaries in the financial services sector top $138,000 per annum, while management consultants can earn almost $123,000 on average."
Apparently the salaries are on the low end

BBC Radio 4 - Time Noodles - "He feels that there are more and more people who want to become rakugo performers. I personally think it's because of the economic recession. It seems more popular choice for young people these days... There were many more who were against simply to perform rakugo in English because it would ruin the tradition and a lot of them said that rakugo is such a traditional performing art. It could never be understood by foreigners. And why would you even trying to introduce it? So they were not quite happy with what I was doing. I think it was 2002. I had a call from rakugo association and they needed to talk to me. Basically they wanted me to stop... Sanyutei Ryuraku... performs in English, French, German and Italian... Sanyutei Ryuraku doesn't actually speak any of those languages. He has just memorised enough to perform...
'Is it harder to make Japanese audience laugh than foreign audiences?'
'That's why I go abroad'...
I ask any Japanese people: ok, can you tell a Japanese joke. And nobody ever comes up with one"

Studying Literature in Singapore

I was at a panel titled What Is The Point Of Reading Literature? last night.

Short thoughts follow:

People conflate the study of literature with the reading of literature. Yet they are not the same thing.

"Literature" is often used as shorthand for "everything that is clean and good upon this earth". One speaker mentioned that literature teaches you philosophy. But if you want to teach kids philosophy, you should teach them *philosophy* and not literature.

Why is it that literature is always in an existential crisis? Art, music, and philosophy - to name just a few subjects that are generally agreed upon by the cognoscenti as being good or even essential for the well-lived life - are even less popular. Yet there're no calls to force people to study those for O level.

If the study literature is really so compelling why is it so unpopular? Is this just elitist imposing of preferences on everyone else? Why is literature the only subject where there're regular calls for "protectionism" (to force people to study it)? "Literature is so wonderful that I'm going to force you to 'enjoy' it - whether you want it or not".

When many Singaporeans cannot even speak proper English, isn't it a conceit to impose Literature (as a subject) upon them before working on lower order skills? Should we force people to study A Maths if they struggle with E Maths?
(Someone brought up a similar point, and one speaker called this mindset "elitist" and said students with poorer English could enjoy literature too, and gave an example of a text that resonated with one group - but that's beside the point of whether you should force them to study it when their grammar is still off).

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Links - 4th November 2015

Keeping Your Appearance Natural Is More Attractive, New Study Finds, Plus 5 Other Things Science Says Is Sexy - "When combined with a beautiful body, a sexy walk was actually less appealing than expected. The underlying principle is the age-old idea of "don't try too hard to be sexy" — a pretty woman who purposely tries to adopt a sexier walk may unwittingly make herself seem less attractive in the process... A 2014 study examined the attractiveness of different kinds of creativity, and found that both men and women were most attracted to "ornamental/aesthetic creativity" — so if you're a musician, poet, or photographer, chances are that people will find you sexy because of your openness to new experiences... If a high-heel-wearing woman drops something in the street, she's 50 percent more likely to have a man help her retrieve it than her flats-wearing counterpart"

Would Chinese-style education work on British kids? - "For the BBC documentary Are Our Kids Tough Enough? Chinese School, an experiment was carried out at the Bohunt School in Liphook. Fifty children in year nine had to live under a completely different regime - one run by Chinese teachers. For four weeks, they wore a special uniform and started the school day at 07:00. Once a week there was a pledge to the flag. Lessons were focused on note-taking and repetition. Group exercise was undertaken. The pupils had to clean their own classrooms. There were two meal breaks in a 12-hour day... Joe was carrying a heavy bag on his other side, but he didn't request us to help. Joe's mother did not offer to help him carry the bag, nor did Joe ask for help. Even when Joe's brother tried to help him carry his bag, Joe refused. I wonder if this is the result of the British education, that trains the children to become independent. This makes me think a lot."

Love changes: Divorce and annulment reforms under Pope Francis - "A study published in the Chicago Tribune in 2012 concluded that about 6 percent of those who got divorced married each other again. Thousands of people decide to remarry the spouses they divorced, months, years and even decades later. Michele Davis, the founder of the Divorce Busting Center in Colorado, says the number of remarriages to an ex is about 10 percent... Robert Anderson, a London police officer, theologian and writer during the late 1800’s:
“In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find and continue to find grounds for marriage.”"

Little boy lost finds his mother using Google Earth

BBC Blogs - Arena Gazette - Notes from the not so former Iron Curtain or Echoes of Eric Hobsbawm - "Eric Hobsbawm told me: "In Europe, the money flows from east to west the people flow from east to west"."

Sorry, Apple. Turns Out Designers Don't Use iPads - "64 percent of designers don’t brainstorm with software. They do it with pen and paper."

Google Mistakenly Tags Black People as ‘Gorillas,’ Showing Limits of Algorithms - Digits - WSJ

Middle school boy arrested for assault after kissing girl on a dare
In Singapore this could be the use of criminal force with the intent to outrage modesty

Christians Walk On Water, Muslim Kids Sink: Charlie Hebdo Mocks Death Of Aylan Kurdi
Comments: "personally speaking, I think the image is funny. It's very neatly skewering a centre-left European vision of itself proudly marching with candlelit vigils (The strapline) and #Ayan placards, while remaining predominantly blind to the American (McDonalds) neocolonial roots of the conflict that put that kid in the water (IMHO more than you could say ISIS did, or people smugglers did, or zealous EU border patrols did). There's a war in Syria. Yanks are bombing ISIS. Russians are arming & supplying Assad. It's all so close to our doorstep that dead kids wash up on the beach. That is the point being made here, and it's a point worth making.
"Getting angry at charlie hebdo is like getting angry at the onion or south park. It is Satire. It makes no sense that the author states he doesnt understand the cartoons, but immediately assumes the worst? Why?... why would you comment on something you don't understand?"
"What does it say about Australian culture if New matilda cannot decipher what is meant here!!!! I am worried."
"There was a famous literary work by the satirist Jonathan Swift, which suggested that poverty could be solved if the children of the poor were slaughtered and eaten as food. The satire prompted incredible outrage in its day but was also then, and still is, recognized as satire of the highest order, signifying exactly the opposite of what it superficially seems to say."

Parotta - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - "A parotta, porotta or barotta is a layered flat bread of Sri Lanka and Kerala and some parts of Southern India, notably in Tamil Nadu made from maida flour. The origin lies in the greater Punjab region comprising parts of modern-day North India and Pakistan ( see Paratha). Parottas are usually available as street food and in restaurants across Kerala, Tamil Nadu and parts of Karnataka. At some places it is also served at weddings, religious festivals and feasts. It is prepared by kneading maida, egg (in some recipes), oil or ghee and water. The dough is beaten into thin layers and later forming a round spiralled into a ball using these thin layers. The ball is rolled flat and roasted"
Parotta sounds a lot like Prata

Sarcastic Much? Intelligence, Wit, And Creativity All Linked To Sarcasm, Study Suggests - "those who gave and received sarcastic comments were three times more creative than the control group because the sarcasm forced their brains to think abstractly, boosting creativity... researchers found that noise can be an untapped source of creativity, providing a distraction for the brain to focus on a particular task. In addition, alcohol is believed to make you more creative because it makes you less focused and frees the brain from the thoughts that occupy it — a more relaxed brain is one that is better able to think creatively. In this study, it seems the sarcastic comments primed participants to think abstractly, which in turn stimulated their creativity."

A Magic Number? - "Imagine how useful it would be if someone calculated the minimum population needed to preserve each threatened organism on Earth, especially in this age of accelerated extinctions. A group of Australian researchers say they have nailed the best figure achievable with the available data: 5,000 adults. That’s right, that many, for mammals, amphibians, insects, plants and the rest. Their goal wasn’t a target for temporary survival. Instead they set the bar much higher, aiming for a census that would allow a species to pursue a standard evolutionary lifespan, which can vary from one to 10 million years. That sort of longevity requires abundance sufficient for a species to thrive despite significant obstacles, including random variation in sex ratios or birth and death rates, natural catastrophes and habitat decline. It also requires enough genetic variation to allow adequate amounts of beneficial mutations to emerge and spread within a populace."

Man sues neighbour he had paid to impregnate his wife and failed after 72 different ‘attempts’ - "A 29 year old German man Demetrius Soupolos is suing his neighbour 34 year old Frank Maus for breach of contract after the latter failed to impregnate his wife in 72 different attempts to do so. Soupolos had hired Maus to impregnate his former beauty queen wife Traute as he was sterile and Traute wanted a baby badly. He thought Maus would be a good choice as he resembled him and is a father of two... When Traute did not get pregnant after six months, Soupolos insisted Maus go for a medical examination which revealed he was sterile as well. Mau’s wife was then forced to confess Maus was not the real father of her two kids. In his defence, Maus said he did not ‘guarantee’ conception, but only that he would give a ‘honest’ shot at it."

Mormon church confirms its members are allowed to drink coke and pepsi.. but tea is still banned

Are We Electing Estate Managers or MPs? - "Are we having elections to vote in estate managers? If the duty of your MP is to run your estate, is their a need for MPs in the first place? Why do we have a Ministry of Environment, National Development and stat boards like Parks and Trees and URA? Why were Town Councils introduced? Do you elect a Govt to 'push the buck?' TCs were not introduced for wholesome wonderful idea to make life in your estates better. That would be the secondary effect - TCs were basically introduced to give the PAP another layer of protection just like the GRCs scheme (where it's supposed to be about electing minorities). GRCs - let's not beat about the bush - is primarily to give unknown or weak PAP candidates a back door entry in to Parliament. Former PM Goh Chok Tong admitted to this... you can bet your bottom dollar, that police reports would have been lodged and either the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) or CPIB would be called in. There is a concerted effort by PAP fanboys and apologists on social media to paint the whole affair as something sinister. Some have even suggested that WP members and their MPs are lining their own pockets despite no evidence to proof that... The TCs are just a smokescreen to get voters to focus on the smaller issues and forget the wider national issues"

New study links good looks and high IQ

Why India Is A Hotbed Of Antibiotic Resistance And Sweden Is Not - "A new report by the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy shows that antibiotic overuse and resistant bacteria are alarming global problems, even in developing nations like India, Kenya and Vietnam... Some countries, like Denmark and Sweden, stand out with quite low rates of antibiotic use and resistance — hovering near zero. These countries educate their citizens about the dangers of antibiotic overuse. So it has become unheard of for a Swede or a Dane to go into a doctor's office and demand treatment with an antibiotic. "It's a question of social norms," says Laxminarayan."
"I have long pointed out that many Asian countries are guilty of abusing Antibiotics, to which I was immediately called a racist. Even though I was talking about China and Thailand, but I guess South Asian patients are sensitive."

Cosmetic Ads' Science Claims Lack Foundation - "“Clinically Proven.” “Breakthrough Technology.” “Ten Years of Genetic Research.” These are phrases you might expect to find in the pages of Scientific American. But these descriptions also show up in commercials and print ads for cosmetics... Researchers looked at nearly 300 ads in magazines such as Vogue. They analyzed claims in the ads and ranked them on a scale ranging from acceptable to outright lie. And they found that just 18 percent of the boasts that the researchers looked at were true. 23 percent were outright lies. And 42 percent were too vague to even classify"

Terse Titles Cited - "papers with terser titles top the citation count. Even when the researchers took into account the journal in which the publication appeared—some have stricter restrictions on title length than do others—the findings held true."

Why I am a Eustonite

Why I am a Eustonite | Quillette

"When I was younger, I was an anti-imperialist leftist who espoused moral relativism. I believed that western values – democracy and freedom, nourished elsewhere, but best embodied by the west – were morally equivalent to non-western values, and so to make moral judgements of non-western cultures was to display undue arrogance. I accepted Noam Chomsky as a high priest, benevolently bequeathing Truths about western states, unmasking their facade, and consequently exposing the sham of liberal democracy.

Then I became a Eustonite, and accepted the principles plainly expressed in the Euston manifesto: pro-democracy; anti-totalitarianism; and support for universal human rights.

Following these principles has enabled me to possess greater moral clarity, and consequently made transparent the problems that befall much of the anti-imperialist left: a willingness to indulge reactionary forces, under the caveat that they’re anti-western; and a willingness to abandon liberals and secularists in reactionary cultures, thereby puncturing the principle of solidarity...

For some, certain principles ought to be subordinate to ‘power relations’. That freedom of speech can’t be defended unequivocally. If it allows an attack on Islam – which, as a set of ideas, deserves scrutiny in an open society – it is attacking an underdog. The value of freedom of speech is then defined solely by whether it attacks oppressive ‘power structures’. The assumption made is that only western cultures are meaningfully oppressive, or, more perniciously, only western power structures deserve our moral scrutiny.

So when some individuals, inspired by a totalitarian ideology, decided to slay blasphemers and Jews (the classical victims of totalitarian forces), the response was not to straightforwardly condemn these fascists. For their non-white identity precludes them from being meaningfully oppressive or deserving of our moral scrutiny. The response, instead, was to equivocate. The response was to qualify the most ennobling principle our civilisation affords – the freedom to satirise, speak, express our moral conscience – with an inelegant ‘but’. I support freedom of speech, ‘but’.

Witnessing this elucidated something important: some are so captivated by the idea of western oppression, they think that when men with guns, enthralled by a fascist ideology, shoot men and women with pens and liberal hearts, the oppressive forces are those subsequently declaring “Je suis Charlie”, rather than the murderers who bellowed “Allahu Akbar”...

When tax-funded, public institutions organise conferences that smear ex-Muslims as native informants, and portray liberal Muslims as imperialist stooges, the concept of solidarity is demeaned beyond recognition.

When the agglomerate of student unions, The NUS, aligns with a pro-jihad group that can’t condemn the chopping of adulterers’ heads, it has completely lost its moral bearing. On top of that, when it supports banning feminists and banning philosophy societies, these progressives have scorched the principles that underpin a progressive society...

The problem of leftists supporting reactionary movements is now pervasive. Jeremy Corbyn, head of the leading left-wing party in Britain, attracts reactionary forces like a foul luminescent lamp: Islamists, Putinists, Khomeinists, you name it – all have been endorsed by Corbyn, and all have reciprocated his support. Appointing Seumas Milne as director of communications could not have been a more exquisite confirmation of the state of Labour party. When your head of communications has a history of offering apologetics for a regime that kills journalists, foments hostility to homosexuals, and violates the territorial integrity of its neighbours, then your movement can scarcely be called progressive. But, for now, Corbyn’s movement has won: 59% of votes is stunning validation...

I believe a significant number of leftists don’t believe we are deserving of equal rights and don’t believe some values are better than others. They are, in effect, paralysed by a racism of lowered expectations. This has disfigured their moral clarity and led them to indulge reactionary forces. It is essential, therefore, that they are exposed and rebutted."

Monday, November 02, 2015

Links - 2nd November 2015

The Monsters Who Screamed for Dead Cops - "Evidence from photos, videos, social-media posts and interviews suggest that a group—the New York chapter of the Trayvon Martin Organizing Committee, or TMOC—might have been involved. There is no definitive proof that TMOC led the call for dead cops, but there is a web of circumstantial ties with the group at its center. TMOC’s own social-media posts put them near the scene of the cry for police blood. Some of the slogans used that night—including “arms up, shoot back!”—are the same as the ones used by TMOC. And recently TMOC has been soliciting money for the legal defense of people it calls its “comrades” who were arrested for allegedly assaulting police officers on the Brooklyn Bridge, just hours after the “dead cops” chant was recorded. The bedrock of TMOC’s politics, judged by their social-media output, is hatred for police and endorsement of violence against them... “We know they are the victims here—not the NYPD. We are all victims at the hands of the white supremacist, capitalist state”... out of the people arrested on the bridge, one is a Harvard-educated poet and another was making more than $100,000 a year working for one of the most the most powerful unions in New York City... On message boards and social media, people were cheering and justifying the police murders almost as soon as they happened."

Black Lives Matter: 'Pigs In A Blanket, Fry 'Em Like Bacon' - "The activists sang out the violent chorus chant just hours after a lone gunman shot 47-year-old Harris County sheriff’s deputy Darren Goforth while he was getting gas... During a press conference on Saturday — before protesters in St. Paul called for cops’ deaths — Harris County sheriff Ron Hickman condemned what he characterized as “some of the very dangerous national rhetoric that’s out there today.” “So any point where the rhetoric ramps up to the point that calculated, cold-blooded, assassination of police officers happen, this rhetoric has gotten out of control,” he added. “We’ve heard ‘black lives matter,’ ‘all lives matter’ — well, cops’ lives matter too. So why don’t we just drop the qualifier and say ‘lives matter,’ and take that to the bank.”"

Are Peter Singer’s ideas too dangerous to hear? - "Amy Hasbrouck, a Montreal lawyer and chair of Not Dead Yet, a North American disability rights group, agrees completely, but with a twist. “Given the prestige of his position, Singer gives legitimacy not only to eugenicist views, but also to the related and commonly held view that life with a disability is a fate worse than death,” she said in an interview. “This view is what drives the current push toward legalization of assisted suicide.”"
Utilitarians are morally obliged to murder some disabled people

Divine Comedy is 'offensive and discriminatory', says Italian NGO - "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here: Dante's medieval classic the Divine Comedy has been condemned as racist, antisemitic and Islamophobic by a group calling for it to be removed from classrooms. The epic poem, written in the 14th century, is split into three parts, tracing the poet's journey through Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso. It is seen as one of the cornerstones of world literature. But the Italian human rights organisation Gherush92, which advises UN bodies on human rights issues, wants it to be removed from school curriculums, or at least used with more caution, because it is "offensive and discriminatory" and young people lack the "filters" to understand it in context. Gherush92 singled out some particular cantos from Dante's masterwork for criticism: Inferno's 34th, which tells of Judas, endlessly chewed in the teeth of Lucifer, and 28th, in which Mohammed is depicted torn "from the chin down to the part that gives out the foulest sound", as well as Purgatorio's 26th, which shows homosexuals under a rain of fire in purgatory. The work, it says, slanders the Jewish people, depicts Islam as a heresy and is homophobic."

The Folly of Scientism - "When I decided on a scientific career, one of the things that appealed to me about science was the modesty of its practitioners... The temptation to overreach, however, seems increasingly indulged today in discussions about science. Both in the work of professional philosophers and in popular writings by natural scientists, it is frequently claimed that natural science does or soon will constitute the entire domain of truth. And this attitude is becoming more widespread among scientists themselves. All too many of my contemporaries in science have accepted without question the hype that suggests that an advanced degree in some area of natural science confers the ability to pontificate wisely on any and all subjects... As utilitarians have for some time, Harris purports to challenge the fact-value distinction, or rather, to sidestep the tricky question of values entirely by just focusing on facts. But, as has also been true of utilitarians for some time, this move ends up being a way to advance certain values over others without arguing for them, and to leave large questions about those values unresolved"

Dark contrasts: The paradox of high rates of suicide in happy places - "the paper provides evidence for a paradox: the happiest places tend to have the highest suicide rates"

Former The Real Singapore editors open ramen stalls at NUS canteens - "Named the Takagi Ramen Shop (TRS), both outlets opened at the end of August and are located in the canteens of Prince George's Park Residences and the university's Bukit Timah Campus, near the Singapore Botanic Gardens... The shop carries the tagline "Ramen for the Average Singaporean""

Taiwanese Guy's Russian Girlfriend Encourages Single Chinese Men - chinaSMACK - "A Taiwan zhainan successfully captured a Russian girl. Owing to a severe gender imbalance in Russia, over 10 million Russian girls can’t find men to marry, so international marriages are extremely trendy amongst Russian girls and furthermore, Russian girls’ demands in a perfect man (shown at the end) aren’t high either. So guys who can’t find girls, what are you waiting for? Go find a Russian girl, both pretty and strong, able to catch thieves and beat up hooligans, no need to fear others bullying you ever again!"

fakehatecrimes.org - "The purpose of this site is to compile a comprehensive database of the false reports of "hate crimes" committed in the USA. It builds on the work of Laird Wilcox, whose 1994 Crying Wolf (PDF) is the only book dedicated to this subject so far."

Fake 'hate crimes' continue to plague campuses - "Earlier this year, a student at the University of Wyoming was charged with reporting to police that she had been threatened with rape online — a threat that police later determined she made herself. Last year, at Montclair State University in New Jersey, two students who reported racist graffiti written on the door of their dorm room were charged with “making false reports, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct” when police determined that they themselves were the perpetrators. And in 2011, a University of Virginia law student admitted to fabricating a story about campus police officers harassing him because of his race. The list goes on and on. One of the weirdest in memory happened in 2004, when a Claremont College professor savagely vandalized her own car with racist and anti-Semitic graffiti. Why does this keep happening? The sad truth is that students (and professors) commit these hoaxes because they know that they can make a political statement or at least get a major reaction out of their college campuses with very little relative effort... since people have a tendency to remember the first reports of alleged crimes, while many fewer are likely remember which ones turned out to be a hoax, these incidents bolster the arguments of would-be censors for greater speech restrictions on campus"

Annuar Musa: ‘I am racist, Islamically’ - "An Umno leader today admitted that he, along with today’s “Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu” was “racist” in nature, but insisted that this was still in line with Islamic teachings. Tan Sri Annuar Musa maintained that acting in defence of Malay honour was permitted in Islam so long as other races were not oppressed in the process. “Being racial is endorsed in Islam as long as you are not cruel towards other people. This rally if you say is racist, yes. What are you scared of? Islam has put in place guidelines, what is not allowed is racism that is cruel towards other races... He added that the Malays have done the other races a great service by sharing the country and its resources them. “And when has the Malays even behaved cruelly towards other races? We share this country, we shared citizenship. We share all our rights. Who was the one who made thus county open to other races? It was the Malays,” he added."

Recall or replace an email message that you sent - "Action:
You send a message to someone. You recall the original message and replace it with a new one.
On the recipient's computer, under Tracking, the Automatically process requests and responses to meeting requests and polls check box is not selected.
Both the original message and the recall message are received in the recipient's Inbox.
On the recipient's computer, one of the following results occurs:
- If the recipient opens the recall message first, the original message is deleted, and the recipient is informed that you, the sender, have deleted the message from their mailbox.
- If the recipient opens the original message first, the recall fails, and both the original and recall messages are available."
This is how to prevent message recall in Outlook

‘There’s no stigma’: why so many Danish women are opting to become single mothers - "Researchers recently categorised the different family types in Denmark and found that there were 37 – from solomor to lesbian couples and various blended families. Denmark is famously family-friendly, with 52 weeks’ paid parental leave for a new baby and a generous welfare state paying three-quarters of the costs of childcare , enabling 85% of mothers to return to work. “It’s easier to be a solomor in Denmark than elsewhere because society accepts and supports you – we’re pretty liberal about most things,” says Erb... "studies show that children born to elective single mothers perform slightly better in tests than other children – and better than children of mothers who are single through divorce.”"
Feminism: where the State replaces a Man

19 Crazy Things That School Children Are Being Arrested For In America - "#1 At one public school down in Texas, a 12-year-old girl named Sarah Bustamantes was recently arrested for spraying herself with perfume.
#2 A 13-year-old student at a school in Albuquerque, New Mexico was recently arrested by police for burping in class...
#4 A security guard at one school in California broke the arm of a 16-year-old girl because she left some crumbs on the floor after cleaning up some cake that she had spilled.
#5 One teenage couple down in Houston poured milk on each other during a squabble while they were breaking up. Instead of being sent to see the principal, they were arrested and sent to court.
#6 In early 2010, a 12-year-old girl at a school in Forest Hills, New York was arrested by police and marched out of her school in handcuffs just because she doodled on her desk. “I love my friends Abby and Faith” was what she reportedly scribbled on her desk.
#7 A 6-year-old girl down in Florida was handcuffed and sent to a mental facility after throwing temper tantrums at her elementary school.
#8 One student down in Texas was reportedly arrested by police for throwing paper airplanes in class.
#9 A 17-year-old honor student in North Carolina named Ashley Smithwick accidentally took her father’s lunch with her to school. It contained a small paring knife which he would use to slice up apples. So what happened to this standout student when the school discovered this? The school suspended her for the rest of the year and the police charged her with a misdemeanor.
#10 In Allentown, Pennsylvania a 14-year-old girl was tasered in the groin area by a school security officer even though she had put up her hands in the air to surrender.
#11 Down in Florida, an 11-year-old student was arrested, thrown in jail and charged with a third-degree felony for bringing a plastic butter knife to school.
#12 Back in 2009, an 8-year-old boy in Massachusetts was sent home from school and was forced to undergo a psychological evaluation because he drew a picture of Jesus on the cross.
#13 A police officer in San Mateo, California blasted a 7-year-old special education student in the face with pepper spray because he would not quit climbing on the furniture...
#15 At one school in Connecticut, a 17-year-old boy was thrown to the floor and tasered five times because he was yelling at a cafeteria worker.
#16 A teenager in suburban Dallas was forced to take on a part-time job after being ticketed for using foul language in one high school classroom. The original ticket was for $340, but additional fees have raised the total bill to $637.
#17 A few months ago, police were called out when a little girl kissed a little boy during a physical education class at an elementary school down in Florida.
#18 A 6-year-old boy was recently charged with sexual battery for some “inappropriate touching” during a game of tag at one elementary school in the San Francisco area.
#19 In Massachusetts, police were recently sent out to collect an overdue library book from a 5-year-old girl."

On Men Interrupting Women

"The by now classic finding that men interrupt women more often than women interrupt men (West & Zimmerman, 1983; Zimmerman & West, 1975) has never been uncontroversial (for recent reviews, see Aries, 1987, and James & Clarke, 1993). Many studies have failed to find significant differences between men’s and women's interruptive behavior in mixed-gender groups (e.g., Beattie, 1981; Woods, 1939), mixed-gender dyads (e.g., Bilous & Krauss, I988; Leet-Pellegrini, 1980; Marche & Peterson, 1993), or same-gender interactions (e.g., Smith-Lovin & Brody, 1989; Marche & Peterson, 1993). Others report more interruptions by women than by men (e.g., Kennedy & Camden, 1983; Murray & Covelli, 1988; for same-gender interactions also Bilous & Krauss, 1988).

As James and Clarke (1993) and others before them have pointed out, there are many possible reasons for the divergence of these results: differences in the definitions of interruptions, the types of interaction studied, the individual characteristics of the participants such as age, social status, and institutional role, and, finally, differences in the size and composition of the groups studied. There are also methodological problems, for instance, inadequate quantitative comparisons. Most of the studies reviewed by James and Clarke (1993) compared raw counts of interruptions without taking speaking time into account. But raw counts can obviously be misleading unless men and women contribute equally to the interaction. The nine studies in the review that did use a measure that corrected for speaking time did not find any gender differences in mixed-gender dyads or groups...

The often-heard stereotype that men tend to use interruptions more often than women, and thus dominate and control discussions, was not confirmed in this study. In mixed-gender discussions, men and women of equal social status, age, and expertise were shown not to differ in interruptive speech behavior. Neither the interrupters’ nor the interruptees’ gender made a difference. This was true both in formal (FLOOR 1) and in informal (FLOOR 1 and FLOOR 2) mixed-gender discussions. In same-gender discussions, by contrast, women were found to interrupt each other less than men, suggesting that there exist separate female and male registers in this type of talk...

An earlier study involving political discussions on Dutch radio and television (Linssen-Maes & Redeker, 1992) suggests that these findings may not be generalizable to public discussions where the speakers’ reputations are at stake. In that study, men took considerably more and longer turns and interrupted at a higher rate than women (women and men, however, both interrupted male speakers more often than female speakers)...

Women and men were interrupted equally often in the mixed-gender discussions; this was true both for male and female interrupters. Yet, what about the finding that the men were more competitive in the all-male than in the mixed-gender discussions? We do not think that this can be interpreted as polite restraint on the part of the men. The interruption categories they used less in the mixed-gender discussions were the successful complex interruptions and interjections, while the percentage of successful and unsuccessful single interruptions and silent interruptions increased. This suggests that they not only gave up more easily than in the all-male discussions and reduced their interrupting comments, but also succeeded more easily in interrupting their (male and female) partners in the mixed-gender discussions. We are reminded here that we are dealing with an inherently interactive phenomenon: It takes two to produce an interruption, especially a successful one.

We can conclude, then, that the observed convergence of the female and male registers in the mixed-gender discussions was in all likelihood not an artifact of our experimental design. In fact, the pattern of men being more competitive than women in the same-gender situation and no gender difference in the mixed-gender situation corresponds to results reported by Aries (1976), Carli (1989), and others. Some of those studies (e.g., Bilous & Krauss, 1988, and Carli, 1989) also agree with the present study in observing that it is mainly the women who show a reduction in gender-specific interactional behavior when talking in a mixed-gender group (note, however, that Bilous and Krauss found more interruptions in all-female than in all-male discussions). The convergence pattern also parallels the findings of Ervin-Tripp and Lampert (1992) on the use of humor by women and by men. They found both women and men to shift their strategies towards a more equal balance in mixed-gender interactions."

--- Gender Differences in Interruptions / Gisela Redeker, Anny Maes, in Social Interaction, Social Context, and Language: Essays in Honor of Susan Ervin-tripp (ed. Dan Isaac Slobin, Julie Gerhardt, Amy Kyratzis, Jiansheng Guo)
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