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Saturday, November 14, 2015

Observations - 14th November 2015

"Sex is the consolation you have when you can't have love" - Gabriel García Márquez


"I heard Jesus was not born in Australia...because they couldn't find 3 wise men and a virgin"

"I want you to do me right now." - Homework

For wedding banquet registration everyone should get QR codes you scan at reception

Planned obsolescence isn't actually bad: cheap(er), constantly improving products vs expensive durable ones with a fixed feature set

"If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, then litigation is the most sincere way of saying thank you."

The only thing that stops an aircraft hijacker is a good guy with a gun. Allow guns on airplanes!

Is it child abuse to bring one to a nudist colony?

If I try to convince you that Zion Road Char Kway Teow is the best, am I forcing my Char Kway Teow beliefs down your throat?

A position that is so "subtle" that it cannot be articulated conveniently cannot be disputed

"he can't articulate what his idea of morality is beyond what agrees with his own value system"

Maybe politics is more like religion than people imagine - people cling to views despite evidence and get upset when challenged. No wonder it's one of the Holy Trinity of topics (sex, politics and religion) that are not for polite conversation

Taking an unpopular position is not the same thing as playing devil's advocate

RT @existentialcoms Intelligence is being able to come up with witty tweets. Wisdom is knowing that you are wasting your life on twitter.

IT Security philosophy: you're so scared a car will knock you down that you never leave the house

Why don't websites do micro payments? I don't want to spend $10 a month on a subscription but $0.30 an article is okay (I am informed that usually payment gateways charge a fixed fee for payments so micropayments don't make sense)

[My observation on Singapore's 2015 Elections] If the party can change, why change the party?

National Education was launched in 1997. So this is the first election where those exposed to it all the way since Primary 1 are all voting. Aha!

Amused at catastrophizing about cutting the defense budget. You might as well say the US has an ageing population so it cannot afford to spend less money on health

"We still have 5Cs.
CPF ambiguity
Cheap labour
Constituency Inconsistency
Chee Pie tactics"

If the WP really stole AHPETC money, how come no one has made a police report?

At least Lui Tuck Yew shows us that you don't need to be a "minority" to have people make fun of your name.

Wondering how many Singaporeans think an MP should be a cheat code for their everyday lives rather than a national representative

Male and Female Genital Cutting

Why Some Women Choose to Get Circumcised - "She also challenges some common misconceptions around FGC, like the belief that it is forced on women by men. In fact, elderly women often do the most to perpetuate the custom. I thought African girls were held down and butchered against their will, but some of them voluntarily and joyfully partake in the ritual. I thought communities would surely abandon the practice once they learned of its negative health consequences. And yet, in Shell-Duncan's experience, most people who practice FGC recognize its costs—they just think the benefits outweigh them... for us, we believe that bodies are natural and perfect. Not everybody believes that. Some people in Africa believe that bodies are androgynous and that all male and female bodies contain male and female parts. So a man’s foreskin is a female part. And for a female, the covering of the clitoris is a male part. The idea of becoming a wholly formed female includes being cut—having any part that is somewhat male-like removed from the body... One of the things that is important to understand about it is that people see the costs and benefits. It is certainly a cost, but the benefits are immediate. For a Rendille woman, are you going to be able to give legitimate birth? Or elsewhere, are you going to be a proper Muslim? Are you going to have your sexual desire attenuated and be a virgin until marriage? These are huge considerations, and so when you tip the balance and think about that, the benefits outweigh the costs... Some of the campaigns talked about infibulation, which was not the most common form of FGC. Infibulation is the most severe form. That’s when they cut the labia minora, and they take the cut edges together and stitch it together and leave a pinhole opening for urine and menstrual blood. They partially open it for intercourse and to give birth. But that’s about 15 percent of cases. So activists were saying, “Look how terrible this is. And the people in these communities were like, “Well, that might be true in Somalia, but we don’t do that here.” There was a real credibility gap."

The Lure Of Vaginal Rejuvenation And Labiaplasty: Barbie, Barbie Everywhere - "some observers believe the general culture may be “brainwashing” women into believing they need these surgeries. It can be inferred such critics are also suggesting that, similar to a child, grown women lack agency — the ability to think for themselves and act independently"

Counting genital piercings as FGM 'undermines' abuse says union - "All women who have "intimate piercings" will be classified as having suffered female genital mutilation (FGM), the Department of Health says. Even if an adult consents to having it done, she will still be said to have undergone a "harmful procedure"... "Now we're faced with a situation where men are able to make up their mind and consent to an intimate piercing where women are not.""

PRESS RELEASE: 11.13.12 Western Media Coverage of Female Genital Surgeries in Africa is “Hyperbolic” and “One-Sided,” says International Policy Group - The Hastings Center - "Despite widespread condemnation of female genital surgeries as a form of mutilation and a violation of human rights, an international advisory group argues that the practice is poorly understood and unfairly characterized. In a public policy statement in the Hastings Center Report, the Public Policy Advisory Network on Female Genital Surgeries in Africa, a group that includes doctors, anthropologists, legal scholars, and feminists, argues that media coverage of the practice is hyperbolic and one sided, “painting the now familiar portrait of African female genital surgeries as savage, horrifying, harmful, misogynist, abusive, and socially unjust.” The advisory network’s statement takes no position on whether the practice should continue. It aims to “move the coverage of the topic from an over-heated, ideologically charged, and one-sided story about ‘mutilation,’ morbidity, and patriarchal oppression to a real, evidence-based policy debate governed by the standards of critical reason and fact checking”...
• Medical research has found that a high percentage of women who have had genital surgery “have rich sexual lives, including desire, arousal, orgasm, and satisfaction, and their frequency of sexual activity is not reduced.”
• Reproductive health and medical complications linked to female genital surgery happen infrequently.
• Those who value female genital surgery view it as aesthetic enhancement, not mutilation.
• In almost all societies where female genital surgery is performed, male genital surgery also takes place. Broadly speaking, then, such societies “are not singling out females as targets of punishment, sexual deprivation, or humiliation.”
• The link between patriarchy and female genital surgery is unfounded. Almost no patriarchal societies adhere to the practice and, at the same time, the practice is not customary in the world’s most sexually restrictive societies.
• Women manage and control female genital surgery in Africa and the practice “should not be blamed on men or on patriarchy.” Ironically, the authors contend, groups that fight against female genital surgery weaken the power of women.
• An influential WHO study about the "deadly consequences" of female genital surgery is the subject of criticism that has not been adequately publicized. The reported evidence does not support sensational media claims about female genital surgery as a cause of perinatal and maternal mortality during birth...
• The media, activists and policy-makers must “cease using violent and preemptive rhetoric” that paints a sensational image of African parents mutilating their daughters and damaging their reproductive and sexual health.
• It should be acknowledged that female genital surgery is not unique to African women; the authors liken it to “genital piercings on college campuses” and “vaginal rejuvenations requested by some Western women.”
• Advocates fighting for safe, hospital-based female genital surgery should be given a voice in public policy forums.
• “Zero tolerance” slogans promoted by anti-mutilation groups are counterproductive. Not only do they limit thoughtful, respectful dialogue, but they can make genital surgery more dangerous by driving the practice underground.
• Legislation and regulations that criminalize female genital surgery for adult women are discriminatory, because they deny women’s autonomy “to choose what makes them happy with their own bodies.”
• Studies of genital surgery should be multidisciplinary, and there should be support for a network linking researchers and advocates who have diverse points of view.
• Women and girls who have undergone genital surgery as children and are now living in countries where the practice is nonexistent or illegal should not be subjected to discourse that stigmatizes them or teaches them to expect sexual dysfunction. Such discourse “may provoke what could be called ‘psychological mutilation,’” potentially compromising the development of a normal and healthy psychosexual life"
Keywords: societies which practise female circumcision also practise male circumcision

The Association between Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and the Risk of HIV/AIDS in Kenyan Girls and Women (15-49 Years) - "The inverse association between FGM and HIV/AIDS established in this study suggests a possible protective effect of female circumcision against HIV/AIDS. This finding suggests therefore the need to authenticate this inverse association in different populations and also to determine the mechanisms for the observed association."
This is related to "Female Circumcision and HIV Infection in Tanzania: for Better or for Worse?" which showed that female genital cutting (FGC) reduced HIV infection rates for women
Keywords: Kenya

A fatal irony: Why the “circumcision solution” to the AIDS epidemic in Africa may increase transmission of HIV - "The “randomized controlled trials” upon which these recommendations are based are not without their flaws. Their data have been harnessed to support public health recommendations on a massive scale whose implementation, it has been argued, may have the opposite of the claimed effect, with fatal consequences... the men who were circumcised got additional counseling about safe sex practices compared to the control group, and then they had to refrain from having sex altogether for the simple reason that their lacerated penises had to be wrapped in bandages until their wounds healed — leading to what Boyle and Hill refer to as “time-out discrepancy” in the quote above. By contrast, the non-circumcised men got to keep having sex during the full two month period during which the treatment group was in recovery mode. Then (due to a statistically significant effect having been detected) the trials were stopped early — which tends to lead to an overestimation the true effect size of the treatment... The absolute decrease in HIV infection between the treatment and control groups in these experiments was just 1.31%, which is likely to have no appreciable effect at the demographic level... “Before circumcising millions of men in regions with high prevalences of HIV infection, it is important to consider alternatives. A comparison of male circumcision to condom use concluded that supplying free condoms is 95 times more cost effective”... In Uganda, as Boyle and Hill uncovered, the Kampala Monitor reported men as saying, “I have heard that if you get circumcised, you cannot catch HIV/AIDS. I don’t have to use a condom.” Commenting on this problem, a Brazilian Health Ministry official stated: “[T]he WHO [World Health Organization] and UN HIV/AIDS program … gives a message of false protection because men might think that being circumcised means that they can have sex without condoms without any risk, which is untrue.”"
Someone I knew said that it was okay for him to have unprotected (raw) sex with prostitutes because he was circumcised, so he had a lower chance of getting HIV

Misconceptions about Modern and Ancient Genital Mutilations - "the American Medical Association:... "behavioral factors are far more important risk factors for acquisition of HIV and other sexually transmissible diseases than circumcision status, and circumcision cannot be responsibly viewed as "protecting" against such infections"... Richard Hain claim that female genital mutilation and male genital mutilation are "not the same" probably stems from lack of knowledge. Removal of the male prepuce does compromise male genital function. The prepuce, unlike the glans but like the lips and fingertips, is sensitive to light touch, pain, heat and cold. The glans and the penile shaft gain excellent sensitivity from the foreskin. The foreskin appears to be an important component of the overall sensory mechanism of the human penis. Men circumcised in adulthood report diminished penile sensitivity, less penile gratification, more penile pain and cosmetic deformity. A larger study measured the degree of sexual satisfaction before and after circumcision in adult new Russian immigrants that were circumcised in Israel. The circumcised immigrants report a decrease in their sexual satisfaction. Women that experienced sexual contacts with both mutilated (circumcised) and intact (uncircumcised) men report strong preference for the latter. These findings should come as no surprise. Maimonides, a famous Jewish sage and a physician, wrote in the 12th century about circumcision "that one of its objects is to limit sexual intercourse, and to weaken the organ of generation as far as possible, and thus cause man to be moderate. ... for there is no doubt that circumcision weakens the power of sexual excitement, and sometimes lessens the natural enjoyment; ... It is hard for a woman, with whom an uncircumcised had sexual intercourse, to separate from him"... In the societies that practice it, Female Genital Mutilation exactly like Male Genital Mutilation has many alleged benefits"

Friday, November 13, 2015

Links - 13th November 2015

National Steps Challenge™
This is cool - redeem rewards and win prizes for being physically active (free signup till 30th November)

Scientists who found gluten sensitivity evidence have now shown it doesn't exist - "In one of the best examples of science working, a researcher who provided key evidence of (non-celiac disease) gluten sensitivity recently published follow-up papers that show the opposite... Gluten is a big industry: 30 percent of people want to eat less gluten... It seems to be a 'nocebo' effect - the self-diagnosed gluten sensitive patients expected to feel worse on the study diets, so they did. They were also likely more attentive to their intestinal distress, since they had to monitor it for the study."

Record increase in Swedish hate crimes - " The sharpest rise is seen among crimes with christianophobic motives, which have tripled in the past five years"
The Swedish are so racist, they hate Christians

Behind the music: What do record labels actually do? You'd be surprised - "For all the cynicism about money-grabbing majors, labels still offer artists the security they need to produce their best work"

As Beyonce steps out in her palest shade yet MICA PARIS asks why do black stars want whiter skin
Why is it good to change sex but bad to change skin colour? Does "my body, my choice" only apply to abortion?

7 facts about the Hundred Years’ War and the battle of Agincourt - "Conflict with the ‘ancient enemy’ has shaped the identities of both countries, and memories of the war remain long on both sides of the Channel. Charles de Gaulle remarked in June 1962: “Our greatest hereditary enemy was not Germany, it was England. From the Hundred Years’ War to Fashoda, she hardly ceased to struggle against us… she is not naturally inclined to wish us well.”... There is, however, an account of the French ‘mooning’ a detachment of English troops during the campaign that led to the battle of Crécy. This so enraged the English that they launched an ill-advised attack on a well-defended position and were beaten back with heavy losses... We are often told that ‘total war’ is a sad product of the modern, industrial age. It is, however, difficult to find any section of English or French society that was not affected by the Hundred Years’ War. The peasantry in both countries, for example, were central to the war effort and suffered greatly as a consequence. Indeed, its members were targeted directly: because of the connection between taxation (paid chiefly by the peasantry) and military defence, the status of ‘non-combatants’ became very uncertain during the war. So, by attacking taxpayers, the English also attacked French military resources... the evolution of gunpowder weaponry was particularly significant. That evolutionary process was, however, a slow one. At Agincourt, for example, it appears that French artillery accounted for a solitary English archer during the battle, and in 1431 Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, fired 412 cannonballs into the town of Lagny and succeeded only in killing a chicken."

The Cadillac Tax: Why Economists, but Few Others, Love It - NYTimes.com - "The so-called Cadillac tax is one of those rare taxes whose primary purpose is not to raise revenue. The tax, which is scheduled to begin hitting very-high-cost employer-sponsored health insurance plans in 2018, was included in the Affordable Care Act to discourage companies from offering such plans. As economists say, “Tax something and get less of it.” This is appealing to those who would like to control health care spending, which ultra-comprehensive health plans tend to encourage more of. But it’s not very appealing to people who have the plans, many of them members of unions that fought hard to get the plans in the first place."

Nobel Renews Debate on Chinese Medicine - NYTimes.com - "In fact, in its award, the Nobel committee specifically said it was not honoring Chinese medicine, even though Artemisia has been in continuous use for centuries to fight malaria and other fevers, and even though Dr. Tu said she figured out the extraction techniques by reading classical works. Instead, it said it was rewarding Dr. Tu for the specific scientific procedures she used to extract the active ingredient and create a chemical drug... Scientists like He Zuoxiu, a member of the prestigious Chinese Academy of Sciences, say that the ancient pharmacopoeia should be mined, but the underlying theories that identified these herbs should have been discarded long ago. “I think for the future development of Chinese medicine, people should abandon its medical theory and focus more on researching the value of herbs with a modern scientific approach,” Dr. He said in an interview. These radically different views on Chinese medicine go back at least a century, and get to the heart of how modern China sees itself. After a series of lost wars and national humiliations, Chinese reformers and revolutionaries began jettisoning almost everything from the country’s long past: its political and religious systems; its architecture and urban planning; its national dress and its lunar calendar. Traditional medicine came in for especially harsh criticism. Some of the country’s most famous writers, like Lu Xun, Lao She, and Ba Jin, pilloried it as exemplifying everything wrong with the country. Its theories were obscure, its outcomes unproven, and most of all it was “unscientific” in a country that was beginning to worship science as the cure to all ills... Chinese journalists... asked what she had done in the 40 years since her discovery. After a bit of shuffling and grimacing, the answer: She had tried to find other herbs but had not succeeded."

Why is the world ignoring a wave of terror in Israel? - Telegraph - "Over the past 48 hours in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and virtually all parts of Israel, we have had over 150 terror attacks, including stabbings, shootings, stones thrown and vehicular rammings... Let there be no mistakes, ifs, buts or maybes. We are being targeted for one reason and one reason only: we are Jews... Many leaders, especially in Europe, are quick to condemn Israeli settlements, yet sure take their time to utter a muddied, equivocal word of condemnation against these terror attacks. Likewise human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty... Imagine for a moment if people were being mown down with cars, guns or knives by Islamic terrorists on the streets of central London, Paris, Washington or Moscow. How would leaders of those countries react? Where are all those so-called enlightened liberals, who continue to call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against the Jewish State, but are silent in the face of Palestinian terror against Jews?... The bottom line is that attacks like these do not occur in a vacuum. Such acts of pitiless slaughter are the direct result of a pervasive Palestinian infrastructure headed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, indoctrinating hate, inciting violence and instilling a worldview justifying such gruesome acts... In a speech on Palestinian TV on September 16th, Abbas proudly stated “we bless every drop of blood spilled for Jerusalem. With the help of Allah, every shaheed (martyr) will be in heaven.” He then added “Al-Aksa is ours and so is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. They [Jews] have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet.” And people still wonder where these terrorists get their motivation. Not only has the Palestinian Authority failed to condemn these barbaric terror attacks, they have now, incredibly, sought to condemn Israel for defending ourselves"

'Gender apartheid' segregation is real in UK universities. So why aren't more people fighting it? - Telegraph - "new guidelines from Universities UK suggested institutions could allow gender segregation during lectures given by external speakers, based on the teachings of their religion, as "there does not appear to be any discrimination on gender grounds merely by imposing segregated seating"... A report in the spring revealed gender segregation, at events run solely by student Islamic societies or in the interests of Muslims, is widespread. read. Student Rights, which carried out the research, found that radical preachers spoke at 180 events at universities including Cardiff and University College London (UCL) between March 2012 and March 2013. Segregated seating for men and women was promoted or implied at more than a quarter of the events, at 21 separate institutions."

Last Oxford vote on admitting female students - "St Benet's Hall is set to become the last academic institution in Oxford University to change from single-sex to co-educational, when it is expected to formally decide to admit female undergraduate students. It comes 136 years after the first women's colleges were opened at the university - and 95 years after women were able to become full members of the university. And step by step, since the 1970s, previously all-male colleges have been moving towards admitting women. It's also almost a decade since the last all-women's college admitted male students... Prof Jeanrond, who has experience of universities in Germany, Ireland and Sweden, as well as the UK, says there is "enormous pressure" on young female students to be all things to all people. "They have to be academically top, socially top, physically top, they are expected to satisfy every real or perceived need of society.""
Meanwhile, in Cambridge...

Students at all-girl Cambridge college sent email asking them to be quieter when having sex - "Male visitors are allowed to stay for up to two nights at the college but after that must sign up for a guest room... Miss Cole added: 'Newnham does have a feminist reputation and also it's known as the slutty college of Cambridge, which I think is a bit unfair"

Does darker skin wrinkle less than lighter skin? - "When I remarked to a friend of mine that she never seems to look any older as the years go by, she replied: “That’s because black don’t crack”. Not the answer I was expecting, but after she convinced me that this is a common term, I looked into the evidence, and discovered that she is at least partly right. There are two factors that cause skin to age: chronological ageing and photoageing. None of us can avoid chronological ageing – like it or not, we cannot stop the passing years from leaving their mark. But photoageing is a different matter. It does vary according to your skin colour, a result of the varying degrees of pigment that we produce... on average 55% of ultraviolet A rays penetrate Caucasian skin while fewer than 18% get through African-American skin... Photoageing does occur eventually and is faster in African Americans than in those of African or Afro-Caribbean descent... people with darker skins are more likely to find their chins sag, their cheeks hollow and pockets of fatty tissue develop under the eyes as they get older. "

Lego bans Ai Weiwei from using bricks for 'political' artwork in Australia - Telegraph - "Ai Weiwei, the Chinese dissident artist, says Lego refused to supply him with its toy bricks for a new “political work”, suggesting the Danish toymaker feared offending Beijing as it expands into China."
Lego's consistency is admirable

Scottish independence: Lego said that it is 'politically neutral' in Union debate - "A Lego UK spokeswoman said: “We wouldn't give permission for our stock images to be used. We are a children's toy company and therefore all of our communication is targeted towards children. “People all over the world use Lego to depict stories and scenarios - some of it not to our knowledge. We maintain our position as being a politically neutral company.”"

Lego Says You Can't Build That — Because Of Politics - "Science journalist Maia Weinstock recently got the idea to create a custom Lego set to celebrate the female justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. She researched the Supreme Court building, the justices and their traditions, all the way down to the silver mugs that they often carry out to the bench when hearing oral arguments... Lego does not accept projects relating to "politics and political symbols, campaigns, or movements," the policy said — though it has created a Lego White House and Lincoln Memorial as part of its "Architecture" line. The list of unacceptable topics also includes "religious references," "sex, drugs, or smoking," "swearing," and images of violence, among other things."

Why Self-Driving Cars Must Be Programmed to Kill | MIT Technology Review - " People are in favor of cars that sacrifice the occupant to save other lives—as long they don’t have to drive one themselves."
Practical applications of the Trolley Problem

One of these is Jupiter's moon Europa, the rest are frying pans. - Imgur

Fool’s Gold: The Questionable Legacy of Kuo Pao Kun Part 1 - "His longer plays like “Descendants of the Eunuch Admiral”, “Lao Jiu”, “Sunrise Sunset” and others were very problematic and in some cases badly written. However in the landscape of mediocrity that is Singapore theatre, this is more of a norm rather than an exception... The problem with Pao Kun’s plays that simply this: they use the Brechtian device to mask the fact that plays are badly written. Characters in his plays are typically two dimensional, the plays typically deal with a number of standard themes, the main vein running in it is a certain anti-establishment or anti-governmental rhetoric. Unsurprisingly, this has been taken up to a huge degree by most playwrights in Singapore. Notably those working with The Necessary Stage, to a lesser degree by those from Theatreworks which is playing another game. The reason Kuo did this is simple, because such plays are easy to write, and he just simply was not that good a writer. This is also the reason why so many playwrights in Singapore took up his approach"
Ok, I know who to blame for Singaporean scripts being cheap anti-government jibes, lame references and random Hokkien thrown in for laughs

Why Australia's still the world's most expensive place to live - "Deutsche Bank, in its fourth annual Mapping the World's Prices report, found for the fourth year in a row that a buck in Australia brings the least bang. Australians, topping the purchasing power parity index, pay $1.12 in their currency for what Americans can obtain for one dollar of their own. Getting from A to B on public transport costs more in Australia than anywhere else. So does buying a pack of cigarettes, while accommodation in Sydney is especially exorbitant. The United Kingdom was rated the third most expensive country, while New Zealand came in second as its currency nears parity with the Australian dollar... For those looking for an inexpensive romantic outing, choose Indian. Mumbai and Delhi are at the top of Deustche's refined "cheap date" index, while Rio de Janeiro and Mexico City also earned a mention. Tokyo, Wellington and San Francisco were among the most expensive nights out. Big Mac fans should avoid Latvia, which topped the famous burger index, as well as Lithuania and Norway. Deutsche Bank Australia chief economist Adam Boyton, who was not an author of the report, said Australia was expensive because "we've gone a very long time now without a serious economic slowdown". "In the absence of that, prices have drifted higher over time," he said. "The surge in commodity prices that had underpinned our economic performance meant we really didn't have to be efficient. We could just rely on getting paid much more to do the same thing.""

Beth Whaanga's Powerful Breast Cancer Portraits Lost Her 100 Friends, But Could Save Many More Lives - "Hours after the photographs had been posted, over 100 people had de-friended Whaanga on Facebook, and several reported the album to Facebook for violation of the site's photo policy. (Facebook has contacted Whaanga to inform her that they will not be removing the images.)"

'I'm not just doing sex work to get through uni' - "Sex work has actually helped with my shyness and ability to make small talk in my outside life. It's a totally transferable skill!... The atmosphere on set depends on the company. Sometimes the women behind the camera will be naked too, and it's all very relaxed. The porn that I do promotes authenticity and of us actually getting pleasure out of it. They want authenticity, they want real sex, real pleasure, so we're having real orgasms rather than it just being this constructed thing for men to watch. There's a move away from women just being 'sexy' to women actually being sexual themselves... Sex workers like me are often critiqued for erasing the stories of workers who don't have as much privilege. I know that many sex workers; women of colour, trans women, street-based workers – don't have the same intersections of privilege. But although that is a reality for some, it's not the only reality. For those of us who've actively sought this industry out, it's not about 'erasing' those other experiences, it's just about creating a wider range of experiences that are visible. We're all socialised to see sex work as dirty and exploitative, but as we hear more from sex workers themselves, that idea is changing... there's this argument that sex work is only ok if it's empowering. But that's also bullshit – we don't ask café workers if they're empowered... There's no one 'type' of client, but it's interesting how as soon as their clothes are off and they're turned on – the job and the class just falls away. They all just want pleasure and to be appreciated and they want to be touched. They want to feel like they're a good lover. I have ways of screening potentially bad clients. If they're pushy, sending dozens of question marks because I've taken five minutes to get back to them, I figure they're going to be rude in person. I also don't respond to guys who try to negotiate my price – usually an indicator of them not respecting my boundaries."

The male brain is programmed to seek out sex over food - "Although the neurons have only been found in the brains of nematode worms, scientists at University College London say it is likely that similar mechanisms are at work in humans. It is proof that male and female brains are wired differently, a controversial subject which has been argued by scientists and feminists for decades."

Why Drunk Vegetarians Eat Meat - "American vegetarians, on average, eat a serving of meat per day... Faunalytics (formerly the Humane Research Council) conducted a survey on 11,000 American adults, which found that there are five times as many ex-vegans and vegetarians as there are current ones. About 60 percent of them said that the reason they were vegetarian in the first place was for the health benefits. In this frame, lapsed vegetarians are no more extraordinary than lapsed dieters... When they explained why they stopped being vegetarian, few people said they changed their minds about animal ethics. Instead they cited more mundane reasons—almost two-thirds said they didn’t like sticking out, about half said they found it too hard to keep such a “pure” diet, and about a third noted that their significant others ate meat."
No True Vegetarian eats meat?

Cant stop surprised Part 2

"Lên luôn :)) Make me cry :))
Chống ăn uống trước khi xem"

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Misleading Guardian Headline of the Day

New Zealand female MPs thrown out of parliament after disclosing sexual assaults

Subheadline: "Women ruled out of order by Speaker for demanding prime minister John Key apologise for accusing opposition of ‘backing the rapists’"

The headline is misleading because it insinuates that disclosing their sexual assaults was why they were *thrown out* of parliament. The headline talks about them being thrown out, not about them walking out.

The subheadling is somewhat misleading because it insinuates that "demanding" that Key apologise was why they were thrown out.

One could read the body of the Guardian article to discover that the MPs were really thrown out for being rowdy and out of order (and that John Key was also told to shut up by the Speaker), but the Hansard is even more revealing:

New Zealand Parliament - Oral Questions — Questions to Ministers (on his shutting down John Key)

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Mr Davis, if you want to put yourself on the side of sex offenders, go ahead, my son, but we will defend New Zealanders. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! I am on my feet...

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: We are not on the side of sex offenders; we are on the side of New Zealanders. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! I am attempting to call the Leader of the Opposition for a supplementary question. It requires some silence before I do so...

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: What the Labour Party is saying is: “To hell with the rest of New Zealanders; these people should be put on a commercial aircraft and despatched to New Zealand.” Well, you back the rapists; I—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! When I rise to my feet, I expect the Prime Minister to then resume his seat...

Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I was going to wait until the end of the question but the Prime Minister has repeated what he said more directly in an earlier supplementary answer when he accused the Labour Party of “backing the rapists”. I am deeply offended at that and I ask that it be withdrawn. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! This is a political debating chamber. The member may well be offended by that, but in the context of the answers given, I am not going to take that as—[Interruption] Order! I do not want to start this week by asking a member to leave the Chamber, but I want to make it absolutely clear that when I am on my feet, there is no opportunity for members to continue to interject, and that applies to both sides of the Chamber...

Order! The Prime Minister will resume his seat. That is not a point of order. I have dealt with that matter...

Order! [Interruption] Order! On occasions in this House—and I have heard many rulings and I have given some—it is not a matter of whether the member was offended; it is a matter of whether the House was offended. [Interruption] I do not want to see the whole of this left-hand side evacuated. Members may be offended—[Interruption] Order! I have to judge the seriousness of the allegation, and I have determined that the House should not be offended at that. [Interruption] Iain Lees-Galloway, I ask you to leave the Chamber. I can only give so—[Interruption]


New Zealand Parliament - Speaker’s Rulings — Personal Reflections and Unparliamentary Language—Procedure for Objections (on the female MPs being thrown out)

JAMES SHAW (Co-Leader—Green): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Just in reference to your ruling about what was and what was not unparliamentary, in 2003 a Speaker ruled that it was unparliamentary to allege that the Opposition was supporting gangs. That was under Speaker Hunt in 2003. So I find it odd that it is parliamentary language to say that the Opposition is supporting rapists and murderers but it is not parliamentary to say that it is supporting gangs. There are some other examples of unparliamentary language, such as “angry smurf”, “shag spiders”, “Barbie doll”, “bigot”, “chicken”, “monkeys”, “sewer rat”, and “gutless”, and they—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Bring the point of order to a conclusion.

JAMES SHAW: —have all been ruled unparliamentary. I find it extraordinary that you could say that it is parliamentary to say that members of the Opposition are backing rapists and murderers.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I invite the member to go back and carefully study Hansard. The words that he has quoted are in fact Metiria Turei’s interpretation of the words as she felt they occurred. [Interruption] Order! I do not want to start by asking members to leave the Chamber. When I am on my feet I expect silence from all members. As I have ruled, when I interpret the other comments that were made, though they were robust, I do not consider them to be unparliamentary. The first comment, the one at which offence was ultimate taken, was unparliamentary. I should have dealt with it. I did not. It should have been raised with me at that time...

[Interruption]. Order! [Interruption] Order! I am on my feet...

Mr SPEAKER: Was there a further point of order also from Poto Williams? I will hear them all and then rule.

POTO WILLIAMS (Labour—Christchurch East): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. As the victim and survivor of family violence, and an advocate for victims of violence, I take personal offence at the comments of the Prime Minister—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! No—we are now getting to the stage when there could be a series of these points of order. I have ruled that—[Interruption] Order! I do not want to ask the junior Labour whip to leave, but—...

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member did. I saw it. I am trying to allow members to stay in the—[Interruption] Order! [Interruption] Order!

Sue Moroney: It was me, Mr Speaker, and I am happy to go—I am really happy to go.


Catherine Delahunty: Point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: No, I just want to deal with Chris Hipkins. If I am assured that it is a new point of order and not the same one, then I will hear it. Chris Hipkins, it is a matter of custom in this House that, as with any issues such as these, if offence is taken then it must be dealt with immediately. It cannot be dealt with subsequently, otherwise we would have all sorts of campaigns in here with people going over their Hansards weeks and weeks in the past, taking subsequent offence, and then requesting a withdrawal to be delivered. I will hear from Catherine Delahunty on the assurance that it is a fresh point of order, and not in any way the types of points of order—

CATHERINE DELAHUNTY (Green): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is a fresh point of order; it is not a campaign, Mr Speaker. As a victim of sexual—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The member will resume her seat. [Interruption] Order! No. I am moving on from here. I was assured that it was a fresh point of order; I have just been let down by Catherine Delahunty. I will hear from the Hon Nanaia Mahuta, but I certainly hope that she is not flouting the rules of this House.

Hon NANAIA MAHUTA (Labour—Hauraki-Waikato): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. As a trustee of the Waikato Women’s Refuge, Te Whakaruruhau, I take personal offence—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume her seat immediately. I now will require any member who takes a point of order along the same lines to immediately leave the Chamber.

MARAMA DAVIDSON (Green): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. As a victim of—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member—[Interruption] Order! The member will leave—[Interruption] Order! The member will leave the Chamber.

Marama Davidson withdrew from the Chamber.

CLARE CURRAN (Labour—Dunedin South): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. As somebody who has experienced an attempted—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! I now require the member to leave the Chamber.

Clare Curran withdrew from the Chamber.

Dr MEGAN WOODS (Labour—Wigram): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I take offence at the Prime Minister’s statement—

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Dr MEGAN WOODS: —and require that he apologise.

Mr SPEAKER: Then the member must also, for consistency, leave the Chamber.

Dr Megan Woods withdrew from the Chamber.

Links - 12th November 2015

[Theory] Jar Jar Binks was a trained Force user, knowing Sith collaborator, and will play a central role in The Force Awakens

Kensington Market cafe owner defends hanging accused stalker's artwork - "Gregory Alan Elliott, 54, has been charged with two counts of criminal harassment for allegedly stalking two Toronto women via Twitter. A judgment is expected in early 2016... The co-owner of I Deal Coffee, Julie, said she started displaying Elliott’s art in the Kensington location about two months ago, but on Sunday, someone noticed and posted about it on Facebook. The next day, a woman came into the store and threw coffee all over the art, splashing a customer, she said... Julie asked that her last name not be published, as she’s concerned about some of the comments being made online. “The way this has been going, I feel that I might be next in line, under attack,” she said. She said she believes I Deal Coffee is now experiencing the same online harassment that Elliott has been accused of... Greg Kourtoff, a communications expert, sat in on Metro’s interview and said I Deal Coffee has become the target of “a witch hunt.” “I Deal Coffee has been known to hire women and minorities, and this online campaign, if you want to call it such, by these individuals, doesn’t reflect, in any way, what I Deal stands for,” he said."
Feminist vandalism!

#ISupportIdealCoffee Toronto Cafe for I Deal Coffee | Generosity - "On Sunday, October 19, a swarm of internet shamers began a boycott that has overwhelmed the cafe's facebook and twitter feeds. Because of the art on the walls, people online have started a vicious campaign of intimidation and name calling. International ideological warfare that has led our local cafe community to face alienation and controversy."

It's good that Changi Airport has no Deepavali decorations - there's no cultural appropriation in pursuit of a profit-driven neoliberal agenda

Why do South Indian people celebrate Diwali a day before North Indian's ? - Quora - "South Indians don't celebrate Diwali at all. Diwal, Diwali mean bankrupt in Tamil and perhaps so in other south Indian languages too... Some 30 years ago or so only a small fraction of Tamils, say like 10-15% of the people, celebrated, even in a big city like Chennai (then called Madras). The number of people who are celebrating it has now increased, but even today, in spite of its popularity, it is not the majority of the people, I think, who celebrate it. They don't really connect or identify really"
"Diwali or Deepavali is not celeberated in Kerala. In states like TN its marked but it isn't a big festival. Diwali isn't a nationwide festival, in South India only a fraction celeberate it."
Deepavali is more important in Singapore than South India probably for similar reasons to why Hanukkah has become so big

Why is no one asking about Jeremy Corbyn’s worrying connections? - "The 2008 financial crash has had two major consequences for British politics. The first is the destruction of the Labour party as a credible party of government. The second is a growing political parochialism on the part of politicians and the electorate. Such is the public indifference to events beyond Britain’s borders that a politician can hold almost any madcap belief on foreign affairs and get away with it. How else are Nigel Farage and Alex Salmond still taken seriously after lavishing praise on Vladimir Putin?... some of the things Corbyn is accused of are, to paraphrase George Orwell, still concerning even if the Daily Mail says so. For one thing, he is the chair of an organisation which a decade ago effectively supported attacks on British troops... More recently Stop the War has ludicrously accused the US of launching a “proxy war against Russia” in Ukraine... Take the fact that Corbyn once described it as his “honour and pleasure” to host “our friends” from Hamas and Hezbollah in parliament... The fact Corbyn believes in Keynesian economics is apparently a bigger faux pas to the Labour hierarchy than his association with the characters mentioned above."

Jeremy Corbyn, friend to Hamas, Iran and extremists - Telegraph - "In February 2013, he and his wife travelled to Gaza thanks to a £2,800 gift from Interpal, a British charity banned by the US government as “part of the funding network of Hamas” and as a terrorist organisation in its own right... Mr Corbyn has received at least two further free trips, worth £2,450, from the Palestinian Return Centre and its subsidiary the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza, based at the PRC office in Crown House, Wembley. The PRC is said by the Israeli government to be “Hamas’s organisational branch in Europe” whose members are “senior Hamas leaders who promote the movement’s agenda in Europe.” The PRC denies this. However, it takes a strongly pro-Hamas position and has regularly hosted Hamas leaders, including Mr Haniyeh, at its annual conferences... The Telegraph has obtained evidence from security sources showing that at least one senior PRC leader in Europe has recruited individuals to Hamas."

Creativity and mental illness - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - "Numerous studies have demonstrated correlations between creative occupations and mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia."

Yuxiang - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - "Despite the term literally meaning "fish fragrance" in Chinese, yuxiang contains no seafood, is typically not used in seafood, but rather for dishes often containing beef, pork, or chicken, as well as vegetarian recipes"

Stormfront or Social Justice Warrior?
Examples: "Even though most rapists, pedophiles and murderers are [blank], [blank] are still expected to trust them because not liking [blank] is the biggest crime of all, apparently."
"If I see one more [race] man with a biracial child and his non [race] wife/gf, I will physically throw their child over a fucking bridge. [race] are beautiful. Stop feeling ashamed of your race. We'll all be extinct if you keep this bullshit up."
""I am increasingly convinced that the only thing stopping a lot of [blank] from acting like complete animals is the social construct. The second they feel free from that contract or in a space where they won't be judged for acting against it, they'll get down to base instinct so fast""

USDA will no longer refer to small raisins as “midgets,” after Little People petition

Pig in Japan: the nation's most popular meat - "The most popular type of meat by far in Japan is pork. Nearly as much pork is consumed as chicken and beef combined... with the establishing of Buddhism as the official state religion during the Nara Period (710-784), attitudes toward the consumption of meat changed from the top down. The Imperial court found both the killing and the eating of meat distasteful, and various official edicts were issued by Emperor Temmu regarding the way animals could be hunted and slaughtered. Curiously enough, hunting wild animals was considered to be more acceptable than domesticating animals for the purpose of consuming them later. So while people continued to hunt for meat, the domesticated pig gradually disappeared. The popularity of meat waxed and waned over the years, depending on who had control of the government at the time. When the bushi (samurai) class came into full power during the Kamakura Period (1185-1333), for example, the warriors who had conquered the country with much shedding of human blood decided that the shedding of animal blood was beneath them, and a wholesale ban was placed on meat. The eating of four-legged creatures such as pigs was considered to be the most offensive, two-legged beasts such as fowl a bit less so, and creatures with no legs — namely fish — were barely acceptable. This attitude prevailed right up until the Meiji Restoration of 1868... During the mostly peaceful Edo Period (1603-1868), the well-to-do were still able to eat pork under the guise of health reasons. Meat was believed to make you strong and give you stamina, and pork was sold as a medicine by several Edo area merchants. The very last Tokugawa shogun, Yoshinobu, was so fond of pork that he got the nickname “Tonichi-sama” (Master No. 1 Pig), though it was probably never said to his face. During the Meiji Period (1868-1912), the consumption of meat was actively encouraged by the central government — a total about-face from what had preceded it for hundreds of years. The new leaders, looking to the West and seeing how their diet was centered on meat, considered that the Japanese people too should eat a lot of meat and dairy products, to become strong and tall like the Europeans and Americans. To eat meat was a patriotic duty. Pork was a lot cheaper to produce than beef, so its consumption increased rapidly."

S'pore workers among world's least engaged - "Singapore, with neighbouring Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, has one of the world's highest proportions of employees described as "not engaged" - meaning that they lack motivation and are less likely to invest effort in organisational goals. A Gallup poll has found that more than three quarters (76 per cent) of Singaporean employees, surveyed in 2011 and last year, are in this category. Another 15 per cent are classed as "actively disengaged", that is, they are unproductive and potentially hostile to their organisations; these are the ones who would, for instance, spread negativity to co-workers.

Anger Can Make You More Rational, Not Less, According To Recent Studies - "The current research, conclude the authors, suggests that angry people can and do process information analytically but are often influenced by more mental shortcuts. Although it is not always the case, anger-induced action is sometimes the result of quite clear-minded and deliberative processing. The article "Thinking straight while seeing red: The influence of anger on information processing," was published by SAGE in the May issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin."

Viewpoint: Japan's 'sorry' seems to be the hardest word to remember - "Japanese leaders have apologised countless times for the exactions of Imperial Japan. Besides statements by former Prime Ministers Murayama and Koizumi, Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono, as well as expressions of regrets from the emperor, Japan has paid formal and informal reparations to numerous victims of Japanese aggression. Yet, the perceived wisdom in many quarters is that Japan has not shown any contrition for the deeds of its empire. These criticisms are always followed by: "Germany, however, has faced its Nazi past honestly, unlike Japan"... official Japan lacks "message discipline," a critical skill in the internet age, where even second-rate politicians can get heard worldwide at the speed of light. Secondly, by world standards, Japan has done a lot of apologising. It is obviously way ahead of the Chinese Communist Party, whose policies sent tens of millions of Chinese to their deaths, and of Vladimir Putin, who calls the demise of the equally genocidal Soviet Union a tragedy. But, even compared to Western Europe, when it comes to colonial killings - or the American republics and Australia regarding slavery and the destruction of native societies - Japan is probably above average in the realm of apologies. But Imperial Japan will always be compared to Nazi Germany, its Axis ally... Thirdly, the international politics of historical memory are complex... In the end, Japan is the world's largest sheep in wolf's clothing. Its message mismanagement has convinced many that it is an aggressive polity even though, of the world's 200 countries, it is one of the most peace-loving and non-militaristic nations."

China's Valentine's Day dims future for fireflies - "Ditching flowers and chocolates as gifts for China's "Valentine's Day," some lovers have instead gone online to buy insects glowing in the dark. Fireflies are widely available on the country's booming e-trade sites, marketed as symbols of love and beauty... Jars of 55 fireflies, supposedly meaning "I love you," were part of promotions ahead of Qixi. With many of the insects not surviving shipping, extra fireflies are often added to the sets for free... To promote the business as sustainable, many online sellers claim their fireflies are bred in captivity. But experts say the low price of the insects gives away that they are actually captured in the wild."

Indians and Black People

BBC World Service - Documentaries, Incarnations: Profiles of Guru Nanak, Mirabai, Akbar and Malik Ambar

"Opposing the Indians was the legendary West Indian team, captained by the great Viv Richards. But I left the match remembering neither the score nor individual performances.

The reaction of the Ahmedabad spectators - that I won't forget. As the West Indians took to the field, loud monkey whoops filled the air and banana skins came raining down from the stands. The pelted players - probably the greatest West Indian team in history - stood there in their flannels - stunned.

Indians' particular contempt for people of African descent - a racism shared even by Mahatma Gandhi and evident in his South African years, doesn't get talked about much. Which is surely one reason little has changed in the 30-odd years since I watched that match.

It's telling that a contemporary perjorative for Africans is Habshi, a word that originally referred to African slaves"
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