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Saturday, December 05, 2015

Links - 5th December 2015

Head of Russian Media Group Questioned About Ties to 'Grammar Nazis' - "In the latest case, prosecutors in southern Russia on Wednesday summoned for questioning Alexei Pavlovsky, the head of Bonus Media, which supports the local branch of the popular Total Dictation educational project. The project tests how accurately people can transcribe a text read orally. "They asked me first about the dictation, about my other civil initiatives, and then politely inquired about what I knew about grammar Nazis, and whether they were financing my activities," Pavlovsky wrote on his Facebook page. The language purists dubbed "grammar Nazis" do not appear to be a formal group and have not been known to engage in organizational financing of anybody's activities... Maria Burdukovskaya was charged with "promoting Nazi ideology" this spring, after she posted a "grammar Nazi" picture on her social network page — a post she said was aimed to "support the correct use and purity of the Russian language,""

The home-chefs causing panic in restaurants - "The main Paris restaurateurs' union Synhorcat has appealed to the French government to take steps to curb the phenomenon, arguing that bistros and brasseries risk being put out of business. "In the space of three years Airbnb has tripled its presence in Paris - to the point that there are now 50,000 flats advertised on its website," Synhorcat's president Didier Chenet tells me. He says small and medium-sized hotels have been hit hard and over the summer they had to drop their prices. "If the government doesn't do something to stop the underground restaurants, it will be the same disaster"... All agree too that part of the explanation for Vizeat's success is the disappointment that too often accompanies eating out in Paris. Quality of food, price and service can be out of line with what visitors have been led to expect, and the well-travelled young are increasingly discerning."

The Power of Negative Thinking - WSJ - "peppy affirmations designed to lift the user's mood through repetition and visualizing future success often achieve the opposite of their intended effect. Fortunately, both ancient philosophy and contemporary psychology point to an alternative: a counterintuitive approach that might be termed "the negative path to happiness." This approach helps to explain some puzzles, such as the fact that citizens of more economically insecure countries often report greater happiness than citizens of wealthier ones. Or that many successful businesspeople reject the idea of setting firm goals... Just thinking in sober detail about worst-case scenarios—a technique the Stoics called "the premeditation of evils"—can help to sap the future of its anxiety-producing power. The psychologist Julie Norem estimates that about one-third of Americans instinctively use this strategy, which she terms "defensive pessimism." Positive thinking, by contrast, is the effort to convince yourself that things will turn out fine, which can reinforce the belief that it would be absolutely terrible if they didn't... Focusing on one goal at the expense of all other factors also can distort a corporate mission or an individual life, says Christopher Kayes, an associate professor of management at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Prof. Kayes, who has studied the "overpursuit" of goals, recalls a conversation with one executive who "told me his goal had been to become a millionaire by the age of 40…and he'd done it. [But] he was also divorced, and had health problems, and his kids didn't talk to him anymore." Behind our fixation on goals, Prof. Kayes's work suggests, is a deep unease with feelings of uncertainty."

Pope Francis Met With a Gay Couple at the Vatican Before He Met Kim Davis During His Trip to the United States
If Pope Francis meeting with Kim Davis means he endorsed her, does Obama meeting both the Dalai Lama and Xi Jinping mean he's a hypocrite?

Does Your Parents' Income Affect Your Choice of College Major? - "Kids from lower-income families tend toward “useful” majors, such as computer science, math, and physics. Those whose parents make more money flock to history, English, and performing arts. The explanation is fairly intuitive. “It’s … consistent with the claim that kids from higher-earning families can afford to choose less vocational or instrumental majors, because they have more of a buffer against the risk of un- or under-employment”... Clark’s data, along with Weeden’s, provides a reason to reexamine the expected-earnings-by-major statistics that are so often scrutinized by indecisive college students. One recent finding out of Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce is that majoring in the humanities gets you about $50,000 per year in median mid-career earnings, while a computer-science degree is good for about $75,000 per year... doctors and surgeons tended to come from families with lower incomes than musicians and artists. When compared to their parents, doctors on average improved on their parents’ income by 40 percent. Artists, though, trailed their parents’ earnings by 35 percent... Even though income and occupational prestige vary across generations, wealth and education levels remain relatively consistent over time... From this angle, college majors and occupations start to look more and more like easily-interpreted, if slightly crude, badges doled out to people based on the wealth and educational levels of the parents they were born to. There’s a reason that the first question asked at parties is often “So, what do you do?” “If we tend to avoid asking acquaintances about their income,” four prominent sociologistswrote in the 2011 anthology The Inequality Reader, “it’s not just because doing so is viewed as too intrusive and personal but also because we suspect that querying about occupation will yield more in the way of useful information.”"
Addendum: Aka Rich Kids Study English

These 5 Facts Explain Russia’s Economic Decline - "Corruption, cheap oil and unproductive workers all hold Russia back—though Russians don't seem to care... Typically, a stumbling economy brings about change in political leadership. Some countries, like Greece, take this to an extreme—Athens has seen five different governments in five years. But Russians have gone the other way—as their economy has slowed, Putin has grown more popular; he now holds an approval rating of 86 percent. More surprising is that while 73 percent of Russians are unhappy with their economy, 7 in 10 approve of the way Putin is handling it. How is that possible? About 90 percent of all Russians get their news from Russian television channels directly controlled by the Kremlin. By framing sanctions and the invasion of Ukraine as “Russia vs. the West”, Putin has succeeded in stoking the country’s nationalism. Today, 63 percent of Russians have a very favorable view of their country, up from 29 percent in 2013 and 51 percent in 2014. It’s easier under those circumstances to blame bad economic circumstances on outsiders. Credit where credit’s due—Putin knows what his people want to hear. It’s just not clear if he knows how to fix his flailing economy."

Sarah Sands jailed for killing paedophile Michael Pleasted - "Sarah Sands, 32, was found guilty of the manslaughter of Michael Pleasted, 77, by reason of loss of control... He was stabbed eight times and bled to death... Judge Nicholas Cooke QC said it was a "truly exceptional case" as he reduced her sentence from seven years to three-and-a-half, taking into consideration her position as a single mother. Sands, who was cleared of murder, had armed herself with a knife and carried out a "determined and sustained attack"... Sands, who has been in custody for the past 10 months, could be released on parole in 11 months. The judge emphasised the case was "unique" as Sands had lost control rather than taken the law into her own hands and engaged in "vigilante conduct"... During the trial, Sands told the court she had not intended to hurt Pleasted when she went to his flat with a knife, claiming instead she wanted him to admit to his crimes so his young accusers would not have to go to court. "Sands told the jury she was "frightened", adding: "It was not how it was meant to go. He was meant to listen to me". However she said Pleasted "smirked" when he answered the door and told her the boys were all liars who had ruined his life."
If she had been a man and hadn't stabbed a pedophile...

How the U.S. spends more helping its citizens than other rich countries, but gets way less - "a new study argues that the real waste in the American system comes not from welfare programs like food stamps, but from widespread tax breaks that subsidize spending on things like health care and housing. Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the non-partisan Peterson Institute for International Economics, argues in a new report that once you take these kinds of tax breaks into account, the U.S. actually devotes far more resources than many other countries to “social spending” -- spending on pensions, health care, family support, unemployment, housing assistance, and similar benefits meant to help people out in hard times. And, compared with most advanced countries, the U.S. gets far less bang for its buck in terms of health outcomes and equality... There’s a clear political rationale behind the American system of giving people tax breaks on their health care spending, rather than having the government give them health care: The public pays fewer taxes, and the government doesn’t appear to be spending money. But the Peterson study suggests this system merely hides the true level of government spending. Tax breaks for lunches eaten on business trips are rarely given the same amount of scrutiny as the use of food stamps at the grocery store, but the ultimate cost to the government is the same. The American system also does less to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor, since the private sector mostly depends on individuals and households to spend money, and people can’t spend money they don’t have, says Kirkegaard. The result is that the U.S. spends a lot on social services, and still has relatively high levels of inequality"

Are Children Who Are Raised by Gay Parents More Likely to Be Gay Themselves? - "Do the sexual inclinations of parents influence those of their children? Of 77 adult children of homosexual parents who volunteered for three different investigations, at least 23 (30%) were currently homosexual: twelve (55%) of 22 daughters and three (21%) of fourteen sons of lesbians; five (29%) of seventeen daughters and three (17%) of eighteen sons of gays; none of six sons with both a gay and a lesbian parent. At least 25 (32%) were currently heterosexual. Of the ten with transsexual parents, one of nine daughters was currently lesbian, one was currently heterosexual, and one was transsexual. The son's sexual preference was not reported. These findings suggest that parents' sexual inclinations influence their children's"

The women who fooled everyone by pretending to be executives at Ashley Madison’s sister websites

Affirmative action for all in India - "The Patels - a populous and reasonably prosperous caste comprising about one in every eight people in Gujarat - are demanding reservations for members of the community in government educational institutions and government jobs. What is more surprising is the mechanism by which they want the ratification of such a demand: They want the state to recognise them as part of the "other backward classes" (OBCs) of India, a label of relatively recent - and political - origin for groups in India who are socially and economically disadvantageous... This system of affirmative action was supposed to last only a decade - until 1960 - but, of course, nothing of the sort happened. Instead - and in this might be seen both positive and negative as a result of the deliberate and unintended consequences of the policy - over the decades, the beneficiaries of reservation not only claimed what was offered by the state, but also organised themselves politically on caste-based platforms... Affirmative action was going nowhere; rather, it was expanding its reach and now comprised a full 50 percent of all government-managed opportunities."

Africans reject Jamie's Jollof rice recipe - "The reaction from Africans began with dozens of comments posted on the chef's website in the past week. The conversation then moved on to social media where it escalated. The Oliver recipe has attracted 4,500 comments, a large number of them seemingly from Africans - and many outraged at what they say are changes Oliver has made to the traditional recipe. In the past 24 hours Twitter joined the debate using hashtags like #jollofgate and #jollof... By creating this recipe Oliver has increased the exposure of the dish. Vera Kwakofi, from BBC Africa, says that's part of the problem: "The danger is that in five years his version will become the official one." The blogger behind Motley Musing agrees: "We have to ask ourselves who actually benefits from Jamie Oliver's 'appreciation' of Jollof rice. This doesn't necessarily translate into value for Africans. For so long, different African cultures have been appropriated without any direct benefit to Africans themselves, and people are particularly sensitive to this."
Moral of the story: don't bother cooking minorites' food

Ireland to 'decriminalise' small amounts of drugs, including heroin, cocaine and cannabis, for personal use

Homosexuality in Hinduism and Buddhism

"The issue of homosexuality within Hinduism is controversial and views of homosexuality are varying and diverse, in part because the accepted Hindu religious texts do not explicitly mention homosexuality... Modern Hindus regard all beings as manifestations of one universal Atman [Spirit]. Homosexuality has an extensive history in India. Ancient texts like Rig Veda, which dates back to around 1500 BCE, sculptures, and vestiges depict sexual acts between women as revelations of a feminine world where sexuality was based on pleasure and fertility...

Homosexuality is also a complex matter in Hinduism because of the many types of religious life. In general, “twice-born” Hindus (men who are of a higher caste) are prohibited from homosexual acts (maithunam pumsi). On the other hand, the Kama Sutra states that homosexual sex "is to be engaged in and enjoyed for its own sake as one of the arts". In general, then, the Hindu evaluation of homosexuality depends heavily on the context. The Laws of Manu is one of the standard books in the Hindu canon and is a basic text on which all gurus base their teachings. This scripture comprises 2684 verses, divided into twelve chapters presenting the norms of domestic, social, and religious life in India [circa 500 BCE] under the Brahmin influence. One verse in the text says that a young woman who ”pollutes” another young woman must be fined two hundred panas, pay the double of her nuptial fee, and receive ten lashes with a rod.“ Another verse says that an adult woman who ”pollutes” a young woman shall instantly have her head shaved or two fingers cut off, and be made to ride through the town on a donkey. But if a man of a high caste commits an “unnatural offence” with a male, or has intercourse with a female in a cart drawn by oxen, in water, or in the daytime, shall bathe, dressed in his clothes, as his punishment. Many people have criticized the Laws of Manu for heavily favoring members of the higher castes while discriminating against members of the lower castes.

There are great differences amongst Hindus regarding whether homosexuality is acceptable behavior. In Hinduism, love is regarded as an eternal force. It is seen as devotion between two people, whether romantic or platonic. Hindus believe love and devotion are important in attaining Moksha—liberation from the cycle of rebirths. Erotic desire or Kama in Hinduism was deemed as one of the most legitimate pleasures on earth (thus accounting for the vast numbers of erotic treatises, poetry, and sensuous sculptures of ancient India). But this did not mean that lascivious behavior was promoted. Premarital sex in Hinduism is frowned upon and extramarital sex is prohibited. Sex was promoted within the context of a loving couple—usually heterosexual. But extremely ascetic schools of thought would have viewed sex as a distraction from the pursuit of Moksha.

Marriage in Hinduism is said to fulfill three functions: Prajaa, Dharma, and Rati. In marriage, Prajaa is progeny for perpetuation of one’s family, Dharma is fulfillment of responsibilities, and Rati is companionship as friends and mutual pleasure as lovers. These three functions are given in the Dharma Shastras, books that are not considered to be religiously binding within Hinduism. In Hinduism, many of the divinities are androgynous and some change gender to participate in homoerotic behavior. In modern India, transgendered men known as Hijras have sex with men. They religiously identify as a separate third sex, with many undergoing ritual castration. In Hindu thought, a man who penetrates a Hijra is not defined as gay. Kama Sutra sex acts involving homosexuality are regarded in some castes as permissible while not in other castes.

Even though Hinduism does not obviously condemn homosexuality, Hindus are often intolerant of gays and lesbians. Many Hindus denounce homosexuality due to Hinduism’s emphasis on the sanctity of marriage and its disapproval of premarital sex. Homosexuality remains taboo in India and is legally banned in Section 377 of India's penal code. The 1996 film “Fire” which depicts a romantic relationship between two Hindu women was banned for “religious insensitivity” after a group of Hindu fundamentalists attacked cinemas where it was being screened.“ The human rights organization People’s Union for Civil Liberties has reported that sexual minorities in India face severe discrimination and violence, especially those from rural and lower caste backgrounds.

Buddhism’s views on homosexuality are similarly vague to those in Hinduism. Buddhism has three main branches: Theravada, the oldest form of Buddhism that emphasizes the monastic life; Mahayana Buddhism, a later form that includes Zen, Nichiren, and other sects, and Vajrayana, a unique form that arose in India and Tibet and is led by the Dalai Lama. Theravada Buddhism is most commonly found in Southeast Asia and focuses on the original teachings of the Buddha. In Theravada Buddhism there are two main ways of life: the life of the monk and the life of the lay person. Buddhist monks are expected to live lives of celibacy and there is no explicit rule prohibiting gays from monastic life. Lay Buddhists, those who live outside the monastery, are expected to adhere to Five Precepts that outline ethical behavior, the third of which is a vague proscription “not to engage in sexual misconduct.”

Right and wrong behavior in Buddhism is generally determined by considerations such as how it would affect others and the motivations behind the behavior. As homosexuality is not explicitly mentioned in any of the Buddha’s sayings recorded in the Pali Canon [Tripitaka], many interpreters have taken this to mean that homosexuality should be evaluated in the same way as heterosexuality. Buddhism does not traditionally place great value on procreation like many other religions. From the Buddhist viewpoint, being married with children is regarded as generally positive, but not compulsory (although social norms in various Buddhist countries often have different views). Despite this, in practice, Theravada Buddhist countries are not very open to homosexuality. This has much to do with cultural norms, as well as the concept of karma, which remains strong in countries such as Thailand. Prom this viewpoint, a person’s characteristics and situations are a result of past behavior, good or bad. Homosexuality and other alternative forms of sexuality are seen by some as karmic punishments for heterosexual misconduct in a past life.

In a 1997 interview, the Dalai Lama, the leader of Tibetan Buddhism, was asked about homosexuality. He did not offer a strong answer either way, but noted that all monks are expected to refrain from sex. For laypeople, he commented that the purpose of sex in general is for procreation, so homosexual acts do seem unnatural. He said that sexual desires are natural, perhaps including homosexual desires, but that one should not try to increase those desires or indulge them without self-control. The Dalai Lama was more specific in a meeting with Buddhist leaders and human rights activists in San Francisco in 1997, where he commented that all forms of sex other than penile-vaginal sex are prohibited for Buddhists, whether between heterosexuals or homosexuals. At a press conference the day before the meeting, he said, “From a Buddhist point of view, [gay sex] is generally considered sexual misconduct.” But he did note that this rule is for Buddhists, and from society’s viewpoint, homosexual relationships can be “of mutual benefit, enjoyable, and harmless."

--- Gay and Lesbian Communities the World Over / Rita James Simon, Alison Brooks

"In the Jataka tales of the previous life of the Buddha, there are often strong homoerotic overtones, as, for example, in the story of the handsome Cobra King who falls in love with Ananda or in the tale of the Buddha and Ananda who in a previous life are sons of Brahman parents and refuse to marry so that they may remain together). These Jataka tales provide an implicit affirmation of homoerotic attractions.

SCHALOW writes about Kukai and the tradition of male love in Japanese Buddhism. Japanese culture has historically had positive attitudes toward same-sex love. According to legend, monastic homoeroticism was introduced by the monk Kukai, known popularly as Kobo Daishi, upon his return from studies in China. The Kobo Daishi ikkan no sho, a text revealed by Kukai to another monk, describes techniques for seducing a temple acolyte and a variety of positions for anal intercourse. There is a wide variety of additional Japanese literature highlighting the theme of male love between an older monk and a young acolyte, and perhaps the most famous work to extol same-sex love is The Great Mirror of Male Love, written by Ihara Saikaku in the 17th century. Japanese Buddhist priestly tradition stressed the power of love between priests and their acolytes in the quest to attain enlightenment.

LEUPP has produced an excellent analytical description of male-male sex in Tokugawa Japan (1603-1868} and, in particular, of Japanese Buddhist monastic homoeroticism. Leupp finds that the homosocial world of monasteries, which excluded women, helps explain the prevalence of same-sex relations within the monasteries. Many Buddhist monks felt justified indulging in same-sex relations because the Buddha preached against male-female sex. The effort to justify male-male sexuality in Buddhist terms reached its height during the Tokugawa period.

GOLDSTEIN, an anthropologist, gives a brief discussion of the dab-dob (ldab-ldob), translated as “swish-swish” or working monks, who were attracted to other males and noted for how they wore their monastic garments as well as their athletic prowess. Because the monastic discipline prohibited oral and anal sex, the dab-dob engaged in a form of intercrura] intercourse, the insertion of the penis between the thighs of the partner from behind. Goldstein also writes about the other homosexual practices of the dab-dob, which included the sexual seduction and even the abduction of young boys. He maintains that their homosexual behaviors were considered sinful, although the dab-dob lived up to the letter of the monastic law."

--- Buddhism / Robert E. Goss in Reader's Guide to Lesbian and Gay Studies / ed. Timothy Murphy

Friday, December 04, 2015

Links - 4th December 2015

Forecasting Fox - The New York Times - "pundits and experts are terrible at making predictions. But Tetlock is also interested in how people can get better at making forecasts. His subsequent work helped prompt people at one of the government’s most creative agencies, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency, to hold a forecasting tournament to see if competition could spur better predictions... participants were taught to turn hunches into probabilities. Then they had online discussions with members of their team adjusting the probabilities, as often as every day. People in the discussions wanted to avoid the embarrassment of being proved wrong. In these discussions, hedgehogs disappeared and foxes prospered. That is, having grand theories about, say, the nature of modern China was not useful. Being able to look at a narrow question from many vantage points and quickly readjust the probabilities was tremendously useful... forecasting skill cannot only be taught, it can be replicated."

Penang removes playground structures with pig-like designs - "Several playthings that resembled a pig were removed from the Esplanade hours after photos of the structures went viral in cyberspace... Penang Muslim non-governmental organisations coalition secretary Ahmad Yakqub Nazri said he was shocked when he saw the structures that resembled a pig. "Those who installed such items are clearly insensitive to the Muslims in the state," he said. MBPP secretary Ang Aing Thye said that the officer-in-charge of the project had been told to submit a report. "We are investigating the matter. Action will be taken against those at fault," he said."

Ministry weighing proposal to segregate trolleys for non-halal products - "Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainudin said the move was to ensure that Muslims would not have to “worry” if the goods they bought had mixed with non-halal items."
Comments: "Our God in Malaysia is very strict about food on trolleys. But not so strict with corruption and discrimination and non-halal money that exchange hand between halal and non-halal hands everyday."
"Why not just separate the country into 2, naming Halal Malaysia and Non-Halal Malaysia?"
"Dare you even suggest that the hospital blood bank should have halal blood and non-halal blood? After all, blood donated by non-Muslims may have been "contaminated" with foods consumed by donors deem not halal by Muslims."
"If my money has touched pork will BN not tax it?"

Philosophy majors actually earn a lot more than welders - "Marco Rubio took a strong stand in favor of vocational education. "For the life of me I don't know why we stigmatize vocational education," he said. "Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders than philosophers"... According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of a welder is just over $37,420 a year. As you can see, philosophy majors do considerably better than that"

Project Unspell | Indiegogo - "Now that most text is electronic, the time has come to tackle the problem of English spelling—by auto­mating it. The ubiquitous use of spell-checkers is a relatively tiny step in the right direction: at least we know that the words we type actually exist. Unspell will take us the rest of the way: it will tell us how to pronounce each word correctly, and how to spell it correctly as well. Most importantly, it will allow us to avoid having to learn English spelling, saving a lot of time and effort."

They did what? Travel selfies gone terribly wrong - "Just this week, a teen in Romania was killed while attempting to take the “ultimate selfie.” 18-year-old Anna Ursu and her friend went to the local railway station and laid on top of one of the train cars. After sticking her leg in the air, Ursu was struck with 27,000 volts from the electrical field surrounding the overhead cables. Ursu’s body was engulfed in flames. She later died at the hospital with burns over 50 percent of her body."

Melbourne mum mistakenly shames man she thought was taking photos of her kids - "A woman has mistakenly shamed a man on social media who she believed was taking photos of her children when he was actually taking a selfie next to a Star Wars display. The mother took a photo of the man at the Westfield Knox shopping centre at Wantirna South, in Melbourne's east, and shared it to Facebook on Wednesday along with a status branding him a 'creep'... The man said he was considering his legal options after the post had been shared 20,000 times and seen by friends, colleagues and family around Australia. He added that he had received death threats... He said the woman who made the post on social media had not apologised to him. ‘There’s been a number of apologies from some sharers which I really appreciated. The fact is they’ve made a mistake out of concern but in real terms it was not credible information,' he said. 'Once it's out there it can't be retracted... and the retraction post has only been viewed one-fiftieth of the times the original post was viewed'... the incident serves as a reminder of the dangers around social media and spreading inaccurate and alarming information"

The science of protecting people’s feelings: why we pretend all opinions are equal - "people have an “equality bias” when it comes to competence or expertise, such that even when it’s very clear that one person in a group is more skilled, expert, or competent (and the other less), they are nonetheless inclined to seek out a middle ground in determining how correct different viewpoints are. Yes, that’s right — we’re all right, nobody’s wrong, and nobody gets hurt feelings."

And Here's The Entirety Of 'Alice In Wonderland' In Emoji - "Joe Hale may very well be the world's first emoji author. His pièce de résistance, in our humble opinions, is his adaptation of Lewis Carroll's 27,500-word novel Alice in Wonderland into a 25,000+ emoji lattice."

Walking through Alice’s Waterloo Wonderland - "Attractively located close to London’s iconic Southbank, a new 35,000 sq ft serviced office building located in the Waterloo quarter opened its doors earlier this year to reveal a truly magical environment filled with serviced office space with fantasy back drops, eight meeting rooms and communal areas, each room more enchanting than the last and all inspired by Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel, Alice in Wonderland."

Pornhub promises to plant a tree for every 100 videos watched

Amazon Kindle: This Divided Island: Stories from the Sri Lankan War - "The more fantastic story, however, involved the temple priest who had invited his six-year-old granddaughter’s friends home for her birthday. The party was broken up by the police because there were more than a dozen children in attendance and no police sanction had been sought for this gathering"

Relationships Are More Important Than Ambition - "Ambition drives people forward; relationships and community, by imposing limits, hold people back"

Hikaru Skirt - A Japanese Skirt That Illuminates Your Thighs with LEDs
Is this asking to be upskirted?

It’s a hookup culture, not a rape culture - "the rape culture narrative is not only wrong, but completely off the mark. It has been aggressively conflated with what is actually “hookup culture,” and the evidence for this can be found not only in nations with “real” rape cultures, but through examining our own culture as well... There is simply no systemic tolerance for rape, no prosecution of victims and the general disgust for rape and rapists may only be trumped by the general disgust for pedophilia or murder; indicating that it is not, contrary to what many say, an institutionalized part of our “culture.” Outlier events of injustice are just that, outliers, and are not indicative of any culturally normative problems... In shifting the responsibility for the abundance of ambiguous rape cases onto nonexistent problems in society, we completely overlook the true contributing factors in these instances: alcohol and the disregard for personal responsibility and safety that hookup culture so shamelessly advocates"

5 Reasons 'Star Wars' Tanks Make Absolutely No Sense - "The whole point of a troop transport is to get fighters and their equipment to the front lines without exhausting them in the process. To do it, a troop transport needs range and speed to achieve the element of surprise during an advance, and armor to protect the troops and gear inside. Which makes us wonder what the Star Wars weaponeers were thinking when they debuted the AT-AT in The Empire Strikes Back. The name stands for "All Terrain All Transport," but even with all these longstanding rules for making a good ride, the designers gave the Empire a bunch of top-heavy four-legged walkers that are vulnerable, slow and easy to spot."

Sulawesi's fifth gender - " In Australia we tend to assume that there are only two genders, woman and man, and two matching biological sexes, female and male. The Bugis acknowledge three sexes (female, male, hermaphrodite), four genders (women, men, calabai, and calalai), and a fifth meta-gender group, the bissu... A useful analogy suggested to me by Dr Greg Acciaioli is to imagine the Bugis gender system of South Sulawesi as a pyramid, with the bissu at the apex, and men, women, calalai, and calabai located at the four base corners. Calalai are anatomical females who take on many of the roles and functions expected of men... Calabai, conversely, are anatomical males who, in many respects, adhere to the expectations of women. However, calabai do not consider themselves women, are not considered women. Nor do they wish to become women, either by accepting restrictions placed on women such as not going out alone at night, or by recreating their body through surgery. However, whereas calalai tend to conform more to the norms of men, calabai have created a specific role for themselves in Bugis society... Bissu, calalai, and calabai challenge the notion that individuals must conform to one of two genders, woman or man, and that one's anatomy must support one's gender. Bugis gender reveals the diverse nature of human identity. It makes me question our own notions of gender. For example, why should Australia insist on a boring old two-gender system?"
Why stop at 5 genders? A 5 gender system is oppressive to those who believe in more than 5

Spastic Children's Association drops 'spastic' in new name - "The Spastic Children's Association of Singapore has changed its name to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore. It is the latest charity serving the disabled to re-brand itself with a more politically correct name. The 56-year-old charity, which runs a special education school and other services for those afflicted with cerebral palsy, made the switch in mid-April."
In another 56 years time they'll need to change their name again

#GamerGate Isn't A Harassment Campaign, States WAM! Report - "If you needed any kind of legitimate, peer reviewed proof that #GamerGate wasn’t a harassment campaign based on the claims centered around the blocklists, the Women Action Media! organization has released a detailed report proving just that: #GamerGate is not a social media movement to harass women out of the tech industry... In section 1.2 of the WAM! harassment report on page 24, it’s stated that “Most Alleged Harassers Were Unconnected With GamerGate”... If #GamerGate was such a disruptive force of harassment against women why was 88% of the harassment reports unconnected with #GamerGate even when measuring the data from Randi Harper’s autoblocker?"

On Christians in Singapore

"I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time. That would be hypocrisy." - Oscar Wilde


For those who think that all Christians in Singapore are homophobes who want to take over the government and impose their will on everyone:

"To break it down for the outsider, Protestant (that is, non-Catholic) Churches in Singapore can be broadly classed into three subtypes in character.

The Traditional

The Fundies

The Richies

The Traditional consist of churches that have a long history here. Some were planted by ang mohs some time back and have carried on since then. These congregations are small to mid-sized and tend to grow via family additions as opposed to converts.

They tend to be more traditional and orthodox, you find the bulk of non-charismatic churches in this part of the venn diagram. Generally it is easier for outsiders to join these kind of churches as they do not make that much demands, but they don't also do all that much to increase their sizes versus the other groups.

The Fundies consist of a group of congregations with rather distinct, separatist and specific beliefs on how the religion ought to be practiced, with relatively little room for individual variance. They generally see themselves as distinct and separate from those other more "worldy" christians. Basically they view themselves as Navy SEALS for Christ. Some are small, exclusive churches while others can be quite large. There is also a lot of variance in one fundie believes is okay and what they other believes is not. Some may think listening to secular music and drinking any sort of alcohol is a sin while another is cool with that.

Oh yeah, dominionism theology, that is that the church ought to influence/dominate garmen and society is quite popular with this bunch, and there are varying degrees to what they think it's okay to do to achieve this.

Also the term "fundie" is not an insult to them and if you are calling them that to them it means they are doing something right.

The Richies are congregations that practice a more modern, lifestyle approach towards the religion. As it is usually why they reap in the moonah as they are extremely attractive to the young, energetic crowd who are starting to step into their economically active prime. The theology is usually lifestyle focused and stuff from the bible is often interpreted in some rather creative ways in order to present a modern message. This is where you find a lot of your megachurches.

These demarcations are not absolute and there is significant overlap between all of them, for example FCBC could be considered both fundie and richie, while others like Cornerstone more fundie than richie. CHC is quite far up the richie scale and they receive a lot of fire from those far up the fundie spectrum for some of their practices.

The Traditional on the other hand, generally think the two groups are young punks who don't know what they are doing. You can see everyone gets along swimmingly."

On churches doing social work:

A: Maybe I am ignorant. But just checking... Buddhist temple i came across quiet a lot offer free food to people during certain timing. 100% free. They also conduct house visits and offer help.

But i had never hear, christian church open up and offer free food to people like Buddhist temple. Or they have? Anyone can tell me?

B: got lei, but not specific to soup kitchens

sauces: ask ani social werkers

i know some of them run this thing where they buy food and deliver straight to old folks living alone in one room flats 24/7/365 i believe. dunch even need to go out of the house to get your three hots

catholics also do a lot of stuff, but usually running in background.

C: Our History | Welcome to Willing Hearts

Churches don't usually advertise what they do but there are soup kitchens like Willing Hearts. Most operate through secular charities.

B: i know for a fact the church that people like to kbkb alot about, fcbc does a lot of stuff via touch community services. that's why garmen like them, save them a lot of trouble.

one does not need to like them, but also need to be objective ya?

I think there are big issues with institutionalised religion.

But criticism that is made also needs to be properly informed.

For example in the latest non-drama Lambertgate, some wise mind probably thought he could troll the fundies by starting a Sun Ho petition.

Problem with that is, most fundies don't really like the Crossover Project, CHC or Sun Ho to begin with. In fact they might even have some schadenfreude in watching CHC squirm in the first place.

So whoever that person is probably failed epically in trying to troll the fundies, and pretty much gave them what they wanted unintentionally.

So in other words, they don't really understand the people they are criticising/trolling.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Links - 3rd December 2015

To make elite schools ‘fair,’ city will punish poor Asians - "It’s not affluent whites, but rather the city’s burgeoning population of Asian-American immigrants — a group that, despite its successes, remains disproportionately poor and working-class — whose children have aced the exam in overwhelming numbers. And, ironically, the more “holistic” and subjective admissions criteria that de Blasio and the NAACP favor would be much more likely to benefit children of the city’s professional elite than African-American and Latino applicants — while penalizing lower-middle-class Asian-American kids like Ting. The result would not be a specialized high school student body that “looks like New York,” but rather one that looks more like Bill de Blasio’s upscale Park Slope neighborhood in Brooklyn... Two public high schools that, along with half their students, are officially classified as poor by the federal government rival the most exclusive prep schools in the world... All this once would have been the stuff of liberal dreams: A racial minority group historically victimized by discrimination begins coming to America in greater numbers because of an immigration reform sponsored by Ted Kennedy. Though many in the group remain in poverty, they take advantage of free public schools established by progressive New York City governments. By dint of their own hard work, they earn admission in increasing numbers to merit-based schools that offer smart working-class kids the kind of education once available only at Andover or Choate. To modern “progressive” elites, though, the story is intolerable, starting with the hard work. These liberal elites seem particularly troubled by the Asian-American work ethic and the difficult questions that it raises about the role of culture in group success... The complaint does not allege that the exam intentionally discriminates against black and Hispanic students. Instead, citing statistics regarding declining black and Latino enrollment and SHSAT pass rates, the LDF bases its argument entirely on the theory of “disparate impact” — that is, that discrimination should be inferred merely from racial differences in test scores... Ironically, eliminating the SHSAT would magnify the role of what progressives call “unconscious bias” — the idea that we have a preference for those who look like us and share our backgrounds. Subjective evaluation measures like interviews and portfolio reviews are much more susceptible to such bias than is an objective examination... Subjective selection criteria also inevitably favor the affluent and connected — as a comptroller’s audit of the screened-school admissions process revealed. The study found that most of the schools examined did not follow their stated selection criteria and could not explain the criteria that they actually did use."
If courts disproportionately find minorities guilty of crimes, doesn't that mean that there is disparate impact and the standard of proof for criminal guilt should be revised?

The disappearing dishes of Hong Kong - "Speak to anyone who has lived in Hong Kong for more than 30 years and they will tell you about glorious banquets that started with platters of golden strips of deep-fried intestines and nuggets of silky liver or pig's brain wrapped in caul fat - nature's own puff pastry. They may speak of tunnel-boned duck stuffed with lotus seeds and bulbs, glutinous rice, shiitake mushrooms, gingko nuts and salted egg yolk, then deep-fried and braised. Or perhaps they will reminisce about pillowy steamed buns filled with pork belly fat, char siu and chicken liver... Fewer and fewer restaurants are serving them because, for restaurateurs, they can be time-consuming and expensive to prepare, while diners in the modern age are increasingly concerned about health (cue the aforementioned deep-fried intestines)... "Great ingredients and proper technique are givens," says this fishmonger's son, "but people nowadays don't care enough about their food, and that's the main problem.""

Why Do Americans Want Children? - "Children create social capital for parents, an important and previously underappreciated reason for why Americans want children."

Crazy Things That Only Happen In India - "Santosh Kumar Singh fought for nine years to prove that he was alive. His brothers declared him dead and stole his land after he married a woman of a lower caste. False death certificates are frequently issued in land grabs.... A woman named Shaheen Dhada posted a status on Facebook questioning a Mumbai "bandh," or shutdown, after the death of politician Bal Thackeray, known for using various forms of intimidation to achieve political ends. Her friend Renu Srinivasan liked the post. Both were arrested... People put up photos of deities on building walls to prevent public urination... Indian business man Datta Phuge spent $230,888 on a gold shirt. He told the Pune Mirror "I know "I am not the best looking man in the world but surely no woman could fail to be dazzled by this shirt"."

The Decline and Fall of the Book Cover - "the covers of most contemporary books all look disturbingly the same, as if inbred. It seems as if sixty-five per cent of all novels’ jackets feature an item of female apparel and/or part of the female anatomy and the name of some foodstuff in the title—the book-cover equivalent of the generic tough-guy-with-gun movie poster with title like “2 HARD & 2 FAST.” There’s clearly some brutally efficient Darwinian process at work here, because certain images—half-faces, napes, piers stretching into the water—spread like successful evolutionary adaptations and quickly become ubiquitous... The single-object-on-white-background cover has become such a recognizable formula that there is now a Malcolm Gladwell Book Generator... For some reason children’s books, Y.A. literature, and genre fiction still have license to beguile their readers with gorgeous cover illustrations, but mature readers aren’t supposed to require such enticements"

Guilty Until Proven Innocent: How the Press Prosecuted Zimmerman While Stoking Racial Tensions - "After the arrest, and as the trial date neared the following year, NBC would allow Al Sharpton to turn his primetime MSNBC show into a platform dedicated to convicting Zimmerman. CNN would continue to refer to Zimmerman as a “white Hispanic” and broadcast all of Zimmerman’s personal information, including his social security number, address, and telephone number."

Analysis: The race factor in George Zimmerman's trial - "And since people on both sides seemed to have decided the case before the testimony was heard, the verdict was bound to be disturbing no matter how it tilted. Simply put, preconceived notions effectively had people watching two different trials, with every bit of testimony and evidence producing different, and often opposing, reactions in those dueling audiences... "I never could quite understand people, even people with law degrees, who had not read all of the police reports, who had not read all of the witness statements, yet who came up with opinions one way or the other," she said. But that is what happened"

Sir Karl Popper "Science as Falsification," 1963 - "It was the summer of 1919 that I began to feel more and more dissatisfied with these three theories—the Marxist theory of history, psycho-analysis, and individual psychology; and I began to feel dubious about their claims to scientific status. My problem perhaps first took the simple form, "What is wrong with Marxism, psycho-analysis, and individual psychology? Why are they so different from physical theories, from Newton's theory, and especially from the theory of relativity?""

Clergy and trade unions: All out, brothers | The Economist - "WHEN people believe they are ultimately working for God, do they have a right (like any other sort of worker) to organise themselves and demand fairer treatment from their earthly bosses? That is the one of the hardest questions at the interface of law and religion, because it involves a contest between two sorts of entitlement: the right of employees to band together and assert their interests, and the right of religious bodies to enforce their own rules. An important ruling on this subject was handed down today. Not by the 28-member European Union (whose stance on religion I discussed in another recent posting) but by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which holds sway among 47 member nations of the Council of Europe and is supposed to be a guardian of civil liberties of all kinds. The verdict concerns a dispute between Romania's Orthodox Church, to which the great majority of people in that country adhere, and a 35-strong group of priests and other religious employees who tried, in 2008, to form a trade union"

Plucking hair in a specific pattern could encourage five times more growth

Vegetarian hot dogs found to contain traces of meat and human DNA - "Human DNA was found in 2 percent of the samples, which doesn't mean that there were traces of human meat in the sausages, but simply that there was some kind of contamination, so that could be through a stray hair or skin cells, or potentially even saliva. Vegetarian hot dog products surprisingly fared the worst in this regard, with four out of the 21 products tested containing human DNA. And, yep, 10 percent of them contained meat... the scientists found no correlation between price and quality"

Wanting to Preserve Your Way of Life Does Not Make You Racist or Fascist - "People can't develop unless they belong to a culture. Even if they rebel against it and transform it entirely, they still belong to a stream of tradition. New streams can be created -- in the West, by Christianity, or Luther, or the Renaissance, or the Romantic movement -- but in the end they derive from a single river, an underlying central tradition, which, sometimes, in radically altered forms, survives. But if the streams dry up, as for instance, where men and women are not products of a culture, where they don't have kith and kin and feel closer to some people than to others, where there is no native language -- that would lead to a tremendous desiccation of everything that is human."

German nurse shocked after being forced out of flat to make way for refugees

Teenage girl Lisa Borch jailed for murdering her mother after watching Isis beheading videos online - "The fingerprints of Borch’s 29-year-old boyfriend, Bakhtiar Mohammed Abdulla, were also found in Holtegaard’s bedroom, although he was not at the scene when police arrived."

AVA's recycled food product, Okara floss, tasty: Khaw - "CIt is made from the byproduct of soy milk production, and is the vegetarian version of meat floss. Mr Khaw wrote in a blog post on Wednesday that the mock meat floss product is "tasty", and invited interested companies to sell this innovation."

Naked Woman Distracts Man While He Is Robbed - "Stephen Amaral agreed to their request, but the woman in her thirties then enquired if it would be okay if she swam naked. He said that was not a problem."

The Lone Ranger Seals It: America's New Favorite Villain Is a Rich Guy - "It is quite a contrast to Die Hard, the 1988 action classic to which White House Down is most often compared. That film employed German thieves as the source of its terrorism, which fit nicely amid the Reagan era's popular support for increased defense spending to fend off a Communist threat. Similar films like Air Force One ("Die Hard in the president's plane") or Toy Soldiers ("Die Hard in a prep school") also address the fight against terrorism, but in their pre-9/11 mindset, the villains are foreigners with clear-cut political goals"

Plane Passenger Ejected for Non-Stop Singing of Whitney Houston Songs

Registering Muslims

Riz Rashid - So, Don Trump wants to register Muslims. And many...

"So, Don Trump wants to register Muslims.
And many Singaporeans who fancy themselves globally savvy agree with the US commentators that this is a bad move or that Trump is racist and all the other reasoning.

But the thing is, we register Muslims in Singapore, yet it's largely seen as a "positive thing" as with this person's comment.

"It's a good point... however in Singapore it's done as a positive information, with Trump it would be about condemning and ostracizing Muslims or others.... like the Yellow Star to be worn by Jews during WWII"

Some Singaporeans aren't even aware that only the Muslims get registered, at birth.

" Anyway it's not the Muslim alone who get registered here in Singapore right all other religions are also stated in birth certificates"

And even hits the nail on the head and misses the point entirely.

"That could be a religions procedure to discourage muslims from leaving the faith and protect stricter muslim laws like only marrying another muslim cannot definitely say it is govt way of keeping track of Muslims"

I oppose the registration of Muslims BABIES, like I oppose the registering of babies to a religious denomination period, like my reply to Calvin Cheng, its because children don't always adhere to their parent's religion, Muslim children are not excluded from this "phenomenon" too, this should be obvious yet somehow it's not.

And apostasy becomes a taboo when people expect you be a Muslim when you're not, thanks to the national perception of your ethnicity being tied with religion, as 99% of malays here are registered muslims since they were babies and many can't be bothered to deregister themselves because of the $20 fee, hence the high figures.

Any form of religious registration by the government needs to be done away with, it's not secular at all, yet this myth of Singapore being a secular country persists, even I thought we were secular for a long time until I realized that what we have are state endorsed religions."

(Note: Trump didn't *actually* say he wanted to register Muslims)

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Links - 2nd December 2015

Is Special Education Racist? - The New York Times - "Critics claim that this high number — blacks are 1.4 times more likely to be placed in special education than other races and ethnicities combined — shows that black children are put into special education because schools are racially biased. But our new research suggests just the opposite... If well-intentioned but misguided advocates succeed in arbitrarily limiting placement in special education based on racial demographics, even more black children with disabilities will miss out on beneficial services. Black children face double jeopardy when it comes to succeeding in school. They are far more likely to be exposed to the gestational, environmental and economic risk factors that often result in disabilities. Yet black children are less likely to be told they have disabilities, and to be treated for them, than otherwise similar white children... The last thing we need is to compound these widespread disparities in disability diagnosis and treatment by making school officials reluctant to refer black children for special-education eligibility evaluations out of fear of being labeled racially biased."

The Relation Between Intelligence and Religiosity - "A meta-analysis of 63 studies showed a significant negative association between intelligence and religiosity. The association was stronger for college students and the general population than for participants younger than college age; it was also stronger for religious beliefs than religious behavior. For college students and the general population, means of weighted and unweighted correlations between intelligence and the strength of religious beliefs ranged from −.20 to −.25 (mean r = −.24). Three possible interpretations were discussed. First, intelligent people are less likely to conform and, thus, are more likely to resist religious dogma. Second, intelligent people tend to adopt an analytic (as opposed to intuitive) thinking style, which has been shown to undermine religious beliefs. Third, several functions of religiosity, including compensatory control, self-regulation, self-enhancement, and secure attachment, are also conferred by intelligence. Intelligent people may therefore have less need for religious beliefs and practices."

Ivy League Schools Are Overrated. Send Your Kids Elsewhere. - "Our system of elite education manufactures young people who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it... Look beneath the façade of seamless well-adjustment, and what you often find are toxic levels of fear, anxiety, and depression, of emptiness and aimlessness and isolation. A large-scale survey of college freshmen recently found that self-reports of emotional well-being have fallen to their lowest level in the study’s 25-year history... The irony is that elite students are told that they can be whatever they want, but most of them end up choosing to be one of a few very similar things. As of 2010, about a third of graduates went into financing or consulting at a number of top schools... Kids at schools like Stanford think that their environment is diverse if one comes from Missouri and another from Pakistan, or if one plays the cello and the other lacrosse. Never mind that all of their parents are doctors or bankers... the group that is most disadvantaged by our current admissions policies are working-class and rural whites... Kids at less prestigious schools are apt to be more interesting, more curious, more open, and far less entitled and competitive."

Peter Tatchell: The left and the anti-war movement have double standards when it comes to Hamas - "These abuses, which are part of a long-standing pattern of human rights violations, reveal Hamas's totalitarian agenda and are a portent of the Iranian-style theocratic tyranny they would impose on the Palestinian people if they ever secured absolute power. It is an antisemitic, misogynistic, homophobic, anti-trade union, authoritarian, clericalist movement... while progressive opinion is justifiably quick to condemn Israel, it is oddly silent when Palestinians are being persecuted by fellow Palestinians. Why the double standards? Hamas styles itself as a resistance movement. In fact, it is as much a repression movement and the victims of its repression are fellow Palestinians who don't toe the Hamas line. In the future, Hamas is potentially as much of a threat to Palestinian freedom as Israel is today... Another favourite left and liberal justification of Hamas is that it is less corrupt than its Palestinian rivals in Fatah and that it organises social programmes for the poor. You could say the same about the Nazis, compared to the indulgence and incompetence of some Weimar Republic leaders... Hamas's macho posturing mirrors that of the Israeli extreme right. It has a juvenile tit-for-tat, eye-for-an-eye war mentality"

Driver Says God Told Her ‘I’ll Take It From Here,’ So She Let Go Of Wheel; Promptly Runs Over Motorcyclist «

Schumann’s Death Linked to His Music - The New York Times - "Though Schumann, who died in 1856 at the age of 46, has received fewer diagnoses than Mozart, his case is messier, and the stakes are higher. Discussions of Mozart’s final illness are confined to the physical: infection, cardiovascular disease, kidney function and poisoning. They do not affect our view of his compositions, except for the Requiem, and then only in terms of the circumstances of its commissioning. For Mozart the medical and the musical remain separate. In Schumann’s case the usual diagnoses have included mental illnesses. Because associations between mental state and creativity are inevitable, stigmas and stereotypes attached to psychiatric illnesses have long influenced the interpretation of Schumann’s music."

Eye-Tracking Heatmaps - "They say the eyes tell all. Now thanks to eye-tracking technology we can tell they're saying, and the results point to fascinating differences between men and women and useful insights into advertising and design"

Romanian Andy Pascali arrived at holiday home to find it had disappeared - "At first they thought it was a joke, but when they turned up at the nearby village of Baldovinesti they found not only that there was no property where there should have been a three-bedroom building, but that a field of ready-to-harvest corn had been planted in its place."

Muslim double standards abound - "It is not the race or religion of the victim that counts, but the identity of their tormentor. As long as it’s an Arab army annihilating fellow Arabs or a Muslim military murdering fellow Muslims, too many Muslims simply shrug away our responsibility and say, “leave it to Allah” as the Qur’an supposedly commands. However, if the Muslim falls victim to the “kuffar” — meaning the Jew, Christian or Hindu — then many of our clerics take to the pulpit and deliver fiery, end-of-times lectures, using the tragedy as a reason to ignite hatred against the other, in most cases “The Jew”."

When Rhode Island accidentally legalized prostitution, rape decreased sharply - "The statewide incidence of gonorrhea among women declined by 39 percent, and the number of rapes reported to police in the state declined by 31 percent, according to the paper. The study by Baylor University's Scott Cunningham and Manisha Shah of the University of California, Los Angeles contributes to an impassioned, long-running debate about prostitution among advocates for women's rights. Their work appears to be the first quantitative evidence that removing criminal penalties for prostitutes can reduce violence against women and curtail sexually transmitted infections in society generally -- and dramatically so... The two economists found that more women entered prostitution, particularly white and Asian women, and that the price of their services fell. In addition to the lower rate of gonorrhea infections among women, Shah and Cunningham estimated that decriminalizing prostitution prevented 824 rapes that would have been otherwise reported to police -- and presumably many more that otherwise would not have been reported in any case. The decline in the number of rapes was so large that Cunningham and Shah felt obliged to examine their data with three separate statistical methods, but the effect persisted. The authors were eventually persuaded that their result was not a fluke... In practice, the distinction between criminals and victims is often unclear. Many prostitutes and their advocates dislike both labels. They object strenuously to the view that they are not in the industry through their own choice but through manipulation or coercion. "They have heard that, and they laugh at it," said Mike Kiselica, a Providence attorney who represented massage parlors and their prostitutes during decriminalization. "The frontline workers, the girls, they were free to move around, and would do so if one of the other places offered them a more attractive working environment or a better clientele," he said. He said that even though the law had changed, police continued to conduct extensive raids on his clients, often involving superior officers, social workers and Korean interpreters. Although the police confiscated ledgers, calendars and cell phones, they did not find evidence of involvement by organized crime, Kiselica said. To his knowledge, few if any of the arrests made during the period led to convictions on trafficking charges."

The War on Sex Workers - "Not all people who do sex work are women, but women disproportionately suffer the stigma, discrimination, and violence against sex workers. The result is a war on women that is nearly imperceptible, unless you are involved in the sex trade yourself. This war is spearheaded and defended largely by other women: a coalition of feminists, conservatives, and even some human rights activists who subject sex workers to poverty, violence, and imprisonment—all in the name of defending women’s rights... Some activists view calling the cops to “rescue” people from the sex trade as the model of a successful human rights intervention. They don’t count their victories by the number of people they help; they count them by arrests. These tactics are part of a rise in what Elizabeth Bern­stein calls “carceral feminism”; Harvard law professor Janet Halley calls it “governance feminism.” Feminists once offered a powerful critique of the criminal justice system, but that argument has faded as they have found power within it. Not surprisingly, they have found conservative allies along the way... These feminist-supported, headline-grabbing stunts subject young women to the humiliation of jail, legal procedures, and tracking through various law enforcement databases, sometimes for the rest of their lives. “It’s fascinating that women who claim to be feminists” are so willing to use the law in this way, says Ann Jordan. Supporting anti-prostitution enforcement requires them to call in the muscle of “all these institutions that have oppressed women forever,” she notes. “But they are willing to use the law to coerce a particular kind of behavior from women”... If we are going to call attacks on reproductive and sexual rights a “war on women,” then let’s talk about a war on women that has actual prisoners and a body count. It’s a war on the women engaged in sex work, waged by women who will not hesitate to use their opponents’ corpses as political props but refuse to listen to them while they are still alive and still here to fight"

23 Trends Guys Hate (But Women Love) - "Peplums
"Fake" Nails
Fold-Over Ankle Boots
Drop-Crotch Pants
Hair Bows"

Let’s Cool It in the Bedroom - NYTimes.com - "Cooler bedrooms could subtly transform a person’s stores of brown fat — what has lately come to be thought of as “good fat” — and consequently alter energy expenditure and metabolic health, even into daylight hours.""

11 Psychological Tricks Restaurants Use To Make You Spend More Money - "7. They use expensive items to draw you to the cheaper items. According to Rapp, restaurants use extremely expensive foods as decoys. “You probably won’t buy it, but you’ll find something a little cheaper and it’ll look more reasonable,” he says."

Satiregram Makes Fun Of Everyone’s Instagram Habits

Predict weather with a cup of coffee

Coconut-based contraption makes your bike sound just like a horse

Singaporean Chinese - less Racist than Singaporean Malays, Indians and Eurasians

[Addendum: Unfortunately, the 2 slides on which this post are based were not interpreted correctly, as another IPS deck makes clear.

Nonetheless I am leaving this post up instead of deleting it, for archival purposes.]

Amidst all the talk about "Chinese Privilege", it is easy to assume that racism in Singapore is a one-way street, with the Chinese oppressing the Malays, Indians and Others.

Yet, if one looks at actual data (instead of isolated anecdotes), a different story can emerge.

I recently revisited the Institute of Policy Studies' (IPS) 2013 Insights from the IPS Survey on Race, Religion and Language.

Respondents were asked if they were comfortable with someone of another race as a colleague in the same occupation, boss, employee, next-door-neighbour, the majority of people in Singapore, spouse, brother/sister-in-law and close friend.

Across all questions, Local-born Chinese were more comfortable than Local-born Malays, Local-born Indians or Local-born Eurasians with someone of a different race in these positions.

In the public sphere, the differences are especially striking for the boss and majority of people in Singapore - about 10% more of Local-born Chinese are comfortable with a non-Chinese boss than Local-born Malays and Indians, and for the majority of people in Singapore the percentage is about 20% (despite Chinese already being the majority of people in Singapore - and thus presumably something non-Chinese are used to should presumably accept).

Local-born Eurasians are more racist than local-born Chinese, but less so than Malays or Indians. Perhaps this is because of the lack of a Eurasian Politics of Grievance.

Interestingly, for China-born Chinese, India-born Indians and "Region"-born Malays, the numbers are all pretty similar. So one cannot explain away Singaporean Chinese's lower levels of racism by claiming they are just pretending to be (or mistakenly believe that they are) race-blind because they have Majority Privilege - since Chinese in China, Indians in India and Malays in Malaysia and Indonesia (which I assume are what the "Region" refers to) were likewise in the Majority in their home countries and thus similarly benefited from Majority Privilege.

Furthermore, if Chinese Privilege were really a factor, using the Difference-in-Differences technique, we would expect the figures for China-born Chinese to be different from those for India-born Indians and "Region"-born Malays, since they are Chinese. Yet we do not see this; China-born Chinese, India-born Indians and "Region"-born Malays seem indistinguishable (or at least not too different).

Also notable is that "Region"-born Malays are slightly less racist than China-born Chinese and India-born Indians, which I don't have an explanation for.

As for why the foreign-born are more racist, it's probably because they haven't been indoctrinated by Singapore's spin on "Racial Harmony".

The differences for the local-born are even more striking in the private sphere - almost twice as many Local-born Chinese are comfortable with a spouse of a different race as Local-born Malays and Indians. For a brother/sister-in-law the difference is about 15%. Once again, Local-born Eurasians are more racist than local-born Chinese, but less so than Malays or Indians.

As for the foreign-born, we see that China-born Chinese are a lot more accepting of non-Chinese spouses or brother/sister-in-laws than India-born Indians and "Region"-born Malays, contrary to the similar results for the public sphere. This might be due to the effects of religion, since for Close Friends the differences between the three are similar to those for the public sphere questions.

So the next time someone starts droning on about how prejudiced Chinese in Singapore are - just remember that minorities can be just as racist (if not more so).

Why, then, is there a perception that Singaporean Chinese are more racist?

Several factors could explain this.

One is that people could be more sensitive to racist actions or remarks (real or imagined) by Chinese people.

Another is that people like to bash the "majority" and assume that it must be oppressive.

Yet another, though, is that there are simply more Chinese in Singapore. This is explained by what Ian Gent calls the Petrie Multiplier (when talking about Sexism in Tech). Basically, even *if* Chinese are equally racist as other races, by dint of their greater numbers, they seem more racist.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Links - 1st December 2015

Palestinian Public Opinion | Intifada | - "elites aren’t just instigating the terror — they’re also reacting to deep-seated attitudes popularly held among “ordinary” Palestinians. If that’s the case, lecturing Israel to change its actions or “take more risks for peace” is unlikely to dampen the situation. Instead, as this new study suggests, it’s the Palestinians who need to be confronted. A “vociferous condemnation” of the violence from the U.S. and other Western powers is necessary, and the PA and Hamas need to be penalized until the attacks stop. Over time, “this might exercise an ameliorating effect”... These days in Israel simply walking while Jewish is to put one’s life at risk. Men, women, the elderly, even kids who’re just going about their daily routine and minding their own business have been stoned, shot, stabbed and run over by Palestinians running amok in the streets... Polisar argues that we shouldn’t just be focusing on “how and why the Palestinian political and religious leadership has been engaging in incitement”. Instead, we should be concentrating on the views of “everyday Palestinians”. Omitting their perspective, in Polisar’s opinion, is “both patronizing and likely to lead to significant misunderstandings of what is happening”... When Israel is offered as an option in polling questionnaires, Palestinians view it as responsible for all the myriad of problems that they face, including problems that are largely internal—such as PA corruption; the inability of the PA to pay its employees; the lack of law and order in PA-controlled territories; and the failure of Hamas and Fatah to reconcile... Massive Palestinian majorities deny any responsibility for either the failure of repeated negotiation efforts and peace talks, the breakdown of ceasefires during the second intifada, or the outbreak of the wars in Gaza in 2008, 2012, and 2014. The surveys also indicate that Palestinians are convinced that Israel seeks to deliberately target them. They hold Hamas blameless for positioning its fighters and weapons in populated areas... Palestinians think that Israel is dead set on displacing all Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza—and Israel too. That’s a wildly outlandish view. For the last two decades, it doesn’t match up with any policy espoused by even the most hard-line, right-wing Israeli politician, much less any Israeli government... Back in 1995, 65% of Palestinians responded in a JMCC survey that Israel had no right to exist. In a 2014 poll commissioned for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy more than 80% asserted that “This is Palestinian land and Jews have no rights to it”. In 2011, 72% of Palestinians told a surveyor that it was “morally right to deny that Jews have a long history in Jerusalem going back thousands of years”... Palestinians think that it’s morally right and appropriate to use terrorist violence against both Israelis and Westerners more generally—and they overwhelmingly think that terrorism both works and is praiseworthy... far more than other Arab or Muslim publics, the polls show that Palestinians are “always the leaders in seeing suicide bombings and similar attacks as justified”... As Polisar states, Palestinians aren’t “powerless pawns whose fate is decided by their leaders, Israel, or regional and world powers”"

What ordinary Palestinians think about Jews, Israel and violence - "In a December 2001 poll, 98% labeled as terrorism Baruch Goldstein's killing of 29 Palestinians in Hebron in 1994, but only 15% applied that term to Palestinian suicide bombings that killed 21 Israelis at a Tel Aviv nightclub in 2001. This attitude carries over to attacks on Westerners more generally, as 53% of Palestinians declined to call the 9/11 attacks terrorism. And, according to the Arab Barometer, a project of American and Middle Eastern universities and research centers, similar majorities refused to apply that term to the deadly attacks by Islamists a few years later in Madrid and London. Palestinians' readiness to justify attacks on civilians also emerges from surveys of Muslim countries by the Pew Research Center. In six polls during the last decade, an average of 59% of Palestinians backed the view that “suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilian targets are justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies” — making them the pacesetters on that question in every survey."

Hackers gonna hack, but why? Maybe Freud has the answer - "my favourite explanation for the academic literature is a Freudian psychoanalytic approach to hacking, which actually conceptualises hacking in Freudian terms as a cyber-sexual urge to penetrate. And there are castration complex overtones in terms of being cut off from the network as well"

Google Translate error sees Spanish town advertise clitoris festival - "Local officials in As Pontes – population 11,000 – had written the announcement for the annual festival in Galician, one of the official languages of the northern Spanish region. They used Google Translate for the Spanish-language version of the text. It meant the town’s “Feria do grelo” or rapini festival – held every February with tastings and awards for the best grelos – became “Feria clítoris” in Spanish... She believed the online translation tool mistook the Galician word for the Portuguese version, which refers to the vegetable but also can be used as slang for clitoris. Officials in As Pontes are considering filing a formal complaint with Google. García said: “They should recognise Galician and translate it accurately.”"

The "Science" Behind Today's Plague Doctor Costume - "the distinctive bone-white mask and black clothing was actually the 17th century equivalent of a biocontainment suit"

First 'KFC' to open in Iran shut down after 24 hours for being too American - ""The shutting down of Halal KFC was due to a misunderstanding," the store's manager, Abbas Pazuki, reportedly said. "We are part of a brand known as Halal KFC, which comes from Turkey. It belongs to Muslims and its target market is Muslim nations," he clarified. That KFC, he says, is a "rival of the American KFC." "We are shocked with the news that an illegitimate KFC outlet has opened in Tehran, Iran," Laurie Schalow, a KFC spokesperson, told Mashable. "No franchise rights have been granted to any party in Iran. We are in contact with local authorities and external advisers and will be filing a legal action against any company or individuals claiming to have rights to open KFC.""

Why Britain Has The Best Wall Sockets On Earth - "Any kid with a fork or a screwdriver can light his hair on fire in the United States by jamming it into a wall socket. Not so in England, where it would take at least two screwdrivers to manage the same calamitous trick"

Should it really take so long to become a sushi chef? Japanese entrepreneur calls system a scam - "@michiyotajima: “It’s not enough just to press the rice into shape. The correct way to cook the rice, and how much water to use, varies by the season. That’s something restaurant operators understand, but I want you to be aware of the fact that you don’t know everything.”
Horie: “That’s obvious. But what I’m telling you, you ditz, is that if it takes someone years and years to learn how to do that, he’s an idiot.”"

Mein Kampf: strange tales of the world's most dangerous book - "“I’ve tried the line ‘Do you want to read Mein Kampf with me?’, but I can tell you it doesn’t work,” said Alon Kraus, the son of Holocaust survivors and one of six protagonists in a bold stage version of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi manifesto playing to packed houses across the German-speaking world. A re-enactment of the 44-year-old Israeli lawyer’s real-life attempts to seduce a German tourist on the Sinai peninsula by reading extracts from Hitler’s rambling racist discourse raises the loudest – albeit hesitant – laughs... “It’s about time,” said Sven Felix Kellerhoff, author of Mein Kampf: The Story of a German Book. “By putting it off, they’ve only helped contribute to the myth that it is too incendiary a text for the public to deal with. But we are grown up enough now and we have a responsibility not to brush it under the carpet.”"

Where men and women like (and hate) to be touched - "A friend can touch your head, shoulders, hands, and upper back without ruffling your feathers. Your mother can touch you in the same places a friend can touch you, but she is also welcome to touch your lower back. Your uncle better not try to touch you anywhere but your arms and upper back"

If You Really Think Four Republican Senators Are in the KKK, You’re a Fool - "That’s all it takes to go on the Internet and accuse someone of being a Klansman? Well, in that case, Barack Obama must be a very prolific cheater, since his name and whitehouse.gov email appear no less than seven times in the newest Ashley Madison hack. It’s almost as though literally anybody can take someone’s public email address and sign them up for something online. And if I was a zealous Klansman, who would I sign up for email blasts? Why, my Senator, of course."

Why is hi-tech Japan using cassette tapes and faxes? - "This is a country that uses people to do the work of traffic lights and where big-name companies running 10-year-old software is the norm... Yoji Otokozawa, president of Tokyo-based IT consultants Interarrows, says Japan Inc. is poor in digital literacy because small businesses, not multinationals, rule the country... These SMEs are often conservative, if not downright Luddite, says Mr Otokozawa. "They usually use postal mail, or fax for their communications. We sometimes receive a fax, written by hand which means such firms don't even use word processing software like Word"... If such alleged behaviour is typical, it could explain Japanese firms' productivity crisis... "Japanese IT departments are remorselessly conservative and hate to connect their computers to the outside world. They fear data theft and hacking, which also makes them fear abroad"... Japan's non-manufacturing productivity, despite the long hours worked, is the worst in the OECD countries and roughly half that of the US."

Calais crisis: Truckers now arming themselves with CS gas and tasers because of migrants

Family escape attack by Calais migrants who launched metal pole at their car - "He reported the incident to French border officials who told him they were surprised as it was 'usually stones' hurtled at cars... 'If they know that this kind of thing happens all the time, why is it allowed to continue,' questioned Marius."

Immigrants 'have attacked and stabbed' British lorry drivers in Calais amid 'catastrophic' scenes at French port

Calais crisis: 6,000 migrants mobilising to storm UK within WEEKS experts warn - "Today the respected Freight Transport Association (FTA) industry body, which represents European hauliers, warned that attacks on lorries have risen sharply in recent weeks. Spokesman Donald Armour told Express.co.uk: "Because this is all serious organised crime - it's not really individuals anymore - you get the feeling the gang masters are organising this. "These criminals they are pretty savvy people, they are businessmen, and they are thinking 'we know this can't last forever'. "Sooner or later the port of Calais will be fenced off better than ever, and the Eurotunnel terminal too, and they are going to be pushing harder than ever and as fast as they can before the fencing is in place."

Oxford English Dictionary admits it used wrong sense for word 'literally' - "In 1876, Mark Twain used the word in this way in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. He wrote: ‘And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling in wealth.’ However, the oldest documented incorrect use of the word is in 1769 when the author Frances Brooke wrote, in The History of Emily Montague: ‘He is a fortunate man to be introduced to such a party of fine women at his arrival; it is literally to feed among the lilies.’ Miss McPherson said: ‘Our job is to describe the language people are using. The only reason this sense is included is because people are using it in this way. ‘Words have changed their meaning ever since the first word was uttered. Meat used to mean all food but now its sense has narrowed.’"

Who Said It: Batman or Balzac?

When His Project Was Canceled, an Unemployed Programmer Kept Sneaking Into Apple to Finish the Job

What evidence is there that the shift in the Singapore government's policy on mother tongue education in the 1980's was promulgated in anticipation of China's later rise as an economic power?

Gabriel Seah's answer to Singapore: What evidence is there that the shift in the Singapore government's policy on mother tongue education in the 1980's was promulgated in anticipation of China's later rise as an economic power? - Quora

Question comments: "There are claims in some of the answers and comments in the question that LKY's mother tongue education policy was promulgated in anticipation of China's economic rise. If my memory serves me right, the debate on language policy was one over identity politics and preserving cultural values, not economic pragmatism.

Acceptable evidence would be official speeches or government statements/reports justifying the shift in mother tongue education policy from the 1980's. Ex post facto policy justifications are not acceptable."

tl;dr - hardly

Long version:
To answer this question, we need to look at documents from the time of the launch of the Speak Mandarin Campaign.

The Speak Mandarin Campaign was launched on 7 September 1979 (Speak Mandarin Campaign).

According  to the Straits Times, in August 1979, Parliamentary Secretary (Culture)  Dr Ow Chin Hock gave two reasons for the Speak Mandarin Campaign (Goal tor common language among Chinese):

-  So Chinese in Singapore could communicate with Chinese speakers in  other countries. There was also this semi-cryptic line in the report:  "the change of political and economic situations in Asia will enhance  the importance of Mandarin". This probably referred to the rise of  China, but the cagey nature of the language is puzzling.
- So students wouldn't be as  burdened in "learning the two languages". Presumably this referred to  both Mandarin and a student's "dialect" (i.e. non-Mandarin Chinese  language). This being Singapore, I doubt that letting students learn  less was a priority - especially in the 1970s. So I am inclined to think  that this was just an excuse.

Another  reason given in this article was Mandarin being "conducive to the soul  of the nation and the people". This mystical line baffles me.

Yet  another justification given for the Speak Mandarin Campaign was "to preserve the fine cultural tradition of the Chinese" (Panel set up to promote Mandarin).

Oddly enough, there are not many mentions in the Hansard (aka the Official Reports - Parliamentary Debates - Page on parliament.gov.sg).  I only got 5 hits for "Speak Mandarin" for the 4th Parliament  (1977-1980). So it seems the Speak Mandarin Campaign was not a political  measure so much as an administrative one.

Above  all, what is evident is that the Speak Mandarin Campaign cannot be  looked at in isolation.

The Speak Mandarin Campaign was implemented because of the  lukewarm success of the Bilingual Policy, as summarised in 1979's Report  on the Ministry of Education 1978 (aka the Goh Report; summary:  http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/his...,  full report:  http://www.nas.gov.sg/archiveson...).

Young Chinese Singaporeans were not effectively bilingual, because they  did not speak either English or Mandarin (the 2 languages they were supposed to be bilingual in) at home. Furthermore, with industrialisation as well as the rise of English-medium schools, "mother tongues" like Mandarin were becoming less prestigious. The solution was to promote the use of Mandarin.

The question we need to answer, then, is if there is evidence that the Bilingual Policy was promulgated in anticipation of China's later rise as an economic power.

According to the Goh Report, the objective of the bilingual policy was, according to MOE at the time, "to build a cohesive multi-racial society" (page 51/112 of the report).  Unfortunately there isn't any indication of what this might mean or entail. And the Handard of the first Parliament (during which the Bilingual Policy was promulgated) doesn't talk about its aims.

Fortunately Patrick Ng (http://www.apu.ac.jp/rcaps/uploa...) elaborates that language policy enables the state's CMIO (Chinese, Malay, Indian, Other) classification, as each heterogenous ethnic community can be defined by one single language (i.e. if all ethnic Chinese speak Mandarin they can be treated alike). The policy also reduces the gap between the English- and vernacular-educated. In addition, one's mother tongue is supposed to be a cultural anchor against "excessive Westernization" and "deculturalization".

In short, improving links with China were an afterthought (at best) in the promulgation of the Speak Mandarin Policy.
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