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Friday, January 22, 2016

Links - 22nd January 2016

Singapore to Transform Unused Railway into Linear Park Spanning Entire Country

Anne's world Reader - Anne Frank - "Give and you shall receive, much more that you ever thought possible. Give and give again. Keep hoping, keep trying, keep giving! People who give will never be poor!
If you follow this advice, within a few generations, people will never have to feel sorry for poor little beggar children again, because there won't be any!
The world has plenty of room, riches, money and beauty. God has created enough for each and every one of us. Let us begin by dividing it more fairly."
"Fearing that he would empty out the entire treasury, his ministers denied him access to it. Ashoka then started giving away his own personal possessions. Finally, he was left with only one amala (myrobalan fruit), which too he gifted. Having given everything he owned to the Order, the king died peacefully" - A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century / Upinder Singh

What Led to the End of Kerala’s Matrilineal Society?

Chinese Art Collector Stirs Pot With Sip of Tea from $36-Million Cup - China Real Time Report - WSJ - "Shanghai-based art collector Liu Yiqian recently spent $36.3 million on a tiny porcelain cup with a humble chicken painted on its surface. But for many in China, the most shocking thing wasn’t the amount he paid, or the fact that he paid with an American Express card. No, it was the fact that Mr. Liu decided to celebrate his Ming-dynasty purchase by sipping some tea from it. The cup in question is one of China’s so-called “chicken cups,” which were forged in imperial kins and possess a particularly silky texture. Though fakes abound, only 19 genuine articles are known to exist. To art experts, they’re known as the “holy grail” of Chinese porcelains... Images of Mr. Liu sipping from the cup circulated over the Internet this weekend, sparking fast condemnation from Chinese observers online. “You think you can drink it and become immortal? Or that it will extend your life? In fact, isn’t it just a way to satisfy your vanity?” wrote one Weibo user. “Sigh, Chinese people are just like this,” opined another: “No people who are civilized would treat a cultural treasure like this. No wonder Chinese people are looked down on by other countries’ citizens.”... “Emperor Qianlong has used it, now I’ve used it,” said Mr. Liu of his chicken cup, referring to one of the Qing Dynasty’s most celebrated emperors. “I just wanted to see how it felt.” The cup, he added, “isn’t a commercial product appropriate for the masses.” Online, some said Mr. Liu should be left alone. “The money that people have strived to earn all their lives, they’re just spending in search for some happiness. What’s it got to do with you?”"

Sydney Brenner is never at a loss for words - ""The whole idea that science is conducted by people working alone in rooms and struggling with the forces of nature is absolutely ridiculous. It is a social activity of the highest sort. And so keeping up the conversation, doing experiments with words, is very important. I think that's how ideas can emerge. Most of what I say is rubbish, but amidst the kind of stream of unconsciousness, if I can coin a phrase, there is the odd idea that can be developed into something."

Large-scale Immigration: Its economic and demographic consequences for the UK - "'The liberal media are quick to denounce as xenophobia the claim that immigrants take jobs from local workers and push down their wages. This claim may be exaggerated, but it is not always false.' Rowthorn also demonstrates how rapid population growth due to high immigration will not deliver a higher standard of living: GDP would grow, but the impact on GDP per capita, if any, would be tiny. While many immigrants may make a modest fiscal contribution in the short-term, this is cancelled out by the enormous additional strain which is placed on infrastructure... 'If many of the immigrants fail to get jobs, or if they end up in low skill jobs or displace native workers, largescale immigration will have a negative impact on GDP per capita and on government finances. Thus, the impact could be positive or negative, but either way it is unlikely to be very large... the benefits could be achieved with as few as 50,000 immigrants net a year. 'A rate of net migration equal to 50,000 annually is almost as effective at rejuvenating the national population as a much higher rate of net migration. It does so with much less impact on population growth,' he says."

The Huguenots - Berlin.de - "Huguenots as immigrants to Brandenburg and Berlin began to arrive at the end of the seventeenth century. They came as Protestant religious fugitives (réfugiés) from Catholic France. In the year 1685, Frederick Williams “the Great Elector” granted this group refuge in Prussia through the Edict of Potsdam. Predominantly handworkers, merchants, farmers, and gardeners thereby immigrated. Altogether about 20,000 Huguenot réfugiés arrived. It is estimated that a fifth of all Berliners at the start of the eighteenth century were of Huguenot origin. As good skilled persons with urgently needed expertise were the Huguenots the highly-qualified migrants of the time. Not least of all did their presence also help to broaden the population."

MDA lifts ban on 240 publications ranging from communist material to adult interest content - "The affected publications include the anti-colonial Tamil periodical Dravida Nadu, which was banned in 1949; four communist titles including The Long March, a play banned in 1959; and the English-language magazine World Student News, banned in 1957. Also no longer gazetted are several adult magazines and books such as The World Of Sex. Fanny Hill, published in 1748 and considered one of the first erotic novels, was also taken off the list after being on it since 1966... On the titles which have been taken off the prohibited list, the MDA said that publishers who wish to sell them should check if the publications are in line with MDA content guidelines for imported publications."
Not prohibited but not necessarily able to be imported? How kafka-esque

Richard Dawkins says UK cinemas should screen the Lord's Prayer - "The Church of England has received unlikely backing from the biologist and prominent atheist Richard Dawkins after the UK’s three leading cinema chains refused to screen its advert featuring the Lord’s Prayer. The 60-second advert was due to be shown before Star Wars: the Force Awakens, released on 18 December, which would have guaranteed it a huge cinema audience in the run-up to Christmas. But the Odeon, Cineworld and Vue chains, which control 80% of screens around the country, have refused to allow it because of a policy not to allow political or religious advertising. The decision prompted an angry response from the church, which warned of a chilling effect on free speech. Many expressed support for its position including Dawkins, the evolutionary biologist best known for excoriating religions... Stephen Slack, the church’s chief legal adviser, warned banning the advert could “give rise to the possibility of legal proceedings” under the Equality Act which bans commercial organisations from refusing services on religious grounds"
Maybe they should've baked a cake instead

Richard Dawkins links Isis child who beheaded man and 'clock boy' Ahmed Mohamed - "‘“But he’s only a kid.’ Yes, a ‘kid’ old enough to sue for $15m those whom he hoaxed,” tweeted Dawkins. In the tweet he linked to an International Business Times report on a video posted to YouTube that appears to show a child of about 10 being forced by Isis fighters to decapitate a Syrian regime army officer. Referring to the video he asked: “And how old is this ‘kid’?”... “Just fed up with people saying of the click [sic] hoax boy, ‘He’s only a kid’, as though that means he can’t be criticised”... Dawkins appeared to grow frustrated by the repeated requests for clarification,likening it to the time his remarks about Mein Kampf were misinterpreted by “numpties”. “I suppose I should by now have got the measure of the IQ to be found on Twitter”"

Triple A Video Games Could Learn A Lot About Feminism From Porn Games - "the game is sexually empowering to Elizabeth mechanically. She guides the action. She narrates and dictates the scene. The player’s point of view comes from an unknown man or transwoman — "bio cock" is a slang term for the penis of a transwoman who hasn't had sex-reassignment surgery — lying prone with Elizabeth on top. You don’t even properly control Elizabeth. You can only make the scene go forward or backwards. What she does to the player is entirely her own choice, which is a refreshing break from using sex workers as health items and stat boosts in Triple A games. Especially since the final payoff is Elizabeth having an orgasm so intense it opens a portal to another world... Gaming has come far in how it treats women. Recent releases, like the new Assassin’s Creed, show a marked and directed improvement in things like how to dress female protagonists, avoiding the use of gendered threats and slurs from enemies, and diversifying the type of women you see on the screen in a healthy way. This is fantastic, and well done to all the developers taking heed of the feminist conversation over the past several years."
Too bad for anti-porn feminists; since games are about escaping reality I guess it's okay to pretend that female characters won't get gender-specific slurs hurled at them

Hazing: Research & Theory - "Cognitive dissonance: when an individual holds two opposing beliefs in tension, he or she experiences tension which may be resolved by changing one of the views. When people who view themselves as smart, reasonable people participate in degrading experiences, they may look back and minimize the extent that they experienced degradation. Otherwise they would be left saying to themselves, "I'm a smart person and I joined a group that degraded me," which would create tension. Saying to oneself, “It wasn't that bad,” creates less tension. As a result, individuals in a group that is hazed may eventually feel positively about the group that subjected them to the experience...
Shared coping: when individuals go through a highly stressful experience together (e.g., a natural disaster, a battle), they may feel closer to each other as a result. Enduring hazing together may make a group feel more unity, but as with hurricanes, the experience may yield damage as well as benefits...
Cycles of abuse: individuals who are hazed may be at greater risk of hazing others because of a displaced desire for revenge. As one fraternity pledge said immediately after being hazed intensely, "I can't wait to do this to the pledges next year." In addition, being hazed involves a learning process by which members model for new members the accepted methods for initiation.
Identification with the aggressor: intensive hazing can involve complex strategies to “break down” individuals and “remold” them to conform to the belief structures of the group. The group may isolate new members and expose them to repeated experiences designed to conform the new member's beliefs to those of the group. They may be told that the group is special and superior, and that attainment of this status is worth whatever must be endured to achieve it. Eventually, new members may desire to become like the individuals who abuse them...
Need for esteem: self-esteem is bolstered by a sense of accomplishment and acceptance by others. "Surviving" hazing may contribute to a sense of achievement and garner the "respect" of group members, both of which can enhance individuals' esteem. Those who haze may enhance their own sense of esteem and heroism by maintaining membership in a group that "weeds out the weak." Television shows such as Survivor, The Weakest Link, The Apprentice ("You're fired!"), and My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss are cultural reflections of an underlying need to earn esteem.
Expression of power: hazing may gratify individuals' desires for a sense of power and control. As one Cornell sorority sister stated, "There is no need to subject girls to degrading acts; it is selfish and only provided the elder girls with a sense of power." Some individuals acknowledge enjoying exerting power over others and even seeing others experience pain.
Need for intimacy: many members of groups that haze cite closeness as a goal of hazing. Among males, however, cultural definitions of masculinity tend to undermine overt attempts at intimacy (e.g., talking about one's feelings). Hazing activities may thus be designed to meet intimacy needs without violating cultural norms. For example, being intoxicated makes it more acceptable to share one's feelings (e.g., "I love you, man!"). Men who feel uncomfortable hugging each other may nonetheless perpetuate naked "elephant walks" in which new members hold onto each others hands or genitals in what some would describe as a homoerotic ritual."
Or: how boot camp results in Stockholm Syndrome

Even Pope Francis is Down With Science - "A recent Pope, John Paul II, is quoted in saying “science can purify religion from error and superstition; molecular biologists have probed the structure of living material, showing the unity of nature. With this in mind, simple neutrality is no longer acceptable. Keeping religion and science exclusive from one another fosters a fragmented view of the world.”"

California shooters radicalised for quite some time: FBI - "Farook's family have said they were at a loss to explain the couple's rampage and have added that though both were devout Muslims, there was no indication they had become radicalised... In an interview with the Italian daily La Stampa, however, Farook's father said his son approved of the ideas of the ISIS group and was fixated on Israel. "He said he agreed with (ISIS chief Abu Bakr) al-Baghdadi's ideas for creating the Islamic State, and he was obsessed by Israel," La Stampa quoted the father of the shooter, also named Syed Farook, as saying. "I always used to say to him, 'Be calm, patience, in two years' time Israel will no longer exist'," he said, in remarks reported in Italian."
Looks like we can see where the radicalisation started

Being "Malay" in Pre-Modern Singapore

"This chapter sets the stage by discussing places with comparable characteristics to Singapore, thus allowing us to form some conjectures regarding the probable composition of Singapore's population in 1350 and its ethnic diversity. We can reconstruct with some degree of confidence a picture of how various groups came to Singapore, and how they perceived came from different origins. Next. we can imagine how people here saw their place in an international context. They were certainly concerned about relations with Java, Sumatra, Vietnam, Siam. South Asia, and China. The conclusion of‘ these deliberations is that some relationships and identities were surprisingly similar to contemporary concepts of Singaporeans as people with both local and global points of reference.

Simple words like “identity” set off fierce debates among sociologists and anthropologists. Ideas about ethnicity and culture were very different in the previous centuries. lt is inadmissible to project modern definitions of ethnicity 700 years into the past, and highly unlikely that all criteria used today to determine who belongs to what group would have been meaningful to people then. The concept that natal or birth community confers permanent ethnic identity, which some people still believe today, has not always been taken for granted in the past? Robert Hefner proposed the term “permeable ethnicity” to refer to the ease with which people in the Straits of Melaka and elsewhere in Southeast Asia could switch ethnic identification. A.C. Milner went further, arguing that “it may be misleading to read the concept of 'ethnicity' in any form back into the precolonial archipelago world. To speak of civilisational communities or groupings may be more helpful. A wide range of group identities and affiliations was available for early Southeast Asians to choose voluntarily; many more ethnic groups existed in the past than today, and this fragmentation was associated with a highly variegated range of symbols of group membership.

It might be tempting to see Singapore’s 14th-century inhabitants as Malay, but that would be misleading. During the 19th and 20th centuries, the terms "Malayu", "Melayu" and “Malay" were increasingly used as a general term to refer to people domiciled in the Straits area. lt is also true that in the 14th century, a Sumatran dynasty established itself first in Singapore, and moved to Melaka around 1400, where it became the key reference point for “Malay" culture and genealogy. The term "Malay" has experienced many shirts of meaning in the relatively brief time since Raffles came to Singapore. In the 18th century, Malay identity underwent significant changes due to the breakup of Melaka's successor kingdom, Johor and the immigration of people from other parts of the archipelago to the Straits of Melaka. For example, the inhabitants of‘ Siak, east Sumatra, who formerly considered themselves Minangkabau, may have negotiated the meaning of being Malay in order to claim the mantle of Johor’s successor.

Leonard Andaya summarises contemporary thoughts on the possible origins of the term “Melayu". The conclusion is that we cannot equate Singapore's indigenous population of the 14th century with the identity today glossed as Malay. The customs, language, and religion which are badges of‘ membership in that group today were not linked in the same way in the 14th century. The people of Singapore, as the Malay Annals (Sejarah Melayu in Malay) make clear, were not then Muslim; and neither was the dynasty which a Sumatran noble moved from Palembang to Singapore. Their religious orientation will be discussed below...

If we discard the term "Malay", we are placed in a quandary, for we need some word to describe the majority (and minority) indigenous populations of Singapore in the 1300s. Archaeology provides useful criteria by which to define the geographical extent of semi-hereditary, semi- voluntary sociocultural units to which ancient Singaporeans belonged. Pottery made in 14th-century Singapore belongs to a type found at various sites along the entire Straits of Melaka, from south Thailand, Pengkalan Bujang, Kedah, Malaysia and Kota Cina, north Sumatra, at one extreme, to western Java (Banten Girang); it also appears in western Borneo (Tanjong Kubur. Sarawak) and at Kota Batu, Brunei, at the other. This type of pottery has been called Bau Malay. It began to be made around the sixth century, and became the favoured style over this large area.

The distribution of a common pottery style shows a shared consumer culture, and strongly suggests (but of course does not conclusively prove) the existence of a shared identity in the maritime realm of Southeast Asia. Pottery is still used to create and reinforce group identities and boundaries. It does not automatically indicate the language spoken by the makers, however, since pottery can be traded across ethno—linguistic boundaries, and styles from one group of porters can influence those of another. Burmese earthenware pottery, for example, resembles Bau—Malay of the Melaka Straits—Riau—Borneo region, but no ethnic relationship between these two groups is likely. This similarity is probably due to the fact that this pottery style had a single origin in prehistoric southern China and was subsequently adopted by other groups.

Another way of identifying shared identity is by the terms outsiders use to describe a group. Outsiders have long used terms such as “Malayu" or “Melayu" (the predecessor to today's Malay) to refer to groups of people who looked the same to them, but who recognised important degrees of difference among themselves. The Batak of north Sumatra, while sharing important similarities in the eyes of non—Batak, prefer to identify themselves by localised group names such as Karo, Mandeling, Dairi, and Toba. These different points of view are sometimes termed emic (internally used linguistic terms or reference points) and etic (externally used linguistic reference points)...

The inescapable conclusion... is that the word "Malayu" would not do justice to the complex composition of the indigenous population of 14th-century Singapore; the island's inhabitants probably did not refer to themselves with this term, the meaning of which has since evolved through several stages: first into a more inclusive sense, and later into a means of including some, while excluding others.

Wang Dayuan, a Chinese trader and would-be member of the literati class, wrote a text entitled Dao yi zhi lue (Description of the Barbarians of the Isles; hereafter abbreviated as Barbarians of the Isles), published in 1349. He was born around 1311 in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, which became a prosperous port during the Song Dynasty. Nanchang may have been a centre of porcelain trade in Wang's day; it is near the valley of Jingdezhen, a major pottery—producing centre. ln a postscript to his text, Wang says that he "attached to a boat when I was young to go for sea—travel", probably meaning that he booked space for himself and his goods. He made two voyages, one between 1330—1334, the other from 1337—1339. Unfortunately, we know almost nothing else about Wang, including his reasons for becoming the first Chinese sea trader to write ahout his experiences. His book is unique, standing outside standard Chinese literary genres...

Barbarians of the Isles contains a statement which is of great significance for the interpretation of 14th-century Singapore society. Rockhill translated this passage as: “Men and women live mixed up among the Chinese". Wheatley rendered it as: “The natives and the Chinese dwell side by side". Wade provides the literal translation as follows: "The Prime Minister [xiangfu] instructs both men and women to live in harmony with the Chinese people“, or “Men annd women reside beside Chinese people". In his entire account, Wang mentions only two overseas Chinese communities. One of these was not important; it consisted of some Chinese aboard ships of the Yuan fleet sent to attack in 1292 who fell ill, and were left behind on Goulan Shan (possibly Gelam Island, off west Borneo). In Wang's day, 40 years later, “over 100” of the original men and their descendants “live mixed up with the native families". Whereas the men on Goulan Shan seem to have been in the process of assimilation to a Bornean identity, the overseas Chinese in Longyamen appear to have formed a dynamic mercantile community, the inhabitants of which maintained Chinese identity...

Although one cannot be entirely sure what Wang was talking about, it seems clear that he was recording the existence of a settled overseas Chinese community in the Temasik region. If so, this is the first written reference to such a community, and therefore, is of major historical significance...

It seems then very likely that early 14th-century Singapore had one of the first settled populations of Chinese in Southeast Asia, and that Singapore had unusually close links to China in the 14th century. During the early 15th century, the first instinct of the Yongle emperor of the Ming Dynasty was to treat all overseas Chinese as traitors and unfilial to their ancestors (having neglected their graves), and he considered wiping them out. Palembang, which had become a miniature Chinese kingdom, was attacked and thousands were killed. It was then decided to appoint a special Pacification Commissioner (xuan wei si) from the surviving Chinese community. For a brief period between 1405 and 1433, before China turned inwards, Palembang and Melaka occupied special statuses in China's official relations with Southeast Asia."

--- Temasik to Singapura: Singapore in the 14th to 15th Centuries / John Miksic in Singapore from Temasek to the 21st Century: Reinventing the Global City

If the "native" people in Temasek in the 14th century weren't Malay, and Chinese have been in Singapore since that period, does it make sense to say that the Malays are the natives of Singapore?

If all Malays must be Muslim (as per the Malaysian Constitution), does it mean that before Islam came to Southeast Asia there were no Malays?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Delusions of Grandeur of Sangeetha Thanapal

My attention was drawn to a Twitter flamewar between SJW favourite Sangeetha Thanapal (Geetha (@fallenvirgo)) and Desdemona (@The_railroad_)

Some of the claims made in that exchange were very... interesting.

Take this for example:

@fallenvirgo: "YOU HAVE ZERO FOLLOWERS. I have thousands. And u think u can play on my league? You're so entertaining."

A simple check at the top reveals:

"Followers: 200"

Further down:

Geetha: "I'm famous, have an MA, and academics want me to talk, and filmmakers wanna make films abt me. Who are you again?"

I'm going to bet that most people have never heard of her...

On the other hand, I'm really looking forward to films about her.

@fallenvirgo: "this is so funny! Yeah man, I'm only in the ST, only being cited by academics, only loved by thousands."

Ah, more claims we can do a fact check about!

Searching the Straits Times website for "Sangeetha Thanapal", 5 results turn up, belonging to 3 articles. In order,

Law and Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam to make police report over 'inaccurate and seditious' Facebook post
Activist apologises to minister for remarks
The race issue: How far has Singapore come?

Now, if I wanted to be in the Straits Times I could always rob a bank, but I wouldn't put that on my CV, and I certainly wouldn't put that on Twitter.

Only 1 of the search results is for something unrelated to being sued by K. Shanmugam, and that is only a short one-paragraph mention.

As for the bit about being cited by academics, there is only one search result on Google Scholar and it turns out to be a book review.

Outside of Google Scholar there is The double captivity of ‘Chinese privilege’, but then that is a *negative* citation.

As for being loved by thousands... the least we can say about that is that they're not on Twitter.


Does retweeting misandristic tweets mean you are a misandrist?

Geetha Retweeted Father ‏@YeoshinLourdes: "Men and women are not equals. Men have never been, will never be, desirable, compelling, or useful in the way women have always been. Ever."
(This is "a co-creator of the Twitter hashtag #GiveYourMoneyToWomen")

Other gems:

"Dump all men who aren't paying. Cease all dealings w men who don't benefit you upfront. Starve em out; watch the show. #GiveYourMoneyToWomen"

"Starve them out. Let low-utility men die a slow, tortuous death. Enjoy justice. Others will rise to the occasion to become assets to women."

Links - 21st January 2016

Domino’s thinks it can sell pizza—with pineapple!—to Italians - Quartz - "“Innovative” ingredients and reasonable prices—a simple margherita from Domino’s is €5 (about $5.60), which is about average—aren’t, however, the only way the company (which right now only has a single outlet in Milan) plans to take over the country. Something else Domino’s is bringing to Italy is “the innovative technology that will allow customers to order online, too,” Alessandro Lazzaroni, the franchise’s partner in Italy, told Il Sole 24 Ore"

How Weird Government Regulations Led To Portland's Vegan Strip Club - "Oregon has a regulatory environment that made the emergence of a vegan strip club essentially inevitable. It's unusually easy to open a strip club. But if you want a liquor license, you have to serve food... Fortunately for Johnny, Oregon has some of the country's loosest regulations on strip clubs. In most states, municipalities have the power to limit where strip clubs can operate and what kind of shows they can offer. But in Oregon, you can open a strip club in most any commercially zoned location, featuring most any kind of show. Or you can take your existing restaurant, install a stage, and start having women take their clothes off."

Portland Police arrest 35 in Black Friday vegan strip club riot - "Casa Diablo, billed as the world’s first vegan strip club, held its first ever Black Friday sale Nov. 28, and was clearly unprepared for the onslaught of excited customers who braved the rain for hours for the club’s 5 a.m. opening. Patrons of the Northwest Portland establishment got into a brawl over 59¢ a minute lap dances, despite the club’s attempt to be prepared by having 24 dancers available that morning."

How The New York Times whitewashes Palestinian terror - "This week began as the last one ended — with more Palestinian stabbing attacks against Israeli Jews, and more dead. And yet, this information might surprise readers of The New York Times... Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recently called on his people to protect Jerusalem holy sites from the “filthy feet” of Israeli Jews, and terrorists have heeded the call, taking to the streets to thrust knives into any Israeli they encounter — other recent stabbing victims include an 80-year-old woman and a 13-year-old boy on a bike. But even this incitement, and even this terror, is no match for the creativity of The New York Times. When a Palestinian assailant was caught on film last month wielding a knife and rushing at Israelis, before quickly being neutralized by Israeli security personnel, Times reporters simply avoided telling readers about the video. And instead of mentioning this incriminating piece of evidence, they repeatedly cited false Palestinian allegations that Israelis planted the knife next to the “innocent” attacker. Creatively, and unethically, they turned an empirical fact into an unknowable case of police vs. “witness.”... Similarly, after Palestinians stoned a Jewish car, resulting in the death of the driver, a reporter insisted they weren’t attacking the Israeli but merely pelting “the road he was driving on.” The death, reporters insisted, was an “accident.”"

Declining Student Resilience: A Serious Problem for Colleges - "emergency calls to Counseling had more than doubled over the past five years. Students are increasingly seeking help for, and apparently having emotional crises over, problems of everyday life. Recent examples mentioned included a student who felt traumatized because her roommate had called her a “bitch” and two students who had sought counseling because they had seen a mouse in their off-campus apartment. The latter two also called the police, who kindly arrived and set a mousetrap for them. Faculty at the meetings noted that students’ emotional fragility has become a serious problem when it comes to grading. Some said they had grown afraid to give low grades for poor performance, because of the subsequent emotional crises they would have to deal with in their offices... Reinforcing the claim that this is a nationwide problem, the Chronicle of Higher Education recently ran an article by Robin Wilson entitled, “An Epidemic of Anguish: Overwhelmed by Demand for Mental-Health Care, Colleges Face Conflicts in Choosing How to Respond" (Aug. 31, 2015)... I have described the dramatic decline, over the past few decades, in children’s opportunities to play, explore, and pursue their own interests away from adults. Among the consequences, I have argued, are well-documented increases in anxiety and depression, and decreases in the sense of control of their own lives. We have raised a generation of young people who have not been given the opportunity to learn how to solve their own problems. They have not been given the opportunity to get into trouble and find their own way out, to experience failure and realize they can survive it, to be called bad names by others and learn how to respond without adult intervention. So now, here’s what we have: Young people,18 years and older, going to college still unable or unwilling to take responsibility for themselves, still feeling that if a problem arises they need an adult to solve it."
No wonder they want their "safe spaces", are so easily "triggered" and experience so much "trauma"

Helicopter Parenting & College Students’ Increased Neediness - "Those students who reported the most helicopter parenting scored lowest on the self-efficacy scale and also gave the least adaptive responses to the workplace scenarios. For example, in response to the critical performance review from an employer they were less likely than the others to say that they would listen to the criticism and try to improve (which researchers scored as an adaptive response), and they were more likely to say that they would quit the job, explain to the employer why the rating was unfair, or ask a parent to call the manager on their behalf (which researchers scored as maladaptive responses)... students who had the most controlling and intrusive parents—as assessed by the parents' as well as by the students' reports of parenting style—manifested the lowest scores on the self-efficacy scale and the highest scores on the entitlement scale. In further studies using a similar design, Segrin and his colleagues (2013, 2015) found that over-intrusive, over-controlling, over-protective parenting correlated significantly with students’ higher levels of narcissism and reduced ability to cope emotionally with setbacks. Other, similar questionnaire studies have revealed significant correlations of such over-parenting with college students’ reduced feelings of competency, greater depression, reduced satisfaction with life, greater alienation from peers, greater likelihood of being medicated for anxiety or depression, and greater use of pain medicines for purposes other than reducing pain... longitudinal research indicates that over-controlling parenting that begins early in a child’s life predicts psychological difficulties later on. For example, in one classic study, researchers assessed parents of 3- and 4-year-olds for the degree of freedom they allowed their little ones. They then assessed the children for various characteristics when they were in 6th and 9th grade (Harrington et al., 1987). The result was that those children who had been allowed the most freedom early on showed the most evidence of creativity, curiosity, initiative, confidence, and self-reliance in their teenage years, and those who had been allowed the least freedom showed the least of these qualities."

The Decline of Play and Rise in Children's Mental Disorders - "Today, by at least some estimates, five to eight times as many high school and college students meet the criteria for diagnosis of major depression and/or anxiety disorder as was true half a century or more ago. This increased psychopathology is not the result of changed diagnostic criteria; it holds even when the measures and criteria are constant... The increased psychopathology seems to have nothing to do with realistic dangers and uncertainties in the larger world. The changes do not correlate with economic cycles, wars, or any of the other kinds of world events that people often talk about as affecting children's mental states. Rates of anxiety and depression among children and adolescents were far lower during the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, and the turbulent 1960s and early ‘70s than they are today. The changes seem to have much more to do with the way young people view the world than with the way the world actually is... By depriving children of opportunities to play on their own, away from direct adult supervision and control, we are depriving them of opportunities to learn how to take control of their own lives. We may think we are protecting them, but in fact we are diminishing their joy, diminishing their sense of self-control, preventing them from discovering and exploring the endeavors they would most love, and increasing the odds that they will suffer from anxiety, depression, and other disorders.

'Woman' pleads guilty to sexually assaulting underage girl with sex toy - "In a first-of-its-kind case in Singapore, a woman has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting an underage girl. The catch: Zunika Ahmad had been living as an Indonesian man and has two wives.Zunika, 39, pleaded guilty to seven charges on Monday (Dec 7), including four charges for using a sex toy to sexually assault her 13-year-old neighbour... It was only after her arrest and remand at Changi Women's Prison that Zunika was diagnosed with gender dysphoria, or "a strong desire to be male". Zunika had assumed "a role as a male to the extent of obtaining a fictitious identity and being married to females"... Zunika, who looks like a man and has a deep voice, presented herself as an Indonesian man to the victim and her family. Zunika's wives were also under the impression that they were married to an Indonesian man. In fact, her first wife became pregnant after having an affair, but told Zunika the baby was hers. As she wanted to have a family, and was unwilling to reveal her true identity, Zunika went along with the lie... Ms Nair told the court that Zunika intends to undergo surgery after serving her sentence, and continue living with her wives and daughter, who have come to terms with her transsexualism. Deputy Public Prosecutor John Lu said the case is "so unique, I can't find a parallel for it"... Zunika is also facing four charges for using a forged Indonesian passport, one charge under the Registry of Births and Deaths Act for registering herself as the father of her first wife's daughter and one charge for slapping the victim in March 2014"
If you can cane your kids, why can't you slap others'?

BBC News - Blogger Clementine Ford received death and rape threats... - "Why do trolls go after feminists?"
"Bad headline, that. Might want to mention her stance on "Kill all men" for a start."
Using feminist apologist logic, she is not a feminist since she said "Kill all men". So either way the BBC screwed up

Clarkson University Undergrads Research Link Between Hauntings & Indoor Air Quality - "human experiences reported in many hauntings are similar to mental or neurological symptoms reported by some individuals exposed to toxic molds. It is known that some fungi, such as rye ergot fungus, may cause severe psychosis in humans."

Researchers isolate the ‘human smell of death’ - "She set up other jars with pig, mouce, mole, rabbit, turtle, frog, sturgeon, or bird remains. Pig remains in particular have often been used in past decomposition studies because of their similarities to human bodies (which are often hard to come by): They have the same microbes in their guts, the same percentage of body fat, and similar hair as people. But it was not clear whether the decomposition process was the same because the two species had never been studied under identical conditions. Rosier identified the compounds in the collected gases and compared them among species. Over 6 months, she found 452 organic compounds. At first, sulfur-containing compounds seemed to distinguish the different species, but they were not unique to humans or even present in all humans. Further, they disappeared over time. Compounds called esters, a big component of animal fat, looked more promising. Ultimately, eight compounds distinguished pig and human remains from those of other animals, and five esters separated pigs from humans"

The rise of liberal intolerance in America - FT.com - "Far from outgrowing race, the PC movement is entrenching it. Princeton students this month occupied the university president’s office demanding the name Woodrow Wilson — America’s 28th president and former head of Princeton — be scrubbed from campus. That included the prestigious Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy and International Affairs, residential halls and a mural of him in the dining hall. Protesters also demanded “cultural competency training” for faculty members and the introduction of mandatory courses on marginalised peoples. The case against Wilson is simple. He reintroduced segregation into the federal workforce. The case in his favour is that he is an important historic figure. He was also author of the Treaty of Versailles. Once you start eliminating names, it is a journey without end. Logic would demand the renaming of Washington, since America’s first president owned slaves. Others, such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, were guiltier. Should they be judged solely on that? Winston Churchill was an unabashed imperialist. Yet history judges him kindly for standing up to Nazism. What about Franklin Roosevelt? America’s 32nd president did not lift a finger to advance civil rights. He also interned 120,000 Japanese-Americans in the second world war. There is no such thing as an uncomplicated historic figure... The goal is to eliminate prejudice from the mind. Yet it can have the perverse effect of heightening awareness of race. There is a boom on America’s campuses — and beyond — of what one critic has dubbed the “race therapy complex”. University faculties are bulging with multicultural guidance counsellors, diversity officers and those whose task it is to provide training in racial etiquette. Their job is to detect racial insensitivity. Naturally, some find it where it does not exist. The more such positions are created, the greater the vested interests behind it. As Upton Sinclair said: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it”... Anyone with ambition in US public life has long since learnt the value of self-censorship. A word out of context can ruin your chances of being confirmed by the US Senate. Risk-taking is penalised. Blandness is key to career advancement. Little wonder large swaths of the American public have lost faith in their leaders’ integrity. When a politician speaks, the effect is too often chloroformic. The vacuum that spontaneity once occupied is wide open for others to fill. Next time you wonder why a demagogue like Donald Trump is doing so well, ask why there is such high return to his plain spokenness. Could it be because it is being rooted out of public life?"

Who needs the Stasi when common citizens root out thoughtcrime?

Original Post by Zulfikar Shariff:

"When the PAP government implemented the undeclared policy of banning Malays from National Service between 1967-1977 and partially until 1984… it led to Malay youths not being able to gain employment or enroll in educational courses for about 10 years each.

This racist undeclared policy caused terrible damage to the Malay community that still affect us today.

The ban did not just affect these youth’s economic mobility. Because they were not able to study or work due to the ban, these youths were left in limbo and took up destructive habits.

While today drugs addiction is a major problem for the community, research shows that this habit started only during the period when these youths were forced to be idle.

Prior to the 1970s, the Malays did not have a problem with drugs. Instead, drugs (especially opium) were mainly the Chinese community’s problem.

According to Count-van Manen,

"In 1968, the Singapore Commissioner of Police reported 8,000 opium addicts. In addition, there are 2,000 addicts on morphine and 1,500 on ganja.

The habit of opium smoking once reached that of 'almost a social custom' of hospitality, ritual, and elaborate equipment associated with wealth and status of the Chinese male...

Indian hemp (akin to marijuana) is reported to be used primarily by the Indian (often of low socioeconomic status) segment of the population and, to a lesser degree, by the Malay. Officials report surprisingly little use of marijuana or heroin. Considering that other elements of Western culture have been imported, they are at a loss to explain this phenomenon. Possibly the association of opium use with high socioeconomic status of the Chinese and of marijuana with the relatively low status of many Indians helps to account for this lag."

The main drug abusers were Chinese (opium) and Indian (marijuana).

But when the PAP forced Malay youths into idleness and stopped them from work and study for 10 years, drug addiction began to grow in the community.

According to Tania Li,

"Since Malays were not officially exempted from National Service, Malay youths were unable to obtain apprenticeships or regular jobs, and many were forced into an extended limbo period of about ten years...

Malay organizations protested against this policy, as it was felt that the irregular life-style forced upon these youths was in part responsible for the high percentage of Malay youths who became involved in heroin drug abuse during the late 1970s."

While these youths and the community need to accept some responsibility for their addiction, the PAP should shoulder a major part of the blame too.

The PAP’s racism changed what was originally a problem for the Chinese and Indian communities to become a Malay community problem.

Their racism not only devastated the community’s economic standing but also caused terrible grief to these youths, their families and the community.


Manen, Gloria Count-Van. "A Deviant Case of Deviance: Singapore." Law and Society Review (1971): 389-406.

Li, Tania M. Introduction to Malays in Singapore: Culture. Economy and Ideology. Oxford University Press, 1989."


A: I'm more concerned if this post is done by an extremist to provoke social disharmony in Singapore we tried so hard to build, by trying to dig past history where difficult decisions have to be made to ensure our nation survival.

E: :'‑(
This racial subject is very sensitive and should not be discussed here.

A: E, agree but at least this is a closed group. Unlike the original post which is in the public and getting shared all over the internet to provoke social disharmony despite the author has already left Singapore. What's his objective I wonder.

Me: Why the assumption that someone who has criticisms has evil intent?

B: A, glad you agree. There are many mischief makers around and those who start trouble( like the author ) and runs away. Racial harmony is critical to Singapore's survival. We cannot risk our fragile race relationship by online discussion among people some of whom have little knowledge of our racial history but also ready to latch on to whatever snippets have been posted as the truth. There are more pressing and issues that can be fruitfully discussed that are beneficial to most and without the racial implication.

C: So we should just never talk about anyone's experiences eh. Even though they're still alive what they went through is irrelevant. Gotcha.

B: Did I make such a statement ?

Me: Basically you're condemning those who say inconvenient things

D: Agree with Gabriel. Whether it's snippets of information (or misinformation) or first hand experience of racism, to progress as a cohesive society - after 50 years of independence - we need to begin to discuss our past openly.

A: Food for thoughts: Government looking at new steps to protect social harmony: Shanmugam, Politics News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Me: Yay. More repressive measures incoming.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Links - 20th January 2016

1,700-Year-Old Roman Mosaic Discovered During City Sewer Construction Project - "The extensive and detailed mural is thought to have served as the living room floor in a villa of a luxurious and affluent neighbourhood during the Roman and Byzantine periods. Initially, a Northern section of the complex was uncovered in the 90’s within ruins of the Israeli central city of Lod. Dubbed the Lod Mosaic and exhibited worldwide, the ancient piece drew a lot of attention to the area, with its bizarre discovery story—the mosaics were found as construction workers began to upgrade the sewer system in the city. Now, during construction of a visitor section for the first section, more and more ancient treasures are being revealed."

Why Do Some People Find Deepak Chopra Quotes Deep And Not Dung? - "In what may well be the first-ever paper to evaluate susceptibility to pseudo-profound BS, Gordon Pennycook and colleagues have found that people who are more susceptible to BS score lower for verbal and fluid intelligence, are more prone to “conspiratorial ideation,” and more likely to “endorse complementary and alternative medicine.” Their paper, “On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit,” was published in November in the journal Judgment and Decision Making... the authors conducted a series of studies in which they presented participants with sentences that had recognizable English syntax but were simply a series of randomly organized buzzwords. Examples of these pseudo-profound statements include “Hidden meaning transforms unparalleled abstract beauty,” a totally meaningless sentence that appears to be profound because it uses buzzwords like “hidden” and “transforms” and “abstract” and “beauty.” Indeed, rearranging the same words can yield a similarly pseudo-profound statement: “Abstract meaning transforms unparalleled hidden beauty.” For real-world examples, the authors turned to Twitter, which they describe as “particularly conducive to the promulgation” of BS because of its 140-character limit. As their example of choice, they sought out Deepak Chopra’s tweets, for reasons that should be obvious. If they aren’t, here’s a sample Chopra tweet: “Attention and intention are the mechanics of manifestation.” What they left out of the quote is the hashtag Chopra added: “#cosmicconsciousness.” Reactions to the tweet were mixed... The authors also draw an interesting distinction between types of open-mindedness, one that might explain why people who are on the same side of the aisle politically can have very different responses to pseudoscience. Pennycook and colleagues contrast reflexive or uncritical open-mindedness, in which a person is accepting of information but doesn’t pause to evaluate inherent conflicts or other features, and reflective or active open-mindedness, in which a person seeks information for the purpose of critical thinking... The emerging picture is that people have divergent psychological profiles that make them more or less likely to believe in certain phenomena, buy into conspiracy theories, embrace the language and promises of alternative medicine over conventional medicine, and find meaning in a meaningless series of profound-sounding words."
Addendum: Stupid people like mindless bullshit and conspiracy theories

Baroque Violinist Gets Off Without Vibrator - "“Instead of applying modern vibrato to my instrument, I’ve been using it between my legs,” said Müller, pressing her left index finger into her right palm and wiggling it gently to demonstrate the procedure. “If I just close my eyes and imagine I’m Anne-Sophie Mutter playing the Brahms Violin Concerto, I can achieve climax almost instantly.” For Müller, the shift is part of a broader mission to transform all facets of her daily life according to seventeenth century European customs. In addition to giving up electricity, she plans to dress herself exclusively in petticoats and bodices, and restrict her diet to simple stews made of organic root vegetables, potatoes, and sauerkraut."

It's official: men are better at assembling flat-pack furniture than women - "Research conducted at the Arctic University of Norway has shown that women, with or without the instructions, could not compete with their male counterparts at assembling flat-pack furniture under pressure... In 2008 Petra Hesser – then head of flat-pack at IKEA and now the Swedish company's Global Human Resources Manager – caused a stir for claiming that female patience and logic meant women won in the DIY stakes. "Men never look at the directions and have the most problems with construction because they always think they can do it," she said at the time. "The woman first sorts the parts in an orderly way. Men throw them in a pile and then something goes missing. Tests have shown this to be true." The new research, in part motivated by Hesser's comments, put paid to her theory by concluding that not only were men quicker than women at the assembly process, but they're also more accurate too. On average the men (rated from 1-10 with 10 representing a perfect trolley) scored 8.9 with instructions and 7.6 without, while women lagged at 7.5 and 5.7 respectively."

Sex charge diplomat Muhammad Rizalman: I believe in black magic but I've never defecated outside woman's house - "He also told a psychiatrist he believed a superior officer had put a spell on him. That officer had an uncle who was a shaman.
"Do you know of a spell that you can put on a woman to make her fall in love with you by defecating outside her house?" Mr Burston asked.
"I don't know because I've never practiced it," Rizalman said.
"The reason that you took off your belt and lowered your trousers and underpants outside this young woman's front door, on the patio by her front door, was more about black magic than having to go to the toilet in an emergency?"
Rizalman was asked about an assessment report in June last year, which said there was information about Rizalman's "increased interest towards women".
"You went to a place called Mermaids in Wellington twice when you felt under pressure," Mr Burston said.
"Yes," Rizalman replied.
"The women were taking their clothes off?"
"Only their outer clothes."
"The women were topless?"
"Were you interested in looking at the attractive women in the strip club?"
"Why did you go to the strip club?"
"To listen to music and release tension"...
Rizalman said today he was getting signals from the way she smiled at him. But Ms Billingsley had not invited him back to her place.
"Not from her speech but from her mannerisms and the way she smiled and the way she behaved" led Rizalman to believe he was invited back to Ms Billingsley's.
"In Malaysian custom, if a woman smiles at a man it is deemed that they are happy to know that person."
"So that's an invitation to follow them home is it?" Mr Burston asked.
"It is an invitation to follow." It wouldn't necessarily mean you go into their house, Rizalman said."

The Origin of Krampus, Europe's Evil Twist on Santa - ""The Krampus is the yin to St. Nick's yang," Seghers tells Smithsonian.com. "You have the saint, you have the devil. It taps into a subconscious macabre desire that a lot of people have that is the opposite of the saccharine Christmas a lot of us grew up with."

For 40 Years, This Russian Family Was Cut Off From All Human Contact, Unaware of World War II

Rome Just Banned Centurions - "Today, anyone with a costume can become a Roman centurion, but it was harder to gain the title in ancient Rome. Known for their elaborate ranks and political power, ancient centurions were military officers who enforced discipline among the greater army. Discipline isn't the strong suit of contemporary centurions, however, who are known for harassing and even attacking tourists."

How Japan Has Virtually Eliminated Shooting Deaths - "America's gun control laws are the loosest in the developed world and its rate of gun-related homicide is the highest. Of the world’s 23 “rich” countries, the U.S. gun-related murder rate is almost 20 times that of the other 22. With almost one privately owned firearm per person, America’s ownership rate is the highest in the world; tribal-conflict-torn Yemen is ranked second, with a rate about half of America's... the U.S. constitution’s second amendment is intended in part to maintain “the security of a free State” by ensuring that the government doesn't have a monopoly on force. Though it's worth considering another police state here: Tunisia, which had the lowest firearm-ownership rate in the world (one gun per thousand citizens, compared to America’s 890) when its people toppled a brutal, 24-year dictatorship and sparked the Arab Spring."

In the hunt for new antibiotics, the genius of simplicity - "Bacteria make antibiotics naturally, which means that if you can grow new bacteria in a lab, the microbes can offer up new drugs. Unfortunately, for the past century, microbiologists have failed to unlock the secret to cultivating the vast majority of bacterial species. Now Epstein and his colleagues have found a way to make many of them thrive."

Star Wars' abandoned Tunisian locations – in pictures

Firefighter who flunked physical injured 10 days into job - "A firefighter who was allowed to graduate the Fire Academy despite failing physical tests has already gone out on medical leave — just 10 days into the job... Firefighters called the tripping incident embarrassing — and alarming. “If you’re going to get hurt in the firehouse checking a rig, what would happen at a fire?” an insider asked... Doirin-Holder’s competence was questioned by sources familiar with her training. They said academy instructors let her pass the Functional Skills Test, a rigorous obstacle course of job-related tasks, even though she had failed to complete it in the required 17 minutes and 50 seconds or under. In addition, when she failed to finish a 1.5-mile run in 12 minutes or less — even after the course was shortened — she was allowed to demonstrate aerobic capacity on a StairMaster machine under watered-down requirements enacted by FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro. Doirin-Holder, who turns 40 this month, is one of 282 “priority hires” passed over in 1999 and 2000. Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis ordered they must get preference as victims of past discrimination against minorities... Since she was injured on duty, she is eligible for a disability pension that would pay three-quarters of her annual salary, tax-free, if deemed unfit to return. In an online FDNY forum, firefighters fumed at the preferential treatment. “If you can’t meet the standards, you are a danger to yourself, the public and most importantly everyone operating on the fire ground who is doing their job”"

26 WTF People On Tinder - Gallery

The age of ‘pre-crime’ has arrived - "We’re now to the point where we’re passing laws aimed at potential johns suspected of soliciting prostitutes, simply because they were seen in an area where prostitutes are known to work, all because it’s possible that the theoretical prostitutes those suspected johns might have been soliciting are potentially underage or might have been forced in to sex work involuntarily."

Couples with the biggest height differences found to have best relationships - "Researchers found that the greater the height difference in a couple, the happier the wife was. But the effect faded as the years went on, they discovered... she ‘might lose her characteristics that enabled her to marry her tall husband, such as beauty; the loss could cause her unhappiness directly or indirectly by changing her husband’s behaviour, such as showing less affection to her, more affection to other women, and providing less childcare’, he said. Women evolved to prefer tall men because they were perceived to be stronger, ‘and naturally they are happy when they have what they like’, he concluded. ‘But as for other desired objects, pleasure from having them dissipates. What was surprising is that the complete dissipation took 18 years.’"

Zuckerberg's Charitable Giving Comes With a Twist
If you want to evade taxes, there're cheaper and faster ways than donating 99% of your shares to charity

These Maps Prove That Daylight Saving Time Is the Actual Worst - "DST does not actually reduce electric demand, as it was created to do. Additionally, it shatters delicate sleep schedules, leading to upwards of $400 million in economic losses each year. DST has also been linked to traffic accidents, heart attacks, Seasonal Affective Disorder, commuting snafus, and in my house, general unpleasantness and fist shaking. But what would the country really look like without Daylight Saving Time? As Axis Maps cartographer Andy Woodruff points out in a recent blog post, its effects are not consistent across the United States. But even so, the time-turning phenomenon looks pretty horrifying for those who arise at the reasonable hour of 7 a.m."

SAP Schools and "Discrimination"

Two wrongs don't make a right, but they can be less wrong than one wrong.

For example, many people condemn SAP schools in Singapore as discrimination against the non-Chinese (i.e. "minorities").

Yet, the Special Assistance Plan arose from the Singaporean government's smashing of the Chinese school system.

With this proper understanding of historical context, one can see that SAP schools are just a token sop offered to the Chinese community to make them slightly less pissed off, and that far from being a sign of strength or privilege, SAP schools are paradoxically a symbol of defeat, weakness or marginalisation.

Dumbing Down Admissions Standards

"In its larger aspects the matter of entrance requirements and the curriculum, as it has lately been discussed at Princeton, involves the question of whether we arc going in for a greatly in creased enrollment, or whether we are going to continue to insist on quality as more important than quantity. If we are going to adopt the extreme policy of "letting down the bars," we can probably get more students, but how many more is problematical. The experience of Harvard, to take a conspicuous example, has certainly not been encouraging in this respect. President Lowell in commenting upon the degree of Bachelor of Science at Harvard, for which Latin is no longer required, gives figures that show that in seven years there was an increase of only fifty-five in the number of Bachelor of Science degrees conferred, and he goes on to quote Dean Briggs, that "the degree of Bachelor of Science signifies, not knowledge of science, but ignorance of Latin." "The position," says President Lowell, "is certainly anamolous and illogical and ought not to continue indefinitely.""


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Links - 19th January 2016

Shuquan Tang - Mobile Uploads - ""Research Enables the Singapore Economy And Ranking to Climb Higher"
Found this lovely acronym which accurately embodies what research in universities is all about.
yup. Singapore Economy and RANKING"

Interview with Rob Janoff, designer of the Apple logo - "From a designer's point of view and you probably experienced this, one of the big phenomena is having the experience of designing a logo for whatever reasons you design it, and years later you find out supposedly why you did certain things. And, they are all BS. It's a wonderful urban legend. Somebody starts it and then people go "oh yeah, that must be it"... Unfortunately now everyone has all of the tools at their disposal regardless whether they have any talent for designing. Everyone thinks he's a designer by pulling down a filter in Photoshop"

City to spend big bucks to remove bike lanes on 95th Avenue - Edmonton - "The city will spend almost $500,000 to remove an eight-kilometre stretch of painted bike lanes along 95th Avenue that were put in less than two years ago. Councillors agreed this week that the lanes are under-used, unsafe and take up too much space on the busy road... A city report showed that while 11,000 vehicles use 95th Avenue each day, only 50 cyclists use the bike lanes, a tiny increase from the 20 who used them each day prior to 2014."
According to the cyclist lobby, this is not supposed to happen

Money wasted on cyclists: NRMA - "TAXPAYERS are pouring millions of dollars into lining motorways with cycleways that are barely used - and are building a new bicycle lane the NRMA says will effectively cost $300,000 for every cyclist that uses it. Despite pleas from Sydney's Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, for bicycles to reclaim the streets, the motoring organisation says residents are sticking to four wheels. In a submission to the Roads and Traffic Authority it accuses the Government of wasting millions on cyclists at the expense of motorists, who are forced to battle worsening congestion as lanes are removed from busy roads. The cycling lane on the M2 attracted just 130 cyclists a day. The Iemma Government is building a cycleway alongside choked Epping Road, despite as few as 25 cyclists using that corridor each day. At $7.6 million for the Epping Road cycleway, the NRMA says that would amount to spending $300,000 per cyclist on a lane that is unlikely to attract many more riders, based on the experiences of the M2 motorway... "When you have high traffic volumes of more than 35,000 vehicles per day, this is not a sensible use of resources," Mr Evans said. "Cyclists appear to be the only winners on Epping Road, at the expense of thousands of motorists.""
More facts to shock the cycling lobby

Red Deer Advocate - Majority oppose bike lane expansion - "88 per cent of the respondents supported multi-use trails, and recreation trails (91 per cent) and expansion. Eighty-one per cent did not like the on-street bike lanes, 77 per cent did not like the bike routes and 77 per cent of the respondents did not support expanding the on-street routes. The survey also noted 19 per cent of respondents are supportive of bike lanes and 16 per cent use them. City manager Craig Curtis concluded in his report that it is clear the majority of residents do not support bike lanes or routes when they affect traffic or parking... While the initial pilot took off with four kms of lanes in 2011, it wasn’t until 2012 when 16 kms of lanes were painted that the public backlash unfolded. The public reaction was generally negative with major concerns related to traffic congestion, safety and loss of street parking. As a result, lanes on 55th Street were eliminated and parking was reinstated on 59th Avenue. The city conducted another review and as a result the lanes on 40th Avenue and immediately adjacent to the intersections of 40th Avenue/39th Street and 59th Avenue/67th Street were eliminated."

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Truth - "Post-modernism is a kind of celebration of the disappearance of truth. Or, if you prefer it, the relativisation of truth into your truth, my truth, his truth. You know, who's to argue about it, who's to say"
"If I believe that, that's what I believe in it. I'm not taking any"
"I think that kind of skepticism or relativism - they may be different but let's not bother too much - I think that's been very much part of the contemporary culture for a long time."
"In that sense philosophy has gone into contemporary culture quite neatly"
"Well, I think we want to fight against that, most of us. Because it's just not true that anything goes. I love the remark, I think it's attributed to Clemenceau, after the end of the First World War. Somebody said: 'I wonder what historians are going to make of this'. And the reply was, 'one thing they won't say is that Belgium invaded Germany.' In other words, it's not true that anything goes. There are, for example, historical facts, not only interpretations"...
"Truth is a value. And it's embedded in other values like integrity, honesty, curiosity, discovery is a good thing. It may have no practical consequences how the universe started, but we're deeply interested to know. And the thought that the notion of truth isn't substantial, there's nothing to it, kind of pulls the rug away from that kind of question"

Why mass shootings don't convince gun owners to support gun control - "It's not even clear that opinions on guns and gun violence remain amenable to argument. Over the past few decades, gun ownership in the US has evolved from a practical issue for rural homeowners and hunters to a kind of gesture of tribal solidarity, an act of defiance toward Obama, the left, and all the changes they represent. The gun lobby has become more hardened and uncompromising, pushing guns into schools, churches, and universities. This has taken place in the context of a broader and deeper polarization of the country, as Red America and Blue America have become more ideologically homogeneous and distant from one another. The two sides are now composed of people who quite literally think and feel differently — and are less and less able to communicate. The gun issue is a salient example, but far from the only one. This suggests that if the status quo on guns in the US is to change, it will be through overwhelming political force, not through evidence and argument. Guns have now ascended to the level of worldview and identity, areas largely beyond the reach of persuasion... To our gun owner, another mass shooting is not an argument for getting rid of guns. It's a confirmation of his every instinct, another sign of moral and societal decay, another reason to arm himself and defend what he's got left."

Corbyn’s ‘new politics’ means the self-righteous left wallows in its cruelty - "Comics and writers tear into Daily Mail and Sun readers but never Guardian and Observer readers. They assume that you are virtuous... Police are investigating a death threat made against Neil Coyle, the Labour MP for Bermondsey, after he voted to allow the RAF to attack Islamic State in Syria. His colleague Diana Johnson said the abuse of Labour MPs who supported the action was horrendous. “‘Murderous cunt’ is one of the terms I have seen.” Now, as so often in the past, the similarities between the far left and far right are more striking than the differences... Brecht understood that the certainty of your virtue will lead you into cruelty. Leftwing men can treat women appallingly and leftwing agitators can mimic the language and tactics of the far right. They are so convinced of their righteousness they cannot admit their faults. Leftists would behave better if they stopped acting like teenage vegetarians and found the honesty to acknowledge their kinship with the rest of compromised humanity. The Corbyn generation shows no sign of doing it. And it ought to be obvious by now that Labour people will be their targets... The Corbynites’ real enemies are not Tories, whom they rather respect for standing up for the interests of their class, but Labour MPs who fail to show the required radical virtue and betray the leftwing cause. They don’t mutter darkly that there will be “no hiding place” for Tory MPs who voted in favour of bombing Isis. They don’t scream that Conservative women are “witches” and “cows”. They don’t deliver death threats to David Cameron. Their virtuous hatred is righteously reserved for their own side and its ugliness will destroy the myth of leftwing decency more thoroughly than the right ever could."

A Taiwanese Girl Living Overseas Won't Return Because, "I Don’t Like The Taiwanese Culture" - "I feel very uncomfortable when living in Taiwan, sometimes even painful. Everything I do is restricted, no matter when and where, and is bond by an unreasonable ethic and value system... [In France] nobody would ask me about my family background, work experience and education. No one knew my past and they didn’t care. All they could see was a girl laughing and dancing around. They didn’t know I was from a single-parent family or whether or not I had good grades. They didn’t know I’m actually shy and only have a few friends. They knew nothing about the past twenty-something years of my life, but only saw the person I was that night... In Taiwan, good looks are very important. Regardless of your personality, as long as you are pretty, guys flatter you in every way. The personality, charm and inner beauty of women are completely ignored. However, in the three countries I have stayed in before, France, Germany and Sweden, not only can appearances attract men, but also the personality and charm that comes out of conversations, such as confidence, ideas whether or not you make sense and so on... Asian men prefer gentle, obedient and virtuous women to the aggressive ones, which is even taken to be a flaw. Nevertheless, western men prefer women who are active and have a strong character... In the Asian society, women aren’t the only ones oppressed, but also men. The society unreasonably expects men to be rich and to take on the entire responsibility of raising a family. I used to think that the idea, “You can only have a wife if you have money, a house and a car,” only existed in certain families. I never thought it would happen to me."

Ailing Sumner Redstone is obsessed with sex and steak: suit - "It claims Redstone “demands, to the extent he can be understood, to engage in sexual activity every day, even though [his doctor] has repeatedly recommended that he abstain from daily sexual activity,” according to Variety. As recently as last month, Redstone had a “romantic partner” visit his home, but because he could not communicate clearly, a male nurse was needed to direct "the intimate actions,” Herzer’s filing claims. The Herzer petition also claims Redstone is “obsessed" with eating steak but has diminished interest in former passions such as baseball and a memoir he started with a ghost writer."

Easier for gay refugees to get EU asylum now - "the court made a crucial distinction between legislation which criminalises homosexuality and is actively enforced, and anti-gay laws which are on the statute books in many countries but are not applied. "The fact that punishment is threatened for homosexual acts is not enough" said presiding judge Alexandra Prechal. "Actual imprisonment must be imposed and carried out in the refugee's country of origin" before an application for asylum can be accepted, she added."
Too bad for anti-377A activists

Girls are limiting their career options by choosing 'worthwhile' jobs, study finds - Telegraph - "Girls are limiting their career options by going for "worthwhile" jobs while boys go after big salaries, new research by Oxford University has found. This means girls are "self-limiting" their career options in favour of low paying jobs like working for charities or museums, while boys focus mainly on salary and have higher aspirations for their future careers... The survey, of nearly 4,000 sixth formers in all types of schools, also found that girls by the time they hit their teenage years are already limited their career options, as they start "internalising gender stereotypes"... "Women look for more than salary for the careers that they are going into. Traditionally we've always looked at men as being breadwinners but that is now changing. It could be an underlying reason [for women to choose jobs that make them 'feel good'].""
More confirmation that the gender wage gap is not primarily due to discrimination
Presumably we should socialise women to be as heartless as men, then no one will work for charities or museums

Chinese Food and the Joy of Inauthentic Cooking - "When it came to the Chinese, one experience in particular seemed to evoke universal feelings of appreciation: “The familiar and pleasurable experience of eating Chinese food.” Once an indictment of barbaric ways, Chinese food had, by the end of the fifties, become a commonplace delicacy that seemed to bring an exotic people a little bit closer. As one of the people Isaacs interviewed remarked, “One feels that a people who have evolved such food must have high qualities and a high civilization”... What Wu and the past decade of celebrated chefs represent is a turn away from the Asian chef as some kind of native informant. When Irene Kuo published “The Key to Chinese Cooking,” one of the first major cookbooks devoted to Asian cuisine, in 1977, it was presented as a glimpse into the Chinese psyche as much as an introduction to Chinese cooking technique"

Why Shanghai's first American Chinese restaurant is taking off - "Dave and Fung flew Fung's father over to Shanghai to teach the chefs how to make each dish, so it is exactly the same as the food served in the family's American restaurants... "As weird as it sounds, we actually import a lot of ingredients to make authentic American Chinese food in China"... Items like Philadelphia cream cheese, Skippy peanut butter, cornflakes and English mustard powder must all be brought in from outside China. Even the soy sauce must be imported from Hong Kong, because that's what the first Chinese immigrants to the US used in their cooking... Some locals come into the restaurant and ask for their food to be served in American-style white cardboard takeaway containers, mimicking meals they've seen on sitcoms like Friends and the Big Bang Theory"

Which aspect of Singapore's behavior regularly leads to criticisms by regional countries of being arrogant?

Gabriel Seah's answer to Which aspect of Singapore's behavior regularly leads to criticisms by regional countries of being arrogant? - Quora

Singapore has been seen as arrogant for a long time.

In 1973 (Google News Archive Search ) the Financial Times's Asia Correspondent noted that "it may also be dangerous for Singapore to become too arrogant" and noted that most foreigners found the State "insular and arrogant".

2 decades later Chinese business partners of Singaporean investors also found them arrogant (Google News Archive Search ).

Simply put, in many ways Singapore is a victim of its own success.

Having come, according to the official memoirs of its Founding Father Lee Kuan Yew (LKY), "from Third World to First", Singapore and Singaporeans believe that the Singaporean way of doing things is not just good but the best.

Undoubtedly Singapore does things well. It is clean, efficient and economically prosperous - notably compared to its neighbors.

And all this has been achieved relatively quickly; of the 31 years from 1960 to 1990, Singapore's GDP grew at 7% per annum or more in 23 of them (The Economic Growth of Singapore).

This has led to an attitude (or perceived attitude) to its neighbours that sometimes borders on contempt, summarised by a Malaysian politician as thinking "the city state [is] the best, the most beautiful and intelligent while others are dirty, backward, bad and faulty" (Google News Archive Search).

LKY famously said that without good government, Singaporean women would "become maids in other people’s countries, foreign workers" (5 Quotes From Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew). Given that there are many maids and foreign workers in Singapore who come from Singapore's region, this was telling evidence of a certain disregard for those countries and their peoples.

It is fashionable to bash politicians for all of a country's shortcomings, but non-politicians also have similar sentiments (Google News Archive Search). They "tend to believe the Singapore way of doing things [is] the best" and can come across as contemptuous. They also pay less attention to "face" issues (Mind the Gaps) or simply, buttering up the other party.

Malaysia is probably the country with which Singapore has the closest (love-hate) relationship with. That two having been one country until 50 years ago only serves to complicate the matter: in many ways, Malaysia is seen as a cautionary tale of what Singapore could have been, and Malaysians are seen as "lazy, corrupt, insecure and backward" (of course, Singaporeans are seen as "greedy, arrogant, godless and boring", but that is a separate story). Singaporeans also engage in bad behavior when they go to Malaysia, like speeding and littering (https://digital.library.adelaide...). Notably, they wouldn't do this while in Singapore.

Singapore's success is also in many ways due to its neighbours' failures. The aforementioned maids and foreign workers provide cheap labour that keeps the economy humming. The ASEAN scholarship that Singapore gives out to ASEAN nationals is seen as "'poaching' the creme de la creme of our youngsters" (The Great Malaysian Brain Drain) and accelerating brain drain in the region. This can seem like a slap in the face to other countries.

There is probably some jealousy mixed in here too. Singapore is small: a Chinese island in a sea of brown, and has less history and culture than its neighbours (Realism and Interdependence in Singapore's Foreign Policy). Despite that, it is so successful. There could also be post-colonial sentiment mixed in too, since the 1996 study (Google News Archive Search) found that Chinese people took Westerners' criticisms better than Singaporeans'.

Of course, it's not like other countries take all this lying down. Singapore has famously been described as "A little red dot in a sea of green" (highbeam.com A Little Red Dot in a Sea of Green; Foreign Policy and National Identity), an "irritating pimple" (Google News Archive Search) and snot (Snot flies in Taiwan-Singapore row).

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Battle of Lepanto

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, The Battle of Lepanto

"In Cyprus and in Crete they're ruling Orthodox Christians. Greek Orthodox Christians, who actually hate, for very good reasons, hate Latin Christianity. So when the Ottomans took over Cyprus, the Orthodoox were not that displeased. I mean it's fascinating. If you go to Cyprus now, go to Famagusta which we just talked about and Nicosia - the two places which were besieged, there are two whacking white great French Gothic cathedrals, in, one in ruins. And the Orthodox have regarded those as symbols of Western Christian tyranny. And they were not taken over by the Orthodox. One became a mosque, and the other was just left in ruins. So there is a sense in which, again, Christendom doesn't exist in this equation. Venetians can be seen as Christian Western oppressors by other Christians, just as much as the enemy the Ottomans...

We think in terms of naval battles as trying to sink the enemies' ship with artillery broadsides. And that wasn't what galley warfare was about, not least because these ships were extremely expensive. Ideally you'd end the battle by towing back your enemy's ships as prizes. You used your artillery primarily to if you could to disable an enemy ship by smashing its oars, its rudder, but above all they were anti-personnel devices. They were for mowing down men on deck because the surprising thing about galley warfare in this period is that galleys are really floating platforms for soldiers...

Ali Pasha was concerned that they shouldn't be too close to land... because too close to land means your troops can run away onto the shore...

James VI... published his poem in Edinburgh in the 1590s... a sort of apologetic preface saying why he was praising Don Jon of Austria, who he called 'a foreign papist bastard' and in the poem itself, you've got a sort of health warning at the end about God's reaction to this Christian victory, which was 'God doth love his name so well that so he did them aid that serv'd not right his name'. These Catholics were not really proper Christians. At least God condescended to give them the victory...

'There's a religious element... you think that Sunni and Shia is a more serious ideological conflict than Islam and Christianity. That's very interesting'

'I would say for the Ottomans yes. I don't know if anyone else would agree. It's much more instantly threatening. Iran has the ability to infiltrate among the Ottoman population to the East in a way that is not the case in the West. So the attack ideologically exists there but not in the West... Christendom against Islam is different from Sunni Islam'...

'You go back to the early decades of the 16th century... there are big revolts against the Ottomans in Asia Minor by people who are Shia and not directly working for Persia but... that's where their sympathies lie. So hat's a serious issue for the Ottoman rulers'"

Links - 18th January 2016

Egypt’s sexual harassment pandemic — and the powerlessness of hashtags - "in the middle of throbbing mass of celebrators reveling in President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s recent inauguration, a woman was stripped naked days ago and sexual assaulted by a mob of men. Her backside, as shown in a now-viral YouTube video, was bruised and blackened before her limp form was carted off to a waiting vehicle. A TV host, who later said she was misunderstood, brushed off the assault as “fun.” “They are happy,” she giggled. “The people are having fun”... At least 250 cases of “mass sexual rape and mass sexual assault” occurred between late 2012 and January of 2014, a cadre of 29 women’s rights groups said following the recent Tahir Square attack."

The Turkish Complex - "The Islam-secularism dichotomy, virtually the only framework most Western observers use in trying to grasp things Turkish, is no longer a useful diagnostic (if it ever was). We are seeing instead a recurrent cycle of conceptual patterns and associated roles—those of the “bigman”, selfless hero, and traitor—that have long characterized and destabilized Turkish political culture. These roles and their interactions are driven not simply by competing ideologies, but by on-the-ground rivalry between network hierarchies and a general fear of social chaos... One way to understand elections in a majoritarian democracy is to say that the vote count determines whose network is stronger. As Prime Minister, Erdoğan told protesters during the 2013 Gezi Park demonstrations, in effect: “If you don’t agree with how I do things, then go win your own election.” AKP posters tout democracy as expressing the “national will”, which is conflated with Erdoğan’s will, whose picture appears beside the slogan... A majoritarian democracy is a winner-take-all system in which only the ideas and practices of the winner are authorized. Such a system is intrinsically hostile to civil liberties and press freedom, both of which introduce unauthorized ideas and lifestyles, and which the state demonizes as precursors to social chaos. In other words, AKP voters do not fear autocracy; they fear social chaos."

Men Are Considered Sexist No Matter How They Treat A Woman - "opening doors for women, smiling at women, being patient with women, being willing to lay down your life for a woman, and generally being pleasant when interacting with women are all considered signs of “benevolent sexism”."

New Study Finds No Link Between Gaming And Sexist Attitudes - "A few days ago a German longitudinal study was published that explored the connection between gaming and sexist attitudes. The results broadly show that playing videogames doesn’t make people sexist. The study was based around cultivation theory, which posits that long-term exposure to media content can affect our perception of the world around us. So playing lots of videogames should affect people in some way. This study explored whether videogames modified sexist attitudes amongst its participants."
Another blow to the monkey-see monkey-do theory of human behavior

Margaret Cho Wants to Talk About Sex Work - The New York Times - "comedian Margaret Cho, 46, disturbed the Twittersphere with an economical 109 characters: "Sex work is simply work. For me it was honest work. I was a sex worker when I was young. It was hard but well paid. There's no shame in it."... Before her comedy career took off about 20 years ago, Cho worked first as a phone sex operator, then as a dominatrix, a job which, she admitted, she was ill suited for. "I was lazy," she said. "I lacked empathy and I had a bad arm", referring to the job's requirement for administering floggings and other forms of corporal punishment that a client might request... "The ugliness and beauty that I saw made me think that sex workers are providing a valuable service to society," Cho said of her dominatrix days. "We shouldn't just be protected and legitimised. We should be worshipped.""

Candy Crush: The Movie (With Liam Neeson) - YouTube - "Now that Activision has formed a studio to make movies based on their own games, it's only a matter of time before their most recent acquisition hits the silver screen."

The World's Largest Fast-Food Chain Is Floundering
McDonald's has fewer outlets in the US than Subway or Yum Brands, but makes much more than either

The Big Read: Paris attacks raise uneasy questions in Singapore - "Mr Dinie Sudiyono, 26, who works in marketing, recalled how almost a decade ago, his junior college classmate had received a warning letter from the ISD after he had visited radical websites while working on an art project about anti-terrorism. “If (the authorities) were so alert back then, I think they would be even more aware of the smallest (going-ons) now... They can catch any whiff of what’s happening,” he said."
I like how intrusive snooping on your personal browsing history is presented as a good thing

Should you be sacked for off-duty behaviour? - "Our employers do not own our opinions, however stupid they may be. And we are not always on duty, human brand extensions of whoever pays our wages. Or do we want to live in a world where everyone is constantly self-censoring like a shifty politician? Sometimes free speech means the freedom to act like a world-class idiot, doesn’t it?... Of course O’Connell was incredibly daft to mouth off in front of a random camera. But let’s talk about the two things that really got him fired: social media’s hunger for a victim, and the one-strike-and-you’re-out policy produced by that hunger. Summary dismissal should be reserved for gross misconduct, embezzlement and – outside of office hours – serious crime... The soul of fair punishment is rehabilitation, not pleasing the crowd. But if it’s no longer possible to sincerely repent a serious mistake and then move on, chastened but not destroyed, then we’re heading into a dangerous place for everyone. Even if you discount the rich tapestry of hate speech that probably should get you fired, social media generates a million sackable offences every day. Do we really want to hand unscrupulous employers a catch-all reason to dispense with troublesome staff? Human beings are flawed. Yet the world of work, with all its platitudes about “values”, tries to mould us into superhuman figures who never get anything wrong. In his YouTube statement announcing O’Connell’s dismissal, Goldberg Segalla managing partner Rick Cohen said that his recruits must be “better human beings than they are lawyers”. Really?"

Don't let hawker fare disappear - "He says he wants to do something to keep the tradition alive, and he gets a big kick when customers tell him how good his dishes are. You need passion to be doing this because the economics is all wrong.
I asked another friend in his 40s, who runs a fish soup stall, how it all added up for him.
His account:
Monthly takings: $12,000
Cost of ingredients (fish, rice, vegetables, etc): $6,000
Rent: $3,000
That leaves $3,000 for his monthly income, assuming he does everything himself. If he hires an assistant, he is left with around $1,500 - half of what a taxi driver might make. This is what he says: "That's it, for all the work - morning market run, preparations, cooking, serving, washing, all in a hot environment, 12-hour days - my stall closes every other Saturday, so that is only two rest days a month. And when costs go up seasonally, bad fish haul, vegetable prices up due to bad weather... the price of hawker food is the only one expected to stay constant. People will complain if it goes up 50 cents"... The reason large numbers of the older generation of hawkers are able to carry on is that they enjoy heavily subsidised rentals from the Government, and so can charge $3, even $2.50, for a bowl of noodles. But they are getting on, and many will retire soon. Very few of their children are likely to want to take over, which leaves people like Mr Ng and my fish soup friend, but they will need more than passion to pay those market rentals... If these independent operators cannot make a go of it, hawker food might still survive, but it will be dominated by food businesses dishing out mass-produced mee pok in air-conditioned foodcourts."

The left has an Islam problem: If liberals won’t come to terms with religious extremism, the xenophobic right will carry the day - "There’s a persistent taboo on the Left which demands that every incident of terror be attributed to American foreign policy. Terrorism is a hydra-headed problem, and it’s not reducible to a single cause – religion and politics and economics and foreign policy and institutional corruption are critical variables... Islamists aren’t killing cartoonists because the U.S. invaded Iraq. And ISIS isn’t exterminating the Yazidis because of America’s sordid relationship with Saudi Arabia... The fact is, most Muslims are our allies in this fight, and that fact gets obscured when only Christian theocrats are critiquing Islamic extremists"

5 Inconvenient Truths About Israeli-Palestinian Violence - "Nothing changes without pain: Political leaders only take truly momentous, risky decisions when circumstances compel them to do so. That’s why crisis — including war and insurgency — has laid the basis for every breakthrough in the Arab-Israeli peace process... Not since the First Intifada in 1987 has sustained violence led to diplomatic breakthroughs. Indeed, it makes it worse. Palestinian leaders like Abbas know this... The brutal reality is that, until now, the costs of maintaining this unhappy status quo are less threatening to both sides than what would be required to change it. Neither Abbas nor Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is willing, able, or ready to make the decisions required to produce an independent Palestinian state living alongside Israel in peace and security"

The art of tempering justice with mercy - "The late American ethicist Rushworth Kidder, who founded the non-profit Institute of Global Ethics, was known for teaching that the toughest moral dilemmas often involved what he called "right versus right", rather than choosing right over wrong. This is when two or more core values are in conflict, and factors such as truth versus loyalty and the needs of the individual versus those of a community have to be weighed before coming to an ethical decision. For example: Child A tells Child B he has taken a classmate's pen and swears him to secrecy. When the teacher comes to Child B asking what Child A had said, should he keep his word or tell the truth?"

Former SAS Commander says no to women in combat - "He suggests the rigorous testing allows very few males through. "They've got to be able to carry specific weights... women are not designed to carry these weights. They've got a lot of other strengths, I'd hate to give birth to a child," he states. And, Brigadier Wallace says, even if women pass the physical requirements, there are other complications that should prevent them from serving on the front line, as seen in the Israeli/Arab war in 1973. "You ended up with a situation where you had women in areas that had been overun and what happened was, instead of the men fighting to beat the enemy, they ended up fighting to defend the women and it doesn't win battles." "The reason Australian troops have fought so well is because of the strength of mateship in our culture carried into our army. Now, if you put a woman into that situation... you're gonna end up with a love or lust relationship in that small group."

The end of the Cold War and British culture | Podcast | History Extra - "The British cinema was revived in sort of late 1930s, 1940s, 1950s by the J Arthur Rank film empire. And Rank himself was a miller and industrialist who was a very very fervent Methodist and very patriotic. He was deeply critical of Hollywood and he decided to get involved with the film industry because he didn't want to see young people going to see American films and developing American habits and sort of American moral values which he saw as debased. So there's an argument that there the competition with America, and the sort of looming leviathan of American culture actually was very beneficial because it led Rank to invest in the industry to pry loads of money in it and make all these films. The Olivier, Shakespeare films. Films like A Matter of Life and Death, or the Red Shoe. These kind of classic 1940s era films. The Ealing comedies and so on. Those kinds of pictures which arguably wouldn't have developed otherwise. It was this kind of spur of American competition that pushed people to make them... If you ask historians about the future, they're almost always wrong"
Decadent Western Values!

Concept Album Talks: Pet Sounds - "The idea of the Concept Album Talks is that we pick an album and then use the track-listing from that album as a running order for a night of talks. We find people who are experts in their field and give them a song title from that album and ask them to write a talk based on that title. They’re not allowed to talk about the song, the album or the band, and the duration of their talk must match the duration of the corresponding song. Last night we did Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys. Thirteen tracks, the longest of which is just 3mins 12secs – meaning our speakers had a real challenge to condense what they wanted to say into their allotted time, and yet somehow they all managed it:...
Matt Parker is a stand-up mathematician and is Fellow of Public Engagement in Mathematics at Queen Mary University of London. He is one third of the team behind the Festival Of The Spoken Nerd, alongside Steve Mould and Helen Arney and is the author of Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension. He talked us through how one of the things that he loves about mathematics is that you can know that there is an answer, without necessarily having to know what that answer is."
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