"The happiest place on earth"

Get email updates of new posts:        (Delivered by FeedBurner)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Links - 12th March 2016

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Donald Trump Changes the Nature and Language of US Politics - "But you don't get to be one of the most successful business executives of your generation by being stupid, and it's clear... this was no off the cuff remark or slip of the tongue. Instead it was part of a clear strategy. And the view which so many found abhorent was also being widely echoed among the people who count: American electors... does Mr Trump says sober what other people say drunk?"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Iraqi troops move into Ramadi centre - "Both have been partly been driven by a desire on behalf of their universities not to offend their students, which has left more than academic to ponder publicly what the point of a expensive and time-consuming period at university is if not to challenge, to probe, to stimulate and maybe, to once or twice along the way, to offend the sensibilities of students. More worrying for some is the thought thathis process of re-evaluation might never end. Dotted around the grand squares of London are statues of the men who, amongst other achievements. created and defended the British Empire. It wasn't always pretty. In Parliament Square, looking out over the Palace of Westminster, the statue of a militarist imperialist survives, for now. Supporters of Winston Churchill and the fight for democracy can, for the moment, breathe easy. It's not the job of the present, said one academic of the Rhodes row, to tick off the past. But our tussle with history is part of our wrestle with the present. And it might be difficult to conduct that argument with much vigor if you're constantly afraid of giving or taking offence"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Turkey Shoots Down a Russian Bomber - "When the Syrians shot down a Turkish jet a few years ago which had entered Syrian airspace, President Erdogan's furious response was that a short-term border violation can never be a pretext for an attack. Ah. Ironic then that the image that stayed with me this week was the sight of a Russian bomber falling almost gracefully from the sky trailing a plume of smoke and flame. A Turkish plane had shot it down above the border with Syria...
Anastasia Lin said when she became Miss Canada earlier this year, that Chinese security services visited her father, who still lives in China. She said they threatened there would be consequences if she continued to speak out. 'Dad's really scared', she told the BBC. She said Miss World officials had also been bullied. Inside China the authorities have stamped out virtually all criticism of those who govern. The case of Anastasia Lin shows they're also trying to put pressure on critics beyond their borders. And the row over a simple sash in Austria makes it clear that no issue is too small for China when it comes to defending its position. A few years ago, Beijing expressed its approval when Britain changed its official position on Tibet. London previously recognised Chinese suzerainty over the Himalayan region. But that was amended to sovereignty. Just a few changed letters, but a world of difference to a Chinese diplomat. In the eyes of Britain, Tibet changed from being a tributary state of China to a part of China. The founder of Communist China Mao Zedong, quoted this week in the British Parliament, is the author of this attention to detail. Mao saw enemies everywhere and believed everything was political. He once said there was no such thing as art for art's sake: it had to serve the Revolution
current leaders don't see a beauty pageant as a simple parade of beauties"

'We'll break your phones and your bones': Journalists and JNU students attacked in court - "Mobs of lawyers thrashed journalists, with some even being attacked inside courtrooms, as they sought to send a message to anyone who was, in their eyes, a "traitor"... the scenes of violence in the court, with journalists being attacked in broad daylight, took place despite massive presence of police personnel throughout the court complex."

Why is British politics in an ‘Eton mess’? - "when Douglas Hurd ran against Major for the Tory leadership in 1990, he constantly had his Eton education used against him as a Bad Thing. So much so that in one interview he flipped, and said: ‘I thought I was running for the leadership of the Conservative Party, not some demented Marxist sect.’"

Snow Penis Causes 'Bias Incident' At Michigan U - "Michigan’s student life website defines bias incidents as “incidents that make people feel targeted because of their social identity group membership.” It’s unclear what group the reporting individual believes was targeted by the snow penis. “Based on this definition, it is unclear if the bias incident report was generated because of the perceived white male privilege displayed by the pearly member rising out up from the ground or because of inadequate sex representation as no efforts had been made to create a snow vagina.” A member of Michigan’s residential staff complained to the Review that it was “a little ridiculous” that a “phallic snow object” was taking up the time of campus officials. It’s unclear if Michigan has ever received a bias incident complaint for the throwing of “snowballs.”"

Germany: Traditional sausages banned in public canteens out of respect to Muslims claims Merkel ally - ""Vegetarians, vegans and Muslims are in a Holy Trinity: taking over power in Schleswig-Holstein canteens," deputy leader Ralf Stegner of the centre Social Democrat party mocked."

Emily Bright's answer to Without feminism, how do you make sure your autonomy isn't weaseled away? - Quora - "I frequently find myself disagreeing with the feminist voice. Not always, but more often than not. I think that in a lot of ways, feminism attempts to silence the voice of women who dissent from their opinion by grouping all women into a single entity like this... I don't find myself being silenced within antifeminist circles. I don't even find myself being silenced when I talk to MRAs. However, I do often find myself silenced by feminists by being outright blocked, told that I don't know what I'm talking about, or lumped into their sweeping generalizations"
Ahh... feminism and tolerance

Singing show tunes helps fight off dementia: study - "Researchers working with elderly residents at an East Coast care home found in a four-month long study found that people who sang their favorite songs showed a marked improvement compared to those who just listened. Among the songs sung during 50-minute sessions were hits from "The Wizard of Oz," "Oklahoma!" and "The Sound of Music.""

Jobs wanted in Australia: But not if they clash with golf - "A 58-year-old man was not prepared to work for three hours on Sundays because that was when he played golf.
A 19-year-old man turned down a job “to follow his dream of becoming an actor”.
A 26-year-old man refused a job because “he doesn’t work with chickens”.
A 50-year-old woman declined a receptionist position because of a “bad smell” in the office.
A 33-year-old man rejected car washing as “too difficult”.
A 23-year-old man refused to become a driver’s assistant because he wanted to drive."

Tired drivers as bad as drunk drivers - "driving for only three hours at night has a similar effect to driving under the influence of alcohol, and even two hours can be equivalent to a couple of drinks... up to 20 percent of traffic accidents in industrialized countries can be attributed to sleepiness while driving because of long periods behind the wheel, or because of the use of medicinal drugs."
If drunk drivers are jailed, why not sleepy ones?

Sikh group calls for politicians and media to stop using term 'Asian' to describe Rotherham grooming gang - "A Sikh group is urging the media and politicians not to describe the Rotherham grooming gang as “Asian” as the term is too vague and “besmirches” communities... “One of the demands in the Sikh Manifesto that we published a year ago before the General Election was that the government should encourage public bodies and the media to abandon the use of the term ‘Asian’ when describing perpetrators for reasons of political correctness. “If the four men that have been found guilty and carried out the abuse were Pakistani Muslims, this is how they should be described and not called Asian.”"

Muslim woman fined after lying about being attacked for wearing hijab - "The woman was given a £90 fine for wasting police time after officers even accompanied her to the scene to retrace her steps. Miss Choudhury said she was too scared to walk alone after the made-up attack and claimed Muslims were being targeted after the atrocities in the French capital"

Christian student kicked off Sheffield University course for anti-gay Facebook post - "Mr Ngole is appealing against the decision, but if it is not overturned it may prevent him from becoming a social worker. He believes the decision is an effective "bar to office for Christians" and that he may suffered discrimination. He said: "I wonder whether the university would have taken any action if a Muslim student who believes in Sharia law, with its teaching about women and homosexuality, had made moderate comments on his Facebook page. I don't think so.""

Why America’s obsession with STEM education is dangerous - "the United States has never done well on international tests, and they are not good predictors of our national success. Since 1964, when the first such exam was administered to 13-year-olds in 12 countries, Americahas lagged behind its peers, rarely rising above the middle of the pack and doing particularly poorly in science and math. And yet over these past five decades, that same laggard country has dominated the world of science, technology, research and innovation. Consider the same pattern in two other highly innovative countries, Sweden and Israel. Israel ranks first in the world in venture-capital investments as a percentage of GDP; the United States ranks second, and Sweden is sixth, ahead of Great Britain and Germany. These nations do well by most measures of innovation, such as research and development spending and the number of high-tech companies as a share of all public companies. Yet all three countries fare surprisingly poorly in the OECD test rankings... other than bad test-takers, their economies have a few important traits in common: They are flexible. Their work cultures are non-hierarchical and merit-based. All operate like young countries, with energy and dynamism. All three are open societies, happy to let in the world’s ideas, goods and services. And people in all three nations are confident — a characteristic that can be measured. Despite ranking 27th and 30th in math, respectively, American and Israeli students came out at the top in their belief in their math abilities... Companies often prefer strong basics to narrow expertise. Andrew Benett, a management consultant, surveyed 100 business leaders and found that 84 of them said they would rather hire smart, passionate people, even if they didn’t have the exact skills their companies needed... Twenty years ago, tech companies might have survived simply as product manufacturers. Now they have to be on the cutting edge of design, marketing and social networking. You can make a sneaker equally well in many parts of the world, but you can’t sell it for $300 unless you’ve built a story around it... In 2013, two Oxford scholars conducted a comprehensive study on employment and found that, for workers to avoid the computerization of their jobs, “they will have to acquire creative and social skills.”

Alejandro González Iñárritu on race at the Oscars: 'It's not just black and white' - "he urged society to “liberate ourselves from all prejudice” – and to make sure the “colour of our skin becomes as irrelevant as the length of our hair”"
Why would he want people to discriminate by race as much as by hair length? Maybe Hollywood doesn't discriminate by hair length

New study: Electric cars may be worse for the environment than gas-powered - "In monetary terms, electric cars are about half-a-cent worse per mile for the environment than gas-powered cars, on average. This means that if a government wants to tax a car based on how much it pollutes, electric cars should be taxed half of one cent more per mile driven than gasoline cars. Much depends on where the car is driven. Gas-powered cars do worse in congested urban areas. For example, in Los Angeles, electric cars are 3.3 cents per mile better for the environment than gas-powered cars. Outside of metropolitan areas, electric cars are 1.5 cents per mile worse than gas-powered. In Grand Forks, N.D., for example, electric cars are 3 cents per mile worse."

Electric cars 'pose environmental threat' - ""The production phase of electric vehicles proved substantially more environmentally intensive," the report said, comparing it to how petrol and diesel cars are made. "The global warming potential from electric vehicle production is about twice that of conventional vehicles." In addition, producing batteries and electric motors requires a lot of toxic minerals such as nickel, copper and aluminium. Hence, the acidification impact is much greater than that of conventional car production. "Across the other impacts considered in the analysis including potential for effects related to acid rain, airborne particulate matter, smog, human toxicity, ecosystem toxicity and depletion of fossil fuel and mineral resources, electric vehicles consistently perform worse or on par with modern internal combustion engine vehicles, despite virtually zero direct emissions during operation," according to Prof Stromman."

‘Use me’: outcry after scantily-clad women brave cold on streets of Beijing to promote phone app - "A publicity stunt has been strongly criticised on the internet in China after a group of women in their underwear braved the cold on the streets of Beijing to advertise a smartphone social media app. About 20 women wearing black underwear and high heels walked around the city’s business district promoting the product until they were stopped by security guards, the Beijing Times reported. The women all had the Chinese characters “use me” stamped on their back and computer scanning product codes on their buttocks... Police in Beijing briefly detained at least two foreigners dressed as Spartan warriors in July who took part in a publicity stunt on the streets of the capital to promote a salad company. Dozens of young foreign men dressed in tight leather shorts and flowing capes took part in the promotion."
PETA needs to go to China

The Postman's Last Day

The postman was retiring and on his final day, some people on his route decided to thank him by giving him gifts.

On his last house on his route, a beautiful blonde lady comes out and asks if he'd like to come in with her.

The postman agrees and he ends up spending the night with her.

He wakes up the next morning to see her cooking breakfast for him.

He eats but when he finishes his coffee he sees a dollar bill at the bottom of the cup.

He asks her about it and she replies:: "Oh, when I told my husband we should do something for your retirement, he told me 'Fuck'em, give'em a dollar!'."

The blonde turns and smiles to the postman, "Breakfast was my idea!"

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Links - 10th March 2016

The StingRay’s tale | The Economist - "The Hailstorm is a more advanced version of the StingRay, a surveillance device that operates by mimicking a cellular tower, forcing all nearby mobile phones to reveal their unique identifying codes, known as IMSI numbers. By crosschecking the IMSI numbers of suspects’ phones with those collected by “cell-site simulators” such as Hailstorm and StingRay, police officers can pinpoint people with astonishing precision. The tools have been used to trail suspects to specific rooms in apartment blocks and to find them on moving buses on busy city streets. Developed at first for military and intelligence services, cell-site simulators are now furtively used by federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as well as by local police forces across the land."

Texas family releases shocking video of fatal deputy-involved shooting - "Footage of the terrifying encounter, which was captured on a home security camera, shows the two officers trying to coax Blair out of the bathroom he locked himself in after threatening suicide. But when the officers manage to open the door, they see Blair brandishing a knife. “He’s got a knife! He’s got a knife!” one cop yells. “Stay down! Stay down!” But Blair shuts the door on the officers, who kick it back open. “I do not want to shoot you,” one deputy tell him. “I do not want to shoot you.” The officers ordered Blair to drop the knife about 50 times until one of the officers fired a Taser at the emotionally disturbed man. “Keep Tasing, keep Tasing,” one deputy tells his partner. “Drop the knife! Drop the knife!” But, suddenly, the blade-wielding man stands up and appears to lunge towards one officer — who opened fire, striking Blair 11 times... The officers were later cleared of any wrongdoing after an internal investigation and, later, when the case was presented in front of a grand jury."
Poor police officers
"There seems to be this romantic notion that a police officer can shoot a suspect non-fatally to avoid unnecessary death. It's not widely known, but even after being shot in the heart or brain, humans can still act for a few seconds, longer still if they are on some kind of stimulant. In those few seconds, a rapidly moving attacker can still do a lot of damage. Perhaps some of you might have experience dealing with drug-intoxicated aggressive individuals? I do. They have unnatural speed and strength, and can mount immense aggression."

Here's Why Cops Often Shoot Suspects Multiple Times - "But the public should not focus too heavily on the number of times Brown was shot, two experts on police force told us. It sounds excessive when you hear that a police officer shot a suspect multiple times, but these experts say cops often have very good reasons for doing so. “Hollywood has us believing that if you shoot someone once or twice, they fall,” former police chief Chuck Drago told BI over the phone. But, he added, “I’ve seen people shot many times, and they don’t even slow down.” Police often keep firing because they don’t even realize they hit the person, Drago says. Cops are also taught to fire three times before reassessing the threat — a procedure known as “triple tap,” according to Dr. Daniel Kennedy, a forensic criminologist."

Stunning video: African family shown how to use toilet in their new flat as homeless veteran freezes to death in street - "After being evicted from the hospital, Sture first took to a public toilet, but there he was chased away by foreign beggars. He then turned back to the hospital and sat down at the bench at the bus stop where he froze to death during the night, when the temperature was about 12-14 degrees below zero. RIP Sture, and shame on Sweden!"

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - "Kyary explained her stage name in a Japanese MTV interview. Wearing blonde wigs as a fashion affectation in high school, a friend began calling her "Kyari" because she embraced Western culture and seemed "like a foreign girl". The name stuck. Upon starting her blog, she felt the name "Kyari" — a phonetic Japanese spelling of the Western name "Carrie" — was too short, and "missing something". She added "Pamyu Pamyu" because it sounded cute. She states her full stage name as "Caroline Charonplop Kyary Pamyu Pamyu" (きゃろらいんちゃろんぷろっぷきゃりーぱみゅぱみゅ Kyarorain Charonpuroppu Kyarī Pamyu Pamyu)"

Dorothy Parker martini poem: Why the attribution is spurious. - "In 1959, an undergraduate humor magazine at the university founded by Thomas Jefferson published a column of gags that included a certain quatrain:
I wish I could drink like a lady.
"Two or three," at the most.
But two, and I'm under the table—
And three, I'm under the host."

Change Your Account's Gender in Web Services to Avoid Annoying Advertisements - "After switching my gender to Female, Pandora showed me nothing but birth control ads, which, while not exactly applicable to me, were a whole lot less annoying than the over-animated, window-usurping Bud Light ads I was getting before."

Vagina kung-fu master wants to women to empower themselves through vaginal weightlifting - "Anami says that without a device inserted into the vagina, which she claims is how Dr Kegel originally intended them to be performed, they are useless. Explaining her technique, she writes: “This is the equivalent to me going to the gym, staring at the weight rack, and waving my arms and legs wildly in the air. Then I wipe the imaginary sweat off my brow, congratulate myself on a ‘Great workout!’ and go home.” Anami believes her method of vaginal weightlifting will increase libido, give you and your partner orgasms and – added bonus – allow you to “ejaculate across the room - every woman can.”"

Under China's New Law, Divorced Women Can End Up Homeless - TIME - "In China, nothing quite kills the romance like the threat of losing real estate. Last month, the country's Supreme Court rolled out a new interpretation of China's Marriage Law that changes the way property disputes are handled after a divorce. Since then, couples across China have been thinking more seriously about tying the knot: in the southwest city of Chongqing alone, marriage registrations fell by 30% in the weeks after the changes were made."
People respond to incentives. Even with regard to marriage and family life

Star Wars: The Empire Strips Back

Halal certification bad for business because we can’t sell alcohol, Sabah seafood restaurant owners say - "With fresh seafood being one of the state’s attractions, some seafood restaurants have said it does not want to lose out on potential tourist dollars or any side income it may get from selling alcohol and cigarettes... Another popular outlet, Welcome Seafood Restaurant, appeals to Muslims by having a separate kitchen that did not serve pork and specified green tables which its Muslim clientele may feel more comfortable dining in."

Five privacy questions for Singapore's gantry-free ERP system - "In an exchange of letters in the media in 2001, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) rather contradicted itself when it claimed it did not track all the vehicles passing through or kept records of them. If so, it was a mystery how the LTA had once issued refunds to those who were wrongly charged by the system. How did it identify these vehicles? If the authorities were not clear then about the way data was collected and stored, what about now, when there’s the added ability to also analyse the data? Sadly, the LTA has so far not been clear either. Almost as a side note to the big news of this impressive satellite tracking technology, it has been telling people not to worry so much."

What Do We Know About the Association Between Firearm Legislation and Firearm-Related Injuries? - " Evidence from 130 studies in 10 countries suggests that in certain nations the simultaneous implementation of laws targeting multiple firearms restrictions is associated with reductions in firearm deaths. Laws restricting the purchase of (e.g., background checks) and access to (e.g., safer storage) firearms are also associated with lower rates of intimate partner homicides and firearm unintentional deaths in children, respectively"

Why Some Healthy Foods Are Not Sustainable
Between health, sustainability, organic, animal cruelty and Fairtrade, you might as well starve to death

Backlash against Olympics, IOC demands is about much more than Rio woes - "During the bidding process for the 2022 Winter Games, five cities that expressed interest in bidding abandoned their candidacies because voters or the government wouldn't accept the financial risk. Many of them also blamed the IOC's demands and even "arrogance." Jeff Ruffolo, an American who helped Beijing operate the 2008 Summer Games and make its 2022 bid successful, called the bidding process "a joke." "Everybody's laughing about it except for the people in Lausanne," Ruffolo told the Guardian, referring to the IOC's headquarters in Switzerland. "They don't realize they are riding a dead horse." The specter of many of the world's major cities balking at chasing the Olympics was prophesized back in 2002, when then-IOC president Jacques Rogge acknowledged a "need to streamline costs and scale down the Games so the host cities are not limited to wealthy metropolises. The scale of the Games is a threat to their quality"... London ran up a $15 billion cost overrun in 2012. Now Tokyo, host of the 2020 Summer Games, has already decided it can't afford the stadium that was a centerpiece of its bid. The plans were scrapped in July amid howls of protest. "Does the IOC care?" Short asks. "What's happened is a classic lesson from the global financial crisis: If you're not responsible for risk, you do stupid things. But many cities are recalculating. That could finally be the crunch"... mass withdrawals from the 2022 Winter Games bidding left the IOC with a choice between only Almaty, Kazakhstan, and a return to Beijing, which will have to manufacture massive amounts of snow and is as far as 90 miles from the mountains that will host events. What do the former Soviet Republic and China have in common? "They're two of the worst places for human rights in the world," Short says. "A lot of European cities are having a hard time getting the choice to bid on the Games past voters. Boston also said no. So what you're left with are countries desperate for recognition and a boost in prestige. Or cities from nondemocratic, totalitarian countries where there are no voter referendums"... Short, in an op-ed piece for The Washington Post, advocates a more radical approach. It's a fresh, somewhat utopian twist on an old idea that never launched and isn't under serious discussion now: staging the Summer Games in a permanent site near Athens, the ancestral home of the Olympics. Short proposes making the IOC pay -- for a change -- for the construction, facility maintenance and staging of the Games at a green, sustainably built, multivenue complex on one of Greek's many islands and that it be used for other cultural and athletic purposes year-round."

'Ruin Porn' --- the Aftermath of the Beijing Olympics - The New York Times - "In Athens, site of the 2004 Summer Games, 21 of the 22 stadiums were reported to be unoccupied by 2009. Some even blame the Greek financial crisis, in part, on the $15 billion cost of the Games. The poster child of ill-conceived venues is undoubtedly the main Olympic Stadium in Montreal. A report on Canadian Broadcasting said the stadium became “a familiar mix of tragedy and farce,” the brainchild of Jean Drapeau, the late mayor who was “widely portrayed here as a megalomaniac who led Montreal over a cliff.”"

40% of Millennials OK with limiting speech offensive to minorities - "Even though a larger share of Millennials favor allowing offensive speech against minorities, the 40% who oppose it is striking given that only around a quarter of Gen Xers (27%) and Boomers (24%) and roughly one-in-ten Silents (12%) say the government should be able to prevent such speech... Nearly twice as many Democrats say the government should be able to stop speech against minorities (35%) compared with Republicans (18%). Independents, as is often the case, find themselves in the middle. One-third of all women say the government should be able to curtail speech that is offensive to minorities vs. 23% of men who say the same. Furthermore, Americans who have a high school degree or less are more likely than those with at least a college degree to say that speech offensive to minority groups should be able to be restricted (a 9-percentage-point difference)."
Unsurprisingly, Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to support censorship to 'protect' 'minorities'. And those with a college degree are more likely to support censorship. Yet more proof that Modern Liberals have betrayed the Enlightenment

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Chinese President Xi Jinping courts a willing Britain - "They will not support the Springboks. They will support their opponents. And that reminded me of a time in the 80s when we grew up, I grew up under apartheid Emily as you know. And there was a big boxing fight here between an African American boxer known as John Tate against a local white Afrikaner heavyweight champion Gerrie Coetzee. And in the suburbs where white people lived... they supported Gerrie Coetzee, who was the South African. And in the townships we were supporting a man we didn't know, we've never met called John Tate. purely because he was black. And that's how people felt when the Springbok left for the Rugby World Cup"

Malay Marginalisation in Singapore

Basheer Khan - "The Malay community in Singapore is facing...

""The Malay community in Singapore is facing tremendous socio-economic pressures. Despite gains made, one can still observe a general lagging in comparison to other races. The factors are many and the situation is complex.

Given the situation, the "marginalisation thesis" took root. It is a one-dimensional argument: that there is a systematic effort to push the Malay community to the margins. Although one cannot deny that some aspects of Malay underdevelopment has got to do with the effects of certain policies, the "marginalisation thesis" reduces a complex phenomenon to a single blame-factor - the government - which is said to be largely responsible for the state of affairs of the Malay community.

Seductive as this may be as an explanation, one must question this by pointing out how it fails to take into account a myriad of other factors, which may or may not be within the control of the government. Yet, time and time again, the "marginalisation thesis" has been exploited by certain groups with an interest not for the betterment of the community, but for an ideological goal which is expressedly and exclusively ethno-religio-centric, with political undertone. I am wary of this utilisation of the "marginalisation thesis", even as I question some aspects of the argument, as proposed by some scholars.

Recently, a friend shared with me a Whatsapp message that is circulating among Muslim circles in Jakarta. The message calls for Muslims not to elect Ahok (the current non-Muslim and Chinese Jakarta governor). What is interesting is the citing of Singapore Malay's condition as an example of why Muslims must not allow a non-Muslim Chinese to rule over them: it will lead to the marginalisation of the Muslims, like how Malay Muslims in Singapore are "oppressed" by the Chinese non-Muslim government of PAP.

This transition from a "marginalised community" to an "oppressed community" is both amusing and worrying. Are Malays really oppressed in Singapore? Recently, I hosted a group of Malay students from Malaysia to observe and have a snapshot of Singapore, including talking to local Malays and being briefed on various aspects of Malay life in Singapore. Sure, there are issues and problems, but to call the Malays in Singapore as "marginalised" and "oppressed" seems to be largely an exaggeration that serves more of the political interest of racial/religious politics in Malaysia, and now in Jakarta. Of course, this is not to say that Singapore does not utilise its own "bogeyman" across the north and south for its own local politics. But the persistent exaggeration of the Malay condition in Singapore will not bode well for local Malays who can be swayed by such irresponsible stoking of sentiments and be dragged into the racial/religious politics elsewhere.

My worry is this: it will develop a victim-mentality that can absolve responsibility and blind analysts to other factors and dynamics in society. This will create a wedge that can cause the community to withdraw and be on a siege-mentality that will rob it of the confidence to deal with the problems facing the community, and instead be distracted by some grand conspiratorial charges, including falling into some right-wing etho-chauvinist and religious fundamentalist agenda.

Won't this give more reasons for the state to harp on the issue of "Malays are not integrating"? "

An interesting read into the Malay "marginalisation" dilemma in Singapore"

A: I don't know about you but I find that at times, this 'marginalization' is a self imposed act.

Growing up, I've always been told that we got the short end of the stick but then watched the same people who tell me that just sit back and wallow in self-pity, take potshots at those who do better than them and expect the same people whom they just 'potshot'-ed to give them hand outs.

B: How well have the privileged Malays done in Malaysia? I believe, they have been handicapped in life. For the non Malays that have been marginalized, they have to survive and become more competitive. It has everything to do with attitude

C: The marginalization of Malays is due to several factors. Yes - the Gov has its fair share of blame BUT let us NOT forget that the Malays too, contribute to their own marginalization by insisting on Islamic purity. Let me be the Devil's Advocate here and ask - had the Malays been Buddhists, would they be marginalised ? Of course not ! They would have inter-married with the Chinese and would fit right in. Indeed that is precisely what happened in Thailand. There is hardly a problem between the Chinese and the indigenous Thais because both share very similar religious practices. The Malays however, insist on Islamic purity and that keeps them isolated from integrating with the rest of the nation. I dare say this - coz its plain obvious to all and sundry.

Indeed this marginalization of the Malays is NOT unique to Malays. When Conservative Muslims live in a Non Muslim majority environment, they face severe issues involving integration, marginalization etc. Why ? Because Conservative Muslims try very hard to maintain "Islamic purity".

In conclusion - one MAJOR factor in the marginalization of the Malays is precisely their desire to maintain "Islamic purity". That is something for all of us to think about.

Of course - Islamic purity is precisely the one thing that the Malays will not sacrifice. So the wayang goes on year after year. As much as I hate to admit it, perhaps there was some truth to Hard Truths...

D: You mean like those Muslims who migrated from a 3rd world country to the west. Don't want to integrate but insist on their host country to adopt Sharia Law?

E: The victim mentality is dominant in the Gulf countries.


F: Like many here said - yes the government shares some blame but on the other hand the community has to meet everyone else halfway.

I was at first apprehensive about the counterpoint to the marginalization thesis that places some responsibility on the community itself because of unfortunate potential implications, until I heard some very close Malay friends lament about the exact same thing regarding other Malays with my own ears.

From what I understand, much of the community has this 'crab mentality', where they cannot accept that maybe a fellow member is able to break free of the mold and prosper on their own terms in spite of the odds. They simply *cannot* just be happy for and supportive of their peer's success and *must* find a way to pull that person back down and explain away their success like, "Oh he must know the right people", "Oh, he must have sucked up to the Chinese business partners and abandon the values of his own people" (and this one is particular was an especially blatant lie)...

...and the ever-favourite "Which bomoh he went to ah? So powerful one."

No - these people took the plunge, made the leap of faith, worked their butts off to get where they are, often not for selfiah reasons but to provide a better life for their families (in particular single guys trying to provide for their elderly parents) - and people only know how to criticize their career choicrs, or being a sell-out or - when they have run out of things to point at - their unmarried status.

...and it's not just in the realm of social success but also in other things, like the right to wear hijab. I was one of those who harped on and on about how solutions to integrate the hijab with uniforms (such as basically designing a uniform-centric hijab for Muslim employees to use) are well within reach if institutions could only just be bothered, until I realized that layered inside the community was, inversely, another group fighting for the right NOT to wear hijab (citing personal or medical reasons), and I would be doing them no favour.

My BF's mother, for example, is asthmatic and very sensitive to hot weather. She is all for those who feel the conviction to wear the hijab but she herself prefers not to when going outdoors because the stuffiness aggravates her condition and causes shortness of breath and energy - meaning any outing in which she has to wear the hijab has to be cut short at some point because she will need to go home and recuperate.

Unfortunately, she is caught between a rock and a hard place because whenever she steps out she stands to get judged left-right-centre by a lot of people who don't care to sympathize with her condition and instead harp on her exposed head - to the point that it actually affects her freedom to go outdoors and socialize because she doesn't want to be 'caught' by someone she knows.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Links - 8th March 2016

5 myths about Trump supporters - "Many conservatives love Trump, but they’re not alone — and his appeal spans ideologies in ways his rivals can’t match. Cruz’s support tanks among self-identified moderates, and Rubio struggles for a significant foothold among those who self-identify as very conservative, but Trump’s share of the vote has so far been fairly consistent across ideological boundaries in the exit polls, a result that’s consistent with a host of pre-primary media surveys and other polls this year... Trump’s supporters are not only untroubled by his smattering of moderate-to-liberal policy positions — many of his backers share them. Take abortion: Private surveys for other 2016 presidential campaigns (shown to POLITICO on condition that the campaigns wouldn’t be identified) have shown Trump running stronger than his average among Republicans who support abortion rights... Trump’s support rose as groups of voters grew more favorable toward labor unions and raising taxes on the wealthy, positions way out of step with Republican orthodoxy but more in keeping with Trump himself... Trump has yet to fall below 24 percent support from women in a single state, according to those surveys, and he has climbed above 30 percent support in many of them. Simply put, Trump would not have been able to get this far in the GOP presidential race — 10 state wins and hundreds of delegates — without significant support from female Republican voters."

Cross Island Line could save commuters 40 minutes: LTA chief - "Some Singaporeans have even questioned the need for the line in the first place... “half of the 30-over stations have connections to other lines. This creates many more travel options for commuters. And it will help redistribute load in the other lines, generally giving better comfort to all commuters. At the same time, during disruptions, you have alternative travel options, enhancing the resilience of the entire network”... what was currently missing was a systematic cost-benefit analysis of the two options. “We are not seeing a cost-benefit analysis being done. What we are hearing is how much additional cost it would take. This is cost effectiveness, not cost benefit; in other words, the cheapest way,” said Professor Quah, head of economics at the Nanyang Technological University... In terms of the more tangible benefits, for instance, going directly across the nature reserve would mean savings in travel time and the cost of land acquisition. Skirting it could mean the ability to pick up more passengers and spur more business activity in affected areas, noted Prof Quah... Transport analyst Lee Der Horng, of the National University of Singapore’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, also noted that the longer alignment would see “more curvatures” that could mean “more wear and tear”, leading to higher costs of train maintenance in the future. But the intangibles – such as the loss to nature - are just as important in a cost-benefit study, said Prof Quah. A dollar value should be put to items such as flora, fauna, biodiversity and water contamination. “We have to know what is the magnitude and the probability of (such damage) happening; and then we can compute what would be the impact cost on society,” he said. How to assign a value? Find out how much people would be willing to pay to avoid crossing the central catchment area – such as through a survey about increasing the price of an MRT ride, suggested Prof Quah. It is not the final answer that is important, he said, but the process of making people think about what trade-off they will accept between economic development and environmental conservation. But MacRitchie advocate Mr Tan said: “You cannot always put a dollar value on everything"... LTA’s Mr Chew reiterated that if it’s decided to take the direct route across the forest, there would be no structures, including ventilation shafts, on the surface. As for the construction, he emphasised: “We are only going to launch and recover the tunnel boring machine well outside the central nature reserve. We are not going to have a situation where trucks and vehicle movement are within the nature reserve - at all. We’re not going to do that”... "the overarching worry is, what is the likelihood of failure? Whether a vehicle accidentally tramples or knocks into something … What happens if mitigation measures fail? Will the damage be irrecoverable? Very likely so. And if it fails, who will take accountability?”"
This is Singapore's Greenies' version of Pascal's Wager; if the calculations are wrong and the Large Hadron Collider creates a black hole that could destroy the Earth, we're all doomed. SHUT DOWN THE LHC

Anita Sarkeesian at TEDxWomen 2012 - YouTube - "It is no secret that the video game industry boasts some of the most sexually objectified, stereotyped and downright oppressive portrayals of women in any medium"
To liberals, free speech is oppressive

Anita Sarkeesian Wants To Have Cake And Eat Men, Too - "Feminist agitator and self-proclaimed video game critic Anita Sarkeesian has had a bad few weeks. Her most recent video, “Women as Reward,” attracted nowhere near the amount of fanfare previous outings did, her censorious comments regarding the “Doom” franchise got her roundly mocked, and now she’s at the center of the slow-motion train crash that is the United Nations Cyberviolence Report. Even her collaborator on said report, Zoe Quinn, has disowned it, while Sarkeesian has stayed suspiciously silent. All in all, it seems the old girl has lost a bit of her edge at attracting fawning press coverage for her supposed bravery and cogency. That’s a victory for truth, at least, because Sarkeesian is neither brave nor cogent. Her “bravery” largely consists of telling off anonymous Twitter trolls and hyperventilating over specious bomb threats even after law enforcement has dismissed those threats. As for “cogency,” Sarkeesian’s videos are less arguments than extended logical fallacies. As I detailed in a previous lengthy series on this topic, Sarkeesian poisons the well so often that cholera bacteria would tell her to slow down, and she seems to think begging the question is an Olympic sport. That’s not even touching her numerous errors of fact and interpretation... Sarkeesian’s desired world is one where women face no expectations of any kind, nor any possible consequences for their choices... If a woman wants to lead a man on, Sarkeesian seems to say that’s her prerogative. If a woman wants to laugh in the face of a rescuer and call him a loser, Sarkeesian seems to say that’s her prerogative. No matter their actions (in video games, at least), women should be free from the threat of harm or consequences of any kind."
Isn't facing "no expectations of any kind, nor any possible consequences for their choices" a good summary of feminism?

Feminist Frequency‘How to be a Feminist’ Panel at All About Women « - "Unfortunately many contemporary discourses in and around feminism tend to emphasize a form of hyper individualism (informed by the neoliberal worldview)... Choice feminism posits that each individual woman determines what is empowering for herself, which might sound good on the surface but this concept risks obscuring the bigger picture and larger, fundamental goals of the movement by focusing on individual women and a very narrow, individual notion of “empowerment”. It erases the reality that some choices that women make have an enormous negative impact on other women’s lives. It is not enough to feel personally empowered or be personally successful within the oppressive framework of the current system. Even if an individual woman can make patriarchy work for her, it’s still a losing game for the rest of the women on this planet. The fact of the matter is that some choices have ramifications beyond ourselves and reinforce harmful patriarchal ideas about women as a group and about women’s bodies in our wider shared culture. And because of how systems of oppression intersect and compound one another, it’s women of color, indigenous women, women living in the global south, women with disabilities, queer women, and transwomen who bare the brunt of those ramifications. “Choice feminism” also obscures the fact that women don’t have a real choice. We have a very narrow set of predetermined choices within patriarchy. Women can choose from a pre-approved palette, but we cannot meaningfully choose liberation, we cannot choose a way out from our constraints, at least not without ending those oppressive systems that limit our options. So when we talk about free choice in today’s world, we’re really talking about a very narrow spectrum of choices that are amenable to patriarchy... We are all connected, we are bond together under the oppression of patriarchy and as such our personal actions or inactions do have a harmful effect on other women, especially those from the most marginalized communities"
Basically women, like children, don't know what's good for them, so they must be forced to make the "correct" choices. Freedom is Slavery

Anita Sarkeesian Makes it Clear: Feminism is About Collectivism, Free Choice Be Damned - "women only choose to have kids because they lack access to abortions? How dismissive of individual women can you possibly be? Of course Anita just said feminism is not about the individual, so it only stands to reason that her attitudes about the personal decisions women make would be dismissive. But this comic is downright abhorrent. Look at how it treats homemakers and working women. It’s mind-boggling."

Planet Blue Coat: Mapping Global Censorship and Surveillance Tools - "Blue Coat Devices capable of filtering, censorship, and surveillance are being used around the world. During several weeks of scanning and validation that ended in January 2013, we uncovered 61 Blue Coat ProxySG devices and 316 Blue Coat PacketShaper appliances, devices with specific functionality permitting filtering, censorship, and surveillance. 61 of these Blue Coat appliances are on public or government networks in countries with a history of concerns over human rights, surveillance, and censorship (11 ProxySG and 50 PacketShaper appliances). We found these appliances in the following locations:
- Blue Coat ProxySG: Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE.
- PacketShaper: Afghanistan, Bahrain, China, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, and Venezuela."

Video: I Dared Two Elite Hackers to Ruin My Life - "after reporting on the hacks of Sony Pictures, JPMorgan Chase, Ashley Madison, and other major companies, I got curious about what it felt like to be on the victim’s side of a data breach, in a time when so much of our lives is contained in these giant, fragile online containers. So I decided to stage an experiment that, in hindsight, sounds like a terrible idea: I invited two of the world’s most elite hackers (neither of whom I’d ever met) to spend two weeks hacking me as deeply and thoroughly as they could, using all of the tools at their disposal. My only conditions were that the hackers had to promise not to steal money or any other assets from me, reveal any of my private information, or do any harm to me, my data, or anyone else. And then, at the end of the hack, I wanted them to tell me what they found, delete any copies they’d made, and help me fix any security flaws or vulnerabilities I had... it didn’t matter how good my defenses were. Against a pair of world-class hackers, my feeble protections were about as useful as cardboard shields trying to stop a rocket launcher. For weeks, these hackers owned the hell out of me. They bypassed every defense I’d set up, broke into the most sensitive and private information I have, and turned my digital life inside out. And then, when they’d had enough, I met them at DefCon (the world’s biggest hacker convention, held in Las Vegas every year) and they told me exactly how bad the damage was... it’s not likely that I fit the profile of someone whose life an attacker would be interested in destroying. This principle is called “privacy through obscurity.” Basically, the idea is that although anyone can theoretically be hacked by anyone with enough skill and time on their hands, the vast majority of us simply aren’t interesting enough for hackers to care about. “Do you worry about trained martial artists beating you up on the street?” Marquis-Boire asked me. “Not particularly,” I responded. “But you’re aware that they exist,” he said. “You’re also aware that you probably couldn’t do anything about it if one of them wanted to beat you up in the street”... The real danger isn’t the trained martial artist attacking you; it’s the thief who notices that your car is unlocked and decides to help himself to some electronics... The goal of these tools isn’t to make yourself hack-proof; no app or service can do that. But using good security practices can deter hackers, or at least convince them to move on to an easier target."

Chess forbidden in Islam, rules Saudi mufti, but issue not black and white - "Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti has ruled that chess is forbidden in Islam, saying it encourages gambling and is a waste of time... Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s supreme Shia religious authority, has previously issued rulings forbidding chess... The region’s clerical establishment figures are no strangers to seemingly strange fatwas, or edicts. In the early 2000s, Saudi and other clerics issued a fatwa against the popular Pokémon franchise, and during football’s 2010 World Cup in South Africa, religious scholars in the United Arab Emirates said that using the widely reviled vuvuzela instrument was forbidden if the sound produced was above 100 decibels."

When gods were hauled into Indian courts - "In India, many devout Hindus have very intimate relationships with their gods and goddesses and, keeping that in mind, the Indian judicial system regards deities as legal beings. This means that there have also been instances where they have been hauled into court... A lawyer recently took one of Hinduism's most popular gods, Ram, to court for being "unjust to his wife Sita". Chandan Kumar Singh identifies as a practising Hindu, and says that although he worships Ram like millions of people in India and around the world, he cannot ignore the fact that Ram mistreated Sita... Gods cannot play the stock market, the high court in Mumbai ruled in 2010. The judges rejected a petition from a religious trust which wanted to open trading accounts in the names of five gods, including Ganesha, the elephant-headed god. The trust, owned by the former royal family of Sangli in the western state of Maharashtra, said the deities had savings bank accounts and income tax cards, but the judges were unmoved. Trading in shares on the stock market requires certain skills and expertise and the judges said that to expect this from deities would not be proper, adding that "gods and goddesses were meant to be worshipped, and not dragged into commercial activities like share trading"."

Eight women who decided to propose - "In a US survey by AP, nearly one in four people said they felt it was not acceptable for a woman to propose. And out of the respondents who were already married, only 5% said the woman was the one to propose... Throughout history it has been traditional for men to propose to women, but once every four years, on 29 February, women were "allowed" to propose to men"

Feminist "Science" of the Day

Glaciers, gender, and science

Abstract: "Glaciers are key icons of climate change and global environmental change. However, the relationships among gender, science, and glaciers – particularly related to epistemological questions about the production of glaciological knowledge – remain understudied. This paper thus proposes a feminist glaciology framework with four key components: 1) knowledge producers; (2) gendered science and knowledge; (3) systems of scientific domination; and (4) alternative representations of glaciers. Merging feminist postcolonial science studies and feminist political ecology, the feminist glaciology framework generates robust analysis of gender, power, and epistemologies in dynamic social-ecological systems, thereby leading to more just and equitable science and human-ice interactions."

Addendum: Gem of a paragraph: "Feminist and postcolonial theories enrich and complement each other by showing how gender and colonialism are co-constituted, as well as how both women and indigenous peoples have been marginalized historically (Schnabel, 2014). Feminist glaciology builds from feminist postcolonial science studies, analyzing not only gender dynamics and situated knowledges, but also alternative knowledges and folk glaciologies that are generally marginalized through colonialism, imperialism, inequality, unequal power relations, patriarchy, and the domination of Western science (Harding, 2009)."

This was very entertaining.

The article is a great example in saying a lot but meaning little (inasmuch as the aim is to improve glaciology).

But then again, the authors' aim is to have "more just and equitable science and human-ice interactions". They say nothing about actually improving our knowledge about the world (you know, what science is supposed to be about).

We learn a lot about the image, history and the statistical and inherent inequality of glaciology, but practically nothing of substance about the subject. To apply a feminist-inspired critique, this is like criticising Angela Merkel for her clothes rather than her policies. Ironically the article criticises a New York Times article on the melting Greenland glaciers saying it doesn't talk much about science (a criticism that can be applied even more strongly to itself). This also fails to situate the NYT article in its context - there is a whole genre of NYT articles written in this way which is more about the human interest angle than the putative issue that motivates it.

The authors claim that you don't need to actually have experience working on a glacier to be a glaciologist (e.g. you can be a computer modeler). Apparently the feminist ideas of "lived experience" and "authentic experience" don't apply to Science.

There is a claim that the manly portrayal of researchers in the media "can shape scientific credibility in the academy, such as with hiring and possibly even with peer reviewing". No evidence is given to support this claim. At all.

The authors are also surprised that a traditional societies "are often no more egalitarian" than the sciences. No shit, Sherlock. You don't find much feminism in traditional societies.

"‘The centrality of mathematical and technological science . . . structured by masculinist ideologies of domination and mastery’, thus determining who can or cannot participate in climate science and policy-making" is criticised. So presumably anyone should be able to talk out of their ass, all perspectives should be valued (even demonstrably false ones) and anyone, no matter how ignorant, should "participate in climate science and policy-making".

At one point, Eskimo taboos about cooking with grease near glaciers are mentioned. This "demonstrate[s] the capacity of folk glaciologies to diversify the field of glaciology and subvert the hegemony of natural sciences". I'm sure there're Eskimo tribes who have taboos about studying glaciers. So let's shut down glaciology as a field of study!

The article gets even better towards the end where they talk about "glacier-oriented visual and literary arts", including the recording of the sounds of glaciers on glacial meltwater which has been frozen into an LP. I'm just surprised that nothing involving a vagina and/or menstrual blood was cited.

The one saving grace of this article is that doesn't have (much) jargon (well, aside from it being free).

And the one useful takeaway is that the climate is a lot less predictable than we would like (but then from what I know existing climate models already have caveats about uncertainty; this is also why, as everyone knows, weather forecasts beyond a few days are inaccurate). So I'm not sure this point is very novel.

The most depressing bit of the article is that "This work is based upon work supported by the US National Science Foundation under grant #1253779". Who is conducting a War on Science, again? [Addendum: The grant description sounds VERY different from this article]

Other fields ripe for Feminist Science's Disruption:

- Cosmology needs to take into account Australian aborigines' perspectives about The Dreamtime.
- Astronomy needs to take into account astrological perspectives about the constellations' effects on our lives
- Medicine neglects the holistic viewpoint of homeopathy in contributing to human wellness

I don't know whether to be disturbed or amused that Progress in Human Geography has a ranking of 2/76. The Impact Factor is 5.010, which is higher than PLOS ONE (3.234) - if you cite an article to debunk it that raises its citation count and thus the journal's Imapct Factor, right?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Latest posts (which you might not see on this page)

powered by Blogger | WordPress by Newwpthemes