When you can't live without bananas

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Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Links - 8th February 2017

Hassan Raza - People involved in attacking, burning and destroying... - "People involved in attacking, burning and destroying Ahmedi mosque did not belong to ISIS, Taliban, Al Qaeda or Boko Haram. They were ordinary people. So your theory of "Hey the combined forces of all terrorist organizations make up only 0.003% of the global Muslim population, so ordinary Muslims are peaceful" fails because guess what? One call from mosque was enough to transform the so called ordinary "peaceful" Muslims into a mob today. These people were normal people who live among us, they are not affiliated with any terrorist outfits but the fact that one sermon was enough to turn them into a mob shows us the severity of the people we are dealing with. These people might not qualify to be labelled ''terrorists'' but by no means can they be called "peace loving" either so PLEASE spare me with your 0.003% bullshit."

The story behind the world's oldest museum, built by a Babylonian princess 2,500 years ago - "In 1925, archaeologist Leonard Woolley discovered a curious collection of artifacts while excavating a Babylonian palace. They were from many different times and places, and yet they were neatly organized and even labeled. Woolley had discovered the world's first museum."

For the love of God, stop donating canned goods to the food bank - "Canned goods have a particularly low rate of charitable return. They’re heavy, they’re awkward and they can be extremely difficult to fit into a family’s meal plan. Worst of all, the average consumer is buying those canned goods at four to five times the rock-bottom bulk price that can be obtained by the food bank itself... And then there’s the logistical nightmare when these boxes show up at the food bank’s loading dock... It doesn’t feel as good to donate money. As much as we like to pretend that charitable giving is a selfless act, a lot of it is driven by the human need to feel special and magnanimous."

Why men might have a point about ‘man flu’ – viruses want to kill men more than women, scientists find - "They appear to be particularly nasty if they are the sort of virus that is transmitted from mother to child, such as rubella, chickenpox, zika and hepatitis. Put simply, women are more valuable to the virus than men are because they can pass it on to more people... "Survival of the fittest is relevant to all organisms, not just animals and humans. It's entirely probable that this sex-specific virulent behaviour is happening to many other pathogens causing diseases. It's an excellent example of what evolutionary analysis can do for medicine.""

Theresa May's leather trousers prompt political row - "Former chancellor Ken Clarke has not been impressed, telling the Sunday Politics it was "tedious" that stories about what women politicians were wearing featured in the newspapers. "I feel sorry for women in politics," he said. "I'm glad to say men in politics don't have great news stories about what they are wearing."
But people talk about Trump's hair...

Belgian porn photos prompt suspension of government worker - "The woman has worked for the ministry for six years, and insists the pictures are private and nothing to do with her job, Belgian reports say. But her boss is said to have disagreed, because photos posted on Twitter clearly featured the ministry itself. "

Two young girl 'suicide bombers' blow themselves up near Nigerian market - "One bomber appeared no older than seven and the second about eight years old... a female suicide bomber carrying a baby on her back was shot by soldiers at a checkpoint on 28 November, detonating her explosives and killing the woman and the baby"

BBC World Service - The Documentary, Treating the Sex Offender - "You feel a lot safer. If you were in a so-called normal prison, you have to hide your crime from certain people because certain people don't like it. I mean I don't like it meself, but I have to live with what I've done. But when you come here, you have nothing to hide from anybody. Everybody knows that everybody is a sex offender so people just get on with their time...
You can't cure people of a sexual attraction to children... It's there and it will be there forever. If someone has a sexual preference for violence, that may be there forever. What we give them are the tools to cope with those risky thoughts, those risky feelings, so they know the harm done, so they know ways that they can keep themselves and other people safe...
Around 1-2% of the general population could be classified as pedophiles. But defining a child sex offender with that term remains complex.
'The sort of definition of people who are pedophiles is that they are sexually interested in children. And I think that's sometimes quite different to people who have opportunistic interest in children. That's not necessarily about sexual gratification. It could be but it depends. It could be for other reasons. And that might not necessarily be their sexual preference. It might be who happens to be who's available for their sexual gratification'...
'A lot of the work we do is aimed at building the self-esteem of people that have committed a sexual offence, because a lot of sexual offending is as a direct result of low self-esteem, especially against children because they don't judge. They have no experience of sex. They have no experience of adult things, so people can feel more comfortable with children'..
'I am a victim of sexual abuse myself. And I think that caused a lot of trouble. I think my sexual development, it stopped when I was abused. And that's probably the... major factor'"

BBC World Service - Assignment , The Battle for Barcelona - "There are 14 of these bike, scooter, segway rental places in the neighbourhood. And of course they're for the tourists. She says you turn the corner and you walk smack into one all the time... It was about in 2011 when our old people couldn't go onto the balconies anymore and hang out the washing because they would be looking into a tourist apartment and seeing a couple with the curtains open having sex... The problem we're hearing about again and again from the people who live in the city is the springing up of accommodation for tourists in residential areas. In other words, working Barcelonans having to live cheek by jowl with visitors who are on holiday. Exactly what the websites advertising this sort of accommodation promote as a way of having an authentic experience...
[Airbnb spokesman:] Of the 9 million people that were reported to be coming to Barcelona last year, our community probably hosted around 900,000 of them. About 80% of the hosts who are listing on our site have 1 listing. They are generally renting the home that they live in. A typical host in Barcelona earns about 5,000 euros a year. We think that home-sharing is a solution to many of the problems that the City Hall has recognised, which is about concentration of tourists in very very tight areas of the city. By embracing home-sharing, we can be spreading tourists more widely, more of that money can be going into the pockets of regular Barcelona residents. And we think that a holistic approach to tourism is the right way for the city and for the government to be tackling what is undoubtedly a challenge for the city...
'A majority [of AirBNB users] are now either individuals or even private companies that own several properties. So in Barcelona we know that 54% of individuals advertising on AirBNB for the city advertise more than 1 room or property. That's more than half. And that this is a very different type of activites than sharing a room in a flat where you live. It's very different in terms of scale. It's very different in terms of its impact on the housing market'...
'Some serious studies have been done by colleagues here in Barcelona and there's ample evidence that about 60% of the listings are concentrated in Ciutat Vella the Old Town and the Eixample, which are already the neighbourhoods suffering from the greatest mass and flows of tourism and which are also the neighbourhoods where most of the hotels are concentrated. And there is much less AirBNB offer in peripheral neighbourhoods of Barcelona.'
'AirBNB disagrees with this but won't share its data so it can be independently verified'

BBC World Service - The Documentary, Cruising, Cruising - New Destinations - "Chinese travel in a different way... they travel, first of all, rather in small groups than than as couples or individuals. So that means they want to have a living situation - the cabins in a way that they can stay together or they have some private space. Most Chinese people think it's boring to travel by yourself or only with your spouse. So the men want to talk to other men. Ladies want to talk to other ladies'
'For Chinese, especially for senior people, they feel comfortable and safe to travel by cruise. They don't need to worry about get lost. They don't worry, there's no panic of catching the flights, the trains and they don't worry about the language problem... the younger generation. They've earn through hard work and they get good salary, like to return the love to the parents'...
The Chinese do not like to be on the sun. Meanwhile all the Western people all the cruise vessel in general have a lot of swimming pool, sun deck, some chairs, enormous space in the open air. So Chinese vessels should have more covered space...
Colour contrast, more contrast. Which is often the sort of the more muted tones that we would say is modern can often appear cheap for the Chinese market"

BBC World Service - The Documentary, Leaving the Fold - "One of the most memorable things that happened to me that whole time I was at that Christian school was one teachers always used to pull us out of lessons to give us long lectures about something that she was angry about that particular day, and on this day, she was angry because one of the kids had been heard in the playground singing a secular song and she said if you were out in the park and you saw some dog dirt on the floor, would you pick it up and rub it in your friend's face? And she mimed picking up the dog dirt and rubbing it on the child's face, kind of crouched down in front of this kid and mimed rubbing it on the face. I remember she used this phrase dog dirt over and over again and this sort of curled lip as she said her disgust at dog dirt. You rub it on her face. Said, singing... it's bad enough that you would listen to this evil music in your own time, but by singing it within the earshot other Christian children in this school is the same as rubbing dog dirt in their faces...
'At my first wedding... it was the first time I had thought about leaving religion... we were both Hindus but of different community with different beliefs. The bone of contention at our wedding was that my family wanted to have alcohol and meat served on the wedding day which is when the religious ceremonies are performed and her side of the family didn't believe in that. And that was not acceptable to my side of the family who in fact came for the wedding and did not eat or drink anything at the wedding, and I think that was an appalling act of intolerance. I felt that how can somebody not have tolerance and actually you know turn an event of love and a lot of religious significance into an event of hatred and intolerance... if they would have just embraced each other with love and affection, they would have forgotten about what was served. But I think they felt that their belief was more important than the celebration of love of two people. So it just made me believe that if there's a belief that supercedes love, then that's not a belief that I want to be a part of'"

BBC World Service - Assignment , Basques Face the Future - "People are standing in the street, drinking, talking. And there's gonna be a competition later on to decapitate a goose down in the port. Luckily the goose is already dead...
That's kalimotxo [Ed: aka calimocho]. It's a mixture of red wine and Coke... it's very popular here"

BBC World Service - The Documentary, The Forgotten Prisoners of Apartheid - "[On refusing to play ball with the Truth & Reconciliation Commission] What I committed could not be classified as crime, because one cannot combat/compare poison with antidote. Because the violence of the oppressed is radically different from the violence of the oppressors... I did apply for amnesty, and in the application I stated that I was responsible for all ABLA [sp?] operations that took place while I was its commander. They answered did cheer see? [???] Said crime cannot be collectivised. Had to be individualised. So tell us what crime you have committed. Then I said I was not going to be part and parcel of a process that criminalised the African noble struggle...
The TRC say the person who pulled the trigger is the one who should confess. Which means leaders: none of them of both the PAC and ANC appeared before the TRC. Some of them were commanders in chief who, when it is bad, they are exonerated and the footsoldiers are punished...
People get offended when you compare them with the apartheid regime. But the apartheid regime was better. Because both the apartheid regime and the ANC regime say they have no political prisoners. But the apartheid regime, to its credit, said much as we don't have political prisoners, we have security prisoners. And security prisoners were treated better than common prisoners...
'Any mistake, I would be inside and forever... Even now. Like, I cannot get angry like anybody else. I cannot point anybody with the finger and say 'hey, don't do that to me' otherwise if that person can go to, report me in the police station I'm back'"

BBC Radio 4 - They Call Us Viet Kieu - "My mom was always keen to pass her culinary skills on to us. Endless details of exact temperatures for boiling rice and instuctions on how to lift a chicken out of a pot. It was the setting for where our conversations about her life in Vietnam began. She would tell me about her Vietnamese childhood chasing fireflies in the moonlight, selling vegetables in the market and playing in the ricefields. But whenever my questions turned to the Vietnam War, which would eventually make her leave it all behind, she'd become elusive and shake her head. And every once in a while she'd give us an odd warning that we shouldn't speak ill of the Vietnamese government or else. Or else what? She wouldn't say. Instead, she would make us food, but her fear was inherited by me all the same. And a mountain of questions was starting to pile up. Does the Vietnam my mother feared still exist?...
Viet Kieus have a sort of stigma attached to them from Vietnam because about 10 years ago, the waves of Viet Kieus that came back, we're like yeah, you know, we're rich, let's go back and help the people. Let's give them clean water and there was a certain type of entitlement which I like to call a Viet guilt. The mentality of like I know so much, I'm coming back here to help the people... I'm gonna fix things...
I thought to this day that simply voicing your disdain for the Communist party, which still rules Vietnam, would be enough to make you disappear, have your family violently threatened and have your head chopped off. Turns out I was quite wrong.
'The worst thing that could happen is that [we] would get a call, probably at midnight, and the next morning we'd have to go see either the Cultural Police or the Ministry of Culture and we'll be given a session of mmm mmm, you've done it wrong here here and here. Now you can either pay a fine or we'll shut you down'

BBC Radio 4 - Moving Pictures, The Harvesters by Pieter Bruegel the Elder - "The wonderful thing about Breugel and really to me the wonderful thing about Northern Renaissance art in general is the more you look at it the more you find. There's no area that isn't thought about. Even the background is treated like foreground...
A cruel animal game. You can see these children, and even a guard and these farmers and they are throwing sticks to a live goose. And the goose is hanging there and the one who would kill the goose could have it and eat it. But you can imagine that this gives a lot of screaming from the goose and they liked it that way. They liked to see the suffering of the goose and the noises would only make their excitement larger and the more silent the goose gets the more excited they become again because it means the end is near...
The year 1565 saw the coldest winter anyone could remember. Bruegel's response was to produce the first oil paintings of snow in art history"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Why do we misunderstand Africa? - "A really good example is the migrant crisis right now. The Africans who are turning up, crossing the Mediterranean and so on, are given this term economic migrants, and the idea is that they're coming from a place of destitution and trying to sort of better themselves. Consider what they're paying to get here. It's $5-10,000 a head. The amazing thing about that is not the inequality or the fact that it costs me $500 to go to Africa but the fact that so many people can afford it. They're not coming because they're poor. They're coming because increasingly they're not...
'There are some of Africa's 54 countries are doing incredibly well, I mean better, growing faster than any other country in the world'
'Since about 2003, Africa has doubled global economic growth and pick any year, at least 5 out of 10 of the fastest growing countries in the world are Africac. They beat India, they beat China. There's actually no greater recognition of how well Africa doing than there are now a million Chinese who have emigrated to Africa. A million people from the hottest economy of the last 30 years have moved to Africa. What does that tell you? It is the land of opportunity'...
[On the West missing out on Africa to China] 'The biggest investor in Africa is France, then comes the US, then the UK, then South Africa, then Malaysia. After that is China. So there are all sorts of misexceptions, but the biggest one is the idea that anybody gets to boss Africa around these days. Africa has got lots of stuff that everybody wants, but these days that draws suitors, not conquerors'
Is it racist to think economic migrants are rich for being able to try to migrate to Europe or racist to think that they're poor?

When Your Hedge Fund Manager Buys a Ferrari, Find a New Manager - "the car your hedge fund manager drives says something about his capacity for risk taking -- and his ability to generate market-beating returns. Minivan owners in particular run funds that tend to take on far less risk and exhibit lower volatility than sports-car driving managers, according to a new study by academics Yan Lu, Sugata Ray and Melvyn Teo. The researchers say car ownership can be a good gauge of a trait they call “sensation seeking,” which has been linked to substance abuse and crime -- not the most comforting behavior when it comes to money management. They found that the increased proclivity for risk taking comes “without being compensated for higher returns.”"

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

On getting an Android Phone this year

"if anyone wants to change Android phone this year, if you can wait, hold out for phones sporting the SnapDragon 835 processor to be out on the market

it is manufactured by a collaboration between Qualcomm and Samsung foundries, and it will offer a 30% reduction in power consumption due to its 10nm FinFet technology. Current top line phones introduced last year sporting Snapdragon 820/821 uses 14nm FinFet, which is already a 30% drop in power consumption over the 2015 processors which doesn't use the FinFet technology

Battery life is going to increase exponentially comparatively
and also a lot less heating"

Links - 7th February 2017

Swiss cheese hole mystery solved: It's all down to dirt - "Contrary to what cartoons have suggested over the years, the holes are not made by mice eating their way through the cheese. And nor are they produced by carbon dioxide released by bacteria, as popular scientific belief held. Instead, a Swiss laboratory says they are created by flecks of hay... the findings explained why fewer holes had been appearing in Swiss cheeses over the last 15 years, since more modern milking methods made it less likely for hay to fall into containers."

Having a ‘work spouse’ makes you happier - "In 2015, they conducted an online survey of 276 people. Based on their findings they defined a work spouse relationship as a “special, platonic friendship with a work colleague characterised by a close emotional bond, high levels of disclosure and support, and mutual trust, honesty, loyalty, and respect”... The emergence of work spouses can be seen as a symptom and extension of the increasingly blurred lines between work and family life"

Singaporeans among the world’s gloomiest millennials, Japan tops survey - "The Japanese are even more downbeat than young Greeks, who have suffered Great Depression-like conditions and political upheaval in recent years. The survey also found that 14 per cent of Singapore millennials believed they would have to work until the day they die, compared to 12 per cent globally. Singapore is joint-fourth on this list, behind Japan (37 per cent), China (18 per cent) and Greece (15 per cent). Meanwhile, Singapore millennials work more hours in a week than even the Japanese, according to the survey findings. On average, Singapore millennials worked 48 hours a week, coming in second alongside Mexico, China and Switzerland. India millennials topped this list by working an average of 50 hours a week, while the Japanese worked 46 hours."

The “Hamilton” cast’s condescending attitude toward Mike Pence is why Donald Trump won in the first place - "Imagine a president of the United States who rounded up and deported more immigrants than any other in history; put an entire generation of black men in jail with their draconian anti-drug policies; ran a horrid racist campaign against America’s first black president; attacked victims of sexual assault; or had policies that were responsible for the deaths of countless innocent civilians? Would the cast of “Hamilton” give a special wag-of-the-finger message to such leaders during their performance? Of course they wouldn’t—they absolutely love and adore Barack Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton... It’s yet another example of the pomposity of entertainers and celebrities who fancy themselves as guardians of acceptable thought and speech, and so many Americans are just plain tired of it... British actor and comedian Tom Walker—a progressive vehemently opposed to Trump—made a similar point about the left’s attitude toward those outside their political and cultural bubble in an angry but poignant video rant after the election. “Not everyone that voted for Trump is a sexist or a racist,’ Walker yells. He continued:
The left is responsible for this result because the left have now decided that any other opinion, any other way of looking at the world is unacceptable. We don’t debate anymore because the left won the cultural wars. So if you’re on the right, you’re a freak. You’re evil. You’re racist. You’re stupid. You are a basket of deplorables. How do you think people are going to vote if you talk to them like that?"

Video puts Muslim bakeries, florists in gay-rights spotlight - "Along with cheers from the right, the video has drawn a backlash from the left, where columnist Wes Williams of IfYouOnlyNews.com charged Mr. Crowder with being “homophobic, AND racist,” calling the expose “an attempt to smear Muslims”... “Many of the Muslim bakeries were kind enough and willing to serve us, but many of them were not,” Mr. Crowder said. Mr. Williams argued that there has been no media coverage of Muslim bakeries because there have been no complaints filed against them, a point reinforced by Sommer Foster, political advocacy director of Equality Michigan, who said Friday she was unaware of any complaints... “Waiting for the militant progressive supporters of gay wedding cake to start threatening and protesting these Muslim ran bakeries,” she said in a Facebook post. “I think we will be waiting a long time.”"

Outlook 2010 crashing replying to HTML email - Spiceworks - "When a particular user in my organisation replies to some HTML emails Outlook completely freezes and needs to be ended via Task Manager and restarted. I think i've narrowed down the problem to HTML emails with embedded images (which is a lot given people have them in their signatures etc). If I delete the images before sending then it sends straight away. I've been able to replicate the problem for the same user on a different machine, so it's not a machine/profile issue as far as I can see."
"Are the images pulling from an external source? Outlook may be waiting on a network response."

Taking the Pill doesn't damage your sex drive - the length of your relationship is more important

Police force describes missing woman as 'chubby' - "A police force has come under sharp criticism for describing a missing woman as "chubby"... many also pointed out that, presumably, the force was using a description given to them by Elizabeth's family, with one saying: "The family supply the description. Grow up and stop being offended by everything. Hope they find her soon." And another added: "Send her my love and hugs. And tell her all people were worried about is that she was called chubby not that she was missing."
They shouldn't have mentioned her size, then maybe she wouldn't have been found

Trump could be the new JFK says Bill Gates: Microsoft boss says new president will unite country through innovation as the pair meet - "'It was a good time,' the Microsoft head honcho declared. 'We had a good conversation about innovation, how it can help in health, education, the impact of foreign aid and energy, and a wide-ranging conversation about the power of innovation,' he said, using the buzzword once more."

Wonder Woman Is No Longer UN Honorary Ambassador For Gender Equality - "Wonder Woman has been demoted from her role as ‘Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls’. On Monday it was announced that Wonder Woman’s campaign will come to an end on Friday, just two months after it began. The appointment of the DC Comics heroine was controversial to say the least, prompting protests and an online petition from UN staff."
Maybe the Burka Avenger would've been better

Donald Trump's anti-Muslim policies are tame compared to Pakistan's treatment of the Ahmadis - "this is an apartheid of the worst kind which has been underway for several decades now. It is incredibly ironic that a country like Pakistan, whose conceptual foundations were built on safeguarding the rights of Muslim minorities in India, now treats its own minorities with such disdain and callousness. To me, the lack of introspection and critical thought among the general populace is emphasised the most when Pakistani Muslims, who hold discriminatory beliefs against Ahmadis, cry foul of the policies against Muslims put forward by Donald Trump... It would behove such Muslims to come to the realisation that the fundamental human rights they expect to receive in the West should also extend to the treatment of minorities in Muslim-majority states. Paying heed to the Golden rule of 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you' should take us a long way."

Pupils at German primary school chant Muslim prayers as migrants outnumber natives - "The father of the pupil at the girl's primary school in German ski resort Garmisch-Partenkirchen discovered that his daughter had been forced to learn the Islamic prayer when he discovered a handout she had been given. He claimed she had been "forced" by teachers to memorise the Islamic chants... The incident comes just weeks after parents complained to German newspaper Hessian Niedersächsische Allgemeine (HNA) that their children's nursery was refusing to acknowledge "Christmas rituals" to accommodate the "diverse cultures" of other pupils. The Sara Nussbaum House daycare centre in Kassel refused to put up a Christmas tree, tell Christmas stories or celebrate Christmas in general because it said only a minority of pupils were Christian"

Muslim student filed bias crime report to avoid curfew punishment - "A Muslim student who said she was harassed on the subway by drunken, hate-spewing white men shouting “Donald Trump!” lied to police because she broke her curfew... Her strict, Muslim parents allegedly forced Seweid to shave her head over the incident and were upset that she was dating a Christian... In a bizarre twist, Seweid’s older brother, Abdoul, was also charged with falsely reporting an incident back in 2012. Cops said Abdoul, then 17, claimed a pal was “assaulted by three unknown males,” according to a Newsday story at the time."

Humans no longer have a penis bone because we don’t need to have as much sex

Why Do iPhones Cost So Much More In India And Singapore Than China And Japan? - "The fact that Japan and China have the two cheapest average iPhone prices in Asia (they're respectively number two and three cheapest overall in the world, behind Angola), while developing countries like India, Indonesia and Bangladesh cost more, is really surprising. Linio concludes that these differences are due to the different tariffs and taxes from different countries. But there are other reasons too. Logistics of the supply chain is a big factor. In India, because Apple doesn't have its own store, iPhones have to be sold through third party retailers, and according to a report by the Wall Street Journal, smartphones have to pass through up to five middlemen in India before it reaches consumers -- and each one takes a chunk... Apple makes less per iPhones sold in India than in other countries"

There is more than one truth to tell in the heartbreaking story of Aleppo - "it’s time to tell the other truth: that many of the “rebels” whom we in the West have been supporting – and which our preposterous Prime Minister Theresa May indirectly blessed when she grovelled to the Gulf head-choppers last week – are among the cruellest and most ruthless of fighters in the Middle East. And while we have been tut-tutting at the frightfulness of Isis during the siege of Mosul (an event all too similar to Aleppo, although you wouldn’t think so from reading our narrative of the story), we have been willfully ignoring the behaviour of the rebels of Aleppo."

A Profoundly Woolly Feral Sheep Is Rescued in Canberra, Australia - "Leave a sheep unshorn for long enough and it’ll begin to resemble a shambling, woolly iceberg. But as cute as that sounds, it’s a bad idea: Massively hairy sheep face many dangers, from heat stress to blindness to toppling over and never being able to get up again."
Don't tell PETA

Reviving Malay Connections in Southeast Asia - "Filipino politicians who dreamt of creating a Pan-Malay nation also considered adopting the name Malaysia, which had referred to the overall Malay archipelago before becoming the name of the newly independent Malaysian nation in 1963*. The former Filipino Vice-President of the Pan-Malayan Union presented a bill in the Senate in 1962 to change the name of the Philippines to Malaysia (Alonto 2003 p.190). While the bill was debated in the Congress, the name was adopted by Tunku Abdul Rahman, who led the Malaysian nationalist movement
* - For example, the advocate of the Greater Malaya, Ibrahim Yaacob, used this word to refer to the Malay Archipelago in 1951"

Was Hitler democratically elected? - "People who say that Hitler wasn’t really elected are usually germanophiles who search for excuses for crimes of the german people in the “Third Reich” (the argument is that a small undemocratic minority oppressed the good people of germany). But since Pharyngula is an american blog the case here might be a lot less sinister. The idea that Hitler wasn’t elected democratically is probably an allusion to the fact that he never got more than 50% of the votes (the best result was some 44%). Americans, with their “the winner takes it all”-system tend to forget that you can win a german election without winning a majority. The problem with this is that, without a majority, you have to form either a coalition with other parties, or form a minority goverment, or both, and in fact that was the problem that had plagued the Republic from the beginning. To put the results into perspective, the 43,9% for the NSDAP in the 1933 election was the best result any party had ever had in the Republic of Weimar from 1919 to 1933... Incidentally, counted in percentages the NSDAP had a better democratic legitimation than any party in the Federal Republic of Germany for at last 20 years – the best result in this time was 44,3% for the conservative „Union“ in the 1987 election and as the name suggests even this is a (permanent) coalition of two parties (CDU/CSU)"

Trump Supporters Beat Gay Man in California? : snopes.com - "None of the reports we found about Chris Ball's altercation with purported Trump supporters mentioned a location, cited a police report, or any provided information substantiating his attackers' motives. The account could have been completely accurate, but the event it described also could have been a garden-variety bar fight that took place after what turned out to be an exceptionally tense night in the United States."

MILO Takes On Lesbian Hate Crime Hoaxes At Texas Tech - "Milo listed a number of LGBT hoaxes and their perpetrator, including the likes of Carol Ann and Laura Stutte, Mari Poindexter, Charlie Rogers and more.
“It’s a world where feminist whingers can make hundreds of thousands of dollars by complaining about mean words from anonymous strangers on the internet, and everyone believes them and opens their wallets.”"

Girl wins right to have body frozen so she can return from the dead - "A 14-year-old girl who has died of cancer has been cryogenically frozen in the hope that she can be "woken up" and cured in the future after winning a landmark court case in her final days. The girl's divorced parents had disagreed over whether her wish to be frozen should be followed"

City University students vote for campus ban on Sun, Mail and Express - "Students at City University of London, home to one of the country’s most respected journalism schools, have voted to ban the Sun, Daily Mail and Express from its campus... The motion, while largely symbolic, is embarrassing for the university, which runs one of the UK’s top journalism programmes. Less than 200 of the university’s 19,500 student population attended the meeting where the motion was passed to ban the newspapers “in their current form”... The students’ union said there was “no place” for the papers on campus or university properties although it was unclear how the ban would be enforced. A number of journalism students are looking to pull out of the union in protest against the decision, which they believe harms the university’s reputation. Many graduates go on to work at the Sun, Mail and Express titles in some capacity... another motion titled “why is my curriculum white?” was passed attacking the university as the “primary motor in reproducing this ideology of whiteness”. The union has resolved to take an active role in “decolonising” the curriculum and “start asking where are our black lecturers”... online publication Spiked released its latest free speech rankings for universities, finding that 90% of institutions were carrying out some form of censorship, up from 80% a year earlier... almost two-thirds of UK students back the National Union of Students’ no platforming policy"

Male researchers stress out rodents - "Male, but not female, experimenters induce intense stress in rodents that can dampen pain responses... the animals seemed to show a decrease in pain response of about 40% when a man rather than a woman remained in the room, based on pain levels analysed using the mouse grimace scale... It wasn’t just men who caused the stress spike in the rodents, but any nearby male animal, including guinea pigs, rats, cats and dogs. Male cage-mates of the animal being tested were the only exception, and produced no changes in stress hormone levels."

How drag saved my relationship with my Muslim mother and made me fall in love again with my Arab heritage - "performing uplifting tropes of Middle Eastern femininity has been a key feature of my practice. Whilst I set out to reject my heritage through the queer art of drag, I’ve ended up falling back in love with it. And though my mother does not accept a large part of who I am, through performing what I love about her on stage, my wounds are healing. We’re in fact closer than we’ve ever been."

Monday, February 06, 2017

Peranakans and Cultural Appropriation

Has the ‘soul’ gone out of modern Peranakans?

"A member of an online Peranakan group commented that the way I wore the kebaya - casually thrown on over a tank top and a pair of skinny jeans - was “gauche” and looked “uncouth”.

She was right - my grandmother would probably turn in her grave if she knew that I was taking her beloved kebayas to the nightclubs.

Gripes like these are increasingly common in the Peranakan community, some of whom in recent years have taken to policing their culture against a wave of modern spinoffs – including cheaper knock-offs of embroidered kebayas, and watered-down versions of its food...

“Being Peranakan is not just a question of superficial accessories, it’s a culture,” said Ms Sharon Ong, the person who made the online comment.

“When you wear somebody's ethnic dress, you are expressing a culture… so to interpret anything in a meaningful way, we have to understand the original version first,” she added.

Another online user said: “Wearing a Kebaya or batik shirt alone is not complete if you do not have a connection with its culture and history. It is like an outfit with no soul, no bau (Malay for smell)”

And it’s not just these tangible aspects of the culture that have come under scrutiny by the community - some debates even extend to the “purity” of a person’s ancestry, as though you have to meet certain standards in order to qualify as being Peranakan...

Most of the Peranakan dishes on the table were prepared by Mr Leong’s Hakka aunt-in-law.

Mrs Patricia Lim, Mr Leong’s aunt, said: “My mum never taught her children to cook, but would quietly go to my brother's house to teach my sister-in-law her recipes so that she would be the one cooking for all of us. Quite naughty, right?”...

The kebaya style we know today is merely one aspect of a fashion that has been evolving for hundreds of years.

Culture expert Mr Peter Lee said: “We need to break the myth that the kebaya (of today) is traditional.” In fact, he pointed out that for a period of time, it was the batik sarong that was the most important part of the attire. “Now it's sort of the reverse - there is a lot of emphasis on the kebaya, and today it's all about a riot of colours and often very badly matched - it's very garish,” said Mr Lee...

“When I hear Peranakans saying ‘oh, that's not very Peranakan’, it’s such a contradiction, and this has created a whole fear of the Peranakan tradition. Sometimes, defining culture is a bit dangerous if you start including and excluding things.”

Mr Lee, who has authored books and curated exhibitions on the evolution of Peranakan culture, says his work is about showing that in the past, people did not actually have fixed ideas of the culture. “In those days, people didn’t say ‘today, I am going to try to be Peranakan’. It was just a way of life found in colonial port towns - it was a very shared culture,” he added.

So when it comes to other aspects of the culture, like the food, Mr Fred Lam - an antiques collector and owner of Baba Fred Antique House - is all for innovation. “What's wrong with having buah keluak sauce over spaghetti?" he said,

"And what's wrong with buah keluak ice cream, when there are other types of buah ice cream - like Macadamia nut ice cream? People have the right to express their own cooking style”...

Cultural producers should be allowed to “be as creative as possible, as they are the ones who will help us best preserve culture as a living culture”.

Mr Lee noted: “I think it is unlikely that you will find people who would want to behave like a 19th century Peranakan."

It is amusing that some Peranakans are complaining about cultural appropriation (even if the term isn't actually used).

If nothing else, a hybrid culture such as Peranakan culture is already a 'bastardised' one (ditto for the purity of bloodlines).

Maybe it's better to let Peranakan culture die out instead?

From the previous article in the series:

The slow death of Peranakan cuisine?

"You can never please a Peranakan because recipes vary from family to family, which poses a conundrum over what’s “most authentic”.

Take these dishes for example - Babi Chin and Babi Pongteh are almost-similar dishes of belly pork stewed in a fermented soya bean paste; it’s just that one calls for spices like coriander powder and cinnamon sticks, while the other doesn’t.

But do a quick search on the internet and you’ll find heated arguments among food bloggers about which dish has the additional spices. And the debate extends to two notable Singaporean cookbooks too - according to Mrs Lee’s Cookbook, Babi Chin does not have coriander powder, but her sister Mrs Leong’s recipe calls for it.

Peranakan restaurants in Singapore especially don’t get off easy - when mum’s cooking is always the basis of comparison, any deviation from what is familiar is usually met with strong backlash...

Upon tasting the gravy, Mrs Gan and Mrs Wong start bickering about how much coconut milk to add.

“You can never get a precise recipe from any Peranakan lady and I think that’s one of the difficulties (in maintaining consistency),” says Mrs Wong.

“They will always say ‘one handful of this, another handful of that’. It’s always agak-agak (estimate)!”"

Links - 6th February 2017

Blog: Sarah Silverman calls for military coup against 'fascist' Trump

Facebook’s new anti-clickbait algorithm buries bogus headlines - "Facebook manually classified tens of thousands of headlines with a clickbaitiness score to train the new algorithm. Now it can detect headlines like “When She Looked Under Her Couch And Saw THIS… I Was SHOCKED!”; “He Put Garlic In His Shoes And What Happens Next Is Hard To Believe”; or “The Dog Barked At The Deliveryman And His Reaction Was Priceless.”"

BBC Radio 4 - Crossing Continents, Syria's Secret Library - "Anjad is one of many of Daraya's residents I've been speaking to over these last 5 months over scratchy Skype lines. It's the only way I can talk to them. The siege by pro-Syrian government forces means there's no way I can get in there or they can get out. But people there have been very inventive. Some have used their mobile phones to record the sounds of life around them...
This is a place where despite years of snipers, barrel bombs and hunger, life just carries on. For instance the local council still goes around repairing damaged buildings and even collecting garbage. Again, the determination to maintain some sort of normality is humbling. After all, Daraya is fighting for its very survival. But Annas (?) explains to me that the library is at the heart of that very fight...
'There is an old Arabic saying that goes something like a fighter who lacks knowledge has no principles. He'll become no better than a highway thief. War should be built on principles. So I see no point in sending young men to fight when they don't truly understand what they are fighting for. We've been under siege now for nearly 4 years. We have to be educated. Fighting itself isn't the answer, or you're a threat to your nation... We don't ban any books. We're open to everything, because we believe censoring books just increases ignorance. If we want to raise an intellectual generation then we need to let people think for themselves. To be honest with you, we even have explicit books here. We don't write them, though we place them on the top shelf. If anyone wants to borrow one of these books, they have to speak to one of the library staff'...
'We hold regular talks here. Someone will come to the library and give a lecture, and then after that we'll hold a discussion about the issues raised. We had one talk on how Japan managed to recover after the devastation of World War II because we're in a similar predicament. It was a really inspirational talk. We've also had several talks about the Civil War in Iraq because we want to learn how to prevent such awful things happening to us when this conflict is over...
The other day I described heaven to them... I then asked them to imagine their own vision of heaven. First, I nominated Ahdid [sp?]. 'Close your eyes tightly' I told him 'and describe your visions of heaven'. Adil's response shocked me. The picture in his head was of a plane swooping down from the sky dropping bombs on his family. I couldn't relieve his stress. I can't help any of the children take refuge in thoughts of a beautiful heaven. They just can't imagine a place like that'
How come you can have internet access and Skype during a siege?

BBC Radio 4 - Looping Swans - "How Khruschev started going to the ballet and whe international relations begin opening up, how he had to show the visiting foreign dignitaries something, something beautiful. And what are you going to show them? Opera? With long hours of singing in Russian that no one can understand. With ballet you can show them a beautiful woman. That's the simple reality of it. The Bolshoi didn't have a huge repertoire. So it was simple: give them Maya Plisetskaya in Swan Lake. The music is catchy, it's melodic... poor Khrushchev had to sit through 185 performances of Swan Lake half asleep. But he would sleep like a horse, with his eyes open"

BBC World Service - The Documentary, Africa’s Ivory Dilemma - "[On poaching] 'Do you feel any regret for the fact that you're killing these animals that are endangered?'
'I don't regret it. I feel heroic because they terrorise us. They invade our farms. And we don't get any compensation'...
'It's third or fourth in terms of international crime... behind drugs, arms and human trafficking'"

BBC World Service - The Documentary, We Shall Fly, Dreaming the Wrong Dream? - "[On a Zambian space camp] One special afronaut, the only woman afronaut, the only woman astronaut actually at the time, Matha Mwamba a 16 year old girl, was raising a herd of cats which were to be released one by one when she got to Mars to make sure that the atmosphere was amenable to lifeforms...
He'd had to disband the space program because his top afronaut, Matha Mwamba had become pregnant and as he would say to one of the reporters: I've had troubles with my spacemen and spacewomen. They won't concentrate on spaceflight. There's too much lovemaking when they should be studying the moon'

BBC World Service - The Documentary, The Debates Dissected - "'Someone who has said that pregnancy is an inconvenience to employers'
'I never said that'
'Who said that women don't deserve equal pay unless they do as good a job as men'
'Didn't say that'...
'I think you know, part of the disheartening, all we've been doing here is trashing Trump. But now I'd like to say some negative things about Hillary Clinton just to balance the scales. Hillar Clinton is the second most unpopular person to run for President aside from Donald Trump. She is a prevaricator, we have seen this clear evidence of extreme dishonesty, carelessness in her handling of classified information. She openly lied about things in the debate. Policies that she supported. This ridiculous thing she said about how her support for open borders and open hemispheric agreement was about energy, which is absurd, and what I've heard time and again from people throughout this general election season is this: this is it? These are the 2 out of 330 million people in this country, this is what it comes down to?
So much for equal pay for equal work

The Zambian Space Programme of 1962 - Beachcombing's Bizarre History Blog - "I’m getting [the astronauts] acclimatised to space-travel by placing them in my space-capsule every day. It’s a 40-gallon oil drum in which they sit, and I then roll them down a hill. This gives them the feeling of rushing through space. I also make them swing from the end of a long rope. When they reach the highest point, I cut the rope – this produces a feeling of free fall.’
Nkoloso was, in short, one of those wonderful eccentrics who usually only appear after three or four generations of middle class parliamentary democracy, preferably with what Beachcombing likes to think of, with apologies to Weber, as the Protestant Mad Ethic somewhere in the background. And yet here in Africa, in that wonderful glow of colonial freedom, before everything went to hell in the 1970s and the 1980s, was the kind of genius that would not have gone amiss riding through the English shires in the 1700s in a turquoise stage coach, raving about Atlantis and Romish spies. Nkoloso revealed, for example, that he had been watching Mars from his ‘secret headquarters’ and had discovered that the planet was peopled by a strange race of primitive savages. He guaranteed, however, that he would not force their conversion, which was gracious of him. Perhaps memories of cack-handed Anglican missionaries in his part of Africa?"

BBC World Service - The Documentary, The Life of President Fidel Castro - "'The government here like North Korea, or the China or Romania and East Germany of the past, it tried to silence all the dissident voices. I believe Fidel Castro didn't realise in the early 1960s that he was opting for a model of Concentration Camp Communism.'
'While this repression was doing on inside Cuba, Fidel Castro was still actively championing revolution in the rest of the developing world. This willingness to export the ideals of the Cuban Revolution won Castro further support from radicals such as Jesse Jackson in the United States'...
In 1980, the situation reached a crisis point. In response, Castro opened the port of Mariel and more than 100,000 Cubans left for the US. Once again, he tried to turnthe crisis to his own advantage, releasing hundreds of criminals from prison and sending them among the thousands of ordinary people who wanted to get out...
[After the fall of the USSR] In an effort to show the openness of the regime, in 1998, Cuba even welcomed the staunchly anti-Communist Pope John Paul II to the island.
'You are and must be the protagonists of your own history' urged the Pope. And Fidel responded as he had hundreds of times in the past 4 decades by blaming all his country's misfortunes on the United States. Cuba he said had been the victim of genocide by the most powerful nation on earth simply because it wanted to decide its own destiny"

BBC World Service - The Documentary, The Taboo of Feminism - "There's this one phrase that I repeat aloud because I heard a lot was '*someting* tu eres mas bonita'. When you're quiet with your mouth shut you look a lot prettier... [it was told] to all of us. Think about what the phrase means too... that's more important right? How you look. And of course, you know what? Latinas, we love looking good...
At first glance there's nothing wrong with confidence, right? It's great to be confident. But if we look at it a little closer, we could also say that now women aren't only told to work on their bodies and to look beautiful but also to work on their mental state. So we have to be confident. It means that women now even have to spend more time and energy and money and effort on being in the right state of mind"

BBC Radio 4 - Crossing Continents, Torah and Tech in Israel - "Someone who has totally unfiltered internet access at home or in the office is considered to be on an inferior level. The regular Haredi schools won't accept his children. People in his synogogue and community will view him with a crooked eye. Another potential problem is that people won't let their children visit his home to play with his kids or even in the yard outside. And now for something much more dramatic. In Haredi society, you get married through matchmakers and no regular Haredi person will make a match with someone whose home has unfiltered internet access. You can sum it up with a very simple sentence: if you don't follow Haredi club's rules for electronic devices, you have to leave the club...
The tradition is that the temple fell in *something* because of *something*, which is hating each other for no reason. And the way that the temple will be built again... and that's like a symbol for everything being good is *something*, which is loving each other for no reason"

BBC World Service - The Documentary, America Revisited, America Revisited: The South - "[On picketing abortion clinics and yelling] 'Most of us communicate verbally right?... one of the daddies... came to bring, to have his baby killed. And I told him and Dad lost his temper right? We have that a lot here'
'Have you ever been hit?'
'I've been hit. I've had cars driven at me. I've heard all kinds of interesting things before schnelly [?]. Now he's in no better shape than an unborn child'...
'I was incarcerated with 5 of my biological brothers'
'So it was a family thing'
'Yeah, it was sorta like a family reunion in prison... honestly, most of the African Americans that I talked to had a very low opinion of President Obama. They didn't think President Obama was doing much of anything'"
Maybe the black prisoners had internalised the dominant paradigm of racism

BBC World Service - The Documentary, Jobs for the Girls - "Shanti runs a small garage with her husband. The couple came to the city from their village originally to find work and they used to run a tea shop, she tells me. But eventually found that they could make much more money repairing tyres and fixing truck and motorbike parts...
So why is Shanti the only woman working here as a mechanic?
'Why? Because other women want to earn money in easy ways. This is hard work. They like to dress up. These women working at tea stalls and so on. But look at me - I've got no makeup on. I'm here to work, not to look good'
'She's very proud of the fact that she's very simple. She dresses very simply. She's wearing a bright sari. Very Indian style of dressing but she's really emphasising on the fact that this is a tough job and she feels that women don't get into this job because they don't like the rough and tumble that this work requires'...
By day, Geetha Lahori [sp?] is like any other traditional housewife. A mother who takes care of the house, her husband and her children. But by night, it's a different story.
'As soon as I step out of the house, I feel stronger. In the house I wear sari or Indian clothes, but when I'm out and about, people keep a distance from me and I really like that. Whether I'm here at work or travelling in a bus or walking on the road, once I'm out of the house, I feel like a bouncer'...
India actually has a really good percentage of female pilots. The world average is 3% whereas in India the average is 11%
Another explanation for the gender pay gap

BBC World Service - The Documentary, Jobs for the Girls - Part Two - "Train them as masons so that they can claim equal wages with equal work. That way nobody can stop them then. But it was a Herculean task because no woman was willing to learn skilled labour like mason, because everybody will laugh at them. No woman was, had ever done this job before... Woman mason? They thought that it was culturally against God even. God does not design women for doing such kind of work...
You don't employ men anymore because your experience has been once they get trained, they migrate to the Gulf in search of better jobs. Whereas your experience with women is different because they tend to stay put
More reasons for the gender pay gap

BBC World Service - Assignment , Cleansing Turkey - "But Gulen condemned the coup and denies any role in it. And even if he was involved, it's hard to believe that a 100,000 people, or even a fraction of that number, can have known in any way about a conspiracy which by its very nature, had to be as tight as possible. The government says that all those dismissed supported the movement in one way or another. But in fact, at least some, such as *name* the history lecturer, actively opposed it...
'You've got a complete set of the works of Lenin... and Stalin's works as well. A little bust of Karl Marx... you're a leftist'
'Yes, I mean I have been sharp critic of political Islam and all kinds of religious sects all my life... it's visible to the naked eye, how can I be Gulenist?'...
'There is no evidence they can show against me except for the book'
The book that led to his dismissal and questioning by police. A book by Fethullah Gulen...
'I am an academic, I can read any books and this is ridiculous. You are making Turkey appear ridiculous in the eyes of whole world... and even that book I was against Gulen. I had underlined those lines where he says Islam punishes apostasy by death. He approves of it, yeah, unbelievably for some, because he is known as a moderate Islam'...
A woman who's facing the sack just because she scored a very high mark of 90% in the civil service entrance exam in 2010. That's the year that Gulenists are said to have stolen the exam questions beforehand so the candidates from their movement would be better prepared. Now anyone who did well in that exam that year is under suspicion"

The Pizza Project: A Taxonomy of the World's Great Pizza Styles, Great Fun No Matter How You Slice It - "I will begin my Pizza Project with the proposition that it is the makeup and thickness of the crust that defines a species of pizza, and that the infinite combinations of toppings create subspecies. In other words Neapolitan pizza is a species, while Margherita is a sub-species. Neapolitan pizza is defined by a very specific dough recipe (dictated by law in Italy) and there are many sub-species depending on the toppings. Margherita is the most famous sub-species, with just tomato sauce, cheese, basil, garlic, salt, and olive oil. But Roman pizza, which is a unique species identifiable by a different dough recipe, can also have a sub-species called Margherita made with the same toppings. Still with me?"

The Popular Myth That Right-Wing Extremism Kills More Than Islamic Terrorism in U.S. Since 9/11 - "The New America study does not count violent jihadist attacks from self-radicalized or “lone wolf” terrorists who swear allegiance to Islam in the same manner as terrorist attacks committed by a card-carrying member of Islamist terror organizations. If a terrorist yells “Allahu Akbar!” before going on a murder spree, you see, that's not enough. However, when right-wing terrorist attacks are coded by New America, those are attributed in a loose manner to mere statements made by the perpetrators that fit the left-wing's shibboleth that racist or anti-government views define someone as a “right-winger.” Thus, the conclusions are not only questionable, they are borderline deceptive. The professor concludes:
Right wing terrorism is more deadly for Americans only if you add a number of very limiting parameters (e.g. excluding the victims of 9/11, ignoring “lone wolf” attacks without solid connections to groups like al-Qaeda and their affiliates, etc…). But if you lift those limitations, and apply equal standards, then the raw and unfiltered numbers of deaths of Americans due to Islamic extremism in the United States over the last fifteen years dwarf the numbers attributable to right wing extremism by a ratio of over 62 to 1. Even if you leave out 9/11 victims and just focus on the ideological statements and goals of the attackers, then the deaths of Americans due to Islamic extremism still outnumber the deaths attributable to right wingers (which reveals an even greater disparity when compared with population groups). If we move beyond America’s borders, then the disparity becomes far greater, with somewhere around 90% of the world’s terrorism related deaths attributable to Islamic extremism, and only a fraction of 1% attributable to right wing extremism."
Addendum: This draws on work by Andrew Holt

100 Women 2016: I am a 'surrendered wife’ - "Despite considering herself a feminist, she follows - and now teaches others - the approach of a controversial book called The Surrendered Wife..
The six principles of being a 'Surrendered Wife'
Relinquishes inappropriate control of her husband
Respects her husband's thinking
Receives his gifts graciously and expresses gratitude for him
Expresses what she wants without trying to control him
Relies on him to handle household finances
Focuses on her own self-care and fulfilment"

Yes-Dearing Your Way to a Happy Marriage? - The New York Times - "''You liberated women are going to make men weak and then you won't want them,'' she warned. ''You'll be sorry!'' Naturally, I ignored her. Now I'm wondering if she was simply ahead of her time... ''Instead of throwing out traditional roles, try them on again,'' Ms. Doyle exhorts in Chapter 13, called ''Abandon the Myth of Equality.''The gist is that if men feel they are in charge, their wives, freed from constant decision-making, will be happier, too... The surrendered wife provides sex on demand (a rather innocuous edict compared with a zestier suggestion in Marabel Morgan's 1973 work, ''The Total Woman,'' which urged wives to greet their husbands naked and wrapped in cellophane). Being available, Ms. Doyle temporizes, ''doesn't mean you don't have to ask for what you want first.''"

U. Toronto lecturer: 'Misconception' that there's a thing called 'biological sex' - "“‘Cisnormativity’ is basically the very popular idea and assumption that most people probably have […] that there is such a thing as male and female and that they connect to being a boy or a girl, or a man or a woman.” “Cisnormativity,” Matte continues, is also the notion that everyone assumes “there is male and female,” but “very little is actually looked at to … understand what’s actually the case.” He claims scientists have refuted the sexual “binary” notion for over 50 years."
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