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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Women and the Salon

BBC World Service - The Documentary, The Salon

"A woman trusts 2 people with her head. The first person is a psychologist. And the second is the hairstylist...

[In Japan] 'As women who work at the department store, we are particularly told not to dye our hair red or blonde. Also, we have to tie our hair back so it doesn't fall down when we bow. Every day at the morning meeting, there is a check to make sure we look respectable.'

There's only one acceptable colour of hair for women in Mamie's [sp?] workplace, and that's black. So she heads to the salon to have her grey roots dyed black again...

My husband had got me a dog without so much as a word. She's family. If it wasn't for Mini, I probably would have split up with my husband. We have lots of conversation through the dog. She mediates. When I'm with Mini, people always talk to me so I've made new friends...

'For some women, an important aspect of womanhood is being a mother'...
'Another aspect of a woman's identity could be her sexuality'
'One could be her religion'
'Now imagine a woman who's struggling to come to terms with all 3'
'What does she do?'
'She gets a haircut'
'What I'm saying to myself with my hair is body ownership. I choose. It's the only part of you and your body that you can shape and really personalise. It's my body, it's my hair. It belongs to me. I can say yes and I can say no'...

'The voluptuous Westernised version of sexiness is beyond their reach as Japanese. So instead of sexy, they go for cute'
'Typical Japanese figures are not really sexy, are they? Maybe about 1% of us can be sexy. Girls are short, so are boys'
'Perhaps because we are cute to start with. Westerners can look good. They are cool'
'They just wear H&M and just look so cool'
'The Japanese are cute, so perhaps we are emphasising the Japanese cuteness.'
'I'd actually like to look more grownup, but with my face and I'm short, so it doesn't really work. So I try to most out of what I have and be cute'
'We Japanese want to look young'...

[On Brazilian hairstyles in South Africa, costing almost $400] 'I need to consider Tracey's brothers as well. Their needs and some of their wants'

This is Tracey's mother, Hope. When it comes to Tracey's looks, Tracey pays for everything. Nails clothes, shoes, hair...
'The cost of Brazilian is the cost of what some people pay for rent... just so she can look good... Tracey and myself take the huge chunk of my income: 20% would go to Tracey and myself. For our hair and our clothes and beauty in general... Young girls go for good things. And good things require money, so as a parent if you can't afford to give your child what they want, they'll look for men that have the money to support them, and that I can't have that in my house. I need my child to concentrate on school.

Time for rich men will come in the near future. Maybe 10, 15 years from now... My child needs to look good, my child is an extension of me. So you look at my child looking good, you expect the mother to look just as good or better'...

It was difficult as a woman to find someone to cut her hair as short as she liked it.

'I used to go to barbers' shops before and they always did a bad job. The looks you get when you walk in because you're a woman turning up at a barber shop, historically a place where men go to get their hair done, you'd kind of feel unwelcome'

'And why didn't you go to hair salons?'

'Oh, god. They're even worse. Firstly they charge you astronomical prices for like a 2 minute job and also when you say short you never come out with the shortness that you asked for. It's like their definition of what short hair should look like'

The reason women get charged more is because they're more fussy (despite the lady who got short hair complaining it was discrimination for women to be charged more than men)

Links - 18th February 2017 (Trans Mania etc)

BBC World Service - The Documentary, Secret Lives - "Timing matters too. One study found that as romantic partners get to know each other, they become more judgmental about the disclosures they make...
I've reached the point that when... my sister or someone tells me: hey, I want to tell you something but you have to keep it a secret, I just say: don't tell me. Don't tell me because that is a burden. Especially if I cannot tell my husband, don't tell me"

Big Secrets Can Burden You Physically | What is Psychology? - "individuals seem to feel physically burdened when asked to think about or cover up meaningful secrets. These meaningful secrets being harbored by the participants included important issues such as infidelity and sexual orientation. “People who recalled, were preoccupied with, or suppressed an important secret estimated hills to be steeper, perceived distances to be farther, indicated that physical tasks would require more effort, and were less likely to help others with physical tasks” (Slepian, et al., 2012).

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Beauty from Within? - "The Victorian lady was expected to her have beauty as a gift from God. A pure mind and pure living would create a beautiful face. Shop-bought cosmetics were the preserve of actresses, prostitutes and the French. So if you go through Victorian beauty manuals, strawberry juice was said to be very very good for removing wrinkles and freckles, the despair of blondes, could be addressed with green beans boiled and pulverised...
More than half of all the food, drinks and supplements to make beauty claims to be launched in 2015 were in the Asia-Pacific. 25% in Europe and just 4% in the US...
The clinical studies we have done, we normally run them over 3 months. And we start to see statistically significant effect after 1 month of intake, and that is daily intake. Basically when we age, our collagen network starts to fragment, it's not as cohesive and that's when you get wrinkles and sagging. And what we can see is we can actually reverse that trend and make that collagen network more intact. We can show that the overall collagen density increases so these are like objective measurements...
But not everyone agrees the science behind these products is rigorous enough...
As dermatologists we certainly know that poor nutrition can have very detrimental effects on your skin. What we don't know too well is if in a person that already has a good nutritional status, if we add supplementatiom of these compounds, are we getting beneficial effects. So now you're talking about the collagen peptides and certain studies have shown that when these are taken as supplements, they can accumulate in the blood and possibly modify the skin. There's been no large controlled studies proving their efficacy. When you ingest something it has to be a process by your digestive tract and then absorbed into your bloodstream and then make it to whatever target tissue it's designed to act at. It's possible to measure for example the concentration of these collagen peptides within the blood, but from there it's very hard to know whether or not they're getting into the skin. And that's true for most supplements. Knowing how much is actually getting there is not a simple question"

Over half of women wake up in a mood with their partner - because he annoyed them in a DREAM in the night

The world's most secure smartphones - and why they're all Androids - "This may seem odd, as Android has long been dogged by a poor reputation for security. However, building on Android is much easier than building a smartphone OS from scratch. Also, because the core of Android is open source, it's much more likely that bugs will be spotted and fixed... there can also be a cost-saving element: without secure phones, some customers in investment banking could only discuss certain sensitive deals in person, so the phones can save money, speed up projects and pay for themselves in a week."

Christina H. Sommers on Twitter - "When young women say no to feminism, feminists don't accept that no means no."

Anti-gun dildo protest at UT-Austin is 'sexual harassment' according to federal definition - "The federal government should be descending on the University of Texas-Austin any day now to investigate the school’s response to hordes of students who practiced blatant “sexual harassment.” That’s because students who oppose the state’s new campus-carry law were publicly brandishing dildos to protest the law last week – and that’s certainly “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature” to at least some students."

curioustraveller1985 comments on Discouraged, more under 30 stop looking for jobs - "when I was working in a industry trade association, I often had to deal with hundred of SME bosses. Nearly all were asking for relaxation of foreign manpower curbs. When I asked them why they are so dependent on manpower curbs, "NS liability" was one of the informal answers very often given to me, although not a single one of the bosses would ever put it down on paper."
"A common complaint was "we've become the training ground for the middle east". This wasn't a case of MOM not willing to renew the S-Passes or Work permits; this was a case of their staff not wanting to work in Singapore because they received better-paying offers elsewhere in the world. When we suggested that they paid better salaries to retain their most talented staff, they refused to accept it. Instead, they suggested things like the duration of work permits and S-Passes should be doubled or tripled; one even suggested that the leaving staff should somehow be "forced" to stay in Singapore. I was like thinking "WTF" when i heard that at industry engagement session."

Bust of talent agencies for pimping porn starlets reveals hard times in industry - "Latin Quarter and Haute Couture used their web sites to attract customers by posting the names of actresses, their photographs and titles of their films were posted on the sites. Popular actresses fetched upwards of 80,000 yen per 120-minute session, with the bathhouse taking a cut of 15,000 yen... Fuzoku writer Taizo Ebina says that more women are entering the AV trade to snag a rich husband. “Girls are half-heartedly entering the trade on a lark with friends, some of whom are looking to score big by marrying into money,” says Ebina. “With the title ‘AV actress,’ women have a chance to encounter rabid fans with money from the Middle East and China.” (Though such an assertion may sound absurd, actress Yuria Satomi appears to be highly skilled at befriending wealthy men.)"

Transgender kids: Have we gone too far? - "“When we ask, ‘When did you first learn about this label of gender dysphoria’, they’ll say, ‘Me and Mom watched Oprah,’ ” adds Dr. Hayley Wood, a member of his team... Gender confusion is often temporary. About three-quarters of little kids who have issues with their gender – boys who want to be princesses, girls who throw their dresses in the garbage – will be comfortable with it by adolescence, according to Dr. Zucker. (Many of them will grow up to be gay or bi.) Gender confusion can also be a handy label for whatever ails a child (or her family). That’s why Dr. Zucker takes a watch-and-wait approach. He even advises parents of princessy six-year-olds to say, “You’re not a girl. You’re a boy.”And in the hotly politicized world of gender politics, that makes him, in many people’s eyes, a dangerous reactionary... At what point do you start taking life-altering decisions for a child that will have enormous physical, social and emotional consequences? Alice Dreger is a bioethicist and professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. She calls herself an (im)patient advocate who prefers evidence to ideology. She is a strong supporter of transgender rights. But she thinks the pendulum has swung too far... For some people, including some adolescents, transgender treatment is lifesaving. But these treatments are neither simple nor benign. They may, among other things, retard maturation, suppress your growth or render you sterile. And in the end, medical science cannot create a body that makes you forget you were born the other sex. “Some kids need it, but for the kids who don’t, it’s dangerous,” she says. “All else being equal, it’s better to avoid long-term hormone therapy and major surgery that removes a lot of tissue.” Disturbingly, data on long-term outcomes for transgender kids are scarce. No one is tracking the evidence on puberty-blocking intervention either. “We are doing major interventions and we have shockingly little idea what the outcomes are,” Ms. Dreger says. You get the sense that what we have is not so much a rational approach to a psychosocial issue as a radical ideological experiment. Here’s more unwelcome news from Ms. Dreger. A child’s gender issue may merely be a symptom of other family problems. “The dirty little secret is that many of these families have big dysfunctional issues. When you get the clinicians over a beer, they’ll tell you the truth. A lot of the parents aren’t well in terms of their mental health. They think that once the child transitions, all their problems will magically go away, but that’s not really where the stress is located.” Clinicians won’t say these things publicly, she says, because they don’t want to sound as if they’re blaming gender problems on screwed-up families."

The Transgender Battle Line: Childhood - WSJ - "sexologists, who presumably would be able to determine the healthiest approach, are extremely reluctant to get involved. They have seen what happens when they deviate from orthodoxy. In 2003 a sex researcher and psychology professor at Northwestern University named J. Michael Bailey published “The Man Who Would Be Queen,” a book that countered the idea that male-to-female transgenderism is innately tied to gender identity. For some, he said, the attraction is related to a sexual fantasy of being a woman. Dr. Bailey was quickly accused of transphobia and sustained several years of vicious public attacks. The episode left a lasting impression on sexology: Science that doesn’t align with prevailing attitudes can be dangerous. Witness the recent experience of Kenneth Zucker, a psychologist in Toronto (who has conducted research with Dr. Bailey)... We don’t allow children to vote or get tattoos, yet in the name of progressive thinking we are allowing them to choose serious biomedical interventions with permanent and irreversible results."
The right wing is hardly the only side which manipulates science for political purposes

How the Fight Over Transgender Kids Got a Leading Sex Researcher Fired - "Zucker had built up quite a CV during his time leading the clinic: In addition to being one of the most frequently cited names in the research literature on gender dysphoria and gender-identity development, and the editor of the prestigious journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, he took a leading role helping devise diagnostic and treatment guidelines for gender dysphoric and transgender individuals. He headed the group which developed the DSM-5’s criteria for its “gender dysphoria” entry, for example, and also helped write the most recent “standards of care” guidelines for the World Professional Association for Transgender Health — one of the bibles for clinicians who treat transgender and gender-dysphoric patients... the real scandal here is how CAMH responded to a sustained campaign of political pressure: by allowing a vital scientific question — vital not only to gender-dysphoric and transgender young people, but to anyone who is a parent or will one day become one — to be decided by activists on the basis of flimsy, anonymous allegations. They think the activists’ claims about the clinic are unfounded, and argue that the controversy has more to do with adult agendas than with genuine concern for gender-dysphoric children and youth. As Dr. Jack Drescher, a psychiatrist with a research focus on gender-identity issues, explained in an email, this fight resembles many other culture-war battles: “[C]hildren serve as proxies for the competing value systems of adults.”"

Stop calling them boys and girls! Advisers paid £200k to help train teachers claim using sex specific classrooms is unfair to transgenders

Transgender cop's uniform keeps her out of event she organized - "Officer Christine Garcia, who transitioned last year, helped plan the event and was part of the Police Department security detail that watched over a commemorative march down University Avenue. After the march, when Garcia tried to enter the event as a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community, she was asked to leave because her uniform could upset others in attendance."

Paglia: ‘Transgender Mania’ is a Symptom of West's Cultural Collapse - "Paglia went on to talk about her book Sexual Personae and how the emergence of transgenderism signifies the end of Western culture. “Now I am concerned about this… In fact, my study of history in Sexual Personae, I’m always talking about the late phases of culture.
“I was always drawn to late or decadent phases of culture. Oscar Wilde is one of the great exponents of that in the late 19th century. He’s one of my strongest influences from my earliest years.
"And I found in my study that history is cyclic, and everywhere in the world you find this pattern in ancient times: that as a culture begins to decline, you have an efflorescence of transgender phenomena.That is a symptom of cultural collapse.""

Transgender Identities Are Not Always Permanent - "Alexis Arquette (formerly Robert Arquette), a transgender performer and activist, returned to living as a man before his death on September 11, 2016, at the age of 47. Arquette appeared in the movies Pulp Fiction and The Wedding Singer and was a force for transgender rights... 'In 2013, amid increasing health complications, Alexis … began presenting herself as a man again, telling [her close friend] Ibrahim that “‘gender is bullshit.’ That ‘putting on a dress doesn’t biologically change anything. Nor does a sex-change.’ She said that ‘sex-reassignment is physically impossible. All you can do is adopt these superficial characteristics but the biology will never change.’” That realization, Ibrahim suspects, was the likely source of her deep wells of emotional torment.'
The process of abandoning the transgender life and reverting back to one’s innate gender/sex is called detransitioning. As someone who has detransitioned myself, I only wish more would speak up about the reality of what life is like after transitioning to the other gender and why some people eventually decide to embrace their birth sex."
If someone undergoes a sex change twice, do you need to perform the Orwellian rewriting of his historical name (e.g. pretending that Switched on Bach was released by Wendy Carlos) the second time too?

Hair salon at Plaza Singapura shuts, leaving customers with thousands of dollars in unused treatments - "She said many clients of the previous salon have come to her with outstanding amounts on their packages ranging from $100 to $20,000."
Who buys a $20,000 package?!

Sex changes are not effective, say researchers - "The review of more than 100 international medical studies of post-operative transsexuals by the University of Birmingham's aggressive research intelligence facility (Arif) found no robust scientific evidence that gender reassignment surgery is clinically effective... most of the medical research on gender reassignment was poorly designed, which skewed the results to suggest that sex change operations are beneficial. Its review warns that the results of many gender reassignment studies are unsound because researchers lost track of more than half of the participants... the high drop out rate could reflect high levels of dissatisfaction or even suicide among post-operative transsexuals. He called for the causes of their deaths to be tracked to provide more evidence... Research from the US and Holland suggests that up to a fifth of patients regret changing sex. A 1998 review by the Research and Development Directorate of the NHS Executive found attempted suicide rates of up to 18% noted in some medical studies of gender reassignment... "You either have an operation or suffer a miserable life. A fifth of those who don't get treatment commit suicide""
If either way you're miserable and may kill yourself...

On Evaluating Poetry, and Dead White Men's Pre-Eminence in it

Abstract: Two independent but highly correlated measures of permanent fame and a measure of contemporary fame were investigated for a sample of 50 eminent poets. The greater the permanent fame of the poets, the more they avoided references to concepts and emotions and the more they focused upon concrete images. Permanent fame was related to estimated intelligence but unrelated to wealth or social class. Contemporary fame was found to be unrelated to permanent fame and could not be predicted by the variables investigated. It is apparently based upon different criteria in different epochs. For neither permanent nor contemporary fame was there any evidence that rich white men have any advantage in becoming famous.

Article: There has recently been controversy about the canon of great works ofWestern literature. It has been argued that one must be a rich, preferably dead, white man in order to gain admittance. This argument is rather fatuous. Some poor white men such as Robert Burns somehow got admitted. Some women such as Jane Austen also managed to get in. Even Phyllis Wheatley, a black woman, has been in the canon of American poetry for several hundred years. It certainly does help to be a dead white man to be included in the canon, but examples such as those cited above show that this is not a necessary condition. It is most certainly not a sufficient condition to be a dead white man. The vast majority of dead white men who tried their hand at literature have been justly consigned to oblivion. If they ever were in the canon, their names have been expunged.

Another criticism of the canon has been that one’s works must uphold the status quo in order to be admitted. If I understand Marxism, Feminism, and the New Historicism, the main business of society is to oppress poor people, women, and people of colour. It has also been held that we want to oppress ‘the other’. Because it is nevermade very clear who ‘the other’ is, I would guess that these are rather difficult people to find, let alone oppress. Herrnstein Smith (1988) argues that canon formation is a political process. One must say what the ruling class wants to hear or he or she will have no chance of being admitted to the canon.We are left to wonder how a poet such as Ezra Pound made his way into the canon. He certainly didn’t say anything that the American ruling class wanted to hear. Van Peer (1996, see also Chapter 1 in this volume) compared versions of the Romeo and Juliet story by Shakespeare and Arthur Brooke. Shakespeare’s version went against the mores of the ruling class, whereas Brooke’s version conformed with them. Why is Shakespeare in the canon and Brooke forgotten? One imagines that the reason has to do with literary quality.

In the past, the ruling class may have taken some interest in literature. At least in Western Europe and North America, this has not been the case for quite a while. They are too busy making money to have the slightest interest in literature. To take the most extreme case, no one at all reads contemporary poetry with the exception of other poets and teachers of literature (Auden 1948). Canon formation may be political, but it is academic politics. Like much in academia, arguments as to who should or should not be in the canon are pointless, as the canon is literally cast in concrete. Martindale (1995) did a study of how many books the Harvard University libraries have about the 602 poets listed in the various Oxford Book of English Verse. Shakespeare came in first with 9,118 books about him. Milton was a distant second with 1,280 books devoted to him. At the other end of the scale, no books at all were devoted to 134 of the poets. The top 25 poets accounted for 64.8% of the books. These are certainly canonical authors, and nothing is going to change that. Even the relative ordering is unlikely to change. ForMilton to surpass Shakespeare, 78 books about Milton would have to be written in each of the next 100 years. This seems quite unlikely.

One could certainly argue that if no one reads the books about Shakespeare and Milton, then the numbers I have cited count for nothing. However, we shall see below that contemporary fame is a fleeting thing unrelated to permanent fame. The canon refers to permanent fame. How does one obtain permanent fame? One supposes by the literary quality of his or her works. The beauty of one’s poetry is not in the colour or one’s skin or one’s social class but in the quality of what he or she has produced. Beauty is most certainly not in the eye of the beholder. I have done dozens of studies in which people were asked to rate works of art or literature. The most relevant is Martindale and Dailey (1995). We replicated I.A. Richards’s (1929) experiment and used statistical methods to measure agreement amongst subjects. Richards was simply wrong. People agree perfectly well as to the meanings of poems. The only way to explain this is to postulate that there is something in the poems that people perceive in the same way. It is well to recall Hume’s (1757) comment: “Whoever would assert an equality of genius and elegance between Ogilby and Milton...would be thought to defend no less an extravagance, than if he had maintained a mole-hill to be as high as Tenerife, or a pond as extensive as the ocean.”

One would suppose that literary quality is determined by the way an author puts together words. However, a moment’s thought reveals that which words are combined is also important. A sonnet sequence on the joys of trading pork bellies on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange would not be well received. Computers are not very good at determining a well turned phrase, but they have no trouble in tallying words or classes of words. A few computer studies concerning the difference between good and bad literature have been carried out...

Contrary to the views of the layperson, poetry has not dealtwith the expression of emotion for several centuries (Martindale 1997). Contemporary British and American poetry by eminent poets contains about the same amount of emotional content as is found on the front page of the New York Times (Martindale 1990)"

--- Some correlates of literary eminence / Colin Martindale in The Quality of Literature: Linguistic Studies in Literary Evaluation / ed Willie van Peer

Friday, February 17, 2017

Lakshmi / Gilgamesh

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Lakshmi

"'It reflects the idea of what a wife does for her husband. If you look at the ancient text the laws of Manu which is about the ideal roles for people in society and Hinduism. It says a wife should obey her husband, it's very old school in that sense, but it also says that if the wife is not happy, the blessing of the household that she brings will not come.'

'If she's not happy she leaves'

'Well, it doesn't go quite so far as to say...'

'She leaves if she's not being treated well enough'...

'I'm not sure if the laws of Manu says that a wife should leave her husband. It is true that Lakshmi will leave Vishnu or any king who does not deserve her. And that's important. she's said to be fickle and the idea is that if you do not deserve her blessing she will move on to a different figure who deserves it more'...

She has an agricultural side. She's even said to reside in cow dung...

'She is much less of a goddess who manifests herself in anger at your misbehavior'...

'She's sometimes been likened to the Virgin Mary in the Catholic tradition. In that she's not about telling you ethically what to do - Krishna does that. Jesus does that and so on, she's much more about giving you grace even when you don't expect it. Even in situations where you need to be lifted up from a difficult situation. In that sense she forms the grace bestowal figure that is quite similar from the character of Mary'...

I once took a Hindu group to a Christian church. And they'd heard about Jesus as the God of love and goodness and blessing. They went into this Catholic church and saw a suffering, tortured man. And then they went to the Passion of Christ and came back to me the next day and said: I'm very confused. What did Jesus represent? Is it pain, is it suffering, is it love? I said It's love, but it has many different sides and I think that's helpful. Often Hinduism is pointing towards similar, related concepts of the divine. But it's not a single thing. It's some very complex idea...

She's the power without which her consort fades away...

That idea is quite widespread even if you look at the Old Testament, the character of wisdom is a powerful figure who helps God to create the universe. If you look at Egyptian myth, Isis helps the Great God to create the universe. The notion of power as being fundamentally female is actually quite a widespread idea in many different religions.

A Hindu woman once said to me, she was about to get married the next day: we need goddesses like Laskshmi, as well as Durga the warrior goddess, who I like, I also need a goddess who represents what I can be for my husband, my children and my household. Powerful in a soft but important way. What makes it feminist is that she's autonomous. She's powerful and she can leave if she's not treated well. That's what's essential"


BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Epic of Gilgamesh

"People have sought to interpret these two dreams in terms of linguistic puns. So the word for axe sounds vaguely like the word for a male cultic prostitute and so on and so forth and so in some sense, these two dreams prefigure the sexual relationship between the two. But it all becomes very unwieldy, doesn't it? You have these dreams about totally random objects just for the sake of introducing some sort of wordplay and the words barely exist in the first place.

Gilgamesh being... very vulnerable. He's just won this great victory over Humbaba's... and he's washing after the battle, and we often find that there will be an event when heroes are kind of relaxed, they're not expecting something to happen, and because of the display of his body, Ishtar sees him and as you say there's this strong desire. And being a goddess of love and war - one might also say sex and violence - she's extremely direct, she's very aggressive and so she proposes to him, promising him wealth and power.

But as we mentioned earlier, she does have this very, let's say disencouraging dating history, this terrible fate that's met by all her previous lovers. So Gilgamesh refuses. He doesn't want to be the latest in the list of casualties... She's not used to not getting what she wants. To actually thwart Ishtar is a very dangerous strategy, so she calls down from her father the sky god Bull of Heaven to kill Gilgamesh and to destroy Uruk...

Discovering this flood story which nobody would've predicated and came from sources much older than any known sources of the Bible was extremely high impact. This went beyond the limited world of scholarship. This became a matter of national discussion involving Prime Ministers, heads of state. It was internationally discussed. And of course for some people it was seen as a threat. The question was was it something that would somehow undermine the Bible or indeed was it something that supported the Bible. Could it be seen as supporting the belief in the Bible as a literal text?...

It also explores... would it be good to live forever? But if you look at the circumstances in which the Flood Hero is placed after he's made immortal by the Gods, having survived the Flood. He lives in, against a landscape that is not described. It's a blank sheet. And he lives there forever, with his wife. They have no company.

The poet doesn't say but he asks this question between the lines: isn't this an extremely lonely place to be, immortality? And I think if we think about the problem of immortality, when people say: oh, I'd like to live forever. In fact, and it's been explored in other literatures, living forever is probably hell on earth...

When mankind offends against the Gods, actually mankind is offending against nature. You find that in the cedar forest, as we've discussed, but also in the flood story you have the same idea coming. That somehow the expansion of human numbers is such that the Gods are disturbed. It's a kind of way of saying that too many people, overpopulation overburdens the earth and the earth will do something about it.

There's the kind of early notion of Gaia theory here, that the earth will respond as a self-regulating mechanism and get rid of the plague. In Gilgamesh of course it's the Gods who respond to the overpopulation of mankind in the flood story and try to wipe mankind out. So embedded there is the idea of, a view of ecology or the environment in which human beings do not, as in the Bible have dominion over the earth, but they're actually part of a world which is very carefully balanced and there're opportunities for them to endanger this balance by cutting down the cedar forest, by growing too fast in numbers which I think is a sophisticated notion and anticipates modern ideas about humans on the planet too"

Links - 17th February 2017

A So-Called Singaporean Love Story (Told In Corporate Jargon) - "Before they knew it, an extension was applied to the date ‪until 11pm. “It’s getting late,” said Siew May, “We should execute our exit plan so we can leverage on the MRT to get home.” “Okay,” said Boon Keong, “Agreed as per your suggestion.” It started to rain. Raindrops were bouncing off the pavement like a bad PowerPoint animation. Fortunately, Boon Keong had an umbrella. “Can I share that with you?” Siew May asked. “I left mine at the office. Hope your understanding is very much appreciated.” “Sure,” said Boon Keong, “Pleased to be able to meet your requirements.”"

Effect of Medicaid Coverage on ED Use — Further Evidence from Oregon’s Experiment — NEJM - "Medicaid coverage increased health care use across a range of settings, improved financial security, and reduced rates of depression among enrollees, but it produced no detectable changes in several measures of physical health, employment rates, or earnings. A key finding was that Medicaid increased emergency department (ED) visits by 40% in the first 15 months after people won the lottery. This finding was greeted with considerable attention and surprise, given the widespread belief that expanding Medicaid coverage to more uninsured people would encourage the use of primary care and thereby reduce ED use"

Sohail Ahmed - I propose that we round up leftists who defend... - "I propose that we round up leftists who defend Islamists, alongside the Islamists themselves, and put them all on an island...
We set it all up so that the Islamists are in charge, and the leftists are being ruled over. Then we wait and see what happens...
After a few years, we let the leftists (that are still alive) back into society, and we ask them if their views have changed at all."

What's the deal with Wendy Carlos? - "She's lying. It's a well documented fact that she's a transexual. C'mon, fake photos, her field is male dominated so she had to pose as a man???.... WTF?
She's a little sensitive about her past eh?"
"Wendy Carlos has always been absurdly over-sensitive about the whole transexual thing. Her website used to have an angry rant about people questioning her "private life" and such like that. It looks like it has now been replaced with "complete denial". If I'm not mistaken, it seems to me that I first heard about Walter becoming Wendy when she was on the cover of Contemporary Keyboard Magazine in 1979(?)"
"Letter to Wendy:
Listen Wendy, no one here really cares that you are a transexual. I've worked with a few transexuals and nobody really thought that much about it. Just stop denying it and people will stop talking about it. O.K.?"
"all this time i thought it was a husband/wife duo. cool."

How Not to Build a Digital Archive: Lessons from the Dark Side of the Force - "A file format policy that relied on the Evil Empire and Rebel Alliance using the same software"

Russia and Syria could be encouraging migrant sex attacks to oust Angela Merkel, pro-EU firm says - "Russian and Syrian secret services may be encouraging refugees in Germany to carry out orchestrated sex attacks, in a bid to oust Angela Merkel from office, it is claimed. The extraordinary assertion was made by an expert from the European Council on Foreign Relations, who said the foreign powers could collude to destabilise Germany ahead of next year's election. Gustav Gressel, a Russian expert at the think-tank, said small numbers of refugees with links to the Kremlin and Syrian security services could be mobilised to sway public opinion against the Chancellor."

Priest CANCELS Nativity because it could offend Muslims - "Fr Sante Braggiè, from the city of Cremona in northern Italy, said there would be no nativity scene at the local cemetery this year as it could offend people from other faiths whose relatives are buried there."

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Tuesday's business with Dominic O'Connell - [On Trump's conflicts of interest] "Pippa Malmgren, a former US Presidential advisor, says Presidents have overcome these problems before.
'Throughout American history we've had presidents who've had business interests, who've come from a particular sector and kept the businesses in the family blind trust. So we've dealt with it in the past. And I think we'll deal with it this time too... He doesn't really own a property business. What he owns is a business where people buy the right to have his name on the building. The issue is how do you get the people who have bought the right to have his name on the building for the next 20 years to pay it all right now? They can't'
'What about the problems with dealing with foreign governments? Every foreign government in dealing with the Trump business organisation will now know that they are talking to someone who has some connection to the most powerful political figure in the world'
'Well, this was exactly the allegation that has been levelled at the Clinton foundation'"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Trump tells China: kowtowing is over - "The apparently haphazard way it's unfolding suggesting another fundamental truth. Namely that Leave didn't expect to win and Remain didn't expect to lose"

The death of Queen Elizabeth will be the most disruptive event in Britain in the last 70 years - "After the current Queen was crowned, her regnal number — II — caused controversy in Scotland, which she also rules, as there was never a Scottish Elizabeth I. When postboxes bearing her cypher were erected in Scotland, some were attacked and vandalised."

Should young people become involved in politics? - "If you're gonna be young, you're better off spending your time on something more useless. People who are young and into politics tend to be immature, tend to be driven towards the fringes, they think life is very straightforward and easy and they've got all the answers. You quickly discover that you haven't. You discover that politicians are mostly all liars. And you wake up some day and think: what have I done with the last few years of my life?... I think there's something slighty unhealthy about someone who puts aside a time in their life which should be spent for other sorts of things for the kind of dry, boring mainstream politics that I certainly got engaged with. Again, I spent my youth delivering leaflets. I really... should've been sleeping around... When I was young, I was a nervous anxious teenager who was bullied at school and politics offered me a family, and it offered me older people who said: oh, you know about what we're interested in. Well done. You're brilliant. And I think on the one hand maybe that was good for me. It kept me off the streets. On the hand other hand I think maybe it stopped me from maturing. It actually delayed my maturity. And you see that in some people who have gone straight from school into politics, that they've got a slightly delayed maturity and I think that's why some middle-aged politicians go off the rails, because they really haven't had a youth... One very sad thing is the number of people at university who think because I'm gonna be head of this particular committee for paperclips in my local Conservative association, I'm going to be Prime Minister someday, and it doesn't work like that... David Cameron who was the guy at Oxford who wasn't involved in politics"
On podcast this was titled: "Is youth politics a waste of time?"

BBC World Service - The Documentary, Island of Love - "[On Middle Easterners needing to go to Cyrpus for non-religious marriage, e.g. to someone of a different religion] In Lebanon, like elsewhere in the Middle East, religion can't be ignored. Many people are religious, and religion and the state aren't separated. Religious authorities inflence political life and your personal life. They control marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance with their own courts and systems of family law. And while ordinary Lebanese may have grown more accepting of mixed-faith relationships and civil marriages, both Christian and Muslim leaders oppose them.
3 years ago, Lebanon's top Sunni Muslim cleric passed a fatwa, a ruling describing civil marriage as a bacteria spread by predators. He said anyone who supported the idea was an apostate, a non-believer who couldn't be buried in a Muslim cemetery. In Beirut's Sunni Muslim court, a judge, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Shafi'i uses softer language but defends the ruling.
'Everything in a Muslim's life has a religious aspect. We live our lives to praise Allah's power and to please him. The mufti's fatwa was because as Muslims, we don't believe that Islam is separated from our lives. In politics, in our families, in our trades, the law of Islam, enginera [sp?] must be applied. If we refuse this, we are not Muslims. You have the right to refuse but you are not a Muslim...
If you get religiously married [in Israel] you have to go to the rabbi and the bride have to go and have special training for being a wife"
Are Lebanon's top Sunni Muslim cleric and the Beiruti judge ignorant and/or Islamophobic for saying Islam is incompatible with secularism?

BBC World Service - BBC Trending, Trolls, 'the Devil', and Death - "[On Duterte] But despite the huge of deaths, the President's popularity doesn't seem to have been affected. People are even writing pop songs about him... [On an extra-judicial killing] The most difficult part of the scene is how normal it seems. The stores don't stop cooking food, teenagers take photos with their mobile phones and it isn't long before the police tape is lifted...
Davao today has rules covering everything from smoking to jaywalking. Karaoke's even banned after 10pm...
At a certain point there was also the killing of taxi drivers being held up by people just to get their day's earning. What mayor did was to request some policemen to be in civilian clothes disguised as taxi drivers. And in fact he himself sometimes goes around as a taxi driver at night. When that news cropped up, that whole thing of taxi drivers gone down very low...
He's shirtless, wearing shorts, flip-flops, face down in a pool of blood. A family member is nearby and we're told that the man's son witnessed him being dragged out of his house by 4 masked men. His brother agrees to speak.
'We're happy to see him like that because here in the neighbourhood even his own family like me, are at odds with him. He has been a user for a very long time. Every time he's high on drugs, he becomes violent, taunting people. He's even destroyed my mother's house'...
I'm quite speechless. I'm not really sure what to say. I've never seen a family reaction like this before"

a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07hhvxx">BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Sovereignty - "Popular sovereignty, where the people are sovereign. And the advantage of the people over monarchs is that they're not underaged ever, they don't get senile. so they have more claim in some ways to be absolute, supreme, perpetual and even indivisible, which were some of the key marks of sovereignty that Bodin identified"

The Incoherence of the Philosophers - Wikipedia - "Al-Ghazali's insistence on a radical divine immanence in the natural world has been posited as one of the reasons that the spirit of scientific inquiry later withered in Islamic lands. If "Allah's hand is not chained", then there was no point in discovering the alleged laws of nature"

List of CONFIRMED HATE HOAXES is growing BIG LEAGUE. EXPOSE THE FAKE NEWS "rise of hate crimes in Trump's America" nonsense. Corrupt MSM won't do their job, so we have to do it for them! : The_Donald
For some reason there don't seem to be false flags in the other direction

Are There Really More Hate Crimes At Schools Following Donald Trump's Election? - "it’s much easier to find examples of violence against students who have openly backed Trump; there are more than a few stories of kids being pummeled for disagreeing with the losing side (detailed below). We did see anti-Trump protests by college and high school students around the country turn violent in cities such as Portland, Ore., as agitators joined the groups. Who didn't hear angry students clearly shouting "F*#% Trump" in news footage from post-election rallies?... What many of the tales of intimidation by the alleged pro-Trump forces have in common is a paucity of details... After reading through myriad stories since Election Day, what’s clear is that the widely reported episodes of violence and intimidation are usually vague, involve roaming gangs of indistinguishable white males, and produce no witnesses. Often the police aren’t even called, but when they are, the stories tend to fall apart... some of the biggest stories out of college campuses recently have involved debunked tales"

Blog: Astonishing number of fake hate crimes since Trump election - "The hoaxes must be seen in the contex of the post-election hysteria about Trump deliberately generated by the left to, 1) energize their supporters to oppose the president-elect's agenda; and 2) delegitimize Trump's victory. Add to that the natural inclination of some people to do anything to get attention, and you have a potent mix of fear and hate that leads to the current spate of fake "hate crimes" that the media eagerly reports as they try to justify their open opposition to Trump's candidacy. Perhaps this hysteria reached its pinnacle on a JetBlue flight, when a gay Brooklyn lawyer began screaming at Ivanka Trump, saying her father was "ruining the country.""

Muslim hate crime hoaxer’s sister blames the NYPD

The Difference Between Vegetarians In India And The West - "“Indian vegetarians were more likely than their meat-eating counterparts to endorse not only values related to purity, but also those supporting traditional authority and in-group loyalty. Conservative values, in other words. This was not true among meat-avoiding Westerners. Indeed, American vegetarians actually placed less value in traditional authority than meat-eating Americans. Ruby and his colleagues suspect these differences reflect the cultures involved, and the place of vegetarianism within those cultures. Most vegetarians in the West were not raised as such, but made a decision at some point to convert from the meat-eating diet followed by the majority of people in their culture.” In contrast, “vegetarianism has been firmly established in India for centuries, and is associated with tradition, power and status,” the researchers write. “Most Indian vegetarians are raised as such by their families.”"

Branko Milanovic on Twitter - "Naivete of great thinkers is breathtaking.A few years ago telling us how Web freedom will blow away dictators. Today, "it helps demagogues"

Thousands attend Mexican girl's party after viral invitation - "She was celebrating her 15th birthday - a traditional coming-of-age party in Mexico known as "quinceanera". About 1.2 million people had earlier vowed to attend the party. However, the father later said the idea had been to invite neighbours and friends only - while stressing he would not turn anyone away."

Melissa McCarthy Shares The Ultimate Girl Power Photo From The Set Of 'Ghostbusters' - "McCarthy, along with her co-stars Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones, stand in front of a group of over 50 cast and crew members, while holding a giant sign printed with the words “girl power.”... “3 cheers to @theellenshow from all the remarkable women of #ghostbusters. When we stand together we are unstoppable! #girlpower.”"
Too bad feminism doesn't bring in box office revenue

Luis Garcia's answer to Why did the new Ghostbusters movie perform poorly? - Quora - "The villain is a blatant anti-feminism villain, pathetic and loser, that gets defeated by being hit in the genitals. You can’t make this shit up."
Feminists can't make good movies - which is why they need to lobby others to push their agenda

Hey r/singapore! What are your thoughts on interracial dating? : singapore - "t was very nice dating here cause it's really different depending on the ethnicity of your date. Malay girls tended to be either conservative either extremely open (different from easy, and this is not bad in my book). Quite caring and giving. Chinese girls tended to be more shy, but once they open up they're very nice. Many of them are pressured by their family and pressure themselves for top careers etc. I've dated some of these and it was.. boring... Dating Singaporeans has been different from dating French (or Europeans for that matter) girls. It's definitely more engaging (girls take it very seriously here! you have to answer that whatsapp in 2 minutes lol), more romantic (quite ironic from someone who comes from the so called Romantic country right?). One downside is that they don't seem to understand the concept of personal freedom in a relationship. They seem to think you belong totally to them, and even going out with dude friends needs to be explained etc. Definitely not as in Europe. The other downside is girls were mostly less interesting, less talkative, and were far less able to talk about interesting topics. Some were quite childish for their age (20-22)"

The Politics of Recognition

"A number of strands in contemporary politics turn on the need, sometimes the demand, for recognition. The need, it can be argued, is one of the driving forces behind nationalist movements in politics. And the demand comes to the fore in a number of ways in today's politics, on behalf of minority or "subaltern" groups, in some forms of feminism, and in what is today called the politics of "multiculturalism."

The demand for recognition in these latter cases is given urgency by the supposed links between recognition and identity, where this latter term designates something like a person's understanding of who they are, of their fundamental defining characteristics as a human being. The thesis is that our identity is partly shaped by recognition or its absence, often by the misrecognition of others, and so a person or group of people can suffer real damage, real distortion, if the people or society around them mirror back to them a confining or demeaning or contemptible picture of themselves. Nonrecognition or misrecognition can inflict harm, can be a form of oppression, imprisoning someone in a false, distorted, and reduced mode of being.

Thus some feminists have argued that women in patriarchal societies have been induced to adopt a depreciatory image of themselves. They have internalized a picture of their own inferiority, so that even when some of the objective obstacles to their advancement fall away, they may be incapable of taking advantage of the new opportunities. And beyond this, they are condemned to suffer the pain of low self-esteem. An analogous point has been made in relation to blacks...

It was not always so, and our ancestors of more than a couple of centuries ago would have stared at us uncomprehendingly if we had used these terns in their current sense. How did we get started on this?...

We can distinguish two changes that together have made the modern preoccupation with identity and recognition inevitable. The first is the collapse of social hierarchies, which used to be the basis for honor. I am using honor in the ancien regime sense in which it is intrinsically linked to inequalities. For some to have honor in this sense, it is essential that not everyone have it...

As against this notion of honor, we have the modern notion of dignity, now used in a universalist and egalitarian sense, where we talk of the inherent "dignity of human beings," or of citizen dignity. The underlying premise here is; that everyone shares in it... "Mrs." and "Miss" have been collapsed into "Ms." Democracy has ushered in a politics of equal recognition, which has taken various forms over the years, and has now returned in the form of demands for the equal status of cultures and of genders...

We have to see the analogy to earlier moral views, where being in touch with some source -- for example, God, or the Idea of the Good -- was considered essential to full being. But now the source we have to connect with is deep within us...

This new ideal of authenticity was, like the idea of dignity, also in part an offshoot of the decline of hierarchical society. In those earlier societies, what we would now call identity was largely fixed by one's social position...

In the earlier age recognition never arose as a problem. General recognition was built into the socially derived identity by virtue of the very fact that it was based on social categories that everyone took for granted. Yet inwardly derived, personal, original identity doesn't enjoy this recognition a priori. It has to win it through exchange, and the attempt can fail. What has come about with the modern age is not the need for recognition but the conditions in which the attempt to be recognized can fail. That is why the need is now acknowledged for the first time...

Where the politics of universal dignity fought for forms of nondiscrimination that were quite "blind" to the ways in which citizens differ, the politics of difference often redefines nondiscrimination as requiring that we make these distinctions the basis of differential treatment. So members of aboriginal bands will get certain rights and powers not enjoyed by other Canadians, if the demands for native self-government are finally agreed on, and certain minorities will get the right to exclude others in order to preserve their cultural integrity, and so on...

Reverse discrimination is defended as a temporary measure that will eventually level the playing field and allow the old "blind" rules to come back into force in a way that doesn't disadvantage anyone. This argument seems cogent enough -- wherever its factual basis is sound. But it won't justify some of the measures now urged on the grounds of difference, the goal of which is not to bring us back to an eventual "difference-blind" social space but, on the contrary, to maintain and cherish distinctness, not just now but forever. After all, if we're concerned with identity, then what is more legitimate than one's aspiration that it never be lost?...

The claim is that all human cultures that have animated whole societies over some considerable stretch of time have something important to say to all human beings...

Of course, the demand for inclusion is logically separable from a claim of equal worth. The demand could be: Include these because they're ours, even though they may well be inferior. But this is not how the people making the demand talk.

But there is something very wrong with the demand in this form. It makes sense to demand as a matter of right that we approach the study of certain cultures with a presumption of their value, as described above. But it can't make sense to demand as a matter of right that we come up with a final concluding judgment that their value is great, or equal to others'. That is, if the judgment of value is to register something independent of our own wills and desires, it cannot be dictated by a principle of ethics. On examination, either we will find something of great value in culture C, or we will not. But it makes no more sense to demand that we do so than it does to demand that we find the earth round or flat, the temperature of the air hot or cold...

In fact, subjectivist, half-baked neo-Nietzschean theories are quite often invoked in this debate. Deriving frequently from Foucault or Derrida, they claim that all judgments of worth are based on standards that are ultimately imposed by and further entrench structures of power. It should be clear why these theories proliferate here. A favorable judgment on demand is nonsense, unless some such theories are valid. Moreover, the giving of such a judgment on demand is an act of breathtaking condescension. No one can really mean it as a genuine act of respect. It is more in the nature of a pretend act of respect given on the insistence of its supposed beneficiary. Objectively, such an act involves contempt for the latter's intelligence. To be an object of such an act of respect demeans. The proponents of neo-Nietzschean theories hope to escape this whole nexus of hypocrisy by turning the entire issue into one of power and counterpower. Then: the question is no more one of respect, but of taking sides, of solidarity. But this is hardly a satisfactory solution, because in taking sides they miss the driving force of this kind of politics, which is precisely the search for recognition and respect...

Here is another severe problem with much of the politics of multiculturalism. The peremptory demand for favorable judgments of worth is paradoxically-, perhaps one should say tragically -- homogenizing. For it implies that we already have the standards to make such judgments"

--- The Politics of Recognition / Charles Taylor

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Links - 16th February 2017

BBC Radio 4 - Today, 25/02/2015, Gaza conflict: Mothers share children's trauma six months on - "'One of her children asked why God brought the Israelis or the Jews to the world and the sibling answered so 'that they can kill us and we can be martyrs'... I wanna know what she is telling her children. I am teaching my children that the other side are people just like us, that the other side have a right to live just like us and we have to find a way to interact and build bridges and not bombs'"

BBC Radio 4 - Today, 14/01/2015, Do modern feminist campaigns only benefit an elite few? - "Essentially, modern feminism, especially as you get it in the media, has become a combination of outrage and elite self-interest. Basically what we have is a focus on campaigns which are supposedly going to benefit women generally and which freak out politicians. But which actually, as we can tell from the evidence, the data, do nothing for the vast majority of women. And 2 obvious ones would be this campaign to get a minimum of 30% of women on the boards of big companies and also the obsession with all-female shortlists. Both of which have become big media campaigns and which are of no interest to the vast majority of women, no relevance to them, and they aren't even interested...
There's no evidence that having a minimum number of women on boards does anything for anybody. And I really want to emphasise this because we've had a number of countries now which've done this and what has happened is it hasn't done any good to the companies concerned. So this idea that you get diversity by replacing an Oxbridge-educated white male with an Oxbridge-educated white female. The evidence that this makes any difference to the companies' effectiveness is zero. And they also don't do anything for what is going on. They don't have any impact on the degree to which women in the companies which they are supposedly running have more or fewer opportunities for promotion or to the pay structure. And can I also say I don't recognise this vast swell of grassroots outrage about rape and assault. I recognise a Twitter tsunami about it but the thing that actually interests the vast majority of women is living standards, what's happening to their families, the much more the health service and those things are not affected by whether or not you're voting for a woman or a man. Women vote for an MP, they don't vote for a woman... What bothers me is that feminism which was originally about increasing opportunities to half the population has become so focused on issues which are of interest to about 10% of women"
Of course Alison Wolf got bashed

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Plate of the Union - "[On Clinton in 1992] 'I could've just been just a woman home. baking cookies and having teas.' And unbeknownst to her at that time it really set off a firestorm because a lot of people were like: well, that's what I do. I'm home cooking. What's wrong with that? I make cookies and I spend time with my kids... people really took offence to it. And the PR director at our magazine at the time was like: we gotta do something with this. So let's throw down the gauntlet and see if she can really make cookies. and so we started this Presidential cookie contest. And I really didn't think anything of it at the time but it really picked up a lot of energy. And I remember coming in to work every day having to make these damn cookies to send out to all these press people to try. And it just got bigger and bigger. She actually got really into it and she started baking cookies and giving them out and was doing her cookies against Barbara Bush's cookies. They were both chocolate chip cookies but Hillary's had oatmeal in it. So they won. And 4 years later we did it again and we've been doing it every Presidential election and all but one of the elections, the person who won the cookie election won the Presidential contest...
A taco bowl, it's an edible bowl. Tastes like you dropped a taco on the floor and scooped it up. It has the flavours of commercial foods. Yellow cheese that isn't cheese, industrial sour cream, ground meat that isn't meat. It's a very popular food but it's definitely not something that the Mexican-American community is eating. It really would be more of a part of American fast food culture. But I guess that's the only thing that qualifies as Mexican at the Trump Tower"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, The Hidden Cost of a Home-Cooked Meal - "[On Kenya] A woman, before you get married you have to know how to cook. In the rural setup, a woman who gets married and does not know how to cook actually is a big problem for that particular family. So what happens, from what I've seen in my younger ages is the woman would be taken back to her mother for a few months to be taught how to properly cook the meals that she is supposed to be cooking for her family, especially her husband. Then she would go back when they feel she is ready. She would be lucky, most women are usually lucky that their men accept them back. So it's unacceptable...
'After World War II, the food industry which had been completely geared up towards the war effort was up and running and producing packaged, frozen and dehydrated foods to be eaten in foxholes basically. And they had to completely shift towards a regular market of families eating at home. The great future for food in America and they hoped in the world was that fresh food would go into decline. People would not be eating fresh oranges. They would be drinking dehydrated juice or frozen concentrated juice and in fact to an extent that's exactly what happened. But what they hadn't counted on was that a lot of home cooks were completely content with what was already going on at home in the 1950s in America. It was simpler to turn out a dinner for your family than it had ever been probably in the whole history of human cooking. You had hot and cold running water pretty much everywhere. You had gas and electricity, people had refrigerators with the little freezing compartments. It was not a big deal to put food on the table. Meals themselves had gotten much simpler after the war. And women knew how to cook"

For Russia, Syrian Ties Complicated by Marriage - The New York Times - "They are all women from the former Soviet Union who married Syrian men. Pan out to the greater expanse of Syria and the number of Russian wives grows to 20,000, the human legacy of a cold war alliance that, starting in the 1960s, mingled its young elites in Soviet dormitories and classrooms. This unusual diaspora offers some insight into the many-stranded relationship between the two countries, one that makes the Kremlin reluctant to cast off Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad... Syrian-Russian unions were especially common — and not just for geopolitical reasons, husbands and wives said in interviews. Many Syrian men felt genuinely transformed by their time in Russia; they also sought to avoid paying a bride-price as is customary in the Middle East. Mahmoud al-Hamza, who met his wife, Nadezhda, in a Moscow park in 1971, said that in order to marry a Syrian, “you need an apartment, you need to pay money, you need to buy gold, and for a Russian woman you just need a wedding ring.” Soviet women had their own reasons to pursue Syrians — nondrinkers who, thanks to the Baath Party’s ties to the Communists, traveled freely in and out of the Soviet Union. A new wave of marriages followed the Soviet collapse, as young women sought a way out of economic chaos. “Let all the world hear this: Russian men, maybe not all of them, but more than half of them are gigolos”... “If there is a quarrel, what will a Russian woman do? She will cry,” she said. “Maximum, she will go to her friend and say, ‘He is such and such.’ And what will an Arab woman do? She will gather a posse of all her relatives. She may run at night to her husband’s mother and sister and start yelling”... even young men who have never set foot in Russia have started “to call us very seriously and say, ‘Help me marry a Russian.’”"

Turning Japanese by The Vapors Songfacts - "One of the more misinterpreted songs of all time, word was that "Turning Japanese" refers to the Asian facial features people get at the moment of climax during masturbation. In a VH1 True Spin special, they asked The Vapors about this song, and they explained that it is a love song about someone who lost their girlfriend and was going slowly crazy"

Singapore's S$134m bottled water addiction - "In a country where tap water quality far exceeds minimum World Health Organization (WHO) and US Environmental Protection Agency standards, it may come as a surprise to some that bottled water is a booming, multimillion-dollar business... F&N confirmed that Ice Mountain sold in Singapore “is sourced and packed in Malaysia from tap water”, while Coca-Cola said that Dasani produced for the Singapore market comes from “the local water supply at (its) facility in Malaysia”... some consumers have become more concerned about health issues surrounding tap water consumption, such as “the hygiene of the water ducts and pipes”. When these concerns were relayed to PUB, it told Channel NewsAsia that Singapore has “a comprehensive and rigorous maintenance, servicing and monitoring programme which covers the entire water system, from reservoirs to waterworks, through the distribution network, to the end consumer’s tap”. This ensures that the tap water is “clean and wholesome”, it said. PUB also added that the pipes used in Singapore’s potable water supply “are primarily cement-lined ductile iron and steel water mains” that comply with international standards"

A compilation of Mediacorp's "Have you taken your medicine?"
Mostly from Channel 8, but Channel U seems to have some. And some look Korean. Maybe it's an East Asian thing?

www.hardwarezone.com.sg - View Single Post - Visa to Australia - "VISA Service Fee
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You are paying for Service Fee to process the Visa application.
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The domain name www.kangarooskang.com redirects here

The Bengali Famine - "Mr. Polya begins by dismissing all historians who disagree with him as Anglo-American and Zionist propagandists, including official biographer Sir Martin Gilbert—who, since it’s always a good idea to question the accused, we asked for comment. “Churchill was not responsible for the Bengal Famine,” Sir Martin replied. “I have been searching for evidence for years: none has turned up. The 1944 Document volume of the official biography [Hillsdale College Press] will resolve this issue finally”... “The idea that Churchill was in any way ‘responsible’ or ‘caused’ the Bengal famine is of course absurd. The real cause was the fall of Burma to the Japanese, which cut off India's main supply of rice imports when domestic sources fell short, which they did in Eastern Bengal after a devastating cyclone in mid-October 1942""

A review of the evidence for the effectiveness, safety, and cost of acupuncture, massage therapy, and spinal manipulation for back pain. - "Initial studies have found massage to be effective for persistent back pain. Spinal manipulation has small clinical benefits that are equivalent to those of other commonly used therapies. The effectiveness of acupuncture remains unclear. All of these treatments seem to be relatively safe. Preliminary evidence suggests that massage, but not acupuncture or spinal manipulation, may reduce the costs of care after an initial course of therapy."

No, Super Mario Run isn’t too expensive, you’re just too cheap - "While most of the reviews are very positive, the average score is only 2.5. What’s bringing the score down is the many, many 1-star reviews. Overwhelmingly these reviews are about one thing: price. In an app store where price has been thoroughly driven down by freemium and $0.99 games, it seems a traditional approach to pricing up-front for quality content leaves a sour taste in user’s mouths... This content is new interesting, and can engage the senses in ways that just having more gold can not. This is part of the art of games, and it’s being lost with the IAP-driven design of most mobile games today. These games don’t win awards for creative excellence. They aren’t viewed as adding to the art of crafting games. No, they are more akin to something else that rewards players for playing with an alternative currency devised by the system… slot machines... Players avoid paying $10 one time, and instead pay $0.99 50 times, or in some sad cases, much much more. Like this guy, who spent $1 million dollars on Game of War In-App-Purchases. Seriously, you can’t make this up. On average, mobile gamers spend $87 per player on their “free” games. Tim Cook himself was forced to reckon with this abusive type of monetization after being probed by the FTC, and Apple ended up refunding $32.5M for in-app purchases made by kids."

hardly pocket change: mobile gamers spend an average of $87 on in-app purchases - "Our analysis validated the existence of mobile gaming “whales“. Data shows that only 10 percent of the mobile in-game purchasing population accounts for 90 percent of mobile gaming sales. Further listening to the statical sonar reveals that the top one percent, the “white whales”, of mobile gamers account for an astonishing 58 percent of the mobile gaming revenue from in-app purchases. This trend doesn’t occur among traditional games, where roughly 28 percent of the audience accounts for 90 percent of game sales... The real cost is we are raising a generation of gambling addicts. We are throwing out all the value in the art and craft of storytelling in games. We are abandoning everything that makes the experience of playing games valuable, and replacing it with cheap thrills. “Free” never means free, you’ll always pay one way or another."

Why Margaret Cho was justifiably angry over Tilda Swinton's demand for emotional labour - "Of course Cho was polite in her emails; if people of colour weren't polite every time we're confronted with problematic behaviour by powerful white people, we'd be rioting every hour of every day. Instead, we do our best to present our case, hope we're actually listened to, and then later vent to our friends about the latest round of extracurricular emotional labour we've had to do in our workplace, in our school, on the bus ride home, or wherever it occurred. There is absolutely nothing surprising about Cho's emails or her account on the podcast; both will be familiar to anyone from marginalised backgrounds or who faces systemic discrimination"
Yet more proof that white people (or other "powerful" people) shouldn't try to appease SJWs because you can never win. They will look for some angle to attack you anyway, so you might as well do your own thing (since you'll get savaged regardless).

Minority rule, majority hate - "Can two seemingly unrelated issues like globalization and violent ethnonationalism actually have a priori linkages? Yale University professor Amy Chua's new book takes the globalization debate into uncharted territory via myriad comparative examples to show the explosive collision between free market democracy and ethnic hatred... The latifundia feudal land ownership system, dominated by Spanish-blooded families, is booming further with each new round of pro-globalization reforms. Other outsider minorities making hay under the neo-liberal economic order in Latin America include Lebanese, Jewish and Palestinian businessmen, who corner enormous profits in Brazil, Panama, Argentina, Belize and Honduras. All over the region, traditionally soft in ethnic identity assertion, "distinctively ethnic resentment against market-dominant light-skinned elites is on the rise"... Besides whites, the other non-indigenous market dominant minorities in Africa are Indian and Lebanese merchants"
You can't blame colonialism for Indian and Lebanese success in Africa

“Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays”: Republicans and Democrats are Polar Opposites - "Nearly one-quarter (24%) of Democrats say they blocked, unfriended, or stopped following someone on social media after the election because of their political posts on social media. Fewer than one in ten Republicans (9%) and independents (9%) report eliminating people from their social media circle. Political liberals are also far more likely than conservatives to say they removed someone from their social media circle due to what they shared online (28% vs. 8%, respectively). Eleven percent of moderates say they blocked, unfollowed, or unfriended someone due to what they posted online. There is also a substantial gender gap. Women are twice as likely as men to report removing people from their online social circle because of the political views they expressed online (18% vs. 9%, respectively). Notably, the gender gap also differs significantly across political affiliation. Three in ten (30%) Democratic women say they removed an individual from their online social network because of a political opinion they expressed, while only 14% of Democratic men reported doing this. Republican men and women are about equally as likely to say they blocked, unfollowed, or unfriended someone on social media because of political posts (10% vs. 8%, respectively)."
This replicates the Pew finding that liberals are more intolerant (i.e. more likely to block, unfriend or hide people because of politics)
"It was always the women, and above all the young ones, who were the most bigoted adherents of the Party, the swallowers of slogans, the amateur spies and nosers−out of unorthodoxy.” ― George Orwell, 1984

Kevin 👐 Glass on Twitter: "@JulieBorowski: I am so torn on immigration. I want free migration of people, but can't deny that Germany's open door policy led to terrorist attacks.
@KevinWGlass: sometimes we gotta bite the bullet and say increased welfare for refugees is worth the increased risk of domestic terrorism"
Besides the modern version of Original Sin liberals believe in turning the other cheek. So ironically despite a reflexive anti-Christianity stance they are quite like Jesus

Michigan recount reveals error, but not the one Jill Stein wanted - "Green Party nominee Jill Stein’s presidential vote recount in Michigan may have turned up massive voter irregularities — in the Democratic stronghold of Detroit. Now it’s Republican leaders who are demanding an investigation to determine why a third of the city’s voting machines registered more ballots than actual voters, the Detroit News reported."

The Myth of Child Porn (Online)

"In spite of proud FBI claims, many lawyers and journalists, including me, suspect that the child pornographer is the same penny-ante presence online as he was in Times Square. Bruce Selcraig, a government investigator of child pornography during the 1980s who went online in 1996 as a journalist to review the situation, concluded the same. In the cyberspeech debate, he said, the dissemination of child porn amounted to "a tuna-sized red herring."

Aficionados and vice cops concede that practically all the sexually explicit images of children circulating cybernetically are the same stack of yellowing pages found at the back of those X-rated shops, only digitized. These pictures tend to be twenty to fifty years old, made overseas, badly re-reproduced, and for the most part pretty chaste. That may be why federal agents almost never show journalists the contraband. But when I got a peek at a stash downloaded by Don Huycke, the national program manager for child pornography at the U.S. Customs Service, in 1995, I was underwhelmed. Losing count after fifty photos, I'd put aside three that could be called pornographic: a couple of shots of adolescents masturbating and one half-dressed twelve-year-old spreading her legs in a position more like a gymnast's split than split beaver. The rest tended to be like the fifteen-year-old with a 1950s bob and an Ipana grin, sitting up straight, naked but demure, or the two towheaded six-year olds in underpants, astride their bikes.

So when these old pictures show up on the Net, who's putting them there? Attorney Lawrence Stanley, who published in the Benjamin A. Cardozo Law Review what is widely considered the most thorough research of child pornography in the 1980s, concluded that the pornographers were almost exclusively cops. In 1990 at a southern California police seminar, the LAPD's R. P. "Toby" Tyler proudly announced as much. The government had shellacked the competition, he said; now law enforcement agencies were the sole reproducers and distributors of child pornography. Virtually all advertising, distribution, and sales to people considered potential lawbreakers were done by the federal government, in sting operations against people who have demonstrated (through, for instance, membership in NAMBLA) what agents regard as a predisposition to commit a crime. These solicitations were usually numerous and did not cease until the recipient took the bait. "In other words, there was no crime until the government seduced people into committing one," Stanley wrote...

In 1995, the FBI launched its child-pornography task force Innocent Images, which trains special agents under a congressional grant of ten million dollars to rout out pedophiles on the Net. From 1996 to 2000, the unit initiated 2,609 cases. But barely 20 percent of those generated indictments, with just 17 percent resulting in convictions. The FBI's Peter Gullotta told James Kincaid that Innocent Images had achieved 439 convictions since 1995. How were these criminals found? "It's like fishing in a pond full of hungry fish," Gullotta told Kincaid. "Every time you put a line with live bait in there, you're going to get one." This might sound like inducement (especially to journalists like myself, who have talked to the fish)—the same tactics that Stanley described in the 1980s, only updated from snail mail to e-mail...

According to the FBI's Gullotta when he spoke to Kincaid, the typical catch has no previous criminal record. Almost no such case goes to trial; the defendants plead guilty. The government calls this more evidence of guilt. But, again, closer examination of such cases (in fact, of most child abuse charges) reveals that pleas are often taken under advice of counsel to eliminate the chance of a long prison sentence and also to limit the personal destruction that publicity wreaks even if the accused is exonerated.

Unfortunately, plea bargains, because they lack the details of depositions, interrogations at trial, and the defense's version of events, make it almost impossible to tell what the person is accused of doing, much less whether he did it. Federal statistics aren't much help. According to Kincaid, neither the FBI nor the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children now keeps track of how many children are actually lured to danger after online assignations, the feared eventuality that motivates these operations. Journalists are frustrated by more than insufficient data, though. In 1995, while I covered the story of the first man convicted for possession of "lascivious" videotapes of minors who were neither naked nor doing anything sexual, I arrived at the Justice Department in Washington D.C., only to learn that my scheduled viewing of the evidence had been canceled because, well, the tapes were illegal. Exposing the models to my eyes, an agent told me, would criminally harm them (I later learned that portions of the tapes had aired on Court TV). I drove six hours to western Pennsylvania, where the court clerk set me up with a VCR, and I yawned through hours of badly filmed images no racier than a Bahamas tourism commercial. Similar restrictions were placed on reportage of the Landslide investigation. According to the Times, "the authorities did not release the addresses of the actual [foreign] sites" allegedly offering child-pornographic images, and the only models described were two British siblings, a girl and a boy, ages eight and six. But agents did not reveal whether these children were photographed engaging in sexual activity, and journalists were obviously unable to inspect the images themselves...

Statistics that I got from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 1996 indicated that the feared eventuality that motivates all this activity had rarely come to pass. Only twenty three minors were enticed to malls and hotel rooms by their adult suitors between 1994 and 1996, none of these "children" was under thirteen, and most were at least a couple of years older than that. A 2001 survey conducted by the University of New Hampshire found that almost a fifth of ten- to seventeen-year-olds who went online received sexual solicitations from "strangers," an unspecified number of whom may have been adults. However, it would be hard to impute widespread harm to these experiences. Three-quarters of the youth said they were not distressed by the posts. And, wrote the researchers, "no youth in the sample was actually sexually assaulted as a result of contacts made over the Internet." As for pedophiles caught in the act, as far as I can gather only one such case has occurred: the infamous Orchid Club, whose members took turns having sex with a child in front of videocams that broadcast their doings to their compatriots in real time."

--- Harmful to Minors - The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex / Judith Levine
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