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Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Sociology of University

BBC Radio 4 - Thinking Allowed, Rituals at Christmas

"Sociologists, as you implied, they do rather revel in their capacity to undermine other people's beliefs and preconceptions.

I used to really enjoy giving lectures to first year students in which I told them that statistically they had about an 82% chance of discovering their soul mate in the next 3 years but only - only a 14% chance of retaining any partner they'd met before arriving at university.

And I also told them that all their friends in the first year would be based on propinquity. That is, people who lived in the same corridor as themselves or perhaps who enjoyed an alphabetical name next to their own alphabetical name, whereas in the third year - in the third year, it was almost statistically certain that they'd be friends with someone who shared their cultural and political ideas.

Well, if all that didn't induce some sociological self-consciousness, then nothing would, I used to think smugly as I made for the senior common room."

Links - 20th June 2015

How to Share Your Tweets at Optimal Times: Followerwonk and Buffer Team Up - - The Buffer Blog - "We couldn’t be any more excited to have teamed up with the folks from Followerwonk, an amazing Twitter analytics tool, to deliver the best times to Tweet for you. And from there, you can easily export your optimal Tweeting times straight into Buffer."
Keywords: scheduling, schedule, best time to post, automatically analyse best times to post

Local girls in Singapore seem colder and less friendly - how do you walk up and speak to them without getting blank stares and the cold shoulder? : askseddit - "most of my luck seems to come from engaging foreign/expatriate girls. Last week I made out and exchanged numbers with an Australian/Chinese mixed girl who lives in Perth. A few months back I got an Indian girl's number. When it comes to the local Singaporean chinese though, I end up striking out most of the them. Alot of them seem to love to dance in a group with their friends (so approaching can be intimidating if they're appear 'closed off') or if they're on their own they just generally don't seem interested, or seem very wary of someone trying to hit on them or be creepy. But to be honest, I'm running the same game that I run on other girls too."
"I know there is definitely something with the local female population. Sometimes they're a little conservative. If it's any consolation, it's not always as easy for the expat guys as it seems either. A lot of girls are just looking for a "night club experience" so they'll play around and make a guy think they're up for it, when really they're not going to leave with you because they're afraid of judgement from their friends. So we expats have to sort through a lot of mixed signals to find girls who are really up for it, versus those who just want to feel like they're misbehaving, but don't want to follow-through."

Sea Shepherd conservation group declared 'pirates' in US court ruling - "A US court has declared the conservation group Sea Shepherd to be "pirates" and ordered it to stop its aggressive actions against Japanese whalers. The ruling was issued on Wednesday by chief judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th US circuit court of appeals. In his 18-page opinion, he wrote: "You don't need a peg leg or an eye patch. When you ram ships; hurl containers of acid; drag metal-reinforced ropes in the water to damage propellers and rudders; launch smoke bombs and flares with hooks; and point high-powered lasers at other ships, you are, without a doubt, a pirate, no matter how high-minded you believe your purpose to be.""

Sea Shepherd 'sank its own anti-whaling boat' - "Mr Bethune told New Zealand's National Radio he believed Mr Watson wanted the sinking to "garner sympathy with the public and to create better TV"."

China’s Dangerous Game - "[China] would achieve the greatest territorial expansion by any power since imperial Japan’s annexation of large swaths of Asia in the first half of the 20th century... China’s pushiness has commanded the attention of states around its entire perimeter. Many have begun to form unlikely partnerships with the same interest in mind: restraining Beijing. Referring to one of these new relationships, a Vietnamese diplomat in Southeast Asia told me drolly that India is “prepared to fight China to the last Vietnamese,” meaning it would bankroll Vietnam as a proxy in any conflict with the Chinese... Ultimately, intra-regional balancing like this probably offers the best prospect for avoiding a direct face-off between China and the United States in the western Pacific—and perhaps the best prospect of peace overall... Asked if it were possible for a Chinese leader to speak publicly of compromise with China’s neighbors, Wu Jianmin, a former Chinese diplomatic spokesman and a retired president of China Foreign Affairs University, told the Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese daily, “You would be a ‘traitor.’ ”"

How World War I Shapes U.S. Foreign Policy - "The question confronting the United States in 1917 was the same question that confronted Americans in 1941, and again after World War II, and now again as China rises: Who will shape world order? The United States and its liberal democratic traditions? Or challengers impelled by aggressive authoritarian ideologies of one kind or another?... Americans are susceptible to the belief that their country is somehow not a state like other states: It is either something purer and higher, or something unforgivably worse... In his April 2 speech to Congress asking for a declaration of war on Germany, Wilson insisted that the “world must be made safe for democracy.” Not “democratic”—“safe for democracy.” Wilson wasn’t promising to impose democracy on Imperial Germany. He was promising to defend democracy from Imperial Germany... Human beings admire winners. In the year 1940, when democracy looked a loser, Anne Morrow Lindbergh hailed German fascism as “the wave of the future.” Had Imperial Germany prevailed in 1918, there would have been many to argue that Otto von Bismarck’s vision of the future—“iron and blood”—had decisively triumphed over Abraham Lincoln’s “government of the people, by the people, for the people”... Self-accusation is as American as self-assertion—and as based on illusions"

Did America Win or Lose the Iraq War? - "America’s material strength has another curse. For a global hegemon like the United States, each war is just one of many competing security commitments around the world. For the enemy, however, the conflict is a life-and-death contest that occupies its entire attention. It’s limited war for Americans, and total war for those fighting Americans. The United States has more power; its foes have more willpower... It’s a paradox of war: The United States loses because the world is peaceful. The decline of interstate conflict and the relative harmony among great powers is a cause for celebration. But the interstate wars that have disappeared are the kind of wars that the United States wins. And the civil wars that remain are the kind of wars that the U.S. loses. As the tide of conflict recedes, it leaves behind the toughest and most unyielding internal struggles. It’s also hard to win great victories in an era of peace"

Why It Pays to Be a Jerk - "At the University of Amsterdam, researchers have found that semi-obnoxious behavior not only can make a person seem more powerful, but can make them more powerful, period. The same goes for overconfidence. Act like you’re the smartest person in the room, a series of striking studies demonstrates, and you’ll up your chances of running the show. People will even pay to be treated shabbily: snobbish, condescending salespeople at luxury retailers extract more money from shoppers than their more agreeable counterparts do. And “agreeableness,” other research shows, is a trait that tends to make you poorer... When it came to “aspirational” brands like Gucci, Burberry, and Louis Vuitton, participants were willing to pay more in a scenario in which they felt rejected... What most everyone can agree on, though, is that Jobs was an outlier. As Stanford’s Robert Sutton points out, “If we copied every habit of successful leaders, we’d all be drinking Wild Turkey, like Southwest Airlines’ co-founder Herb Kelleher”... “What I’ve become convinced of is that nice guys and gals really do finish last.” He believes that the most effective people are “disagreeable givers”—that is, people willing to use thorny behavior to further the well-being and success of others"

Relatable romance tugs at the heartstrings - "WHAT is the one sure sign that you are watching a British romantic comedy instead of an American one? Look at the teeth.In stateside flicks, the chompers are unnervingly, blindingly white. In English movies, the state of dental aesthetics is less oppressively perfect. Just look at Pegg's regular, stained teeth here. It points to a fundamental difference in the two branches of the genre. American rom-coms tend to be glossy fairy tales while British ones are more relatable and, often, more genuinely sweet."

Viggo Mortensen Says Peter Jackson Sacrificed Subtlety for CGI

Why Every Movie Looks Sort of Orange and Blue

Jihadi threat requires move into 'private space' of UK Muslims, says police chief - "Scotland Yard commander Mak Chishty said children aged five had voiced opposition to marking Christmas, branding it as “haram” – forbidden by Islam... Chishty said there was now a need for “a move into the private space” of Muslims to spot views that could show the beginning of radicalisation far earlier. He said this could be shown by subtle changes in behaviour, such as shunning certain shops, citing the example of Marks & Spencer, which could be because the store is sometimes mistakenly perceived to be Jewish-owned."

8 in 10 Singaporeans are sleep-deprived: Study - "The survey revealed that 82 per cent of respondents are not getting the eight hours of sleep as recommended by SingHealth, and less than half (47 per cent) of them are satisfied with their perceived quality of sleep. These are found to be the top factors that contributed to mediocre sleep:
- Stress from work or personal reasons (59 per cent)
- Uncomfortable room temperature (28 per cent)
- Physical pain (25 per cent)
- Spending time on mobile devices before bedtime (24 per cent)
- Noisy environment (20 per cent)
Meanwhile, respondents said that these factors helped them get a good night's sleep:
- Ideal room temperature (51 per cent)
- Having a bolster or long pillow to hug (30 per cent)
- Exercising during the day (29 per cent)
- Following a routine before bedtime (27 per cent)
- Having the ideal room lighting (26 per cent)
- Taking a bath or shower before bed (26 per cent)"

A reminder that your Instagram photos aren’t really yours: Someone else can sell them for $90,000 - "This month, painter and photographer Richard Prince reminded us that what you post is public, and given the flexibility of copyright laws, can be shared — and sold — for anyone to see. As a part of the Frieze Art Fair in New York, Prince displayed giant screenshots of other people’s Instagram photos without warning or permission."

Good In Bed: Funny Men Give More Orgasms - "the best predictors of the number and intensity of orgasms were how satisfied a woman is with her partner, how much she was attracted to him, his income, and his self-confidence, as rated by his partner. Also, the more orgasms a woman had, the stronger her orgasms were. Other factors that predicted the woman's sexual pleasure were the age when she had sex for the first time (the younger the woman was, the more orgasms she has now), the number of sexual partners (more partners resulted in greater enjoyment). Partner's intelligence, motivation, determination and his ability to concentrate, were also good indicators of a woman's orgasms, which means that even those who are not blessed with other features still have hope."

Women in Bed: What's All the Noise About? (Part II) - "Female copulatory vocalization is highly associated with promiscuous mating, but not with monogamy. Alan Dixson has noted that the females of promiscuous primate species emit more complex mating calls than females of monogamous and polygynous species. Complexity aside, Gauri Pradhan and his colleagues conducted a survey of copulation calls in a variety of primates and found that “variation in females’ promiscuity predicts their tendency to use copulation calls in conjunction with mating.” Their data show that higher levels of promiscuity predict more frequent copulation calls... it seems far more likely that in humans, female copulatory vocalization would serve to attract males to the ovulating, sexually receptive female, thus promoting sperm competition, with all its attendant benefits—both reproductive and social."

Not a Very P.C. Thing to Say

Not a Very P.C. Thing to Say

"Around 2 a.m. on December 12, four students approached the apartment of Omar Mahmood, a Muslim student at the University of Michigan, who had recently published a column in a school newspaper about his perspective as a minority on campus. The students, who were recorded on a building surveillance camera wearing baggy hooded sweatshirts to hide their identity, littered Mahmood’s doorway with copies of his column, scrawled with messages like “You scum embarrass us,” “Shut the fuck up,” and “DO YOU EVEN GO HERE?! LEAVE!!” They posted a picture of a demon and splattered eggs.

This might appear to be the sort of episode that would stoke the moral conscience of students on a progressive campus like Ann Arbor, and it was quickly agreed that an act of biased intimidation had taken place. But Mahmood was widely seen as the perpetrator rather than the victim. His column, published in the school’s conservative newspaper, had spoofed the culture of taking offense that pervades the campus. Mahmood satirically pretended to denounce “a white cis-gendered hetero upper-class man” who offered to help him up when he slipped, leading him to denounce “our barbaric attitude toward people of left-handydnyss”...

Mahmood later said that he was told by the editor that his column had created a “hostile environment,” in which at least one Daily staffer felt threatened, and that he must write a letter of apology to the staff. When he refused, the Daily fired him, and the subsequent vandalism of his apartment served to confirm his status as thought-criminal.

The episode would not have shocked anybody familiar with the campus scene from two decades earlier. In 1992, an episode along somewhat analogous lines took place, also in Ann Arbor. In this case, the offending party was the feminist videographer Carol Jacobsen, who had produced an exhibition documenting the lives of sex workers. The exhibition’s subjects presented their profession as a form of self-empowerment, a position that ran headlong against the theories of Catharine MacKinnon, a law professor at the university who had gained national renown for her radical feminist critique of the First Amendment as a tool of male privilege. MacKinnon’s beliefs nestled closely with an academic movement that was then being described, by its advocates as well as its critics, as “political correctness.” Michigan had already responded to the demands of pro-p.c. activists by imposing a campuswide speech code purporting to restrict all manner of discriminatory speech, only for it to be struck down as a First Amendment violation in federal court.

In Ann Arbor, MacKinnon had attracted a loyal following of students, many of whom copied her method of argument. The pro-MacKinnon students, upset over the display of pornographic video clips, descended upon Jacobsen’s exhibit and confiscated a videotape. There were speakers visiting campus for a conference on prostitution, and the video posed “a threat to their safety,” the students insisted.

This was the same inversion of victim and victimizer at work last December. In both cases, the threat was deemed not the angry mobs out to crush opposing ideas, but the ideas themselves. The theory animating both attacks turns out to be a durable one, with deep roots in the political left...

After political correctness burst onto the academic scene in the late ’80s and early ’90s, it went into a long remission. Now it has returned. Some of its expressions have a familiar tint, like the protesting of even mildly controversial speakers on college campuses...

At a growing number of campuses, professors now attach “trigger warnings” to texts that may upset students, and there is a campaign to eradicate “microaggressions,” or small social slights that might cause searing trauma. These newly fashionable terms merely repackage a central tenet of the first p.c. movement: that people should be expected to treat even faintly unpleasant ideas or behaviors as full-scale offenses. Stanford recently canceled a performance of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson after protests by Native American students. UCLA students staged a sit-in to protest microaggressions such as when a professor corrected a student’s decision to spell the word indigenous with an uppercase I — one example of many “perceived grammatical choices that in actuality reflect ideologies.” A theater group at Mount Holyoke College recently announced it would no longer put on The Vagina Monologues in part because the material excludes women without vaginas. These sorts of episodes now hardly even qualify as exceptional.

Trigger warnings aren’t much help in actually overcoming trauma — an analysis by the Institute of Medicine has found that the best approach is controlled exposure to it, and experts say avoidance can reinforce suffering. Indeed, one professor at a prestigious university told me that, just in the last few years, she has noticed a dramatic upsurge in her students’ sensitivity toward even the mildest social or ideological slights; she and her fellow faculty members are terrified of facing accusations of triggering trauma — or, more consequentially, violating her school’s new sexual-harassment policy — merely by carrying out the traditional academic work of intellectual exploration. “This is an environment of fear, believe it or not,” she told me by way of explaining her request for anonymity. It reminds her of the previous outbreak of political correctness — “Every other day I say to my friends, ‘How did we get back to 1991?’ ”

But it would be a mistake to categorize today’s p.c. culture as only an academic phenomenon. Political correctness is a style of politics in which the more radical members of the left attempt to regulate political discourse by defining opposing views as bigoted and illegitimate. Two decades ago, the only communities where the left could exert such hegemonic control lay within academia, which gave it an influence on intellectual life far out of proportion to its numeric size. Today’s political correctness flourishes most consequentially on social media, where it enjoys a frisson of cool and vast new cultural reach. And since social media is also now the milieu that hosts most political debate, the new p.c. has attained an influence over mainstream journalism and commentary beyond that of the old.

It also makes money. Every media company knows that stories about race and gender bias draw huge audiences, making identity politics a reliable profit center in a media industry beset by insecurity. A year ago, for instance, a photographer compiled images of Fordham students displaying signs recounting “an instance of racial microaggression they have faced.” The stories ranged from uncomfortable (“No, where are you really from?”) to relatively innocuous (“ ‘Can you read this?’ He showed me a Japanese character on his phone”)...

In a short period of time, the p.c. movement has assumed a towering presence in the psychic space of politically active people in general and the left in particular...

Two and a half years ago, Hanna Rosin, a liberal journalist and longtime friend, wrote a book called The End of Men, which argued that a confluence of social and economic changes left women in a better position going forward than men, who were struggling to adapt to a new postindustrial order. Rosin, a self-identified feminist, has found herself unexpectedly assailed by feminist critics, who found her message of long-term female empowerment complacent and insufficiently concerned with the continuing reality of sexism. One Twitter hashtag, “#RIPpatriarchy,” became a label for critics to lampoon her thesis. Every new continuing demonstration of gender discrimination — a survey showing Americans still prefer male bosses; a person noticing a man on the subway occupying a seat and a half — would be tweeted out along with a mocking #RIPpatriarchy.

Her response since then has been to avoid committing a provocation, especially on Twitter. “If you tweet something straight­forwardly feminist, you immediately get a wave of love and favorites, but if you tweet something in a cranky feminist mode then the opposite happens,” she told me. “The price is too high; you feel like there might be banishment waiting for you.” Social media, where swarms of jeering critics can materialize in an instant, paradoxically creates this feeling of isolation. “You do immediately get the sense that it’s one against millions, even though it’s not.” Subjects of these massed attacks often describe an impulse to withdraw...

Political correctness is not a rigorous commitment to social equality so much as a system of left-wing ideological repression. Not only is it not a form of liberalism; it is antithetical to liberalism. Indeed, its most frequent victims turn out to be liberals themselves...

Political correctness makes debate irrelevant and frequently impossible.

Under p.c. culture, the same idea can be expressed identically by two people but received differently depending on the race and sex of the individuals doing the expressing. This has led to elaborate norms and terminology within certain communities on the left. For instance, “mansplaining,” a concept popularized in 2008 by Rebecca Solnit, who described the tendency of men to patronizingly hold forth to women on subjects the woman knows better — in Solnit’s case, the man in question mansplained her own book to her. The fast popularization of the term speaks to how exasperating the phenomenon can be, and mansplaining has, at times, proved useful in identifying discrimination embedded in everyday rudeness. But it has now grown into an all-purpose term of abuse that can be used to discredit any argument by any man. (MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry once disdainfully called White House press secretary Jay Carney’s defense of the relative pay of men and women in the administration “man­splaining,” even though the question he responded to was posed by a male.) Mansplaining has since given rise to “whitesplaining” and “straightsplaining.” The phrase “solidarity is for white women,” used in a popular hashtag, broadly signifies any criticism of white feminists by nonwhite ones.

If a person who is accused of bias attempts to defend his intentions, he merely compounds his own guilt. (Here one might find oneself accused of man/white/straightsplaining.) It is likewise taboo to request that the accusation be rendered in a less hostile manner. This is called “tone policing.” If you are accused of bias, or “called out,” reflection and apology are the only acceptable response — to dispute a call-out only makes it worse. There is no allowance in p.c. culture for the possibility that the accusation may be erroneous. A white person or a man can achieve the status of “ally,” however, if he follows the rules of p.c. dialogue. A community, virtual or real, that adheres to the rules is deemed “safe.” The extensive terminology plays a crucial role, locking in shared ideological assumptions that make meaningful disagreement impossible.

Nearly every time I have mentioned the subject of p.c. to a female writer I know, she has told me about Binders Full of Women Writers, an invitation-only Facebook group started last year for women authors...

Binders, however, soon found itself frequently distracted by bitter identity-­politics recriminations, endlessly litigating the fraught requirements of p.c. discourse. “This was the first time I had felt this new kind of militancy,” says the same member, who requested anonymity for fear that her opinions would make her employer uncomfortable. Another sent me excerpts of the types of discussions that can make the group a kind of virtual mental prison...

The suggestion that a call-out be communicated privately met with even deeper rage. A poet in Texas: “I’m not about to private message folks who have problematic racist, transphobic, anti-immigrant, and/or sexist language.” The L.A. member: “Because when POC speak on these conversations with snark and upset, we get Tone Argumented at, and I don’t really want to deal with the potential harm to me and mine.” Another writer: “You see people suggesting that PMs are a better way to handle racism? That’s telling us we are too vocal and we should pipe down.” A white Toronto member, sensing the group had dramatically underreacted, moved to rectify the situation: “JESUS FUCK, LIKE SERIOUSLY FUCK, I SEE MORE WHITE BINDERS POLICING WOC AND DEMANDING TO BE EDUCATED/UNEDUCATED AS IF IT’S A FUCKING NOBLE MISSION RATHER THAN I DUNNO SPEND TIME SHUTTING DOWN AND SHITTING ON RACIST DOUCHE CANOE BEHAVIOUR; WHAT ARE YOU GAINING BY THIS? WHAT ARE YOU DETRACTING? YOU NEED SCREENCAPS OF BURNING CROSSES TO BELIEVE RACIST SHIT IS HAPPENING? THIS THREAD IS PAINFUL. HUGS TO ALL THE WOC DURING THIS THREAD”...

It is true that liberals and leftists both want to make society more economically and socially egalitarian. But liberals still hold to the classic Enlightenment political tradition that cherishes individuals rights, freedom of expression, and the protection of a kind of free political marketplace. (So, for that matter, do most conservatives.)

The Marxist left has always dismissed liberalism’s commitment to protecting the rights of its political opponents — you know, the old line often misattributed to Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it” — as hopelessly naïve. If you maintain equal political rights for the oppressive capitalists and their proletarian victims, this will simply keep in place society’s unequal power relations. Why respect the rights of the class whose power you’re trying to smash? And so, according to Marxist thinking, your political rights depend entirely on what class you belong to.

The modern far left has borrowed the Marxist critique of liberalism and substituted race and gender identities for economic ones. “The liberal view,” wrote MacKinnon 30 years ago, “is that abstract categories — like speech or equality — define systems. Every time you strengthen free speech in one place, you strengthen it everywhere. Strengthening the free speech of the Klan strengthens the free speech of Blacks.” She deemed this nonsensical: “It equates substantive powerlessness with substantive power and calls treating these the same, ‘equality’ ”...

Liberals believe (or ought to believe) that social progress can continue while we maintain our traditional ideal of a free political marketplace where we can reason together as individuals. Political correctness challenges that bedrock liberal ideal. While politically less threatening than conservatism (the far right still commands far more power in American life), the p.c. left is actually more philosophically threatening. It is an undemocratic creed.

Bettina Aptheker, a professor of feminist studies at the University of California–Santa Cruz, recently wrote an essay commemorating the Berkeley Free Speech movement, in which she participated as a student in 1964. She now expressed a newfound skepticism in the merits of free speech. “Freedom of speech is a constitutional guarantee, but who gets to exercise it without the chilling restraints of censure depends very much on one’s location in the political and social cartography,” she wrote. “We [Free Speech movement] veterans … were too young and inexperienced in 1964 to know this, but we do now, and we speak with a new awareness, a new consciousness, and a new urgency that the wisdom of a true freedom is inexorably tied to who exercises power and for what ends.”

These ideas have more than theoretical power. Last March at University of ­California–Santa Barbara, in, ironically, a “free-speech zone,” a 16-year-old anti-abortion protester named Thrin Short and her 21-year-old sister Joan displayed a sign arrayed with graphic images of aborted fetuses. They caught the attention of Mireille Miller-Young, a professor of feminist studies. Miller-Young, angered by the sign, demanded that they take it down. When they refused, Miller-Young snatched the sign, took it back to her office to destroy it, and shoved one of the Short sisters on the way.

Speaking to police after the altercation, Miller-Young told them that the images of the fetuses had “triggered” her and violated her “personal right to go to work and not be in harm.” A Facebook group called “UCSB Microaggressions” declared themselves “in solidarity” with Miller-Young and urged the campus “to provide as much support as possible.”

By the prevailing standards of the American criminal-justice system, Miller-Young had engaged in vandalism, battery, and robbery. By the logic of the p.c. movement, she was the victim of a trigger and had acted in the righteous cause of social justice. Her colleagues across the country wrote letters to the sentencing judge pleading for leniency. Jennifer Morgan, an NYU professor, blamed the anti-­abortion protesters for instigating the confrontation through their exercise of free speech. “Miller-Young’s actions should be mitigated both by her history as an educator as well as by her conviction that the [anti-abortion] images were an assault on her students,” Morgan wrote. Again, the mere expression of opposing ideas, in the form of a poster, is presented as a threatening act.

The website The Feminist Wire mounted an even more rousing defense of Miller-Young’s behavior. The whole idea that the professor committed a crime by stealing a sign and shoving away its owner turns out to be an ideological construct. “The ease with which privileged white, and particularly young white gender and sexually normative appearing women, make claims to ‘victimhood’ and ‘violation of property,’ is not a neutral move,” its authors argued. It concluded, “We issue a radical call for accountability to questions of history, representation, and the racialized gendering of tropes of ‘culpability’ and ‘innocence’ when considering Dr. Miller-Young’s case.”

These are extreme ideas, but they are neither isolated nor marginal. A widely cited column by a Harvard Crimson editorial writer last year demanded an end to academic freedom if freedom extended to objectionable ideas. “If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism,” asked the author, “why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of ‘academic freedom’?” After the Nation’s Michelle Goldberg denounced a “growing left-wing tendency toward censoriousness and hair-trigger offense,” Rutgers professor Brittney Cooper replied in Salon: “The demand to be reasonable is a disingenuous demand. Black folks have been reasoning with white people forever. Racism is unreasonable, and that means reason has limited currency in the fight against it.”

The most probable cause of death of the first political-correctness movement was the 1992 presidential election. That event mobilized left-of-center politics around national issues like health care and the economy, and away from the introspective suppression of dissent within the academy. Bill Clinton’s campaign frontally attacked left-wing racial politics, famously using inflammatory comments by Sister Souljah to distance him from Jesse Jackson. Barbara Jordan, the first black woman from a southern state elected to the House of Representatives, attacked political correctness in her keynote speech. (“We honor cultural identity. We always have; we always will. But separatism is not allowed. Separatism is not the American way. We must not allow ideas like political correctness to divide us and cause us to reverse hard-won achievements in human rights and civil rights.”)

Yet it is possible to imagine that, as the next Clinton presidential campaign gets under way, p.c. culture may not dissolve so easily. The internet has shrunk the distance between p.c. culture and mainstream liberal politics, and the two are now hopelessly entangled. During the 2008 primary contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the modern politics of grievance had already begun to play out, as each side’s supporters patrolled the other for any comment that might indicate gender or racial bias. It dissipated in the general election, but that was partly because Obama’s supporters worried about whether America really was ready to accept its first president who was not a white male. Clinton enters the 2016 race in a much stronger position than any other candidate, and her supporters may find it irresistible to amplify p.c. culture’s habit of interrogating the hidden gender biases in every word and gesture against their side.

Or maybe not. The p.c. style of politics has one serious, possibly fatal drawback: It is exhausting. Claims of victimhood that are useful within the left-wing subculture may alienate much of America. The movement’s dour puritanism can move people to outrage, but it may prove ill suited to the hopeful mood required of mass politics. Nor does it bode well for the movement’s longevity that many of its allies are worn out...

That the new political correctness has bludgeoned even many of its own supporters into despondent silence is a triumph, but one of limited use. Politics in a democracy is still based on getting people to agree with you, not making them afraid to disagree. The historical record of political movements that sought to expand freedom for the oppressed by eliminating it for their enemies is dismal. The historical record of American liberalism, which has extended social freedoms to blacks, Jews, gays, and women, is glorious. And that glory rests in its confidence in the ultimate power of reason, not coercion, to triumph."

Friday, June 19, 2015

World War I in the Air

1901 The war in the air on the Western Front, 1914 – 1918 | The History Network:

"A veteran of the First World War air fighting was asked shortly after the war: "What was fighting in the air like?"

He said: "Find a young man aged 20, pour petrol over him and set him on fire. Then shoot him in the back several times and push him off the highest building you can find, then every day for a year, you can imagine this happening to you""

Links - 19th June 2015

ANZAC: The Tradition of Heroic Remembrance - "In preferencing the tradition of heroic remembrance, alternative conceptions of World War 1 are nullified. While the Second World War has been understandably historised through a sense of moral clarity, the First World War typifies conflict at its most senseless, futile and arrogant. Lest we forget why New Zealanders participated in the invasion of the Ottoman Empire. As a ‘Britain of the South Seas’, New Zealand was enacting the will of its colonial masters, accepting Britain’s grievances – flimsy as they were – as her own. The war triggered by the assassination of an Austrian Prince, engenders little of the moral clarity through which nations prefer to remember their wars. Indeed, World War 1 is distinct as a conflict without coherent meaning, and its root-causes continue to be a matter of heated historical debate."

How 'Game of Thrones' Planet Seasons Work - ""The planet Uranus in our solar system has its North Pole spin axis pointed toward the sun during some 42 years, and then it points away from the Sun for another 42 years," wrote Marcy. "If you lived anywhere in the northern hemisphere, summer would last 42 years and then winter would last 42 years. So the spin axis orientation makes all the difference." Although Uranus' winter and summer might be extremely long, they are still predictable. On "Game of Thrones," no one knows when summer will end and winter will begin. It is possible that a "wobbly" axis could create variable seasonal length, said Greg Laughlin, an astrophysicist at the University of California Santa Cruz, but not necessarily on the timeline that show presents."

Effect of gender on fatigue and recovery following maximal intensity repeated sprint performance. - "men, while able to produce higher absolute power outputs (i.e., lower sprint time), demonstrate higher decrement scores within a trial compared to women, thus suggesting women may recover faster and fatigue less"

Infant Sleep Research: Bedsharing, Self-Soothing, and Sleep Training - "Bedsharing is common around the world. In an international survey of parents of over 29,000 infants and toddlers, bedsharing was the norm in Asian cultures, while most Caucasian parents put their babies to sleep in a separate room. Across cultures, babies that bedshared went to bed about 1 hour later, woke their parents more during the night, and slept about 1 hour less per night... Dr. James McKenna and colleagues looked closely at the sleep of 35 mama-baby pairs (11 to 15 weeks old) in a laboratory setting. They found that both mothers and babies woke more often when they bedshared, and these arousals usually overlapped...
In study after study, sleep training has been found to have the following outcomes, usually within 1-2 weeks:
Reduced bedtime struggles, fewer night wakings, and longer sleep for baby, and consequently, for parents.
Improved maternal mental health, with fewer moms being clinically depressed. In some studies, parents have also reported less parenting stress and greater confidence, as well as more marital satisfaction.
Improved baby temperament and mood...
of all the studies of sleep training, not a single one has identified a negative effect on babies’ behavior or relationship with caregivers"

Rational, educated and prosperous: just your average suicide bomber - "Research on the social and psychological background of terrorists show they tend to be more prosperous and better educated than most in their societies, and no more religious or irrational than the average person. A study of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad suicide terrorists from the late 1980s to 2003 found only 13 per cent were from a poor background, compared with 32 per cent of the Palestinian population in general, according to a New Scientist report. Suicide bombers were also three times more likely to have gone on to higher education than the general population... Ariel Merare, a psychologist at Tel Aviv University in Israel, said he had changed his view that most suicide bombers were mentally ill after studying the background of every suicide bomber in the Middle East since 1983. "In the majority you find none of the risk factors normally associated with suicide, such as mood disorders or schizophrenia, substance abuse or a history of attempted suicide," he said."

Internet lights up as new People's Daily HQ erected | South China Morning Post - "The shape of the new headquarters of the People's Daily, the Communist Party's main propaganda machine, has sparked heated discussion online for looking a bit too phallic... Others have joked that the building will compliment the headquarters of China Central Television, completed a few blocks away in 2008, which earned the nickname "the Big Underpants" for their shape."

Gaza Kindergarten Play From Hell by Judge Dan - "Kindergarten graduation ceremonies are in general cute and adorable. Nothing beats dressing up little kids as insects, fluffy rodents, random pink things, or hearts. Unless that kindergarten is in Gaza and the kindergarten teachers are Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Then you get a peek into the genocidal psyche of Palestinians, cynically (ab)using their children in their lust to murder Jews."

STATISTICS OF VIETNAMESE GENOCIDE AND MASS MURDER - "Perhaps of all countries, democide in Vietnam and by Vietnamese is most difficult to unravel and assess. It is mixed in with six wars spanning 43 years (the Indochina War, Vietnam War, Cambodian War, subsequent guerrilla war in Cambodia, guerrilla war in Laos, and Sino-Vietnamese War), one of them involving the United States; a near twenty-one year formal division of the country into two sovereign North and South parts; the full communization of the North; occupation of neighboring countries by both North and South; defeat, absorption, and communization of the South; and the massive flight by sea of Vietnamese. As best as I can determine, through all this close to 3,800,000 Vietnamese lost their lives from political violence, or near one out of every ten men, women, and children. Of these, about 1,250,000, or near a third of those killed, were murdered"

When we knew what happened in Vietnam after the fall of Saigon - "This article illustrates that Chomsky was lying about when we knew what was happening in Vietnam, just as, far more seriously, he was lying about what we knew about Cambodia. He led the reader to believe that at the time no one even suggested a bloodbath was happening in Vietnam, when we all knew something terrible was happening in Vietnam, and some people most certainly did suggest a bloodbath was under way. In particular Le Thi Anh accused the North Vietnamese regime of committing a bloodbath in the course of their pacification of South Vietnam"

Gaza's Explosion Waiting to Happen - "Perhaps even more surprising is that Israel, of all the parties involved, has shown the greatest degree of flexibility towards a Gaza Strip still ruled by Hamas. In addition to acquiescing to the salary payments, Israel has begun easing restrictions on construction materials and other goods entering the territory, and on certain products (fish, cucumbers) and people exiting. Israel has given its consent to an elaborate UN-led inspection mechanism for reconstruction, which as mentioned has not yet begun in earnest due to the lack of a PA presence on the ground. "I can't say that it's because of Israel that there has been no movement [on reconstruction] at present," the senior UN official said, a sentiment shared by several other foreign diplomats I spoke to in Jerusalem"

Sex history calculator: Is your number of sexual partners low, average, or high?

"Fair, Porcelain Complexion": Cosmopolitan Singapore Writer's Narrow Definition Of Beauty - "Jireh Tan called for a boycott of the magazine:
"Let this be a magazine for the fair-skinned, by the fair-skinned. By the small-minded, for the small-minded"...
Sangeetha Thanapal addressed Jo directly:
“What (Elizabeth) said was racist, colourist, transphobic, ableist, and body shaming. Your comment was laughable. There can’t be a lot of diversity in your magazine when this got past everyone.”"
If everyone is beautiful, no one is beautiful

I Fooled Millions Into Thinking Chocolate Helps Weight Loss. Here's How. - "I got a call in December last year from a German television reporter named Peter Onneken. He and his collaborator Diana Löbl were working on a documentary film about the junk-science diet industry. They wanted me to help demonstrate just how easy it is to turn bad science into the big headlines behind diet fads. And Onneken wanted to do it gonzo style: Reveal the corruption of the diet research-media complex by taking part."

The green lawn: American staple or water waster?

Pot stashed in rectum of suspect blinding drivers with laser light - "A Florida man wanted for shining a laser in the eyes of passing drivers was found with pot in his rectum"

Religious authorities turned my family against me, says Muslim charged with blasphemy - "Wan Sulaiman Wan Ismail said day he has lost everything, including his wife and family who have turned against him, after the Perak Islamic Affairs Department (JAIP) charged him with blasphemy simply for asking questions about Islam."

Staff strip naked to improve morale - Telegraph - "Mr Taylor told them that, by stripping off their clothes, staff could also strip away inhibitions and talk to each other more openly and honestly."

eBay users bid more than $65,000 for a bag of AIR from a Kanye West concert - "In 2004, Britney Spears' chewed gum was listed for $14,000. Six years later, a jar supposedly containing Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's breath was sold for $530. Scarlett Johansson's used tissue garnered bids reaching $5,300 in 2008, and in 2011, a lock of Justin Bieber's hair went for $40,668 and the proceeds were later donated to charity. Most recently it was reported that someone bottled up One Direction star Harry Styles' vomit after he got sick on the side of the Los Angeles freeway in order to make a profit"

Adorable Lesbian Couples
There's a tumblr for everything

Cute Trans Girls
There's a tumblr for everything

Girls With Braces - The biggest website and community for girls with braces. Braces are beautiful. - "The biggest website and community for girls with braces. Braces are beautiful."
There's a website for everything

Values to be main focus of Malay Language Month - "This year's Bulan Bahasa (Malay Language Month) will focus on bridging gaps by allowing simple, heart-warming communications in line with traditional values."
Now the Indians can complain that they're being forced to learn both Mandarin and Malay!

Iran is named the nose job capital of world with SEVEN times more rhinoplasty operations than the U.S. as Iranian women strive for the western 'doll face' - "Another anonymous Iranian woman who had a nose job not long ago told The Guardian: 'I do have a better social life and I don't have to be ashamed of my big, fat nose anymore. 'In our family, different types of cosmetic surgery are a totally normal thing, and most of the women and girls have had their noses done.' While there are benefits, she confesses 'when I get a cold, I get a runny nose - something fierce. I have to be careful then'."

White Skin: Why Racism In Asia Isn't Quite What You Think - "Another student later made it clear: “In the west, you always worry about color. You have a racism problem but here we just accept it. We don’t care.” There’s a creation story in Thailand. In the beginning god created man. At first, he cooked the people too much (dark skinned people). Then he cooked them too little (pasty westerners). Finally, he cooked them just right (light skinned Asians). When I first heard this story, it only reinforced my belief in a racist Asia. It wasn’t until later I learned about the cultural and class context and then I saw this “racism” in a different light."

Links - 22nd June 2015

WTF Church | Church Marketing Sucks Church Marketing Sucks - "At first everyone thought it was just a misstep: The college ministry’s banners proclaimed “WTF” in big bold letters. But rather than the familiar if profane abbreviation we’re used to, the words “worship,” “teaching” and “friends” appeared below each letter... “We are aware of what ‘WTF’ originally stands for, and that is actually why we chose it,” says Rob James, with Copper Pointe Church, the Albuquerque, N.M., church behind the college and young adult ministry, Wake. “It is something that our target audience is very familiar with. We are a progressive college group located in Albuquerque, N.M., and we know that any college-aged person is a phone-weilding, text-sending machine. So why not use what they are familiar with?”"

Sean Hood's answer to Why do so many movies fail the Bechdel Test? - Quora - "1. Most Hollywood films have a male lead character. Statistically speaking (and Hollywood loves statistics) movies with female leads open significantly worse at the box office than movies with male leads.
2. Most (primary) villains are male. Although fabulous female villains do appear in movies, the majority of villains (people who are powerful, sadistic, violent, and otherwise bad) tend to be male. Perhaps men are generally thought to be more threatening.
3. "Character actors" tend to be male. The quirky supporting character with a funny nose, strange voice, or flabby belly, are typically dudes. Audiences (again, statistically speaking) like their actresses young and pretty. There isn't a "Steve Buscemi" among female character actors.
4. "Best Friend" or sidekick characters are usually men. Female leads sometimes have male "best friend" characters (often gay,) but Male Leads almost always have male "best friend" characters.
5. The most popular "hot female stars" (i.e. the one's on the cover of magazines) are in their twenties to thirties and most often play the "love interest." The most popular "hot male stars" (the ones on the cover of magazines) tend to be in their thirties and forties, and play lead characters.
6. Items 1 through 5 mean that most scenes between two characters in a movie will have at least one man.
7. Since protagonists and antagonists in movies are usually men, and a scene between two women is likely to be "about" the protagonist or antagonist, as they are the major characters in the story, conversations between two women are likely to be about a man or men.
8. Movies made for women tend to be Romantic Comedies or Romantic Dramas. Thus, the subject of conversations is most often tend to be about romance and relationships, i.e. men."

Shlomoh Sherman's answer to Why do so many movies fail the Bechdel Test? - Quora - "Up until recently, Hollywood refused to have ethnic heroes. Movies in which the ETHNIC element in the hero is prominent don't do well with general audiences. GLORY, a film about black soldiers in the Civil War, although an artistic success, did badly at the box office as did CAST A GIANT SHADOW. When the ethnicity of the hero is not an over-riding factor then Denzel Washington or George Segal can do well."
Identity politics = box office failure

She didn't get off lightly: Lawyers - "She didn't have a driving licence and she admitted to having downed copious amounts of alcohol. Then, Candy Siow Pei Shan, 23, drove a car and killed a 70-year-old pedestrian who was waiting on the pavement to cross the junction at Bukit Batok East Avenue 3 and Bukit Batok East Avenue 4 in February last year. Siow was jailed four months and banned from driving for 10 years. She was sentenced last week. But netizens say it was not enough. They argue she should have been give a longer jail time for taking a life... Was her sentence too light? No, lawyers told The New Paper. In fact, the usual sentence for causing death by driving negligently is a fine if there are no aggravating factors... Siow had failed her basic theory test 13 times"

Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife: What Do Japanese Women Sound Like In Bed? - "This is where the whole 'itai-itai-iku-iku' thing comes from in Japanese porn. That's my own phrasing in Japanese, but it translates into: 'ow-ow-I'm cumming-I'm cumming'. Of the 20+ Japanese women I was lucky enough to have slept with in my three years in Japan (not including any AETs or CIRs on the JET (Japan exchange & Teaching) Programme, or tourists), not a single one of them moaned as though they were in pain, but did moan in 'enjoyment' before 'iku-iku-ing'. Well... some of them did... I was still learning. Ergo... based on an admittedly small sample size (I tried to get a larger sampling - I really did), I hypothesize that the average Japanese woman not involved in the porn industry does not moan during sex... my fiance tried to be the typical Japanese subservient woman in our daily life... picking up my clothes, trying to do the dishes, laundry et al... but she was just stopping by my house... I, as a foreigner, appreciated her efforts but did not need her to do this on my behalf. And I told her so. I could hear the exhale of breath (Whew!), as she, just like me, had a job and sure as hell didn't need to do my laundry (as well as hers at her place). I didn't need to date the maid, though if she wanted to wear fishnets and dress up as the maid, that would be hot. "

Why Vietnam loves and hates China - "Vietnam was not just another tributary state, he insisted, but a former province that had once enjoyed the benefits of Chinese civilization and yet had wantonly rejected this privilege. In view of this close association - Yongle used the term mi mi or "intimately related" - Vietnam's rebellion was particularly heinous and deserved the fiercest of punishments... Vietnam has long been a source of women for the Chinese sex trade. In Tang times, the Chinese poet Yuan Chen wrote appreciatively of "slave girls of Viet, sleek, of buttery flesh", while today the booming market for Vietnamese women in Taiwan infuriates and humiliates many Vietnamese men. It's instructive, then, that in his 1987 novel Fired Gold Vietnamese author Nguyen Huy Thiep writes, "The most significant characteristics of this country are its smallness and weakness. She is like a virgin girl raped by Chinese civilization. The girl concurrently enjoys, despises and is humiliated by the rape"... Just as Chinese rulers have seen the Vietnamese as ingrates and hooligans, so the Vietnamese have seen the Chinese as arrogant and aggressive, a power to be emulated at all times, mollified in times of peace, and fiercely resisted in times of war... Ho Chi Minh, warned his Viet Minh colleagues in forceful terms against using Chinese Nationalist troops in the north as a buffer against the return of the French: "You fools! Don't you realize what it means if the Chinese remain? Don't you remember your history? "The last time the Chinese came, they stayed a thousand years. The French are foreigners. They are weak. Colonialism is dying. The white man is finished in Asia. But if the Chinese stay now, they will never go. As for me, I prefer to sniff French shit for five years than to eat Chinese shit for the rest of my life.""

Superpower Showdown: America Can Stop Chinese Aggression in Asia - "Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea should not be shocking once we understand the strategy. China never makes any moves that would create a crisis big enough for Asia to unite against her. Chipping away at the international order in Asia is certainly a sounder strategic move than manufacturing a crisis which could drive all of Asia against you."

TSA Screening Failures - "TSA doesn’t ever seem to have been able to stop Red Team agents (or Atlantic correspondents) from bringing contraband through checkpoints. Meanwhile, American air travel has been largely free from attacks... Flying remains exceptionally safe, despite such high TSA failure rates. Like vaudeville theater, the screening process seems to exist largely to create a spectacle"

New Jersey's JONAH Gay-Conversion Trial and the Nature of Sexuality - "Not all conversion therapies are religiously motivated, however. Nicholas Cummings, the chief psychologist for Kaiser Permanente from 1959 to 1979 and a former APA president, was one of the champions of the 1975 APA resolution that stated that homosexuality is not a mental disorder. However, he has also said his practice saw 18,000 gay patients over the years, and “hundreds” changed their sexual orientation"

To what extent can the ethnic group of young Singaporeans beidentified from their speech? - "The above data indicate that the style of speech of young educated Singaporean
speakers has considerable influence on the ability of other Singaporeans to
identify their ethnic origin: the ethnicity of the most formal variety of the best-
educated speakers cannot reliably be identified; but the conversational speech of
slightly less well-educated subjects provides quite clear clues to the ethnicity of
the speaker"

George R.R. Martin explains why there's violence against women on 'Game of Thrones' - ""To be non-sexist, does that mean you need to portray an egalitarian society? That’s not in our history; it’s something for science fiction. And 21st century America isn’t egalitarian, either... And then there’s the whole issue of sexual violence, which I’ve been criticized for as well. I’m writing about war, which what almost all epic fantasy is about. But if you’re going to write about war, and you just want to include all the cool battles and heroes killing a lot of orcs and things like that and you don’t portray [sexual violence], then there’s something fundamentally dishonest about that. Rape, unfortunately, is still a part of war today. It’s not a strong testament to the human race, but I don’t think we should pretend it doesn’t exist. I want to portray struggle. Drama comes out of conflict. If you portray a utopia, then you probably wrote a pretty boring book"

Australia: 600-Pound Woman Gives Birth to 40-Pound Baby

ballet vs wrestling 芭蕾 vs 摔角 - YouTube

Gazan Baby Rescued by Israeli Hospital - "According to a Gaza Human Rights Report, many disabled personsliving in the Palestinian Authority are “segregated and isolated from Palestinian society; they are discriminated against in education, employment, transportation, and access to public services”... Marrying cousins is a common practice within Palestinian society, because it helps to keep the family’s wealth within the tribe and strengthens familial bonds. However, marrying within the family can cause many birth defects in children. Somech told Israel Hayom that 33% of the patients in his department are Palestinians who have genetic illnesses caused by marrying within the family. Yet, in addition to his disability, Yedioth Achronot reported that little Al Farra has also been mistreated by his own family. When Al Farra visited his home to see family, he came back to the hospital even more ill and bruised. Sometime after those visits, his father, who was ashamed of his disability, told his mother that if she didn’t abandon him, he would take on a second wife. Thus, his mother chose to abandon him in order to preserve her marriage."

Liberal Feminists, Stop Smearing Critics As Rape Apologists - "Nowhere in Rubenfeld’s New York Times op-ed did he blame rape victims for being raped, but Valenti levels this totally unsubstantiated charge repeatedly... Valenti established that critics of her liberal feminist view are not opponents in a public policy debate—they are the enemies of rape victims. This is totally unjustified demagoguery. She might as well be saying, “You’re with me or you’re with the terrorists.” In fact, that’s precisely what she is saying. Just substitute “terrorist” for “rapist.”"

Zabaione - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - "Zabaione (written also sabayon, zabajone or zabaglione, Italian pronunciation: [dzabaʎˈʎoːne] or [dzabaˈjoːne]), is an Italian dessert, or sometimes a beverage, made with egg yolks, sugar, and a sweet wine(usually Marsala wine)"
Mmm...

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Why do more attractive females (using self-ratings) show decreased feminist orientations, compared with less attractive counterparts?

Feminism: Why do more attractive females (using self-ratings) show decreased feminist orientations, compared with less attractive counterparts? - Quora
(the question has since been removed)

Question details: THE F WORD: IS FEMINISM INCOMPATIBLE WITH BEAUTY AND ROMANCE? - Rudman - 2007 - Psychology of Women Quarterly - Wiley Online Library

Extract from abstract: "more attractive female participants (using self-ratings) showed decreased feminist orientations, compared with less attractive counterparts"

My answer: The paper you reference, The F Word: Is Feminism Incompatible with Beauty and Romance? (Page on weebly.com),   notes that the more attractive a woman thought she was, the less she   identified with feminism and the less positive she was toward feminists.

The authors provided alternative explanations for this (other than the  obvious one - that feminists are less attractive), suggesting that  feminist women don't think personal appearance is important so they don't  spend time on  their appearance or mix with people who will compliment  their beauty.  They also suggest that non-feminists believe in romantic  ideals and thus  think they are more attractive than they are.

I find the former more reasonable than the former (another study finds that women with traditional gender roles invest more in "personal appearance standards"; Gender attitudes, feminist identity, and body images among college women), yet it is not all that convincing as an explanation - feminists, after all, find a wider variety of body types attractive (The influence of feminist ascription on judgements of women's physical attractiveness), so presumably on average feminists would rate their attractiveness higher than non-feminists (this assumes that feminists and non-feminists have a similar distribution of body types).

Furthermore, one study (The Effects of Exposure to Feminist Ideology on Women's Body Image) has found that exposure to feminism makes women more happy with their physical appearance (in other words, we would expect feminists to think themselves more attractive than non-feminists).

Ideally, we'd have a direct test of the theory that feminists are less attractive.

The  paper does reference a 1975 study by Goldberg, Gottesdiener, &   Abramson where 30 women were photographed and rated by others on   attractiveness, and their attractiveness did not predict their  feminism.  Yet, as the paper notes, "the Women’s Movement was young in  1975".  Perhaps more to the point, the sample size wasn't very big (and  the  results don't seem to have been replicated).

We  can also indirectly test this theory.

Intriguingly, where it is harder for women to find a partner, due either to an unfavorable sex ratio  (more women than men) or undesirability (men not liking, noticing or  complimenting them), women had higher career aspirations (Sex ratio and women's career choice: does a scarcity of men lead women to choose briefcase over baby?).

This is what we would expect if less attractive women were more likely to be feminist (undesirable women, who tend to be unattractive, are more  likely to seek to mitigate the effects of their unattractiveness -  either by earning more money or by being feminist).

Now, you might ask, how does being feminist mitigate the effects of a woman's unattractiveness?

A married female friend of mine who is rather attractive once proclaimed that she was not a feminist, and that attractive women  would not be feminists because they benefit from 'patriarchy'.

Cui bono? (Who benefits?)

I  studied a bit of sociology a long time ago, and one of the theories we  learned was Conflict Theory (CW Mills, in the tradition of Karl Marx).  Basically, in analysing and critiquing a social system, we look at who  it benefits and who it disadvantages. Those who benefit are thus those  with a vested interest in maintaining the existing system, and those who  are disadvantaged are those who advocate its change (or dismantling).


Example of conflict theory analysis

Returning  to the question of feminism and female attractiveness, feminists  proclaim that (among other things) they are against 'patriarchy' because  women are only valued by their looks.

Immediately, we can see that (if  this is true) attractive women have a vested interest in keeping  'patriarchy' and unattractive women would like to topple it (so that  they can move up the social hierarchy).

Inasmuch as people hew to  ideological positions that personally benefit them, we can conclude  that feminist women indeed are not as attractive as non-feminist women.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

"Microaggressions" as a way to censor peoplle

UC teaching faculty members not to criticize race-based affirmative action, call America ‘melting pot,’ and more

"One of the latest things in universities, including at University of California (where I teach) is condemning “microaggressions,” supposed “brief, subtle verbal or non-verbal exchanges that send denigrating messages to the recipient because of his or her group membership (such as race, gender, age or socio-economic status).” Such microaggressions, the argument goes, can lead to a “hostile learning environment,” which UC — and the federal government — views as legally actionable. This is stuff you could get disciplined or fired for, especially if you aren’t a tenured faculty member.

But of course this concept is now being used to suppress not just, say, personal insults or discrimination in hiring or grading, but also ideas that the UC wants to exclude from university classrooms...

Well, I’m happy to say that I’m just going to keep on microaggressing. I like to think that I’m generally polite, so I won’t express these views rudely. And I try not to inject my own irrelevant opinions into classes I teach, so there are many situations in which I won’t bring up these views simply because it’s not my job to express my views in those contexts. But the document that I quote isn’t about keeping classes on-topic or preventing presonal insults — it’s about suppressing particular viewpoints. And what’s tenure for, if not to resist these attempts to stop the expression of unpopular views?

But I’m afraid that many faculty members who aren’t yet tenured, many adjuncts and lecturers who aren’t on the tenure ladder, many staff members, and likely even many students — and perhaps even quite a few tenured faculty members as well — will get the message that certain viewpoints are best not expressed when you’re working for UC, whether in the classroom, in casual discussions, in scholarship, in op-eds, on blogs, or elsewhere. (Remember that when talk turns to speech that supposedly creates a “hostile learning environment,” speech off campus or among supposed friends can easily be condemned as creating such an environment, once others on campus learn about it.) A serious blow to academic freedom and to freedom of discourse more generally, courtesy of the University of California administration...

Another paper endorsed by the UC Office of the President defines microaggressions as “one form of systemic everyday racism.” So the UC says microaggressions are a form of racism; communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership; and can help create a hostile environment. And it says that expressing certain views is a form of racial microaggression. (By the way, UC Berkeley says this not just to administrators but also to “faculty or graduate student instructor[s].”) UC also often talks about how important campus climate is and how important diversity is, and indeed makes “contributions to diversity and equal opportunity,” such as “research … that highlights inequalities,” as a factor “in the evaluation of the candidate’s qualifications” when it comes to hiring, promotion, and appraisal.

But apparently instructors — including untenured ones — are somehow expected to feel uncensored, and free to express their ideas, including ones UC has labeled racist, aggressive, and hostile. Really?"

Links - 18th June 2015

In Sweden and the West, What Message Are We Muslims Sending? - "Mr. S., a Palestinian living in Malmö, arrived in Sweden as a refugee fleeing the Jordanian intelligence service two decades ago. He said, "I am a true Muslim. My wife wears hijab, I appreciate this country, and I just want to make a living but those Islamist crazies won't leave us alone. They say they support jihad, they deal drugs, they get drunk and harass women. At the same time, they look down on me because I have Christian Swedish friends. They threatened my eldest son; they said his friends are white non-Muslim Swedes. I swear to Allah, sometimes I feel I am not living in Malmö but in Afghanistan." "My daughter does not wear hijab," he added. "She has blonde hair and could easily pass for a Swede, therefore the minute she leaves the house, the local Muslim men start harassing her, thinking she is a native Swede. They think of Swedish girls as easy and prostitutes. When I confront these men harassing my daughter, they bluntly tell me they thought she was a Swede and they would have not harassed her if they had known she was a Muslim. Tell me what should I do now? Cut my daughter's hair? Force her to wear hijab? Now I understand how Swedes feel about us Muslims harassing their sisters and daughters""... Those of us who do not wish to live in the secular West -- why did we go there in the first place? If secular Western countries are evil and immoral in the view of some Muslims, why don't those who feel that way leave and relocate in Islamist states such Iran or Afghanistan? I would love to think that the Islamist fundamentalists in the West do not represent the majority of Muslims. But if that is so, where is our Islamic rage against these lunatics? Why are we Muslims in the West silent about those fundamentalists who want to Islamize and terrorize the countries we live in? Our silence means either that we do not care for our adoptive countries, or worse, that we agree to what the fundamentalists say and do... many of us Muslims in the West are enjoying governments' free hand-outs -- housing, education, healthcare, often even cash -- so we choose to stay while hating and insulting the societies that that pay for our stays with their tax money?"

Science Reveals What Cats Really Think of Us - "Your cat doesn't love you back.
Your cat poops on the carpet because it thinks you're a loser.
Your cat doesn't care whether you stay or you go.
Your cat has ulterior motives behind those displays of affection.
Cats actually hate it when you touch them.
Your cat thinks you're too damned stupid to feed yourself."

S. Korean Gov’t Requires Teens’ Phones to Have Spy Apps Installed: ‘Oppressing Freedom’ - "Park, who gave his daughter his second phone so she didn’t have to release her personal information to mobile carriers, said he feels “uncomfortable” that his child is growing up in a society of prying eyes. “Children will not have an ability to think for themselves,” he said."

Running goes 'viral' in once sports-shy France - "The epitome of Gallic beauty, French film star Catherine Deneuve - probably clouded in a haze of cigarette smoke - once scoffed at the idea of working out, saying: "I am not American"... Cost is an important point explaining the running surge, experts say, with gyms in Paris often charging exorbitant prices... "Is running right-wing?" the Liberation newspaper asked in a 2007 editorial, pondering the sport's focus on performance and individualism and Renaissance humanists' advice that one should receive a balanced physical and intellectual education"

Effects of Step-Wise Increases in Dietary Carbohydrate on Circulating Saturated Fatty Acids and Palmitoleic Acid in Adults with Metabolic Syndrome - "Recent meta-analyses have found no association between heart disease and dietary saturated fat; however, higher proportions of plasma saturated fatty acids (SFA) predict greater risk for developing type-2 diabetes and heart disease. These observations suggest a disconnect between dietary saturated fat and plasma SFA, but few controlled feeding studies have specifically examined how varying saturated fat intake across a broad range affects circulating SFA levels. Sixteen adults with metabolic syndrome (age 44.9±9.9 yr, BMI 37.9±6.3 kg/m2) were fed six 3-wk diets that progressively increased carbohydrate (from 47 to 346 g/day) with concomitant decreases in total and saturated fat. Despite a distinct increase in saturated fat intake from baseline to the low-carbohydrate diet (46 to 84 g/day), and then a gradual decrease in saturated fat to 32 g/day at the highest carbohydrate phase, there were no significant changes in the proportion of total SFA in any plasma lipid fractions. Whereas plasma saturated fat remained relatively stable, the proportion of palmitoleic acid in plasma triglyceride and cholesteryl ester was significantly and uniformly reduced as carbohydrate intake decreased, and then gradually increased as dietary carbohydrate was re-introduced. The results show that dietary and plasma saturated fat are not related, and that increasing dietary carbohydrate across a range of intakes promotes incremental increases in plasma palmitoleic acid, a biomarker consistently associated with adverse health outcomes."
Keywords: experiment carbohydrate intake, as carbohydrate intake increased, increase carbohydrates

'Google's self-driving cars involved in 11 accidents' - "Internet search company Google's self-driving cars have been involved in 11 accidents, but have not been the cause of any, over the last six years since the project began"

Singapore's religious harmony a legacy to be treasured: PM Lee - "the internet and social media have made it easier for people both to cause offense and to take offence. When someone puts up something provocative or offensive, it doesn’t just affect the coffee shop in which you let off steam, it reaches the whole of cyberspace – may even stretch beyond Singapore, if it goes viral. One thoughtless comment can cause a mass reaction. Instead of a judicious response, it may provoke a self-righteous mob reaction and a public lynching, which is even worse than the original provocation”
Doesn't fetishising "racial harmony" egg on the self-righteous lynch mobs? So the obsession with "racial harmony" ironically undermines it

Insist on the middle ground - "Talk to concert promoters in Malaysia – there are not that many in this financially risky business – and they will tell you that Malaysia has a bad reputation among artistes in this region. Bad is an understatement, really... Our problem is that just about ­everyone in Malaysia wants to have a big say over how concerts should be organised, or whether they can be organised in the first place. And what is ridiculous is that most of them do not even know who the artistes are, yet they have strong opinions over whether they are “morally suitable” for the impressionable young minds in our country... Never mind if it was supposed to be a closed-door dance music event with only non-Muslims allowed, since beer would be served. For the organisers, one year of planning went down the drain, thanks to the fickleness of the police and the Subang Jaya Municipal Council... The PAS representative reportedly said it was her responsibility as a Muslim legislator to stop the concert, which is sponsored by beer company Heineken, as it would have an adverse social impact on society... Thank you very much to non-Muslims who cast their votes for PAS candidates in the 2013 general election. Thank you for believing that PAS policies, including the implementation of hudud laws, would not affect non-Muslims. Before this issue broke out, there was also a lot of debate generated when it was revealed that the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) had proposed that males and females be segregated during concerts. Its guidelines included a section on dealing with the organisation of entertain­ment events whereby Jakim said such programmes should not allow “mixing (percampuran) of males and females in the audience”... akim has ruled that jokes made during performances must be appropriate and cannot lead to “excessive laughter”... Malaysia is in danger of becoming a basket case with extreme theologians and communal champions appearing to combine their strengths to push their agendas."

Look: Mom holds million-yuan fashion show for 2-year-old tot

Peta calls for 'Britain’s oldest pub' to change name from Ye Olde Fighting Cocks and celebrate 'intelligent, sensitive chickens' - "In its latest campaign, the controversial group asks that Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, in St Albans, Hertfordshire, is renamed to Ye Olde Clever Cocks "in recognition of society’s growing compassion for animals and in celebration of intelligent, sensitive chickens" The eighth century pub, which is in the Guinness Book of Records as the UK's oldest, has had its current name since 1872 due to its history of cock fighting, a sport which was banned outright in England and Wales in 1835... As well as listing a number of claimed chicken traits, such as a love of sunbathing and a capacity for structural engineering, Carr urged the pub owners to celebrate a "fascinating but often abused and misunderstood animal"."

People Don't Trust You If Your Name Is Hard to Pronounce

How the Gluteus Became Maximus - "The men consistently preferred silhouettes with the 45-degree angle curve, regardless of their buttock size. The explanation–can you handle this?–is that the 45-degree curve allowed “ancestral women to better support, provide for, and carry out multiple pregnancies”... “This adds to a growing body of evidence that beauty is not entirely arbitrary, or ‘in the eyes of the beholder’ as many in mainstream social science believed, but rather has a coherent adaptive logic,” said David Buss, a University of Texas psychology professor and co-author of the study

I Toned My Weak Vagina With This Little Blue Blob - "But if I was going to spend $150 on a vibrating Kegel exerciser today, I would hope that it might also double as a decent vibrator in a pinch. And the answer to that is yes, yes it does indeed. Maybe Minna Life should advertise the kGoal as a tool for pleasure, which allows you to squeeze in a little exercise on the side."

The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society | Pew Research Center - "At the country level, there are notable exceptions to the view that sharia should apply only to Muslims. These include Egypt, where 74% of Muslims say sharia should be the law of the land and nearly three-quarters of them (or 55% of all Egyptian Muslims) say Islamic law should apply to people of all faiths... In South Asia, support for applying religious law to family and property disputes is coupled with strong backing for severe criminal punishments, such as cutting off the hands of thieves (median of 81%) and the death penalty for Muslims who renounce their faith (76%). In the Middle East-North Africa region, medians of more than half favor strict criminal penalties (57%) and the execution of those who convert from Islam to another faith (56%)... most Muslims say a wife should always obey her husband... in [half of] countries, women are just as likely as men to say that the question of veiling should not be left to individual women. When it comes to divorce and equal inheritance, there are even fewer countries where Muslim women are significantly more supportive of women’s rights than are Muslim men... The survey finds little evidence that attitudes toward violence in the name of Islam are linked to factors such as age, gender or education... Egypt is the only country in which more than one-tenth (12%) of the total Muslim population says it is a good thing that non-Muslims are not free to practice their faith... Medians of at least six-in-ten in Southeast Asia (79%), South Asia (69%), and the Middle East and North Africa (65%) say religious leaders should have at least some influence over political matters. This includes medians of at least a quarter across these three regions who would like to see religious leaders exert a large influence on politics... Devout Muslims tend to be more supportive of religious leaders playing a role in politics... most Muslims think Western music, movies and television pose a threat to morality in their country"
Islamophobia!

Q&A: The Researchers Who Analyzed All the Porn on the Internet

Q&A: The Researchers Who Analyzed All the Porn on the Internet

"Even though you can find an instance of any kind of porn you can imagine, people search for and spend money and time on 20 sexual interests, which account for 80% of all porn. The top five are youth, gays, [sexy mothers], breasts and cheating wives.

Why are cheating wives so popular? You’d expect that would not be something men would like to think about.

It’s one of the top interests all around the world. Men are wired to be sexually jealous. And, certainly, men can fly into murderous rages, but simultaneously they’re also sexually aroused.

This is an example of what biologists call a sperm competition cue. Across the animal kingdom, when males see other males mating, it tends to provoke arousal. If he is going to compete with the other male, he has to produce more sperm

Human men also respond like this, if a man sees a woman — including his partner — with another man, he becomes more aroused.

There’s been a lot of concern that porn is getting more violent and more misogynistic and that the Internet is making it harder for women because porn makes men want more extreme sex. What does your research show?

It’s not at all more violent or misogynistic. We really looked at all porn searches. Truly violent pornography is extremely rare. It truly is rare and the kind of people who watch it are a clearly identifiable group.

So why do we keep hearing that it’s getting worse and worse?

I wouldn’t say there’s a trend. It’s been pretty consistent. There’s lots of male dominant porn. He blackmails the woman into having sex; the professor seduces a student, they’re having sex to get cash for schoolbooks. We think all of these are creative variations to trigger male-dominance cues [which are sexually arousing to men].

Why do the themes of dominance and submission keep recurring?

Women are often aroused by women being submissive. It’s more complicated for women because of the separation between physical and psychological arousal. Women have very mixed feelings when [it comes to sexual submission]. But rape fantasies are extremely prevalent...

There are real concerns, though, that Internet porn will increase sex crimes because of the way it portrays things like that.

Anybody can do a simple thought experiment [to refute that]. In the late ’60s and early ’70s, feminists were saying that porn trained guys to be rapists. That was before home video, and there were probably only 100 different porn magazines in the country. You had to go to [sleazy places to watch porn]. Now there are a million websites where you can get it for free around the clock.

You would expect rape to skyrocket. There are more guys watching more porn more often. But, in fact, rape has gone down in America. Also, in Japan in the mid-’90s, they loosened their obscenity laws. Now rape is down there too. It certainly seems to be case that more access to porn is associated with less rape. Rather than making people want to go out and rape, it satisfies the urge.

What types of porn are most popular for men?

It’s youth by a wide margin, like cheerleaders. But we were surprised to find that even though men prefer youth mostly, there’s also a very significant interest in porn with women in their 40s, 50s and even 60s. That’s called granny porn...

What do women prefer?

Women prefer stories to visual porn by a long shot. The most popular erotica for women is the romance novel. That has more punch than any other kind of erotica. The second most popular would be fan fiction. This is something that has really exploded on the Internet. These are stories written by amateurs, mostly women, about characters from pop culture, movies, books, etc...

Why do women prefer stories and men prefer visuals?

There are two reasons. Both come down to fundamental differences between the male sexual brain and the female sexual brain. One of the most basic differences is that the male brain responds to any single sexual stimulus. A nice chest, two girls kissing, older women — if that’s what they’re attracted to. Any one thing will trigger arousal in a male.

Female desire requires multiple stimuli simultaneously or in quick succession. It takes more stimuli and more variety of these stimuli to trigger genuine arousal.

For a guy, the most common form of [masturbation material] is a 60-second porn clip. For a woman, it can be a 250-page novel or a 2,000-word story. That’s the way to get multiple stimuli. Stories have greater flexibility to offer a greater variety of stimuli.

In male erotica, sex appears in the first one-quarter of the story [or film]. For women, it’s halfway in. There’s more time to develop the character before sex.

How else does male and female sexuality differ?

Another fundamental difference between men and women — perhaps the most important defining difference — is that in the male brain, physical and psychological arousal are united. If a man is physically turned on, he’s mentally turned on too.

With women, physical arousal and mental arousal are separate. [Research finds that women get physically aroused sometimes even when they find the situation disgusting.] The female brain is designed to be cautious, most likely because historically the woman who slept with the first guy she met might have a harder time raising children; he might not stick around. Women are designed to be cautious and gather more information.

That’s why fan fiction is all about exploring the emotions and character of the hero. In romance novels, the heroine learns about the secret inner life of the hero. That’s especially true in slash: that’s doubling up. There are two men — two masculine, strong alpha males who reveal their tender side. The emotional process of revealing true character is what’s so appealing to women.

Why would straight men want to watch lesbians, and why would women write stories about gay men?

[Straight] guys are turn on by lesbians because it’s a doubling of visual cues. And one psychological cue for arousal in men is female sexual pleasure. Seeing lesbians kissing doubles that too.

For women in slash fiction, it’s the psychological cues of a man’s character, stature, passion and emotional communication — slash doubles those...

Did you find evidence that porn is addictive?

We looked at individual search histories for half a million people using an AOL data set [which does not identify the users]. It seems to be less than 2% of people, among the people who search for porn, who have a significantly elevated number of searches.

And there’s a [shared] characteristic among these searchers: they search for a really wide variety of porn, which is atypical. Usually, people search for the same things over and over. But these people who search for notably more porn tend to search for [many different things].

Two things tend to show up in these searches, oddly: bestiality and granny porn. There’s clearly something different about that group. Having said that, there isn’t overwhelming evidence that porn addiction exists. Probably the best way to define whether it’s a problem is if you want to stop and you can’t.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Links - 17th June 2015

#KillAllMen - "“another angry woman,” writer “stavvas” opens her defense of the “kill all men” slogan by saying “nobody is actually planning to kill all men.” According to (probably) her, it’s just a “shorthand war cry,” a “structural critique, presented in a provocative fashion.” Continuing in this (dishonest, dissembling) vein, stavvas reminisces about being part of a reading group that was studying would-be Andy Warhol assassin Valerie Solanas’ “SCUM Manifesto,” which calls for the extermination of the vast majority of male human beings. She notes that “the power of SCUM is the effect it has on men,” but regretfully notes, “It’s pretty difficult to mention SCUM (or indeed just cry “kill all men”) without the misogynists crawling in, crying misandry”... One can’t reach any sort of understanding with a person who is both committed to saying inflammatory things, and determined not to mean them."

When doctors marry doctors: a survey exploring the professional and family lives of young physicians. - "Twenty-two percent of male physicians and 44% of female physicians were married to physicians"

Women who murder their children - "When Mouzos crunched figures on the distribution of parents who killed children by gender and biological ties, she found biological mothers posed a more lethal risk to their own. Biological mothers account for about 35 per cent of all filicides (about the same proportion as stepfathers and de factos), while biological fathers account for 29 per cent. "
Women are more likely to murder their children than men

Beard goggles: Why a fuzzy face is attractive only when it is a rarity - ""When a fashion goes mainstream it loses the advantage of rarity. And so it begins to subside," one of the authors of the research wrote on the academic news site The Conversation. "Innovative new styles," he said, "may enjoy a premium while they are still rare." This means as the lumberjack look becomes increasingly conventional, it may be time for a shave. Beards are sexy only before they are cool, is the implication... genetic variations are perpetuated across generations specifically because they give a survival edge with combinations of "good genes," compared with the mainstream."

I was intimidated and branded a racist for bringing Rochdale abuse gang to justice, says prosecutor - "They said I had given racists a stick with which to beat minorities"

Britain has many major problems - racism isn't one of them - "No high-level, activist campaign exists in any Asian country to eradicate such racially charged language. Nobody feels strongly enough to object, least of all white people. In Britain though, where I now live, the opposite seems to be true. I can’t help noticing that certain sections of the population are now so acutely tuned into the issue of race that they spot racism where none is intended. I was stunned for instance, when a few years ago police in the Isle of Wight arrested a beach-bar singer for belting out the pop song ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ because someone had complained it was racial aggravation... there was an online petition against a Knorr advert featuring Marco Pierre White making a dish of rice, peas and chicken and describing it as Jamaican — the chef’s creation was not authentic enough, apparently. A writer in the Guardian called this ‘disrespectful cultural appropriation’... To the British young, racism is not repugnant — it’s incomprehensible... The danger with crying racism at every turn is that it conceals real problems. Immigration cannot be discussed properly here, because anyone who wants to raise the subject is labelled bigoted or racist — even if they’re talking about white Poles. The concerns of the poor, who live in areas where immigrants flock, are about oversubscribed GP surgeries or about schools that suddenly go multilingual. Yet their concerns are dismissed by the governing elite as racist, such as when a voter once voiced her concerns over crime and immigration to Gordon Brown, and he was caught on microphone calling her a ‘bigoted woman’. It risks alienating a class from British politics and driving people to support genuinely racist parties. And while Britain is looking out for the old bigotry, new ones creep in. ‘Culturalism’ — favouring someone because they share the same mindset as you, is not so bad because it’s not ‘racist’. Appearing before the Commons education committee, an Ofsted inspector recently raised the issue of working-class white schoolchildren being overlooked and without representation versus ethnic groups: too much race awareness tends to cause division, rather than inclusion."

Marriage equality is great. Now how about equality for singles? - Magazine - The Boston Globe - " “Oh, you just haven’t found the right mate yet” sounds a lot like “Oh, Jim, you just haven’t found the right girl.” Just as it used to be considered better to be heterosexual than homosexual, there remains the presumption that being in a couple is better than being single. What’s wrong with being single? Nothing, unless you consider all the forms of discrimination visited upon unmarried people. Let me count the ways. There are 1,138 of them, at least according to a 2004 report by the US Government Accountability Office. These are the federal statutory provisions in which marital status factors into determining “benefits, rights, and privileges”... In a recent op-ed, social scientist Bella M. DePaulo explained how discrimination against single people can somehow be seen as more legitimate than racism or sexism... At a recent visit to The History Project, New England’s LGBT archives, I found no evidence of a push for marriage equality prior to 1986. In fact, quite the opposite. A 1970s flier from the gay activist group The Red Butterfly perhaps sums it up best: “ .  . . what gay men and women, as well as others, should demand is freedom from being forced to mold their lives after a rigid, and strictly historical, family structure.” Amen."

How scientists rank drugs from most to least dangerous — and why the rankings are flawed - "Marijuana is generally safer than alcohol. Drug experts broadly agree that individuals and society would arguably be better off if marijuana became the most accepted recreational intoxicant of choice instead of alcohol."

Study: Popular song lyrics found to be at a 3rd grade reading level - "He found that the country music genre had the "smartest" lyrics over the past 10 years, averaging a reading grade level of 3.3. Pop and rock tied with a reading grade level of 2.9, while R&B/hip-hop earned a reading grade level of 2.6. What earned country music such a high score? It doesn't use filler words like "oh" and "yeah," while it does cash in some lyrical ten-dollar words often, such as "Hallelujah," "cigarettes" and "tacklebox." It also uses long geographical names, such as Mississippi and Louisiana, while R&B/hip-hop uses less complex city names, like L.A. and New York. It's also worth noting that the song writer's gender didn't matter: Songs are getting dumber across the board, no matter who wrote them. Keep in mind that the website is just looking at the word choice. It doesn't factor metaphors or other nuances that would add deeper meaning to a song. Anything over a grade of 22 (which we didn't find) would imply it's at graduate school level."

Japan's Robot Dogs Get Funerals as Sony Looks Away - "Despite the loyal fanbase, Sony decided to discontinue the bot in 2006, after selling around 150,000 units. "Our core businesses are electronics, games and entertainment, but the focus is going to be on profitability and strategic growth," a Sony spokeswoman said at the time. "In light of that, we've decided to cancel the Aibo line". For years following the announcement, Sony would repair Aibos that experienced technical difficulties. But in July 2014, those repairs stopped and owners were left to look elsewhere for help.... “The first time I spoke directly to a client he told me, ‘He’s not very well, can you examine him?’” Hiroshi Funabashi, a robot dog repairman, told AFP. “I realized he didn’t see it as a robot, but as a member of his family whose life was more important than his own”... While concerted repair efforts have kept many an Aibo alive, a shortage of spare parts means that some of their lives have come to an end. The following images show the funerals of 19 Aibos that engineers at A-Fun were unable to save."

How extraverted is honey.bunny77@hotmail.de? Inferring personality from e-mail addresses - "Using 599 e-mail addresses of young adults, their self-reported personality scores and the personality judgments of 100 independent observers, it was shown that personality impressions based solely on e-mail addresses were consensually shared by observers. Moreover, these impressions contained some degree of validity. This was true for neuroticism, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and narcissism but not for extraversion"

The Red Effect, in People and Monkeys - "In many human cultures, the color red is linked to sex and romance. But if the effect is found in other primates, it could reflect a biologically innate sensory bias... female monkeys looked longer at photos of male scrota on red backgrounds. The effect was not solely due to the red background, as they did not look longer at seashells on a red background. Nor was it specific to scrota, as the females did not look longer at scrota on a blue background... The results with the female monkeys, at least, suggest that the importance of the color red is ancient. Social cues based on color may be a universal among primates."

Can’t do heels? Don’t do Cannes - "I’ve seen some commentators online – all men, funnily enough – snark that it’s no different to demand women wear high heels than it is to insist men wear bow ties. They’re absolutely right, of course – if bow ties render them next to immobile and leave them in crushing pain with lifelong foot problems. And maybe they do; I’ve never worn one. I sometimes wonder if men think women have special powers that render them magically able to walk on their tiptoes all night without any pain (and enjoy hours of makeup and hairstyling, awkward and uncomfortable dresses and starvation diets). It has always seemed exactly right to me that the most famous designers of high heels in the world, Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin, are men. The assumption still is that in order to look elegant women have to be in some kind of self-restraining physical pain. Because that still, apparently, is the look of a human woman."
Many women must be masochists, apparently, since they love heels. And ties make me feel like I'm choking.

I read 'Fifty Shades of Grey' with my boyfriend and this is what it did to our relationship - "Reading “50 Shades of Grey” gave Dave and me the unique chance to see each other’s perspective on how couples should communicate. More importantly, we were detached from the characters, thanks to their bizarre qualities and poor character development. This detachment meant that if we disagreed how one character acted or miscommunicated we could calmly discuss our opinions without getting into a heated dispute where someone’s pride was left beaten on the floor."

I went to McDonald's in France and discovered how America is doing it all wrong - "the McCafé near the Louvre in Paris has a four-star rating on TripAdvisor. One reviewer from Glasgow, Scotland said she at ate the McCafé for breakfast every morning while she stayed in Paris because it was cheap and she liked the macaroons."
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