Thursday, August 30, 2012

(video) Rick Santorum RNC speech: Can You Really Shake Hands With The American Dream?

The Young Turks share their take on a string of strange hand metaphors during Rick Santorum's speech at the Republican National Convention.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

(Video) Marriage on the DECLINE! Single Women, Unmarried Women, Divorced Women are Forgoing Marriage. DON'T SAY I DO! by Orna Gadish shows why.






Today's women, more than ever before, are opting out of marriage. It's a sweeping cultural change embraced by millions that can't be ignored, according to Orna Gadish, M.Sc., author of Don’t Say I Do! Why Women Should Stay Single. There are various alternative relationship, dwelling, motherhood, career, and family structures for modern women which are great alternatives to marriage. A powerful read for women and men who want explanation as to why marriage is on the decline and how women can benefit from the new situation.

(Book Review) "Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud" and How "Don't Say I Do!" Relationships Are Different






                                                                               



     
While the differentiation between the bodies of men and women rare greater than ever, Thomas Laqueur's seminal work Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud seeks to provide an understanding of where this trend began. A well written and argued book, Thomas Laqueur in Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud makes the argument that there was a paradigm change in the field of sexual anatomy in the 1800s and 1900s – from a "one sex" to a "two sex" model theory of human anatomy.
According to Lacquer, the "one sex" model theory was embraced by intellectual greats such as anatomist Galen and Greek philosopher Aristotle which saw the similarities between the bodies of men and women rather than the differences prevalent in modern culture. They saw women as variants of men,and the genitalia of women as the inversion of a man’s sex organs.However, such similarities were related to the body only and did not reflect any similar position of power between the genders, or equal social standing for women, for in such realms men have gained an upper hand.
At the turn of the 18th century views and attitudes towards the one sex model of human anatomy began to change. Between the optimism towards the Enlightenment in the latter part 1800’s to the outright critical appraisal of it in the 1900’s, attitudes towards "one sex" began to change, as intellectuals of the time sought to determine what was of nature and society,which often led to making links between the two.
From fields as diverse as politics, law, mathematics, science and economics, thinkers were positing new theories which have changed forever how we see the world. The way we were to see our own bodies was to be no different, for study of nature and society was applied to the structure of the bodies of men and women, their bodily functions, as well as their social roles.
In this context, the paradigm change between the "one sex" to "two sex"model of human anatomy took off, as philosophers began posting views towards women and their roles, where differences of women bodily structures and functions in comparison to men's were stressed, and the corresponding inferior social standing of the woman's model was evident.
Such views further strengthened the "two sex" model, as their studies suggested a woman role in society should be closer to their biological traits, emphasizing anatomical inferiority of women to men. This also led to intellectuals (always men) proscribing ways in which a woman should act or behave in public or private. Needless to say, in both models, the "one sex" and "two sex," the bodily and social inferiority of women was part of the agenda. For in the "one sex" model, the woman appeared as a reversed version of the male, where as in the "two sex" model, the women came as an inferior parallel model. 
Mary Wollstonecraft in her seminal work on the Vindication of the Rights of Women spoke to the prevailing double-standard when she cited “many ingenious arguments have been brought forward to prove, that the two sexes, in the acquirement of virtue, ought to aim at attaining a very different character: or, to speak explicitly, women are not allowed to have sufficient strength of mind to acquire what really deserves the name of virtue”.
Simply put, Wollstonecraft made the point that the acquisition of virtue has very little to do with men or society’s expectations of a woman’s behaviour in public or private and even less to do with gender altogether.Laqueur is quick to portray the "two sex" model theory of the human anatomy as a paradigm change that has helped keep women at a disadvantage; however it can also be argued better than the former, that the "two sex" model theory has been the most helpful intellectual trend in women’s opposition to patriarchy.
Without the "two sex" model theory, women wouldn’t have been forced to find their own voice and identity in the face of arguments made by men amenable to male anatomical and thus societal superiority. The works of intellectual giants such as Mary Wollstonecraft, Simone De Beauvoir and many others would not be necessary if there hadn't been such a clear demarcation between anatomical differences between the sexes.
Evidently, the modern world has been shaped by the "two sex" model to the point where women now have more choice than ever before to decide about their body functions and actions. Women are no longer hamstrung by anatomical or societal implications of inferiority,for women can now choose their partners, form of relationships, family settings and motherhood, as well as when to adjust such structures to their needs.
Furthermore, women are more educated nowadays and in higher paying jobs than ever before. Orna Gadish’s outstanding book Don’t Say I Do! Why Women Should Stay Single details the growth in the freedom of choice for women, all based on women having to define themselves in the modern world where marriage is no longer a rite of passage – taking into consideration the harsh history of discrimination where women were portrayed as peculiar creatures, long before the "two sex," or even the ancient "one sex" model.
In sum, for the last 150 years women have fought successfully against the political, social and psychological side effects of the "one sex" and "two sex" models theories of human anatomy, and the world at large has been better for it. The new choices for single women, unmarried woman and divorced women of today, as well as the new relationship options and family structures discussed in Orna Gadish's Don't Say I Do! are the living proof for women's ability to change the picture for the better, notwithstanding long-lasting discrimination and biased patterns of thought.



Monday, August 20, 2012

(Video) Paul Ryan: Rage against the machine? really?

Paul Ryan names one of his favorite bands, band recoils.

(Video) Classic debate: Hitchens/Fry V Widdicombe/Onaiyekan

Classic debate featuring the late Christopher Hitchens, Stephen Fry and Ann Widdicombe arguing for and against the motion that the Catholic church is a force for good in the world.

(Video) Joseph stiglitz on the eurozone

 The Nobel prize winning economist shares his view on the euro zone

(Opinion) Pakistan: Reason to worry?



There are many reasons as to why the United States are in Pakistan, but the most prominent reason is because they have nuclear weapons in a country that has always been on the edge of political, economic and social disaster.

US anxieties about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal went into overdrive with the ambitious attack by terrorists on a military air base “which is thought to house part of the country's nuclear arsenal”[1] . Former head of the CIA and current US defence secretary Leon Panetta went on record revealing US fears of “Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling to the wrong hands” should terrorism not be tackled effectively[2].

The fears of the United States have over Pakistan’s security are vindicated as militants have carried out similar attacks on other military assets with militants killing ten people attacking a naval base in Karachi[3].
However Pakistani military officials were quick to rebuff suggestions of lax security. A spokesman for the Pakistan foreign office insisted that Pakistan’s “strategic assets are safe” and stressed that “all measures have been taken in this regard”[4].

However, Pakistan and the United States attempts to tackle terrorists in the country have been poor to say the least. This is exemplified by President Obama signing a bill into law that gives secretary of state Hilary Clinton a month to decide whether the Haqqani network ”meets the criteria of a terrorist group” despite the US and others accusing the group of a number of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan[5]. Pakistan’s government and military has effectively surrendered north and South Waziristan in the North West of the country having paid a costly price trying to stem the flow of ‘Arab and central Asian fighters’[6].

The US drone strike campaign in the region has brought about almost daily reports of the death of ‘militants’ despite concerns over criteria used to classify who are or are not ‘militants’ and the frequent use of drones in patches of the middle east hostile to the policy ambitions of the west. It is also in part responsible for why, according to a poll by the pew research center, 74% of Pakistanis see the United Sates as an ‘enemy’[7].

In sum, while Pakistan remains a cause for concern for obvious reasons, the US must realise that there are other ways to help Pakistan than drone the north west of country to little effect. However the political class of the US and Pakistan must put aside their differences if they are. to quell terrorism in Pakistan











[1] J. Boone, 2012, Suicide bombers storm Pakistan airbase, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/16/suicide-bombers-storm-pakistan-base
[2] Quoted by The Times Of India, 2012, Pakistan’s nukes might fall into hands of terrorists: Panetta,   http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-08-15/pakistan/33216067_1_nuclear-weapons-nuclear-power-terrorists
[3] A. Siddique, 2012, How safe Is Pakistan’s Nuclear Arsenal?,
[4] A. Hussain, 2012, Leon Panetta assertion rejected: Pakistan’s strategic assets safe: FO, http://www.brecorder.com/general-news/172/1228620/
[5] The Express Tribune, 2012, Clinton considers blacklist haqqani network, http://tribune.com.pk/story/422327/clinton-considers-blacklisting-haqqani-network/
[6] BBC News, 2011, Haqqanis: Growth of a military network,

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

(Video) Slavoj Zizek: Occupy Europe!!

Slavoj Zizek speaking on panel in Greece

(Video) Paul Ryan Budget plan:Why the praise?

The Young Turks shine a light on Paul Ryan lauded budget plan.

(Opinion) Marriage Decline is Happening Now. Two Excellent Books Discuss the Reasons



It is no secret that the institution of marriage is on the decline today, but the causes and factors involved in this trend are less straightforward. However, two excellent books, The Marriage-Go-Round: The State of Marriage and the Family in America Today (Knopf 2009) written by Andrew Cherlin, and Don’t Say I Do! Why Women Should Stay Single (New Horizon Press, 2012) written by Orna Gadish go some way in addressing marriage and its apparent decline

Both books provide insight into the transformations and conflicts in modern society that have brought about record numbers of divorce, such as different life expectations between the generations, everlasting gender gaps, social and cultural indicators, and pervasive individualism in America (Cherlin), and throughout the western world (Gadish). However, despite the outwardly similarity of positions with regard to marriage decline and marriage obsolescence in society and culture taken by both authors—these books sharply diverge in their conclusions about marriage.

While critical of the institution of marriage, Andrew Cherlin still seems to have faith in it citing studies detailing the negative effects of divorce. For Cherlin the pervasive individualism of modern culture has made people judge marriage not based on level of commitment but rather on the level of happiness. This can explain the record growth of divorce, as modern couples are less tolerant of unhappiness, and thus, lack the "spirit of compromise" required for successful marriages. However, according to Cherlin, despite the record levels of divorce, people in the U.S. are still likely to get married or re-marry, thus leading to "a marriage go round."

Orna Gadish, author of Don’t Say I Do!, comes to a different conclusion altogether based on the same facts, as she accents viable modern options and opportunities in relationships and alternative family settings that have become part of consensus today. Such prevalent alternatives in modern society were neglected by Cherlin in the Marriage Go Round (published in 2009), for Cherlin is evidently leaning toward the old-fashioned agreement of matrimony, and that in stark contradiction to modern and western social trends.

While the difference in outlook might be ideological, I believe that the timing of release of both of the books, Don't Say I Do! (in 2012) and the Marriage Go Round (in 2009) could have also played a role. Don’t Say I Do! clearly propagates a postmodern vision, and unlike the Marriage Go Round focuses on single, unmarried, and divorced women of the global and digital age, in U.S., Europe, Israel, and the western world, while Cherlin documents merely the status in America.

Gadish, unlike Cherlin, looks at the decline of marriage and assesses the alternatives advantageous to women within her focus groups that included, among others, married women, unhappily married women, unmarried women, divorced women, and single women. Gadish’s work is a decidedly more ideological read, yet that fails to take away anything from the intellectual rigour and the uplifting voice  in her argumentation, discussion and  overall analysis of marriage decline as an international phenomenon (Gadish) rather than a local U.S. trend (Cherlin).

As a women herself, Gadish is more likely to embrace a female perspective than the traditional white-male one, and rightly addresses a blind spot in Cherlin's analysis. Whereas both authors point to a greater individual freedom as a factor to be considered in marriage demise, Gadish pin points the growth in the freedom of choice for women as a potential indicator for its happening. According to Gadish such freedom  of choice is a positive cultural change embraced by women throughout the western world, where women are realizing their true potentials in fulfilling careers, and through actively opting out of marriage and remaining single, unmarried and divorced.

According to Gadish, women do not have to get married today, as there are alternatives that may make them equally "settled down" or contented, such as living together with a partner (cohabitation) or living together apart (LTA) arrangements. The postmodern vision of Don’t Say I Do! further punctuates the difference between the two works, as Cherlin seeks to assess what is going wrong with marriage, while Gadish, on the other hand, outwardly endorses the decline of marriage in favour of growth of women’s rights to choose their individual paths, their personal goals in love life and relationships, motherhood, family and career matters, as well as their contentment and self-actualization.

For Gadish, there are no benefits to be had in stepping onto the "marriage go round" as women stand to experience costly legal hassles, custody battles, financial loss, and overall, heartache and resentment in entering multiple marriages ending in divorce, which are bound to make such women sceptical of their chances of achievement of happiness or success to least the least.

In sum, while a well written, researched and argued book, apparently the Marriage Go Round is a limited work, for it describes trends, but makes no real judgements as to what they mean for modern women and indeed men. On the other hand, Don’t Say I Do! may be more political in its stance on the decline of marriage, however it provides what the Marriage Go Round is missing, a reference to modern life outside the U.S., freedom of choice for women, and a real sense of perspective. 




Monday, August 13, 2012

(Opinion) G4S Security: When you Can’t Catch A Break in a snooker hall




Every once in a while a company goes through a difficult period and is confronted with headline after headline detailing it weaknesses and past screw ups but G4S is a company that couldn’t buy a break in a snooker hall.  However, it is more than fair to say that it has earned critical media scrutiny as reports detailed G4S lax attitude to recruitment and general incompetence before, during, and after the Olympics.

The main reason why G4S failure is big news is not because of the extent of how much G4S was unprepared for the games, but it has been a major loss for the coalition government plan to outsource parts of the public sector, especially the police. The Labour Party was quick to attack in light of G4S lack of preparation with Labour leader Ed Miliband linking the company’s failures to the coalition government plans for the public sector[1]. Miliband cited the pace of outsourcing of the police and the need   “for a rethink of the role of the private sector in policing”[2].

This could prove to be an effective strategy for labour as the coalition government (the conservatives in particular) have made enemies out of the police, traditionally a natural ally of the Tories due to their tough stance on crime.

The Tories have done their best to alienate the police with a regime of spending and pay cuts to the point where Home Secretary Theresa May was subject to “heckling and jeering” when she spoke at the Police Federation Conference earlier this year[3]. Greeted with absolute silence the year before, the home secretary and her government were subject to criticism from all angles as the police federation chairman Paul McKeever revealed warning the home secretary of ‘public disorder’ and illustrated his point  with images of police officers under duress during the  student protests in late 2010[4].

The financial implications of G4S Olympics failure have been severe as the company ”has seen more than 400 million wiped of its market value since the debacle”[5]. Standard and poor’s has indicated that it may cut down G4S credit rating in light of the company’s major ‘underperformance’[6]. However the fiasco has not affected the ability of the company to win contracts as G4S has managed to seal a deal worth “72 million” to secure the British embassy in Kabul[7] .

While G4S may be able to secure deals abroad, it can forget any government contracts, especially roles belonging to the police as plans that were once approved by three regional police authorities that outsourced job roles to G4S are now ”under review”[8] . The main point of concern by ‘chief constables’ was that G4S was not capable of the “effective and efficient delivery of organisational support services”[9].

In sum, G4S found itself on the world stage and dropped the ball for all to see, however this will have little effect on its existing work abroad but it can forget winning any contracts from the government due to the major retreat from outsourcing by several police authorities. This could be a real fillip for the Labour Party as the conservative continue to alienate the police force, giving some room for Labour to win back law and order voters they lost in 2010.








[1] A. Topping, 2012,  G4S Olympic Scandal: Ed Miliband calls for rethink of police outsourcing,  http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/jul/19/g4s-olympic-ed-miliband-police?newsfeed=true
[2] Ibid, Quoted by Topping
[3] A. Travis, 2012, Theresa May heckled and jeered during police conference speech, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/may/16/theresa-may-heckled-police-conference
[4] A. Travis, 2011 police greet Theresa may speech with complete silence, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/may/18/police-greet-theresa-may-speech-silence?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487
[5] F. Attewill, 2012, Police Taken Off To Cover G4S Olympic Staff Shortfall, http://www.metro.co.uk/olympics/905360-police-taken-off-beat-to-cover-g4s-olympic-staff-shortfall
[7] Morning Star, 2012, G4S extends Kabul contract for £72 m,  http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/news/content/view/full/122589
[8] BBC News, 2012, G4S police outsource plans ‘concern chief constables,
[9] Ibid, quoted by BBC News

Thursday, August 9, 2012

(Opinion) Porn Industry: How you don’t protect your product




There are many paths you can take to protect your product from illegal downloading and copyright infringement but harassing and bullying potential customers is definitely not the wisest path. For an industry that has trouble marketing itself due to its releases not being covered or advertised by most major publications, it doesn’t make sense for the industry to go after viewers who watch their movies albeit illegally[1].

According to the business insider, porn companies have targeted illegal viewers of their product and threatened to ‘out’ them if they didn’t settle ’anti-piracy’ cases against them[2]. Porn companies would initially sue viewers, whose identities are protected by their IP address, then subpoena Internet service providers for personal details then threaten to embarrass viewers by filing “a new lawsuit that uses their names if they don't pay settlements, typically ranging from $1,000 to $5,000”[3].

The porn industry doesn’t have many friends, so shaking down potential customers will add more people to its growing list of enemies. However, looking at the current state of the porn industry, its actions intended to protect their product aren’t exactly unjustified. The porn industry suffers, arguably more than music and movie industry, from the proliferation of user generated content (UGC) exacerbated by loopholes in the DMCA[4] .

UGC sites thrive from rules set by DMCA that allow “sites to claim DMCA compliance if they remove any infringing content upon demand”, which has ended up making porn studios play a tiresome game of whack-a-mole to protect their product as UGC sites will take down copyright infringing material only for it to be put up again within minutes[5].

In order to change the tedious state of affairs the porn industry finds itself in, it must realize factors that may influence people to illegally download their product; one of them lies in the reason why porn studios file lawsuits, anonymity. People are apprehensive to say the least to give their personal details to access porn movies not least because the fact that “In an age of rampant identity theft and global concerns over censorship, the importance of this factor shouldn’t be underestimated”[6].

This factor furthers the point that chasing potential customers away by upholding an industry crushing barrier to trade will always be bad for business. Porn companies already know this because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t threaten the anonymity of people accused of copyright infringement.

In sum, the porn industry is under threat due to proliferation of user generated content and the problems it poses to for the industry and beyond. However to target individuals and threatening them by taking away the only edge copyright infringing material has over a legitimate purchase, will only make the problem worse.

  






[1] IBN Live, 2012, How and why the porn industry embraced twitter, http://ibnlive.in.com/news/how-and-why-the-porn-industry-embraced-twitter/272639-11.html
[2] E. Fuchs, 2012, porno companies are alledgely bullying innocent people into paying to make anti piracy suits go away, http://www.businessinsider.com/porno-industry-anti-piracy-suits-2012-7
[3] Ibid
[4] S. Yagielowicz and R. Pardon, 2012, DMCA: the porn industry’s worst  nightmare, http://newswire.xbiz.com/view.php?id=151439
[5] Ibid
[6] Ibid

Monday, August 6, 2012

(Opinion) Tesla Motors: Revenge of the electric car?



On the poster for revenge of the electric car it has the tagline 'its alive’, well, looking at Tesla motors progression since the release, the tagline should be ‘just barely’. In the film, we are given a glimpse behind the scenes of a revolution led by battle hardened money men, rich dewy eyed idealists and small entrepreneurs invested in the future as all parties involved are the quest to make the electric car viable. 

Through the course of the movie we witness the struggles of getting the cars to market with product malfunctions and the price to make the product compared to expected market price being too close for comfort, production and distribution issues and near bankruptcy in all in the name of the electric car. 

At the end of the movie however, it defaults to the standard Hollywood story arc where the protagonists end the story on a high with Tesla motors successfully (I use this word lightly) floating on the stock exchange in a bid to raise capital after production and distribution issues had pushed Tesla Motors' CEO Elon Musks' vast resources to the limit.

However the progression of Tesla Motors since the October release of the film has been worrying to say the least.  The company has not made any profit but suffers tremendous losses with the recent reports of tesla’s losses shooting up to 79% in the second quarter[1]. It has recently has its’ stock fall 3.6 percent with news of a stock analyst downgrading Tesla Motors rating from ‘hold’ to ‘sell’[2].Yet despite the bleak indicators, the company still remains optimistic.

Elon Musk publicly predicted that by 2032, “half of all new cars sold would be plug-in electric cars”,  dwarfing president Obama realistic goal of 1 million by 2015 considering less than 100,000 plug-in cars will be new cars globally in at the end of this year (3) . This prediction seems like the classic ruse entrepreneurs play on themselves to take their mind off the tough times of the present as Steve jobs did it, Ford did it, so Elon Musk taking a page out of their book is to be expected.

Tesla are not alone in its recent woes as it hasn’t been a great year for American carmakers GM, Ford and Chysler in general as their one of its competitors, Toyota managed more second quarter earnings than the big three ‘combined’[4].  However there has been a slight upturn for as tesla’s shares have grown with the news that Tesla will meet its projected production levels  [5].

In sum, Tesla Motors has been victim of the fact that they belong two industries with one in slight decline and one trying to establish it viability despite crushing indicators. Yet despite this, the company remains optimistic with an eye firmly placed far in to the future, which serves as positive sign that everybody at Tesla look set to make it’s CEO right, and more importantly, rich.




[1] D. R. Baker, 2012, Tesla Motors’ Losses Jump 79 percent, http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Tesla-Motors-losses-jump-79-percent-3735511.php
[2] H. Dudar, 2012, Tesla Falls After Analyst Downgrades Rating To Sell, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-18/tesla-falls-after-analyst-downgrades-rating-to-sell.html
(3) J. Voelcker, 2012, Elon Musk Bets Half Of All Cars Built In 20312 Will Be Electric, http://idealab.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/07/elon-musk-bets-half-of-all-cars-built-in-2032-will-be-electric.php
[5] Bloomberg businessweek, 2012, Tesla shares rise on Model S production numbers, http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-08-03/tesla-shares-rise-on-model-s-production-numbers


Sunday, August 5, 2012

(Video) "Don't Say I Do! Why Women Should Stay Single" Supports Women Decision Not To Tie The Knot




Millions of women today are opting to remain single and unmarried. According to Orna Gadish, M.Sc., author of Don’t Say I Do! Why Women Should Stay Single, there are various alternative relationship, dwelling, motherhood, career, and family structures for modern women which are great substitutes for marriage. A powerful read for women and men who want explanation as to why marriage is on the decline.


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