Tuesday, July 24, 2012

From around the interwebs...

Links to things that are interesting me this week...

Michelle Bachmann's unholy crusade against Huma Abedin
Bachmann, a cocktail of self-righteousness mixed with vitriol and a dash of bitters, has suggested that Huma Abedin, a close adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. The Tea Party-aligned congresswoman would be laughable if she were not so dangerous. And she is. Former presidential candidate Bachmann, someone who did not know the difference between John Wayne and John Wayne Gacy, joined with four other House Republicans in signing a letter sent to the inspector general of the State Department that suggests the State Department may be influenced by people with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, people like Abedin. Abedin's parents — her father is deceased — and her brother may have known people who knew people who knew someone associated with a terrorist organization. It is a Kevin-Bacon-many-degrees-of-separation theory being used to destroy a person's reputation.

Swearing: Very much lost in translation
Translating swear words is hard. Often there is a literal equivalent. But some words are strictly taboo in one language, used only by the roughest of characters in their angriest moments, while the exact same word in another language might be pretty mild. For example, For Satan! is one of the harshest curses in Danish. The devil! is a silly old-fashioned thing only Monty Burns would say in English.

People with Norman names wealthier than other Britons
Research shows that the descendants of people who in 1858 had "rich" surnames such as Percy and Glanville, indicating they were descended from the French nobility, are still substantially wealthier in 2011 than those with traditionally "poor" or artisanal surnames. Artisans are defined as skilled manual workers. Popular names of the medieval elite who were descended from Norman families include Balliol, Baskerville, Bruce, Darcy, Glanville, Lacy, Mandeville, and Venables. Popular artisanal names that emerged in the 14th century include Smith, Carpenter, Mason, Shepherd, Cooper and Baker.

Anderson Cooper's coming out rattles China's closet
One particular area of concern, Mr. Zhang said, is the large number of Chinese women unwittingly married to gay men. (Due to traditional patriarchal attitudes that value a son’s offspring more than a daughter’s, it is somewhat easier for a woman to dodge marriage and reproduction. A gay woman may be less likely to marry against her will.) Mr. Zhang estimates that more than 90 percent of China’s gay men bow to pressure and marry women — without revealing their homosexuality. “There are over 10 million women married to homosexual men, perhaps 16 million,” he said.

Why do they hate us?
So: Yes, women all over the world have problems; yes, the United States has yet to elect a female president; and yes, women continue to be objectified in many "Western" countries (I live in one of them). That's where the conversation usually ends when you try to discuss why Arab societies hate women. But let's put aside what the United States does or doesn't do to women. Name me an Arab country, and I'll recite a litany of abuses fueled by a toxic mix of culture and religion that few seem willing or able to disentangle lest they blaspheme or offend. When more than 90 percent of ever-married women in Egypt -- including my mother and all but one of her six sisters -- have had their genitals cut in the name of modesty, then surely we must all blaspheme. When Egyptian women are subjected to humiliating "virginity tests" merely for speaking out, it's no time for silence. When an article in the Egyptian criminal code says that if a woman has been beaten by her husband "with good intentions" no punitive damages can be obtained, then to hell with political correctness.

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