Friday, March 01, 2013

Friday Reading

Or things I might have written about had I more energy and time:

First, heartening news from Saudi Arabia:

An influential Saudi cleric has issued a religious edict, commonly known as Fatwa, allowing women to travel without a male guardian, uncover their faces and eat alongside men.

In statements posted on Twitter, Sheikh Ahmed Bin Qassim al-Ghamdi, the former head of Mecca's Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice committee, said: “It is permissible for people to look at what is not forbidden in women like their faces and their arms.”
Of course the article later calls him a liberal cleric.  But baby steps.

Second, this survey sounds interesting, though I haven't looked at it for the signs of any possible bias:

When the Business Insider polled registered voters and asked for their preferences among three Congressional plans floated to avoid the looming "sequestration" cuts in Washington, they found that when stripped of their partisan labels, the policies most favorable to the majority were those offered by the progressive wing of the Democratic caucus.
Strikingly, the plan offered by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, called The Balancing Act and introduced in early February, is the plan that has received the least attention in the corporate media's coverage of the ongoing and latest "invented" Beltway crisis.
The poll found that in addition to beating the House Republican plan and the Senate Democrat's plan overall, "more than half of respondents supported [the Balancing Act] compared to sequestration and [only] a fifth of respondents were opposed."

Finally, this article possibly about the weak form of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is interesting.  In particular:

4.    Gender in Finnish and Hebrew

In Hebrew, gender markers are all over the place, whereas Finnish doesn’t mark gender at all, Boroditsky writes in Scientific American (PDF). A study done in the 1980s found that, yup, thought follows suit: kids who spoke Hebrew knew their own genders a year earlier than those who grew up speaking Finnish. (Speakers of English, in which gender referents fall in the middle, were in between on that timeline, too.)
One of the hardest things for me to learn about English were, a) articles (who needs them?) and b) the gendered nature of the third person singular.