"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

"There's only one way to have a happy marriage and as soon as I learn what it is I'll get married again." - Clint Eastwood

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Australian lesbian lovers given life term for murder - "Two lesbian lovers, one who drank blood as part of a vampire culture, were sentenced to life in prison on Friday for what an Australian judge said was the "evil" killing of a girl they bludgeoned to death with a concrete block. Jessica Stasinowsky, 21, and Valerie Parashumti, 19, pleaded guilty to murdering 16-year-old Stacey Mitchell in Perth in western Australia in 2006 because she was annoying"

Our Racist, Sexist Selves - "The University of Chicago offers an on-line psychological test in which you encounter a series of 100 black or white men, holding either guns or cellphones. You’re supposed to shoot the gunmen and holster your gun for the others... Take the test yourself and you’ll probably find that you show bias as well. Most whites and many blacks are more quick to shoot blacks, no matter how egalitarian they profess to be."
Do the right thing - suppress crime: "Nationally, they show that blacks are responsible for 50 per cent of all rapes and robberies and 60 per cent of murders. In New York City, the percentages are even higher. The point is rightly made that most victims are also black--but they are generally victims of crimes committed by other blacks... of the 629,000 interracial crimes in 1985 where victims survived to identify attackers, nine out of ten were by blacks against whites."

Divided They Fall - "Psychologists showed a film clip of the football game to groups of students at each college and asked them to act as unbiased referees and note every instance of cheating. The results were striking. Each group, watching the same clip, was convinced that the other side had cheated worse — and this was not deliberate bias or just for show. “Their eyes were taking in the same game, but their brains seemed to be processing the events in two distinct ways,”... Students on each side accepted the evidence that conformed to their original views while rejecting the contrary evidence — and so afterward students on both sides were more passionate and confident than ever of their views... Another challenge is the biased way in which we gather information. We seek out information that reinforces our prejudices."

The World Record-Breaking Capital - "The strongest hair! The youngest sumo wrestler! The longest pencil! In Malaysia, making your mark - any mark - is a matter of national pride... From the dangerous (most days spent inside a box with 6,069 scorpions) to the inexplicable (most faces captured on a phonecam) and the outright banal (first independent tire-testing facility), not a week goes by without a record-setting event somewhere in Malaysia. The country might just be the world record holder in holding records... "If the whole world was trying for excellence, it would be the perfect world to stay in," he says, "because we would no longer be talking about fighting. We'd be talking about breaking records." Perhaps instead of disarming Iraqis, the US should be encouraging them to play checkers underwater."

Flies get 'mind-control sex swap' - "Scientists have been able to take control of flies' brains to make females behave just like males."
It's okay, their souls are still female.

Man killed while beating would-be robber - "Facing the barrel of a sawed-off shotgun on a dark West Baltimore street, Roland Scott fought back. He pulled out his own weapon - a fake handgun - and wrested the shotgun away from his attacker, city police said. Scott ordered the man to strip naked in the middle of Laurens Street, took $800 from him and forced him to march into the laundry room of a nearby apartment building... "He is beating him with the butt of a sawed-off shotgun." Raftery said the shotgun, then pointed at Scott, discharged, hitting Scott in the stomach and killing him. Authorities said his death will be ruled accidental."

Shoplifter Leaves Son Behind In Store - "The absent-minded thief dashed out of a supermarket in Kerkrade in the Netherlands with a packet of meat and made a beeline for his getaway car... He reportedly refused to return to the scene of the crime to collect the boy. Instead, he told police to call the youngster's mother."

The Straight Dope: Why is the bottom end of the music spectrum so boomy and annoying? Can anything be done to block the sound? - "Low-frequency noise is weird stuff. Years back I noted that infrasound — sound pitched below the hearing range of most humans, which stops at around 20 hertz — can cause dizziness. Some recent research suggests it may do more than that. After taking spectrum analysis readings at a couple of U.K. sites repeatedly described by visitors as "haunted," Vic Tandy and Tony Lawrence of Coventry University have argued that the presence of 18.9 Hz infrasound is responsible for the creepy feelings described. (In one case they concluded that a terrifying, seemingly paranormal experience of Tandy’s had likely resulted from the whirring of a laboratory extractor fan causing his eyeballs to resonate.) And in 2003, the use of 17 Hz infrasound at London concerts of experimental electronic music correlated with audience reports of "unusual experiences" including nausea, momentary anxiety, tingling, and a sense of coldness. Ideally, Derek, by the time your neighbor has traded his bass for an ultra-low-end tone generator, one of you will have found someplace else to live."

Straight Dope Staff Report: How do the mechanics of smell work? - "Although humans can distinguish over 10,000 odorants, the sense of smell is very like the sense of taste – just as we experience complex flavors via combinations of five basic taste-receptor types (sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami), we have seven primary odorant groupings. These are camphoric (think mothballs), musky (like certain animal smells), rose, peppermint, ethereal (like various solvents, e.g., dry-cleaning fluid), pungent (e.g., vinegar), and putrid (like rotten eggs or other sulfurous stuff)... In 2006, Virginia Tech researchers Andrea Dietrich and Dietmar Glindemann demonstrated that when we smell the metallic odor we typically associate with iron, we're not actually smelling the metal itself – there are no iron atoms in the odorant molecules. What's happening is that the metal causes the oxidation of lipids (small fatty molecules) produced by the skin, and it's the resulting chemical compounds – aldehydes and ketones – that we think of as smelling metallic... We're quite sensitive, for instance, to the smell of hydrogen sulfide, which has an odor threshold of 0.2 ppt. The catch, though, is that in concentrations above 150 parts per million hydrogen sulfide deadens the sense of smell very quickly, meaning it's possible to get a lethal dose (800 ppm over five minutes will do it) without realizing it."

Wedding number four for woman, 24, who's mother ran off with her husband - "SERIAL bride Alison Smith wed for the fourth time yesterday - at the age of 24. It was the latest in a bizarre series of marriages for the young mum. Alison's ex-husbands include a man who eloped with her own mum, a bigamist and a pal who stood in for her fiance when he jilted her the night before the wedding... Staff from Arbroath register office stepped in at the last minute, citing the Marriage Scotland Act 1977, which states that you cannot marry a former spouse's mother unless your former spouse is dead... Pat marked the special occasion by wearing a musical thong which played Here Comes The Bride as she exchanged vows. The couple's first dance at the reception in Arbroath's Cliffburn Hotel was to The Fast Food Song. After the wedding, Alison revealed she called her ex-husband "dad". She said: "I've lost a husband but gained a father.""
This is very screwed up.

What's Really Visible from Space - There is a longstanding myth that the Great Wall of China is the only manmade object visible from space. It and several variations on the theme are great fodder for water cooler arguments. In reality, many human constructs can be seen from Earth orbit... "With binoculars you can see an awful lot of things," Lu wrote via e-mail in fielding a question from an Earthbound space fan. "You can see roads. You can see harbors. You can even see ships; very large tankers on the ocean we can see using the binoculars." There are some surprises, too. "You can see airplane contrails, and occasionally at the end of an airplane contrail, you will see a glint of sunlight off the airplane"... "You can see the Great Wall," Lu says. But it's less visible than a lot of other objects. And you have to know where to look."

The Pope's Favorite Rabbi - TIME - "One day on the food line something snapped, and he rhymed aloud, "I hope you all get trichinosis/And come to believe in the God of Moses." A fellow conferee instantly replied, "And if we don't get such diseases/Will you believe in the God of Jesus?" Neusner cackles. "That's an example of the right way to do Judeo-Christian dialogue," he says. "If religion matters, and it does, then it's not honest to be indifferent to the convictions of others."... [He] projected himself back into the Gospel of Matthew to quiz Jesus on the Jewish law. He found the Nazarene's interpretation irredeemably faulty... A Rabbi Talks argues, for instance, that Jesus' line that "he who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me" defies the commandment to "honor thy father and mother" and that his liberties with Saturday rules on grounds that "the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath" flout the one that explicitly orders all humans to observe the day. Most important, Neusner read Jesus' repeated rhetorical formula "You have heard that it was said [in the Torah] ... But I say to you ... " as his claim to be not merely the religio-military Messiah some Jews hoped for at the time but also above the Torah and hence God... Neusner asserted that any thoughtful Jew must conclude that Jesus was actually "abandoning the Torah" and reject him. He also suggested that insofar as Matthew's arguments are based in Jewish law, Christianity may be flawed by its own standards... Amy-Jill Levine, a Jew who teaches New Testament studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and has her own Jesus book, The Misunderstood Jew, says both undergrads and interfaith experts can profit from the Neusner-Benedict exchange. Rabbi James Rudin, senior interreligious adviser to the American Jewish Committee, says it is in some ways "the full maturation of the modern Catholic-Jewish encounter.""
I hope this seditious book is not available in Singapore!
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