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Valar Qringaomis

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

"What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

***

I think the top Adult English Non-Fiction and Adult English Singapore books borrowed from the library by Singaporeans are damn sad.

Singaporeans really like Chikan-land. And why is Fruits Basket non-fiction?!:

Adult English Titles (Non Fiction)

1. Tokyo City Guide by Lonely Planet
2. Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya
3.Vietnam by Globetrotters Travel Guide
4. Hong Kong & Macau by Lonely Planet
5. Taiwan: A Travel Survival Kit by Lonely Planet
6. Tokyo by Globetrotters Travel Guide
7. Japan by Travellers
8. Kyoto by Lonely Planet
9. Japan: A Travel Survival Kit by Lonely Planet
10. Bali & Lombok by Lonely Planet

Adult English titles (Singapore Collection)

1. The Almost Complete Collection Of True Singapore Ghost Stories #14 by Russell Lee
2. The Almost Complete Collection Of True Singapore Ghost Stories #11 by Russell Lee
3. The Almost Complete Collection Of True Singapore Ghost Stories #16 by Russell Lee
4. The Almost Complete Collection Of True Singapore Ghost Stories #5 by Russell Lee
5. The Almost Complete Collection Of True Singapore Ghost Stories #15 by Russell Lee
6. The Almost Complete Collection Of True Singapore Ghost Stories #13 by Russell Lee
7. Home And Away compiled by NLB
8. The Almost Complete Collection Of True Singapore Ghost Stories #1 by Russell Lee
9. The Almost Complete Collection Of True Singapore Ghost Stories #7 by Russell Lee
10. The Almost Complete Collection Of True Singapore Ghost Stories #2 by Russell Lee


Also, most of the books kids read are chick lit. But at least the chicks read.

Maybe we need better dick lit.
"Thenardier had just passed his fiftieth birthday; Madame Thenardier was approaching her forties, which is equivalent to fifty in a woman; so that there existed a balance of age between husband and wife."

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn." - Albert Camus

***

Flirting with Disaster: Dating + Cheating: Details - "Although it takes more than sexual experimentation to make a woman gay, there's a particularly cruel irony when a lesbian-obsessed guy gets ditched for another woman... Even among those who've had their marriages destroyed and egos obliterated, it's hard to kill the thrill of chick-on-chick action"

Admitted Cat Killer Sentenced - "A Kenton County Judge has sentenced a Highland Heights man to the maximum of 12 years in prison for breaking into a former co-worker's home and stabbing her two cats to death"
I can see someone getting less time for stabbing humans.

'Jesus-era' burial shroud found - "The researchers believe that the fragments are typical of the burial cloths used at the time of Jesus. As a result, they conclude that the Turin Shroud did not originate from 1st Century Jerusalem."

Facebook mum wins case - "'The email sent by the defendant doesn't contain any defamation. It constitutes criticism so the public will be protected from mistreatment by any hospital or doctor,' the judges said in their ruling. Ms Mulyasari had written to her friends about being misdiagnosed with dengue fever at the hospital outside Jakarta, when in fact she had mumps. The hospital filed criminal charges on behalf of two doctors after the emails were circulated without her knowledge on social networking website Facebook. She was facing up to six years in jail. Arrested on May 13, Mulyasari spent three weeks in custody without charge until public anger at her detention forced authorities to release her and bring her before the courts to face criminal charges"
ST on Twitter's headline was "Mum in defamation suit for criticising a hospital's misdiagnosis of her illness wins case". I knew it wasn't a Singaporean case.

Nicholas Kristof: How to Save the World - "Those of us who care about human rights and global poverty can do a far better job in our messaging. Like Pepsi, humanitarian causes need savvy marketing. Indeed, they need it far more than a soft-drink company... saving a large proportion of a group is very satisfying, while saving a small proportion seems like a failure—even if it's a high number... Unfortunately, the most cost-effective aid interventions tend to be the kind that are incremental and save only a small proportion of lives—and are thus least satisfying to the giver... Readers support [a rape victim who rebounded] because she reflects a story of hope and triumph that makes them feel good... storytelling needs to focus on an individual, not a group... our empathy begins to fade when the number of victims reaches just two. As he puts it: "The more who die, the less we care"... humanitarians often make poor countries sound like unremittingly tragic hellholes full of starving children with flies in their eyes. That's counterproductive... over the years I've learned to focus on individuals in my columns... I learned that readers cared above all about girls, so when I came across a young man with a compelling story, I would apologize and ask him if he knew any girls with similar problems"
The last bit is interesting. People are uncaring about men - even in realms beyond sex-deprivation

Blatant Benevolence and Conspicuous Consumption: When Romantic Motives Elicit Strategic Costly Signals - "Inducing mating goals in men increased their willingness to spend on conspicuous luxuries but not on basic necessities. In women, mating goals boosted public—but not private— helping. Although mating motivation did not generally inspire helping in men, it did induce more helpfulness in contexts in which they could display heroism or dominance... romantic motives seem to produce highly strategic and sex-specific self-presentations best understood within a costly signaling framework... A social role theory might also posit that it is part of the male role to be the provider and part of the female role to be the caregiver. Although our results are consistent with such roles, it would be difficult for social role theories to have predicted a priori why helping is part of the female role in public but not in private contexts; why men spend more money on public but not on private purchases; why men are helpful in heroic, dominant, and philanthropic contexts; why men’s sociosexuality moderates some of the mating-prime effects; and why women primed for mating do not increase their spending on domestic goods to display their abilities as housekeepers"
Translation: Men spend money and endanger their lives in order to attract women and women are nice to others to attract men. And relying only on social role theory gives you rubbish results.

Stoicism: its relation to gender, attitudes toward poverty, and reactions to emotive material - "A scale was developed to test the hypotheses that stoicism would be more prevalent in British men (n = 30) than in British women (n = 32) and that stoicism would be related to negative attitudes toward the poor. It was also hypothesized that stoics would exhibit a weaker emotional reaction to stories that had emotive content. All three hypotheses were supported"
Translation: women complain more than men, but the more you complain, the nicer you are to people in unfortunate situations

Emotional Expression - "The emotions of happiness, sadness and fear are believed to be more characteristic of women, whereas anger has been found to be more characteristic of men... men prefer a problem-focused, rather than emotion-focused approach to stressful situations they encounter... men express less anxious and depressed feelings than women do... [Wagstaff and Rowledge found that] men scored significantly higher than women on stoicism... In a 1976 review of ethnographic data for 60 societies... In 28 societies females were found to cry more frequently than males, however, in no societies were men found to cry more often than women"

True Love - ""A woman unconsciously uses orgasms as a way of deciding whether or not a man is good for her. If he's impatient and rough, and she doesn't have the orgasm, she may instinctively feel he's less likely to be a good husband and father. Scientists think the fickle female orgasm may have evolved to help women distinguish Mr. Right from Mr. Wrong"... Levels of serotonin in both the obsessives' blood and the lovers' blood were 40 percent lower than those in her normal subjects. Translation: Love and obsessive-compulsive disorder could have a similar chemical profile. Translation: Love and mental illness may be difficult to tell apart. Translation: Don't be a fool. Stay away. Of course that's a mandate none of us can follow. We do fall in love, sometimes over and over again, subjecting ourselves, each time, to a very sick state of mind. There is hope, however, for those caught in the grip of runaway passion—Prozac... Anthropologists used to think that romance was a Western construct, a bourgeois by-product of the Middle Ages... even if you just jog in place and then meet someone, you're more likely to think they're attractive. So first dates that involve a nerve-racking activity, like riding a roller coaster, are more likely to lead to second and third dates"

The 6 Weirdest, Scariest Processed Foods - "Once upon a time, some brave scientists had a noble dream of ridding food of nutrients. That dream is closer to reality than ever... This right here may be the pinnacle of processed food magic. Kraft has managed to make a food product without an actual main ingredient, akin to tomato-free tomato sauce or potato-free baked potato. Yes, there are no avocados in Kraft’s guacamole. Then what is it made of, you ask? How about some modified food starch, coconut and soybean oils, corn syrup, food coloring…in other words, you’re eating green-colored oil."

Jesus image appears on banana peel - "‘I put some photos up on Facebook – one of my friends said it looked like a monkey... One of my friends said they saw the Holy Mother on their bathroom door and another saw an apparition of Mary on the mould of their shower floor"

Diner gunman nicked as he scoffs meal after raid - "A DOZY robber was nicked while scoffing a chicken dinner at a restaurant he held up at gunpoint 20 minutes earlier"

Males dressed as maids latest fad for Akihabara cafes - ""Men who are not used to being served by women can feel relaxed and talk to the "maids" easily because they are male"... Before the cafe's debut, more than 100 men applied for a maid position... on weekends he serves at the maid cafe wearing a size 9 uniform, padded bra and fake nails. At 165 cm tall and weighing 51 kg, he has a girlfriend, but she doesn't know about his second job, he said. "I become a totally different person to release my stress from work. I have the feelings of a man and I will quit once I get married," he said."
Damn Japs

iPod generation prefer MP3 fidelity to CD says study - ""I found not only that MP3s were not thought of as low quality, but over time there was a rise in preference for MP3s," said the Professor who suggests the digitising process leaves music with a 'sizzle' or a metallic sound. As with a previous generation's debate over the pros and cons of vinyl and CD, the study suggests young ears at least prefer the tinnier and flatter sound of some digital music over CDs and vinyl... "Some people prefer that needle noise, the noise of little dust particles that create noise in the grooves, I think there's a sense of warmth and comfort in that""

The Good Enough Revolution: When Cheap and Simple Is Just Fine - "It captured relatively low-quality 640 x 480 footage... It had a minuscule viewing screen, no color-adjustment features, and only the most rudimentary controls. It didn't even have an optical zoom... The Flip's success stunned the industry, but it shouldn't have. It's just the latest triumph of what might be called Good Enough tech. Cheap, fast, simple tools are suddenly everywhere. We get our breaking news from blogs, we make spotty long-distance calls on Skype, we watch video on small computer screens rather than TVs, and more and more of us are carrying around dinky, low-power netbook computers that are just good enough to meet our surfing and emailing needs. The low end has never been riding higher... We now favor flexibility over high fidelity, convenience over features, quick and dirty over slow and polished. Having it here and now is more important than having it perfect"

Mmm...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"A girl phoned me the other day and said "Come on over, there's nobody home." I went over. Nobody was home." - Rodney Dangerfield

***

The BBC reports that "It is a fact that a woman born in South Africa has a greater chance of being raped, than learning how to read", and this statistic is very widely cited.

While South Africa certainly has the highest rape rate in the world, this statistic sounded sensationalistic, and too "good" to be true.

According to UNICEF, total adult literacy in South Africa from 2000-2007 was 88%, and in the same period, female literacy as a percentage of male was 98%. A simple calculation yields a female literacy rate of 86.2%.

To be even more specific, the female youth (15-24) literacy rate in the same period was 96% (which is actually a sliver higher than the male one, at 95%).

This means that a woman born in South Africa 1-2 decades ago had a 96% chance of learning how to read by 2000-2007. If we take into account the fact that some girls in the 15-24 age group will learn how to read before hitting 25 (Christmas Cake Theory!) and more will learn how to read before they die, the chance of a woman born in South Africa 1-2 decades ago learning how to read in her lifetime is even higher. And with economic development and the end of apartheid, a woman born in South Africa today will have an even higher chance of learning how to read during her lifetime.

It is implausible that 86.2% of South African women have been raped, but a figure is still preferred.

Most rape statistics don't give a woman's lifetime rape probability, but instead talk about statistics like a woman being raped every 26 seconds or 36,190 rapes in 2007-2008.

However, that gives rise to the problem of double counting - some women will be raped more than once, while others will not be raped at all, so counting the number of rapes is not helpful for determining a woman's chance of being raped.

I tried to find a source for a woman's chance of being raped in her lifetime, but such statistics were hard to get. Charlize Theron says that the number is one in three and the Treatment Action Campaign and South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) give the same figure. The Community Intervention Centre and the Soul City Institute for Health and Development Communication give a figure of one in two. The British Medical Journal (BMJ) is more conservative, with a one-in-four estimate.

Only Soul City and the SAMRC gives a source for its statistics. The former has the cryptic phrase "Vogelman, 1991", which some digging reveals might refer to Vogelman, L. & Eagle, G. (1991). Overcoming endemic violence against women in South Africa. However, I could not find the one in two figure inside (though I did find that "In a recent rape incident in Cape Town, a rape victim managed to persuade the rapist to wear a condom before the rape"). Another possibility is a "Study by Lloyd Vogelman of the University of the Witwatersrand from the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation as cited in the Cape Times, Oct. 24, 1991" but that trail went cold. Meanwhile, the SAMRC refers to a 1994 People Opposing Woman Abuse video called "Every 83 seconds", and I suspect that even if I managed to somehow find the video, it wouldn't give me a source for the statistic.

Whatever the case, it is clear that a woman born in South Africa has a much greater chance of learning how to read than of being raped. Unfortunately, it's easier to cite a reputable source like the BBC instead of checking suspiciously high figures, so no doubt the "more likely to be raped than to learn how to read" statistic will continue being circulated and propagated.

As someone else questioning the statistics remarks:

"where activism often falls short is a cavalier attitude towards and the use of "facts" and "statistics". By overstating their case, passionate activists de-legitimize their imperative"
"Actions lie louder than words." - Carolyn Wells

***

Many of the 'mistakes' people point out in English are really personal quirks and preferences.

One example is that people claim that humans perspire, whereas animals sweat. Which is especially curious given that "sweat" is used in a human context in many works of classic literature.

To say nothing of things like the split infinitive.


"English is a messy language. Unlike French, we don’t have a council to decide how we should write or speak. We only have a multitude of competing college handbooks, dictionaries, and usage and style guides, such as The Chicago Manual of Style and The Associated Press Stylebook, which frequently disagree. Space is tight in this book, and I like to keep things simple, but wherever possible I point out when something is a style rather than a rule. Too many people go around believing the way they learned to do things is the only way to do things, when really it’s just one of the acceptable choices."

--- Grammar Devotional by Mignon Fogarty
I saw an old woman selling tissue outside Cineleisure at 12:20am.

Times must really be quite bad.

The irony is that these are the people you would most want to help - but they are also the ones most likely to decline it.

Monday, December 28, 2009

"A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world." - John le Carre

***

More on monkey patriarchy:


Yerkes Researchers Find Sex Differences in Monkey Toy Preferences Similar to Humans

Researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, have found rhesus monkeys' gender-specific toy preferences directly parallel the preferences human children have, suggesting preferences can develop without socialization factors, such as encouragement from family and friends to play with gender-specific toys. The study, now available in the online edition of Hormones and Behavior, proposes sex differences in toy preferences reflect hormonally influenced behavioral and cognitive biases.

Yerkes lead researcher Janice Hassett said, "Sex differences in human toy preferences are often thought to occur primarily through socialization influences, such as parents encouraging sons to play with cars and trucks and daughters to play with dolls and stuffed animals. If, however, preferences for gender specific toys exist in other species, then nonsocial factors also may play a role in preference."

Yerkes researchers compared the interactions of 11 male and 23 female rhesus macaques with human wheeled toys (masculine) and plush toys (feminine). Like young boys, male monkeys strongly preferred wheeled toys, while female monkeys, similar to young girls, played more equally with both types of toys. "Young girls show a broader range of play patterns than boys, playing with many different kinds of toys," said Hassett. "We found this to be true with the female monkeys as well. This suggests that rather than specific socialization determining toy preferences, it's more likely biases in preferences that exist at birth" continued Hassett.

"We were quite surprised by how closely the preferences of male and female monkeys for human gender-stereotyped toys paralleled those reported in children," said Kim Wallen, PhD, study co-author. "Because monkeys are not subjected to advertisements, or to criticism for toy choice, this suggests the monkeys choose the toys on the basis of the activities the toys encourage. Thus, differences in activity preference vary between males and females," Wallen summarized.

These results may be applied to other sex differences. Hassett offered, "Traditional thinking is sex differences, such as career choice and performance on specific types of cognitive tests, are a result of socialization -- labeling professions as masculine or feminine and teaching boys and girls differently. While this almost certainly occurs, it is possible our early preferences shape our environment such that later in life men and women seek different activities and ways of spending time and resources."


Vervet monkeys also have human-gender-typical toy preferences.

Fetal testosterone also Predicts Sexually Differentiated Childhood Behavior in Girls and in Boys (i.e. there is "a link between fetal testosterone and the development of sex-typical play in children")
"Traditions are group efforts to keep the unexpected from happening." - Barbara Tober

***

This afternoon, I was at Quest for Immortality - The World of Ancient Egypt at the National Museum with Cunning Linguist and Maria.

Uncharacteristically, I am posting pictures on the same day that I took them. I also took pictures on the last day of the Belgian Art exhibition, but since it was so long ago it can wait and anyway for local events there're probably already other people posting images in dribs and drabs.

Uncharacteristically, too, I have nothing to say.

Well, that's not quite true. My short words:

1) Pay by Mastercard so it's $8.50 and not $15.
2) After only 5 days some of the letters are already falling or have fallen off, perhaps due to vandalism.
3) What's with the dark lighting in both the National and Asian Civilisations Museums?! Is it to foil photography?
4) Non-flash photography is allowed! I don't know how they get the photo rights to so many of these things - I thought the international practice was to disallow photography at all temporary exhibitions.

I will nonetheless not type out the artifact names, both since I took pictures of the plaques and because leaving this information out is the only way this post is going out tonight. I have added the names of the items

I might also post pictures of some of my favourite Egyptian artefacts from other museums in the next day or two. Maybe.



Bust of a goddess. Ptolemaic Period


Statue of goddess Sekhmet. New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty




Elephant statue. Ptolemaic-Roman Period
This is one of three known large Egyptian elephant statues


Colossal head of a king. Ptolemaic Period.


Statue of the god Horus and King Horemheb. New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty


Lion devouring a bull. Late Period, 30th Dynasty


Ornate collar, Old Kingdom, late 5th-early 6th Dynasty and Necklace,
New Kingdom, 1500-1200 BC


Sculptor's model (of a falcon). Late-Ptolemaic Period


Mirror, Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty
Cosmetic palette in the shape of a fish, Late Predynastic Period, c. 3200 BC
Palette with grinder, Late Predynastic Period, c. 3100 BC
Ointment bowl in the shape of a tilapia fish, New Kingdom, 1550-1069 BC
Kohl jar, New Kingdom, 1550-1069 BC


Ostracon showing a king's head, New Kingdom, 20th Dynasty


Standing winged Isis, Late Period
Isis with Harpokrates or 'Horus the Child', Late Period


Osiris figurine whose plaque I seem to have forgotten to take a picture of


Stele belonging to Pa-mer-ihu, New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty


Thoth as an ibis, Late Period, 600-550 BC


Falcon, Ptolemaic Period


Mummies of two crocodiles, Late-Ptolemaic Period


Seated statue of Khentit-ka and her son Rudju, Old Kingdom, early 5th Dynasty, c. 2450 BC


Tomb stele for Keti and Senet, Middle Kingdom, late 11th-12th Dynasty.
2055-1900 BC
Relief fragment with a cartouche of Seti I, New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty
Stele belonging to Djed-her. Late Period, 26th Dynasty


Stele belonging to Amen-mose. New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty
Stele belonging to Teri, New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty


Coffin lid and interior of outer coffin belonging to Padi-imen-em-ipet. 3rd Intermediate-Late Period. 25th-26th Dynasties


Inner coffin belonging to Nes-Khons. 3rd Intermediate Period. 25th Dynasty


Shabti box belonging to Neser-Amun. 3rd Intermediate-Late Period. 25th-26th Dynasties
Canopic chest in the shape of a chapel. Ptolemaic Period
Chest inscribed with the name Hor. Late-Ptolemaic Period


Four canopic jars. New Kingdom, 19th-20th Dynasty


Heart scarab belonging to a man called Sen-resi, New Kingdom, early 18th Dynasty, 1550-1500 BC
Heart scarab, Late Period
Pectoral with heart scarab belonging to a man named Piai, New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty


Book of the Dead belonging to Pay-nefer-nefer. 3rd Intermediate Period, 21st Dynasty

"You know how to read ah?" - A boy's remark on hearing me explaining the Book Of The Dead
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