"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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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Links - 26th May 2009

"The reverse side also has a reverse side." - Japanese Proverb


Is Stanley Fish smarter than Richard Dawkins? - "Let’s consider Fish’s example, which — tellingly — comes from literary criticism, not science... As always in the case of postmodernism, a perfectly reasonable and potentially interesting idea (the non-independence of facts and theories, which was not discovered by postmodernists) gets blown out of proportion to justify an insane conclusion (that science is the same as religion, or that reason and faith are on the same epistemological level), a conclusion that very likely the author himself does not believe. A famous quip by philosopher Bertrand Russell comes to mind: I wish that all philosophers who do not believe in the existence of walls would get into a car and drive straight into a wall (any would do) at a speed proportional to their skepticism concerning the existence of the wall itself. We would at least get rid of a lot of bad philosophers, or literary critics."

Faith and Reason - "Don’t you have faith in anything? Nope, I say, a denial that is immediately met with both bewilderment and commiseration. Don’t I have faith in my wife, for example? No, I trust her because I know her and know that she loves me. What about faith in humanity, considering that I profess to be a secular humanist? No, I have hope for the human lot, and even that is seriously tempered by my awareness of its less than stellar record throughout history. Ah, but I believe in evolution, don’t I? Yes, I do, but notice the switch between “faith” and “belief,” two words that don’t necessarily mean the same thing at all... What about this insane idea that somehow we live in a hyper-rational society which is already too burdened by the triumph of reason? If we are, it is hard to distinguish such society from a hyper-irrational one dominated by faith. This conceit that too much reason is bad is a leftover from the Romantic reaction to the Enlightenment, the so-called “age of reason” (which lasted much too briefly, and during which time reason was heard, but hardly dominated human affairs)."

Akerlof, G.A. and Shiller, R.: Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism. - "The idea that economic crises, like the current financial and housing crisis, are mainly caused by changing thought patterns goes against standard economic thinking. But the current crisis bears witness to the role of such changes in thinking. It was caused precisely by our changing confidence, temptations, envy, resentment, and illusions—and especially by changing stories about the nature of the economy. These intangibles were the reason why people paid small fortunes for houses in cornfields; why others financed those purchases; why the Dow Jones average peaked above 14,000 and a little more than a year later fell below 7,500; why the U.S. unemployment rate has risen by 2.5 percentage points in the past twenty-four months... In our view economic theory should be derived not from the minimal deviations from the system of Adam Smith but rather from the deviations that actually do occur and that can be observed. Insofar as animal spirits exist in the everyday economy, a description of how the economy really works must consider those animal spirits."

A Tale Of Naked Whoa - "Relationships are filled with little tasks that don’t exactly bring a person to screaming orgasm. A man, for example, doesn’t wake up in the middle of the night with some primal longing to bring his girlfriend flowers, rehang her back door, or clean the trap in her sink. Like sex, these things can be expressions of love... So, couldn’t putting out when you aren’t in the mood be seen as just another expression of love?... “If you have sex when you don’t desire it, physically desire it, you are going to feel used.” Well, okay, perhaps. But, if a guy rotates a woman’s tires when he doesn’t desire it, physically desire it, does he feel used? Actually, we all do plenty of things with our bodies that we don’t really feel like... The real problem for many couples is the notion that “the mood” is something they’re supposed to wait around for like Halley’s Comet -- probably due to the assumption that desire works the same in men and women. The truth is, just because a woman isn’t in the mood doesn’t mean she can’t get in the mood."

Singapore workers showing up at work despite being sick - "Some 52 per cent of the local respondents fear that too many sick days could go against them, while 50 per cent did not want to be perceived by superiors and peers as not working, the highest rates among those surveyed... Globally, Singapore ranks only second to Japan, with 69 per cent and 71 per cent of respondents, respectively, who expect workplace stress levels to rise this year... Rising stress levels at work are also taking a toll on employees' personal lives and welfare. And Singapore again ranked highest globally when it comes to employees checking company emails outside working hours, with 26 per cent spending on average 30 to 44 minutes a day doing this."

Woman's extreme Red Bull diet - "Brooke Robertson told the Herald on Sunday she shrank from 105kg to 60kg drinking nothing but 10 to 14 cans a day... Ms Robertson said she managed to keep her addiction secret from family and friends, and did not recover from it until after a two-week stay in hospital following a minor heart attack... She said she has a heart murmur, gets severe pain and cramping in her stomach and bowel, and suffers anxiety attacks... The drink is banned in Norway, Denmark and Uruguay because of health fears."

The power of female choice: Fat chicks get laid more - "The male has virtually no choice in the matter. A recent study neatly illustrates the principle of female choice... contrary to what one might expect, overweight and obese women are not having sex later, less frequently or with fewer partners than normal-weight women. There is a significant difference, however, on whether they have ever had sexual intercourse with men. Overweight (92.5%) and obese (91.5%) women are significantly more likely ever to have had sexual intercourse with men than normal-weight women (87.4%)... When a man propositions a woman, she can respond in one of two ways; she can say “yes” or she can say “no.” When a woman propositions a man, he can also respond in one of two ways; he can say “yes” or he can say “yes, please.” He has no realistic choice to say no."
This guy is too sensationalistic but the general idea is there. Also, it would be more interesting to look at frequency of intercourse, which the original paper might.
Addendum: Press release of original paper: "Weight does not affect women's sexual behavior". Paper's title: "Body mass index and sexual behavior"

Annals of Medicine: The Cost Conundrum - "Americans like to believe that, with most things, more is better. But research suggests that where medicine is concerned it may actually be worse... That’s because nothing in medicine is without risks. Complications can arise from hospital stays, medications, procedures, and tests, and when these things are of marginal value the harm can be greater than the benefits... About fifteen years ago, it seems, something began to change in McAllen. A few leaders of local institutions took profit growth to be a legitimate ethic in the practice of medicine. Not all the doctors accepted this. But they failed to discourage those who did... the Mayo Clinic, which is among the highest-quality, lowest-cost health-care systems in the country... The core tenet of the Mayo Clinic is “The needs of the patient come first”—not the convenience of the doctors, not their revenues... The leading doctors and the hospital system adopted measures to blunt harmful financial incentives, and they took collective responsibility for improving the sum total of patient care... All of them function on similar principles. All are not-for-profit institutions. And all have produced enviably higher quality and lower costs than the average American town enjoys."
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