"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, December 22, 2009

"There are more pleasant things to do than beat up people." - Muhammad Ali


Singapore defamation case threatens press freedom - "This ruling further illustrates how press freedom is under threat in Singapore and sets a dangerous precedent for freedom of expression and journalism in the region"
"Press freedom" can't be "under threat in Singapore" because it hasn't existed for 3 decades.

The surprising persistence of Chinese communism - "Because the filters... are not readily apparent, the Chinese media appears as professional as the West, and most citizens have little idea they are not getting the whole story... Other authoritarian regimes now try to copy the Chinese “formula” for staying in power: just enough reform to co-opt the middle class, using nationalism to shore up the regime, and moderating (and monitoring) the flow of information into the country... The vast majority of the tens of thousands of “mass incidents” (protests) in China each year take place in rural areas. In the first quarter of 2009 alone, Chinese authorities estimated there were more than 50,000 of these incidents, which have become increasingly violent, with protestors wielding clubs, bombs, and other weapons against local officials... despite the party’s co-opting of urban elites, there remains, in influential intellectual circles, discussion of the need for greater liberalization"
The Chinese Communist Party, not Chinese Communism

St Matthew's progressive Christianity offends Catholics - "A RISQUE billboard that depicts Jesus's mother looking dejected after unsatisfying sex with Joseph has given Kiwi Catholics a nasty pre-Christmas surprise. The huge ad erected in downtown Auckland today shows the unhappy couple in bed accompanied by the slogan: "Poor Joseph. God was a hard act to follow"... It was the brainchild of a progressive Christian church, St Matthew's, whose vicar Archdeacon Glynn Cardy says it was a cutting-edge strategy to engage non-believers"
Censoring (anti-)religious speech hurts religion.

The Singapore Solution — National Geographic - "Over time, the MM says, Singaporeans have become "less hard-driving and hard-striving." This is why it is a good thing, the MM says, that the nation has welcomed so many Chinese immigrants (25 percent of the population is now foreign-born). He is aware that many Singaporeans are unhappy with the influx of immigrants, especially those educated newcomers prepared to fight for higher paying jobs. But taking a typically Darwinian stance, the MM describes the country's new subjects as "hungry," with parents who "pushed the children very hard." If native Singaporeans are falling behind because "the spurs are not stuck into the hide," that is their problem... one thing you don't see in Singapore is very many police. "The cop is inside our heads"... attempts to encourage originality have been tone-deaf. When Scape, a youth outreach group, opened a "graffiti wall," youngsters were instructed to submit graffiti designs for consideration; those chosen would be painted on a designated wall at an assigned time... According to a poll by the Durex condom company, Singaporeans have less intercourse than almost any other country on Earth... This could be the fatal error in the Singapore Model: The eventual extinction of Singaporeans... As one local put it, "Singapore is like a warm bath. You sink in, slit your wrists, your lifeblood floats away, but hey, it's warm""
And so the demographic hollowing out continues, encouraged by the Power That IS

The Straight Dope: Do you "go down three times" before drowning? - "Interestingly, there are several distinct ways of drowning. In perhaps 10 percent of all cases, the victim does not actually breathe in any water, but instead dies of asphyxiation due to laryngospasm, or reflex closing of the vocal cords. (This may be what causes drunks to drown, although others suggest the cause is actually sudden heart stoppage). There's also a big difference between drowning in fresh water and drowning in salt water. In a freshwater drowning, the inhaled water is quickly absorbed out of the lungs and into the bloodstream. Unfortunately, the water washes away the wetting agent (the surfactant) in the lung air sacs (the alveoli) that helps keeps the sacs inflated. As a consequence, the air sacs collapse, oxygen can't get into the bloodstream, and the victim expires. In a saltwater drowning, on the other hand, the inhaled salt water draws blood plasma out of the bloodstream and into the lungs. The subsequent fluid buildup in the air sacs prevents oxygen from reaching the blood, resulting in death."

The Straight Dope: How did the states establish long straight borders before GPS? - "In the 1770s a party-hearty type named Collins led a team that surveyed the boundary between Quebec and Vermont. On one 22-mile stretch, a fifth of their expenses went for booze. The result, an international commission later acknowledged, was "very far from a straight line.""
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