"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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Friday, March 12, 2010

"There is no safety in numbers, or in anything else." - James Thurber

***

When Books Could Change Your Life: Why What We Pore Over At 12 May Be The Most Important Reading We Ever Do - "About the last time in our lives when books have this kind of potent effect on us is in our early 20s, which not coincidentally tends to be the age of people you see poring over Nietzsche or that awful Ayn Rand... part of the reason art loses its power over us, of course, is, simply and sadly, that we get old... the reading we do as children may be more serious than any reading we'll ever do again. Books for children and young people are unashamedly prescriptive: They're written, at least in part, to teach us what the world is like, how people are, and how we should behave... A collection innocuously called The Golden Book of Fun and Nonsense became an object of hysterical fear for me because it contained a chapter of translated Struwwelpeter, those grim German verses about ill-behaved children (they refuse to eat soup, they slam doors) who meet with what are presented as well-deserved, fitting deaths (starvation, getting clocked by a marble bust). These stories are products of the same German child-rearing tradition that produced grownups like Hitler... Even as fully grown adults we remain secretly starved for guidance and instruction... Salinger and Vonnegut both give voice to the adolescent passion for justice, their dogmatic, almost fanatical, fairness and decency, and their blooming disgust at the epiphany that the world adults are foisting on them is neither fair nor decent"

Where do atheists come from? - "There is no straightforward relationship between atheism and education... only 29.6 per cent of those without even an elementary education believe in telepathy, compared with 51.8 per cent of people with degree-level education... Looking at white British people, for example, the findings show that only around 25 per cent of men aged between 25 and 34 claiming "no religion" have degrees, compared with around 40 per cent of those describing themselves as religious"

Does the U.S. Produce Too Many Scientists? - "Far from trailing the developed world in science education, as some claim, “on PISA, the U.S. has more high-scoring kids in science than any other country” and nearly as many in the top math category as top-scoring Japan and Korea... U.S. students are by far the most diverse of any industrialized country, ranging from some of the world’s best-prepared to some of the worst among the developed countries... scientists are not generally recruited from the average students... Compared with the products of Asian secondary schools, American students “are free thinkers... They didn’t spend the last 12 years of their lives memorizing books…. They’ve spent the last 12 years dealing with real problems and solving them. [In America], you can walk up to your teacher and tell her that she’s wrong or he’s wrong.” In Asia, he continues, “you wouldn’t dare do that”... “No one who has come to the question with an open mind has been able to find any objective data suggesting general ‘shortages’ of scientists and engineers,” according to Teitelbaum. Salaries, for example, have not risen, as would happen in a shortage... Despite a longstanding dismal job market in academic science, however, departments continue to recruit graduate students and postdocs because they need skilled and inexpensive labor to do the work promised in professors’ grant proposals"

1,001 Arabian Nights of Sex - "Ramzi El Khoury, the founder of an Arabic-language Internet portal, kicked up the temperature on the discussion during the second International Summit on Internet and Multimedia when he cited a study that found that 80 percent of Arab-world Internet traffic heads for sex sites... "If it's illegal, then people want it. It's not because they are oversexed, or their sexual needs are more than other people. But if you make something illegal, especially something as natural as sex, then it becomes more in demand.""

Don’t Stand So Close to Me - "Men prefer not to stand next to each other in the urinals, and the closer other men are to each other, the longer it takes for them to begin urinating, and the shorter the persistence of their stream"

Hobson’s Choice: Can Freud's Theory of Dreams hold up against Modern Neuroscience? - "[Hobson] and his Harvard colleague Robert McCarley proposed that dreams are strange and fragmented not because secret urges are being censored, as Freud claimed, but because the brain is in a naturally chaotic state. During REM sleep, the phase most ripe for dreaming, the brain stem sends random signals up to parts of the forebrain that control emotions, movement, vision, and hearing, and these higher brain centers patch together a story out of the electrical input. Hobson accused psychoanalysts of reading dreams as pieces of literature and creating narratives when there weren’t any... "To be wrong about something so important as human motivation is a capital sin"... “Freud knew he needed brain science to make a decent theory, but he didn’t have it. So he went off and woolgathered. He’s a brilliant man, super stuff, great writing. But it’s all wrong”... "When Einstein came up with his theory of relativity and basically said that everything Newton found was subtly wrong, there were no people out there screaming, ‘How dare you, how dare you challenge the laws of Newton!’” But Freud has a peculiar hold on people, in part, perhaps, because his theories make so much sense... during sleep the part of the brain that controls drives is much more active than the part of the brain associated with executive functions, like orientation and logic"

Window cleaner killed himself with giant souvenir pencil, inquest hears - "A window cleaner died after stabbing himself in the groin repeatedly with a jumbo souvenir pencil... East Sussex coroner Alan Craze told the Hastings inquest: “It’s a mystery to me. If you were choosing to take your own life, that’s not the way you would do it. “It seems to me that it can’t have been a single stab wound. He seems to have worked on it. The pencil was blunt.”"

Why you've never really heard the "Moonlight" Sonata. - "Music from the 18th and 19th centuries doesn't just sound different now than on the original instruments; some of it can't even be played as written on modern pianos. One example is the double-octave glissando in the last movement of Beethoven's "Waldstein" Sonata. With the light action and shallow key dip of a period Viennese piano you can plant your thumb and little finger on the octave and slide to the left, and there it is. Given the much heavier action and deeper key dip of a modern piano, if you tried that today you'd dislocate something"

'Hurt Locker' Beats 'Avatar': On the Oscar Winner, Loser - "Remember, to win Best Picture you don't have to make the best picture; you have to make the picture that appeals to the voters, who are older, politically liberal and artistically conservative... Consider that in 1942, the Academy gave its top awards, Best Picture and Director, to John Ford's How Green Was My Valley, a poignant evocation of a Welsh mining town. Fine, honorable, fully worthy. The film it beat: Citizen Kane. Who needs all those low-angle shots, the deep-focus cinematography, the oblique, multifaceted view of a powerful publisher? Those aren't innovations; they're ostentations — cinematic showing off. Thus the Academy blew its chance to give due homage to what is still considered the greatest American movie"

US anti-gay rights senator Roy Ashburn comes out - "A conservative US state senator who has voted against gay rights measures during his 14 years in office has confessed he is gay... Mr Ashburn said his votes reflected the way his constituents wanted him to vote"
This man is admirable. Not many politicians are this principled.

Chef at Chelsea restaurant offers customers a taste of cheese made from his wife's breast milk - " "Some people who clearly have issues have . . . e-mailed me saying, 'I wasn't breast-fed as a child, so can I taste your breast milk?' " she said. Mason politely declines the offer. "I'm not here to walk people through their psychological problems""
One comment: "The breast milk cheese ain't so bad, it's the beer he brewed using his wife's yeast infection that's Gawd-awful."

You're a jerk, Jack - "A YOUNG French student is the latest to claim that film-maker Jack Neo hit on her - when she was only 16 more than five years ago. Maelle Meurzec, now 21, told The New Paper in an interview at her Upper East Coast road home on Tuesday night, that the 50-year-old movie director hit on her while she was acting in his movie I Do I Do in Nov 2004... The pretty Singaporean citizen of French descent, then a model with MC Models, did not mince her words in the TNP interview, calling Neo 'a bit of a creep', 'a sleazebag' and 'a jerk'"
Outstanding. Was it empowering for Asian men that Jack Neo hit on a French girl?
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