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More adventurous than the average bear

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Links - 24th December 2010

"Are you going to come quietly, or do I have to use earplugs?" - Spike Milligan


Economics focus: Vote for agony | The Economist - "[For] incumbent governments that faced elections either during the period of fiscal tightening or within two years of its having come to a close... Tightening governments seem to have a survival rate no worse than the average... coalitions tightened the national belt in 9.9% of the years they were in office—about the same as single-party governments, which did so in 10.1% of years"
So much for that canard, beloved of the "Democracy is Bad" school

fashin: Vogue on Vogue on Vogue etc. - "DID YOU KNOW that every Vogue cover for 2010 piled one on top of the other forms an angry, fire-y blob with a head of dark, short hair the Virgin Mary?"

Hongbao headache - "He collected a profit of 90,000 yuan (S$18,599)... Speaking before the dinner, he told LifeStyle: 'I'm confident that my relatives and close friends will at least match the $83.80 price per head at the dinner.' Afterwards, he said he had made a profit of $3,124"
This is damn sad

When Tested, Drivers Will Defend Parking Space - ""Most people think they leave faster, but in reality, they take more time to leave when another car waits near their space," said Penn State researcher Barry Ruback, professor of sociology and crime, law and justice. "And if the other driver honks the horn, people will really slow down their departure just to occupy the parking space a little longer... Like our ancestors, we humans still defend territories, but we do so even when they are temporary public areas"... This research is similar to earlier research by Ruback on territorial behavior and public telephones, and in public areas such as libraries"

Perfect pitch? - "In the past, things were very confused – flutes made in different countries were all slightly different lengths – which meant that a German flute player couldn’t play along with an English one unless he bought an English flute... After a lot of expert discussion, they decided on the notes we use today at a meeting in London in 1939... The note we know as ‘A’ would have been called a ‘slightly out of tune B flat’ by Mozart (we know this because we have the tuning fork Mozart used). So when we listen to Mozart’s music nowadays, we are hearing it all about a semitone higher than he would have intended – a fact which is guaranteed to annoy some musical pedants. Some of his most difficult, high-reaching songs would actually be much easier to sing if we lowered them in pitch by a semitone, which is closer to how Mozart intended them to sound. On the other hand, this would involve writing out all the music again in a lower key, which would irritate an entirely different set of pedants"

How English evolved into a global language - "A German scientist... said that he knew of scientific conferences taking place in Germany, where all the people attending were German and yet the conference was conducted in English... I was watching an Austrian pop music channel recently and the comments and ads were in an Anglo-German Creole whose core was German, but which was full of "go to it", "cool", "be there" and the like"
One comment: "The reason English dominates is because, regardless of how you mangle it, it can still be understood. Also most native English speakers are such sloppy users of their own language that they don't care if it is mangled."
Another: "My German grammar schooling coincided with the 60s... as nothing else significant (except Scotch) came from the UK"

Qur'an etched in Saddam Hussein's blood poses dilemma for Iraq leaders

Singapore is ‘happiest place in Asia’ - "You said Gallup, the World Values Survey and the World Database on Happiness are the three most authoritative and authentic happiness indices and that all three pointed to Singapore as the happiest place in Asia. Your latter statement unfortunately, is not true... since the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is ranked higher than Singapore in three of the four indices, the title of the happiest place in Asia should belong to UAE, not Singapore"
Polemics aside this is a good exposé

U.S. teenager cries tears of blood: Calvino Inman hopes doctors can explain medical mystery
In earlier times, this would be regarded as a religious miracle/mystery

STOMP - Singapore Seen - Man screams vulgarities at GF at Parkway, but no one helps her - "STOMPer KrystynnSG says this man was shouting so loudly at his girlfriend from a stairwell, that she could hear him from a nearby cafe. She is disappointed that none of the men present bothered to intervene... "He stands at about 5 feet 2 inches tall, a definite shorty if I (in my 5 ft 7 inches frame) were to stand next to him!""
More screwed up gender relations

Young female chimpanzees treat sticks as dolls: Growing evidence of biological basis for gender-specific play in humans - "Doll play among humans could have its origins in object-carrying by earlier apes, they say, suggesting that toy selection is probably not due entirely to socialization... "In humans, there are robust sex differences in children's toy play, and these are remarkably similar across cultures"... this may be a lovely case of biological and social influences being intertwined"
Ironic feminist excuses I've seen: "How can we be sure the chimps’ differences in play are genetic and not socialisation?... They’re monkeys; how do they know what a truck is? And why would they share any human ideas of what’s a boy toy and what’s a girl toy?"
"the nature-vs-nurture argument, in the versus sense, is outdated and incorrect. The actual way these things work is much more complicated and interactive... the lack of stick playing in other chimpanzee communities would, in fact, rule against nature"

Why Do We Demonize Men Who Are Honest About Their Sexual Needs? - "The pressure put on men to be initiators, yet avoid seeming creepy or aggressive leads to an unpleasant double bind. After all, the same gross cultural pressures that make women into objects force men into instigators; how many women do you know who proposed to their husbands?... unlike men -- "I can be explicit and overt about my sexuality without being viewed as a creep"... the pervasive tropes around male sexuality [are] that it's inherently aggressive, toxic and unwanted... "The only way for a guy to guarantee that he won’t be called 'creepy' is to suppress entirely his sexuality, just like a woman can escape being called a slut by suppressing hers"... Calls to censor porn, for example, are influenced [also] by feelings that mainstream porn expresses an unacceptable form of male sexuality"
More from Feminist Critics: "Sometime, I would love to dress some female feminists up in convincing drag and take them out to hit on women. Judging by Vincent’s experience, the results would be a big wake-up call"
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