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Valar Qringaomis

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Insecurity in Bed

"There are too many people, and too few human beings." - Robert Zend

***

爱 - the Taiwanese drama du jour - is hilarious.

Scene I happened to catch a glimpse of today: a man and a woman are making out on a bed; my parents inform me that the woman is someone's wife, and she has just removed her husband and mother-in-law from a company, with the aid of her lover (naturally, the man she is making out with).

The insecure woman keeps asking the man if he loves her (remember: women are more neurotic than men).

Each time, he responds by resuming the makeout session.

After a few repetitions, she throws him off and asks what's wrong with him.

Perhaps she should ask what's wrong with her, since she can't figure out what this means.


More poetic is Sexy Losers Strip #017 - Dirty Talk:


"You... love me?"
"No, I love fucking you."

A tale of Two Technical Support Desks

"I want to find a voracious, small-minded predator and name it after the IRS." - Robert Bakker, paleontologist

***

On Sunday I braved the hordes at Comex to recontract my Starhub Maxoline service. In return I got free [albeit slow] mobile broadband and a new modem

I have been using the Motorola SB3100 for what must be coming to 10 years, and it's been working reasonably with my Linksys WRT54G Router for the last 3. However, the new Motorola SBV5121 - while supporting a higher speed than the old modem - does not work with the router; directly connecting the modem to the computer works, so it is probably not a modem issue.

I tried a few things, then some friends' recommendations, and on Tuesday night ended up being put on hold by Starhub for 20 minutes before I put down in frustration (before getting to talk to a real person).

On Wednesday, I used Linksys Live Chat to get techical support for the router.

Though the technician could not solve my problem, and advised me to "try to contact your ISP and ask them if there are any settings on the router that we need to do for it to work with the router or if not ask them if there is a compatibility issue with the router". I was impressed by how fast I was attended to (I had to wait only for about a minute) and his professionalism. Unfortunately I accidentally closed the window before I could thank him, but thank you Miguel.

I am also pleased that Linksys continues to support this old product (and, by the looks of it even older ones). The only minor annoyance is that their website seems to lack a general enquiries/messages line (so I had to use Facebook).

Back to Starhub - on Wednesday they picked up after only 2 minutes, but I was told that the technicians were all busy and they would call me back later - the Service Level Agreement was 24 hours.

Naturally, they did not get back to me within 24 hours.

My experience via the @StarHubCares Twitter account was better - I DMed them my contact details yesterday and I got a call after about 22 hours (they said it was in response to my Twitter message; maybe my call to the hotline got lost). The technician was helpful (and called me on a Public Holiday!), but this doesn't change my bad experience before he got to talk to me.

If it's of any comfort, I'm told M1 and Singtel have equally bad customer service.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Links - 8th September 2010

"Dealing with network executives is like being nibbled to death by ducks." - Eric Sevareid

***

Money Shots, Masturbation, and Sperm Motility. - "Pornographic images that trigger sperm competition yield higher quality sperm... an image of two men having sex with one woman is inherently associated with sperm competition whereas one wherein three women are having sex with one another involves no sperm competition... the use of pornographic movies at fertility clinics yielded "deposits" of greater sperm motility and greater sperm concentration"

In Defense of Photoshop: Why Retouching Isn’t As Evil As Everyone Thinks - "The issue, many critics of Photoshopping claim, is one of social ethics and emotional sensitivity. Retouched photos set an unrealistic bar for suggestible young girls, and therefore cry out to be exposed... Most of us who read fashion magazines don’t feel we’re confronting reality when we see a photograph of a grown woman with preteen thighs... The age-old game of glamour creation, from Renaissance portraiture to Playboy centerfolds, has always been one of frank enhancement. Retouched pictures simply claim the traditional prerogatives of illustrations: to exaggerate, accentuate, and improve upon their subjects — basically, to lie. For much of the last century, models and movie stars in fashion magazines and advertisements were often rendered as drawings or paintings... Seen and appreciated for what they are, magazine images might gain in artistic vibrancy what they lose in everyday authority"

The End of Tenure? - "The cost of a college education has risen, in real dollars, by 250 to 300 percent over the past three decades, far above the rate of inflation... Tenured and tenure-track professors earn most of the money and benefits, but they’re a minority at the top of a pyramid. Nearly two-thirds of all college teachers are non-tenure-track adjuncts... It is foolish that graduate programs are pumping new Ph.D.’s into a world without decent jobs for them... “End the University as We Know It”... drew near-universal condemnation from academics and near-universal praise from everyone else"

Singapore: a city-state fueled and founded by migrant workers - "Wages actually declined from a median monthly level of 1,389 Singapore dollars (approximately 1,000 U.S. dollars) in 1998 to 1,270 in 2008. Singaporeans have less purchasing power than the citizens of nearby Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, yet with an unemployment rate of 2.2 percent immigration has doubled over the past 10 years"

Brazil: The view from Rio | The Economist - "I have found soccer fields even in the poorest and most remote places, including tribal reservations in the Xingu where Indians wear nothing but a penis sheath and a T-shirt with the colours of a popular team, such as Flamengo or Palmeiras"

Ladies Nights aren't sexist to men; Court of Appeals rejects Manhattan lawyer's claim - "The Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected claims by self-proclaimed "anti-feminist lawyer" Roy Den Hollander that letting women past the velvet rope for free or half price on "Ladies Nights" violates the Constitution. The state has no control because "liquor licenses are not directed related to the pricing scheme" at the door... Asked to estimate the odds that the high court will agree to hear his case, Den Hollander said, "about the same as some pretty young lady paying my way on a date.""
"“What I think will happen,” he said, “is that clubs will reduce the price for guys and increase it for girls. Every guy will have ten or fifteen more dollars in his pocket, which the girls will then manipulate into getting more drinks out of him. If they drink more, they’ll have more fun, and so will us guys. And then when she wakes up in the morning she’ll be able to do what she always does: blame the man”"
Interestingly, there's a precedent: "Seidenberg and DeCrow v. McSorley’s Old Ale House (1970), in which female patrons gained the right to drink alongside the menfolk" (it used to be a man-only pub)


Ancient beer brewed to include antibiotic

God did not create the universe, says Hawking - ""Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist," Hawking writes. "It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.""
More bad science reporting

Yes, BBC was biased: Director General Mark Thompson admits a 'massive' lean to Left - "An internal report from 2007 said it had to make greater efforts to avoid liberal bias. That report criticised the BBC for coming late to several important stories including euroscepticism and immigration, which it described as 'off limits in terms of a liberal-minded comfort zone'."

Unicorns in the Toybox - "If you lose the mind of the Church you will eventually lose its faith as well. Catholics who cannot affirm intellectually that God exists, created the world, and sent his Son to redeem us will struggle to remain faithful. They also will not know what to tell their children, thus passing on confusion to the next generation. Some will argue that this is not so bad, at least these children will be able to make up their own minds. On this point, I can only say that children's religious training is precisely what enables them to make up their own minds when they are older."
Translation: brainwash yourself so you can brainwash your children

Rutgers lab studies female orgasm through brain imaging - "Wise once volunteered to donate her orgasm. During the experiment, she lost her grasp and her purple dildo went flying. It remains a popular subject during many grad-student happy hours. “It was the worst orgasm I ever had,” she says... Because there are so many pathways for sensation, Komisaruk believes a woman has the capacity to experience a more intense and complex orgasm than a man... Some women can create the sensation of orgasm from thought alone, without touch... At about the five-minute mark through my own path to orgasm in the lab, I’m worried I’m going to let everyone down. They had paid me a $100 subject fee, and I wanted to give them their money’s worth. After all, it’s not easy to get funding for this stuff — Komisaruk says he spends at least half of his time applying for grants. Once, he had to agree to take out the word “vaginal” from the title of one of his studies before a foundation would release funds already allocated to him... One of the biggest conundrums of the orgasm... The orgasm activates the same part of the brain... as pain. Komisaruk gives me a visual example, showing me images of people making O-faces. Their faces are tweaked completely sideways with mangled mouths and eyes shut tight. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d told me they all had just had their feet run over by a semi truck"

Only in Japan, Real Men Go to a Hotel With Virtual Girlfriends
Damn Japs

Why don't black Americans swim? - "When 15-year-old DeKendrix Warner accidentally stepped into deeper water while wading in the Red River in Shreveport, he panicked. JaTavious Warner, 17, Takeitha Warner, 13, JaMarcus Warner, 14, Litrelle Stewart, 18, Latevin Stewart, 15, and LaDarius Stewart, 17, rushed to help him and each other. None of them could swim. All six drowned. DeKendrix was rescued by a passer-by... Black respondents, far more than white or Hispanic respondents, were sometimes concerned about the effect chlorinated water would have on their hair. "African-American women, many of them if they go the beauty shop and get their hair fixed they are not going to swim," says Bishop Brandon"
I knew they'd find a way to blame racism - ignoring how other minorities swim

Student who electric shocked his nipples sues teacher for not warning him

Men, Women Lead 4 Out of 5 Stages of the Buying Process - "According to Marti Barletta, author of Marketing to Women and PrimeTime Women, when men and women buy as partners, women control at least four out of five stages of the purchasing process... 1. Kick-off – women
2. Research – women
3. Purchase – men
4. Ownership – women
5. Word-of-mouth – women...
even though men are present and appear in control during the purchasing stage when they pull out the credit card or sign the contract, they are not really in control of that stage either – they just think they are"
If the research behind this is robust, it just confirms the illusion of patriarchy

Firm can't fire man for 1.8 cent theft - "A German company that fired a man for the theft of 1.8 euro cents (two U.S. cents) worth of electricity had no grounds for sacking him, a court ruled"

The story BCG offered me $16,000 not to tell - "Analytical skills were overrated, for the simple reason that clients usually didn’t know why they had hired us. They sent us vague requests for proposal, we returned vague case proposals, and by the time we were hired, no one was the wiser as to why exactly we were there"

TinEye Reverse Image Search - "TinEye is a reverse image search engine. It finds out where an image came from, how it is being used, if modified versions of the image exist, or if there is a higher resolution version"

Research Upends Traditional Thinking on Study Habits - "They directly contradict much of the common wisdom about good study habits, and they have not caught on. For instance, instead of sticking to one study location, simply alternating the room where a person studies improves retention... Take the notion that children have specific learning styles, that some are “visual learners” and others are auditory; some are “left-brain” students, others “right-brain.” In a recent review of the relevant research, published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a team of psychologists found almost zero support for such ideas. “The contrast between the enormous popularity of the learning-styles approach within education and the lack of credible evidence for its utility is, in our opinion, striking and disturbing,” the researchers concluded"
Fashionable nonsense people want to believe in (e.g. EQ) trumps data all the time

Why are (the best) women so good at chess? Participation rates and gender differences in intellectual domains - "Recent research confirms that, although there is little difference between the average scores of men and women on intelligence and aptitude tests, highly intelligent people are predominantly male... A popular explanation for the small number of women at the top level of intellectually demanding activities from chess to science appeals to biological differences in the intellectual abilities of men and women. An alternative explanation is that the extreme values in a large sample are likely to be greater than those in a small one. Although the performance of the 100 best German male chess players is better than that of the 100 best German women, we show that 96 per cent of the observed difference would be expected given the much greater number of men who play chess"
One would need to look at the bottom of the distribution to provide more support for this theory (at least to apply it outside chess). Alternatively, one can look at fields numerically dominated by women and see if men perform better than expected. Interestingly, this finding goes against a common platitude: that one should never use group characteristics to inform judgments of individuals (i.e. one should commit the base rate fallacy)

YouTube - Bienvenue, au revoir by voyages-SNCF - "Une arrivée ou un départ en Gare SNCF de Paris Est que 5 clients de voyages-sncf.com n'oublieront pas de si tôt !"
If your Mandarin sucks, you will lose a martial arts competition

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Here’s one kind of racism you can still enjoy

"Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk." - Henry David Thoreau

***

Here’s one kind of racism you can still enjoy

"Most kinds of racism are now thankfully no longer tolerated. However, this doesn’t change the part of human nature that enjoys racism – it allows you to blame all your problems on some despised ethnic minority. So racism may have just gone underground to pop up in unexpected places. The old templates are still around — an ethnic minority that has sinister intentions to harm everyone else, complete with conspiracy theories of hidden plots to consolidate their own secret control of society.

One example is virulent prejudice against a group I will call “the X’s”. There is a website with a game called “Shoot the X’s”.  The X’s are trying to “suck the last bits of meat from the carcass” of society, but they are “running out of things to steal.” The X’s rig everything in their own interest: they “simply cannot lose.” Their “barefaced greed” simply “beggars belief.” They commit “blasphemy” that is “worthy of the 7th circle of hell.”

“Power is concentrated in the hands of a few key” X’s, the group of which “has also proved itself brilliantly capable of enlisting the power of the state to help along the process of concentrating economic might.” At a meeting “never announced publicly,” which “included virtually everyone who was anyone” among the X’s, they achieved a further “monstrous consolidation of financial and political power.” The “burglar” X’s ethnic group “now rules the national economy.”

It is now time to strike back: “put the greedy X’s in stocks.” “If you pressed a rifle into the hand of the man in the street,” he would surely choose to shoot the X’s.

Who are the X’s? If the X’s were Jews, this would all sound like quotes from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In fact these quotes seem uncannily similar in general to the virulent anti-Semitism that flourished in Europe before World War II (and still flourishes in some places around the world).

Some of you have probably already guessed the identity of the X’s. The  X’s in the above quotes are the ”race” of  financiers/bankers...

Like other forms of racism, bankism feeds hatred towards the whole group because of the misdeeds of a few of its members. We are seeing the equivalent of Willie Horton ads to feed bankism. Most financiers are honest individuals performing socially useful services; promoting hatred of them is not a good thing."


Conflation of general discrimination and racism aside (religious discrimination, perceived or otherwise, is similarly erroneously labelled as "racism"), his point holds; going on about Male/Straight/White Privilege is like claiming the Jews control everything.

Comments:

"I think that it is still acceptable to show this kind of racism against lawyers as well, also drug dealers, used car salesmen and IRS agents"

"discrimination can be carried out against any GROUP, which can of course be racial, religious, gender, or even professional. To suggest that one can ONLY face discrimination because of colour, race, religion, or some other physical, or relatively immutable factor is to condone discriminatory acts carried out against people because of their profession. Just to name a couple instances where discrimination against a profession has occurred and has been, generally, condemned by the public I’ll note Cambodia’s intillectual purge, the targetted and the killing of doctors who perform abortions. Both relatively extreme cases, but I think they are examples, but illustrative nonetheless."

"For ages I’ve been mentally replacing “speculators” with “Jews” when listening to commentary on the financial crisis, as a test. If the result sounds a bit sinister, this is my cue to ignore the speaker. Because they aren’t proposing any sensible remedies, they are just our for blood."
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