"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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Saturday, April 09, 2011

Links - 9th April 2011

"Life is nothing but a competition to be the criminal rather than the victim." - Bertrand Russell


Bride With Something to Hide Sinks Marriage - "The short-lived marriage of 32-year-old Muhammad Umar came to an end over the weekend, courtesy of his wife, Fransiska Annastasya Oktaviany, a k a Rahmat Sulistyo... he had been married to a man for the past six months... Police blame poor eyesight... The identity of Umar’s “wife” was revealed when neighbors stripped him, following months of speculation about whether he was indeed a woman. The locals, Imam said, had somehow gotten hold of Fransiska’s ID... he had never had sex completely naked with his wife. “He would be clothed, with the jilbab [head scarf] on. He would turn and ask him to do it from behind. He would say he had tummy aches or menstrual period,” Darmayana said. “We are also going to question the ‘parents’ of this girl. They need to be charged as well”... neighbors apparently grew suspicious when they saw Fransiska acting like a man... "They stripped him. His underclothes were stuffed where breasts should have been”"
Another article reveals his beard gave him away. Interestingly the comments are all very sympathetic to the wife and some even frame this as an LGBTQ issue - ignoring the issue of [presumed] gross deception and fraud where the husband was concerned

Letter: Don’t be April-fooled by the Singaporean regime - "What might seem mundane in New Haven is nothing less than illegal in Singapore. Not only would protests not be allowed, but those LBQT students who are Singaporean citizens would be blacklisted and prevented from obtaining certain jobs such as teaching in public schools. If an LBQT student group were even allowed to exist in the first place, then those males found to engage in homosexual intercourse or “acts of indecency” would be subject to arrest among other punishments... I was on campus attending a talk by an English professor about gender and discourse who said, “It’s weird for me to hear a rights discourse in Singapore, because we have no rights.”"
The most interesting thing here is how the G in LGBTQ has been elided. This is called intersectionality

Rationally Speaking: Sagan beats Dawkins. In related news, education overcomes superstition - "People are drawn to creationism out of emotional fears of personal annihilation, not by reasoned discourse... education might trump people’s fear of mortality enough to make them understand that science is more sound than religion when it comes to explaining the natural world. The bottom line is that we now have some of the first experimental evidence that: a) coupling scientific accounts of the world with more philosophical reminders of where meaning in life comes from, and b) simply teaching science, are effective ways to alter people’s perception of the evolution-creation debate. Think about it: this means that an injection of philosophy and good science education actually makes a difference! Our efforts are not wasted, especially if we can remind ourselves of what should be obvious: people are attracted to pseudoscience not just because they don’t know enough science (though that is certainly the case), but because they find enhanced meaning in the mysterious"

Manipulating morals: scientists target drugs that improve behaviour - "It was unlikely people would "rush to take a pill that would make them morally better. "Becoming more trusting, nicer, less aggressive and less violent can make you more vulnerable to exploitation," he said. "On the other hand, it could improve your relationships or help your career"... while some drugs can improve moral behaviour, other drugs - and sometimes the same ones - can have the opposite effect. "While Oxytocin makes you more likely to trust and co-operate with others in your social group, it reduces empathy for those outside the group," Meulen said. The use of deep brain stimulation, used to help those with Parkinson's disease, has had unintended consequences, leading to cases where patients begin stealing from shops and even becoming sexually aggressive, he added"

Religious people ‘live longer’, says study - "According to the result, religious people’s life span was 80 years... [Last were] athletes, writers and media people of 67 respectively."
How come no one blames discrimination against media people?

The Scandal Behind the Sarrazin Scandal - "Turks and Arabs, in particular, are poorly integrated, three times as likely to drop out of school and four times as likely to be on welfare than the average German... In Germany, any critique of the welfare state quickly gets tarred as “social Darwinism,” which fed into Nazi ideology. That has made rational debate of the welfare system almost impossible... Germany’s political culture seems less threatened by the extreme right than by its tendency to publicly destroy contrarian thinkers"

The X-rated Little Mermaid - "Sculptor's descendants sue filmmaker for depicting Copenhagen's beloved mermaid on porn video... Sex inspired the statue anyway, you hypocrite spawn! The Little Mermaid is supposedly the salty heroine of a Hans Christian Andersen tale, but the filthy truth is that Carlsberg beer magnate Carl Jacobsen commissioned the Baywatching icon because he wanted to immortalize the graceful physique of a local ballerina"

Real life 'wearable' Iron Man suit actually fits into a briefcase

Space Jihadists: 'Mass Effect 2: Arrival' Just Keeps Digging Its Hole Deeper - "No species save humanity seems exempt from being a “racial spokesman” in the Mass Effect franchise, a problem when each species tends to get painted with a broad brush and rarely permitted to overcome that characterization. The asari are defined by their sexuality. The krogan are savages. The quarians are gypsies. The volus are Jews. But onto the batarians Mass Effect‘s writers have granted the special distinction of space Arabs, whose narrative role seems to consist almost entirely on their depiction as religious and/or political extremists who hate humanity and the American-dominated Alliance Navy in particular with bombastic fervor"
Comments: "What about the Biotic humans that take a governor hostage on a ship because their peaceful protest failed? Are they space arabs too? Don't you think that the sterilization of the whole Krogan race by the Salarians would be considered extremism? Blue Suns and Eclipse are full of assorted races who also take part in slavery and other crime, not just Batarians."
"Didn't play Mass Effect 2 at all, huh?... You also meet a group of batarians who think a doctor's aide is carrying the disease to infect aliens. When you spare them, one of them muses, "Nobility in a human. That's surprising.""
"I think someone was looking at the game through liberal glasses... Maybe this game is not for them. Its much too realistic. oh, and actually knowing about the alien race in question and finishing the the whole story before coming to conclusions would be a good idea."

The curse of 'juju' that drives sex slaves to Europe - "Europe's trafficking statistics are made up of Edo women like Vivian who do not conform to the stereotype of passive "victims". It is the most determined and driven who fall prey to Nigeria's traffickers – those without dreams to exploit are left alone. No matter how strong these women might be, the juju oath leaves them manipulated, abused and utterly trapped. Without faith in ancient, traditional beliefs, this modern form of slavery would not exist"
Is criticising this racist and ethnocentric?

11.01.97 - Misconceptions about the causes of cancer lead to skewed priorities and wasted money, UC Berkeley researchers say - ""One of the big misconceptions is that artificial chemicals such as pesticides have a lot to do with human cancer, but that's just not true... We consume more carcinogens in one cup of coffee than we get from the pesticide residues on all the fruits and vegetables we eat in a year"... Because fruits and vegetables are of major importance in reducing cancer, the unintended effect of requiring expensive efforts to reduce the amount of pesticides remaining on fruits and vegetables will be to increase their cost. This will lead to an increase in cancer among low income people who no longer will be able to afford to eat them... when a new variety of highly insect-resistant celery was introduced on a farm, the workers handling the celery developed rashes when they were exposed to sunlight. The pest-resistant celery turned out to contain almost eight times more natural pesticide in the form of psoralens -- chemicals known to cause cancer and genetic mutations -- than common celery"

Study shows Europe's alcohol-linked cancer burden - "Almost 10 percent of all cancers in men and 3.0 percent in women in western Europe are caused by people drinking too much alcohol"

Iceland media initiative: Iceland seeks to transform itself into sanctuary for free speech

Internet Comedian Peter Coffin's Fake Asian Girlfriend Outed in Blogger Feud With Xiaxue - "There are few possibilities here about what's really going on: 3) Xiaxue and Peter Coffin have together created one of the most elaborate internet performance art/hoaxes we've ever seen and are now enjoying the attention together."

Website maps what Americans look for in love - "people in the eastern part of Wisconsin are looking for "blindfolded" "German" "brewers" with a "saloon" and a "suntan", while residents of the Maryland suburbs of Washington are seeking "excitement" with an "interesting", "presidential" "senator". In Massachusetts, "rugby", "avocados", "asses" and "Irish" are among qualities being looked for in a potential mate. Southern Californians seek "artistic" "writers" with "tattoos," who are into "acting", "film" or "entertainment""

Joe Klein Reserves Spot in Hell for Koran-burning Pastor Who's As 'Murderous' As 'Suicide Bombers' | NewsBusters.org - "One has to wonder if Klein would say the same thing about a taxpayer-funded artist who photographed a crucifix soaked in a jar of urine or portrayed the Virgin Mary in elephant dung... Klein fails to hold morally culpable the murderous thugs who take vengeance in the name of Allah. Klein rightly considers Jones's provocative burning of the Koran as "un-Christian," but fails to slam as un-Islamic the act of killing people in the name of Allah"

Pregnant Iowa Woman Arrested for Falling Down - "A pregnant woman was jailed for admitting to thinking about an abortion at some point early in her pregnancy and then having the audacity to fall down some stairs a couple of months later"

How Safe Is Safe Enough? To Engineers, It Depends - ""The definition of safe is not strictly an engineering term; it's a societal term," he says. "Does it mean absolutely no loss of life? Does it mean absolutely no contamination with radiation? What exactly does safe mean?"... the possibility of a meteorite isn't a joke: "It's there somewhere — it's just a very low probability""
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