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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Links - 10th July 2011

"Science is nothing but trained and organized common sense, differing from the latter only as a veteran may differ from a raw recruit: and its methods differ from those of common sense only as far as the guardsman's cut and thrust differ from the manner in which a savage wields his club." - Thomas H. Huxley


YouTube - ‪The way of pronouncing English words in Chinese‬‏

Richard Dawkins and male privilege - "Being alone in an elevator with a man late at night is uncomfortable for any woman, even if the man is silent. But when he hits on her? There’s no way to avoid a predatory vibe here, and that’s unacceptable. A situation like this can lead to sexual assault; I just read in the news here in Boulder that a few days ago a relatively innocent situation turned into assault. This isn’t some rare event; it happens a lot and most women are all-too painfully aware of it."
Of all the commentaries I've seen on this affair, this is the most amazing. I'm never going to talk to a woman in an elevator again. Also this proves that when someone uses the word "privilege", it's a good clue that she's talking nonsense. Lucky there're sensible women in the comments thread. Best comment (in the first 100): "From now on I’m going to refer to all my conversations with women as “potential sexual assaults.” e.g., “I potentially sexually assaulted my mom this morning to wish her a happy birthday.”" Second best: "You are more likely to be robbed in the states by someone who is black than any other race. Should black people feel morally obligated to not act in certain ways around white people in case they come off as a potential robber?"

Do You Drink Too Much? - "Researchers found that alcohol was more harmful compared to other drugs, like heroin and crack cocaine"

Negative Side Effects Of Masturbation - "Some people have rough hands,
calluses, use vigorous strokes, or don’t use lube. Ouch!"

Omiyage - "The actual contents of the gift don't really matter. In a perfect example of "it's the thought that counts," everyone will happily accept your gift and exclaim that it is indeed very delicious. It doesn't matter that even though you went to Hokkaido, you actually bought your omiyage at Narita Airport. The point is, you went away and returned bearing a box of over-priced mochi"

Are We Wasting Our Time on Twitter? - "1. Twitter is fun
2. Twitter is a great way to meet new people
3. Twitter is a pool of knowledge
4. Twitter is a great way to boost creativity
5. Twitter is a way to get feedback
6. Twitter is news on steroids
7. Twitter is a source of great encouragement
8. Twitter is people"

Digital downloads: Hollywood is about to repeat the catastrophic mistakes of the music industry. - "The easiest and most convenient way to see the movies or TV shows you want is to get them illegally... The illegal version isn't just free. It's better"

You need a dirty mind to be an editor in this business [of copyediting] - "You must have a dirty mind. Unless you want everyone in town laughing at you"

The World’s Narrowest House [is 60 inches wide]

Dan Sweeney: There's No Arguing With Conservatives ... No, Seriously, Scientific Studies Prove It - "A new study out of Yale University confirms what argumentative liberals have long-known: Offering reality-based rebuttals to conservative lies only makes conservatives cling to those lies even harder. In essence, schooling conservatives makes them more stupid... The typical mantra of the left is that we don't need to sink to the Republicans' level because we have the truth on our side. But if the other side is utterly immune to the truth -- and indeed, the truth only makes them dig deeper into their fantasy world in which the economy is fundamentally strong and the War in Iraq is a staggering success -- what's a leftie to do?"
Besides the conclusion of the paper which HuffPo didn't seem to read ("there is a great deal of evidence that liberals... and Democrats... also interpret factual information in ways that are consistent with their political predispositions" it also postulated that "It is plausible, for instance, that the stem cell misperception failed to provoke a backfire effect because it was less salient to liberals than the WMD and tax cut misperceptions were for conservatives. Also, conservatives may have been more motivated to defend claims made by President Bush than liberals were to defend statements made by the Democratic Party’s defeated presidential ticket". The fact is that other studies also show that liberals are also vulnerable to digging in when their views are threatened. Seeing the way many liberals behave, I have come to conclude that liberals aren't necessarily more tolerant or nicer than the people they despise - they just have different enemies, and this just goes to show that the human urge to demonise, hate and draw divisions doesn't disappear - the targets just change (even if we don't lynch them anymore).

Freakonomics » Scientific Literacy Does Not Increase Concern Over Climate Change; Now Go Shout About It - "People who are more science- and math-literate tend to be more skeptical about the consequences of climate change. Increased scientific literacy also leads to higher polarization on climate-change issues"

Girl ends life to donate eyes to dad - "For days, Mumpy would listen quietly as the elders discussed how only an eye surgery could save her father's vision and a kidney transplant her brother's life. But both surgeries were beyond the family's meagre means. So, Mumpy hit upon a plan, which to her 12-year-old mind seemed the answer to all troubles. She would kill herself, which would save the dowry, too, and her organs would give her loved ones back their lives. Mumpy did stick to her plan. But the suicide note in which she had scribbled down her wishes was found the day after she was cremated."

8 secrets about Disneyland - "If you look beyond the fantasy of the Magic Kingdom, Disney hopes you won't see anything at all. The less-than-magical parts of the park, such as fences, garbage bins, and administrative buildings, are all coated in a color known as "Go Away Green" -- a shade that's meant to help things blend in with the landscaping. " presents: How Much Is Inside? - "Throughout the ages, man has pondered the question, "How much is inside?" With a few extra bucks, and a decent spot on the internet, we at expose these long-hidden truths... Are there really 360 threads per inch in 360 thread count cotton pillow cases?"

Phone chargers - the truth - "One of the greatest dangers to society is the phone charger. The BBC news has been warning us of this since 2005: 'The nuclear power stations will all be switched off in a few years. How can we keep Britain's lights on? ... unplug your mobile-phone charger when it's not in use'... From the way the BBC talks about these planet-destroying black objects, it's clear that they are roughly as evil as Darth Vader. But how evil, exactly? I had to find out... My measurements indicate that my phone chargers consume less than 0.5W when left plugged in. The total power consumption of the average Brit is 5000W. (Including car driving, home heating, and so forth, not just electricity.) So obeying the BBC's advice, always unplug the phone charger, could potentially reduce British energy consumption by one hundredth of one percent (if only people would do it). Every little helps! Can you think of any other things we could do that would reduce consumption by more than one hundredth of one percent? titanic tea strainer Is there any chance that this emphasis on phone chargers is like bailing the Titanic with a tea-strainer? Don't forget, the government's target is for a 60% reduction in carbon pollution..."

Treatise on the gods - "The truth is that Christian theology, like every other theology, is not only opposed to the scientific spirit; it is also opposed to all other attempts at rational thinking. Not by accident does Genesis 3 make the father of knowledge a serpent -- slimy, sneaking and abominable... The only real way to reconcile science and religion is to set up something that is not science and something that is not religion... To argue that the gaps in knowledge which still confront the seeker must be filled, not by patient inquiry, but by intuition or revelation, is simply to give ignorance a gratuitous and preposterous dignity... The more intelligent theologians, in truth, are well aware of their logical inadequacy, and try to find reinforcement for them in more respectable facts. In Christendom this business of discovering what are called Christian evidences has gone on for centuries"

Facebook blocks Google Chrome extension for exporting friends - "this proves Facebook owns every users data on Facebook. You don’t own anything!"

Singaporeans see selves as more gracious than others - "The findings showed an unhealthy level of self-centredness and self-absorption, and not being aware of and not appreciating the efforts of others"

EastSouthWestNorth: The Three Levitating Government Officials - "he headline story was about the upgrade for the road to the countryside. I looked at the photo and I almost coughed out half a liter of blood! Even a rank amateur like myself can tell that this was a PhotoShop job, and they had the nerve to put this on the home page!"... Meanwhile Chinese Internet users are having a field day with their own PhotoShop jobs"

Horse semen sold in New Zealand pub - "Revellers at Green Man Pub enjoy shots of 30ml apple-flavoured horse semen in Wellington, New Zealand"

Why do mosquitoes bite some people more than others?

'Tau day' marked by opponents of maths constant pi - "What's amazing is the 'conversion experience': people find themselves almost violently angry at pi. They feel like they've been lied to their whole lives, so it's amazing how many people express their displeasure with pi in the strongest possible terms - often involving profanity"
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