"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, July 15, 2011

Links - 15th July 2011

"What luck for rulers that men do not think." - Adolf Hitler


The End of Cheap Labor in China - "The decision about where to produce a product is always driven by multiple factors, of which the cost of labor is but one... According to the BCG study, in 2000, China's average wage rate was 36% of the U.S.'s, adjusted for productivity. By the end of 2010, that gap had shrunk to 48%, and BCG estimates that it will be 69% in 2015"

China food scandals: China wrestles with food safety problems - "To eat, drink and be merry in China is done at a risk: Weddings increasingly end with trips to the emergency room... The Chinese government has enacted ever-more-strict policies to ensure food safety... It hasn't helped. If anything, China's food scandals are becoming increasingly frequent and bizarre. In May, a Shanghai woman who had left uncooked pork on her kitchen table woke up in the middle of the night and noticed that the meat was emitting a blue light, like something out of a science fiction movie. Experts pointed to phosphorescent bacteria, blamed for another case of glow-in-the-dark pork last year... To make some breeds of fish mature more quickly, aquatic farmers feed them ground-up birth-control pills, which cost virtually nothing because of China's strict limits on family size. In April, authorities in Hefei province busted businesses that were selling a glaze that makes pork look and smell like more expensive beef — bad news in a country with more than 20 million Muslims... "The profit margin is bigger than drug trafficking if you add the lean pork powder to the pig food"... The poor treatment of whistleblowers makes it nearly impossible for a consumer movement to take root. The Health Ministry went so far as to announce this month that it would set up a blacklist of journalists who were deemed to report irresponsibly on food safety issues... [there was] recycling of discarded cooking oil, which was being scooped out of sewers outside restaurants, reprocessed and then sold at a fraction of the cost of fresh cooking oil. He found that one in 10 restaurants in his area bought the recycled oil"

Weird & Wild: Caffeine-Eating Bacteria Revealed

Acculturation and Sexual Function in Asian Women - "Euro-Canadian women had significantly more sexual knowledge and experiences, more liberal attitudes, and higher rates of desire, arousal, sexual receptivity, and sexual pleasure. Anxiety from anticipated sexual activity was significantly higher in Asian women"
Someone asked me for proof that Asian women were frigid
Keywords: Asian women are frigid, Asian girls are frigid

Does Competition Kill? The Case of Classical Composers - "We investigate the impact of peer competition on longevity using a unique historical data set of classical composers. We measure the geographic concentration of peers by the number of composers located in the same area and the time spent in one of the main geographic clusters for classical music. Using instrumental variables, we find a significant negative effect of geographic concentration. An additional composer based in the same
location decreases longevity by 2.3 years, on average. Besides the widely known economic benefits associated with competition, these findings suggest that significant negative welfare externalities exist as well."

Listening to Mozart does not improve children's spatial ability: Final curtains for the Mozart effect - "Groups performed similarly on the control test and the experimental test, irrespective of whether they listened to Mozart or to popular dance music"

Diver Snaps First Photo of Fish Using Tools

The flotilla and the Third Intifada - "The flotilla is out to provoke violence and mayhem. The claim that its mission is a humanitarian one to relieve Israel’s ‘siege’ of Gaza is patently ludicrous. There is no siege. Israel allows in regular supplies, and Egypt recently opened its own Gaza border. No, the flotilla’s real aim by its illegal breaking of the legal maritime blockade of Gaza is to provoke Israel into violence against those on board so that they can pose as martyrs and will thus trap Israel into blackening its own image"

Guardian and Independent coverage of second flotilla omits key facts - "No mention was made of the fact that Israel has repeatedly offered to transport the aid to Gaza as long as flotilla ships do not attempt to directly reach the coastal territory themselves... the reporter made no mention of last year’s violence by passengers on the Mavi Marmara... Reuters, unlike the Jerusalem reporters from The Guardian and The Independent, did not evade mention of last year’s protester violence, citing how Israeli commandos ‘were confronted by passengers wielding clubs and knives’... A Turkish journalist’s subsequent account of events aboard the ship also supported Israel’s version"

Religious Experiences Shrink Part of the Brain - "The results showed significantly greater hippocampal atrophy in individuals reporting a life-changing religious experience. In addition, they found significantly greater hippocampal atrophy among born-again Protestants, Catholics, and those with no religious affiliation, compared with Protestants not identifying as born-again."

Dan Savage on the Virtues of Infidelity - "“I acknowledge the advantages of monogamy,” Savage told me, “when it comes to sexual safety, infections, emotional safety, paternity assurances. But people in monogamous relationships have to be willing to meet me a quarter of the way and acknowledge the drawbacks of monogamy around boredom, despair, lack of variety, sexual death and being taken for granted”... if they cannot fulfill all of each other’s desires, then it may be advisable to decide to go outside the bounds of marriage if that is what it takes to make the marriage work... In the feminist revolution, rather than extending to women “the same latitude and license and pressure-release valve that men had always enjoyed,” we extended to men the confines women had always endured. “And it’s been a disaster for marriage”... '[One should] place a higher value on the relationship itself than on one component of it, sexual exclusivity'"

Bering in Mind: Sex, Sleep and the Law: When Nocturnal Genitals Pose a Moral Dilemma - "Sexsomniacs are basically lascivious zombies. There’s presently no way to determine with absolute certainty if the phenomenon, when invoked as a defense, was really the cause or just a really convenient alibi... There are also those, I should point out, whose sex lives have actually benefited courtesy of their sexsomnia. Schenck and his coauthors review several such cases, including a woman who "reported infrequent and hurried sex with her [awake] husband, whom she described as distant and reluctant during wakefulness." This lady found that "nocturnal sex was more satisfactory, even if associated with bruises at times""

The Fundamentalist Stereotype: A Vindication

Crashing Into Stereotypes - "No one makes up their grievances out of thin air. Instead, the characters mostly engage in statistical discrimination. They generalize from their experience to form stereotypes about the members of different ethnic groups (including their own!), and act on those stereotypes when it is costly to make case-by-case judgments (as it usually is). In the story, moreover, stereotypes are almost invariably depicted as statistically accurate. Young black men are more likely to be car thieves; white cops are more likely to abuse black suspects; and Persians have bad tempers. Of course, the story also makes the point that some members of these groups violate the stereotype. But that "insight" is basic to all statistical reasoning... one of the deep truths of models of statistical discrimination: The real social conflict is not between groups, but within groups... The upshot: If you really want to improve your group's image, telling other groups to stop stereotyping won't work. The stereotype is based on the underlying distribution of fact. It is far more realistic to turn your complaining inward, and pressure the bad apples in your group to stop pulling down the average"

Chan Chun Sing’s ‘reform’ call hews to form - "It is depressing how quickly brand new ministers, supposedly the flag bearers for the People’s Action Party government’s reform and renewal, adopt the mindset of the old guard... he effectively told people to shut up if they had no suggestions worth implementing... Any criticism that challenges the prevailing paradigm is labelled “unconstructive” and thus delegitimised... If you want people to carry out their own ideas, you have to free up the space for them to do so — and that means a commitment to respect civil freedoms and human rights"

PAP supporter described netizen as case study for ‘lunatic fringe’ and accused him of ‘barking’ at her like a ‘dog’ - "As we can see from the above, Mr Cheah merely rebuke Ms Teoh and did not make any personal attacks at her. Instead of countering Mr Cheah’s argument, Ms Teoh went into a frenzy and called him names"

Can religious teachings prove evolution to be true? - "Biologist Phil Senter of the Fayette State University in North Carolina, US, has published the second of two papers that uses creation science techniques to examine the fossil record. In the first, published in 2010, he used a technique called classic multidimensional scaling (CMDS) to evaluate the appearance of coelurosaurian dinosaurs over geological time... CMDS is derived from a branch of creation science called baraminology, which classifies organisms according to a creationist framework. Animals fall into types, or baramins, which were created independently, but have diversified since... if CMDS shows that dinosaurs do show transitional forms, and are in fact genetically related to each other, then creationists are in a bit of a bind. Either they must accept that to be true, and therefore contradict their own position that these groups appeared without evolution. Or they must throw out the assertion, but also reject their own methodology, which they have used to validate their creationist claims"

Men agree on what's hot (girls do not) - "Most men liked women who were thin and posing seductively. Women, in contrast, were enticed by a far wider range of male characteristics. "

Plot Device on Vimeo - "A young filmmaker obtains a mysterious device that unleashes the full force of cinema on his front lawn."

Why Boys Are Failing in an Educational System Stacked Against Them - "Boys get the majority of D's and F's in most schools, create 90 percent of the discipline problems, are four times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ADHD and be medicated, account for three out of four children diagnosed learning disabilities, become 80 percent of the high school dropouts, and now make up less than 45 percent of the college population... Our modern educational system works for many children, particularly girls, but for some boys (and girls) it places constraints on a very normal and necessary experiential type of learning, not to mention the need of many children to move around rather than sit still. While it may be a cynical statement, I have often felt that co-ed schools are girls' schools that boys go to"

Man offers to be prey for hunters - "Mork Encino, 28, from Utah, is offering to be human prey for $10,000 - and says he will do it naked for another $2,000."

Workers push drunk boss's car home
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