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More adventurous than the average bear

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Friday, September 09, 2011

Links - 9th September 2011

"Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side, a dark side, and it holds the universe together...." - Carl Zwanzig


Man dumps wife for refusing ‘skirt sex’ - "Wang Wen Yuan from Singapore said he was introduced to his Chinese national wife by a roast duck shop owner in September last year."

MY MILK TOOF - "When I was young, I placed my baby teeth under my pillow and when i woke up I'd find a shiny new quarter. But whatever happened to those little teeth? Where did they go? Would I ever see them again? Many years later, a little tooth was standing at my door. It looked familiar. Its name was ickle. Welcome home, my milk toof!"

Shark fin soup faces extinction in California - "California, home to 1.1 million Chinese-Americans, is one of the largest importers of shark fins outside Asia... Critics of the bill say it unfairly singles out the Chinese community. The bill only restricts the sale of shark fins, which are used almost exclusively in Chinese cuisine. The bill does not apply to other shark products like oil or meat"

The hidden media powers that undermine democracy - "“Please, please, dear God”, says Blair, “please tell me you didn’t have the media coming here by tube from Stratford just like ordinary members of the public”. Lord Falconer replies: “Well, we thought it would be more democratic that way.” Blair responds: “Democratic? What fool thought that? They’re the media, for Christ’s sake. They write about the people, they don’t want to be treated like them.” Falconer: “Well, what did you want us to do, get them all a stretch limo?” Thundered Blair: “Yes, Charlie, with the boy or girl of their choice and as much champagne as they can drink”... We could say that all popularly elected governments are today proactively engaged in clever, cunning struggles to kidnap their clients and citizens mentally through the manipulation of appearances, with the help of accredited journalists and other public relations curators"

Why state surveys asked about bras and haddock - "In 1941, Britain's fight with Nazi Germany lay in the balance. But no effort was spared to improve the war effort. In November of that year, researchers from the Board of Trade interviewed 5,000 women about their lingerie collections. The survey was well intentioned - to work out the amount of steel that was being diverted from the war effort to prop up women's corsets and other garments. But it led to unintended humour and, for a modern readership, some surprising answers... In the 1930s civil servants from the fisheries ministry toured the country asking people about fish and chip consumption"
If the ideal of the “informed citizen” is elitist because of the historical context it was formulated in, isn't the ideal of democracy not just elitist but sexist, racist etc?

What young couples now need to do before they say 'I do' - "'Violence is more common in younger couples because they may not be mature enough to find healthy ways to cope with the stress so they turn to physical means to release pent-up anger and frustration.'"
But they may not involve violence...

Lee Kuan Yew refutes WikiLeaks claim that he called Islam 'venomous' - "I looked up the MFA's (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) filenote of the meeting. Nowhere does it record me describing Islam as 'venomous', nor did I say anything which could have given that impression"
Now he has to sue the US embassy for defamation, or he'll be admitting that he really did call Islam a "venomous religion" (yes I know there's diplomatic immunity, but most Singaporeans don't - and anyway he can declare a bunch of staff PNG). Either way, this tells you you can't trust minutes

Religion: Japan's Crypto-Christians - "Are the Kakure Christians? Jesuit Diego Yuuki calls their faith "a melange of Buddhism, Shintoism, animism and what Kakure think is Catholicism. They have no Bible. The meaning of the Trinity has been lost on them"... one of those who greeted the Pope, Dominico Hayakichi Masuyama, 73, says they had come only to "register the fact that we exist. We have no interest in joining his church." After all, he adds solemnly, "we, and nobody else, are true Christians""

The Barefoot Running Injury Epidemic - "What is not known is whether barefoot runners are now disproportionately represented in physical therapy and sports medicine facilities—in other words, whether barefoot runners are more likely to develop overuse injuries than shod runners. Koch and Pribut are not ready to say that this is the case. “The more barefoot runners there are, the more injured barefoot runners there will be,” says Pribut, who attributes the spike primarily to the burgeoning number of barefoot runners... That’s because humans really are not born for distance running in the same way that cheetahs are born for sprinting. Evolutionary biologists other than Daniel Lieberman will tell you that humans are born generalists more than we are born specialists in endurance running or anything else. A natural consequence of this “jack of all trades, master of none” design is that there are different types of individual specialists within the total human population. Some of us are strong, others weak. Some of us have great hand-eye coordination, others don’t. Some of us can be great marathon runners, others can’t run a step"

Are Startups Better as Single-Gender Affairs? - "I have done three startups and each time it has been with a male co-founder. And each time, the fact that I am female has been a distraction to us. It has been a source of friction... Early on in a small organization, too much creativity, too many reality checks, and too many ways of getting things done are too stressful to be beneficial. Once there is a good idea in place, good enough to get funding, the founders just need to focus and move. This singular focus is what makes a startup so intoxicating and exciting to the team. Diversity only works where there is time to consider alternatives to the status quo"
This is one Lived Experience whose Reality will be denied

Wikileaks Cables Reveal China Upset By US Embassy's Twitter Account - "When the US Embassy decided to release its own reports on the quality of Beijing’s air, Twitter seemed like a natural option... China’s government was upset with the service because it conflicted with the official Chinese statistics, which was causing “confusion” and undesirable “social consequences.”"

Frenchman sued for £9,000 by own wife for failing to have sex with her - "Announcing her decision the judge quoted the French civil and penal code, which requires both parties in a marriage to respect ‘lifelong community’ requiring them by law to have sexual relations. Whereas sexual abstinence in a couple, together with violence and infidelity, are cited regularly in hundreds of divorce claims in France, it is extremely rare for a husband or wife to pay financial damages for specifically failing to satisfy sexually. The last similar case in France dates back to the year 2000. In recent years the traditional image of the French lover par excellence has taken a battering from statistics"

NUS removes rubbish bins to promote eco-friendly lifestyle
Students Against the Violation of the Earth is damn cock; "Uhhhh or they could just be encouraging littering instead...."

The State of NUS Lectures - "One professor had gone through an entire module discussing one complicated case-study after another, and I found these lectures of his the most invigorating and eye-opening I’d had in a long time. Yet, one semester later, he takes another class and this time he’s back to the powerpoint-chanting routine. I went up to him and asked him what the matter was, and he tells me that some students gave feedback that they just want to be fed the facts. So, let’s be honest here, the fault is ours too"

Smart Teens Don’t Have Sex (or Kiss Much Either) - "Controlling for age, physical maturity, and mother’s education, a significant curvilinear relationship between intelligence and coital status was demonstrated; adolescents at the upper and lower ends of the intelligence
distribution were less likely to have sex... higher intelligence is not associated
with lesser sexual interest, just with a postponement of acting on that interest"

Signspotting | Funny and absurd signs from around the world

The 25 Best Places to Photograph on Planet Earth

Govind Tiwari - "I am Govind Tiwari from Allahabad.I am on orkut for making good friend.You can send friend request on orkut"

Perform This Way (Parody of "Born This Way" by Lady Gaga) - YouTube
Weird Al looks more credible than Dame Edna

The Hollywood Guide to Speaking Chinese - YouTube

OK Go and The Muppets - Muppet Show Theme Song - YouTube

Freakonomics » The Suicide Paradox - "Regions with a higher quality of life have a higher suicide rate. Now, quality of life is more than wealth... If your quality of life if poor, and it may be you’re unemployed, you’re an oppressed minority, whatever it might be, there’s a civil war going on, you know why you’re miserable. You know as the quality of life in a nation gets better and you are still depressed — well, why? Everybody else is enjoying themselves, getting good jobs, getting promotions, you know, buying fancy cars. Why are you still miserable? So, there’s no external cause to blame your misery upon, which means it’s more likely that you see it as some defect or stable trait in yourself. And therefore you’re going to be depressed and unhappy for the rest of your life"

Freakonomics » Planned Obsolescence: A Lament for Quality Amid a World of Junk - "Our family recently camped for a week in a nearby state forest where our most trusted item was a cast-iron frying pan. Its thickness distributes heat evenly. Nothing can harm it. The wrong kind of spatula won’t scratch some special non-stick coating.With simple care, it will last for a thousand years. Which reminded me how rare that combination of high quality and durability is today."
"Cast iron skillets are pretty cheap and last forever (~$20 for a 12-inch skillet). The reason that most people don’t buy them anymore is that they’re very heavy and more labor intensive to use than a cheap nonstick pan."

'Pain-free meat': how synthetic sausages could be on our plates in six months - "Pig cells + horse foetal serum = synthetic sausage. That's the formula for growing meat in a Petri dish... for Monash University philosopher and ethicist Dr Robert Sparrow, growing petri-dish meat would be the "ultimate end-point of the process of denaturalising food""
I'm amused at how one hippie cause (animal suffering) is opposed to another (the fetish for the natural) here

Less Government, Less Problems: Belgium, 450 Days Later - "“In the absence of political leadership, Belgium has been among the few European countries not to enact meaningful austerity measures”... the lack of a government, while beneficial in the short-run, could spell trouble in the long-term. Belgium’s high debt to GDP ratio will inevitably attract the attention of speculators the longer it takes for a government to be established"
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