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Meesa gonna kill you!

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Links - 27th December 2011

"I think that I shall never see
a billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
I'll never see a tree at all." - Ogden Nash

***

Baby, baby, baby, no: Pay up or be forced to listen to Justin Bieber - "For someone who isn’t a fan of teen idol Justin Bieber, being forced to listen to one of his songs over and over again could be considered cruel and unusual punishment. At Evanston Township High School this week, they called it a fund-raiser. To motivate their fellow students to donate money for a struggling cafe/arts center popular with ETHS kids, seniors Charlotte Runzel and Jesse Chatz persuaded administrators to let them blast Bieber’s hit “Baby” over the school’s loudspeaker system at the end of each class period — and not stop playing the song until Runzel and Chatz had met their goal"

In Singapore, New Life for a Dusty Gem - NYTimes.com
NYT perpetuates the stereotype that gay people go into design. Tsk.

TomTop: $29.65 USB Endoscope Waterproof Inspection Camera Borescope 7M - "This Mini USB Inspection Endoscope use optoelectronic technology to investigate hard-to-reach area. It helps you to detect fishes, diagnose broken part, weld point and machine equipment to save time and increase productivity. It is also can be used in medical treatment."

Earth to God: We could use you right about now - "In a 2008 paper on the post-secular state, Dr. Habermas warned against cutting religion out of the public debate, in part because “with regard to vulnerable social relations, religious traditions possess the power to convincingly articulate moral sensitivities.” In a robust democracy, secular thinkers and religious believers mutually tolerate each other, he argued. Otherwise, Dr. Habermas noted in an earlier speech, the secular West “appears simply as another crusader on behalf of a competing religious faith, like the Arab world, or as the travelling salesmen of an instrumental reason that subjects all meaning to itself.” In other words, show me a mudslinging atheist commenting at www.whygodhatesamputees, and I'll show you a Leviticus-quoting Christian fundamentalist protesting outside an abortion clinic"

Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist - "We are not environmentalists now because we have an emotional reaction to the wild world. Most of us wouldn’t even know where to find it. We are environmentalists now in order to promote something called “sustainability”... sustaining human civilization at the comfort level that the world’s rich people—us—feel is their right, without destroying the “natural capital” or the “resource base” that is needed to do so. It is, in other words, an entirely human-centered piece of politicking, disguised as concern for “the planet”... The success of environmentalism has been total—at the price of its soul... I was dealing with environmentalists with no attachment to any actual environment... Environmentalism... was now being sucked into the yawning, bottomless chasm of the “progressive” left. All this talk of nature, it turned out, was bourgeois, Western, and unproductive... Now it seemed that environmentalism was not about wildness or ecocentrism or the other-than-human world and our relationship to it. Instead it was about (human) social justice and (human) equality... we were told that “social justice and environmental justice go hand in hand”—a suggestion of such bizarre inaccuracy that it could surely only be wishful thinking. Suddenly, sustaining a global human population of 10 billion people was not a problem at all, and anyone who suggested otherwise was not highlighting any obvious ecological crunch points but was giving succor to fascism or racism or gender discrimination or orientalism or essentialism or some other such hip and largely unexamined concept. The “real issue,” it seemed, was not the human relationship with the nonhuman world; it was fat cats and bankers and cap’lism... [Capitalism must be destroyed] to make way for something known as “eco-socialism”: a conflation of concepts that pretty much guarantees the instant hostility of 95 percent of the population... ideas of equality and justice fueled Stalin and Pol Pot"

A Spectre's Life for Me: Why I Like 'Mass Effect' Better than 'Star Wars' (or any other sci-fi) - "It took three or four play-throughs for me to actually get that a large component of Saren's corruption was not just being an evil cyborg and allying with even more evil machines, it was legitimate fiscal corruption. He wasn't just a free-agent lone gunman of a renegade Spectre, he was roughly the equivalent of a Wall Street executive. The notion that a plot point for the first game hinges on the big bad's investment portfolio blows my mind."
General heuristic: any piece of writing using the word "privilege" is nonsense

Dutch TV hosts grilled over cannibalism stunt - "Zeno described the experience as similar to eating a piece of car tyre, and took a while to swallow his food on air. Storm cleaned his plate a bit faster, and jokingly likened his own "meat" to Kobe beef because he takes good care of his body and health... Cannibalism is legal in the Netherlands. "Only when it involves maltreatment or when it violates common decency is cannibalism illegal," Gerard Spong, a Dutch lawyer who specialises in criminal law, told Reuters"

Time to make peace with North Korea - "Human beings too often portrayed in the west as brainwashed automatons slavishly revering the dead presidents, and therefore we're less bothered when they die from famines of food and fuel that western sanctions do much to bring about... the whole atomic fracas did so much damage to years of diplomatic and economic progress in bringing North Korea in from the cold and in touch with the world, first and foremost with South Korea and the US. During the 1990s, South Korea under Kim Dae-jung, with the blessing of the Clinton administration, offered the north the "sunshine policy" of rapprochement and investment, and the north, under Kim Jong-il, eagerly took it up. Pyongyang's nuclear bomb programme stopped. The anti-US propaganda stopped. Diplomatic and trade relations were founded with the EU and the UK... The precedents have long been set that working with Pyongyang pays off"
"the Guardian published the only apologia for North Korea that I have read outside of the official media of that benighted country: Time to make peace with North Korea"

We Don’t Like to Hear That Here - "Egyptian-born Nonie Darwish is “too controversial” to speak at Brown University, where her invitation to speak was just taken back... No one can escape the overwhelming anti-Semitic propaganda and the venomous hatred that my culture of origin advocated against Jews. In Gaza elementary schools I learned hate, vengeance, and retaliation. Peace was never an option; it was considered a sign of defeat and weakness. Those who wanted peace and compromise were called traitors and cowards. When I asked “Why do we hate Jews?,” the answer was “Aren’t you a Muslim?” We were told “Don’t take candy from strangers since it could be a Jew trying to poison you” or that Israeli soldiers would kill pregnant Arab women just for fun, place bets on whether she was carrying a boy or a girl, and cut her open to see who won the bet. My classmates would cry while reciting jihadist poetry daily, wishing to die as martyrs... [Egyptian] Journalists were not really journalists in the Western sense of looking to expose government corruption and internal problems; they were more concerned in blaming the outside world... Many Muslim leaders tell the West in English they are against violent jihad; but in private, in Arabic, they praise the jihadists and the martyrs... what the West must do is ask the politically incorrect questions and we Americans of Arab and Muslim origin owe them honest answers"

Accepting others' mediocre standards not the S'pore way - "MS ANJU Tiwari's letter urging us to accept a higher rate of transit disruptions is the last thing Singapore needs ('Be reasonable, like commuters elsewhere'; yesterday)... Is the writer saying that rather than compete and excel, we should just sink back to the mediocre standards found elsewhere in the world?... Ten years ago, I would tell my family overseas how amazing Singapore's MRT is. Financially, MRT's bottom line is better than ever but in all honesty, its service standard has fallen to mediocrity, punctuated by non-stop overcrowdedness and a rising incidence of unacceptably long delays"
Complacency!; "the Japanese and the Spanish authorities do not proclaim they have the best or one of the best train services in the world every other day"

I'm not surprised by all the wailing and tears - "To hear a middle-aged man enthusiastically showering praises on Mr Kim Jong Il showed me just how much he treated Mr Kim like a father figure... after spending eight days in Pyongyang, I feel that their grief is not only understandable, but expected. Like parents, benevolent patrons and deities rolled into one, Dear Leader Kim Jong Il and his father Kim Il Sung were omnipresent and seemingly omniscient in their nation. We tried to keep track of how many times we heard the name of Comrade Kim Jong Il, but could not... At a Pyongyang university, we saw many computers, and each one of them bore a red sticker that said the computer was a gift from Kim Jong Il. It reflected his generosity, and how he was taking care of the needs of students in the country... I think genuine grief for Kim Jong Il is plausible. Not only would there be panic at the loss of such a powerful persona, but also a deeper grief because they believe he worked tirelessly to improve their lives."
She didn't realise she was in a Potemkin village

Neuroscience For Kids - 10% of the Brain Myth - "There is no scientific evidence to suggest that we use only 10% of our brains"

The Pearl Harbor Controversy - "Vidal’s argument is that FDR was anxious to go to war against Nazi Germany, but couldn’t do so with the entire electorate against him... an attack by Japan would force a war with Germany... James’ response was thorough and devastating. In his formulation, “Japan was provoked into war by the Japanese Army.” FDR did not demand that Japan withdraw from China; he demanded that Japan withdraw from French Indo-China (today’s Vietnam) which they had invaded the year before in order to block all imports into China. In return, FDR offered to stop interfering in Asian affairs altogether. Furthermore, the Axis powers were obliged to enter into war on each other’s behalf if they were attacked first. If Japan attacked the US unprovoked, Germany and Italy would have no obligation to attack. In fact, Japan did not support Germany against the USSR after Hitler invaded that country during “Operation Barbarossa” in June 1941... A year after the exchange between Vidal and James, the United States was attacked again: on September 11, 2001, in Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., and New York City. Once again, Vidal was there to claim that the U.S. government saw it coming all along."

3 unusual Singapore hawker stalls - "Ikan billis pizza and duck confit? New age hawkers are sexing up Singapore's street eats"

Chinese Atheists Lured to Find Jesus at U.S. Christian Schools - "Chinese students enhance diversity of evangelical schools not only ethnically but also intellectually. When Ben Lippen teacher Tom Pengelly asked his comparative-government class whether God is sovereign over national leaders, a Chinese student responded, “No. If the Lord was sovereign, why would He allow Hitler, Mao, and George W. Bush.”"
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