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Valar Qringaomis

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Saturday, September 03, 2011

Observations - 3rd September 2011

"Boxing is just show business with blood." - Frank Bruno


A possible reason for German wage restraint - the unions have seats on company boards, so they can see the company financial accounts and know that the fatcats aren't shafting them. Though I am cautioned to add that "this only works in some situations. Labour owned a considerable amount of shares in United Airlines but they resisted management all the way because they were not afraid of the consequences -- the government would bail them out. It also helped that the German government topped up loss of wages."

Trying to decide which parallel universe is the most wacky: [Fundamentalist] Christian, [PRC] Chinese or [Modern] Liberal. Some suggested all 3, but all of them are inimical to each other, so that'd be the mindfuck to top all mindfucks. Another point to note is that not all PRC Chinese live in the PRC Chinese alternate universe (and ditto for the other 2), but that doesn't change the universe's character.

Everyone talks about pursuing your dreams, but what if 2 people want to become the best golfer in the world? Some people claim it's all about the journey, not the destination, but besides being convenient hand-waving (why not choose a more realistic goal? is there a point doing something you know won't work - among other things is it healthy to lie to yourself?), this is suspiciously reminiscent of some of the justifications for prayer if it can't change the mind of the God of Traditional Theism - that prayer improves the supplicant, rather than changes what actually happens.

Wondering how many Singaporean group buying sites have closed down. Each representing a failed dream.

American produces brilliant students not because of but despite its pre-College educational system. The only thing worse than standardised tests is not having standardised tests; there is a reason why the SAT has been a staple of US college admission applications for decades (another interesting thing to note - Finnish students do great on the PISA, but no one would say that their school system fails to prepare them for higher education and the knowledge economy).

[On the hype over Elite Schools] "I have friends in University who survived [neighborhood] schools..they will never allow their children to go to such schools"

It doesn't seem many male radiographers exist. They presumably have problems when x-raying women's chests.

Banner on wearing jewelry - 'Flaunt it, lose it'. This is VICTIM BLAMING!!! Reminds me of this feminist line: "Rape is the only crime in which the victim becomes the accused"

RT @edchng i hate Singapore, because i still care for it. i wish i didn't care, then i won't hate nor feel anything. #happyNationalDay

RT @yarnybarny Because we're not Malaysia. Qed. #whyiloveSingapore

My contributions to #whyiloveSingapore were: Our police are so efficient, they harass civil society long before it can effect change and
I never have to think for myself because the government always tells me what to do

RT quietriot_girl: Feminist blog bingo: 'Mansplaining' 'Derailing' 'Troll' 'Anti-Feminist' 'You're Banned' 'Enemy' 'male privilege' 'Julie BIndel' - BINGO!

"asked her student if he had given a depressed friend of his some advice on how to deal with his maladie, to which the student responded "we will go to tsutaya ( video rental store) to rent pornography". Classic!"

RT @shianux: I tell you what I think the true curse of LKY's legacy is: everyone thinks they are LKY, even those against LKY. the PAP has created a nation of whinging interfering nosey autocrat wannabes happy to fuck around with other ppl's lives.

Friday, September 02, 2011

One for the "audiophiles"

"General high-quality compression can be achieved by MPEG-2 AAC standard, with certain improvements, within the MPEG-5 tool set. In verification tests under rigorous conditions, this high quality codec has been found to be able to provide 'indistinguishable quality' when working at 64kbit/s/channel or even higher bit rate"

--- High-fidelity multichannel audio coding / Dai Tracy Yang, Chris Kyriakakis, C.-C. Jay Kuo

"MPEG AAC is a very powerful audio coding method. According to careful tests, it achieves quality indistinguishable from the original at 64 kbps per mono channel"

--- National Association of Broadcasters Engineering Handbook (2007)

Links - 2nd September 2011

"In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock." - Thomas Jefferson


After 27 years, man cuts off hair for charity - "A man who has been growing his hair for 27 years had it hacked off for a good cause Thursday morning. He's donating his ponytail to Locks of Love, an organization that makes wigs for people battling cancer... McGuinness had to get the major trim for a new job. When he heard the position required short hair he was going to turn it down but when he realized that long mane could help someone else he decided to go for it"

Aliens may destroy humanity to protect other civilisations, say scientists

'My callous lover gave me herpes so no one else would want me'... and now he's in prison for it - "Nigel Scott, spokesman for the Herpes Viruses Association, compared the case to prosecuting children for 'giving their friends chicken pox'"

BBC favours Muslims, complain Hindus and Sikhs - "An analysis of programmes from the BBC's Religion and Ethics department claims that since 2001, the BBC has made 41 programmes on Islam, five on Hinduism and one on Sikhism."

Manchester United voted 'most hated company in Britain'

Gaza flotilla participants created war atmosphere before confronting Israel - "On the day before the Gaza flotilla confronted the Israeli navy, Al-Jazeera TV documented the pre-battle atmosphere created by men on board the flotilla, who chanted a well-known Islamic battle cry invoking the killing and defeat of Jews in battle: "[Remember] Khaibar, Khaibar, oh Jews! The army of Muhammad will return!"... Al-Jazeera also reports that before the confrontation, flotilla participants announced that they would use "resistance" against Israel. Mukawama (resistance) is the Arabic term used by Palestinians to refer to all violence against Israel, including suicide terror"
From Wikipedia: "The flotilla was reported to be carrying ballistic vests, gas masks, night-vision goggles, clubs, and slingshots... Two-thirds of the medicines delivered by the flotilla expired between six and fifteen months prior to the raid, and were found to be useless. Some other medicines found on the flotilla were due to expire soon. Additionally, Israel said that much of the cargo, including sensitive medical equipment, was found to have been scattered in the ship's holds, and put in piles rather than packed properly for transport, and consequently damaged. Operating theater equipment, which was supposed to be kept sterile, was carelessly wrapped"
It's telling how people ignore all this evidence

Belief in Witchcraft in Africa - "Unfortunately, most texts, studies and reports on witchcraft in Africa avoid evaluating or ascertaining the veracity of witchcraft claims. Last year, UNICEF published a report, Children Accused of Witchcraft: An Anthropological Study of Contemporary Practices in Africa. The objective of the study was to ‘reveal and analyze the diversity and complexity of these phenomena – often falsely associated with ‘African tradition’- related to beliefs in witchcraft and the “mystical” world.’ The document carefully avoided doing a critical evaluation of claims or accusations associated with witchcraft. The study did not come out with a position statement as to whether witches exist or not or whether claims associated with witchcraft are true or false. This report did not do justice to the topic and phenomenon of witchcraft accusation because it did not provide answers to questions that have been boggling the minds of Africans for ages, such as: Is witchcraft science or superstition? Is witchcraft myth or reality? Do witches actually exist or are they imaginary entities? The report could not let us know if indeed human beings can bewitch one another as most Africans believe... People can suspect anyone of engaging in witchcraft, it is mostly vulnerable members of the population who are openly accused, confronted and persecuted"

The Yale Journal of Medicine & Law blows it big time on alternative medicine - "It's always frightening when lawyers delve into the realm of medicine. It's even worse when pre-law students and political science majors do the same... it's obvious that she didn't even bother to do a bit of research into the relevant law and regulations, which is the sort of thing you'd think--oh, you know--writers for a law journal would do. You'd think that a Yale student publication such as the Yale Journal of Medicine & Law could attract better student authors, capable of less sloppy, ideologically motivated work. You'd think wrong, apparently. Even though the Yale Journal of Medicine & Law is an undergraduate journal, presumably its authors are interested in going into--oh, you know--medicine or law or related fields"

The new definitions of Halal | Unscientific Malaysia - "Somehow, the simple process of choosing what’s halal and what’s not using observation has evolved into a complex, almost paranoid approach to declare suspected ones as haram... “This kit will pick out traces of pork anywhere, even from dishes which have been washed!” claimed the exhibitor with excitement... What are the chances of pork traces floating around somewhere in the vicinity of some eateries? At times, it will be quite high. When before this, one can continue eating in a halal restaurant situated beside one that sells pork, now one will probably avoid it based on a test that picks up what should be negligible traces. And even after samak — an act considered to cleanse one out from pig’s traces — is found to be haram by this method, what hope is there for Muslims?... Lest we forget, the Quran mentioned: "He has only forbidden to you dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah – Al-Baqarah (The Cow) [2:173]". We do not see any mentions of RNA, DNA nor protein of swine."
Malaysia Boleh!

Singapore, Curry Day and scapegoating - "We were told quite proudly by the agent that there were “no Indians” living in the block. By now, J and I were completely stumped. “What’s wrong with Indians?” we asked.“Their food is very smelly,” was the reply. “We don’t like renting to Indians.” Every single one of these comments came from Singaporean Chinese... Singaporean Chinese were discriminating against Indians and complaining about the smell of their food long before one million mainlanders flooded the country. But I do applaud them for a neat sleight of hand. Now none of this is their fault At All. Well played, Singaporean Chinese. Well played."
Addendum: The comments are telling

Do Romantic Thoughts Reduce Women's Interest in Engineering? - IEEE Spectrum - "A new study suggests thoughts of romance can reduce college women's interest in science and engineering"
I can't wait to see what the feminists say in response; I would imagine that since the Arts are coded as feminine, men would be similarly disadvantaged in an equivalent reverse situation

Charlie Wilcox: 'Smoking thousands of cigarettes was GOOD for my unborn daughter' - "Charlie Wilcox, whose daughter Lilly is now 14 weeks, reckoned that smoking would make her unborn child’s heart stronger by restricting her oxygen supply and forcing her heart to work harder... Miss Wilcox, who had hoped to join the police but currently lives on benefits, even claims giving up smoking caused a friend’s miscarriage"

The fetal alcohol crisis - "In addition to the tragedy caused, the cost of women binge-drinking while pregnant now exceeds that of the national debt... [a] 1997 Supreme Court ruling that a pregnant Manitoba woman addicted to glue sniffing could not be forced to get treatment. “Women’s rights groups heralded this decision as a major triumph,” Ms. Buxton says. “All I could think about was whether that child’s life would turn out to be as heartbreaking as our daughter’s.” She is in complete agreement with the two dissenting judges who wrote: “When a woman chooses to carry a fetus to term, she must accept some responsibility for its well-being, and the state has an interest in trying to ensure the developing fetus.” “The question,” Ms. Buxton points out, “is how can the state make sure the baby is born healthy without forcibly incarcerating women?”"

When it comes to politics, is ignorance bliss? - "The more informed people get, the more dogmatic they tend to become. “It might even be better to be ruled by the relatively ignorant public, because they tend to be more open-minded”... The web helps to fuel dogmatism. His studies have found that, on average, people who use the Internet more than newspapers “are interested in fewer subjects and have more extreme views on those subjects.”"

AI vs. AI. Two chatbots talking to each other - YouTube - "Well, that was exactly what I expected. The woman was irrational and didn't make any sense. She also lied."

Moon cake tax proposal stirs debate - "Employees will have to pay a personal income tax on moon cakes offered by their employers this Mid-Autumn Festival, which has caused public dissatisfaction, but analysts said Sunday it's a type of fringe benefit tax that is reasonable, and could cut down on waste"

retired doc's thoughts: The problems of Evidence-based medicine widely accepted hierarchy of evidence - "It seems that the elephant's cloak of invisibility was torn away when a number of small clinical trials allegedly found that such things as homeopathy and reiki ( the most improbably absurd of the improbable methods of CAM) seemed to work or at a minimum the claim was made that larger trials were needed... The message of "trials trump basic science" seemed to have taken to heart by the folks at Cochrane."

Are Crunches Worth the Effort? - - "The researchers had expected that the volunteers with the sturdiest cores would outshine the others on the tests of physical performance. But they did not. There was little correlation in this study between robust core muscles and athleticism"

Tax burden and migration: a political economy theory and evidence - "We show, somewhat against the conventional wisdom, that low-skill immigration can lead to a lower tax burden and less redistribution than would be the case with no immigration, even though migrants (naturally) join the pro-tax/transfer coalition. Data on 11 European countries over the period 1974–1992 are consistent with the implications of the theory: a higher share of low-education immigrants in the population leads to a lower tax rate on labor income and less generous social transfers."

Thursday, September 01, 2011

France/Spain 2011 - Day 4, Part 6 - Paris: St Jacques Tower

"A cucumber should be well-sliced, dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out." - Samuel Johnson


France/Spain 2011
Day 4 - 20th March - Paris: St Jacques Tower
(Part 6)

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Street outside Musée des Arts et Métiers

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"Restaurant Chez Shen ?里香" ("Shen's Restaurant ? Inside Fragrant")
At first I thought this was the first Asian Restaurant I'd noticed where the name in Chinese translated to French, but on further thought I'm not so sure

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The hideous Centre Georges Pompidou

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Video game relief & mosaic

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Here are examples of the pictures my Fuji FinePix F300EXR took that I was very unsatisfied by. I will return to this topic at the end of this post.

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"pelouses au repos hivernal du 15/10 au 15/04"
("The grass is taking a winter rest from 15th October to 15th April")
You can lie on the grass half the year!

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St Jacques Tower (16th c.), one of the few remains from Medieval Paris

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Plaque on the tower and its significance for the Pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela (more)

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Looking up

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Statue inside. Wikipedia informs me that it's of Blaise Pascal.

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Stitch from my camera. Actually it's not so bad (there is no fishbowl effect unlike my own stitches), but the resolution isn't very good.

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Love knows no barriers
This was very touching. As you can tell they were kissing for a very long time.

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Love in the Time of Spring
3 PDAs in a row?! But then, this is France (see, I'm not joking - it's true!)
And yes, this is the same park where I documented that touching display of love above

Fuji FinePix F300EXR

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Returning to these pictures, even at ISO 100 the pictures seem grainy (almost smudgy)

I'd wanted a Canon Powershot, but at the March IT Fair it'd been sold out, since I'd gone on the last day, and I wasn't willing to shell out more than $200 for the model that was a rung higher.

I'd visited many stores and it was sold out everywhere, since all the stock had been saved for the IT Fair.

A salesman had recommended the Fuji FinePix F300EXR, and he seemed sincere (and more importantly a trustworthy-looking review site online had highly recommended it), so I got it.

It would've been better to test the camera before really using it in the field so I would know its idiosyncracies and how to maximise its features, but I'd bought it only a few days before I'd left. Furthermore, these wouldn't have been real field conditions (i.e. an overseas holiday). Perhaps more importantly, I was lazy to do the necessary testing (I've never bothered doing it).

So, while the preview on the camera's LCD had showed that the pixellation for pictures was acceptable (even on zooming to the lowest level), when I viewed them on my computer it was often... awful (at 100% - 50% is acceptable). I guess you can't get something for nothing, so I should've been wary of fast shutter speeds in low light while in the black box "EXR" mode.

Worse, then the pictures were often not sharp - at 100% many pictures are not sharp and crisp (across a wide range, and even at a fast shutter speed for still objects - it cannot be handshake because I don't have Alzheimer's, and pictures on other cameras I use are good), and some are even quite blocky. Some pictures aren't even in proper focus. The Stitch was especially unreliable and often horrible.

Ironically, I'd gotten a new camera because I'd been unsatisfied with the pictures taken by the Nikon Coolpix S550 I'd been using, but the ones taken with the new camera turned out even worse. In future I'm sticking with Canon.

Fuji: F stands for "Fucked Up"

Someone: fuji is actually alrite
except under low lighting

mebbie u got a bad unit
like me and my casio
everything blur also
if sharp..somehow looks v flat
hard to explain
also got rave reviews

Pornographic ad we watched in class on Monday

"Vivre et aimer sans attendre" - Parisienne / YSL (Kate Moss)

"Is she having an orgasm with the flower?!?

our eng teacher is making us do an essay on this!! :("

(for some reason all the other versions online are a lot more colourful)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Popper on Scientific Progress

‎"The method of trial and error is a method of eliminating false theories by observation statements; and the justification for this is the purely logical relationship of deducibility which allows us to assert the falsity of universal statements if we accept the truth of singular ones. Another question sometimes asked is this: why is it reasonable to prefer non-falsified statements to falsified ones?...

We search for truth (even though we can never be sure we have found it), and because the falsified theories are known or believed to be false, while the non-falsified theories may still be true. Besides, We do not prefer every non-falsified theory – only one which, in the light of criticism, appears to be better than its competitors: which solves our problems, which is well tested, and of which we think, or rather conjecture or hope (considering other provisionally accepted theories), that it will stand up to further tests"

--- Conjectures and Refutations / Karl Popper

Philosophical Namedropping, Obfuscation and Jedi Mind Tricks

"If you don't know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else." - Laurence J. Peter


On the group Drinking Skeptically (DS):

A: Someone mentioned "True Skeptic". Found this on how a skeptic should behave. What do you think?

Characteristics and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics vs. True Skeptics

B: After fifteen hours, no comments. Nearly a hundred on TCM [Ed: Traditional Chinese Medicine]. Is knowing the "truth" about TCM more important than knowing ourselves?

Plato thought this important enough to have Socrates refer to it six times in his dialogues.

D: But, but... This site is about debunking skeptics who don't believe in the paranormal! And they have a logo comprising a meditating guy with chakras!

Ok, I'm poisoning the well... guess that qualifies me for the pseudoskeptic camp :)

A: oh wow yeah. My bad! Googled true skeptic and came upon this. Scanned through and thought it was legit, didn''t see this line "When all mundane explanations for a phenomenon are ruled out, are able to accept paranormal ones"

Yes we have naturalism as our premise so to them we are pseudo-skeptics.

B: Agree fully with all on the naturalism belief. I suppose this relies on data sets gathered through systematic observations. Science then gives the best current explanation of observed regularities. Notice the variables: observations, data collection, processing and display.

Could we be a little complacent about the stability of these variables? Maybe, we even unconsciously assume they are "givens". Surely observations are now mostly when not completely reliant on sensors and instruments? Will they not change with different or more sensitive? Will we be able to detect and measure different and previously hidden aspects of "nature"?

Even direct sense data is not what we perceive.Otherwise the world would be inverted. double and flat!

Guess I'm less clear about natural and non ....

E: That article contains the biggest straw man I have ever seen! It's not as black and white as the article makes out. I think we should question everything and base our reasoning on the evidence. Occams razor is a good tool.

B: Does it matter what the site is about, if it asks penetrating questions? Or do skeptics get to pick and choose about what they wish to be skeptical?

C: what penetrating question?

A: ‎"Will we be able to detect and measure different and previously hidden aspects of "nature"?" I thought science has done that? In fact isn't that what science is about? Not sure what you mean by "stability of these variables" etc.

Me: Do they question whether we are brains in vats? If they don't, are they pseudoskeptics?

"Regardless of the facts and evidence, they always START and END with the following dogmatic positions:

Paranormal claims are all bunk and cannot be true. There is no evidence for them.
Conspiracies are all false. There is no evidence for them. Official sources are not to be questioned.
Anything that challenges the status quo and materialism is wrong and must be debunked.
Only mundane materialistic explanations are acceptable. Paranormal ones are not."

It will be good to have some pre-hoc pointers for what would falsify these "dogmatic positions"

That said, the fact that so far these 4 have repeatedly proven to be correct is telling.

B: A, "I thought science has done that?" Yes, and will continue to do so ...

" Not sure what you mean by "stability of these variables" etc." When sensors and instruments change, data collection, processing and displays change and so, data sets change; e.g. Galileo and better lenses: medicine and microscopy, chemistry with mass spectopgraphs and gas chromatography.

C, "What penetrating questions?" Exactly ... LOL

Lets not forget my original point: 15 hours after A's post, no one bothered to comment while posting about 100 comments on TCM.

C: B, I don't understand your respose. My question to you was what penetrating question this site asks?

ehh i would assume that was because others saw the argument on the site for the strawman it was

B: If it does not penetrate, then it does not penetrate, C. Don't make me do this, please ....

Or , they just saw the site as the usual paranormal site and didn't read it attentively. If A saw fit to draw my attention to it, then I will give it my attention.

C: please do i dense help me out

and you assume others didn't?
i assume they did and dismissed it because of the poor argument
If you think there is something that should not be dismissed i would like to hear what it is. Hence my original question "what penetrating question?

B: The question: "Does this (stuff on the site about preudosceitcs) apply to me? Know thyels?

Me: "If it does not penetrate, then it does not penetrate, C. Don't make me do this, please ...."

I am vaguely disturbed by this comment

C: Knowing your own biases certainly is important, but arguments in this site are motherhood statements and strawmen that are easily dismissed. Don’t blame people for not wanting to dwell on crap when there is a far more interesting discussion on medicine. If the site were better this question may have had more responses.

if you can recall the dawkins and skepchick debacle a last month. There were extensive and vigorous discussion on this site and offline on the biases and culture of the skeptic community. So I don’t think skeptics avoide “knowing themselves”.

E: B, imo, there should be skepticism about taken-for-granted positions too... But you haven't actually advanced anything concrete.

B: Must I?Although risky, I admit my bias for the vague and open-ended. They stimulate many requests to say more exactly what I mean which misses the point of ambiguity.

The response for which I yearn is; "If I understand what you're saying is ...., then ... " rather than "What are you saying?"

When I don't understand, I ask what perceptions and assumptions I must change to understand. If there are too many and they do serious damage to my weltanschang, then I, regretfully, consign them to the incomprehensible pile. Yet, I remain hopeful that this pile will crumble slowly.

Me: The joy of ambiguity is you can say much and mean nothing

B: Same for pedantry. Or orthodoxy. The joy of being human is to be able to find joy in anything ...

E: The problem is you have no way to tell apart a pile of crap and a yet-to-be comprehensible pile of X. I don't even think one can even tell between a crumbling away or a piling up.

B: Don't get distracted by the metaphors, focus on meaning however ambiguous ...

Me: No, when someone is pedantic he says what his beef is, so you actually know what is point is and why


B: Still, the pedant can say much and mean little ... and enjoy it. Or else they would avoid it .....

E: What is the meaning?? That there is more??
B, you realise you will also have to account for how you manage to perceive whatever-it-is you, and you alone, seem to be perceiving?

Me: Presumably you are enjoying what you're doing now?

B: Pls see my original post. I was just curious, after reading A's pagelink, why no one seemed to be interested in it but debunking TCM seemed so "natural".

If I'm the only one who isn't put-off by the label "pseudoskeptic" and use the descriptions on the page as a checklist on my own thoughts and attitudes, then that's okay with me.

As to always making clear statements, that to me is too Wittgenstein I, viz. the Tractatus; which he corrected himself. I would be sorry if DS became a Popperian mutual-admiration society dedicated to debunking. Can skepticism not be more ...? Let's not forget the "drinking" part ot the name. Wasn't "symposium" Greek for drinking party? Or does DS stand only for Debunking Skeptically?

Sad ...

E: B, why feign surprise? DS is a skeptic affair, and debunking does come naturally. As for pseudoskepticism, sure, there are probably pseudoskepticis here. So? And as you can tell, we don't exactly agree on everything here. Forget about the checklist, you are probably too far out even for them if you are into wittgensteinian frames of references. We do drink, every last Saturday of the month. Incidentally, I posted a critique of popper that didn't draw interest. No, it wasn't saddening.

F: What has the love of ethanol at concentrations between 5 to 50% got to do with credibility of the group? DS was meant to be a social meet-up-in-real-life group; were you unaware of that when you joined? If you're are teetotaller you can order coke. If the level of intellect displayed here disappoints you, there is always a 'leave group' button.

Me: You will notice that we addressed your queries earlier on the nature of skepticism.
Notice also that 2.5 days after I posted the 9/11 Truth Movement link, no one has commented on it, but lots of people have commented in this thread. Why? Is knowing the truth about 9/11 unimportant?

And it seems you are a fan of obfuscation. Very good. I shall drink a shot and ignore you when you are firing blanks.

B: Gabriel, please comment on the elaborations demanded on me.

As for name-calling like "fan of obfuscation ...", I await comments on whether this is kosher for skeptics. C?

E, not sad if DS is Popperian or not but that it sometimes descends into mutual admiration when debunking. Sad also that this seems to be its elan vital. Sad that so many require clear propositions into which they can sink their debunking teeth. Sad that suggestion is "obfuscating" and not stimulating. This strict Wittgenstein-ism, a la Tractatus, was corrected by himself and after Heisenberg and Godel, is under serious threat. And, many other sad things but I shall stop here.

Thanks, A, for a useful mirror in which I can see myself. Go, Delphic Oracle!

F: Fine if you wanna judge people on the # of comments on posts that you think should be more important. If you had bothered to read the TCM thread to the end you'll find comments on experiment design, objectivity and outcome assessment. These are important aspects of scientific inquiry. Yes some of us might be very interested in TCM because of the fields we studied/work in. That doesn't give anyone the right to judge us as being insufficient skeptics.

Me: I have already addressed your points (which you raised in another thread). Was my reply too clear for you? Perhaps it would help if I channeled the spirit of Judith Butler in replying to you?

The only thing I have not addressed here is the Wittgenstein thread, since that seemed to be an aside. Since you have demanded that I respond to everything I shall spend 10 minutes of my time, whereupon I will no doubt be sniped at, accused of bad faith etc.

With regard to the later Wittgenstein I assume you are alluding to the treachery of language, the impossibility of someone else understanding totally what you mean and stuff like that. Be that as it may, it does not hold that all forms of communication are equally nebulous/pointless.

I freely confess that I have very little acquaintance with Wittgenstein, but since you refuse to come out and say what you're talking about I have no choice but to advance my flawed attempt to psychically pry into your mind and divine your intentions.

And if you want me to address your vague musings, you have to commit yourself to not claim that you have been misinterpreted later. If you do not want to come out and put your points in the open, and at the same time complain that people are ignoring you, you cannot at the same time complain that you are being misinterpreted. The fact that we are trying to see what you are alluding to is already very charitable.

‎"I would be sorry if DS became a Popperian mutual-admiration society dedicated to debunking. Can skepticism not be more ...? Let's not forget the "drinking" part ot the name. Wasn't "symposium" Greek for drinking party? Or does DS stand only for Debunking Skeptically?"

When I saw this it had the same rhetorical content to me as:

"Roses are red
Violets are blue"

Did you have a point?

As F said, "What has the love of ethanol at concentrations between 5 to 50% got to do with credibility of the group"

The only point I am able to divine after reading that many times over 2 days is that you think that we should drink more alcohol to be better skeptics. Which seems to be a nonsensical point for someone who likes to quote Wittgenstein.

Or perhaps I need to be drunk to understand what the hell you are talking about, hein?

B: None so blind as those who will not see. And, I prefer ideas to "points " but thats my misfortune.

Did I say that "all forms of communication are equally nebulous/pointless"? Still, nebulousness may be in the eye of the beholder.

I was just curious why so many clever people have bashing paranormal and alternative medicine as their favourite sport. This has been ridden to death on Point of Inquiry (by experts) and has no residual mileage. Repetition of the obvious, however elegant, is, at least for me, a big yawn.

A's pagelink made me ask: "Is this me?" And so, after fifteen hours, I wondered: "Is it only me?" That's all.

Didn't intend to upset anyone. Still, I have learned a lot.

About myself. And others ...

Me: Quod erat demonstrandum

B: I forgot my manners. Of course, I promise, Gabriel, not to complain about being misinterpreted. That is the purpose of my "vague musings"!

I repeat: what I yearn for is "If what you mean is ..., then ..."; and not "What do you mean?"; which is what I almost inevitably get.

I cannot decide if this is knee- jerk logical positivism or mental sloth or both.

G: B, either you are saying things with no meaning, or you are saying things with meaning. If you are actually saying things with meaning, why not make that meaning understood to others? Why make people try to guess at your meaning?

And please don't answer the above with another question

Me: If what you mean is that you are just trolling, then I will ignore you

If what you mean is that you are deliberately being obtuse, then I will ignore you

If what you mean is that clear communication is a vice instead of a virtue, then I will ignore you

If what you mean is that you are lazy to think about what you're trying to say, formulate it in terms that other people can understand and then type it out, then I will ignore you

If what you mean is that you want us to come up with hypotheticals for anything you could possibly mean, and then come up with responses to all of these hypothetical meanings, then I will ignore you

If what you mean is that we are being mentally lazy when all of us are trying to figure out what the hell you're trying to say while you just sit in one corner and bash us while being too lazy to say what your point actually is, then I will ignore you

If what you mean is that you just want to namedrop philosophers when your vague allusions make it impossible for us to know what you are talking about (as well as whether YOU know what you are talking about), then I will ignore you

If what you mean is that A is the only one here who has any skeptical credibility - even though all of us have already looked at the link and dismissed it as nonsense, and even though A herself has realised that it is nonsense, then I will ignore you

If what you mean is that you just want to snipe without ever putting forward anything concrete, then I will ignore you

If what you mean is that you are making sexual passes at C, a married man, with comments about penetration, then I will ignore you (and I hope that he will too - though I'm not sure about [his wife])

If what you mean is nothing, then I will ignore you

F: Could you please answer the question: what exactly is the issue with the group's name?

B: G, my fondness for ambiguity is, I think, incurable. Not just mine but that of others. It makes me wonder and I try to infect others with similar wonder. The pre-requisite is a sense of insignificance. Works well so far, except here in DS where it seems to enrage some.

C: Sense of insignificance is a prerequisite for your ambiguity? Or is it the other way round? Caus i wonder were this sense of insignificance comes from.

I think it’s completely possible to have a profound sense of insignificance (and even awe) by looking at the universe, asking clear questions and admitting that many answers are beyond us. Romanising ambiguity too easily allows is to fudge the questions and be satisfied with poor answers. Having to choose between ambiguity and clarity I would hope I chose clarity all the time. Clarity is harder though ambiguity may feel better. I see no other utility in ambiguity.

E: B, You will be hard pressed to advance an affirmative case, avoid sprouting gobbledygook or self-contradiction if your argument entails hacking away at the foundations of knowledge: logic, reason, the naturalistic methodology, ordinary language….
Put another way, how would (could?) you distinguish your position from that of a raving madman?
Pseudo-profundity can enrage. Will you give the likes of Deepak Chopra the time of day?

G: B, Thank you for answering my question. I am actually really interested more about your fondness for ambiguity. Mostly because I don't really know anyone that shares that trait, and personally I don't yet understand it. Perhaps I'll press you for more information sometime about it. Unfortunately though, I do have to agree with C and E given what I know. It does seem to me that ambiguity has very little utility, and using it makes it far too easy to mask poor thoughts and ideas. I see nothing in clarity that would reduce the sense of insignificance or wonder. For example, one problem I see with ambiguity is that both right and wrong can fit within that regime, so how do we actually learn the difference? It is far too hard to advance knowledge if keeping things ambiguous isn't it?

B: C, One has to be very sure of clarity and rectitude of one's thoughts before composing a clear proposition. I am insignificant, so I'm not.

But no one in DS has to be. Whatever you are, just be ....
The alternative is to become ... whatever.
It's a choice ...

G: B, one has to be quite sure of clarity and rectitude, but should never be so sure that they aren't willing to listen to counter evidence and change their minds. Perhaps you are mixing up the two and thinking that if someone says something outright they aren't willing to change their minds? I think to have any kind of intelligent conversation that is meant to learn and accomplish something, clarity and a willingness to have a position is necessary. If you are just saying things that can't be studied, then there is nothing more to do with it, and you might as well have not said it.. If you just want to say unclear things that are not well thought out, and that you are not able to defend (because you said nothing clear), then I don't see how to have a discussion. Sure, poets can be ambiguous, but I don't see how this group can be, given the subject matter.

E: There's utility in ambiguity in art.

B: G, ambiguity works best before experiment. It generates many vague ideas which lead to some muddled ones which can be clarified by desk research or quick and dirty experiments.

As things become clearer, some experimental design can be done with existing people, instruments, recorders, machine shops ...

It's a strategy, one of many, for speed and economy. Also, it promotes project ownership and team spirit (oops!). I'm a boring old fart but I learned a few tricks ...

G: B, I can see how it could work that way. It could be used during concept formation, and to induce some creative thoughts. But pretty much every time you have used it (which is almost everything you have said), it has not been during the "before experiment" faze.

Me: E occasionally asks strange questions I don't get, but at least he has a point which he explains when I prod (usually with a "???")

B: C, agree fully. Just that I like to take some time to play around with various ideas and questions before trying to answer them. Why get excellent answers to poor questions, however elegant?

As for insignificance, I speak of my understanding. Not how small I feel when viewing the deep field images of the Hubble. Forgive for saying that this is obvious and trivial.

There are many clever people in DS and I have learned much from their teaching; so our benefits might be somewhat asymmetric. Never mind, it's my gain.

C: Acknowledging that ambiguity exists is very different from aspiring to be ambiguous.

B: Gabriel, your "????" works with E. Not with me. Maybe I'm wrong but I find that too easy. You have to work if you want me to ...

Please do not take this as teaching you how to suck eggs but if I may suggest, sometinh like: "What you wrote could mean this, that and other .. And they don't hang together.. Do you actually mean ...?"

G: B, why should Gabriel put so much work into responding to your ambiguous statement when it is quite possible you put no work into it? There's no way to know you are making a well thought out statement.

Me: WebAIM: Writing Clearly and Simply

"It is not easy to write clearly and simply, but it is important to try. Users are more likely to understand your writing if you take the time to organize your thoughts and write them in the clearest, simplest form possible, taking into account your audience. To maximize understandability for people with cognitive disabilities, limit the text, add appropriate illustrations, and avoid indirect or implied meanings (such as sarcasm or parody). In the end, nearly everyone benefits from clarity and simplicity."

Addendum: A good summary:

"(dunno what on earth he's trying to say -> ask for clarification -> get replies that don't make sense) X N -> get seriously annoyed and yell at him -> he starts prancing around, doing the waltz in a meadow of flowers, with teletubbies in the background -> realise that having proper discussions with him are beyond the limits of one's intelligence."




On terms perceived as offensive

"When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them." - Rodney Dangerfield


A: It's very fine and all that these people publicly display their outrage at the Indian family being told not to cook curry, but how many of these people also... (2) call indians "kelinkia" behind their backs... Call me cynical but I think this public display is precisely just that: a display.

I hear and see "klk" enough on a daily basis to think that it's all bs.

B: "kelinkia", "ah Neh" are just names to collectively call them as a group. It is just like calling a caucasian a "ang moh". Dont think there are anything wrong with them. I dont even think they mind. It is like calling a spade a spade. i dont think anyone meant any offence when using such names.

C: By the way, B, I hate to break it to you, but "kelingkia" is a derogatory term and as a "kelingkia", I very much mind being called that. Name to collectively call us as a group? What about "indu-ren"? Now that's calling a spade a spade.

"Kelingkiah" and "Apunehneh" were terms used by Chinese mothers to discourage their daughters from playing with me at the playground. In K2, a Chinese boy accidentally brushed against my arm, shrieked and said "Don't want apunehneh black come on me" and proceeded to rub furiously on the stain I must have left on his skin.

Ten years later, a Chinese boy no more than 6 years old used those terms on my little African-Ceylonese cousin before he hurled a fistful of sand at her face and kept pushing her hands off the monkey bars preventing her from playing (I witnessed this). Years before I was born, my paternal Eurasian grandmother used the term "kelingkiah" to express her disapproval/ displeasure at my dad bringing home a Ceylonese woman to marry - my mother. They eventually divorced coz the old woman could not get over it (in combination with my dad being a spineless ass).

So you see, the terms are offensive and meant to mock and convey hate. Its use and meaning/connotation since the late 70s to the late 80s to the late 90s have not changed. I don't see how it would have changed today.

Please spread the word to your friends whom are not of subcontinent descent. Thank you :)

Me: "Kilingkia" refers to the noise made by Sikhs' metal bracelets, I believe, and is not in and of itself derogatory.

If whites are offended by the term "ang moh", does it make it an offensive term?
In Indonesia the local like to call whites "bule". This pisses some of them off, but some locals maintain that it is a neutral term.
Should we avoid the term "niggardly" because some people find it offensive?
Why is the word "negro" shunned today by non-blacks, while at the same time many organisations retain the word in their names?
Are Singaporeans racist when they talk about "Jap food"?
Meanwhile "Yankee" used to be a derisory term, but today it is harmless.

What we should shun is the negative intent behind terms, rather the terms themselves. In Japan "gaijin" can be used as a neutral term to describe foreigners, or it can be a term of disdain - it all depends on the context.

The euphemism treadmill moves fast, and can send us hurtling into the sea.

A: With reference to your question regarding the word "negro", it is as you say, it depends on context. The primary context for "negro" is that it is ok for that ethnic group to use it for themselves but not for non-members to use it. It probably would not be controversial for african-americans to set up a "Negro Advancement Society" while it will most likely be so for white people to use it in most contexts.

I'm also not sure about the origin of the word "kilingkia" but the wikipedia article does contradict your origin story.

Me: Yes but doing the whole "I can say what I like about my group but you cannot say anything about mine" is double standards and leads to cultural ghettos where we are unable/unwilling to engage the Other beyond meaningless platitudes

Hmm I didn't know that etymology. Is it not telling that Keling is a reference to Kalinga and is not in and of itself derogatory?

"in Penang Hokkien, which is spoken by some Indians in Penang, keling-a is the only word that exists to refer to ethnic Indians.

The Hokkien and Teochew suffixes -a and -kia are diminutives that are generally used to refer to non-Chinese ethnic groups. "-yan" mean human."

C: I find this debate on etymology tiresome. Clearly it’s not the point A is trying to make but since it has come up in this thread, I’d like to respond to it. You can quibble till the cows come home over whether the etymology of 'keling' is racist, derogatory or not, but the fact remains that the word can, has been and is often used in racist contexts. The etymology unfortunately carries far less weight compared to the socio-historical use of the word. I don’t think it’s too demanding to ask people to err on the side of sensitivity with regards to issues like this. Jumping to the defense of terms that can upset people or cause them to feel marginalized and ‘picked on’ seems careless to me. Yes, people technically have the liberty to be prejudiced and clearly there are some people who will fight tooth and nail to safeguard even the most shameful kind of entitlement they can conjure up on the grounds of freedom. But it doesn’t strike me as that difficult to go with the word Indian over ‘keling’ when you’re faced with that choice. Or is it that diffcult?

Me: Just because I am for the rights of gays to marry doesn't mean I am gay myself

Also, what do you think of the term "ang moh"? Should Singaporeans stop using it if (some) whites feel it is offensive? See other examples above.

A: Just to point out that Gabe isn't arguing from the perspective of freedom here. I think he is pointing out the existence of double standards when people say we must be sensitive.

C: Why do whites feel 'ang moh' is offensive? Why do many black people feel it's offensive to be called negro or nigger? Why do many of the Inuit people want to stop being called Eskimos? Perhaps some of them are just up for making life a little more difficult for other people, but I would think most of them genuinely feel oppressed or undignified by the term because of the ways in which those terms have been used and the negativity those terms may have come to be associated with over time. Most of us would have at some point made up teasing nicknames for friends. When we become aware they don't like those nicknames, most of us would stop using those nicknames out of respect and decency. Why can't we just accord that same respect to people in general?

I am not referring specifically to Gabe in that comment, sorry if I hadn't made that clear. I'm simply marveling at the fact that people would defend the use of words that they are fully aware clearly hurt other people. I don't like categorisation at all but until we find another way to get about our business and daily life, I can accept that it is sometimes necessary. Since that is the case, why can't we just stick to the terms that are (for lack of a better or more fashionable word) politically correct? If you're speaking in Hokkien, and if 'ang moh' is indeed the correct or 'politically correct' word to use, then by all means, use it. But when used with English, one has to agree that it can take on an added connotation/dimension and potentially becomes problematic. It's such an easy thing to avoid doing, no real harm comes from avoiding the use of these sorts of words and it prevents hurting other people, so why can't we just do it?

Me: A: It's not really about double standards here, but rather people deciding to decree on a semi-arbitrary basis what is "offensive" and imposing standards on others.

C: Is 'ang moh' really used in a negative way?

If "Eskimo" is offensive, why does the Inuit Circumpolar Council use both "Inuit" and "Eskimo" in its official documents? Do note that "Inuit" excludes the Yupik people.

It's like the terms "Roma" vs "Gypsy". "Roma" is the politically correct term, but ironically it's less inclusive than "Gypsy" as it leaves out non-Roma Gypsies. As such some activists say that we should revert to the term "Gypsy" instead.

Dallas County officials spar over 'black hole' comment
Some people claim that the term "black hole" is racist. Should we stop using the term "black hole"? It's such an easy thing to avoid doing, no real harm comes from avoiding the use of "black hole" and it prevents hurting other people, so why can't we just do it?

How about other terms which have "black" in them? Blackguard, black-and-white, black box, black magic, blackhat, Black Monday, the Black Death, the Black Hole of Calcutta (double offence there!), Black comedy, the Black market, Blackmail, black sheep, Black coffee. Shall we stop using all of them to spare people's feelings? D.C. Mayor Acted 'Hastily,' Will Rehire Aide
Some people claim that the term "niggardly" is racist. Should we stop using the term "niggardly" (even if it is etymologically unrelated to "nigger"?)? It's such an easy thing to avoid doing, no real harm comes from avoiding the use of "niggardly" and it prevents hurting other people, so why can't we just do it?

If we give in to opprobrium against "niggardly", what about other words which resemble "nigger" like "snigger" and "niggling"?

The reality about "offensive language" is that there's a euphemism treadmill. The PC terms we come up with today will be considered offensive tomorrow. "Idiot" and "retarded" used to be medical terms.

How long will the list of words and terms that we should avoid using be, if everything that could potentially offend someone is avoided?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Etre élevé jusqu'aux cieux

"Il existe je ne sais quoi de grand et d'épouvantable dans le suicide. Les chutes d'une multitude de gens sont sans danger, comme celles des enfants qui tombent de trop bas pour se blesser; mais quand un grand homme se brise, il doit venir de bien haut, s'être élevé jusqu'aux cieux, avoir entrevu quelque paradis inaccessible. Implacables doivent être les ouragans qui le forcent à demander la paix de l'âme à la bouche d'un pistolet.

Combien de jeunes talents confinés dans une mansarde, s'étiolent et périssent faute d'un ami, faute d'une femme consolatrice, au sein d'un million d'êtres, en présence d'une foule lassée d'or et qui s'ennuie. A cette pensée, le suicide prend des proportions gigantesques. Entre une mort volontaire et la féconde espérance dont la voix appelait un jeune homme à Paris, Dieu seul sait combien se heurtent de conceptions, de poésies abandonnées, de désespoirs et de cris étouffés, de tentatives inutiles et de chefs-d'œuvre avortés. Chaque suicide est un poème sublime de mélancolie. Où trouverez-vous, dans l'océan des littératures, un livre surnageant qui puisse lutter de génie avec ces lignes :

Hier, à quatre heures, une jeune femme s'est jetée dans la Seine du haut du Pont-des-Arts

Devant ce laconisme parisien, les drames, les romans, tout pâlit, même ce vieux frontispice: Les lamentations du glorieux roi de Kaërnavan, mis en prison par ses enfants, dernier fragment d'un livre perdu, dont la seule lecture faisait pleurer ce Sterne, qui lui-même délaissait sa femme et ses enfans."

--- La Peau de chagrin / Honoré de Balzac

Links - 30th August 2011

"Love can be sordid only if you work at it." - Brooke McEldowney


French woman in Malaysia 'killed for refusing sex' - "She and the suspect Asni Omar, a 36-year-old local businessman, had been drinking together on the island and she was later killed after refusing to have sex with him"
Malaysia Boleh!

"Last-place Aversion": Evidence and Redistributive Implications - "Why do low-income individuals often oppose redistribution? We hypothesize that an aversion to being in "last place" undercuts support for redistribution, with low-income individuals punishing those slightly below themselves to keep someone "beneath" them. In laboratory experiments, we find support for "last-place aversion"... Last-place aversion predicts that those earning just above the minimum wage will be most likely to oppose minimum-wage increases as they would no longer have a lower-wage group beneath them, a prediction we confirm using survey data"

Searah's Museum of Screwy Sex Toys - "This device came out maybe five or so years ago and is an attachment for your vacuum that you use to… wait for it… stimulate your clitoris. Yes indeed! Just pop this hard plastic tube on the end of your household appliance that suctions up dirt and grime and suction up your clit for fun!... #1- turning on the vacuum at 12am would wake up the rest of my sleeping household # 2- I did not want this thing anywhere near my goodies."

How external cues make us overeat. - "Instead of Italian Pasta, we called it Succulent Tuscany Pasta. Or instead of Chocolate Cake, we called it Belgian Black Forest Cake, even though the Black Forest isn't in Belgium. Once we added a descriptive name, sales jumped by 27 percent. And it's not just that food. People rated the restaurant better and the chef more competent.... the McDonald's eaters underestimated their calories by 19 percent, but the Subway eaters underestimated by 27 percent... I just had a dissertation defense for a student who found that if people were given a food labeled "organic," they estimated the calories as 15 to 20 percent lower than if the food wasn't called organic... there are real dangers to the health halo. It's not just that you underestimate calories. It's that the next step is to reward yourself by eating even more... "if you have 17 years of college behind you, you're likely to think that education is the answer to everything"... education is probably not the way to go... we find that the smarter people are, the more they get fooled because they believe that they are smarter"

Angola-Portugal, la colonisation à l'envers | Slate Afrique - "Ces trois dernières années, pas moins de 100.000 Portugais se sont installés en Angola, ancienne colonie lusophone d’Afrique australe pays situé à sept heures de vol de Lisbonne. Quelque 25.000 demandes de visas ont été deposées en 2010 par de jeunes professionnels qui veulent échapper à la crise au Portugal. Si le flux migratoire persiste, la communauté portugaise pourrait retrouver en Angola son niveau d’avant l’indépendance: 500.000 personnes. Du jamais vu, dans les annales post-coloniales"

Back to the Future Co-Creator Bob Gale Explains How Marty and Doc Became Friends

Find Out Why This Could Be The Greatest Wedding Photo Of All Time

Sex, lies and pitfalls of overblown statistics - "“On average, men think about sex every seven seconds.” How did the researchers find this out? Did they ask men how often they thought about sex, or when they last thought about sex (3½ seconds ago, on average)? Did they give their subjects a buzzer to press every time they thought about sex? How did they confirm the validity of the responses? Is it possible that someone just made this statement up, and that it has been repeated frequently and without attribution ever since? Many of the numbers I hear at business conferences have that provenance."

Theodore Dalrymple: The Barbarians Inside Britain's Gates - "The rioters in the news last week had a thwarted sense of entitlement that has been assiduously cultivated by an alliance of intellectuals, governments and bureaucrats. "We're fed up with being broke," one rioter was reported as having said, as if having enough money to satisfy one's desires were a human right rather than something to be earned... while the rioters have been maintained in a condition of near-permanent unemployment by government subvention augmented by criminal activity, Britain was importing labor to man its service industries... The reason for this is clear: The young unemployed Britons not only have the wrong attitude to work, for example regarding fixed hours as a form of oppression, but they are also dramatically badly educated. Within six months of arrival in the country, the average young Pole speaks better, more cultivated English than they do"
Meanwhile people say making people work for benefits is slavery, amounts to Victorian workhouses etc

Tuscan friars ask God to deliver diarrhoea for basilica bible thief - "Friars at the 15th century church of San Salvatore al Monte, which was a favourite of Michelangelo, were irritated when a rare and expensive bible disappeared from the lectern, and they flew off the handle when a replacement bible donated by a worshipper also went missing and within a few hours."

Mozilla: Firefox 7 browser might use 50 to 75% more memory - The IT Reporter - "When reporters compared Firefox against Google Chrome‘s performance and stability, Kovacs shrugged and pointed out that Firefox still is the only browser that has a cute animal in the logo. The Association for Firefox Developers responded positively. An overjoyed spokeswoman said that this decision was “long overdue” and praised the Mozilla Foundation for “bravely dumping overrated software development concepts”, such as stability, performance and efficiency"

How did Rocky and Drago avoid steroid testing? - "We finally learned how "Back to the Future's" Doc and Marty met. It's time solve these other '80s movie mysteries"

10 Most Hated Jobs
Amusingly, Law Clerk is #7. Also, "IT directors reported the highest level of dissatisfaction with their jobs, far surpassing that of any waitress, janitor, or bellhop"

The Most Brilliantly Pointless Street Flyers | Happy Place

The Sweet, Superb and Scary Cosplay of Gamescom 2011
The Japs have higher standards (in more than one sense of the word) but many characters look more natural when played by Caucasians

Study: Singles Die Earlier Than Married People - "New research shows that getting married could lengthen your life for up to 17 years"
I read a few reports and they don't seem to have controlled for self-selection - people going to live longer are more likely to get married (or even considered this possibility). This is what happens when you get a sociologist to do an economist/statistician's job!

Bear Attacks Cows & Learns Getting Beef Isn’t Easy

TOC photographer hauled to police station by SBS Transit staff - "We are horrified to learn that this had happened. This is certainly not something we condone... For these lapses, we are taking disciplinary action against him. We would like to extend our deepest apologies to Mr XXX for the inconvenience and distress caused"
What a refreshing change from usual Singaporean responses

Confessions of an Ex-Moralist - - "Is not morality like this God? In other words, could I believe that, say, the wrongness of a lie was any more intrinsic to an intentionally deceptive utterance than beauty was to a sunset or wonderfulness to the universe?... One interesting discovery has been that there are fewer practical differences between moralism and amoralism than might have been expected. It seems to me that what could broadly be called desire has been the moving force of humanity, no matter how we might have window-dressed it with moral talk... Mother Theresa was acting as much from desire as was the Marquis de Sade. But the sort of desire that now concerns me most is what we would want if we were absolutely convinced that there is no such thing as moral right and wrong. I think the most likely answer is: pretty much the same as what we want now... to argue that people who use animals for food and other purposes are doing something terribly wrong is hardly the way to win them over. That is more likely to elicit their defensive resistance."

STOMP - Singapore Seen - At it again! Malaysian hooligan points laser at Lion's keeper to blind him - "A similar incident had occurred during Malaysia's Suzuki cup meeting with Indonesia which led to the Indonesian team walking out temporarily during the match"
Malaysia Boleh!

It's official: women are better liars - "Scientists at Queen Margaret University College in Edinburgh have been counting the pauses between words and discovered that men are almost twice as likely as women to hesitate mid-sentence. Normally a liar can be spotted by an increase in the number of pauses in their conversation"

Women’s Bathrooms in China — The Honest Truth about Chinese Toilets - "So have you ever seen those old women who, without any modesty, leave the door hanging wide open while doing something rather private then precede to not flush? Sure it seems close to vile in western culture but look at from a cleanliness perspective – she didn’t touch the door handle or the toilet handle. She thinks it’s disgusting when us westerns not only close the door but grab hold of the handle and fasten the lock, then precede to touch the toilet handle, that has been touched by countless people who have just touched some not so clean places, to flush the toilet."

Ogling by Men Subtracts from Women's Math Scores - "Getting the once-over from a man causes women to score lower on a math test, a new study finds. Despite this drop in performance, women were more motivated to interact with men who ogled them, perhaps because they were trying to boost their sense of belonging... The researchers are now investigating whether woman-on-woman or man-on-man gazing has any effect on performance. They're also interested in whether licentious glances could become as taboo as butt-slaps under sexual harassment law"
Is it more important to boost women's maths scores or to give them what they want? The more interesting finding here was that women like being checked out by men. Is it sexual harassment if the "victim" wants it?

Bad Writing

WebAIM: Writing Clearly and Simply:

"8. Avoid slang and jargon

Slang and jargon can be useful to people who understand it, but confusing to people who don't.

Bad example: Social theory jargon:
Critical theory seeks to problematize the hegemonic reification of oppressive stratified social constructs.

The above sentence accurately describes one aspect of the social movement known as critical theory, but it uses terms that are somewhat less common outside of critical theory, and which have specific meanings within the theoretical perspective. The example sentence may confuse people who are unfamiliar with critical theory."

Monday, August 29, 2011

all women are evil. some are just cuter than others

"all men are animals. some just make better pets"

France/Spain 2011 - Day 4, Part 5 - Paris: Musée des Arts et Métiers

"You can't make up anything anymore. The world itself is a satire. All you're doing is recording it." - Art Buchwald


France/Spain 2011
Day 4 - 20th March - Paris: Musée des Arts et Métiers
(Part 5)

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Large Electrostatic Machine, 18th c.

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Detector amplifier type "L1", 1917

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TV Camera, 1935

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Strowger selector, c. 1940

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Box of Cable Samples, 1924

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Hugues printing device, 1875
I'm not sure what the piano keys do

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"Interview" film camera, 1922
Notice it says "Made in France" in English

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Pathé Kok projector, 1911

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Optical Amusements - this gave the illusion of a moving image

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Pens, 1894

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Plate as cast for Marinoni's rotary press, 1883

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Movable type

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Stuff for Phantasmagoria:

"a form of theatre which used a modified magic lantern to project frightening images such as skeletons, demons, and ghosts onto walls, smoke, or semi-transparent screens, frequently using rear projection"

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On Phantasmagorias

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Glazed earthenware dishes, 1889

There was a room with materials which was quite boring, but it was better than gears.

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Electroplated shield, c. 1850

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Autovacc, 1990
So why are we still vacuuming?!

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Luckily, I'm too young to recognise this. This is an 8" floppy, not a 5.25" one.

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Counting Machine

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Mystery (?) clock, late 19th c.

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Box of simple microscopes. Germany, mid-18th c.

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Astronomical clock, early 19th c.

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Clock with double annular face, c. 1770

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Lavoisier's gasometers, 1785

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Device for experimenting on vinous fermentation, late 18

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Barometers, early 19th c. and 1780. They have a weather indicator, not just a pressure one

There were scientific instruments with weight and measures, but I didn't see a reproduction of the official KG weight.

I then went back to the ground floor to hear a talk about Foucault's Pendulum. I arrived 5 minutes late so I didn't get a very good spot.

Guide explaining. I was quite tired and hurting by this time so I didn't really pay attention.

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Steam Car, 1770

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There were too many spoilt screens for the inconvenience to be "occasional"

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Unidentified Flying Object

There was also an exhibiton: "Doubles vies. La face cachée des machines" ("Double Lives. The hidden face of machines") but this was just photographs ofmachines taken from odd angles so they looked like faces etc., so it wasn't very interesting.

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La Café des Techniques à toutes vapeurs
Apparently all their dishes are steamed. Ugh.
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