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More adventurous than the average bear

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Links - 16th February 2012

"My theory of evolution is that Darwin was adopted." - Steven Wright


Should art really be for its own sake alone? - "If art museums are the new churches, perhaps they should end the veneration of ambiguity and start serving our inner needs... modern museums of art fail to tell people directly why art matters, because modernist aesthetics (in which curators are trained) is so deeply suspicious of any hint of an instrumental approach to culture"

Messy desks in the office can actually lead employees to think more clearly, say researchers - "Oddly, the effect seems to work most on conservatives - political liberals are less liable to be worried about mess in the first place"

London 2012: the best cafes and restaurants on the tourist trail

Grown Ass People: The Semiotics of Shaving: Beards in Battlestar Galactica - "The accretion of this proteinous harvest is not a mere incidental to the characters' torment. In many ways it parallels the specific types of challenges that our heroes and anti-heroes must overcome, and in some cases, the series' protagonists channel the power of their facial hair in order to triumph"

Of Men and Mustaches | The Art of Manliness

Variations on a Theme of Singlish - "What if the construct of ‘Singlish’ is more contemporary than it seems? The concept of Singlish as a single, identifiable entity may well be a cultural conception born from just the last few decades"

John Kay - Let’s talk about the market economy - "The political and economic environment in which Marx wrote was a brief interlude in economic history. Yet the terminology devised by 19th-century critics of business continues to be used by both supporters and opponents of the market economy, although the industrial scene has been transformed... So the business leaders of today are not capitalists in the sense in which Arkwright and Rockefeller were capitalists. Modern titans derive their authority and influence from their position in a hierarchy, not their ownership of capital. They have obtained these positions through their skills in organisational politics, in the traditional ways bishops and generals acquired positions in an ecclesiastical or military hierarchy."

Diane Abbott told Tory-voting graduate Jade Knight to 'work for a white Conservative' - "Ed Miliband faced new calls to rebuke Labour frontbencher Diane Abbott last night after she told a young, Tory-voting black graduate who asked her for work that she wasn’t doing the ‘black thing’ and should ‘go and work for a white Conservative’ instead. The new race row involving Ms Abbott comes two weeks after she was forced to apologise for saying ‘white people love to divide and rule’ following the trial of the killers of black teenager Stephen Lawrence."

Think outside the Inbox: 3 keys to blogging your way out of email - SharePoint for End Users - "Blogs can open up new direct pathways for communication that stretch beyond the organizational hierarchy. Executives can communicate directly with employees and hear back directly from them. Individual employees can comment back and forth with each other on the topic at hand"

'What Could Possibly Motivate Israel to Kill Iranian Nuclear Scientists?' - "There seems to be an epidemic of thickness... Do you want to know why Israel is taking the actions it may be taking against Iran? Because Iran has been engaged in full-blown but subterranean war against Israel for almost three decades. The Iranian regime is committed to the physical elimination of Israel. That's right -- a member-state of the U.N. is advocating the complete destruction of another member-state. The Iranian leadership regularly uses Nazi-style rhetoric against Israel and Jews, frequently resorting to epidemiological metaphors -- Israel is a cancer, Israel is a tumor, language that smacks of Mein Kampf. But more important than Iran's eliminationist rhetoric is Iran's actions: Iran is the prime sponsor of Hezbollah, an avowedly-antisemitic terrorist organization that seeks to kill Israeli civilians. Iran is also a prime supporter of Hamas, which also seeks out Israeli civilians to kill (and it even brags about the number of Israeli civilians it has murdered). Hezbollah and Hamas, just like Iran, seek the physical elimination of Israel"

Apple founder Steve Jobs 'took drugs and abandoned his family - "One long-term friend, who had attended college with the future billionaire, provided a scathing portrait, describing him as a: "deceptive individual who is not completely forthright and honest. Jobs will twist the truth and distort reality in order to achieve his goals" ... One of the most damning assessments of Jobs' character came from an unnamed woman: "She described his personal life as being lacking due to his narcissism and shallowness""

Advertising authority rules against healing ministry - "A Christian organisation in Bath has been asked to take down claims stating that God can heal certain illnesses after a complaint from an "unofficial adviser to the media". The Advertising Standards Authority accused Healing on the Streets (HOTS) of giving false hope to the sick, preventing those with specific illnesses including cancer, asthma, and other conditions from seeking medical assistance due to their prayer claims"

John Cochrane: The Real Trouble With the Birth-Control Mandate - - "Why should the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) decree that any of us must pay for "insurance" that covers contraceptives?... Insurance is a bad idea for small, regular and predictable expenses. There are good reasons that your car insurance company doesn't add $100 per year to your premium and then cover oil changes, and that your health insurance doesn't charge $50 more per year and cover toothpaste. You'd have to fill out mountains of paperwork, the oil-change and toothpaste markets would become much less competitive, and you'd end up spending more... Notice the doublespeak confusion of "access" and "cost." I have "access" to toothpaste because I have two bucks in my pocket and a competitive supplier. Anyone who can afford a cell phone can afford pills or condoms... There is a liberal dream that by mandating coverage the government can make something free. Sorry. Every increase in coverage means an increase in premiums. If your employer is paying for your health insurance, he could be paying you more in salary instead. Or, he could be lowering prices and selling his product to you and all consumers more cheaply. Someone is paying... Let's mandate that every time a government official says that the government is going to "help" some category of voter, he or she has to say who they are going to hurt in the same sentence. Because it has to be someone."
The Cost of Covering Contraceptives through Health Insurance: ASPE Issue Brief reports that providing contraceptive benefit saves $97 per employee per year, but this points to a problem with human psychology rather than with cost or access in the health system

Should a Florida millionaire be prosecuted for incest because he adopted his girlfriend? - "There is a growing trend in this country of adopting one’s adult lover or spouse for various reasons: to better guarantee the adoptee’s right to inherit directly from the adoptor; to keep other relatives from having any standing to contest an estate plan; or, as in Goodman’s case, to add a spouse or lover to a class of trust beneficiaries, allowing the “child” to inherit from the “parent.” Courts around the country are struggling to figure out whether these adoptions should be upheld or not... But before you go out and adopt your lover, there is one pretty serious repercussion you should consider: Are you committing incest?... Generally, society has been confused on these issues throughout history and into the present day... the public imagination is more transfixed on the sexual prurience of Goodman’s case than on the hapless engineer he killed while driving drunk"
The Ancient Egyptians did it first

Study: PDF May Be Creating More Paperwork Than It Saves - "Over three-quarters of IT professionals surveyed say one of the first things they do with a PDF-based invoice... is print it out. And after those 77% of AIIM's 395 respondents print out their invoices, some 16% then scan them right back into the system for use as PDF attachments... some 77% of whose recipients print them right back out again."
They're saving themselves before saving the planet

Anti-Semitism and the economic crisis - "The media coverage of the Bernard Madoff scandal made extensive reference to Madoff’s ethnic and religious background and his prominent role in the Jewish community... Among non-Jewish respondents, a strikingly high 24.6 percent of Americans blamed “the Jews” a moderate amount or more, and 38.4 percent attributed at least some level of blame to the group. Interestingly, Democrats were especially prone to blaming Jews: while 32 percent of Democrats accorded at least moderate blame, only 18.4 percent of Republicans did so (a statistically significant difference). This difference is somewhat surprising given the presumed higher degree of racial tolerance among liberals and the fact that Jews are a central part of the Democratic Party’s electoral coalition... individuals explicitly told that Madoff is a Jewish-American were almost twice as likely to oppose the tax cuts to big business... Financial scandals are widely regarded as contributors to the rise of anti-Semitism in European history"

PLO official: Palestine should be free of Jews - "The Palestinian Liberation Organization's Ambassador to the US Maen Areikat said Wednesday that any future Palestinian state must be free of Jews... Minister of Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein also responded to Areikat's remarks. "After an unending de-legitimization campaign and attempts to brand Israel an apartheid state, it appears it is the Palestinians who seek apartheid. He said the statements are reminiscent of Nazi slogans... Palestine will be the first to officially prohibit Jews or any other faith since Nazi Germany, which sought a country that was judenrein, or cleansed of Jews"
Still, Israel is always the villain. It's alright for a future Palestine to practise ethnic cleansing, but affirming a Israel as a "Jewish state" is somehow racist.

10 Best Places to Meet Someone - "Don't listen to people who say, “love happens when you’re not looking for it.” It's the kind of bullshit advice that leaves a lot of women waiting in vain for prince charming to find them. Meeting Mr Right is a numbers game. The more places you hit, the higher your likelihood of finding him... Before you shop around for men at a men's store, you have to pick a store based on the kind of person you are looking for. Different kinds of men are going to shop at G2000, Timberland, Armani Exchange and Bread&Butter"
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