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More adventurous than the average bear

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Links - 19th March 2012

"I was born not knowing and have had only a little time to change that here and there." - Richard Feynman


The Power of Habit: How the history of toothpaste explains why you can’t lose weight. - "This, scientists say, is how habits emerge, and why they are so powerful: They create neurological cravings. Most of the time, these cravings emerge so gradually that we’re not really aware they exist. But as our brains start to associate certain cues (a doughnut box!) with certain rewards (yummy jelly!), a subconscious craving emerges. And so whenever we see the Dunkin' Donuts container in the break room we start craving a donut—even if, just moments before, we weren't hungry at all... Studies indicate that anyone can use this basic formula to create habits of her or his own. Want to exercise more? Choose a cue, such as going to the gym as soon as you wake up, and a reward, such as a smoothie after each workout. Then think about that smoothie, or about the endorphin rush you’ll feel. Allow yourself to anticipate the reward. Eventually, that craving will make it easier to push through the gym doors every day"

NUS students invited to ‘mentor’ newbie PRC MOE scholars like Sun Xu « THE TEMASEK TIMES - "Like Sun Xu, the new PRC MOE scholars will have their tuition fees at NUS paid for entirely by Singapore taxpayers on top of a generous living and housing allowance as well as a to/return ticket back home to China each year. Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education & Ministry of Law Ms Sim Ann revealed recently in Parliament that the Singapore government spends some $36 million dollars on scholarships to over two thousand students each year, or about S$174,00 per scholar"

Are there human races? « Why Evolution Is True - "Nevertheless, even if most human variation occurs within rather than between races, there are statistical differences between human groups that can, when combined, be used to delimit them. Here’s a figure from the paper by Noah Rosenberg et al. (reference at the bottom) that uses these “multilocus” genotypes to distinguish human populations. Their study involved 1056 individuals studied from 52 geographic populations. The genetic analysis was comprehensive... At a sorting algorithm involving 5 groups, the authors note that the genetic clusters “corresponded largely to major geographic regions.” Those regions are roughly sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and the Middle East, Eastern Asia, Melanesia and Oceania, and the America... This shows the difficulty of answering the question of “how many races are there?” One could call Eurasians a race, or one could call Bedouins a race. It all depends on how finely you want to divide things up, and this is precisely what is expected if populations have evolutionary ancestry, which produces clusters of groups nested within each other. What is clear, though, is that human populations are genetically different, and can be diagnosed as genetically different using multiple pieces of DNA... It’s just as scientifically unsupported to say, for example, that there is no difference among populations in mathematical ability as it is to say that there are differences... The “sociological constructs” thing is simply political correctness imposed on biological reality. In view of the morphological and genetic differences among human populations, how can such differences be “constructs”?"
"No one claims that races, either in humans or other animals, must be clear divisions. The best way to illustrate is by pointing out the problems with defining species– there are tons of species concepts. However, the fact that there is no clear concept doesn’t invalidate the idea of races and species."
"I challenge you to walk the color palette and tell me where red ends and orange begins. Clearly such notions as “red” and “orange” are meaningless."
"Asian women tend to have poorly defined Galton ridge patterns which means that they have (more!) difficulty using some kinds of biometric fingerprint sensors."

The Dull New Global Novel - "What seems doomed to disappear, or at least to risk neglect, is the kind of work that revels in the subtle nuances of its own language and literary culture, the sort of writing that can savage or celebrate the way this or that linguistic group really lives. In the global literary market there will be no place for any Barbara Pyms and Natalia Ginzburgs. Shakespeare would have eased off the puns. A new Jane Austen can forget the Nobel."

The Journal of Medical Ethics infanticide debate and “acceptable” free speech - "A controversial academic paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics has triggered a torrent of abuse, including threats of violence and death. Francesca Minerva and Alberto Giubilini, who wrote After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?, argue that given that those who accept abortion typically do so for reasons that have nothing to do with the foetus’s health (even where the foetus clearly is a potential person), then where abortion is permissible, killing a newborn should be permissible, on grounds of consistency. Not a palatable conclusion for many of us, though it could be read as a Swiftian modest proposal that ultimately attacks the morality of permitting abortion."

LOL Shakesville, Disagree with Melissa = Rapist - "No Melissa, the only people who behave like rapists are RAPISTS. Its insulting to victims of rape to compare the heinous crime of rape to people that annoy you on the internet"
Sadly LOL Shakesville was last updated a year ago

Yoga Fans Sexual Flames and, Predictably, Plenty of Scandal - - "Yoga teachers and how-to books seldom mention that the discipline began as a sex cult — an omission that leaves many practitioners open to libidinal surprise... The rites of Tantric cults, while often steeped in symbolism, could also include group and individual sex. One text advised devotees to revere the female sex organ and enjoy vigorous intercourse. Candidates for worship included actresses and prostitutes, as well as the sisters of practitioners... scientists have measured sharp rises in testosterone — a main hormone of sexual arousal in both men and women. Czech scientists working with electroencephalographs have shown how poses can result in bursts of brainwaves indistinguishable from those of lovers. More recently, scientists at the University of British Columbia have documented how fast breathing — done in many yoga classes — can increase blood flow through the genitals. The effect was found to be strong enough to promote sexual arousal not only in healthy individuals but among those with diminished libidos... Since the baby boomers discovered yoga, the arousal, sweating, heavy breathing and states of undress that characterize yoga classes have led to predictable results... If yoga can arouse everyday practitioners, it apparently has similar, if not greater, effects on gurus — often charming extroverts in excellent physical condition, some enthusiastic for veneration"

When Technophobia Becomes Toxic - "Responding to the bleating of activists, policymakers have subjected the testing and commercialization of genetically engineered crops to unscientific and draconian regulations, with dire consequences. A groundbreaking study of the political economy of agricultural biotechnology concluded that over-regulation causes “delays in the global diffusion of proven technologies, resulting in a lower rate of growth in the global food supply and higher food prices.” Current policies also create “disincentives for investing in further research and development, resulting in a slowdown in innovation of second-generation technologies anticipated to introduce broad consumer and environmental benefits.” Everyone involved in food production and consumption has suffered: consumers (especially in developing countries) have been subjected to avoidable health risks, and food producers have placed themselves in legal jeopardy for selling products known to have “design defects.” Public policy that discriminates against and discourages vital innovations in food production is not policy that has the public’s interest at heart."

Many Animals Harmed In Catering For New Film | The Onion - America's Finest News Source | Onion Radio News
The American Humane Association has much to answer for!

Breast-feeding as religion - Dennis Prager - Townhall Conservative Columnists - "In Norway, for instance, it is now illegal to advertise baby formula... I acknowledge having no scientific basis on which to challenge the many scientific studies that point to the health benefits of breast-feeding... Is there a shred of evidence that adoptive mothers bond less with their children? Do women who cannot breast-feed bond less well with their child? Do women who breast-feed one child and bottle-feed the other love the breast-fed child more? Are men incapable of equal love of their children?"
Amusingly I usually see these arguments coming from the other side of the aisle

Fortune cookies pulled from Linsanity flavor: report - "There seemed to be a bit of an initial backlash about it, but we obviously weren't looking to offend anybody and the majority of the feedback about it has been positive"
As with all allegations of offence, the veto complainers have over ideas - even if most others welcome them - drives everything down to the lowest common denominator. As with cases where people are offended by nudity, obscenity or homosexuality, offence is in the mind of the beholder; "If you don't like it, don't buy/watch/read it"

Flight of the Conchords Ep 8 'Foux Da Fa Fa' - YouTube
I'm amused because the person through whom I found this found it amusing, but if the video had been gently mocking Zulu or Malay, she would probably have been epileptic

Laura Maggi Le Cafe: Busty barmaid serves up drinks in skimpy outfits - "Some customers were travelling up to 70 miles just to have a coffee in her bar... 46 per cent of respondents said partners of her male customers should be ‘asking themselves why their partners prefer Laura to them’... Bagnolo’s mayor Cristina Almici said... ‘We can’t stop people from going to her bar and I know it is very popular with men in the town – personally I don’t see any problem with how she looks or dresses. If anything, it’s the men who go there who have a problem.’ She added, however: ‘My husband is certainly not allowed to go there’"

Does the tomb of St Mark in Venice really contain the bones of Alexander the Great?

Sean Hood's answer to Why do studios rewrite scripts after buying them? - Quora

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers DVD news: DVD Plans for Power Rangers - "Factory has signed the deal to distribute DVDs (and Blu-rays, if they wish, although that's not initially expected) from Saban Capital Group's Saban Brands division. That includes the Haim Saban-created series Power Rangers, including all incarnations of the show from 1993 to 2009"
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