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Valar Qringaomis

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Trolling Militant Atheists can be as fun as trolling Religious Fundamentalists

"[Obama's Nobel peace prize] would be like giving someone an Oscar in the hope that it would encourage them to make a decent motion picture." - Christopher Hitchens

***

A: Religion poisons everything.

Miscarrying mother dies after Irish doctors refuse abortion, saying: 'This is a Catholic country'

Me: Does it poison charity too?

A: two words for you; Mother Teresa.

So tell me, do you think religion poisons charity too?

Me: "All X are Y" is a very strong claim

A: Way to try and create a diversion.

B: *grabs popcorn*

Me: Not sure how pointing out that you are making a very strong claim is a diversion when it comes to discussing said claim

Just because Mother Theresa was both religious and problematic with her charity does not mean all religious charity is automatically suspect

There is some evidence that the religious give more money and time to charity - even to secular ones

Religious Faith and Charitable Giving | Hoover Institution

This is a very peculiar kind of poison

A: A woman fucking died of blood poisoning because the ball-less doctors are too chickenshit to go against the RCC's proscription on abortion, and the first thing that comes to your mind is to argue semantics with me on a completely unrelated topic.

Tell me, what does that say about you, Gabriel?

Me: http://www.shabak.gov.il/English/EnTerrorData/Reports/Pages/June12report-en.aspx

Islam poisons everything
All Palestinians are evil
The whole world is trying to exterminate Israel

Two Israelis, including a civilian, were fraking killed by terrorist attacks because wimpy Netanyahu is too craven to invade the Gaza Strip and root out all the terrorists

KNNBCCB

This could all have been prevented if border security had been more trigger-happy, shooting any suspicious characters

If you disagree with my sweeping generalisations, my proposed modification of the rules of engagement or weightings of the relative importance of protecting innocents and killing people by mistake, you are arguing semantics on unrelated topics!

WIPE OUT THE GAZA STRIP!!!!!!!!!!! OMGWTFBBQ


Family's fury after healthy woman, 24, dies on operating table after having an abortion

From this one anecdote, I conclude that abortion laws should be tightened so fewer women will die from abortions

A: And of course, the very next thing you do is to force the spotlight on your attempted diversion further, in order to try and score a point against me for some reason.

Please leave your family contacts here, dipshit. I'm sure your mother would be glad to learn she has raised a son who fails to see past his own male privilege.

Me: INTERNALISE MY DOMINANT PARADIGM!!!

C: B, pass the popcorn please? I love debating abortion, but this thread is getting real messy.

B: I think Gabriel is simply trolling you. Please don't bring his mother in.

Me: It's alright, I don't think she even knows what "male privilege" is


Abortion and the Gender Gap: the Numbers - Ramesh Ponnuru - National Review Online

In the US in 2011, 46% of men suffered from Male Privilege, and 44% of women had internalised the Dominant Paradigm

I think the Patriarchy has failed. I shall be more diligent in my use of my Male Gaze.


Addendum:

Someone: Why did you attempt to use reason to argue against an emotional person

Me: heh
my rules of engagement:
I give people the benefit of the doubt at the start
if they start insulting me, I troll them :D

Someone: Is A a woman?

Me: nope
worse
a sociology grad

Someone: No wonder he is very lacking in the intellectual department

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Perks of Being a Fictional Character

"We accept the love we think we deserve"
"You don't always get what you deserve"

Links - 16th November 2012

Ban on sale of marijuana to tourists in Holland sparks crime wave - "Not only has it pushed the marijuana trade underground, it has created a new source of income for fraudsters manufacturing fake weed passes... Plans to effectively ban tourists from Amsterdam's marijuana cafes have been ditched by the incoming Dutch government... Amsterdam opposes a ban, which would hurt tourism"

Why 'unsexy’ Ikea bedrooms are killing our love lives, by Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen - "Grown-up sex should be opera, it should be drama, it should be black velvet and silk, and it should be indulgent and opulent, regardless of how much it costs"

First date: Man or Woman pays? - ""I'm an independent woman and I'm comfortable paying for myself, but if he wants a relationship, that's not the way to start," she adds. They never saw each other again... Mr Jackiey Kwek, 37, owner of dating agency CliqueWise, says men should look at it as an "investment for the future relationship"... Guys take note: Women mostly agree that offering to pay on a first date is almost like a test. Product marketing executive Sarah Tang, 23, who is single, says: "If I offer and he accepts, that's it. It's likely there will be no second date, unless I like the guy." Other women interviewed say accepting the woman's offer to pay signals that the man does not value her company or that he is not interested, unromantic or not generous.
As usual, AWARE was deafeningly silent

Genital injuries send thousands to emergency care each year: Study - "To put this in perspective, the yearly incidence of these (injuries) is almost twice as much as dental injuries, and about the same as electrical and chemical burns"

Fallen soldiers: Is it right to take images of bodies? - "What I don't anticipate is the arrival of Belgian police who announce that if either my colleague or I photograph or film the body, we will be arrested, our camera equipment impounded and - possibly - the archaeological dig closed down... It now appears that, in Belgium, it's acceptable to film the dead from Waterloo but not from WWI. So is there now some arbitrary cut-off point, the Crimean War (1853-6) perhaps? The Zulu War (1879), or the Boer War (1899-1902), after which time it becomes unacceptable to film human remains? Or should we simply never film or show the dead from any conflict?... A funeral for the fallen soldier "would be somewhat compromised if films and pictures of the remains of their relative had been publicly broadcast", he adds. And yet all over the media, whether TV, magazines, books and in museums, images of the fallen from both World Wars are routinely shown."

Gold Mine Of Black Heads On Nose - YouTube - "Here is a Gold mine of black heads, rare and very big black heads on nose, known as solar comedones, being extracted out of nose by me with the help of comedone extractor... We can say that this is going to be one of the best black head video ever"

The 10 happiest jobs in Singapore - "Workers in Singapore are happier now than they have been in the past four years... When classified by salary group, JobStreet reported that those who earned between $9,000 and $$9,999 were the least satisfied. On the other hand, those who earned slightly lower at wages of $8,000 to $8,999 monthly had the highest scores of happiness. Among the factors which workers say were important to them, salary was ranked the highest. This is followed by work-life balance and advancement opportunities, both ranked second most important... employees were least affected by the value of their work to society and the safety of their working conditions. While participants indicated that they were most satisfied with safety conditions at work, many respondents also indicated that they were satisfied with interpersonal relations they had with colleagues at the workplace... men tend to be happier at work, with an overall score of 61 points. Female workers, however, rated their happiness at only 58.7 points"

The Importance of Having Friends Who Disagree - " Every time you have a new idea, you need people you can bounce it off. To get any real benefit out of this process you need people with a complex combination of characteristics.
They should
1. have firm (but not rigid) opinions on their own
2. have logical reasons for those beliefs and be able to articulate them clearly
3. are driven by ideas and not ideology
4. not attach their egos to their opinions.
5. be willing to concede a valid argument even if it forces them to possibly re-examine their beliefs
6. know how to listen
Given all that, it is extremely difficult to find such "friends who disagree"... Many people make the mistake of sorrounding themselves with people who think exactly like them and reinforce every idea or prejudice they have. This is a bad mistake and will often end up distorting the reality you see"

Real and perceived attitude agreement in social networks - "Although considerable attitude similarity exists among friends, the results show that friends disagree more than they think they do. In particular, friends are typically unaware of their disagreements, even when they say they discuss the topic, suggesting that discussion is not the primary means by which friends infer each other's views on particular issues. Rather, it appears that respondents infer opinions in part by relying on stereotypes of their friends and in part by projecting their own views"

Do Intelligent People Drink More Alcohol? - "More intelligent children in both studies grew up to drink alcohol more frequently and in greater quantities than less intelligent children"

The Measurement That Would Reveal The Universe As A Computer Simulation

More than half of S'poreans would migrate if given a choice: Survey - "For the first time in the history of Singapore, a whole generation of wage earners face the chilling possibility that their lives are going to be worse than their parents'... In June, there were 200,000 Singaporeans living abroad for at least six cumulative months in the previous 12 months, a 27 per cent increase from nine years ago, says the National Population and Talent Division. The World Bank has higher figures, with almost 300,000 Singaporeans considered migrants in 2010"

Neil Armstrong (Conversion to Islam) - WikiIslam - "Neil Armstrong is said to have converted to Islam upon hearing the Adhan (call to prayer) on the moon"

Asia's endangered species: The expat - "three out of four senior executives hired in Asia by multinationals were Asian natives already living in the region, according to a Spencer Stuart analysis of 1,500 placements made from 2005 to 2010. Just 6% were noncitizens from outside of Asia... "It takes them six months to figure out how to take a ferry, they're there for 12 months, and then they spend the next six months figuring out how to get home""

Dunns River Cock Flavoured Seasoning 100 g (Pack of 12): Amazon.co.uk: Grocery

Why McDonald's Fries Taste So Good - ""A natural flavor," says Terry Acree, a professor of food science at Cornell University, "is a flavor that's been derived with an out-of-date technology." Natural flavors and artificial flavors sometimes contain exactly the same chemicals, produced through different methods. Amyl acetate, for example, provides the dominant note of banana flavor. When it is distilled from bananas with a solvent, amyl acetate is a natural flavor. When it is produced by mixing vinegar with amyl alcohol and adding sulfuric acid as a catalyst, amyl acetate is an artificial flavor. Either way it smells and tastes the same... A natural flavor is not necessarily more healthful or purer than an artificial one. When almond flavor -- benzaldehyde -- is derived from natural sources, such as peach and apricot pits, it contains traces of hydrogen cyanide, a deadly poison. Benzaldehyde derived by mixing oil of clove and amyl acetate does not contain any cyanide. Nevertheless, it is legally considered an artificial flavor and sells at a much lower price. Natural and artificial flavors are now manufactured at the same chemical plants, places that few people would associate with Mother Nature."

Electricity 101 - "Can we harness lightning as an energy source?
Can we have wireless transmission of electricity?"

Christian Conservatives Failed to Sway Voters - NYTimes.com - "the bishops spoke out on many issues, including immigration and poverty, but got news media attention only when they talked about abortion, same-sex marriage and religious liberty"

Reasons given for having abortions in the United States - "advocates of unrestrained abortion often cite the "hard cases"--cases of rape, incest, life or health of the mother or baby--in defending access to abortion. It is widely acknowledged that such cases are rare; however, available data suggest that some commonly cited figures are exaggerated. Further, the prevailing preferences of the American electorate are often cited in regard to U.S. abortion legislation. Some will claim, for example, that most Americans support legal abortion. While majority vote is an unconstitutional means of limiting human rights (regardless of what position on abortion one thinks is the one consistent with human rights), the claim itself is a half-truth. Most Americans would oppose banning abortions for hard cases, but at the same time most Americans would support limits on elective abortions, e.g. abortions for convenience or for sex selection... Another AGI study, conducted in 2000-2001, examined contraceptive use but provides some information relating to reasons for abortion. Some data from this survey of 10,683 women obtaining abortions is given below:
not using contraception 46.40% of abortions
[of which] forced to have relations 0.6% of abortions"

Single, but not for want of trying - "Ladies: Don't walk around with a long "checklist". You might have traits you're looking for, but best keep it to three must-haves and three no-nos.
Guys: Please see beyond the biological attraction. The majority of guys in our dating services are looking for girls who are young, physically attractive, slim. Forty years from now, most of us will be old and wrinkly. Focus on the important things: Compatibility. Similar values. Similar wavelength."
How come ladies can have three must-haves, but guys cannot nominate their 3 must-haves as "young, physically attractive and slim"

Pakistan's transgender tribe of tax collectors - "Miss your tax deadline in the United States this weekend, and you might get a nasty letter at your door. In Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, you might get Riffee and the gang. They are "transgender" tax collectors -- whose weapons include flamboyancy, surprise -- and a little lipstick... A Pakistani court ruling two years ago gave eunuchs -- men who have been castrated -- the right to be referred to as a "third gender." Riffee believes the same right should extend to her and her friends, although they have not been castrated... the team threaten to come back 24 hours later, half a dozen strong -- and dance in the shop. That just may be enough to get a tax bill settled."

Alright we've discovered what all Men of Reddit do, now Women of Reddit what are some things you are sure all women do or have done? Possibly Nsfw : AskReddit - "sometimes when i wear jeans i purposely give myself cameltoe before i get in the car, so i can wiggle around feel the seam rub on my clit. it's glorious"

How to Be a Girl: Magic Cat Eyes with Scotch Tape! - YouTube
I am amused by the series title

Why Buying An iPad Mini Is An Incredibly Dumb Idea - "For the marginal effort of "sitting up in bed" you could stick a laptop on your lap and play FLASH GAMES on WEBSITES for FREE instead of playing the same games as APPS that you PAY FOR and are WORSE. Also, all this hoopla about the iPad being more portable? Rubbish. An iPad is about as portable as a MacBook Air, but with a MacBook Air you get an actual keyboard and the ability to, you know, have different windows open at the same time so you can engage in the revolutionary activity of, say, taking notes while watching a video. So there you have it. The secret is out: Laptops are like iPads, only better... As far as I can tell, the base-model iPad mini (for $329) really is just an iPod Touch... everything I could do with an iPad -- miniature or no -- I can do with a smartphone. Except that I can put my smartphone in my pocket"
"I've seen a good number of parents getting their kids tablets to get them out of their hair. At supermarkets, kids are playing with tablets instead of destroying what I came to buy."

Grandma in Russia kills wolf with bare hands and axe

Calvin and Hobbes' Life Lessons for Boys (and Girls) - "It's sad whenever a clear genius like Watterson leaves his masterpiece behind, but in the era in which your favorite long-broken up band is reuniting for a 35-city reunion tour, I think Watterson ending C&H left a beautiful, finite result"

An Examination of Gender in Bill Watterson's Calvin & Hobbes - "The fact that Rosalyn's character is viewed in such a negative way creates humor in much the same way as Miss Wormwood's character. Both of them are women that dominate and interfere with Calvin's ability to scheme plans for world domination. However, the fact that Miss Wormwood and Rosalyn are both portrayed in such one-dimensional ways is problematic... it is childhood written from a male's point of view, and in the end there is nothing wrong with that"

Restaurant Review - Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar in Times Square - NYTimes.com - "Hey, did you try that blue drink, the one that glows like nuclear waste? The watermelon margarita? Any idea why it tastes like some combination of radiator fluid and formaldehyde?... Somewhere within the yawning, three-level interior of Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, is there a long refrigerated tunnel that servers have to pass through to make sure that the French fries, already limp and oil-sogged, are also served cold?"

Turn to 400 - The Fighting Fantasy documentary film


"Fighting Fantasy was born 30 years ago, Ian Livingstone & Steve Jackson started a role playing phenomenon. This film tells their story."

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sprechen Sie Englisch?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

"The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn't do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life's assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire's flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It's not desiring the fall; it's terror of the flame yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don‘t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You'd have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling."

--- Infinite Jest / David Foster Wallace

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

On feminists silencing men's views on abortion

"And I think both the left and the right should celebrate people who have different opinions, and disagree with them, and argue with them, and differ with them, but don't just try to shut them up." - Roger Ebert

***

Why can’t men shut up about abortion? | Talking Philosophy

"We (us blokes) are not directly affected by a ban on having an abortion, so why should we get a say in whether someone else gets to have an abortion or not?... This has become a popular meme: I’m confronted on a daily basis with claims, whether in the social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, or in the mainstream media, such as newspapers, with the claim that men should simply shut up about these issues and leave it to women to make the decisions...

As it happens, though, I don’t plan to shut up. One reason for that is that I am actually pro-abortion, so I don’t see why I should shut up unless all those anti-abortion men reach a deal with me to do likewise...

As it happens, men often do have pretty good imaginations (with rich experiences of anxiety, fear, inner turmoil, crushing responsibility, and so on, to draw upon), and I’m not at all convinced that we’re unable to imagine something of what it must be like, if we genuinely try. Indeed, some men may be better able to imagine it than many women who have never encountered the situation and perhaps are not sympathetic. If we are prompted to stretch our imaginations, I submit that that’s a good thing...

Many opponents of abortion, irrespective of their sex, can imagine the highest level of anxiety, fear, difficulty, inner turmoil, and so on, for someone who is forced to become a mother against her will, but still oppose abortion. These opponents of abortion are likely to think that abortion is equivalent to murder, or at least something very like murder, in which case they will say that none of the interests of the woman can justify it. However bleak my future may be if I fail to murder someone, that does not usually give me the legal right to do so. There are exceptions for self-defence, but analogies between abortion and self-defence are notoriously tricky and contested...

As it happens, I don’t think that abortion is anything remotely like murder. The trouble is that I don’t see why someone who disagrees with me ought to shut up about it. If he or she holds a contrary position in good faith, and is prepared to back it with arguments, then s/he not only has the legal right to do so, but perhaps also has some legitimate claim on the rest of us to listen (at least if we haven’t heard and considered it all before). And if this (let’s say male) person is truly convinced that abortion somehow harms a fetus much as our deaths would harm us, surely it’s unreasonable for me to expect him to hold his tongue about it...

I doubt that any serious thinker about contemporary politics can avoid taking positions that then entail views on the abortion debate. Keeping entirely silent may not be a practical possibility once you start thinking and talking about almost any other set of fraught political issues."


Comments: "I don’t own a dog. Does this mean I am not allowed an opinion regarding animal cruelty?"

"Please don’t tell me to shut up. That’s so very disrespectful. Until women can reproduce by themselves (they still need a man, right?), there’s no such thing as “women’s reproductive rights”. It’s “reproductive rights”, period. "

"As a man can I really consider the humanity of a female? As a white man can I really consider the humanity of a black man, an Inuit, or an Asian? As me, and only me, with only the highly suspect witness of senses to inform my mind, can I really attest to the validity of YOUR claim to equality of sentient stature with me? Indeed, if you can really remove my claim to such consideration you attack the very foundations of Philosophy itself."

"I see this sentiment expressed quite often among my pro-choice friends. It always rubs me the wrong way. Brains, not reproductive organs, are required for thinking about important social issues... Furthermore, there are plenty of pro-life women, and if you oversimply this debate as a black and white gender war, you are not only dismissing your pro-choice male supporters, but handing some power over to female pro-life activists to play their own gender card and win support with it"

"It is a strange position, philosophically, to expect someone to silence their own beliefs. It is based on an idea that people should only express opinions which they have the direct possibility to experience. By that logic only men should say that men should not express opinions about abortion because women will never be a man and never be able to know if or how abortion affects them. But of course there is no real movement to apply this philosophical principle broadly, no movement to say only people in the military should have a voice in war policy, only tax payers should have a voice in tax policy. It is strange that this principle, which is so obviously flawed in other cases, would be so common in this one issue."

"by the same principle, there should be discussions that exclude childless women"

"Rich, older people pass laws that will overwhelmingly affect poor, young people; that’s true of practically the whole of the criminal law for a start. (Or very large chunks of it anyway.) And that’s not always a bad, or even an avoidable, thing"

"here in New Zealand, we have a cabinet minister responsible for social welfare who was herself a young single mother. While this does give her first-hand experience, this is not manifested in greater sympathy for other teenage single mothers, but in a tough ‘if I can drag myself up by the boot-straps, anyone can’ approach to ‘beneficiaries’. Does this suggest that her personal experience has enabled her to make more informed decisions? Or that she is viewing an atypical (and maybe very lucky) experience as typical?"

"This actually relates to another bugbear of mine: the ‘you wouldn’t say X if you were/had Y’ retort.
‘You wouldn’t oppose the death penalty if it was your child’, or even ‘if you were a parent.’
‘You wouldn’t be taking that line if you had been the victim of crime/unlawful arrest’...
I’m never sure if this is a claim for epistemic privilege, exactly; are these people claiming that I would attain some greater insight or knowledge were I a parent/crime victim? Or merely that my moral priorities would change? If it’s the latter, that does seem like quite a good reason not to implicitly trust the perspectives of such interested parties."

Monday, November 12, 2012

Links - 12th November 2012

"A true friend is someone you can disagree with and still remain friends. For if not, they weren't true friends in the first place." - Sandy Ratliff

***

fairy tales for twentysomethings - "After pulling the sword from the stone but before becoming king, Arthur went on a cross-country road trip / vision quest. He crashed on friends’ couches or, on a few nights, the back seat of his car. He went to Burning Man, stayed in the mountains of Montana for a few weeks, and learned to build a cigar-box guitar from some guy on the street in New Orleans."

Why I said yes to Sex. Violence. FamilyValues - "I am aware that the decision to ban this film is in part due to a society that has been engineered to discourage any open discussion on race. However, I’m still disheartened because film and art have always been one of the best mediums to allow us to explore difficult issues freely... Banning such films do not encourage the local movie industry to grow, nor would it help us mature as a society. The Amy Cheong debacle may be yesterday’s news, but if we continue to stay away from honestly talking about and tackling issues of racism and race-relations in Singapore, there is no stopping incidents from happening again and again"

Man who took upskirt shot of flight attendant escapes charges - "A "peeping Tom" who used a pen-shaped camera to take an upskirt shot of a cabin attendant during a domestic flight in Japan has avoided charges after prosecutors failed to decide which prefecture the plane was flying over at the time... "Peeping Tom" offences typically fall under prefecture-level law to prevent public nuisances and their applications require prosecutors to state exact locations of the crime"

Twitter / almightygod: This is how you handle a fundy ... - "This is how you handle a fundy sign-waver"

Ad networks are killing the Internet.

Single for the Holidays - NYTimes.com - "But isn’t Venice, to which this reporter has been in both summer and winter, a bit romantic for a solo trip? Ms. Bing dismissed the thought. “It’s kind of an exquisite melancholy,” she said. Her advice: go out to lunch and take along some local literature or a copy of Italo Calvino’s “Invisible Cities,” about an imaginary conversation between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan. “A couple of years ago I was reading ‘Invisible Cities’ alone, and oh, my God, if I had wanted to pick somebody up,” she said, “I couldn’t get people to stop interrupting me”... “By an overwhelming majority, the solo travel market is much more female than male”... “the longer the cruise, the older the cruiser”

Carrie Lukas: There Is No Male-Female Wage Gap - WSJ.com - "full-time working women spend an average of 8.01 hours per day on the job, compared to 8.75 hours for full-time working men. One would expect that someone who works 9% more would also earn more. This one fact alone accounts for more than a third of the wage gap... In a 2010 study of single, childless urban workers between the ages of 22 and 30, the research firm Reach Advisors found that women earned an average of 8% more than their male counterparts... many American women wish they could work less, and that they weren't the primary earners for their families. Few Americans see the economy as a battle between the sexes. They want opportunity to abound so that men and women can find satisfying work situations that meet their unique needs"

Why Do Women Pay More Than Men - "Though few retailers will cop to it, gender pricing is standard industry practice. It's especially pronounced at the drugstore, where bathroom staples like shampoo, soap, and razors marketed to women (invariably packaged in pretty pastels) routinely cost more than near-identical products for men. A recent study by researchers at the University of Central Florida examined some 200 sticks of deodorant sold at major drugstore chains and found that sticks for women cost, on average, 30 cents more per ounce than those for men, even when the only discernible difference was scent... Women tend to rely on word-of-mouth recommendations when choosing a lender rather than shopping around for the lowest rate the way men do. We also find negotiating anathema... "It's a standard industry practice going back decades," says Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plan, an industry trade group, of higher premiums charged to women. He says women "tend to have more health-care costs than men" and see more doctors than men of the same age"
Why do Mac users pay more for hotel rooms than PC users?

The 15 Jobs Where Women Earn More Than Men - "“Researchers have found that both sexes fare better when they are in the minority”... the few women who enter construction and mechanical jobs are likely highly skilled and more concentrated in union jobs"

SMU pulls plug on human rights centre - "Sources told TODAY that the setting up of the centre would have raised many red flags, not least its name and the fact that it was largely funded by a foreigner. "Human rights remain a topic that has to be carefully managed in Singapore. The Centre would lack credibility if it critiques the human rights situation in other countries but not Singapore's." a source said"

5 Weird Ways Disney Buying Lucasfilm Just Changed The Future - "The Star Wars Expanded Universe (or EU) is pretty polarizing to the people who know about it — people seem to loathe it, love it, or be completely oblivious as to its existence. So, you’re likely to be either exuberant, rageful, or completely nonplussed when you realize that Disney is notoriously stringent with control of their trademarks, it seems unlikely that writers in the EU will be given the freedom they’ve had in the past. And if you’re more of a gamer than a reader, this is gonna affect you to: given Disney’s recent purposeful shift away from console gaming and more towards the mobile market, as well as the recent failure of The Old Republic MMO, it’s unlikely that BioWare will continue the franchises it’s created, and that the coffin really is nailed shut on poor Lucasarts — meaning we’ll never see the likes of Monkey Island again."

Celebrity 18th birthday countdowns have long been the rage - "Most older readers who find this behavior reprehensible no doubt stopped reading several paragraphs ago. For those who stuck around, here's some more bad news: This isn't a new phenomenon. And your generation started it. Since the days when Shirley Temple steered the Good Ship Lollipop through puberty, fans have been meticulously dissecting the first kisses, first signs of breasts and first romantic encounters of our nation's most popular female child actors... Between 1982 and 1985, no less than three major label artists -- including Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members Aerosmith and Eric Clapton -- recorded or released different songs titled "Jailbait."

Belief in miracles climbs in the age of Oprah - "Service attendance is the strongest predictor of belief in miracles, and demographic groups such as women and evangelical and black Protestants retain relatively strong beliefs in the existence of miracles. But the greatest growth appears to be coming on the periphery of organized religion. One striking finding, for example, was that marginal attenders across faith lines strengthened their belief in miracles over the past two decades... Even among respondents with no religious affiliation, the percentages who believe in miracles increased from 32 percent in 1991 to 42 percent in 2008... One potential explanation, according to Martin, is the cultural preoccupation with miracles promoted in non-dogmatic ways by a series of popular television programs such as “Touched by an Angel” and best-selling books such as the “Left Behind” and “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series. No one, Martin and other researchers point out, may have done more for this spiritual phenomenon than Oprah Winfrey... In the 2007 Baylor Religion Survey, 23 percent of respondents said they witnessed a miraculous physical healing and 16 percent said they received a miraculous healing. And in the 2010 Baylor Religion Survey, three-quarters of respondents said they prayed to God to receive healing from an illness or injury; more than five in six respondents prayed for someone else’s healing."

Brazilian Student Catarina Migliorini Sells Virginity for £483,000 - "A man, 21-year-old Alex Stepanov from Sydney, also put his virginity up for sale, but only garnered £1,860... Before the auction, Migliorini said she had not found the right person to have sex with and that taking part in the auction was "more sane" than having sex with a stranger drunk at a party... "If you only do it once in your life then you are not a prostitute, just like if you take one amazing photograph it does not automatically make you a photographer"... "She was speaking to her family in Brazil online and they were extremely happy for her. But I guess they didn't expect her to do something like this." Migliorini reportedly plans to use the money to build homes for poverty-stricken families. Under the terms and conditions of the auction, the winning bidder must have a medical examination and a police check. Rules stipulate that they may not be intoxicated during their time with the virgin, kiss them, involve anyone else or sex toys. They are also prohibited from recording the encounter or expect to have any fantasies or fetishes fulfilled. The minimum time the virgin must spend with the bidder is one hour"

A dozen USB chargers in the lab: Apple is very good, but not quite the best - "The Samsung oblong charger came in best, using just 19 mW; this was so low compared to the other chargers that I measured it again a different way to make sure I hadn't made an error. On the other extreme, the fake iPhone charger used 375 mW. The Apple iPhone charger performed surprisingly badly at 195 mW. If plugged in for a year, this would cost you about 21 cents in electricity, so it's probably not worth worrying about

Why Do Sign Language Interpreters Look So Animated? - "Signers are animated not because they are bubbly and energetic, but because sign language uses face and body movements as part of its grammar"

How Food Replaced Art as High Culture - NYTimes.com - "It is costly. It requires knowledge and connoisseurship, which are themselves costly to develop. It is a badge of membership in the higher classes, an ideal example of what Thorstein Veblen, the great social critic of the Gilded Age, called conspicuous consumption. It is a vehicle of status aspiration and competition, an ever-present occasion for snobbery, one-upmanship and social aggression. (My farmers’ market has bigger, better, fresher tomatoes than yours)... Food, for young people now, is creativity, commerce, politics, health, almost religion... Just as aestheticism, the religion of art, inherited the position of Christianity among the progressive classes around the turn of the 20th century, so has foodism taken over from aestheticism around the turn of the 21st. Now we read the gospel according, not to Joyce or Proust, but to Michael Pollan and Alice Waters. “Eat, Pray, Love,” the title goes, but a lot of people never make it past the first. Nor do they have to... Yes, food centers life in France and Italy, too, but not to the disadvantage of art, which still occupies the supreme place in both cultures. Here in America, we are in danger of confusing our palates with our souls"

Calvin & Hobbes (image)

Study: The ‘gateway drug’ is alcohol, not marijuana - "making science-based alcohol education a top priority could actually turn the tide of the drug war — but only if lawmakers and leading educators decide to use that same science as a foundation for public policy and school curriculum... A study published in 2010 in the medical journal Lancet ranked alcohol as the most harmful drug of all, above heroin, crack, meth, cocaine and tobacco. Even more striking: The Lancet study found that harms to others near the user were more than double those of the second most harmful drug, heroin"
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