"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Links - 27th February 2013

"We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question which divides us is whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct. My own feeling is that it is not crazy enough." - Niels Bohr


A Point of View: The grown-ups with teddy bears - "Sir Robert Clark died in January this year in his late 80s, and when reading his obituary I was particularly struck to notice that at the age of two, which must have been in 1926, he'd been given a teddy bear that he called Falla. Throughout Clark's long and varied career, Falla accompanied him everywhere, even when he was parachuted into enemy territory, and while he was a prisoner of war. Perhaps in gratitude for Falla's unfailing loyalty, Sir Robert Clark later became an ardent collector of teddy bears, eventually accumulating more than 300 of them. But such a story of lifelong devotion between man and bear is by no means unique... When Sir John Betjeman died, he was holding Archibald Ormsby-Gore in his arms, and in death, as in life, Falla was with Sir Robert Clark to the very end. As an antidote to the dying of the light, or to the ending of the day, teddies are always with us"

Should people be off on Fridays? - "proponents of the shorter week cite the three-day week during the recession in 1974, saying production fell by much less than expected. And they say the benefits are not just down to economics."

How hard do you work?
South Korea tops the OECD at 2,193 hours followed by Chile and Greece. Japan is actually at the mean point due to part-timers

Swiss love affair with rail turns sour - "Take, for example, the young man with a ticket which must be date-stamped by a machine on the platform. The machine is out of order, so he carefully writes in the date by hand, gets on board, and is fined by the conductor for not having a valid ticket. There is the pensioner, out for a day with his grandson, who kindly bought both their tickets on his mobile phone, but it turns out you are only allowed one e-ticket per person, so poor old granddad is fined... the formal payment for my ticket from my credit card company arrived four minutes after my train left the station. That means, they say, that I bought my ticket on the train - and that is not allowed. Together with the letter was a fine for 190 francs (£133, $210)... Swiss railways say their policy is designed to protect honest fare-paying passengers, but a quick look at their balance sheet suggests something else. The company is making an estimated $2 million (£1.26 million) a month from fines."

Feminists Demand “Sexist” Makoto Aida Guro Art Ban - "the “Society for Considering Porn Victims and Sexual Violence,” a group including local university teaching staff and women’s shelter staff amongst its members, has in a letter to the gallery called for the exhibition to be banned, denouncing it in the best traditions of feminist academia as “not only being brutal child pornography, but as exceedingly vile sexism also being discrimination against victims of sexism as well”... Not surprisingly, it is his depictions of “daruma” quadruple amputees wearing nothing but dog collars which seem to have provoked this latest assault on artistic freedom, although his works are rather more varied"

Can You Really "Do What You Love" These Days? - "it was Marsha Sinetar’s 1989 book Do What You Love the Money Will Follow that is responsible for promoting the much heralded-- and maligned—phrase into the common vernacular. Unfortunately most job seekers haven't read her book, and the phrase has been turned into a bumper sticker, devoid of meaning and potentially dangerous in its simplicity. It reminds me of another common piece of advice, “Leap and the net will appear.” Yes, sometimes it does. And sometimes you just crash. So maybe it’s time to revisit what Sinetar actually said because the bumper sticker philosophy has erased the depth and intelligence of her book. In the introduction to her excellent book, Sinetar specifically cautions readers from taking a mindless approach to their career"

Decoding facial hair in the Arab world - "The beard is also a symbol of manhood and honour. I'll never forget an example of this from a session of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. It was back in March 2003. The US and British-led "coalition of the willing" was about to invade Iraq and tensions were running high. At one point an Iraqi and Kuwaiti diplomat got into a public shouting match and the Iraqi yelled, "A curse on your moustache!" This remains my favourite insult of all time."

Welfare of children as political football - "Dr Koh was portrayed as a family man, with his own children, during the by-election. He, more than anyone, should know that childcare must not be used for political purposes. One would therefore expect that he would be up in arms about this. But alas… Just in case you’re wondering why can’t the Workers’ Party set up its own childcare centres or kindergartens, this exchange in Parliament in 1992 between Low Thia Khiang & Chiam See Tong and the then Minister for National Development, Lim Hng Kiang, clarifies things"

SMS Prices Higher Than Mars Transmissions Costs - Yet the Public Keeps Paying for It.... - "There has been no limit to the number of folks that have pointed out that SMS is an obnoxious and bloated cash cow, carriers charging a fortune for a simple 160 character, 140 byte message, despite it costing them virtually nothing to send (as it travels along an always live tower control channel). That realization is usually followed by people pointing out that carriers charge this because people are stupid enough to continue paying for it, even with the rise of alternative mobile IM platforms like Google Voice or iMessage. The latest outrage over SMS pricing comes courtesy of Rick Falkvinge, the founder of Sweden's Pirate Party, who points out that the cost of sending a text message is greater than what it costs to send the same message from Mars to Earth"
Cost of sending an SMS from/to Mars: US$0.04, vs US$0.05 for a terrestrial SMS

Young Mothers Describe Marriage’s Fading Allure - NYTimes.com - "Young parents spoke of an economy that was fundamentally different from in their parents’ time, and that required more than a high school education for fathers to be stable breadwinners. They talked of how little they trusted each other to be reliable mates, and of how the government safety net encourages poor parents to stay single... “A baby makes a woman grow up, but not a man,” she said. “I can’t imagine ever depending on a man. I don’t trust them.” Older residents blamed the decline in marriage on government aid. Mary Grasso, a retired sweet shop owner, said men had stopped taking responsibility for their children because the state had stepped in with safety net programs... “We can all stick our chests out and say, ‘We don’t need no man to raise our babies,’ ” Ms. Noble-Garner said. “I would honestly tell them, ‘Honey, yes you do. You might not need him financially, but your baby needs a father.’”"

What happens at an atheist church? - "Instead of hymns, the non-faithful get to their feet to sing along to Stevie Wonder and Queen songs. There is a reading from Alice in Wonderland and a power-point presentation from a particle physicist, Dr Harry Cliff, who explains the origins of antimatter theory. It feels like a stand-up comedy show. Jones and co-founder Pippa Evans trade banter and whip the crowd up like the veterans of the stand-up circuit that they are. But there are more serious moments."

Femen's topless warriors start boot camp for global feminism - "As she prepared to welcome recruits to the Ukrainian-based feminist group Femen's first "international training camp", it was clear that the instruction would not be all ideological. The talk was of "war", "soldiers", "terrorism" and "enemies". Was it not curious, one French journalist asked, that Inna and her warriors had adopted the language of combat, traditionally a male domain, to describe their mission? Was it not also inconsistent, another asked, that the new feminists were using nakedness to rail against female exploitation?... Protesting naked, as Femen's slogans insist, is liberté, a reappropriation of their own bodies as opposed to pornography or snatched photographs which are exploitation. On a less intellectual level, taking their clothes off ensures a lot of publicity. "There is an ideology behind protesting topless, but we quickly realised that if we took our tops off and screamed loudly it was a good way to get attention," Alexandra Shevchenko, one of Femen's founders, said... she fled Ukraine after a well-publicised stunt in which she wielded a chainsaw semi-naked to chop down a large wooden Orthodox cross in support of the jailed Russian feminists Pussy Riot... Outside, on the streets of Goutte d'Or, the three tall, beautiful women cut an incongruous path through the veiled and headscarf-wearing women of the large local Muslim community, weaving their pushchairs through the roadworks. Femen's "Better naked than the burqa" campaign has made few inroads here... "Soldiers will be born here, but they will not be French soldiers. They will be feminist soldiers, international soldiers," said Inna. "Women in every country need Femen." Back to the big leather punchbag hanging from the rafters, and Inna admits that the training sessions will not be entirely pacifist. "Feminism should be provocative," she adds. "There's no other way for women to get attention. It's the only action left to us. So the training will be moral but also physical. You have to be in good shape, because at protests you may need to run away or attack the police or jump on a building or a car.""
I'm sure the damage that Femen does to feminism will be blamed on "backlash"

North Korea video shows US city under attack - YouTube - "The video is shot as a dream sequence, with a young man seeing himself on board a North Korean space shuttle launched into orbit by the same type of rocket Pyongyang successfully tested in December. As the shuttle circles the globe - to the tune of We Are The World - the video zooms in on countries below, including a joyfully re-unified Korea."

Napolitano ‘Frat House’ Claims, and the Issue of Harassed Males - "the proportion of male-filed sexual-harassment claims has nearly doubled in the past two decades, rising from 9 percent to 16 percent"

A tick bite could turn you into a vegetarian

The ice cubes that know when you're drunk - "With each sip of your drink, the cubes keep track of your intake, and go from green to orange to red based on how much you imbibe. Bonus: The cubes are sensitive to vibration, so they flash with the music, "making you look extra cool in the club," and making it awfully hard for you to forget the cubes are there. The cherry on top? They can be programmed to send a text message to the party animal's close friends if he or she has gone over the limit."

Why You Can't Cry in Space - "in space, you could ostensibly watch a show composed of your own weightless tears. Which sounds just beautiful and lyrical and haunting enough to make you want to ... well, you know."

Answer to Breasts: What is it like for a woman to have large breasts? - Quora - "I was inspired to write this because I am wearing a shirt that, on normal chest sizes, would not be low cut, but on me appears to be totally inappropriate in many situations. And I am eating a sandwich. And some of the lettuce just fell in between my boobs. This is a super common experience for women with large chests."

28 Parents Who Are Trolls At Heart
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