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Valar Qringaomis

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Links - 10th December 2013

One throws punches, one insults woman | My Paper | 我报 - "A taxi driver was fined $2,000 for making a passenger alight along an expressway and calling her a prostitute, Shin Min said yesterday. On Nov 2 last year, at about 2am, the passenger boarded the 61-year-old cabby's taxi at Changi Airport and told him that she wanted to go to a Geylang hotel. Things went well at first. The passenger said she liked the Hokkien songs playing on the radio then and asked the cabby to raise the volume. She said the cabby tried to chat with her later, asking her where she was from. But as she wanted to rest, she told him that she did not want to talk. She said the cabby did not hear her as the radio was too loud. So she raised her voice and repeated her answer. She said the cabby then turned off the radio suddenly and told her to get off his cab, which was on the Pan-Island Expressway. When she said she would not pay the fare, the cabby scolded her and called her a "prostitute", she said. The woman later made a police report. The cabby was reportedly making an appeal."
Singapore: where the honour of women is so protected that you get fined for calling them names. This was almost certainly Section 509: Word or gesture intended to insult the modesty of a woman.

At last, a reversible USB plug! - "Finally, users of cameras and other accessories need not worry if they are plugging their devices into computers the right way, as the next generation of Universal Serial Bus (USB) connection will be reversible."

The Contradictions of Mandela - NYTimes.com - "While he was a fire-breathing revolutionary who would quote Marx and Lenin at the drop of a hat, he was also a Xhosa traditionalist with aristocratic tendencies... It is ironic that in today’s South Africa, there is an increasingly vocal segment of black South Africans who feel that Mandela sold out the liberation struggle to white interests. This will come as a surprise to the international community... The new order that Mandela brought about, this argument goes, did not fundamentally change the economic arrangements in the country. It ushered in prosperity, but the distribution of that prosperity was skewed in favor of the white establishment and its dependent new black elite. Today the political apparatchiks are the new billionaires, led by a president — Jacob Zuma — who blatantly used millions of taxpayer dollars to upgrade his private residence to accommodate his expanding harem and a phalanx of children... The claim is that the settlement reached between the A.N.C. and the white apartheid government was a fraud perpetrated on the black people, who have yet to get back the land stolen by whites during colonialism. Mandela’s government, critics say, focused on the cosmetics of reconciliation, while nothing materially changed in the lives of a majority of South Africans... I fear that, for Mandela, loyalty went too far. The corruption that we see today did not just suddenly erupt after his term in office; it took root during his time. He was loyal to his comrades to a fault, and was therefore blind to some of their misdeeds... In later years, however, Mandela became the victim of the very corruption I was complaining about. He was surrounded by all sorts of characters, friends and relatives, some of whom were keen to profit from his name. They include his grandson Mandla Mandela, a petty tribal chief who was widely reported to have pre-emptively sold to a television network the broadcast rights to his grandfather’s funeral"

Do Cats Control My Mind? - "Neuroscientist Joraslav Flegr, an eminent voice in Toxo research, told The Atlantic last year that, “Toxoplasma might even kill as many people as malaria, or at least a million people a year.”... Stock is the lead author on a study published this week in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity that found an apparent contradiction in the traditional understanding that the parasitic infection is essentially negative for humans. “We had people sit in front of a monitor,” Stock explains, “and they were required to press a button with one hand if a ‘go’ signal appeared. When a ‘stop’ signal instead appeared, they were required to shift and press a button with their other hand. In this part of the experiment, the people who were infected were consistently, significantly faster to respond.” When the task was simpler, all ‘go’ and no ‘stop,’ the infected subjects performed the same as the uninfected."

How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy - "Why men and women reacted so differently to the parasite still mystified him. After consulting the psychological literature, he started to suspect that heightened anxiety might be the common denominator underlying their responses. When under emotional strain, he read, women seek solace through social bonding and nurturing. In the lingo of psychologists, they’re inclined to “tend and befriend.” Anxious men, on the other hand, typically respond by withdrawing and becoming hostile or antisocial. Perhaps he was looking at flip sides of the same coin... Those who tested positive for the parasite, both studies showed, were about two and a half times as likely to be in a traffic accident as their uninfected peers... He’s published some data, he tells me, that suggest infected males might have elevated testosterone levels. Possibly for that reason, women shown photos of these men rate them as more masculine than pictures of uninfected men... Meanwhile, two Turkish studies have replicated his studies linking Toxoplasma to traffic accidents. With up to one-third of the world infected with the parasite, Flegr now calculates that T. gondii is a likely factor in several hundred thousand road deaths each year. In addition, reanalysis of his personality-questionnaire data revealed that, just like him, many other people who have the latent infection feel intrepid in dangerous situations... "the parasite may trigger schizophrenia in genetically susceptible people"... Flegr informs me that he’s just had a paper accepted for publication that, he claims, “proves fatal feline attraction in humans.” By that he means that infected men like the smell of cat pee—or at least they rank its scent much more favorably than uninfected men do. Displaying the characteristic sex differences that define many Toxo traits, infected women have the reverse response, ranking the scent even more offensive than do women free of the parasite... schizophrenia did not rise in prevalence until the latter half of the 18th century, when for the first time people in Paris and London started keeping cats as pets... In a 2011 study of 20 European countries, the national suicide rate among women increased in direct proportion to the prevalence of the latent Toxo infection in each nation’s female population... Once the parasite becomes deeply ensconced in brain cells, routing it out of the body is virtually impossible: the thick-walled cysts are impregnable to antibiotics. Because T. gondii and the malaria protozoan are related, however, Yolken and other researchers are looking among antimalarial agents for more-effective drugs to attack the cysts... the flu virus might boost our desire to socialize... “People who had very limited or simple social lives were suddenly deciding that they needed to go out to bars or parties, or invite a bunch of people over,” says Reiber. “This happened with lots of our subjects. It wasn’t just one or two outliers.” Reiber has her eye trained on other human pathogens that she thinks may well be playing similar games, if only science could prove it. For example, she says, many people at the end stages of AIDS and syphilis express an intense craving for sex. So, too, do individuals at the beginning of a herpes outbreak"

Don't hate the woman behind the 'world's worst selfie' - "By taking a photo of herself in front of a suicidal figure on the Brooklyn bridge she has become a scapegoat for our worst fears about the modern age"

It's an honest mistake. - The People's Funny Pictures Blog - Quora

What dialect do you speak? A map of American English

14th-century Singapore: The Silk Road of the Sea | The Economist - "TO THOSE who know Singapore as a thriving modern city, relentlessly striving towards the futuristic, it is something of a shock to learn that “Singapore’s golden age came to an abrupt end just before 1400.”"

For 20 Years the Nuclear Launch Code at US Minuteman Silos Was 00000000 - "Those in the U.S. that had been fitted with the devices, such as ones in the Minuteman Silos, were installed under the close scrutiny of Robert McNamara, JFK's Secretary of Defence. However, The Strategic Air Command greatly resented McNamara's presence and almost as soon as he left, the code to launch the missile's, all 50 of them, was set to 00000000. Oh, and in case you actually did forget the code, it was handily written down on a checklist handed out to the soldiers"

Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus: The FBI’s files on Camus and Sartre confirm the meaninglessness of it all. - "While existentialism and absurdism were subversive theories, in their way, they never posed any imminent or long-term harm to America, unless you consider a rise in the number of pretentious comp lit grad students to be a threat to national security... eliminate civilian oversight entirely, and this ridiculous literary surveillance program is what you get."

Does doing yoga make you a Hindu? - ""The way we pray as Muslims, each pose that we do is a yoga pose," she adds. "So Muslims that hate yoga are probably doing yoga without realising it." Muslims even join their middle finger and thumb together during prayer, similar to a yoga mudra, she says, though she doesn't believe Islam came from yoga or was influenced by it."

Justin Lee: When Christians Are Christianity's Worst Enemy - "In many communities, our reputation is that of uncompassionate culture warriors, quick to shout about gays or abortion or political candidates, but slow to show grace and mercy in our everyday lives. And these acts of ungrace by Christians have far more power to damage Christianity's reputation and influence than any attack launched at the church from the outside."

The 100 top things you honestly don't need to do before you die - "The average human being will live for 701,844 hours. You will be asleep for 233,600 of those hours (more if you're a cricket fan). You will be working for 74,060 hours (fewer if you're Usain Bolt) and you'll be waiting for your children to hurry up and get their shoes on for 11,850. Take off another 200,000 hours for miscellaneous activities such as being on hold for broadband customer service, queuing at Costa Coffee, or looking up pictures of your ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend on Facebook. You suddenly find yourself with just 182,334 useful hours in your life for reading, watching films and baking your signature Loganberry Pecan Flapjacks... if you wanted to watch every episode of the Guardian's Top 50 TV series of all time, that would take up another 2,080 of your precious hours. Add in two new series a year – every year – that you simply have to watch, and that's a further 4,000 hours. Then add in The Great British Bake Off and, in all, that's around 6,130 hours of television you simply have to see. That's nearly 7% of your available life. Watching every film on the BFI's list of The Greatest Films of All Time will take you 217 hours (with an extra half-hour if you want to watch the hilarious "blooper reel" at the end of Citizen Kane). You will also have to watch at least one new film a month that Charlotte at work keeps banging on about, and one foreign-language film a month because Peter Bradshaw has called it "a stunning new benchmark for Latvian cinema". That takes your total for films you simply have to see up to 2,233 hours. And now an even bigger problem: books... you also have to find time to swim with dolphins, to watch the sunset over Machu Picchu, to kiteboard in the Andes, and to do any number of other tiresome things you see people doing in their profile pictures on Guardian Soulmates... And these, of course, are just the things you have to do. The mandatory things. You will still have to find time for the things you actually like doing, such as popping bubble wrap."
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