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More adventurous than the average bear

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Links - 12th February 2014

Trending: The Anton Casey & Bernice Wong story - "The Talented Mr Casey's GCP-wife, Bernice Wong (former Miss Singapore 2003) made some noteworthy comment that "I will say that the local guys I've met are are pretty sheltered. I'd like them to be more masculine, not so 'baby-ed' and less childish"... Imagine if Anton Casey wasn't white, imagine if he was Anton Chan, a local Chinese-Singaporean who has become rich and successful in banking. If a local Singaporean made such a comment about public transport, would Singaporeans be as upset? Would there be this outpouring of anti-Angmoh racism in social media? I don't think so - I suspect that it will either go unnoticed, or people would agree with him that improvements can be made to public transport, such as easing congestion during peak hours. Are Singaporeans completely happy with the MRT? Of course not. Here's a basic fact: Singapore is a tropical country. It is very hot everyday... Public transport in any tropical city or in any city during the summer months are usually more unpleasant for that matter - try taking the tube or the bus in London in mid-July when the temperature is 30 degrees and it is not going to smell good, I assure you. It can be pretty bad during rush hour... Why do Singaporeans take it so personally when it comes to acknowledging the basic fact that all humans (black, white, Asian alike) sweat when the weather is hot? Are they so insecure to deal with this fact?... When children get on social media and start spouting crap, they are hung out to dry by the angry mob - so that's a very good reason to keep children out of social media. As for Bernice Wong's statement about local men, we've been there before. I've blogged about this a lot in the past - the irony is that the silly Singaporeans on social media have coined the phrase Angmoh Dua Kee or AMDK ("white guy big dick"). Now that's a compliment really... Have they actually verified this with his wife? Do Singaporeans not realize the irony: they are paying a huge compliment (pun intended) to the guy they are very angry with... When I was a student, growing up in Singapore back in the 1980s and 1990s, our parents and teachers pushed us really hard so we could have a successful future - there was a genuine sense of optimism (verging on naivety) that we could do anything, achieve our dreams, as long as we worked hard... that sense of optimism is long gone, replaced by a resentment against the presence of all these expatriates in Singapore today. It's kinda sad really as it is vital for young people to grow up with hope and optimism about their future. Why has this optimism disappeared in the last 20 years? Have things changed that much since? Perhaps what is most telling is the way someone on the EDMW forum suggested that Anton Casey could potentially lose his job over these remarks about public transport. That is such a Singaporean reaction to the situation - so anyone who dares to speak up against the system or voice a criticism should be punished, either by the system or by his employer. That's laughable. Well, that's the way we were brought up to think anyway"

Thursday: Comparing Primate Sexuality | SoundVision Productions Presents The DNA Files - "here’s a well-kept secret: we don’t share 98.8% of our genes in common with chimpanzees. What we share, for sure, is about that much similarity in our overall nucleotide sequence for the regions of DNA we share in common. Why is this distinction important? First, a single gene may be 400 nucleotides in length, but a change in just one of those nucleotides (far less than 1%!) can code for a different gene... there are nearly 5 million “indels” in each species (regions of the DNA that have been inserted or deleted). And fourth, there are major differences in the rate and timing at which genes we do share in common are turned on and off during growth and development. This later point is especially important: Major changes in evolution are driven by the turning on and off of genes. Here’s a well-known example among evolutionary biologists: Modern birds are descendants of reptiles, and, as we all know, they have no teeth. However, the “genetic potential” for teeth still exists in moderns birds, as experiments in the laboratory clearly show: It is quite easy to get a chicken embryo to develop teeth by exposing the cells in its developing jaw tissue to specific certain environmental triggers. Finally consider this: To the extent that we can make such comparisons, we share about 50% of our genetic sequence in common with the garden pea. Now I don’t know about you, but there is no sense in which I’m puzzled as to why I’m not half-pea... Before we go about trying to draw simplistic “genetic” connections between superficially similar behaviors in humans and other great apes, we need to clean up our understanding of what the real genetic (read: epigenetic), cognitive, and cultural differences are among these species... the bonobos I know, tend to engage heterosexual sex and avoid incest and pedophilia. I have observed the incest taboo strongly present in some bonobos and I have also observed avoidance of male-to-male genital contact. I have also observed males engage in ritualistic forms of erect penis fencing where there is no contact, sometimes where the individuals are separated by as much as 15 meters. Sometimes, what appears to be sex is not... I am not sure that bonobos use sex as a networking tool. And I disagree that bonobos, with respect to the notion of species-specific behaviors, are more sexual than other great apes... bonobos often use their genitalia in social circumstances as we use our hands, as in hand shaking or patting for reassurance. It can have nothing to do with sex. It may be the case that certain captive bonobos engage in more sex than free-ranging ones, but this might be adaptive, for what else is there to do in certain types of captivity"
Human DNA is also 99.9% shared...
Keywords: half, genome, 50%

Why is the Arab world so easily offended? - "Even as Arabs insist that their defects were inflicted on them by outsiders, they know their weaknesses. Younger Arabs today can be brittle and proud about their culture, yet deeply ashamed of what they see around them. They know that more than 300 million Arabs have fallen to economic stagnation and cultural decline. They know that the standing of Arab states along the measures that matter — political freedom, status of women, economic growth — is low. In the privacy of their own language, in daily chatter on the street, on blogs and in the media, and in works of art and fiction, they probe endlessly what befell them. But woe to the outsider who ventures onto that explosive terrain. The assumption is that Westerners bear Arabs malice, that Western judgments are always slanted and cruel... The ambivalence toward modernity that torments Muslims is unlikely to abate. The temptations of the West have alienated a younger generation from its elders. Men and women insist that they revere the faith as they seek to break out of its restrictions"

Cant SQL now because Revolution : funny

Anton Casey: To make principles matter, they have to be applied across the board - "If it is seditious for foreigners to provoke disharmony with locals, then it is equally seditious for locals to provoke disharmony with foreigners here. A quick browse through popular online forums will quickly reveal how common the latter practice has become."

Do more to strengthen marriages - "I hope more can be done to help couples strengthen their marriages and avoid even contemplating divorce in the first place.
I suggest the following:
- Define and develop the concept of "love" among our young. As many married couples would attest, love cannot be based on feelings alone, since feelings come and go. Rather, love is a decision to always do whatever is needed for the good of the beloved. Such a concept of love is far more likely to be constant, and more likely to last.
- Develop and provide more marriage preparation programmes and make them more readily available to engaged couples, possibly at a subsidised rate. Incentives (such as vouchers for honeymoon packages) could be offered to those who attend such courses.
- Develop and support more marriage enrichment programmes for married couples, with adequate childcare facilities for those who need them. A possible incentive is to give married couples unrecorded leave to attend such programmes, with accompanying tax perks for companies that support this endeavour."
Predictably, this was condemned by some feminists:
"I object to the prescription of marriage as a monolithic institution which is monogamous, heterosexual, reproductive, and permanent."
"I object also to making privileges exclusive to heterosexual, married couples with children - in the name of "strengthening" marriage."
In other words, we should tear down the institution of marriage

Former Expat's wife living in Singapore: Anton Casey reminds me of my ex-Husband - "One problem with dating a salesman, which investment bankers essentially are, is that they are not only very good at persuading people to invest their money with them, but they are also very good at using those skills of manipulation on you. I was bullied and belittled and made to feel bad about myself, to doubt myself. At one point I could hardly look in the mirror. And when I finally found the courage to speak out I was told I was being 'gobby' and should be quiet. He started hanging out with a different group of friends, some of them models. He'd come home at 7am and expect me to believe he was partying all night but I'm quite sure he was having an affair. No great surprise as our relationship started the same way."

State students fear 'burning in hell' after religious instruction, author says - "“One student told her parents after the 2012 whole-of-school assembly that she can ‘no longer enjoy Christmas because she hasn’t been saved by Jesus’," the book says. "Another parent spoke of how her son ‘was told he would burn in hell by the child of the RI instructor. Later, that child sharpened a pencil and stabbed him in the groin and chest ...’ ”... Byrne said Australian education authorities should follow the lead of other countries and no longer “segregate [students] in a very old-fashioned and 19th-century manner” with different religious instruction classes based on religious denominations. Students should together learn about different religions and beliefs, she said."

GoUNESCO makes discovering world heritage fun! - "1. Travel
Travel to any of the 981 UNESCO World Heritage Sites (WHS) in 158 countries across the world.
2. Upload a photo
Upload your photo from your travels. Photos from an earlier trip are ok too! Start now!
3. Win challenge!
Earn points for every visit to a world heritage site. The more points you have, better your chances of winning!"

Why America Labeled Miley A Slut And Praised Beyoncé - "Why was Miley shamed for her provocative VMA performance, yet Beyoncé’s Grammy showing was beloved? Both artists wore revealing outfits and danced suggestively during a show perused by millions of their young female fans. Miley was crucified for her actions, yet Beyoncé gets more than a pass. Why? Beyoncé is more attractive. Like it or not, this is a huge factor in the way she’s perceived. Miley’s bony body in revealing plastic is hard to watch, while Beyoncé is… Beyoncé. When you try to sell sex, you have to be sexy, and that’s a big part of what was missing from Miley’s performance. The differences in the two performances are stunning, and that has a lot to do with the disparity in reactions to them. Beyoncé chose a classy, demure sexuality, featuring lingerie, captivating booty choreography and her husband. Miley chose to twerk a flat booty surrounded by teddy bears andbackup dancers that some have called appropriated props. She gyrated spastically, shoved foam fingers through her legs and rubbed her ass on a married man. Instead of real, raw sexuality, it became a Looney Tunes caricature of what sex is. It felt like the desperate sexual assertions of a child, which was uncomfortable to watch."

Thug-Notes and Other Sites Translate Literature Into Rap - - "In 1848, a reviewer for Graham’s Magazine described “Wuthering Heights” as “a compound of vulgar depravity and unnatural horrors, such as we might suppose a person, inspired by a mixture of brandy and gunpowder, might write for the edification of fifth-rate blackguards.” Presumably, this grumpy writer would have cared even less for the Thug Notes version. That Emily Brontë novel is among the latest subjects tackled on, a website where fine literature is reduced to its hip-hop essence. A genial fellow using the moniker Sparky Sweets, Ph.D. serves up video summaries of classics in the language of the street, throwing in a minute or two of analysis for good measure. Dr. Sweets, a black man whose wardrobe leans toward shorts, tank tops and assorted do-rags and caps, sits in a somber-looking library worthy of PBS and holds forth about a new volume each week. The site’s motto: “Classical Literature. Original Gangster.”"

Let's save Africa! - Gone wrong - YouTube - random cognitive neuroscience paper title
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