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More adventurous than the average bear

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Links - 19th April 2014

Crisis in Sociology: The Need for Darwin: Joseph Lopreato, Timothy Alan Crippen: 9780765808745: Books - "sociology's crisis has deep roots, traceable to the over-ambitious sweep of the discipline's founders. Generations of sociologists have failed to focus effectively on the tasks necessary to build a social science. The authors see sociology's most disabling flaw in the failure to discover even a single general law or principle. This makes it impossible to systematically organize empirical observations, guide inquiry by suggesting falsifiable hypotheses, or form the core of a genuinely cumulative body of knowledge. Absent such a theoretical tool, sociology can aspire to little more than an amorphous mass of hunches and disconnected facts. The condition engenders confusion and unproductive debate. It invites fragmentation and predation by applied social disciplines, such as business administration, criminal justice, social work, and urban studies. Even more dangerous are incursions by prestigious social sciences and by branches of evolutionary biology that constitute the frontier of the current revolution in behavioral science. Lopreato and Crippen argue that unless sociology takes into account central developments in evolutionary science, it will not survive as an academic discipline."

Singapore cost of living sees pawnshops thrive - "Singapore's pawnshop industry has seen phenomenal growth at a time when rising prices and a slowing economy are putting pressure on the household budgets of middle- and lower- income families... A consumer group said the average price of a bowl of noodles with fishballs, a staple dish, was 20 percent higher in 2012 from a year ago at Sg$3. Prices of basic food items like rice, meat, vegetables and dairy products have also risen. Some public-housing flats in choice areas now cost more than Sg$1.0 million while car ownership also remains out of reach for many due to high taxes and a vehicle quota system."

The hawks are out. As the rest of the world... - Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh - "The hawks are out. As the rest of the world mourns Ukraine's descent into violence, opportunists in Singapore have seized the chance to remind us why we need National Service and exorbitant military spending, some comparing Malaysia to Russia... to compare Malaysia-Singapore to Russia-Ukraine requires some unbelievable leap of imagination. This is Russia--of violent revolutions and Stalin's gulags, of the Bay of Pigs and nuclear recklessness, of the Cold War and distrust of the West, of the End of History and multiple insurgencies--led by one of the most bellicose world leaders in recent times. As a Malayan, it saddens me. Malaysia has many other socio-political challenges, but military adventurism is certainly not one of them."
Comment: "Actually I've just learnt that Ukraine has conscription... so maybe the lesson should be that even having NS won't save you."

Ukraine: The military balance of power - ""Ukraine's military is dispersed; it lacks readiness, and much of its equipment is in storage. Given the divisions inside the country, there must also be question marks about the loyalty of elements of the Ukrainian military to the new interim political authorities in Kiev... The Ukrainian military inherited a significant quantity of former Soviet equipment at independence. It is thus in many ways a smaller mirror image of the Russian forces, similarly equipped but having had very little money to modernise over the course of subsequent decades... it is far from cutting edge, with much of its equipment moth-balled or poorly maintained."
Ukraine's problem is not having a lack of soldiers (which is the only way conscription could possibly help). Indeed, extensive conscription could only make its problems worse:
- You are unsure about the loyalty and dedication of conscripts, especially if they come from the Russian-leaning portions of Ukraine
- Your equipment and money are spread out over more people who are less equipped to make use of them
- You need more time to mobilise and you have more part-time soldiers who are less trained and equipped to repel the foreign threat

NUS climbs world reputation rankings to No 21 - "NTU fell from the 71st to 80th band in the 2013 list to the 91st to 100th band this year. Only the top 50 universities are given a specific rank. London-based Times described NTU’s tumble as “a surprise”. The magazine added that NTU’s decision to deny journalism professor Cherian George tenure last year may have hurt its reputation among academics."

Ultraman comic falls to Home Ministry ban | Malaysia | The Malay Mail Online - "The Home Ministry has done what countless monsters and space aliens could not: Vanquish Ultraman."

Clue to earthquake lightning mystery - "Unidentified glowing objects were spotted moments before major quakes in China and Italy recently. These flickers could be triggered by shifting soil layers which generate huge electrical charge, say scientists. Using a tub of plain kitchen flour, they discovered an entirely new physical phenomenon."

Cupid on Trial: A 4-month Online Dating Experiment - "I must admit, I was excited. If you ever want to feel like a small-time god (albeit a somewhat meddling, devious one), I recommend creating multiple dating profiles... After being online for 24 hours, the ten accounts between them had amassed 90 messages. Remember, for this experiment, it was all about unsolicited messages—I sent no messages to anyone and never replied to ones received. As you can see from the graph above, the women got many times more messages than the men.
• Each woman received at least one message, but the two best looking women received 581% more messages than the other three combined.
• Only one man received any messages... when it comes to receiving unsolicited messages based on gender and photos alone, women wipe the floor with men, and very attractive
women sandblast the floor with the fellas. They kill. Their inboxes heave with hellos and how are yous. To make sure it wasn’t just an American thing, I refuelled the Deception Airways jet and relocated all of the profiles to the United Kingdom for a much longer stay. 4 months in fact... I left the 10 profiles dotted around England for over 4 months while I spent time on other projects, like analyzing the last words of 478 death row prisoners... most men compliment the attractive women a lot, they make reference to something in the woman’s profile (you would not believe how many times men mentioned the party tricks and ‘Arrow’ the cheetah from the generic profile I wrote), or they ask a general question about travel or something equally boring. They are rarely, if ever, imaginative and I sympathise with any woman who has struggled to find any diamonds amongst the rough myriad of messages she is bombarded with each and every day. Then again, what can a man say that hasn’t been said before? He has to make a good impression and show he’s attractive without coming off as a creep, without looking needy and without saying the same thing as every other chump"

Dating the Ethnic Man: Strategies for Success: Faizal Sahukhan - "Discover the challenges and rewards of dating ethnic men. Explore the hidden agendas that drive ethnic men’s relationships and family dynamics. Find the key to creating intercultural harmony and happiness. Multicultural relationships are increasingly common, despite the many challenges involved. If you’re a Caucasian woman considering a relationship with an ethnic man, this invaluable guide will open your eyes to the impact of religion, family obligations and peer pressure on your partner’s ability to fully commit to you."

Cantonese Proverbs in One Picture | 廣府話小研究Cantonese Resources - "阿塗(Ah To), a graphic designer and part-time cartoonist who concerns about the survival of Cantonese in Canton and Hong Kong, has just published a comic called ” The Great Canton and Hong Kong Proverbs” on Hong Kong independent media “Passion Times“. The cartoon contains illustrations of 83 Cantonese proverbs."

Idina Menzel's name changed to 'Adele Dazeem' on If/Then Boradway playbill

Susan G. Komen for the Cure donates a whopping 15% of what it receives to cancer research. - "“The Susan G. Komen for the Cure charity defines its mission as finding a cure for breast cancer. In recent years, however, it has cut by nearly half the proportion of fund-raising dollars it spends on grants to scientists working to understand the causes and develop effective new treatments for the disease”... “The irony is that they chose the color pink to counter the salmon ribbons of the Women’s Coalition Against Breast Cancer. SGK was founded because WCABC was publicising the connection between environmental factors like carcinogenic makeup and breast cancer. If makeup has a pink ribbon on its packaging, it is probably carcinogenic.” Finally, they have a nasty habit of paying their lawyers to sue other cancer charities."

What if the Kitchen Velociraptors in Jurassic Park were played by cats?

Nikhil Sabniveesu's answer to Awesomeness: What are some of the most badass photos ever taken? - Quora

The Putin Butt Plug Is Real - "Graphic designer Fernando Sosa has created the most interesting sex toy prototype yet, a 3D-printed Vladimir Putin butt plug that's not quite ready for prime-time use but is an intriguing piece of protest art just the same... I don't know how effective this toy will be in bringing an end to Russia's anti-gay policies (probably not very, but I am not a political scientist), but it could lead to interesting conversations, including one in which we all discuss whether making butt plugs in the likenesses of political leaders is a valid form of political protest."

Reality Check: 5 Risks of Raw Vegan Diet - "Testimonials from ordinary folks are endless, boasting advantages along the lines of having more energy, better skin, improved relationships with woodland creatures and so on... cooking breaks apart fibers and cellular walls to release nutrients that otherwise would be unavailable from the same raw food. Cooking tomatoes, for example, increases by five-fold the bioavailability of the antioxidant lycopene. Similarly, cooking carrots makes the beta-carotene they contain more available for the body to absorb. Soups are full of nutrients that would not be available in a pot of raw carrots, onions, parsnips and potatoes. Cooking can also reduce certain chemicals in a vegetable that inhibit the absorption of minerals, including important minerals like zinc, iron, calcium and magnesium. Cooking spinach makes more iron and calcium available from its leaves... Ironically for the raw vegan, most of the plant enzymes in raw food get destroyed anyway in the acid of the human gut. Only a few make it to the small intestine. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut can carry enzymes into the gut. Their contribution to digestion is not zero, but it does appear to be minimal. "I know of no importance of plant enzymes in human digestion," said McDougall... Some people on a raw food diet rely so much on fruit that their teeth begin to erode: from acids in the fruits that wear down the tooth enamel, from sugar promoting decay, from dried fruit (another raw vegan staple) sticking to the teeth and further promoting decay, and from a general mineral deficiency... "No other animal cooks food," many a raw vegan has stated. One can just as well say that no other animal combines their kale and clover with tropical bananas in a high-speed blender to make the foods more palatable and digestible. Or, that no other animal plays chess... no known human culture has ever attempted to survive solely on raw plant foods. It is the raw-only diet that is unnatural, because it is impossible to survive on this diet without modern conveniences such as refrigerators, storage devices and easy access to packaged foods — such as the aforementioned shelled nuts. In fact, a child raised on a raw, vegan diet without proper supplementation would likely develop severe neurological and growth problems due to a lack of vitamin B12 and other nutrients"
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