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More adventurous than the average bear

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Sunday, November 02, 2014

Links - 2nd November 2014

Nationality not a recipe for good food - "The recent move by Penang to ban foreign workers from cooking hawker food might have prompted cheers among people who love the Malaysian state's rich street food culture... A couple of years ago, I remember feeling regret after ordering a plate of fried Hokkien noodles from a coffee shop near home. I had rattled off my order and when the cook replied, it was apparent that she was not from around these parts. How could she possibly make a decent version of the classic hawker dish? How many versions has she had? Yes, she is Chinese, but our kind of Hokkien mee is not found in Fujian. I ate my noodles with a serving of humble pie because the dish was cooked competently. It was not the best plate of Hokkien mee I ever had but it was not the worst either. The best and the worst were cooked by Singaporeans... my colleagues and I used to frequent a popular cafe in Far East Plaza called, rather grandly, The Ritchie Riche Restaurant. It served cheap and good claypot and hotplate dishes. Soups, sizzling noodles and a particularly succulent chicken claypot dish came out of that busy kitchen. "Look inside," my friend, a regular, told me on my first visit. I did, and saw a staff of Indian cooks busy whipping up these Chinese dishes. We patronised the place every chance we got. The food was good, and it did not matter to us who cooked it. That must surely be the guiding principle when assessing food. If it is delicious and, better yet, authentic, does it matter if the cook is not a native one? I think of domestic helpers who have mastered popiah, mee siam, chicken rice, braised duck, nasi lemak and other dishes, cooked according to treasured recipes belonging to their employers... if we have a native- cooks-only policy, does that mean that only Italian chefs can cook Italian food and French chefs can cook French food here? I would hate to miss out on the creations of Taiwan-born Andre Chiang, chef of Restaurant Andre in Bukit Pasoh. The Penang initiative was not without its detractors. One of them was Malaysian celebrity chef Redzuawan Ismail, better known as Chef Wan. He described the idea as a "ridiculous" one, and The Star newspaper quoted him as saying that the law would make Malaysia a laughing stock in the eyes of the world... It also seems absurd to think that people who grew up eating particular dishes are somehow able to cook them better than others who do not have the same taste memories. I have a wide taste memory for a lot of local classics but that does not mean I can turn out perfect chicken rice, char kway teow or, yes, fried Hokkien mee without working at it."
But Malaysia is already a laughing stock...

Why Portland Is Wrong About Water Fluoridation | But Not Simpler, Scientific American Blog Network - "First, the chemical is labeled “toxic,” but it isn’t mentioned that everything is toxic in the appropriate amounts. Advil and Tylenol are toxic at high enough concentrations, as is water. Many chemicals are harmless within a range of toxicity, and many are beneficial up to certain point. Next, the chemical’s dangerous effects at massive concentrations are stated. But 1/100 or 1/10 of an ounce of fluoride would never be in a glass of tap water in a regulated area—indeed, you are much more likely to find dangerously high levels of fluoride in unregulated water supplies. One part-per-million is the recommended dose, and so one ion floats among a million water molecules. What happens at higher doses can be terrible, which is precisely why you won’t find those levels in regulated water supplies. The final effort is to link the chemical to other scary things that contain it. This may come as a surprise, but it shouldn’t scare you—your body produces formaldehyde. It does so naturally, but the chemical doesn’t damage or kill you. It’s all about the dose; it makes the poison. Just as a natural amount of formaldehyde in your body isn’t a cause for alarm, neither is a regulated, and proven beneficial, amount of fluoride in your water. And the fear is selective. Where is the anti-chlorine lobby? Chlorine is a chemical—also an ion—added to water, also considered one of the greatest public health measures in history. It too is proven to reduce disease and create a more healthy population. Chloride has all the attributes that make fluoride “scary.” When an identical situation produces almost no blowback, it speaks to the basis of fluoride fear. It’s not science...
Could the government…?
Control each and every scientist who has ever published a study on water fluoridation?
Control each and every website that promotes the use of fluoridation?
Have significant private control of the infrastructure of the Internet to suppress conspiracies?
Keep every government employee or scientist who knew about fluoridation for the last 65 years from mentioning one word about its dangers at recommended levels?
Control and coordinate advocacy groups on the local level to write reports and organize in favor of the process?
Have the time and resources to conduct all these suppressive operations for half a century?
Fluoridation conspiracy theorists can’t trust the government to safely add/remove something to/from their water—as they do for chlorine, cryptosporidium cysts, carbon-based solids, oil, grease, arsenic, lead, and selenium—but will give the government the benefit of the doubt when it comes to policing every shred of information on fluoridation for the last 65 years. As with most conspiracies, pulling on the thread unravels the theory."

Research: Recession Grads May Wind Up Happier in the Long Run - "Victoria Medvec and colleagues famously showed that athletes who won silver medals at the Olympics were less satisfied with their results than those who won bronze. Clearly the silver medalists performed better, yet they felt worse. Why? Silver medalists were more likely to agonize over whether a faster stroke or a smaller splash might have earned them a gold. This fixation on how they might have done better often dampened their satisfaction with what they had accomplished. Bronze medalists, on the other hand, tended to be relieved to be on the podium at all. For them, the salient alternative was fourth place, a result that would have sent them home unadorned. Thus, rather than stewing over how they could have done better, these athletes derived satisfaction from what they had achieved. Could similar mental calculations be working in favor of recession graduates?... People who earned their college or graduate degrees during economic downturns were significantly more satisfied with their current jobs than those who earned their degrees in more prosperous times. These effects could not be explained by industry or occupational choices, generational differences, or differences in career trajectories. In subsequent studies, I found that much like bronze medalists, these graduates spent little time ruminating over how they might have done better and tended to be grateful to have a job at all. Those who graduated during more prosperous times, however, looked at their current jobs differently. Rather than revel in their good fortune, these graduates tended to wonder if they could have or should have done better. Much like silver medalists, they were more likely to be plagued by regret, second-guessing, and what ifs. What surprised me most about these findings was how long these effects endured. Recession graduates were typically happier with their jobs even decades after receiving their diplomas – and even after markets stabilized, recessions slowed, and hiring ramped up. The difficult and often demoralizing conditions of their early working lives seemed to shape positively how they thought about and evaluated later work environments. This is consistent with recent research in psychology which shows that some lifetime adversity is associated with greater happiness than either too much or too little. Too much adversity can be emotionally debilitating. Too little can weaken resilience, allowing people to magnify and exaggerate the bumps of everyday life."

Previous exposure to trauma and PTSD effects of subsequent trauma: results from the Detroit Area Survey of Trauma. - "History of any previous exposure to traumatic events was associated with a greater risk of PTSD from the index trauma. Multiple previous events had a stronger effect than a single previous event. The effect of previous assaultive violence persisted over time with little change. When they examined several features of the previous exposure to trauma, the authors found that subjects who experienced multiple events involving assaultive violence in childhood were more likely to experience PTSD from trauma in adulthood. Furthermore, previous events involving assaultive violence--single or multiple, in childhood or later on--were associated with a higher risk of PTSD in adulthood."
That which does not kill us gives us PTSD

Loke QL's answer to Why do Singapore students dislike engineering as their choice of study in Singapore? - Quora - "As many others have said, we are not well remunerated. We don't seem to invent that much in Singapore. Quite frankly, a person doing clerical work at a bank can earn as much or more than an engineer. Just a few years ago, I saw 2 job advertisements:
- Clerical work at ****** Bank. Salary FROM $3000 *Fresh grads welcome!*
- Electrical Engineer at **** COMPANY. Salary UP TO $3000. Min 2-3 years experience.
How exactly is that appealing is beyond my comprehension.
The prospects aren't bright either, since we do not have a strong manufacturing sector with factories using the latest state-of-the-art equipment in Singapore, and can barely hope to progress far up the corporate ladder. Despite the long working hours (sorry for rubbing this in)."

Poorvisha Ravi's answer to How can a woman misuse the concept of feminism? - Quora - "The concept of only females being oppressed is so deeply ingrained in us, that even feminism, a concept of equality, is tinged with this thought. It starts from childhood- this so called fighting male oppression by not playing fair... If someone slaps you, you slap them back. You don't take a chainsaw and massacre their whole race down."

Ukraine's Darth Vader bids to lead nation to the dark side - "In November 2013 he was carried by his stormtroopers to Odessa city hall where he declared himself mayor. According to local media reports he has also reportedly demanded a plot of land to park his spaceship. "I alone can make an empire out of a republic, to restore former glory, to return lost territories and pride for this country," Vader said in a party statement."

The white tourist’s burden - "As admirably altruistic as it sounds, the problem with voluntourism is its singular focus on the volunteer’s quest for experience, as opposed to the recipient community’s actual needs. There is a cost associated with such an endeavor... well-to-do tourists sign up to build schools, clean and restore riverbanks, ring birds and act as caregivers to AIDS orphans for a few weeks. This led to the creation of a profitable industry catering to volunteer tourists. The orphans’ conditions are effectively transformed into a boutique package in which “saving” them yields profits from tourists. The foreigners’ ability to pay for the privilege of volunteering crowds out local workers... These children essentially work as orphans because their parents cannot afford to send them to school. Instead of helping parents cater to the needs of their children, the tourist demand for orphans to sponsor creates an industry that works to make children available for foreigners who wish to help. When the external help dries up, these pretend orphans are forced to beg on the streets for food and money in order to attract orphan tourism... Typically other people’s problems seem simpler, uncomplicated and easier to solve than those of one’s own society. In this context, the decontextualized hunger and homelessness in Haiti, Cambodia or Vietnam is an easy moral choice. Unlike the problems of other societies, the failing inner city schools in Chicago or the haplessness of those living on the fringes in Detroit is connected to larger political narratives. In simple terms, the lack of knowledge of other cultures makes them easier to help. This imagined simplicity of others’ problems presents a contrast to the intangible burdens of post-industrial societies. Western nations are full of well-fed individuals plagued by less explicit hardships such as the disintegration of communities and the fraying of relationships against the possibilities of endless choices. The burdens of manic consumption and unabated careerism are not as easily pitied as crumbling shanties and begging babies. Against this landscape, volunteerism presents an escape, a rare encounter with an authenticity sorely missed, hardship palpably and physically felt — for a small price."
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