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Valar Qringaomis

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Links - 17th February 2015

German teen floods club toilet in futile hunt for lost mobile phone - "A German teen who lost his mobile phone in a pond tried to get it back by draining the water and pumping it into a nearby toilet but caused major damage when the water flooded the tank and sent the waste spewing"

Black cats are being abandoned by owners because they don't look good in SELFIES

Amazon calls for Hachette to cut e-book prices - "Amazon said that its internal data showed that when a book is priced at $9.99, it sells nearly twice as many copies as when it is priced at $14.99. It argued that, as a result, total revenue at $9.99 is more than when the book is priced higher. "At $9.99, the total pie is bigger""

Are there emotional no-go areas where logic dare not show its face? - "These dilemmas are uncomfortable. It is the business of moral philosophers to face up to the discomfort and teach their students to do the same. A friend, a professor of moral philosophy, told me he received hate-mail when he raised the hypothetical case of the miners. He also told me there are certain thought experiments that divide his students down the middle. Some students are capable of temporarily accepting a noxious hypothetical, to explore where it might lead. Others are so blinded by emotion that they cannot even contemplate the hypothetical. They simply stop up their ears and refuse to join the discussion... There are those whose love of reason allows them to enter such disagreeable hypothetical worlds and see where the discussion might lead. And there are those whose emotions prevent them from going anywhere near the conversation. Some of these will vilify and hurl vicious insults at anybody who is prepared to discuss such matters. Some will pursue active witch-hunts against moral philosophers for daring to consider obnoxious hypothetical thought experiments... There is no allowable distinction between one kind of rape and another. If that were really right, judges shouldn’t be allowed to impose harsher sentences for some rapes than for others. Do we really want our courts to impose a single mandatory sentence – a life sentence, perhaps – for all rapes regardless? To all rapes, from getting a woman drunk and taking advantage at one end of the spectrum, to holding a knife to her throat in a dark alley at the other? Do we really want our judges to ignore such distinctions when they pass sentence? I don’t, and I don’t think any reasonable person would if they thought it through. And yet that would seem to be the message of the agonisingly passionate tweets that I have been reading. The message seems to be, no, there is no spectrum, you are wicked, evil, a monster, to even ask whether there might be a spectrum."

Who Wins in the Name Game? - "Not being able to pronounce a name spells a death sentence for relationships. That’s because the ability to pronounce someone’s name is directly related to how close you feel to that person. Our brains tend to believe that if something is difficult to understand, it must also be high-risk."

Psychologists Find a Surprising Thing Happens to Kids Who Read Harry Potter - "reading the Harry Potter series significantly improved young peoples' perception of stigmatized groups like immigrants, homosexuals or refugees."

5 or 50 Minutes of Running Makes No Difference to Health Benefits: Study - "The key is to sustain the practice."

Restaurant Watches Video Footage Of Customers And Uncovers Shocking Truth - "a restaurant in New York City conducted an investigation looking into why they were getting bad reviews from customers who waited to long to get their food. Believe it or not, cellphones were to blame for the slow service of this restaurant. The restaurant published what they found on the internet and it’s an intriguing testimony of what our society has come to."

Rockets and bombs make Israelis and Palestinians less willing to compromise - "do terrorism and indiscriminate violence “scare” a people into accepting the perpetrators’ demands? Or do they harden the affected population, making them less willing to negotiate?... we use variation in the range of rockets from Gaza to Israel to estimate the effect of terrorism on voting in the Israeli elections from 2003 through 2009. During this period, the rockets’ range has continuously increased, allowing us to examine what happens to voters who come into the range of rockets from Gaza compared to similar voters who live outside that range. We find that the vote-shares of right-wing parties that typically oppose concessions to Palestinians increase by 2-7 percentage points among voters within range of rockets. We further argue that voters “reward” right-wing incumbents electorally even if rocket range increases while they are in office, because right-wing parties are perceived to be more competent in dealing with security threats... Palestinians who grew up during First Intifada (the first Palestinian uprising, which took place 1987-1993), and were thus exposed to more violence during their formative years, are less likely to support negotiations with Israel than individuals who grew up during the Oslo peace process."

French court rules no halal meals in prison - "a court in Lyon ruled that "given the possibility for detainees to get meals without pork or vegetarian meals, to get special meals during the main holidays and given the possibility to buy halal meat," prisoners' rights were being respected."

How to reverse course on bad driving? - "Should Singapore do away with traffic lights and signs, in a bid to rid the roads of virulent bad driving? Counter-intuitive as it sounds, such a move has borne results. In the Dutch town of Drachten, removing street rules and directives resurrected road users’ “ability to be considerate”"

Why the Dismal Science Deserves Federal Funding - "Research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and conducted by Columbia University's Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, among others, has shown that socioeconomic conditions in the home, child-rearing practices, and other environmental influences have a critical impact on child health and development. Federally funded research has also shown that throwing money at families, as we did in the failed War on Poverty of the 1960s, does not improve social mobility or create economic opportunity. Recall that it was government-sponsored research conducted by Johns Hopkins University's Robert Moffitt and others that helped provide the analysis behind welfare reform in the 1990s... We cannot expect the market alone to support basic economic and social research, including data collection, since they are public goods that are difficult to appropriate privately"

The 10 most annoying sounds - and why they bother us so much - "Researchers identified these as the most unpleasant sounds:
1. Knife on a bottle
2. Fork on a glass
3. Chalk on a blackboard
4. Ruler on a bottle
5. Nails on a chalkboard
6. Female scream
7. Angle grinder
8. Brakes on a cycle squealing
9. Baby crying
10. Electric drill
The study also identified some of the least unpleasant sounds:
1. Applause
2. Baby laughing
3. Thunder
4. Water flowing"

Why Opposites Attract in Fiction But Not Reality - "The key ingredient of any story is conflict. Will Odysseus return to Ithaca safely? Will Moby Dick get the best of Captain Ahab? Will Walt and Skyler in Breaking Bad, or Don and Betty in Mad Men end up together? Darwinists point out that two things ultimately motivate all organisms: survival and reproduction. Literary Darwinists argue that it’s not a coincidence that these two goals are the most prominent themes in fiction from Homer’s The Odyssey to Kathleen Woodiwess’ 1970s pulp fiction romantic novel The Flame and the Flower to Woody Allen’s Love and Death, a satire on Russian literature. If the conflict is essential to fiction, then chances are it revolves around sex and violence... the goal of some postmodern writers is to scrap clichés in favor of more accurate accounts of everyday life. The problem with this so-called hyperrealist fiction is that it’s incredibly boring... But it’s not conflict and sensationalism per se that draws us in. What we really love are resolutions; it just happens that conflict is the necessary ingredient"

Not So Golden, Sumiko - "To whom does Singapore belong, Sumiko? Does Homeless Man have a right to demand a stake too? The answer, according to your article, would be no – because you, your dogs and a whole load of Duck Tour-ists are having a great time."

We Are Hyper Cacher - "France, in other words, was the site of one of the great Jewish engagements with liberalism and one of the great liberal engagements with the Jews... pieties about diversity are an inadequate response to intercommunal violence. When members of one patch of the quilt murder members of another patch of the quilt, it will not suffice to invoke the splendors of quiltness. Instead, the harsh realities of tolerance must be faced. I say harsh because a tolerant society is a society in which feelings are regularly bruised and faiths are regularly outraged. The integrity of the otherwise puerile and disagreeable Charlie Hebdo is owed to the range of its impudence: It insults everybody, and in this way it is respectful in its disrespect. Umbrage is one of the telltale signs of an open society. One can always respond in kind: The offended may offend the offending. (An AK-47, by contrast, is not an acceptable instrument of literary criticism.) Too many Muslims—not all, not all, not all—wish to be granted tolerance but do not wish to grant it. They do not see that blasphemy is the price one pays for the freedom to practice and to propound one’s religion. Blasphemy is freedom’s tax. The important thing is that the tax be imposed fairly—which is why the French government makes a serious mistake, philosophically and politically, when it seeks to criminalize speech that offends the Jews of France... The history of anti-Semitic incitement in modern Europe may appear to justify the regulation of opinion by law and government, but censorship only intensifies and embitters prejudice. Hatred must be confronted and refuted and disgraced. This may be a long struggle, but no society can be spared a struggle with its demons; and muzzling its demons, or arresting them, as the French authorities have just arrested the contemptible Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, will not banish them... the Jewish crisis of confidence in France is certainly more than a year old: I would date it at least as far back as 2006, when a young Jew named Ilan Halimi was kidnapped in a Parisian suburb by an anti-Semitic crew called the Gang of Barbarians and horrifically tortured for three weeks. He died of his wounds and almost nobody remembers his name. A few years later, an Islamist terrorist shot schoolchildren at point-blank range and killed their rabbi at the Ozar Hatorah day school in Toulouse. President Sarkozy called it an isolated incident. More recently, Fabius and Cazeneuve referred to the beatings and synagogue burnings of this past year—in the first six months of the year there were 527 anti-Semitic acts, many of them violent—as isolated incidents. Isolated from what? Certainly not from each other. They are isolated only from an honest discussion about a deteriorating situation... Is the choice for the Jews of France now between friendly assault rifles and unfriendly assault rifles?"
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