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More adventurous than the average bear

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Links - 21st February 2015

Court refuses trial by combat - Telegraph - "A court has rejected a 60-year-old man's attempt to invoke the ancient right to trial by combat, rather than pay a £25 fine for a minor motoring offence. Leon Humphreys remained adamant yesterday that his right to fight a champion nominated by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) was still valid under European human rights legislation. He said it would have been a "reasonable" way to settle the matter. Magistrates sitting at Bury St Edmunds on Friday had disagreed and instead of accepting his offer to take on a clerk from Swansea with "samurai swords, Ghurka knives or heavy hammers", fined him £200 with £100 costs."

Noah's Ark would have floated...even with 70,000 animals - Telegraph - "Previous research has suggested that there were approximately 35,000 species of animals which would have needed to be saved by Noah, enabling the students to conclude that the dimensions given in the Bible would have allowed Noah to build an ark that would float with all of the animals on board"

Sex is the secret to looking younger, claims researcher - Telegraph - "He said sex has a number of health benefits which can make men and women look between five and seven years younger which includes; it causes the release of endorphins, the ‘feel good’ chemical which acts as a natural painkiller and reduces anxiety aiding sleep; exercise boosts circulation which is good for the heart; and it also causes the human growth hormone to be released which makes the skin look more elastic... “Sexual satisfaction is a major contributor to quality of life, ranking at least as high as spiritual or religious commitment and other morale factors, so more positive attitudes towards mature sex should be vigorously promoted"

Oscar Pistorius case highlights how little we really know about the sports stars we idolise - Telegraph - "The most terrifying allegations about Lance Armstrong are not simply his use of performance-enhancing drugs to make him the best, but the campaign of bullying and intimidation he used to preserve his super-clean, supercool image. Those stories are hard to square with his previous public image as a cancer survivor intent on doing good; no wonder his foundation no longer bears his name. I am not for a minute suggesting that having an affair is the same as cheating at sport or that either is equivalent to a murder charge. But in their different ways each revelation shows how little we know about these men — and it usually is men — whom we endow not only with superhuman sporting ability but extraordinary personal qualities. We do the same with actors and film stars. Yet these figures in the public eye are ultimately unknowable. They show us only what they want us to see... The nature of sporting success requires a high degree of narcissism and arrogance, an inflated sense of your own worth, and a single-minded pursuit of your goals. Indeed, it requires many of the qualities that actually work against goodness, kindness and being nice and loyal to the people closest to you"

Women and gay men are 'worst drivers' - Telegraph - "Research has revealed that both perform poorly in tasks involving navigation and spatial awareness when compared to heterosexual men... the findings mean driving in a strange environment would be more difficult for gay men and women than for straight male motorists. Both tend to rely on local landmarks to get around, and are also slower to take in spatial information... The results back earlier studies supporting the stereotype that women are poor navigators. Although women are more successful in tests requiring them to remember the position of objects, men consistently do better in tasks requiring navigation and uncovering hidden objects"

Vultures, sharks, and sex with the enemy: the bizarre accusations against Israel – Telegraph Blogs - "Much mirth and merriment is being generated by the Sudanese reports that an Israeli vulture has been carrying out espionage over Darfur. In reality, of course, the bird was fitted with a GPS tracker by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. The same thing happened in Saudi Arabia last year, when a "griffon" was "arrested" for its role in a "Zionist plot". This is just the latest in a long and bizarre list of examples of paranoia among Israel's enemies. My personal favourite, which I have mentioned here once before, occurred in December 2010. A series of shark attacks in Egyptian waters, which led to one death and four injuries, caused the regional governor Mohamed Abdel Fadil Shousha to blame it on Israel. “The Mossad throwing the deadly shark in the sea to hit tourism in Egypt is not out of the question,” he said. In response, the Israeli foreign ministry made a statement that "the man must have seen Jaws one time too many"... The Rabbi explained that according to Jewish law, women are passive partners during sex, and so seduction for intelligence purposes is permitted when lives are at stake. However, there are certain restrictions: although female Mossad agents do not need specific Rabbinical authority to seduce an enemy target, they must not commit such acts in public, and should not do so if they are known to be Israeli. According to Rabbi Shvat, seduction assignments should “be given to a woman who in any event is promiscuous”, and if she was married, the husband should divorce her beforehand, and they remarry her afterwards."

Muslim juror removed from jury after refusing to take off veil - Telegraph - "A Muslim juror has been excused from sitting on a case because her veil concealed her facial expressions"

Sex surrogates: saviours or sinners? - Telegraph - "Long shrouded in misunderstanding, sex surrogacy is now in the spotlight thanks to a new film, The Sessions, telling the story of O’Brien, played by John Hawkes, and Cohen Greene, played by a largely nude Helen Hunt. Released in Britain early next year, after receiving standing ovations and much Oscar talk in the United States, the film uses a surprising amount of humour to confront two taboos: the sexual needs of the disabled and the controversial role sometimes played by surrogates in order to fulfil them. Although often dismissed as prostitutes – or sex workers, to use the industry’s preferred term – surrogates claim they are actually far closer to therapists, whose work is vital to help people recover from sexual trauma and tackle dysfunction. But critics dismiss the work as morally dubious, degrading and of negligible therapeutic benefit... Previous success rates for sexual dysfunction had been very low. In contrast, Masters and Johnson’s two-week, “hands-on” programme was proved to be 80 per cent effective over five years, and 75 per cent effective when surrogates were used. But even in the free-love era, surrogacy was viewed with suspicion. In 1970 the couple regretfully ended the practice when they were sued by a man who claimed his wife was working as a surrogate. The result, Masters said later, was a complete reversal of previous success rates with single, impotent men, with 75 per cent of therapy now failing"

US should 'keep control of net' says Clinton - "Net freedom could suffer after the US steps back from its role as ultimate overseer of the global network, former US President Bill Clinton has said. Many of the governments keen to help oversee the net just wanted to use it to silence dissent, he said."

Why IEEE Fellow Radia Perlman hates technology - "But the world would be a better place if more engineers, like me, hated technology. The stuff I design, if I'm successful, nobody will ever notice. Things will just work, and be self-managing. Though, I've learned that some people like to configure things, so I usually design in knobs for them to play with, and perhaps improve things, but any setting of the knobs will still work correctly. When engineers [who] just love this stuff design something, we wind up with a system that asks an innocent person attempting to install email, "Do you want POP or IMAP?" One common comment engineers make is that we need "more user training". That's just wrong. Instead of expecting humans to adapt to an interface slapped together by engineers, engineers should strive to create a system that is designed for humans in their natural form"

The Association between Eating Behavior and Various Health Parameters: A Matched Sample Study - "a vegetarian diet is related to a lower BMI and less frequent alcohol consumption. Moreover, our results showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with poorer health (higher incidences of cancer, allergies, and mental health disorders), a higher need for health care, and poorer quality of life"
Addendum: Study: Vegetarians Less Healthy, Lower Quality Of Life Than Meat-Eaters - "Vegetarians were twice as likely to have allergies, a 50 percent increase in heart attacks and a 50 percent increase in incidences of cancer... Subjects who consumed lower amounts of animal fat were also linked to poor health care practices, such as avoidance of vaccinations and a lack of preventive care."

BBC News - Stranger danger in the 18th Century - ""Friendship was regarded as quite dangerous," says Prof Matthew Grenby, an expert on children's literature from Newcastle University. "Friends are the sort of people that are going to lead you off the straight and narrow and are going to be detrimental to your secular prospects and also your spiritual prospects."

Children’s films have more death than adult ones - "Picking a children’s animated movie to keep the kids quiet on a rainy Sunday afternoon could involve exposing them to 2.5 times the number of deaths found in films aimed at adults, according to new research... Deaths were more likely to occur early on in children’s films: in Pixar’s Finding Nemo, the titular clownfish’s mother is eaten by a barracuda just four minutes and three seconds in, researchers noted, while in Disney’s Tarzan the feral child’s parents are killed by a leopard after four minutes and eight seconds. Parents were five times more likely to die in children’s animated fare than in adult-orientated movies."

Couple singing Peppa Pig tune to toddler 'forced off bus after complaints they were being racist' because it goes against Muslim pork ban

Sleep-Away Camp for Postmodern Cowboys - - "Team America were at Kasotc for the fifth-annual Warrior Competition in which 32 teams from 17 countries and the Palestinian territories would compete against one another on mock missions. Organizers have referred to it as “the Olympics of counterterrorism”"

Yelp - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - "A Harvard Business School study published in 2011 found that each "star" in a Yelp rating affected the business owner's sales by 5–9 percent. A 2012 study by two Berkeley economists found that an increase from 3.5 to 4 stars on Yelp resulted in a 19 percent increase in the chances of the restaurant being booked during peak hours. A 2014 survey of 300 small business owners done by Yodle found that 78 percent were concerned about negative reviews. Also, 43 percent of respondents said they felt online reviews were unfair, because there is no verification that the review is written by a legitimate customer."
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