"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Links - 14th April 2015

Is Pinyin Input Killing Chinese Writing? - "Chinese adults suddenly found themselves unable to write out the correct characters as CCTV rolled out its summer special program “Chinese Characters Dictation Competition” 中国汉字听写大会. The program is modeled after the American show “National Spelling Bee”, where middle school students take to the stage to write down Chinese characters via dictation. Intended to promote Chinese language skills, the show appalled the contestants as they realized they had lost the ability to get their answers right. Xinhua News points out that only 30% of the “adult experience group” set among the audience got the characters for 癞蛤蟆 (làiháma, toad) correct, only 10% got the characters for 熨帖 (yùn tiē, appropriate, well handled, ironed flat), and over 40% failed to write down the correct characters for the commonly used word 间歇 (jiànxiē, intermittent, periodic, episodic). After watching the show, netizens challenged each other to dictate words that appeared on the show. Much to their dismay, they realized they failed to match up to these 14 year-old contestants"

Toxoplasmosis Parasite May Trigger Schizophrenia And Bipolar Disorders - "The parasite infects the brain by forming a cyst within its cells and produces an enzyme called tyrosine hydroxylase, which is needed to make dopamine. Dopamine’s role in mood, sociability, attention, motivation and sleep patterns are well documented and schizophrenia has long been associated with dopamine, which is the target of all schizophrenia drugs on the market... "the ability of the parasite to make dopamine implies a potential link with other neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease, Tourette’s syndrome and attention deficit disorders""
Crazy Cat Ladies are literally crazy

▶ Man Gobbles at Turkeys Turkeys Gobble Back - YouTube

▶ Turkey Jihad - The Gobbling Army - YouTube

Composer Pierre Boulez victim of Swiss police raid - "In the radical atmosphere of the late 1960s, Boulez, who had taught at the Basle Conservatory, made a comment to the effect that opera houses should be blown up. This was sufficient for the Swiss security services to open a file on him. Then some six years ago, a music critic, who was responsible for a particularly derisive review of one of his performances, claimed Boulez (or someone) had rung, threatening to blow him up. The composer had already left the country when the critic filed his complaint with the police and no further inquiries were ever made. So Boulez’ name remained on a list of “terrorist suspects” maintained by the Swiss authorities. That a security file was ever opened on Boulez, and was retained for so long, indicates the massive level of state surveillance of ordinary citizens in Switzerland, and in many other countries. A man with no criminal record whatsoever, who is an internationally respected artist, can suddenly find himself facing a police raid in the early hours of the morning. This gives an indication of the vast and indiscriminate scope of the alleged “war on terrorism.” How many others, less well-known, will face similar raids? And this took place in “neutral,” “peaceful” Switzeland."

How Hungarian was Liszt? - "Early in 1840, when he addressed the public at his first concert in Pest upon his return to his native Hungary after an absence of almost two decades, he began with the famous words Je suis Hongrois (or, more likely, Hongrais, as I will explain below). Yes, he said it in French. For Liszt had not simply forgotten his Hungarian; he had never learned it... the phrase “his native Hungary” must be read with some caution. A present-day traveler in Hungary would not find Liszt’s birthplace there, for it’s located in the town of Raiding, in the Austrian province (land) of Burgenland... The other salient feature is Liszt’s self-reference as Magyar. The usual German word to designate a Hungarian, especially when the intended meaning is that of a native or a citizen of Hungary, is Ungar, while Magyar is used (as in English) primarily to denote Hungarian ethnicity... nationality was defined precisely by primary language (and not, as in the Ottoman Empire, by religion – one of the reasons why Austro-Hungarian Jews did not have nationality status). A Magyar who was “ignorant of the Hungarian language” was, then, a contradiction in terms.. A few years ago I published an essay titled Turkey’s “Turkish” Problem, in which I pointed out that modern Turkey’s self-definition – a legacy from Atatürk – as a nation-state in the Western sense (that is, a state in which nationality and citizenship are equivalent) is geographically out of place, since Turkey lies to the east of the Seipel line, in a part of the world where the prime determiner of nationality (and nationalism) is ethnicity. Consequently Turkey’s supposed Kurdish problem, rooted in the unwillingness to recognize the Kurds as a national minority, is in reality a Turkish problem... The minority nationalities’ rejection of the “Hungarian idea” led to the eventual dismemberment of the kingdom; all the areas where non-Magyars were in a majority voted, following the Treaty of Trianon, to join neighboring countries. In particular, Liszt’s true countrymen, the Germans who formed the majority of his native region (which they called Deutsch-Westungarn [German Western Hungary]), decided (except for the city of Sopron/Ödenburg) to join the similarly truncated Austria, which at first was called Deutsch-Österreich (German Austria) before the name was forbidden by the Treaty of Saint-Germain. Chances are that if any descendants of Sebastian List (Georg’s father) – that is, Franz Liszt’s kinfolk – were still living there, they would have voted the same way."

Police: We have multiple witnesses Antonio Martin had a gun; Protesters: We don’t believe you - "The narrative of cops shooting an “unarmed” teen goes on!"

Cops hesitate more, err less when shooting black suspects, study finds - "Officers were less likely to erroneously shoot unarmed black suspects than they were unarmed whites — 25 times less likely, in fact
And officers hesitated significantly longer before shooting armed suspects who were black, compared to armed subjects who were white or Hispanic
“In sum,” writes Dr. Lois James, a research assistant professor with the university’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology who headed the study, “this research found that participants displayed significant bias favoring Black suspects” in their shooting decisions... a typical research method has involved subjects sitting before a computer and viewing flash pictures of black and white “suspects” paired with weapons or “neutral objects” such as wallets or cell phones. The subjects must respond to these images by pressing “shoot” or “don’t shoot” buttons. Racial bias is then inferred by whether participants are “consistently quicker to shoot armed suspects of a particular race” and by whether decision errors tend to be greater for one race than for the other. This process lacks what James calls “external validity” — that is, it doesn’t come close to reflecting real-world circumstances, and thus its conclusions are of limited value. “[T]he complex process involved” in deciding to shoot or not shoot and then actually firing a gun is “dramatically different” from the simple reflex of pressing a button, she writes. Her study involved a more sophisticated, “immersive” approach... A “potential explanation,” she speculates, may be a “behavioral ‘counter-bias’ “ or “administrative effect”; that is, an extra caution by officers against impulsive reactions to black suspects because of “real-world concern over discipline, liability, or public disapproval.”"

Family secret: What the left won't tell you about black crime - "“Even allowing for the existence of discrimination in the criminal justice system, the higher rates of crime among black Americans cannot be denied,” wrote James Q. Wilson and Richard Herrnstein in their classic 1985 study, “Crime and Human Nature.” “Every study of crime using official data shows blacks to be overrepresented among persons arrested, convicted, and imprisoned for street crimes.” This was true decades before the authors put it to paper, and it remains the case decades later. “The overrepresentation of blacks among arrested persons persists throughout the criminal justice system,” wrote Wilson and Herrnstein. “Though prosecutors and judges may well make discriminatory judgments, such decisions do not account for more than a small fraction of the overrepresentation of blacks in prison.”"

'The only good Kraut is a dead Kraut,' Sir Patrick Moore says - Telegraph - "The 89-year-old has warned there “may be another war” and added “the only good Kraut is a dead Kraut” as he disclosed his thoughts on Europe, Sky at Night and his late love. Saying a German general once told him “You won two wars. You won’t win the third.” Sir Patrick admitted he hoped the prediction, which referred to an 'economic war' would be proved wrong. “We must take care,” he told the Radio Times. “There may be another war. The Germans will try again, given another chance. A Kraut is a Kraut is a Kraut. “The Germans tried to conquer us. The French betrayed us. The Belgians did very little and the Italians made us our ice cream. “The English are best. Stand up for England!” His strong feelings could be the result of the death of his late fiancé Lorna, who was killed by a falling bomb when the couple were just 20... he conceded that good, decent Germans may exist – although he had not met any himself"

Extremist minority have hijacked Arabs’ identity, says Queen Rania - "Queen Rania said it was time that the Arab world reclaimed its narrative from “a minority of irreligious extremists is using social media to rewrite our narrative... hijack our identity and rebrand us.” However, she said that the moderate majority of Arabs must not stand by and remain silent. “They say, a story is told as much by silence as by speech. Well, our silence speaks volumes. We are complicit in their success,” said Queen Rania."

Here's what third-century China thought about the Roman Empire

Would Ukip send Paddington Bear back to Darkest Peru? - Telegraph - "here is the story of an illegal immigrant who stows away on a ship and pitches up in London brazenly expecting British hospitality and asylum. His initially unconvincing cover story is that a visiting British explorer from the Geographical Society (actually the Reform Club on Pall Mall in this adaptation) taught his uncle and aunt in Peru to speak English. Many years later, after claiming to have been made homeless in an earthquake (a likely story), they send the orphaned bear to take up the (now dead) explorer's offer of hospitality"

Homophobes support marriage equality when gay people talk to them. - "Gay people having nonconfrontational, nonjudgmental confabulations with homophobes really does appear to be the single most effective way to further the cause of equality. It would seem, then, that gays have something of a duty to engage with people who, deep in their hearts, believe we deserve second-class citizenship."

The Rabbit Died! And the Origins of the Pregnancy Test - "Around 1927 it was discovered that if you injected the urine of a pregnant woman into a rabbit, there would be corpora hemorrhagica in the ovaries of the rabbit. These bulging masses on the ovaries could not be seen without killing the rabbit to inspect the ovaries, so invariably, every rabbit died, even if the woman wasn't pregnant. The phrase, "The rabbit died," came to be a euphemism for a positive pregnancy test after the late 1920 and early 1930s."
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