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More adventurous than the average bear

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Links - 28th May 2015

China orders Muslim shopkeepers to sell alcohol, cigarettes, to “weaken” Islam - "Chinese authorities have ordered Muslim shopkeepers and restaurant owners in a village in its troubled Xinjiang region to sell alcohol and cigarettes, and promote them in “eye-catching displays,” in an attempt to undermine Islam’s hold on local residents... Sulayman said authorities in Xinjiang viewed ethnic Uighurs who did not smoke as adhering to “a form of religious extremism”... in an unrelated incident in neighboring Qinghai province on Friday, an angry crowd of Muslims smashed windows of a supposedly halal store in Xining city, after pork sausages and ham were found in a delivery van"

Musical or Opera? The Fine Line That Divides Them - - "The differences, though slight, are crucial. So what are they, exactly? To begin with, in no way do I see the matter as a lowbrow-highbrow debate. Opera is not by definition the more elevated form. Few operas are as overwrought as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Sunset Boulevard.” And there is no bigger crowd pleaser than Leoncavallo’s impassioned “Pagliacci.” Nor is the distinction dependent on musical complexity. Frank Loesser’s “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” currently enjoying a vibrant revival on Broadway starring a disarming Daniel Radcliffe, is a more musically sophisticated piece than Carlisle Floyd’s affecting opera “Susannah,” the story of a sensual young woman in rural Tennessee who is unfairly branded a temptress by her community. And you cannot argue that operas tell stories only through music, whereas musicals rely heavily on spoken dialogue. Lots of operas, and not just comic works, have spoken dialogue, including “Carmen” and “Fidelio.” Here’s the difference: Both genres seek to combine words and music in dynamic, felicitous and, to invoke that all-purpose term, artistic ways. But in opera, music is the driving force; in musical theater, words come first. This explains why for centuries opera-goers have revered works written in languages they do not speak. Though supertitles have revolutionized the art form, many buffs grew up without this innovation and loved opera anyway. As long as you basically know what is going on and what is more or less being said, you can be swept away by a great opera, not just by music, but by visceral drama."

Luke Savage’s vicious (and misleading) atheist bashing - "Savage’s piece is a vile and splenetic polemic, centered mainly on Hitchens and Sam Harris, and much is made (and distorted) about their views. Certainly Hitchens did support the invasion of Iraq, but he and Harris are made to look as if they crave an all-out war with the Middle East, with the object of finally ridding the world of Muslims. The piece also attacks New Atheism by making the usual assertion that religion isn’t based on truth claims (as the NA’s argue), so we’re all misguided. Nor, says Savage, is religion a monolith, so you simply can’t criticize, say, Islam, as if it were."

The Time the Allies Tried to Disarm Hitler With Female Sex Hormones - "But how to go about making Mr. Hitler more like Mrs. Hitler? By putting female sex hormones in his carrots, of course."


A Sinner in Mecca: gay film-maker on 'a hajj of defiance' - "With poetic simplicity, A Sinner in Mecca explores what it means to believe in the face of religious manipulation and government corruption. Sharma’s bravery is not that he is a gay man in Mecca, but that he is a Muslim questioning and reclaiming his faith from the authorities exporting it as violent conservatism. The voice he gives to the complexities of contemporary Islam remind us never to fall for the simplified narrative, especially one that forces you to look at a quarter of the world’s population through a singular lens...
'At one point, you mention a fellow pilgrim who told you he was glad you can’t film in Mecca, because he doesn’t want the West to see what it really looks like.'"

Do Portuguese women have a lower pitch than other female subjects?

14-year-old suspended from school over brutally honest sex education homework - "'I'd be embarassed to use [a condom].'
'Look at all the fucks I give!'"
You don't have to be vulgar to be "brutally honest". Something many people don't get

Three women kidnap man, rape him and steal his semen in South Africa
What's wrong with South Africa?

Diederik Stapel’s Audacious Academic Fraud - - "Stapel was an academic star in the Netherlands and abroad, the author of several well-regarded studies on human attitudes and behavior. That spring, he published a widely publicized study in Science about an experiment done at the Utrecht train station showing that a trash-filled environment tended to bring out racist tendencies in individuals. And just days earlier, he received more media attention for a study indicating that eating meat made people selfish and less social... Each case of research fraud that’s uncovered triggers a similar response from scientists. First disbelief, then anger, then a tendency to dismiss the perpetrator as one rotten egg in an otherwise-honest enterprise. But the scientific misconduct that has come to light in recent years suggests at the very least that the number of bad actors in science isn’t as insignificant as many would like to believe. And considered from a more cynical point of view, figures like Hwang and Hauser are not outliers so much as one end on a continuum of dishonest behaviors that extend from the cherry-picking of data to fit a chosen hypothesis — which many researchers admit is commonplace — to outright fabrication. Still, the nature and scale of Stapel’s fraud sets him apart from most other cheating academics. “The extent to which I did it, the longevity of it, makes it extreme,” he told me. “Because it is not one paper or 10 but many more.” Stapel did not deny that his deceit was driven by ambition. But it was more complicated than that, he told me. He insisted that he loved social psychology but had been frustrated by the messiness of experimental data, which rarely led to clear conclusions. His lifelong obsession with elegance and order, he said, led him to concoct sexy results that journals found attractive. “It was a quest for aesthetics, for beauty — instead of the truth,” he said."

Do SAT Scores Really Predict Success? - "Most studies find that the correlation between SAT scores and first-year college grades is not overwhelming, and that only 10 percent to 20 percent of the variation in first-year GPA is explained by SAT scores. This association appears weaker than it is, however, for an interesting, but seldom noted statistical reason: Colleges usually accept students from a fairly narrow swath of the SAT spectrum. The SAT scores of students at elite schools, say, are considerably higher, on average, than those of students at community colleges, yet both sets of students probably have similar college grade distributions at their respective institutions. If both sets of students were admitted to elite schools or both sets attended community colleges, there would be a considerably stronger correlation between SATs and college grades at these schools"

Old Cats Can Get Seizures from Sound - "Sounds such as typing, the crumpling of tin foil or the clinking of glasses or dishware are all just part of the background noise of domestic life, at least for humans. But such sounds can apparently trigger seizures among elderly cats."

Facebook Is Eating the Internet - "• As in previous years, just five companies generate the majority (61 percent) of digital ad revenue: Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and AOL.
• Facebook more than doubled digital ad revenue over the course of two years. It made $5 billion in ad money last year. That represents 10 percent of all digital ad revenue.
• Facebook is getting a quarter of all display ad revenue and more than a third (37 percent) of display ads on mobile."

Study Finds Gamers Have Greater Cognitive Function And More Grey Matter

Islamist politics and authorities fuelling Malaysia’s IS appetite, scholar says - "a 2013 Pew Research survey found that up to 39 per cent of Malaysians were either supportive or open to violence as a means of conflict resolution, nearly twice as many as Indonesians who responded similarly... As with the politicians, Malaysia’s religious authorities also display a similar tendency to denounce non-Muslims both at home and abroad in sanctioned messages... The spread of IS support among Malaysians has also forced Putrajaya to backpedal from its once-expressed admiration for the militant group’s “courage”"

Modigliani to Kick off Singapore’s Pinacotheque - "Belgian-born Vandenborre, who is now based in Singapore, said that Singapore was chosen ahead of Hong Kong — Asia's other art hub — for Pinacotheque's first international offshoot because the country has “a museum culture.” "Hong Kong is more drawn to the art market and auctions,” he said, adding that Pinacotheque's focus on top Western art from private collections will fulfill a gap in the current arts landscape in Singapore"
Singapore has "a museum culture"?!

Hotel chain offers human bed warmers - Telegraph

Swallowing Semen - "In a Dutch study of women who engaged in oral sex and swallowed the semen, the researchers found that swallowing semen was associated with a lower risk of preeclampsia. One hypothesis for this is that substances in the semen adapt the mother’s immune system so that it accepts foreign proteins present in sperm, as well as in the placenta and fetus. This maintains the blood pressure at a low level and thereby reduces the preeclampsia risk. Research has also shown that some women are infertile or miscarry due to the presence of antibodies that destroy the proteins or antigens present in their partner’s semen. Having oral sex and swallowing the semen of the partner may help make the pregnancy safer and more successful as the woman is swallowing her partner's antigens. Work carried out by reproductive expert and psychologist Gordon Gallup from SUNY-Albany suggests that swallowing semen could provide a cure for morning sickness. Gordon hypothesizes that pregnant women vomit as a result of their bodies rejecting genetic material in the sperm as a foreign substance, but that by swallowing and ingesting the sperm of the baby’s father, they can build up immunity... Some studies have shown that semen extracted from bulls rejuvenates damaged hair. Semen has been found to contain many proteins that may well complement the protein present in hair molecules."

Teacher quits Muslim school he claimed was riddled with Islamism and anti-Semitism - "Mr Zitouni, writing yesterday, claimed he resigned from Averroès Lycée because it was playing a “double game” with the secular French republic – presenting a positive image and good exam results to secure public funding while “disseminating stealthily and perniciously a conception of Islam that is nothing other than Islamism – an unhealthy and dangerous mix of religion and politics”... Mr Zitouni claimed to have been told by students that he was not orthodox enough in his own belief in Islam, that Darwin’s theory of evolution was wrong and that a veiled female student refused to say the word “sex” or sit next to a boy. “In more than 20 years of my teaching career, I have never heard so many anti-Semitic remarks from the mouths of students,” he wrote. The teacher said he failed to dissuade a student from the theory that “Jews dominate French media” and that a “powerful Jewish lobby” was trying to crush Islam in France, being told that “Jews are the enemies of Muslims”."

Australia's Sex Party stripped of official registration - "the Sex Party will still be able to field candidates but will not be able to put its name on ballot papers or receive federal funding available to registered parties."
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