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Friday, August 14, 2015

Links - 14th August 2015

Empty on Orchard Road: Singapore's malls grapple with shifting consumer trends - "Many malls in the area feature fast-fashion tenants in prominent locations, but there is little -- if any -- coherence in how the shops are placed in relation to one another. In one shopping mall, for instance, a women's lingerie shop sits next to a golf store, clearly reflecting the lack of strategic thinking based on knowledge of customer habits and movements... "Developers' thinking has put consumers off," said a businessman previously engaged in operating commercial complexes in Japan. When selecting tenants, property developers tend to focus on immediate income from rent. Too often, this approach results in a nondescript mall that fails to excite shoppers' interest. A number of such facilities have cropped up along Orchard Road, and almost all of them have been struggling to bring in customers."

'Otaku' on alert: Why cosplay fans fear the TPP - "the pact, if implemented, would strengthen the protection of intellectual property to such a degree that merely dressing up as Sailor Moon could potentially land someone in jail."

Life in Japan: The odd allure of being kicked and berated - "Hitomi Nogata, a 24-year-old professional kickboxer, has a unique side job. She offers a service that involves literally giving people a hard kick in the caboose. One person seeking her services recently was Akira Muramoto, the 22-year-old representative of a Tokyo venture company. As he stood in front of her, Nogata lifted her muscular right leg and said, "Here I go!" before unleashing a monster kick to Muramoto's buttocks. "Ouch!" he shouted. "That hurt so much!"... On TV Tokyo, a program called "I Want To Be Scolded By Risa Yoshiki" has generated considerable buzz since its launch in August last year. In the show, Yoshiki, a female TV celebrity, yells at TV audiences through a camera lens, tossing out such admonishments as, "Who do you think you are?"... "You rarely get an earful from your boss after you enter your 30s," he said. "So you seldom have someone point out your shortcomings objectively." Yoshiki's schtick is to be angry about various things she sees as being wrong with society."

Japan tourism: Visitors say 'meh' to sushi ... so what? - "Freeplus asked Thai tourists visiting Japan what food they found most delicious. Sushi? Sashimi? It turns out that Thais like yakiniku, the Japanese take on Korean barbecued meat. But surely Japan's soba buckwheat noodles go down well with Thais? Nope. "Thai noodles taste a lot better," said one to-the-point tourist. Asked about sushi, the man was unenthusiastic: "I usually eat a lot of rice in Thailand."... A young Thai man said he had most enjoyed playing video games in a Tokyo arcade. Indian tourists hardly eat Japanese food; they tend to prefer their own cuisine. About 40% of Thai visitors dislike hot springs. Visitors from Vietnam shun tempura and dislike sleeping on tatami. "If caterpillars, which are popular in Africa, were always served to [Japanese visitors], they would not enjoy it," Suda said. "It's the same in Japan. Many here think foreigners want to eat Japanese food all the time, but that is not the case. There is no need to always serve sushi and tempura to foreign tourists in Japan.""

Trouble at the top of the food chain - "How badly do restaurants want to be featured by food bloggers? Enough to pay four-figure sums for a well-known “influencer” to mention them on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, it seems. No longer content to just accept invitations to hosted meals, bloggers with large followings now charge enough to make for a very profitable sideline or full-time career. Brad Lau – also known as Ladyironchef and perhaps the best known food blogger with 600,000 followers on Instagram alone – declined to be interviewed for this article, but is known to charge a fee for showing up at a media tasting and more for an actual article. One F&B operator told The Business Times that it paid him S$3,800 recently to promote its restaurant. It also paid Daniel Ang of DanielFoodDiary (166,000 Instagram followers) S$2,300; Seth Lui (9,965 Instagram followers), charges “between S$1,000 and S$10,000” for advertorials. Maureen Ow, a former journalist who blogs under the moniker Miss Tam Chiak, keeps her fees under S$2,000. These so-called A-list bloggers command page views of a million or more. Derrick Tan of SGFood on Foot, who gets 70,000 page views, has his fee starting at S$500... Aun Koh of food blog Chubby Hubby fame, claims that he does not accept any invitations for tastings, “because once you do, no matter what anyone says, you owe them something. There’s no such thing as a free lunch”... Most bloggers label sponsored posts and advertorials as such, but some don’t feel the need to make it unequivocal when they attend invited tastings... “It’s (the food media circus) gotten to the point where food is no longer first. It’s all about concepts now""

A New Study Tries To Determine What a 'Tolerant' City Looks Like - "The main factor associated with intolerance is the separation, or so-called “fractionalization,” of cities along religious, ethnic, and linguistic lines. (The researchers use measures of fractionalization originally developed by Harvard economist Alberto Alesina.) Places with high levels of linguistic fractionalization—that is, cities where residents speak many different languages—are less tolerant of difference: Every unit increase in linguistic fractionalization leads to a moderate decrease in tolerance. As the researchers note: “This means the lack of a dominant cultural language may create more dissension within a society.” Similarly, they find places with higher levels of religious fractionalization—where people have many different religious beliefs—also have lower levels of tolerance of threat. Even more interestingly, they found cities with larger populations tend to be less tolerant of difference."

(22) Social Capital and Ethnic Tolerance: The Opposing Effects of Diversity and Competition. - "First, strong interethnic ties have differential effects on tolerance depending on one’s own ethnicity. Second, occupational network diversity is linked with both increased and decreased interethnic tolerance, depending on the status of the positions the people in one’s network hold. Finally, we show that participation in voluntary associations has variable effects depending on the type of association. Our evidence suggests that top-down associations have little impact on tolerance, while bottom-up associations have important effects. Taken together, our results suggest that tolerance is most likely cultivated through modes of interaction characterized by cooperation and diversity of participants"

America's tolerance dilemma - LA Times - "census data and election results reveal that Americans have moved into communities that are more homogeneously partisan, with both conservatives and progressives preferring to avoid living near people who hold opposing views. As Princeton sociologist Robert Wuthnow has documented, even in the religious realm, the faithful today are willing to travel out of their way in search of a congregation that embraces their preferred liturgy. In many cases, we've been fooled into presuming that modernity serves only to broaden our horizons because people with different perspectives are now only a few mouse clicks away. But that assumption conflates the ability to connect with the same predilection... the magic of the melting pot wasn't simply the fact of its jumble; it was that various groups were compelled to interact, share ideas, discuss their differences and learn from their disagreements."

Change name of Jalan Sehala - Letters | The Star Online - "I MET a tourist recently who asked if Jalan Sehala is the longest road in the city. He was taken aback when I explained that it meant one-way street and not one-way road."

The Real Reason U.S. Gas Is So Cheap Is Americans Don't Pay the True Cost of Driving - "America's gas taxes are too low to offset what economists call the "externalities" of driving. Don't let the word spook you; all it means is that driving creates all sorts of negative social impacts that aren't being compensated for: personal time and work productivity lost to traffic congestion, lives lost to car crashes, and health risks created by air pollution, to name just a few. When Delucchi tallied up these costs, at least as they existed for 1991 driving patterns, he estimated them at upwards of $3.3 trillion a year... any gas tax that fully corrected for the social costs of car reliance would upend life as Americans know it... Michael Specter of the New Yorker may have put it best when he likened cheap gas to "an industrial form of crack": impossible to quit, no matter the damage it causes."

LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman on the biggest lie employers tell employees - ""The biggest lie is that the employment relationship is like family"... "You don't fire your kid because of bad grades"... But it's not just employers who lie. Prospective employees do, too. "They know that employers want loyalty," Hoffman says. "They know they want to hear, 'Oh, I plan on working here for the rest of my career.' But most employees recognize that career progression probably requires eventually moving to another company. But that never comes up"... "I think you can learn some useful things from an interview," Hoffman says. "You just have to be clear about what it is you're actually trying to learn. I think you can learn about chemistry and fit. I think you can learn about a person's immediate response to a challenge. But if you told me, 'Pick one — you could either get references or an interview,' I would pick references every day of the week"... Hoffman's background isn't typical. He didn't study computer science or get an MBA. He studied philosophy. And he thinks he's better off for it... "We live in a probabilistic universe, and we tend to think in determinist ways. If A is data-driven and I think I have that data, how certain am I that I have that data? What could I discover that might actually tell me that that data is formulated wrongly? When you dig into it, most of your arguments are actually probabilistic. They're not certain, even when you have data. You're really trying to get a sense of whether you have a reasonable bet on the probability.""

3M $3 Million Behind Bulletproof Glass Challenge Real? - "Recently there has been a picture being shared on social media which shows a bus stop advertizement with a glass case containing what purports to be $3 million dollars. The story goes that 3M is so confident about the strength of its bulletproof glass that it has put out a challenge that if anyone can break the case open the money is theirs for the taking"

#96krock - 3 Farmers Arrested in Wales for Running “Sheep Brothel”

World Peace Begins in the Bedroom - “You gotta remember, Humphrey, marriage is a crapshoot,” he said. “We all find it difficult. But one thing’s for sure – and if you get this right everything starts falling into place – world peace begins in the bedroom.”

Rationally Speaking | Official Podcast of New York City Skeptics - Current Episodes - RS133 - Sean Carroll on "The Many Worlds Interpretation is probably correct" - "at the end of the day, I think that we get trained as scientists to be extremely instrumental. We want to solve the problem. We want to predict a number. We want to say what's going to happen if you poke the system in a certain way -- which is fine, but I don't think we should then mistake that instrumental task for our original motivation. No 12-year-old girl becomes fascinated by physics because she says, "Someday I want to be able to predict the outcome of where photons are going to make marks on a photographic plate"... "I want to understand how the world works." You don't want to say, "I want to make observational predictions." They want to figure out how reality operates. That's the difference. I think that everyone gets excited about science because it's supposed to be satisfying our curiosity about how things work, not just a task we have been given to make a prediction about a certain experimental outcome."
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