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Valar Qringaomis

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Friday, November 13, 2015

Links - 13th November 2015

National Steps Challenge™
This is cool - redeem rewards and win prizes for being physically active (free signup till 30th November)

Scientists who found gluten sensitivity evidence have now shown it doesn't exist - "In one of the best examples of science working, a researcher who provided key evidence of (non-celiac disease) gluten sensitivity recently published follow-up papers that show the opposite... Gluten is a big industry: 30 percent of people want to eat less gluten... It seems to be a 'nocebo' effect - the self-diagnosed gluten sensitive patients expected to feel worse on the study diets, so they did. They were also likely more attentive to their intestinal distress, since they had to monitor it for the study."

Record increase in Swedish hate crimes - " The sharpest rise is seen among crimes with christianophobic motives, which have tripled in the past five years"
The Swedish are so racist, they hate Christians

Behind the music: What do record labels actually do? You'd be surprised - "For all the cynicism about money-grabbing majors, labels still offer artists the security they need to produce their best work"

As Beyonce steps out in her palest shade yet MICA PARIS asks why do black stars want whiter skin
Why is it good to change sex but bad to change skin colour? Does "my body, my choice" only apply to abortion?

7 facts about the Hundred Years’ War and the battle of Agincourt - "Conflict with the ‘ancient enemy’ has shaped the identities of both countries, and memories of the war remain long on both sides of the Channel. Charles de Gaulle remarked in June 1962: “Our greatest hereditary enemy was not Germany, it was England. From the Hundred Years’ War to Fashoda, she hardly ceased to struggle against us… she is not naturally inclined to wish us well.”... There is, however, an account of the French ‘mooning’ a detachment of English troops during the campaign that led to the battle of Crécy. This so enraged the English that they launched an ill-advised attack on a well-defended position and were beaten back with heavy losses... We are often told that ‘total war’ is a sad product of the modern, industrial age. It is, however, difficult to find any section of English or French society that was not affected by the Hundred Years’ War. The peasantry in both countries, for example, were central to the war effort and suffered greatly as a consequence. Indeed, its members were targeted directly: because of the connection between taxation (paid chiefly by the peasantry) and military defence, the status of ‘non-combatants’ became very uncertain during the war. So, by attacking taxpayers, the English also attacked French military resources... the evolution of gunpowder weaponry was particularly significant. That evolutionary process was, however, a slow one. At Agincourt, for example, it appears that French artillery accounted for a solitary English archer during the battle, and in 1431 Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, fired 412 cannonballs into the town of Lagny and succeeded only in killing a chicken."

The Cadillac Tax: Why Economists, but Few Others, Love It - NYTimes.com - "The so-called Cadillac tax is one of those rare taxes whose primary purpose is not to raise revenue. The tax, which is scheduled to begin hitting very-high-cost employer-sponsored health insurance plans in 2018, was included in the Affordable Care Act to discourage companies from offering such plans. As economists say, “Tax something and get less of it.” This is appealing to those who would like to control health care spending, which ultra-comprehensive health plans tend to encourage more of. But it’s not very appealing to people who have the plans, many of them members of unions that fought hard to get the plans in the first place."

Nobel Renews Debate on Chinese Medicine - NYTimes.com - "In fact, in its award, the Nobel committee specifically said it was not honoring Chinese medicine, even though Artemisia has been in continuous use for centuries to fight malaria and other fevers, and even though Dr. Tu said she figured out the extraction techniques by reading classical works. Instead, it said it was rewarding Dr. Tu for the specific scientific procedures she used to extract the active ingredient and create a chemical drug... Scientists like He Zuoxiu, a member of the prestigious Chinese Academy of Sciences, say that the ancient pharmacopoeia should be mined, but the underlying theories that identified these herbs should have been discarded long ago. “I think for the future development of Chinese medicine, people should abandon its medical theory and focus more on researching the value of herbs with a modern scientific approach,” Dr. He said in an interview. These radically different views on Chinese medicine go back at least a century, and get to the heart of how modern China sees itself. After a series of lost wars and national humiliations, Chinese reformers and revolutionaries began jettisoning almost everything from the country’s long past: its political and religious systems; its architecture and urban planning; its national dress and its lunar calendar. Traditional medicine came in for especially harsh criticism. Some of the country’s most famous writers, like Lu Xun, Lao She, and Ba Jin, pilloried it as exemplifying everything wrong with the country. Its theories were obscure, its outcomes unproven, and most of all it was “unscientific” in a country that was beginning to worship science as the cure to all ills... Chinese journalists... asked what she had done in the 40 years since her discovery. After a bit of shuffling and grimacing, the answer: She had tried to find other herbs but had not succeeded."

Why is the world ignoring a wave of terror in Israel? - Telegraph - "Over the past 48 hours in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and virtually all parts of Israel, we have had over 150 terror attacks, including stabbings, shootings, stones thrown and vehicular rammings... Let there be no mistakes, ifs, buts or maybes. We are being targeted for one reason and one reason only: we are Jews... Many leaders, especially in Europe, are quick to condemn Israeli settlements, yet sure take their time to utter a muddied, equivocal word of condemnation against these terror attacks. Likewise human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty... Imagine for a moment if people were being mown down with cars, guns or knives by Islamic terrorists on the streets of central London, Paris, Washington or Moscow. How would leaders of those countries react? Where are all those so-called enlightened liberals, who continue to call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against the Jewish State, but are silent in the face of Palestinian terror against Jews?... The bottom line is that attacks like these do not occur in a vacuum. Such acts of pitiless slaughter are the direct result of a pervasive Palestinian infrastructure headed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, indoctrinating hate, inciting violence and instilling a worldview justifying such gruesome acts... In a speech on Palestinian TV on September 16th, Abbas proudly stated “we bless every drop of blood spilled for Jerusalem. With the help of Allah, every shaheed (martyr) will be in heaven.” He then added “Al-Aksa is ours and so is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. They [Jews] have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet.” And people still wonder where these terrorists get their motivation. Not only has the Palestinian Authority failed to condemn these barbaric terror attacks, they have now, incredibly, sought to condemn Israel for defending ourselves"

'Gender apartheid' segregation is real in UK universities. So why aren't more people fighting it? - Telegraph - "new guidelines from Universities UK suggested institutions could allow gender segregation during lectures given by external speakers, based on the teachings of their religion, as "there does not appear to be any discrimination on gender grounds merely by imposing segregated seating"... A report in the spring revealed gender segregation, at events run solely by student Islamic societies or in the interests of Muslims, is widespread. read. Student Rights, which carried out the research, found that radical preachers spoke at 180 events at universities including Cardiff and University College London (UCL) between March 2012 and March 2013. Segregated seating for men and women was promoted or implied at more than a quarter of the events, at 21 separate institutions."

Last Oxford vote on admitting female students - "St Benet's Hall is set to become the last academic institution in Oxford University to change from single-sex to co-educational, when it is expected to formally decide to admit female undergraduate students. It comes 136 years after the first women's colleges were opened at the university - and 95 years after women were able to become full members of the university. And step by step, since the 1970s, previously all-male colleges have been moving towards admitting women. It's also almost a decade since the last all-women's college admitted male students... Prof Jeanrond, who has experience of universities in Germany, Ireland and Sweden, as well as the UK, says there is "enormous pressure" on young female students to be all things to all people. "They have to be academically top, socially top, physically top, they are expected to satisfy every real or perceived need of society.""
Meanwhile, in Cambridge...

Students at all-girl Cambridge college sent email asking them to be quieter when having sex - "Male visitors are allowed to stay for up to two nights at the college but after that must sign up for a guest room... Miss Cole added: 'Newnham does have a feminist reputation and also it's known as the slutty college of Cambridge, which I think is a bit unfair"

Does darker skin wrinkle less than lighter skin? - "When I remarked to a friend of mine that she never seems to look any older as the years go by, she replied: “That’s because black don’t crack”. Not the answer I was expecting, but after she convinced me that this is a common term, I looked into the evidence, and discovered that she is at least partly right. There are two factors that cause skin to age: chronological ageing and photoageing. None of us can avoid chronological ageing – like it or not, we cannot stop the passing years from leaving their mark. But photoageing is a different matter. It does vary according to your skin colour, a result of the varying degrees of pigment that we produce... on average 55% of ultraviolet A rays penetrate Caucasian skin while fewer than 18% get through African-American skin... Photoageing does occur eventually and is faster in African Americans than in those of African or Afro-Caribbean descent... people with darker skins are more likely to find their chins sag, their cheeks hollow and pockets of fatty tissue develop under the eyes as they get older. "

Lego bans Ai Weiwei from using bricks for 'political' artwork in Australia - Telegraph - "Ai Weiwei, the Chinese dissident artist, says Lego refused to supply him with its toy bricks for a new “political work”, suggesting the Danish toymaker feared offending Beijing as it expands into China."
Lego's consistency is admirable

Scottish independence: Lego said that it is 'politically neutral' in Union debate - "A Lego UK spokeswoman said: “We wouldn't give permission for our stock images to be used. We are a children's toy company and therefore all of our communication is targeted towards children. “People all over the world use Lego to depict stories and scenarios - some of it not to our knowledge. We maintain our position as being a politically neutral company.”"

Lego Says You Can't Build That — Because Of Politics - "Science journalist Maia Weinstock recently got the idea to create a custom Lego set to celebrate the female justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. She researched the Supreme Court building, the justices and their traditions, all the way down to the silver mugs that they often carry out to the bench when hearing oral arguments... Lego does not accept projects relating to "politics and political symbols, campaigns, or movements," the policy said — though it has created a Lego White House and Lincoln Memorial as part of its "Architecture" line. The list of unacceptable topics also includes "religious references," "sex, drugs, or smoking," "swearing," and images of violence, among other things."

Why Self-Driving Cars Must Be Programmed to Kill | MIT Technology Review - " People are in favor of cars that sacrifice the occupant to save other lives—as long they don’t have to drive one themselves."
Practical applications of the Trolley Problem

One of these is Jupiter's moon Europa, the rest are frying pans. - Imgur

Fool’s Gold: The Questionable Legacy of Kuo Pao Kun Part 1 - "His longer plays like “Descendants of the Eunuch Admiral”, “Lao Jiu”, “Sunrise Sunset” and others were very problematic and in some cases badly written. However in the landscape of mediocrity that is Singapore theatre, this is more of a norm rather than an exception... The problem with Pao Kun’s plays that simply this: they use the Brechtian device to mask the fact that plays are badly written. Characters in his plays are typically two dimensional, the plays typically deal with a number of standard themes, the main vein running in it is a certain anti-establishment or anti-governmental rhetoric. Unsurprisingly, this has been taken up to a huge degree by most playwrights in Singapore. Notably those working with The Necessary Stage, to a lesser degree by those from Theatreworks which is playing another game. The reason Kuo did this is simple, because such plays are easy to write, and he just simply was not that good a writer. This is also the reason why so many playwrights in Singapore took up his approach"
Ok, I know who to blame for Singaporean scripts being cheap anti-government jibes, lame references and random Hokkien thrown in for laughs

Why Australia's still the world's most expensive place to live - "Deutsche Bank, in its fourth annual Mapping the World's Prices report, found for the fourth year in a row that a buck in Australia brings the least bang. Australians, topping the purchasing power parity index, pay $1.12 in their currency for what Americans can obtain for one dollar of their own. Getting from A to B on public transport costs more in Australia than anywhere else. So does buying a pack of cigarettes, while accommodation in Sydney is especially exorbitant. The United Kingdom was rated the third most expensive country, while New Zealand came in second as its currency nears parity with the Australian dollar... For those looking for an inexpensive romantic outing, choose Indian. Mumbai and Delhi are at the top of Deustche's refined "cheap date" index, while Rio de Janeiro and Mexico City also earned a mention. Tokyo, Wellington and San Francisco were among the most expensive nights out. Big Mac fans should avoid Latvia, which topped the famous burger index, as well as Lithuania and Norway. Deutsche Bank Australia chief economist Adam Boyton, who was not an author of the report, said Australia was expensive because "we've gone a very long time now without a serious economic slowdown". "In the absence of that, prices have drifted higher over time," he said. "The surge in commodity prices that had underpinned our economic performance meant we really didn't have to be efficient. We could just rely on getting paid much more to do the same thing.""

Beth Whaanga's Powerful Breast Cancer Portraits Lost Her 100 Friends, But Could Save Many More Lives - "Hours after the photographs had been posted, over 100 people had de-friended Whaanga on Facebook, and several reported the album to Facebook for violation of the site's photo policy. (Facebook has contacted Whaanga to inform her that they will not be removing the images.)"

'I'm not just doing sex work to get through uni' - "Sex work has actually helped with my shyness and ability to make small talk in my outside life. It's a totally transferable skill!... The atmosphere on set depends on the company. Sometimes the women behind the camera will be naked too, and it's all very relaxed. The porn that I do promotes authenticity and of us actually getting pleasure out of it. They want authenticity, they want real sex, real pleasure, so we're having real orgasms rather than it just being this constructed thing for men to watch. There's a move away from women just being 'sexy' to women actually being sexual themselves... Sex workers like me are often critiqued for erasing the stories of workers who don't have as much privilege. I know that many sex workers; women of colour, trans women, street-based workers – don't have the same intersections of privilege. But although that is a reality for some, it's not the only reality. For those of us who've actively sought this industry out, it's not about 'erasing' those other experiences, it's just about creating a wider range of experiences that are visible. We're all socialised to see sex work as dirty and exploitative, but as we hear more from sex workers themselves, that idea is changing... there's this argument that sex work is only ok if it's empowering. But that's also bullshit – we don't ask café workers if they're empowered... There's no one 'type' of client, but it's interesting how as soon as their clothes are off and they're turned on – the job and the class just falls away. They all just want pleasure and to be appreciated and they want to be touched. They want to feel like they're a good lover. I have ways of screening potentially bad clients. If they're pushy, sending dozens of question marks because I've taken five minutes to get back to them, I figure they're going to be rude in person. I also don't respond to guys who try to negotiate my price – usually an indicator of them not respecting my boundaries."

The male brain is programmed to seek out sex over food - "Although the neurons have only been found in the brains of nematode worms, scientists at University College London say it is likely that similar mechanisms are at work in humans. It is proof that male and female brains are wired differently, a controversial subject which has been argued by scientists and feminists for decades."

Why Drunk Vegetarians Eat Meat - "American vegetarians, on average, eat a serving of meat per day... Faunalytics (formerly the Humane Research Council) conducted a survey on 11,000 American adults, which found that there are five times as many ex-vegans and vegetarians as there are current ones. About 60 percent of them said that the reason they were vegetarian in the first place was for the health benefits. In this frame, lapsed vegetarians are no more extraordinary than lapsed dieters... When they explained why they stopped being vegetarian, few people said they changed their minds about animal ethics. Instead they cited more mundane reasons—almost two-thirds said they didn’t like sticking out, about half said they found it too hard to keep such a “pure” diet, and about a third noted that their significant others ate meat."
No True Vegetarian eats meat?
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