"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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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Links - 20th January 2016

1,700-Year-Old Roman Mosaic Discovered During City Sewer Construction Project - "The extensive and detailed mural is thought to have served as the living room floor in a villa of a luxurious and affluent neighbourhood during the Roman and Byzantine periods. Initially, a Northern section of the complex was uncovered in the 90’s within ruins of the Israeli central city of Lod. Dubbed the Lod Mosaic and exhibited worldwide, the ancient piece drew a lot of attention to the area, with its bizarre discovery story—the mosaics were found as construction workers began to upgrade the sewer system in the city. Now, during construction of a visitor section for the first section, more and more ancient treasures are being revealed."

Why Do Some People Find Deepak Chopra Quotes Deep And Not Dung? - "In what may well be the first-ever paper to evaluate susceptibility to pseudo-profound BS, Gordon Pennycook and colleagues have found that people who are more susceptible to BS score lower for verbal and fluid intelligence, are more prone to “conspiratorial ideation,” and more likely to “endorse complementary and alternative medicine.” Their paper, “On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit,” was published in November in the journal Judgment and Decision Making... the authors conducted a series of studies in which they presented participants with sentences that had recognizable English syntax but were simply a series of randomly organized buzzwords. Examples of these pseudo-profound statements include “Hidden meaning transforms unparalleled abstract beauty,” a totally meaningless sentence that appears to be profound because it uses buzzwords like “hidden” and “transforms” and “abstract” and “beauty.” Indeed, rearranging the same words can yield a similarly pseudo-profound statement: “Abstract meaning transforms unparalleled hidden beauty.” For real-world examples, the authors turned to Twitter, which they describe as “particularly conducive to the promulgation” of BS because of its 140-character limit. As their example of choice, they sought out Deepak Chopra’s tweets, for reasons that should be obvious. If they aren’t, here’s a sample Chopra tweet: “Attention and intention are the mechanics of manifestation.” What they left out of the quote is the hashtag Chopra added: “#cosmicconsciousness.” Reactions to the tweet were mixed... The authors also draw an interesting distinction between types of open-mindedness, one that might explain why people who are on the same side of the aisle politically can have very different responses to pseudoscience. Pennycook and colleagues contrast reflexive or uncritical open-mindedness, in which a person is accepting of information but doesn’t pause to evaluate inherent conflicts or other features, and reflective or active open-mindedness, in which a person seeks information for the purpose of critical thinking... The emerging picture is that people have divergent psychological profiles that make them more or less likely to believe in certain phenomena, buy into conspiracy theories, embrace the language and promises of alternative medicine over conventional medicine, and find meaning in a meaningless series of profound-sounding words."
Addendum: Stupid people like mindless bullshit and conspiracy theories

Baroque Violinist Gets Off Without Vibrator - "“Instead of applying modern vibrato to my instrument, I’ve been using it between my legs,” said Müller, pressing her left index finger into her right palm and wiggling it gently to demonstrate the procedure. “If I just close my eyes and imagine I’m Anne-Sophie Mutter playing the Brahms Violin Concerto, I can achieve climax almost instantly.” For Müller, the shift is part of a broader mission to transform all facets of her daily life according to seventeenth century European customs. In addition to giving up electricity, she plans to dress herself exclusively in petticoats and bodices, and restrict her diet to simple stews made of organic root vegetables, potatoes, and sauerkraut."

It's official: men are better at assembling flat-pack furniture than women - "Research conducted at the Arctic University of Norway has shown that women, with or without the instructions, could not compete with their male counterparts at assembling flat-pack furniture under pressure... In 2008 Petra Hesser – then head of flat-pack at IKEA and now the Swedish company's Global Human Resources Manager – caused a stir for claiming that female patience and logic meant women won in the DIY stakes. "Men never look at the directions and have the most problems with construction because they always think they can do it," she said at the time. "The woman first sorts the parts in an orderly way. Men throw them in a pile and then something goes missing. Tests have shown this to be true." The new research, in part motivated by Hesser's comments, put paid to her theory by concluding that not only were men quicker than women at the assembly process, but they're also more accurate too. On average the men (rated from 1-10 with 10 representing a perfect trolley) scored 8.9 with instructions and 7.6 without, while women lagged at 7.5 and 5.7 respectively."

Sex charge diplomat Muhammad Rizalman: I believe in black magic but I've never defecated outside woman's house - "He also told a psychiatrist he believed a superior officer had put a spell on him. That officer had an uncle who was a shaman.
"Do you know of a spell that you can put on a woman to make her fall in love with you by defecating outside her house?" Mr Burston asked.
"I don't know because I've never practiced it," Rizalman said.
"The reason that you took off your belt and lowered your trousers and underpants outside this young woman's front door, on the patio by her front door, was more about black magic than having to go to the toilet in an emergency?"
Rizalman was asked about an assessment report in June last year, which said there was information about Rizalman's "increased interest towards women".
"You went to a place called Mermaids in Wellington twice when you felt under pressure," Mr Burston said.
"Yes," Rizalman replied.
"The women were taking their clothes off?"
"Only their outer clothes."
"The women were topless?"
"Were you interested in looking at the attractive women in the strip club?"
"Why did you go to the strip club?"
"To listen to music and release tension"...
Rizalman said today he was getting signals from the way she smiled at him. But Ms Billingsley had not invited him back to her place.
"Not from her speech but from her mannerisms and the way she smiled and the way she behaved" led Rizalman to believe he was invited back to Ms Billingsley's.
"In Malaysian custom, if a woman smiles at a man it is deemed that they are happy to know that person."
"So that's an invitation to follow them home is it?" Mr Burston asked.
"It is an invitation to follow." It wouldn't necessarily mean you go into their house, Rizalman said."

The Origin of Krampus, Europe's Evil Twist on Santa - ""The Krampus is the yin to St. Nick's yang," Seghers tells Smithsonian.com. "You have the saint, you have the devil. It taps into a subconscious macabre desire that a lot of people have that is the opposite of the saccharine Christmas a lot of us grew up with."

For 40 Years, This Russian Family Was Cut Off From All Human Contact, Unaware of World War II

Rome Just Banned Centurions - "Today, anyone with a costume can become a Roman centurion, but it was harder to gain the title in ancient Rome. Known for their elaborate ranks and political power, ancient centurions were military officers who enforced discipline among the greater army. Discipline isn't the strong suit of contemporary centurions, however, who are known for harassing and even attacking tourists."

How Japan Has Virtually Eliminated Shooting Deaths - "America's gun control laws are the loosest in the developed world and its rate of gun-related homicide is the highest. Of the world’s 23 “rich” countries, the U.S. gun-related murder rate is almost 20 times that of the other 22. With almost one privately owned firearm per person, America’s ownership rate is the highest in the world; tribal-conflict-torn Yemen is ranked second, with a rate about half of America's... the U.S. constitution’s second amendment is intended in part to maintain “the security of a free State” by ensuring that the government doesn't have a monopoly on force. Though it's worth considering another police state here: Tunisia, which had the lowest firearm-ownership rate in the world (one gun per thousand citizens, compared to America’s 890) when its people toppled a brutal, 24-year dictatorship and sparked the Arab Spring."

In the hunt for new antibiotics, the genius of simplicity - "Bacteria make antibiotics naturally, which means that if you can grow new bacteria in a lab, the microbes can offer up new drugs. Unfortunately, for the past century, microbiologists have failed to unlock the secret to cultivating the vast majority of bacterial species. Now Epstein and his colleagues have found a way to make many of them thrive."

Star Wars' abandoned Tunisian locations – in pictures

Firefighter who flunked physical injured 10 days into job - "A firefighter who was allowed to graduate the Fire Academy despite failing physical tests has already gone out on medical leave — just 10 days into the job... Firefighters called the tripping incident embarrassing — and alarming. “If you’re going to get hurt in the firehouse checking a rig, what would happen at a fire?” an insider asked... Doirin-Holder’s competence was questioned by sources familiar with her training. They said academy instructors let her pass the Functional Skills Test, a rigorous obstacle course of job-related tasks, even though she had failed to complete it in the required 17 minutes and 50 seconds or under. In addition, when she failed to finish a 1.5-mile run in 12 minutes or less — even after the course was shortened — she was allowed to demonstrate aerobic capacity on a StairMaster machine under watered-down requirements enacted by FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro. Doirin-Holder, who turns 40 this month, is one of 282 “priority hires” passed over in 1999 and 2000. Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis ordered they must get preference as victims of past discrimination against minorities... Since she was injured on duty, she is eligible for a disability pension that would pay three-quarters of her annual salary, tax-free, if deemed unfit to return. In an online FDNY forum, firefighters fumed at the preferential treatment. “If you can’t meet the standards, you are a danger to yourself, the public and most importantly everyone operating on the fire ground who is doing their job”"

26 WTF People On Tinder - Gallery

The age of ‘pre-crime’ has arrived - "We’re now to the point where we’re passing laws aimed at potential johns suspected of soliciting prostitutes, simply because they were seen in an area where prostitutes are known to work, all because it’s possible that the theoretical prostitutes those suspected johns might have been soliciting are potentially underage or might have been forced in to sex work involuntarily."

Couples with the biggest height differences found to have best relationships - "Researchers found that the greater the height difference in a couple, the happier the wife was. But the effect faded as the years went on, they discovered... she ‘might lose her characteristics that enabled her to marry her tall husband, such as beauty; the loss could cause her unhappiness directly or indirectly by changing her husband’s behaviour, such as showing less affection to her, more affection to other women, and providing less childcare’, he said. Women evolved to prefer tall men because they were perceived to be stronger, ‘and naturally they are happy when they have what they like’, he concluded. ‘But as for other desired objects, pleasure from having them dissipates. What was surprising is that the complete dissipation took 18 years.’"

Zuckerberg's Charitable Giving Comes With a Twist
If you want to evade taxes, there're cheaper and faster ways than donating 99% of your shares to charity

These Maps Prove That Daylight Saving Time Is the Actual Worst - "DST does not actually reduce electric demand, as it was created to do. Additionally, it shatters delicate sleep schedules, leading to upwards of $400 million in economic losses each year. DST has also been linked to traffic accidents, heart attacks, Seasonal Affective Disorder, commuting snafus, and in my house, general unpleasantness and fist shaking. But what would the country really look like without Daylight Saving Time? As Axis Maps cartographer Andy Woodruff points out in a recent blog post, its effects are not consistent across the United States. But even so, the time-turning phenomenon looks pretty horrifying for those who arise at the reasonable hour of 7 a.m."
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