"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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Friday, January 22, 2016

Links - 22nd January 2016

Singapore to Transform Unused Railway into Linear Park Spanning Entire Country

Anne's world Reader - Anne Frank - "Give and you shall receive, much more that you ever thought possible. Give and give again. Keep hoping, keep trying, keep giving! People who give will never be poor!
If you follow this advice, within a few generations, people will never have to feel sorry for poor little beggar children again, because there won't be any!
The world has plenty of room, riches, money and beauty. God has created enough for each and every one of us. Let us begin by dividing it more fairly."
"Fearing that he would empty out the entire treasury, his ministers denied him access to it. Ashoka then started giving away his own personal possessions. Finally, he was left with only one amala (myrobalan fruit), which too he gifted. Having given everything he owned to the Order, the king died peacefully" - A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century / Upinder Singh

What Led to the End of Kerala’s Matrilineal Society?

Chinese Art Collector Stirs Pot With Sip of Tea from $36-Million Cup - China Real Time Report - WSJ - "Shanghai-based art collector Liu Yiqian recently spent $36.3 million on a tiny porcelain cup with a humble chicken painted on its surface. But for many in China, the most shocking thing wasn’t the amount he paid, or the fact that he paid with an American Express card. No, it was the fact that Mr. Liu decided to celebrate his Ming-dynasty purchase by sipping some tea from it. The cup in question is one of China’s so-called “chicken cups,” which were forged in imperial kins and possess a particularly silky texture. Though fakes abound, only 19 genuine articles are known to exist. To art experts, they’re known as the “holy grail” of Chinese porcelains... Images of Mr. Liu sipping from the cup circulated over the Internet this weekend, sparking fast condemnation from Chinese observers online. “You think you can drink it and become immortal? Or that it will extend your life? In fact, isn’t it just a way to satisfy your vanity?” wrote one Weibo user. “Sigh, Chinese people are just like this,” opined another: “No people who are civilized would treat a cultural treasure like this. No wonder Chinese people are looked down on by other countries’ citizens.”... “Emperor Qianlong has used it, now I’ve used it,” said Mr. Liu of his chicken cup, referring to one of the Qing Dynasty’s most celebrated emperors. “I just wanted to see how it felt.” The cup, he added, “isn’t a commercial product appropriate for the masses.” Online, some said Mr. Liu should be left alone. “The money that people have strived to earn all their lives, they’re just spending in search for some happiness. What’s it got to do with you?”"

Sydney Brenner is never at a loss for words - ""The whole idea that science is conducted by people working alone in rooms and struggling with the forces of nature is absolutely ridiculous. It is a social activity of the highest sort. And so keeping up the conversation, doing experiments with words, is very important. I think that's how ideas can emerge. Most of what I say is rubbish, but amidst the kind of stream of unconsciousness, if I can coin a phrase, there is the odd idea that can be developed into something."

Large-scale Immigration: Its economic and demographic consequences for the UK - "'The liberal media are quick to denounce as xenophobia the claim that immigrants take jobs from local workers and push down their wages. This claim may be exaggerated, but it is not always false.' Rowthorn also demonstrates how rapid population growth due to high immigration will not deliver a higher standard of living: GDP would grow, but the impact on GDP per capita, if any, would be tiny. While many immigrants may make a modest fiscal contribution in the short-term, this is cancelled out by the enormous additional strain which is placed on infrastructure... 'If many of the immigrants fail to get jobs, or if they end up in low skill jobs or displace native workers, largescale immigration will have a negative impact on GDP per capita and on government finances. Thus, the impact could be positive or negative, but either way it is unlikely to be very large... the benefits could be achieved with as few as 50,000 immigrants net a year. 'A rate of net migration equal to 50,000 annually is almost as effective at rejuvenating the national population as a much higher rate of net migration. It does so with much less impact on population growth,' he says."

The Huguenots - Berlin.de - "Huguenots as immigrants to Brandenburg and Berlin began to arrive at the end of the seventeenth century. They came as Protestant religious fugitives (réfugiés) from Catholic France. In the year 1685, Frederick Williams “the Great Elector” granted this group refuge in Prussia through the Edict of Potsdam. Predominantly handworkers, merchants, farmers, and gardeners thereby immigrated. Altogether about 20,000 Huguenot réfugiés arrived. It is estimated that a fifth of all Berliners at the start of the eighteenth century were of Huguenot origin. As good skilled persons with urgently needed expertise were the Huguenots the highly-qualified migrants of the time. Not least of all did their presence also help to broaden the population."

MDA lifts ban on 240 publications ranging from communist material to adult interest content - "The affected publications include the anti-colonial Tamil periodical Dravida Nadu, which was banned in 1949; four communist titles including The Long March, a play banned in 1959; and the English-language magazine World Student News, banned in 1957. Also no longer gazetted are several adult magazines and books such as The World Of Sex. Fanny Hill, published in 1748 and considered one of the first erotic novels, was also taken off the list after being on it since 1966... On the titles which have been taken off the prohibited list, the MDA said that publishers who wish to sell them should check if the publications are in line with MDA content guidelines for imported publications."
Not prohibited but not necessarily able to be imported? How kafka-esque

Richard Dawkins says UK cinemas should screen the Lord's Prayer - "The Church of England has received unlikely backing from the biologist and prominent atheist Richard Dawkins after the UK’s three leading cinema chains refused to screen its advert featuring the Lord’s Prayer. The 60-second advert was due to be shown before Star Wars: the Force Awakens, released on 18 December, which would have guaranteed it a huge cinema audience in the run-up to Christmas. But the Odeon, Cineworld and Vue chains, which control 80% of screens around the country, have refused to allow it because of a policy not to allow political or religious advertising. The decision prompted an angry response from the church, which warned of a chilling effect on free speech. Many expressed support for its position including Dawkins, the evolutionary biologist best known for excoriating religions... Stephen Slack, the church’s chief legal adviser, warned banning the advert could “give rise to the possibility of legal proceedings” under the Equality Act which bans commercial organisations from refusing services on religious grounds"
Maybe they should've baked a cake instead

Richard Dawkins links Isis child who beheaded man and 'clock boy' Ahmed Mohamed - "‘“But he’s only a kid.’ Yes, a ‘kid’ old enough to sue for $15m those whom he hoaxed,” tweeted Dawkins. In the tweet he linked to an International Business Times report on a video posted to YouTube that appears to show a child of about 10 being forced by Isis fighters to decapitate a Syrian regime army officer. Referring to the video he asked: “And how old is this ‘kid’?”... “Just fed up with people saying of the click [sic] hoax boy, ‘He’s only a kid’, as though that means he can’t be criticised”... Dawkins appeared to grow frustrated by the repeated requests for clarification,likening it to the time his remarks about Mein Kampf were misinterpreted by “numpties”. “I suppose I should by now have got the measure of the IQ to be found on Twitter”"

Triple A Video Games Could Learn A Lot About Feminism From Porn Games - "the game is sexually empowering to Elizabeth mechanically. She guides the action. She narrates and dictates the scene. The player’s point of view comes from an unknown man or transwoman — "bio cock" is a slang term for the penis of a transwoman who hasn't had sex-reassignment surgery — lying prone with Elizabeth on top. You don’t even properly control Elizabeth. You can only make the scene go forward or backwards. What she does to the player is entirely her own choice, which is a refreshing break from using sex workers as health items and stat boosts in Triple A games. Especially since the final payoff is Elizabeth having an orgasm so intense it opens a portal to another world... Gaming has come far in how it treats women. Recent releases, like the new Assassin’s Creed, show a marked and directed improvement in things like how to dress female protagonists, avoiding the use of gendered threats and slurs from enemies, and diversifying the type of women you see on the screen in a healthy way. This is fantastic, and well done to all the developers taking heed of the feminist conversation over the past several years."
Too bad for anti-porn feminists; since games are about escaping reality I guess it's okay to pretend that female characters won't get gender-specific slurs hurled at them

Hazing: Research & Theory - "Cognitive dissonance: when an individual holds two opposing beliefs in tension, he or she experiences tension which may be resolved by changing one of the views. When people who view themselves as smart, reasonable people participate in degrading experiences, they may look back and minimize the extent that they experienced degradation. Otherwise they would be left saying to themselves, "I'm a smart person and I joined a group that degraded me," which would create tension. Saying to oneself, “It wasn't that bad,” creates less tension. As a result, individuals in a group that is hazed may eventually feel positively about the group that subjected them to the experience...
Shared coping: when individuals go through a highly stressful experience together (e.g., a natural disaster, a battle), they may feel closer to each other as a result. Enduring hazing together may make a group feel more unity, but as with hurricanes, the experience may yield damage as well as benefits...
Cycles of abuse: individuals who are hazed may be at greater risk of hazing others because of a displaced desire for revenge. As one fraternity pledge said immediately after being hazed intensely, "I can't wait to do this to the pledges next year." In addition, being hazed involves a learning process by which members model for new members the accepted methods for initiation.
Identification with the aggressor: intensive hazing can involve complex strategies to “break down” individuals and “remold” them to conform to the belief structures of the group. The group may isolate new members and expose them to repeated experiences designed to conform the new member's beliefs to those of the group. They may be told that the group is special and superior, and that attainment of this status is worth whatever must be endured to achieve it. Eventually, new members may desire to become like the individuals who abuse them...
Need for esteem: self-esteem is bolstered by a sense of accomplishment and acceptance by others. "Surviving" hazing may contribute to a sense of achievement and garner the "respect" of group members, both of which can enhance individuals' esteem. Those who haze may enhance their own sense of esteem and heroism by maintaining membership in a group that "weeds out the weak." Television shows such as Survivor, The Weakest Link, The Apprentice ("You're fired!"), and My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss are cultural reflections of an underlying need to earn esteem.
Expression of power: hazing may gratify individuals' desires for a sense of power and control. As one Cornell sorority sister stated, "There is no need to subject girls to degrading acts; it is selfish and only provided the elder girls with a sense of power." Some individuals acknowledge enjoying exerting power over others and even seeing others experience pain.
Need for intimacy: many members of groups that haze cite closeness as a goal of hazing. Among males, however, cultural definitions of masculinity tend to undermine overt attempts at intimacy (e.g., talking about one's feelings). Hazing activities may thus be designed to meet intimacy needs without violating cultural norms. For example, being intoxicated makes it more acceptable to share one's feelings (e.g., "I love you, man!"). Men who feel uncomfortable hugging each other may nonetheless perpetuate naked "elephant walks" in which new members hold onto each others hands or genitals in what some would describe as a homoerotic ritual."
Or: how boot camp results in Stockholm Syndrome

Even Pope Francis is Down With Science - "A recent Pope, John Paul II, is quoted in saying “science can purify religion from error and superstition; molecular biologists have probed the structure of living material, showing the unity of nature. With this in mind, simple neutrality is no longer acceptable. Keeping religion and science exclusive from one another fosters a fragmented view of the world.”"

California shooters radicalised for quite some time: FBI - "Farook's family have said they were at a loss to explain the couple's rampage and have added that though both were devout Muslims, there was no indication they had become radicalised... In an interview with the Italian daily La Stampa, however, Farook's father said his son approved of the ideas of the ISIS group and was fixated on Israel. "He said he agreed with (ISIS chief Abu Bakr) al-Baghdadi's ideas for creating the Islamic State, and he was obsessed by Israel," La Stampa quoted the father of the shooter, also named Syed Farook, as saying. "I always used to say to him, 'Be calm, patience, in two years' time Israel will no longer exist'," he said, in remarks reported in Italian."
Looks like we can see where the radicalisation started
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