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More adventurous than the average bear

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Links - 17th April 2016

Green hobby grows into a business - "Mr Linneberg, 45, a Singapore permanent resident who has lived here for 18 years, was spurred to invent a device that would let them grow their own food without having to worry too much about maintenance.... Luscious green leaves sprout from each pocket, with some stalks bearing juicy fruit. Some of the edibles they grow include cucumber, kale, tomato and passionfruit. They have also hired a horticulturist to help them improve the gardening aspect of the operations, such as testing plants that would grow better in Singapore's climate, fertilisation and pest control. Mr Linneberg says of their D-I-Y venture: "I expected to build these few towers and that was it. But you get excited seeing your basil grow and you can harvest kilos of tomatoes and you want to improve it. "It's so appealing to grow your own food.""

Have a siesta in Seoul cinema for $12 - "WHAT do you do when you are desperately in need of a lunchtime nap? If you work in Yeouido, Seoul's financial hub, and have 10,000 won (S$12) to spare, you could make a dash for the Yeouido CGV, where the cinema chain transforms its Premium Theater into a cozy sleep nook during lunch hours, Monday through Thursday."

World of Tanks shows Belarus potential beyond Soviet-era farms - "Lukashenko, who once called the internet "garbage", has left the technology sector alone and now seems proud of his country's IT prowess. Commenting on an episode when Belarusian hackers stole hundreds of thousands of dollars, he told parliament: "Of course it is a disgrace. But sometimes you look and you are proud that our people know how to do this." Aleksander Klaskovskii, a Belarusian political analyst said Lukashenko is not scared that access to sophisticated technology and the Internet will bring political ideas that could undermine his rule. "The Belarusian authorities are not so primitive. They are not Internet-phobic. Lukashenko is a rational person," he said. "Revolutions do not occur due to the fact that someone writes something on the Internet"... The low cost of living and the country's position outside the European Union also helps keeps wage costs down compared to nearby EU members.

Deception Island, Antarctica - "This has become a favourite spot for those fortunate enough to have prioritized a visit to Antarctica in their lifetime. One reason is for the legendary “Polar Swims” which one is encouraged to do (doing so at your own risk and with a support team nearby in case of hypothermia). You would think that with the warmer sands that the sea inside would be relatively warm. Unless troubles bubbling below, you would be slightly deceived in this notion. Having done the swim myself, I can assure you there was nothing ‘warm’ about that swim!!"

Juicing Is Bad for You and the Earth - "no one seems to be listening these days. According to IBIS World, the market forjuices and smoothies is $2 billion annually and expected to grow by hundreds of millions of dollars over the next few years. You can scarcely go a week without hearing about a coworker or celebrity being on a “juice cleanse,” either. Juicing is not just another fad though: it is a privileged, wasteful form of food consumption that’s worse for you than cooking and bad for the environment; juicing is the triumph of marketing over science. When juiced, a basket of fruit would probably serve half—if not less—the amount of people as it would if eaten whole. Lost to juicing are fibers that satiate (including the skin which is loaded with heart-healthy, cancer-fighting flavonoids), vitamins, and most importantly, fat. Fat matters because the body needs it to absorb a whole host of vitamins like A, D, E, and K (PDF). Without fat in that juice combo, those vitamins pass right through you... After the juice has been squeezed out of food, tons of pulp is left behind, thrown into landfills where they emit significant amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide"

Hong Kong bookseller Lee Bo says he will abandon UK residency - "The UK has previously expressed concern about the disappearances, particularly that of Mr Lee. It said last month he was probably "involuntarily removed" to China in what would have been a "serious breach" of the Hong Kong handover treaty... In response to his TV interview, the UK government said it was ready to provide consular assistance, but had not so far been allowed access to Mr Lee, despite formal requests to the Chinese government.

A Quest for the Black Knight: Casting People of Color in Arthurian Film and Television - "The way the film uses race as the basis for comedy raises the question of why it should be considered funny to cast a black actor in a film set in the medieval period. Must actors of color be portrayed as the “Other” when (or if) given roles in films made in the West about the European Middle Ages?"

As Muslim women, we actually ask you not to wear the hijab in the name of interfaith solidarity - "The mandate that women cover their hair relies on misinterpretations of Koranic verses. In Arabic dictionaries, hijab refers to a “barrier,” not necessarily between men and women, but also between two men. Hijab appears in a Koranic verse (33:53), during the fifth year of the prophet Muhammad’s migration, or hijra, to Medina, when some wedding guests overstayed their welcome at the prophet’s home. It established some rules of etiquette for speaking to the wives of prophet Muhammad: “And when ye ask of them anything, ask it of them from behind a hijab. This is purer for your hearts and for their hearts.” Thus, hijab meant a partition. The word hijab, or a derivative, appears only eight times in the Koran as an “obstacle” or “wall of separation” (7:46), a “curtain” (33:53), “hidden” (38:32), just a “wall of separation” (41:5, 42:52, 17:45), “hiding” (19:14) and “prevented” or “denied access to God” (83:15). In the Koran, the word hijab never connotes any act of piety. Rather, it carries the negative connotation of being an actual or metaphorical obstacle separating the “non-believers” in a dark place, noting “our hearts are under hijab (41:5),” for example, a wall of separation between those in heaven and those in hell (7:46) or “Surely, they will be mahjaboon from seeing their Lord that day (83:15).” Mahjaboon is a derivate verb from hijab. The Saudi Koran translates it as “veiled.” Actually, in this usage, it means, “denied access.”"

The 'Shame, Shame' Nun Speaks! - "I was about to get on a plane, just myself and my daughter. It was in the very early morning and I was totally in Mommy mode with no makeup on. I sat down next to this guy, and he said, “Am I right in thinking you can ring my bell?” And I said to him, “Yes, but I’m really insulted that you even recognized me!” Seriously, I always need to put a little mascara or something on when I leave the house."

Cab tragedy: Cardboard auntie gave away what she collected - "After her meal, 77-year-old Poh Ah Gin enjoyed wandering around the neighbourhood, sometimes collecting cardboard boxes to recycle to pass time. This was what she was doing on Tuesday evening when the driver of a Comfort taxi reversed into her twice at high speed... Yesterday, at Madam Poh's wake at Block 120, family members described her as a "happy-go-lucky" woman who was single by choice. She had lived alone in her three-room flat since 1975, after her mother died. However, she also had a "stubborn" streak, said her sister, Madam Mary Poh, 73, who lives one street away from her and would frequently cycle over to visit. "My siblings and I would chip in for her expenses. We've told her many times that she doesn't need to collect cardboard, but she insisted on doing it to pass time." Madam Poh Ah Gin, who was the third of 11 children, would give the cardboard she collected to a rag-and-bone man for free, said her nephew, Mr Francis Loo, 49, who works in the pharmaceutical industry. "She never earned a cent from it. She was just kind-hearted.""
Maybe according to frothing anti-PAP types, she was so poor she gave away the money she earned from collecting cardboard because the PAP is evil

'Cardboard auntie' who was knocked down by school bus was in driver's blind spot: Coroner - "An 86-year-old woman who died in November 2014 after she was struck by a school bus in Marsiling Lane had been collecting recyclable items such as cardboard and cans as "a pastime" and "exercise", a coroner's court heard on Friday... Police investigation officer Nor Affendy Jaffar told the court Madam Ching's family said she had been collecting items as "exercise" for about three years. One of her sons had also told the inquiry that she was in good health, not in any financial difficulty, and had taken to collecting recyclables as a pastime."

Chee Soon Juan Highlights Plight Of Bukit Batok Granny, But Netizen Found Out That Granny Works To Exercise - "In his Facebook post, he highlighted that not only is she underpaid at $5.50/hour, she also has to work for long hours and her work is considerably strenuous for her age... In the video, she said that she works as a form of exercise. She does not want to stay at home alone because her mind tends to wander off. She also told the interviewer that there are people at home to take care of her."

Granny helping hubby collect cardboard dies after BMW crashes into them - "His mother would then join his stepfather, who worked as a rag-and-bone man, to collect cardboard and other recyclable materials on weekends. "She liked it. It was her way to keep active. They did it every week and when I was younger, I also joined them sometimes.""

Minister Tan Chuan-Jin Finds Tissue Seller Who Works For Fun - "The elderly lady that Minister Tan talked to has two daughters and a husband who works. Whether the old lady is a retiree or not is unclear, but she appears to be selling tissues because she has nothing to do, rather than because she is hard-up on cash; something Minister Tan wouldn’t have found out if he hadn’t chatted with her. Lesson learned? Don’t stereotype tissue peddlers. Some really can’t make ends meet, but some also sell tissues to pass time."


UI #91 - Unfit to Teach - "On November 29th of 1911, the New York City Board of Education barred 4 young teachers from the classroom because their young children had caused them to be absent from school far too many times. As a result a new policy was put into place that forbade women with young children from being teachers in the New York City school system. Should a woman have a child while employed by the district, she was given only two options. One: resign from her position or Two: be fired. If a woman chose to resign, she could apply to be rehired once her children had grown. But if she opted to let the Board of Education terminate her employment, then she could never ever work for the New York City school system again... It was an existing policy of the school board never to hire married female teachers. That is unless their husbands were mentally or physically unable to support them."

Rationally Speaking | Official Podcast of New York City Skeptics - Current Episodes - RS 154 - Tom Griffiths on "Why your brain might be rational after all" - "For something like causality, causality is a weird and interesting thing, because nobody has actually ever observed a causal relationship. Causal relationships are things that, they don't exist in the world. As Hume pointed out, you've never really got good evidence for a causal relationship being something that actually exists. It's more an expectation which we're imposing on the world around us. It's interesting to ask the question of whether there's a notion of causality independent of the human construal of causality. I think a lot of statistical arguments that you can have about, okay, what's a good way of characterizing a causal relationship or not, really end up being psychological arguments about the intuitions that we have about the nature of causality."

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Robert Hooke - "It was a perfect world when you looked at all these fleas and lice and such"
"In a way, the whole book is an example of Natural Theology. This way of arguing from the Natural World to prove the existence of God the Great Designer. So for example he draws analogies, similarities between different things he looked at, because they're part of God's Plan. But right at the beginning he says, he follows Francis Bacon. He says: Yes, our senses were damaged in the fall and therefore Micrographia for him is the first installment in a grand project to enhance the senses... so this is a religious enterprise all the way through"
So much for non-overlapping magisteria

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Holbein at the Tudor Court - "The really interesting thing about Holbein... Holbein like Goya had this talent for showing his antipathy to some of his patrons without his patrons ever noticing. And of course the classic panel portrait of Henry, the small view now in Madrid, the most famous portrait of him wearing the cloth of gold and cloth of silver doublet, with the cap, with the feather in it, shows a brooding threatening man whose piggy eyes glower with suspicion, but Henry thought this was top stuff...
When Anne [of Cleves] arrived, Henry just didn't like her. And then on the wedding night he said basically he felt her belly and breast and then decided she was no maid and that made him temporarily impotent"

Egypt Under al-Sisi: The Republic of Dread - "The awfulness of military strongman Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi’s of Egypt is becoming scarily clearer by the day. Lawlessness and police abuse of citizens is the norm. Disappearances, common. Torture, a tool of choice. All this is done in the name of fighting terrorism and an Islamic-based armed rebellion. But of course, as befits a venerable pattern of dictatorship, there is always time to repress and frighten any regime critics, real or imagined."
Wondering what all those who cheered Morsi's removal have to say about Sisi's dictatorship

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, No Way to Macedonia - "[On Ethiopia] As an affluent foreigner, you want to help, but Susan Aitchison says giving them money only encourages them to leave school and take up hassling full time... she advises giving money direct to the schools... he then told me he desperately needed books for school and I relented. He led me off into a shack selling newspapers and a single dictionary. I bought it for him, and he ran off jubilant. On Susan Aitchison 's advice, I went back to the bookstore the next day. As she predicted, there was the dictionary back on the shelf. The boy had presumably sold it back for cash. But Ethiopia needs entrepreneurs... if this young man grows up to be a businessman, how can I complain about falling for his scam?"

The snipers trained to protect rhinos - "They're part of an SAS-trained private army raised to protect the species from poachers. I ask the sergeant what he would do if he spotted one of his friends or neighbours up to no good. His reply is unequivocal. "If he comes to kill rhinos he is robbing the entire community. And I will shoot him dead"... when they spot poachers, they don't arrest them. They don't even invite them to lay down their arms. Instead, they kill them - 19 so far, in split-second ambushes during which their victims probably never knew what hit them. Dyer says this is the safest way to deal with men facing 25 years in prison if convicted. "Technically we do have to offer them the opportunity to surrender," he adds, "but this tends to happen after they've been, er, incapacitated"... "The poachers are learning," says the rifleman. "Now they are using bows and poison arrows." I suggest that this might make them easier to arrest, but the sergeant shakes his head. "We will still kill them," he says."
How many people against capital punishment are for shootng rhino poachers?
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