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More adventurous than the average bear

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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Links - 30th April 2016

Heavy Mobile Device Use May Interfere With Children's Social, Problem Solving Skills - "while mobile device use by children can provide an educational benefit, the use of these devices to distract children during mundane tasks may be detrimental to the social-emotional development of the child. The researchers ask "If these devices become the predominant method to calm and distract young children, will they be able to develop their own internal mechanisms of self-regulation?""

Loss of Pigmentation Due to Scarring - "Hypopigmentation of areas of the skin often occurs after any sort of inflammation or injury to the skin, explains. When the skin is damaged, the surrounding area often becomes inflamed as the body attempts to repair the damaged area. The inflammation can damage healthy cells, however, including melanocytes. Damaged melanocytes produce less melanin, which can result in hypopigmentation around any area which has become scarred... Although the hypopigmented skin around a scar may eventually regain its original pigmentation, the actual scar tissue may persist in having a different color than the surrounding skin. This is because scar tissue is different than normal skin and has no melanocytes"

NSA employee spied on nine women without detection, internal memo shows - "A National Security Agency employee was able to secretly intercept the phone calls of nine foreign women for six years without ever being detected by his managers, the agency's internal watchdog has revealed. The unauthorised abuse of the NSA's surveillance tools only came to light after one of the women, who happened to be a US government employee, told a colleague that she suspected the man – with whom she was having a sexual relationship – was listening to her calls. The case is among 12 documented in a letter from the NSA's inspector general to a leading member of Congress, who asked for a breakdown of cases in which the agency's powerful surveillance apparatus was deliberately abused by staff. One relates to a member of the US military who, on the first day he gained access to the surveillance system, used it to spy on six email addresses belonging to former girlfriends... it raises the possibility that there are many more cases that go undetected. In a quarter of the cases, the NSA only found out about the misconduct after the employee confessed... a woman employee of the agency confessed that she had obtained information about the phone of "her foreign-national boyfriend and other foreign nationals". She later told investigators she often used the NSA's surveillance tools to investigate the phone numbers of people she met socially, to ensure they were "not shady characters"."
Privacy is not needed. If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear!

UK sperm bank has just nine registered donors, boss reveals - "Scarcity in demand does not stop families being demanding, Witjens added. “We get asked for six-foot tall donors, when the average height is 5ft 7in in Britain, so you are effectively ruling out 90% of the donors. And they all want doctors or barristers, but the reality is the majority of those professionals have not got time. So you actually get young guys with flexible jobs.” Donors receive just £35 per session but Witjens said better advertising was key, not giving donors more money: “We might get more donors if we paid £50 or £100 per donation. But money corrupts. If you feel you can make £200 a week for four months, you might hide things about your health.”... “We can stop people having to go to Denmark where donors might have 150-200 offspring. Then it’s always a very real fear for the donor-conceived, running into a half-brother or sister.”"

No anonymity means less sperm donation in UK

3:38 - Parents report the man with an Arnold Schwarzenegger cardboard cutout in his window is making them nervous.

Fray Diego de Landa: A Contradiction - "Diego de Landa was tireless in his efforts to walk the entire Yucatán peninsula and spread the Catholic religion. He went where others would not go, and made it his mission to learn as much about the Mayan culture as he possibly could; probably with the motive that it would be easier to later destroy it. He was welcomed and esteemed at first, and the Mayan people showed him some of their sacred writings. But to Diego de Landa, the very fact that these writings existed was evidence of diabolical beliefs. He was relentless in the pursuit of his goal: to convert as many souls as possible and eliminate pagan practices, thereby allowing the Second Coming of Christ to arrive sooner. Many Mayas did not embrace the new religion, and in many cases continued to worship their own gods and idols. Diego de Landa chose a route of physical aggression and abuse, which was seen as excessive by other Catholic Church members. In 1562 he ordered an inquisition in Maní, burning at least 40 Mayan codices. Dozens of Mayan nobles and commoners were put in jail, interrogated, and tortured. The violence was such that many Mayas escaped into the forests to avoid the extreme abuse. Diego de Landa is believed to have said: “We found a large number of books, and as they contained nothing in which were not to be seen as superstition and lies of the devil, we burned them all, which they (the Maya) regretted to an amazing degree, and which caused them much affliction.”Fray Diego de Landa is famously known for his book “Relación de las Cosas de Yucatán,” written in 1566. It is speculated that he eventually repented of his cruelty and destruction of the Mayan people and their codices, and decided to write their history himself. The book is widely considered to be a complete and accurate summary of the Mayas and their culture, religion, and way of life. His intimate knowledge of the people and villages allowed him to describe their social organization and daily life in a way that no one else could do... Most ironically, some scholars believe that it is partly because of Fray Diego de Landa’s attempts to destroy Mayan culture that it had the opposite effect, and has survived to this day."

Neandertal–Human Trysts May Be Linked to Modern Depression, Heart Disease - "The researchers suggest that some Neanderthal genetic variants might have provided benefits in modern human populations as they first moved out of Africa thousands of years ago. However, those variants may have later become detrimental in modern, Western environments, the scientists said. One example is Neanderthal DNA that increases blood clotting; while this can help seal wounds and prevent germs from entering the body, it can also increase the risk for stroke, miscarriage and other problems, Capra said."

Parliament: Representation of Singapore's history is objective, says Grace Fu
Hurr hurr

Dating website reveals the age women are most attractive to men - "While the age of men that a woman finds sexually attractive, broadly speaking, increases with her own - a 20-year-old woman is attracted to a 23-year-old man; 30-year-old women are interested in 30-year-old men; and 50-year-old women are attracted to 46-year-old men - there's a change when the genders are flipped. Rudder says: "This isn’t survey data, this is data built from tens of millions of preferences expressed in the act of finding a date, and even from just following along the first few entries, the gist of the table is clear: a woman wants a guy to be roughly as old as she is." When it comes to women that men find sexually attractive, Ruddr's data shows that, while men at 20 go for women of the same age, men at 30 are also interested in women at 20. And at 40, men are interested in women at 21. At 50, the data reveals, men are interested in women of 22."

Dolphins hold secret of how to keep boats barnacle-free - Telegraph - "HIGHLY toxic paints that coat ships' hulls to stop them being fouled by marine organisms could soon be replaced with an environmentally friendly alternative copied from dolphin skin."

Are outdoor smoking bans scientifically justified? - "At distances larger than 2 m, levels near single cigarettes were generally close to background"

The Power of 'Good Enough' - "If you ever aren't sure if you attended the very best party or bought the very best computer, just settle for "good enough." People who do this are called "satisficers," and they're consistently happier, he's found, than are "maximizers," people who feel that they must choose the very best possible option. Maximizers earn more, Schwartz has found, but they're also less satisfied with their jobs. In fact, they're more likely to be clinically depressed in general. The reason this happens, as Schwartz explained in a paper with his Swarthmore colleague Andrew Ward, is that as life circumstances improve, expectations rise"
The downsides of perfectionism and never settling for less than perfect

How Singapore is fixing its meritocracy - "These policies may start to free up the institutional rigidities that hinder social mobility and restore a public sphere disenchanted by elitism, mistrust and envy. The polarization of the public sphere in the United States has to some extent been the result of such disenchantment. A much smaller and younger country, Singapore cannot afford to be paralyzed by permanent cleavages."

'Mental block' against Singapore food impossible to overcome: Violet Oon - "“The way that the hawker would actually survive, honestly, is maybe if they go to London, Paris or New York. Because there, they're judging as a dish compared to other dishes that they're used to paying for. They'll just judge it as a lovely dish.” Chef Violet Oon’s philosophy is that Singapore food – whether it’s hawker food, family recipes or well-loved landmark dishes – should be among cuisines at the top of the food chain. Singapore cuisine, said Oon, deserves the best treatment, environment and respect. For her, the recently-opened National Kitchen by Violet Oon at the National Gallery is a reflection of this...
Bharati Jagdish: Now we're in an era where half the world is bemoaning the loss of heritage food in Singapore. Everything from, say, rojak to char kway teow. And some of your fellow food aficionados have written books about this. What is your stance on it though?
Violet Oon: I actually try do it and not write about it. Let's say, I'm serving rojak in my restaurant. We're doing it the way it should be done, the way a lot of hawkers cannot afford to do. For example, our dried chilli, we actually soak it and grind it ourselves. A lot of hawkers have to buy it from the supplier. Now there are preservatives in that.
Bharati Jagdish: And why do hawkers have to do that? Because people are not willing to fork out money for hawker food, even for good hawker food and the hawker has to keep his costs down."

Priest holes, the secret rooms that were custom-built to hide your Catholic priest during the Protestant Reformation - "Secret rooms and hidden doors are generally considered features of haunted houses, but in 16th-century England, they were integral in keeping Catholic priests, and Catholicism itself, alive. With the Protestant Reformation ramping up and Catholicism under attack, a system of safe houses equipped with cleverly hidden “priest holes” kept fugitive clergymen safe from persecution."

Singapore women spend more than $200k on shoes in their lifetime: Survey - "a third of women in Singapore buy shoes to celebrate a success, while 49 per cent admit to rushing out to buy a pair when their pay cheque arrives. The size of the heels also speaks volumes about the image being portayed. While nearly one in three women in Singapore wear up to a two-inch heel, 44 per cent go higher for a job interview and more than 40 per cent increase their height to supermodel proportions for a date. It may be worth considering, since nearly a third of respondents (27 per cent) admit to forming their first impression of someone based on their shoes."

A Study on Fats That Doesn’t Fit the Story Line - - "There was a lot of news this week about a study, published in the medical journal BMJ, that looked at how diet affects heart health. The results were unexpected because they challenged the conventional thinking on saturated fats. And the data were very old, from the late 1960s and early 1970s. This has led many to wonder why they weren’t published previously. It has also added to the growing concern that when it comes to nutrition, personal beliefs often trump science... more people died on the linoleic-acid-rich diets, although the results were not statistically significant. Even in a sensitivity analysis, which included more studies, no mortality benefit could be found with a diet lower in saturated fats."

Unexpected Honey Study Shows Woes of Nutrition Research - The New York Times - "Almost everything we “know” is based on small, flawed studies. The conclusions that can be drawn from them are limited, but often oversold by researchers and the news media. This is true not only of the newer work that we see, but also the older research that forms the basis for much of what we already believe to be true. I’m not ignoring blockbuster studies because I don’t agree with their findings; I’m usually just underwhelmed by what I can meaningfully conclude from them... The reason that we have to rely on small, poorly designed trials is because that’s often all we can get. Study after study has shown that people, even those trying to lose weight, cannot stick to diets for long periods of time. And that’s the research looking at highly motivated people who have taken it upon themselves to change what they eat. If they can’t stick to a certain regimen, how can we expect study participants, who aren’t as invested, to follow strict instructions for months at a time?... some of the most powerful research on nutrition comes from prisons or mental hospitals, where we can control what people eat more directly. But this comes with its own ethical concerns... The study on honey I discussed earlier was funded by the National Honey Board, and I’m guessing they weren’t thrilled with the result. When industry does fund research, people tend to view it with great skepticism anyway, making it a losing proposition."
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