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Valar Qringaomis

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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Links - 15th May 2016

A history of red hair and amazing animals | History Extra podcast on acast - "The Sikhs are named Singh. Means lion. Comes from an ancient word meaning Lion. It's one of the commonest surnames in the world. Richard the Lionheart of course. He wasn't stupid. He was a king whose pretensions to Kingship were rather tricky. So he said right, I'm going to brand myself, if you like. One of the earliest examples of branding...
You get this image of red-haired Judas cropping up in medieval art. And obviously that did nothing at all for the image of red-headed men. However at the same time you also get a red-headed Mary Magdalene as well. And she was one of the most beloved and empowered figures in the whole of the Catholic pantheon. So there's a huge split between male and female representations of red hair from very early on... red hair in women is erotic and sexually interesting... in Elizabethan England, red hair and a pale skin became incredibly fashionable and also was a sign of your loyalty to the Queen. There are any number of redheads in Elizabethan portraiture. They can't all have been natural... All of the things that make redheads genetically unique. For example the fact that we have a much more acid skin mantle than people with hair of other colours, which changes the way that scents and aftershaves work on our skin"

Sykes-Picot and a 17th-century polymath | Podcast | History Extra - "[On blaming colonialists drawing borders for the problems in the Middle East today] It's worth bearing in mind whilst we're seeing the terrible destruction of places like Syria and Iraq: literally, the collapse of these nation states into the fragmented parts based on tribal and sectarian and ethnic distinction, it's worth bearing in mind that these states did retain their sovereign entity for the best part of 100 years. So the idea that Sykes-Picot is this sort of bomb waiting to go off - well it lasted for a very long time. So I think it's more rhetoric than reality. But that said, perception and rhetoric matters. It is important and for the vast majority of Arab people, Sykes-Picot and the other agreements like the Balfour Declaration are seen as directly relevant to the problems that they face in those territories today... we need to be careful of giving ISIS too much credit when they say that they're breaking up a 100 year old borders...
[On Kenelm Digby] I would love to believe this but I can't quite bring myself to. He has to sort of deal with an attempt by the Queen Regent of France Maria de Medici to seduce him. She's very taken with him when she sees him dancing at the court. So he effectively fakes his own death and runs away to Italy"

2005 Pamwe Chete! The Story of the Selous Scouts | The History Network - "How did white Rhodesian soldiers stand a hope in hell of impersonating African guerilla fighters?... The whites who were in the Selous Scouts were required to be masters of disguise and dress. Skin could be dyed with black pigment and a long bushy beard could be used to break up the features of a European face. Long hair and a scrappy hat could be used to disguise members who have blue or green eyes and white scouts would always attempt to do business with enemy patrols at night. Balaclavas, long shirts and trousers were also frequently used despite the African heat. Also, Selous Scouts, regardless of ancestry were expected to be masters of the Shona and Ndebele language, customs and behavior. Many of the white scouts recruited had... grown up in rural areas and learnt the native tongues from the crib. Moreover, during selection, Reid-Daly created a Dark Ops phase where candidates would be taught to act, think and behave like ZANLA and ZIPRA fighters. Candidates would learn the songs of the liberation, become masters of Soviet bloc weaponry, dress like Communist fighters and live off the land. Candidates were also expected to be able to inhale the strong Soviet-made Maccawky [sp?] tobacco and expected to drink the local moonshine like a Communist freedom fighter... The scouts created so much havoc amongst their opponents that there are recorded cases of actual ZANLA guerilla units turning on each other because they were so afraid of Selous' Scouts infiltration"

How to Become Great at Just About Anything - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "DUBNER: A doctor who’s freshly out of medical school might be on some dimensions, at least, maybe some important dimensions, better than a doctor with 20 years experience?
ERICSSON: When it comes to actually diagnosing heart sounds, when you test people with recordings of heart sounds, it turns out that general practitioners — basically their ability to diagnose decreases as a function of the number of years in their practice. And it sort of makes sense. How would you be able to know basically that you’re making mistakes? Even if you realize that a patient was incorrectly diagnosed, you won’t remember exactly what the heart sound sounded like...
ERICSSON: Now, right. Gladwell basically thought that was kind of an interesting magical number and suggested that the key here is to reach that 10,000 hours... there’s really nothing magical about 10,000 hours. Just the amount of experience performing may in fact have very limited chances to improve your performance. The key seems to be that deliberate practice, where you’re actually working on improving your own performance — that is the key process, and that’s what you need to try to maximize.
DUBNER: You write that this rule, or the number, really — 10,000, nice, big round number — is “irresistibly appealing.” “Unfortunately,” you write, “this rule, which is the only thing many people today know about the effects of practice, is wrong in several ways...
MALCOLM GLADWELL: If you have to play chess for 10 years in order to be a great chess player, then that means that you can’t have a job, or maybe if you have a job it can’t be a job that takes most of your time. It means you can’t come home, do the dishes, mow the lawn, take care of your kids. Someone has to do that stuff for you. That was my argument, that if there’s a kind of incredibly prolonged period that is necessary for the incubation of genius, high-performance, elite status of one sort of another, then that means there always has to be a group of people behind the elite performer making that kind of practice possible. And that’s what I wanted to say.”
The person whose research Gladwell relied on to popularise the 10,000 hour rule talks about why Gladwell misinterpreted it. Having read the original text I find this backpedalling - and it can't be that all his readers misinterpreted his book

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Meet The Author: Pat Barker - "if we survive long enough, I think that 500 years' time people will see only one world war in the first half of the 20th century... there'll be this truce in the middle, as there were in the 30 years war or the 100 years war, and even people changing sides, but basically it will be seen as a single war

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Can we separate criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism? - "The left portrays itself as the champion of the oppressed. That's its basic identity. But there's such a big hangover for them that the Jews are of course not that. That they are rich and powerful and controlling and that therefore they don't fit in to the category of the oppressed. Particularly with their version of Israel, which is the oppressor. Therefore the left does not extend to Jews the same protections that it extends to other minorities... It is being used, that discourse, to fuel a type of Jew hatred. I can show you... tweets I get that use, clearly use Nazi cartoons, Nazi iconography and then say well all I'm doing is attacking Israel. Well yYou don't have to use Nazi iconography to do that"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, How has Italy been affected by EU migration policy? - "Conqring Italian hearts and palates is easier than you might think, the Syrian owner of Rome's Shawarma Station told me. According to *name*, Italians, like Syrians, spend much of their time eating or talking about good food. And both people's lives revolve around their mamas...
'Obviously we feel abandoned by the EU. Even if we got to vote and said that we don't want any more migrants, our vote wouldn't even be taken into account. What's happening here is that Italians are starving to death and migrants get all the support'
'Italy is a failed state. Our current state. We are abandoned by our government and European Union'"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Does BP boss Bob Dudley deserve £14m pay package? - "He was harassed out of the job. I'm not touching it. Good luck... anybody who's capable of doing that sort of job will probably have done quite well for themselves already. So a raw number [in pay] isn't the primary factor. There's a element of personal responsibility and personal risk that comes with this. And if you're going into a job where you're likely to be publicly vilified, that will come with a significant premium...
Pay packets... for chief executives... rose by around 1%, which is below the increase in national average earnings. So it suggests that all this talk about big pay, or increasingly big pay, is not the reality

Economist Removed from Plane for Algebra - "Guido Menzio an economist at the University of Pennsylvania–author of Block Recursive Equilibria for Stochastic Models of Search on the Job among other papers–was pulled from a plane because…algebra is suspicious... 'Trump’s America is already here. It’s not yet in power though. Personally, I will fight back.'"
This shows that all the complaints about racism and Islamophobia are barking up the wrong tree. It's a larger problem than these tired old tropes
Strangely even though Guido Menzio is Italian, the Washington Post calls this "ethnic profiling"
Comments: "Everything bad that happens is Trump’s fault."
"Another example of the amazing mental leaps people perform to project their base fears onto a presidential candidate they don’t like."
"Obama has been running the USA for 7+ years, but when you meet a psycho here, it’s “Trump’s America.” Remember that."


Cantor Fitzgerald Settles 9/11 Suit Against American Airlines for $135 Million - The New York Times - "More than a dozen years after the Sept. 11 attacks, a last major piece of litigation against the airline industry and other defendants moved toward an end on Tuesday, as the Wall Street firm Cantor Fitzgerald revealed that it would settle its lawsuit for $135 million. Cantor had accused American Airlines of negligence in allowing five terrorists to board the plane in Boston that crashed into the World Trade Center’s north tower, killing 658 of Cantor’s almost 1,000 employees in New York."
Comment on this (from previous post): "The airlines might be overly-cautious as a direct result of the incentives created by our laws, not because there is some inherent reason for the airlines to over-react. In which case it would seem better to alter the underlying laws than to impose countervailing costs on the airlines for going too far in the direction that the laws have forced them to go."

Bomb joke forces officials to cancel flight - "A businessman from Surigao City was arrested by airport police after he jokingly announced he was carrying a bomb in his bag inside a departing Cebu Pacific plane."
If an obvious joke gets a flight cancelled, it's not so surprising that suspicious scribbling can get you taken off a flight

'Mummy, I could have done that' - new book pokes fun at modern art - "Peter and Jane go to a modern art gallery. In one room there is an old master that has been defaced with a giant penis; in another a canvas scrawled with the words ‘Why did you f**k me and leave???’ hangs on the wall; in another there is nothing at all. “There is nothing in the room because God is dead”, says mummy. “Oh dear,” says Peter. It may look and sound like a Ladybird Book, but We Go to the Gallery is probably more suitable for adults. Miriam Elia, artist and comedy writer, created the spoof children’s book to poke fun at the art world. “I thought it would be humorous to see Mummy, Peter and Jane going to a really nihilistic modern art exhibition”, she says. Among the works confronted by the trio on their cultural outing are pastiches of Emin, Creed and Koons, through which they learn about sex, death, nothingness “and all of the debilitating, middle-class self-hatred contained in the artworks.”"

On Chinese Privilege in Singapore: An Interview with Professor Derek Heng | Fox & Hedgehog - "I sat down with Dr. Derek Heng, Associate Professor of Humanities at Yale-NUS College and expert in Singaporean history, to discuss the role of Chinese privilege in Singapore and examine the plurality of ways social constructs based on physical characteristics intersect with and/or influence political identities, social relations, and public policy... What you then have are a broad-based, ordinary Chinese who are extremely entrepreneurial forming a second layer of the population. These people are not highly privileged but have found a way to occupy what is a very big, liminal space between the top and the bottom. This includes all your small-medium enterprises. So do you call that privilege or do you call that perpetuation based on the need to survive? I think it’s something that needs to be better understood. Very often when you look from the outside in, it’s not immediately clear that there is this distinction. You may not always have access to the same information and resources if you are not part of that specific ethnic group... Just simply because something is based on ethnicity may not make it a privilege. In some ways, you can see the same thing happening with the Indians and the Malays as well... In many ways, there is a lot of help for minority groups, especially Malays. School fees are free, while everybody else has to pay. Efforts through communal organisation to raise education levels and the creation of specific industries catering to ethnic groups has been successful. The vast majority of employees operating the port authority are Malay, for example. There’s a good reason why you want to make sure you remain one of the top two ports in the world, and it’s not just because it brings in international trade and business, but also because a vast number of a particular race works in that industry very directly. There is a vested interest to ensure that they are economically well-taken care of in that regard. There are a lot of things that are happening well. I think that more can always be done. That’s the reality. But is much being done to mitigate issues around race? Yes."
Too bad the racists will dismiss him because he's Chinese

Can women detect cues to ovulation in other women's faces? - "Recent research suggests that men find portraits of ovulatory women more attractive than photographs of the same women taken during the luteal phase. Only few studies have investigated whether the same is true for women. The ovulatory phase matters to men because women around ovulation are most likely to conceive, and might matter to women because fertile women might pose a reproductive threat... In addition to choosing the more attractive face, these participants were asked which woman would be more likely to steal their own date. Because gonadal hormones influence competitive behaviour, we also examined whether oestradiol, testosterone and progesterone levels predict women's choices. The women found neither the late follicular nor the luteal version more attractive. However, naturally cycling women with higher oestradiol levels were more likely to choose the ovulatory woman as the one who would entice their date than women with lower oestradiol levels. These results imply a role of oestradiol when evaluating other women who are competing for reproduction."

French girl says she doesn't need a car or apartment, marries Chinese guy for love - "A "naked marriage" is a Chinese term for a marriage that takes place before the newlywed couple has bought a car or apartment. Gasp! This kind of thing is generally frowned upon by the older generation, who want their daughters married quick, but into a financially-stable situation... They met when Emilie escorted one guest to the golf course. She asked for his WeChat info. They began getting to know each other, but Xie wouldn't make the first move. With her time in China running out, she couldn't wait any longer. She told him that she liked him, if he had said no, she would have never come back to China. But he said yes, and they began dating. The couple held their wedding on April 9th. Emilie says that she loves Xie, so she didn't need an apartment or a car before getting married... "Foreign girls are more laid-back than Chinese girls. My girlfriend says she won't marry me until I buy a BMW," wrote one web user. "I really need to find a foreign bride," commented another."
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