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More adventurous than the average bear

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Links - 25th May 2016

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Meet the author: Marina Lewycka - "In fiction, not as in real life, the author is in control. So things can happen: you can have an argument with your boss at work, you get a parking ticket. But if you're writing about them, you can turn them into something funny and something in which you're the person that has the power"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, 'There was no question that he was in charge' - "[On his class photo from 1983 with people of mixed ethnicity and religion]
There are more than 30 of us in this picture, and more than half of the people in this picture were either killed or had their family members killed.'
'One of the difficult things for you is that among those imprisoned with you were some of your old classmates, but also some of those classmates were themselves perpetrators.'
'Well some of my classmates were my prison guards. My high school teacher was my interrogator and my torturer. I knew most of the people who ran this place. And I didn't have a clue that I would end up in the same room. So when I saw him in there, I was shocked. Because you never expect your teacher to be in a place like that, cos, and especially this guy - we loved him. He was such a popular teacher. He was very nice to us. People were being taken out, tortured, killed. Women were raped and I could actually hear this happening just behind the wall of the room which I was kept. So it was a living hell. When I went back to Bosnia, 10 years after I was taken to the Omarska camp, I wanted to speak to him. I wanted to understand why him. At no point was he prepared to accept any responsibility for his involvement in those things, but ironically in a way he asked me to forgive him. And I couldn't forgive him at the time. I did forgive him after he died, I forgave all of them, but he died 2 years later so I never had the chance to talk to him again but today I work with his son'

Your inherited genes control your IQ and may affect how well you do at exams - "genes contribute to success in the full range of subjects from maths to art—and that the genetic influence stuck around even after they factored out the effects of intelligence. Other genetic, inherited traits might include mental health, personality, or motivation... A population that shows high levels of heritability can be interpreted as a sign of equality—the environment can't be radically different, or it would be the dominant influence. Take height as an example: people become taller or shorter adults because of a combination of their genes and various environmental factors, like nutrition in early childhood. In a country with high inequality, where some children receive adequate or excellent childhood nutrition and others starve, nutrition will play a very important role in how tall people are able to grow regardless of their genes—children with the genetic capacity to be very tall could be stunted by a poor environment. On the other hand, in a population where pretty much everyone is well-fed, the differences between people’s heights will be decided largely by genetics. The same goes for education: when everyone is receiving pretty much the same standard of education and has an equally good home life, their inherited traits and tendencies will play a more important role in their eventual results. When some people receive excellent education and others receive a much lower standard, educational “nutrition” will play an important role in the academic heights people can reach...For the authors, the most important result here is that intelligence isn’t the only heritable trait affecting results: echoing decades-old popular sentiment, they point to other traits like personality and motivation as important factors. They note that genes aren’t just a passive inheritance: genetic tendencies are likely to affect the choices made by teenagers and children, both selecting and interpreting their experiences of the world."

Testosterone Levels in Men Decline Over Past Two Decades, Study Shows - "The reasons for this decline are unclear; the study suggests that neither aging nor changes in certain health factors, such as obesity or smoking, can completely explain the phenomenon."

Cleveland Clinic says first uterus transplant in U.S. fails - "Other countries have tried womb transplants, and have reported some failures. Sweden reported the first successful birth in 2014, with a total of five healthy babies from nine transplants so far. The experimental technique is a new frontier that might one day offer women born without a uterus or who lost it to disease a chance at pregnancy, an alternative to adoption or surrogacy."

Why the Captain America: Civil War Movie Worked When the Comics Didn't
Maybe it's because the comics are fiendishly complicated and the movie universe, not so

Mom, I Love You, But Please Don’t Write Foreign Leaders Without Telling Me - "a letter from JFK to his mom, dated November 3, 1962. In it, the President tells his mother he has signed the copies of a photo he received from Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, which Khruschchev apparently had previously autographed at the request of Mrs. Kennedy. He makes sure to tell her that he thinks the picture "is most interesting and will be highly regarded.""

It’s Time to Retire ‘Crap Circles’ - "These pernicious circles-and-arrows diagrams infest PowerPoint and other business presentations, purporting to clarify an idea while actually obscuring it."

Thick Fog Turns Dubai into a City Above the Clouds

DDB Brussels and Volkswagen introduce the "slowmercial". - "The slowmercial is an almost static TV commercial that works for both live- and fast-forwarded viewing. Live viewers will get to see the 30second ad showing the car slowly opening its roof, while being invited to VW's open door days. Meanwhile the voice-over taps into the difference between live- and delayed viewing. Those who watch the ad in fast-forward mode will also see the car for a couple of seconds, showing the message as it was a print ad. No matter how this commercial is viewed, it won't escape the viewers' attention."

One Mexican town finds more security by throwing out the police

Map of China with "translated" placenames (x-post from r/Mapporn) : China

Come Home, America - The New York Times - "World War II, and the relative impotence of the United Nations, convinced successive administrations that America had to fill the breach, and we did so, with great success. The world was far more secure in the second half of the 20th century than in the disastrous first half. The percentage of the globe’s population killed in conflicts between states fell in each decade after the Truman Doctrine. America experienced more wars (Korea, Vietnam, the two Iraq wars, Afghanistan) but the world, as a whole, experienced fewer. We were not so much an empire — the empire decried by the scholar and veteran Andrew J. Bacevich and celebrated by the conservative historian Niall Ferguson — as an umpire, one that stood for equal access by nation-states to political and economic gains; peaceful arbitration of international conflict; and transparency in trade and business... NATO’s first secretary general, Hastings Ismay, famously said the alliance existed “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”"

Why We May Never Beat Stigma - "Dumbing down addiction to apply to any bad behavior gives jerks a free pass. But when the label loses its meaning, real addicts also lose credibility as people with a disease."

Journalists took secret money for critical pieces about Malaysian opposition candidate

McDonald's Four Shapes Of Chicken McNuggets - "the perfect McNugget needs a lot more than a well-aligned shape, according to McDonald's standards. The company tests flavor, breading texture, meat texture, bite firmness, color, coating, and a whole lot more. It's a strangely thorough process."

Gaming the System - The New York Times - "Inside Higher Ed had a fascinating article a couple days ago about some college students who unanimously boycotted their final exam and all got A’s under a grading curve loophole. It’s a great example of game theory at work."

Nigeria: Muslim cleric arrested for role in sparking murders of polio workers - "Today, Nigeria is one of only three countries where polio remains endemic, the others being Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Hmmm. What do those three have in common?"

More travel means better sex, says survey - "the romance and better sex enjoyed during travel lasts long after the trip is over."

Singapore’s outdated national security policies - "Singapore’s national security policies are outdated and in dire need of revision. These policies are heavily influenced by the paranoias of the 1960s, when a vulnerability fetish gave rise to a siege mentality amongst Singaporean leaders that persists today. But Singapore’s main security threats now are not other states but non-state actors, specifically pirates and terrorists... Singapore has become too important to the global economy. Some 80% of the world’s oil flows through Singapore. Singapore sits at the centre of global aviation and shipping routes. MNCs from China, Europe, India and the US have sizeable operations in Singapore. High-net worth individuals from every Asian country have second homes in Singapore. If Singapore were embroiled in a conflict, there would be an immediate and direct impact on many other countries in the region. As shipments of natural resources to China were halted, its economy might sputter to a halt. Peace in Singapore is a non-negotiable prerequisite for Asia’s stability. In other words, the biggest deterrent to would-be aggressors is not Singapore’s Armed Force; it is the Armed Forces of China and the US, hovering around the broader Asia-Pacific region...Singapore is possibly the only modern state that has never been embroiled in a major military conflict but still insists on maintaining a conscript army."

Reimagining the Singapore Armed Forces and National Service - "even if Singapore demilitarises as suggested here, we must always keep open the possibility of remilitarisation. This will not be a difficult or costly process. It might take a couple of years, just like it did in the mid 1960s. But our geopolitical considerations will not change suddenly overnight. They will do so gradually, if at all... is it really possible that hundreds of thousands of Singaporean men have shed blood, sweat and tears, toiling in the impossibly narrow slivers of rainforest on this tiny island, some losing their lives while fighting imaginary wars against phantom Muslim neighbours, led by Generals who have never stepped on a battlefield but will one day rise to a plum post in a government-linked company—by merit, of course—all because our country is still guided by the national security paranoias of fifty years ago?"

Bridging the Generation Gap, One Meal at a Time - The New York Times - "For some, a new social milieu means adopting a vegan diet or giving up carbohydrates, while others, like my brother-in-law, drink only Blue Bottle coffee made in a handblown Chemex coffee maker. My friend Barry Dale says the only thing tougher than telling his Southern parents he was gay was telling them he was gluten free. (He does not have celiac disease.)"

Community Isn't All It's Cracked Up To Be - "I was spending more time on the travel blogger group than I was on my own Facebook page or my own blog.
I was getting sucked into arguments that didn’t mean anything.
I was letting myself get agitated over things that shouldn’t have mattered.
I was answering questions from people who didn’t bother to take 5 seconds to do a Google search to find basic information. They wanted everything handed to them.
I didn’t know most of the people in the forum. They were part of the “community” but they weren’t my friends. I’ve never spoken to most of these people nor had they ever introduced themselves to me."
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