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Valar Qringaomis

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Sunday, May 08, 2016

Links - 8th May 2016

Does Circumcision Reduce Penis Sensitivity? The Answer Is Not Clear Cut - "What the study actually showed was that the average foreskin of a small, non-representative sample of men from Canada, was more sensitive to light touch and mild warmth, and somewhat less sensitive to outright pain, than other parts of the penis. How those differences go on to “affect sexual pleasure” (to jump to the last headline) is a complicated question, and it probably depends on the situation of each individual. Relevant factors would include how he likes to be touched, what kinds of sexual activities he enjoys, and whether those activities are even possible without a foreskin."

Mermaiding: Making a splash for a bigger cause - "Binding your legs together, squeezing them into a silicone or cloth fin, then jumping into a pool could sound silly, but for those who are a child at heart, it is a dream come true. Films like The Little Mermaid and Splash, as well as recent Hong Kong movie, The Mermaid, have inspired many to embrace "mermaiding" as a hobby, women and men alike."

Death to the Arabs | Israel Genocide? - "we find this particular coverage of yesterday’s events to strongly imply the crime of incitement to genocide on a mass scale, from the Prime Minister, to the courts, to celebrities, to the Israeli public at large. We view this event, and political developments in Israel around this particular execution of Abd al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif as a decisive moment in the history of the state of Israel’s ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people"
Comment (from elsewhere): ""oh yes a minor group of Arabs do that and everyone goes no not all Arabs are terrorists. a fraction of the Israeli population do the same thing, automatically all Israelis are demonized. I'll call it what I see it. one sided bullshit.

Charles II and an Atlantic experiment | Podcast | History Extra - "He had stopped off at St Helena, where the people had said to him: we know we live on a rock but the poor people of Ascension live on a boulder"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, The Dutch East India Company - "They knew that if they would get onboard with the state, it might become a vehicle of war, and that would cut into profitability. So they had to be granted privileges by the state in order to make them believe that they could get their money out, because they were afraid that they would lose their money. That's how merchant thinks: can I make a profit, or do I lose my money? So what the state gave them was that they said: okay, we're making your share of the company an impersonal share that you can sell
the start of stock capital. So and then they said at any moment in time that you think 'I want to sell my part because I'm fearing that the state will take over and there will become war, you can sell that at the stock exchange in Amsterdam', which in that way became the first stock exchange in the world. So that was the first. That was the guarantee that they had, that they could get their money out at any moment that they wanted... In India, they were, they met with the, they had to deal with the Mughal Empire. And this Mughal Empire was so powerful that if the VOC wanted something, he could just say no. So they were happy to just trade there. So it's very, it's not just, you should not think of the situation in Asia as Europeans coming to Asia, imposing themselves on the Asians because they were superior. That was absolutely not the case. In some places, they saw possibilities and they took advantage of the situations. In other places, you could see the VOC as a subject of the local ruler. So in the case of the Mughal or in Japan they had to send, every year tey had to send presents to the Japanese Emperor, to the Shogun. In order to get trade done, and in Asia that's perceived as you saying 'I'm subjugated to your authority. I'm lower than you are'. So it's not a case of the Dutch East Asia company going to Asia and imposing itself on all others. In the case of the Spice Islands, yes"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, The Maya Civilization - "You do find the finest jade objects in elite tombs. But in fact all people had, almost everyone did have access to jade. It wasn't, anti what we would call items that tended to be appropriated or monopolised by the elite class. There was a wide distribution. Even dietary data show that what we could call the common people had access to meat... the better cuts did go to the upper classes, and the other cuts went to everyone else but it doesn't show a real division in which resources were heavily appropriated by the rulers...
It's very easy to slip into arguing that the Spaniards had technological superiority, which is not an argument that we like. And that's based on the fact that they had steel and guns, right. The reason we don't like that is because we feel as if that leads into a larger analysis whereby the Spaniards conquered the Maya because they were superior in some larger sense. It's true that the Maya were Stone Age civilisation, but I would argue that that simply meant that technologically they were different from the Spaniards, not inferior. And I know you asked about war but let me kind of shift the question a little bit. If we were to go back to, say, the year 700 and the 4 of us would get to live for a week in a European city and live for a week in a Maya city and we have to decide which one we would like to live in for the next 5 years. I'm betting all 4 of us would choose the Maya city. And that would partly be a question of technology [Ed: I thought that just means Europe was different: not inferior]. The Maya developed a technology for managing and manipulating the natural environment. Water resources and so on that created cities that were I think more pleasant places to live in. The provision of food and so on worked better"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Rumi's Poetry - "[On Shams Tabrizi] We're not used to understand, we don't understand in the modern world, we're not used to understanding this idea of very close mystical communion between two men. And it's stigmatised and there're all sorts of stories in the modern world and ideas about their relationship. But I think one can say with clarity that this was a - not a sober relationship - but it was a chaste relationship of mystical companionship

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, Even the Dead Can’t Escape Politics - "China remained a loyal, if overbearing friend, but it started demanding that Myanmar hostlarge infrastructure projects like dams and pipelines tat seemed to benefit only the Chinese. It was an uncomfortable choice for the generals: continue on the same path and become an impoverished client state of China, or make changes and try to catch up with the rest of the world, and this the couldn't do without Suu Kyi"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, The Night Train to Luxor - "[On Egypt] The policeman insists on seeing the photograph. And there indeed he is. Or at least there an unrecognisable half of him is, from the back of his beret down to the heels of his shoes. He is apologetic but unbudgeable. The photoograph showing his tactical disposition as he chatted and smoked with passers-by might be of use to terrorists and must therefore be deleted... this is a country where a military court can jail a young person for 3 years on the charge of doctoring a picture of the President to show him with the ears of Mickey Mouse... [She] finds herself facing the prospect of trial on pain of imprisonment for questioning just how free the country is. You will spot the irony where the police did not"

Ben Franklin on Cooking Turkey... with Electricity - "Franklin was successful in killing the turkey using Leyden jars, and that “the birds kill’d in this manner eat uncommonly tender.” But Franklin made another, more painful, discovery, as “he found, that a man could, without great detriment, bear a much greater shock than he imagined: for he inadvertently received the stroke of two of these jars through his arms and body, when they were very near fully charged.” Committed to the cause of scientific inquiry, Franklin goes on to gamely describe the effects and injuries resulting from his accidental brush with electricity."

Time for Singapore to do right by its women - "where maternity leave exceeds paternity leave, as is still the case in Singapore today, employers may prefer to hire or promote a man rather than a woman since the latter will cost more. Such discrimination in turn makes it financially rational for families to "choose" to surrender women's (lower) incomes for caregiving purposes, thus reinforcing gender income inequality... In almost every occupational and professional sphere, women are under-represented in leadership ranks, not only relative to their overall numbers and qualifications, but also compared with other First World countries"
If it's discriminatory to give women more maternity leave than men get paternity leave, shouldn't maternity leave be reduced; how can you have your cake and eat it - more maternity benefits AND more women in top positions?; why is it a good thing to force women to work?

The unintended consequences of trying to replicate scientific research. - "Making replication a goal in itself may, paradoxically, make the literature even less reliable. How’s that, you say? The answer to that question lies in another problem facing science, and biomedicine in particular: Positive publication bias, which is another way of saying that journals would rather publish studies that find a positive result rather than a negative one... it’s not impossible to change positive publication bias. One proposed remedy is to modify the peer review process so that reviewers grade manuscripts on the quality of their introductions and methods sections rather than the novelty of the findings. Similarly, journals could assess submissions based solely on the rigor of their methods—as does Plos One. “Another way,” writes Nuijten elsewhere, “is for journals to commit to publishing replication results independent of whether the results are significant."

60% of refugees heading to Europe are economic migrants – top EU official

The Dissolution and a forgotten colony | Podcast | History Extra - "[On the 16th and early 17th century] We think of rebellion, we think of popular revolt or popular politics in a very 19th or 20th century way as being about pushing for change. Actually rebellion in this period is almost always triggered by a breach of custom by the state. By doing something unprecedented. So these are people who rebel against change. The want things to go back. So it's that breach of custom that makes it so offensive... the nature of the state in the 16th century. The 16th 17th and 18th century is part of a much longer term narrative by which the state becomes something 'modern'... something autonomous, something with power spanning equally across all parts of the kingdom. In the 16th century, that has not yet happened. So the land barons in the north are typically slightly more independent than those in the south... the King is further away. The State seems further away"

BBC World Service - The Documentary, A Swedish Tale - "[On migrants] There, the guys I know some younger guys around their 20s, and the want to get to know you but they don't really know the difference between a friend and a girl that they can do whatever they want with. So that's a bit scaring because they don't know the Swedish structure, sort of... They want to come close to you although you can feel uncomfortable and you don't really know how to tell them it's not okay because you don't want to be rude...
[Talking to police in Ange] 'I asked him what percentage of police time is now spent on incidents involving refugees'
'In our area I think it's about between 30 and 50%"

BBC World Service - The Documentary, Europe's Terror Networks - "[On the migrant crisis] They are being used as cover by IS. That's according to *someone*, former head of the DGSI. Of course, it's one of the Islamic State's strategies. They have the possibility throughout Europe to position dormant networks that will be able to take action whenever they choose. Entry points generally are overwhelmed and through these loopholes the Islamic State strategically infiltrates people who will wait for the right moment. Under cover."

Mathematicians mapped out every “Game of Thrones” relationship to find the main character - "Ranked first in every measure, save for one, was the same character: Tyrion, the sharp-witted, marginalized member of powerful house Lannister. In spite of his small size, Tyrion is mathematically the most important character in Game of Thrones... Outside this fantasy world, network science has several other (serious) applications. The United States National Security Agency, for example, uses it to study terrorist networks."

President Erdogan wants to change definition of ‘terrorist’ to include journalists and politicians - "It is not only the person who pulls the trigger, but those who made that possible who should also be defined as terrorists, regardless of their title"

In-out distinction raises linguistic issues for Japan's long-term 'inside outsiders' - "Japanese law focuses on 国籍 (kokuseki, nationality) and makes some basic distinctions between those who have it and those who don’t. Japanese nationals have a 戸籍 (koseki, family registry) reflecting a 本籍 (honseki), a geographical location somewhere in Japan, even if they were born and raised abroad. By contrast, 在日外国人 (Zainichi gaikokujin, foreign nationals resident in Japan) do not, even if they were born and raised in Tokushima. Honseki is sometimes mistakenly translated as “domicile” in English, though it has nothing to do with residence or place of birth: So long as you are a Japanese national, you could theoretically register the top of Mount Fuji or the Imperial Palace as your honseki. Japanese people can also use 入籍 (nyūseki, record in the family registry) as a synonym for getting married. Foreigners could too, I suppose, though technically they don’t have koseki in which to register a marriage."

What I Learned Living In Japan For A Year - ""for the most part — both in my town and elsewhere — I found that Japanese women valued understated beauty and subtlety. (In other words, they were fans of the no-makeup makeup look way before its time.) When bold makeup, like a red lip or glitter-flecked eye shadow, made an appearance, it was usually to punctuate a natural look. Nine years after living in Japan, I refrain from wearing a lot of makeup, even though I’m a beauty editor... they treated their skincare regimens as a ritual, not a chore. Now, even after a particularly exasperating day, I try to slow down and recognize the joy in pampering and caring for myself — even if it’s merely the 30 seconds it takes to apply my favorite facial oil."

Meet the woman who makes fake fingers for Japan's reformed gangsters - "Her decision to continue producing artificial pinkies for reformed mobsters resulted in the breakup of a relationship and criticism from her family for “enabling” gangsters... Fukushima will only agree to make a pinkie, which can cost more than £1,500, under certain conditions. A group set up by the Osaka prefectural police to help rehabilitate former yakuza introduces her to potential clients after confirming that they have decided to go straight... Contrary to popular belief, the ritual of self-amputation is rarely performed as a voluntary sacrifice. If the misdemeanours continue, more amputations follow, beginning with the second joint in the left pinkie and, in extreme cases, continuing on to the right hand."
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