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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Links - 15th September 2016

Robi, a bilingual and Singlish-uttering robot, is now available in Singapore - "maker DeAgostini isn’t shipping Robi as a complete robot. Robi’s assembly instructions and model parts are delivered with an educational magazine about robotics over the course of 70 weekly issues. Each issue retails at S$28.90, other than the first issue (at a promo price of S$9.90); and issue 43 and 67 (S$55 each) and issue 62 and 63 (S$42 each), because these four issues contain more expensive parts like the CPU, sensors, and speech recognition board. Put another way, at the end of the day, Robi will set you back S$2,082.40."
It's a trap!

Canadians Regret Welcoming Muslim Refugees - "While 60 percent of Ontarians say they initially supported the decision to import Syrian refugees, 75 percent now say Muslim immigrants hold fundamentally different values and a majority now say Islam’s mainstream doctrines promote violence. Only one-third of those in the region have a positive impression of the religion."

The Dallas Killings Were Inevitable - "In Oakland, they spray painted “Fuck the pigs” and “Fuck the OPD (Oakland Police Department)” on concrete barriers. They splattered red paint on the door of the police building, and spray painted “Fuck the police murderers” on its walls. They also shot fireworks at the police building. In New York City, white people held up signs saying “The slaughter of black people must be stopped”... It is dogma in BLM circles that “the slaughter of black people” is the work of whites. In the Freddie Gray case in Baltimore, three of the six officers charged were black, and they were the ones accused of the most serious crimes, but it didn’t matter. Blacks are still the victims of white racism."

Know Which Ingredients in Lip Balm Actually Cause Dry Lips - "America News Now spoke to dermatologist Gary Slaughter, who found camphor, phenol and menthol were the ingredients in bad lip balm. When you spread it on it seems to soothe at first, but quickly dries up and requires reapplication. Additionally, OL (which indicates alcohol) and salicylic acid are two more ingredients that may cause some people irritation"

Can Your DNA Determine If You’re a Morning Person or Night Owl? - "A new genome-wide association study (GWAS) published by the personal genetics company 23andMe identifies an array of genetic variants associated with being a morning person."

Rhino horn now more valuable than gold, diamonds and cocaine, at $60K a pound

Kalyn Chapman James, first black Miss Alabama, calls Dallas cop killer a 'martyr'

3D-Printed Synthetic Rhino Horns Could Save Rhinos - "Engineers there have figured out a way to turn keratin powder and rhino DNA into a substance that is genetically similar to natural rhino horn. The plan is to flood Chinese and Vietnamese markets, where demand is high, and bring down the price... The biotech company also wants to produce beer using the synthetic rhino horn, which is seen by some in Asia a way to treat hangovers."

Where have all the soldiers gone? - "Colonel Martin Herem, of KVÜÕA, having analysed the problems with conscripts, is among those who think DRA medical committee statistics do not reflect the real state of Estonian men. «Today we say: 39 percent of men are fit to serve, the rest are sick. In my opinion, this is a demoralising picture. Most of the men walking the streets thus ought to be lame, crooked, or mentally ill – but that’s obviously not the case,» reasons the Colonel."

Chapter Four: The Militarisation of the South China Sea | IISS - "In 2014 China began to implement a master plan to expand and consolidate its presence in the South China Sea, transforming seven small rocks and low-tide elevations that it occupied into artificial islands. In the space of 18 months, Chinese vessels dredged and pumped sand from the seabed and coral ripped out of nearby reefs until these features encompassed an area of 3,000 acres (12 square kilometres). For comparison, other claimants in the South China Sea – Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam – expanded the land area of the features they already occupied by only 100 acres (0.4 sq km) over 45 years. In 2015, the pace and scope of China’s reclamation activities accelerated markedly and it began to construct infrastructure, including airstrips and multi-level building"

The fall of - "A Facebook page dedicated to celebrating the 20th anniversary of digital media pioneer Salon is functioning as a crowdsourced eulogy... “Sadly, Salon doesn’t really exist anymore,” wrote Laura Miller, one of Salon’s founding editors who left the site for Slate last fall. “The name is still being used, but the real Salon is gone”... in liberal intellectual and media circles it is widely believed that the site has lost its way... Two guys even created a vicious parody account, @salondotcom, to mock Salon’s increasingly strident brand of leftism, with fake tweets like “Ten signs your cat might be racist” and “Should GMOs come with trigger warnings?”... "[In 1995] the web rewarded quickness, the web rewarded saying something that other people were not saying,” Walsh said. “The web also rewarded speed.” After a beat, she added: “At that time, the web rewarded reporting as well. I used to make the case that it's still like that, but I'm not sure I feel that way anymore”... the new strategy rewarded aggregation and provocation – in other words, hot takes. Both are easy to produce at scale, since they do not require writers to spend time reporting out a story... Twelve current and former employees said they were discouraged from doing original journalism out of a concern that time spent reporting could be better spent writing commentary and aggregate stories... “The low point arrived when my editor G-chatted me with the observation that our traffic figures were lagging that day and ordered me to ‘publish something within the hour,’” Andrew Leonard, who left Salon in 2014, recalled in a post. “Which, translated into my new reality, meant ‘Go troll Twitter for something to get mad about — Uber, or Mark Zuckerberg, or Tea Party Republicans — and then produce a rant about it.’"

Faroe Islands fit cameras to sheep to create Google Street View - "Tired of waiting for Google to map the archipelago, Faroe Islanders have launched Sheep View 360, enlisting their ovine population to do the leg work"

Men Produce Better Sperm When They’re Cheating On Their Partners - "A study carried out by the College of Wooster found that guys ejaculate faster and produce more, high quality sperm when they masturbate to a “novel female stimulus”. To you and I, a “novel female stimulus” is porn and what this means is that men are at their sexually reproductive best when they’re with a new woman. Study co-author Dr. Laura K. Sirot, assistant professor of biology, told the Huffington Post that ‘our study does not suggest anything about whether monogamy was favoured or disfavoured by natural selection. However, the results of this study and other studies of human differential ejaculation behaviour suggest that extra-pair (or extramarital) copulations may have occurred in our evolutionary past.’... When men see doctors about possible infertility problems, they are asked to masturbate to novel female stimuli. What the University of Ohio have discovered means that this sperm might be of a high quality than the sperm they are producing with their partners. This can, therefore, conceal the problem from doctors."

COMMENT: Lee Wei Ling... a dissident in the making? - "That has been really the result of Lee Kuan Yew’s stature and his ability to instill fear among his confidantes and others that if they showed their dissent in public, the consequences will be disastrous... She also lost ground when she complained that the paper, in not publishing her article, had curtailed her freedom of speech. It was laughable that she should complain about a principle that many have complained about for ages and has been dismissed by her father’s and her brother’s governments... One of the first battlefields is likely to be the family’s Oxley Road house, which she and her family want demolished eventually. Lee Kuan Yew had also stated in his will for this wish to be carried out.But conservation experts believe that the more than 100-year-old property should be preserved because of its historical value. It is very difficult to see how the Preservation of Monuments Board can go against this important body of opinion and rule in favour of the Lee family. And if that happens, Dr Lee is unlikely to take this sitting down."

Chinese wedding traditions – The Wedding Script - "Crying and picking up the bride – The bride, covered by a red head-kerchief, must cry with her mother to show her reluctance to leave home. She would be led or carried by her elder brother to the sedan. In the meeting party, the groom would meet a series of difficulties intentionally set in his path. Only after coping with these could he pass to see his wife-to-be."

More young people in Singapore staying single - "Prof Straughan suggested targeting efforts to encourage earlier marriage at those who are not dating. But finding a significant other can be awkward in Singapore, she added. "There's no culture here where you can walk into a bar and say, 'Hi singles, I'm here'." To overcome the obstacle, she said bosses need to encourage their employees not to work late, by say, turning off the air-conditioning at 7pm"

Why boys with sisters are more likely to be Republicans - "“Having sisters makes males more politically conservative in terms of their gender role attitudes and their partisanship,” they wrote. “Particularly for gender role attitudes, we find that these political socialization effects persist until respondents are well into adulthood.”"

The Real Reason Behind Public Smoking Bans - "“I discovered the evidence was really weak,” explained lead author Ronald Bayer, a professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “The evidence of harm to non-smokers on the beach or in a park from someone smoking is virtually non-existent.” Bayer is points out that there is, however, an important public health benefit from such bans. “They make it more difficult for smokers to smoke,” Bayer told us, “and contribute in an important way to the ‘denormalization’ of smoking”... when my students of public health talked about illicit drugs like heroin or cocaine or marijuana, they adopted a libertarian point of view — emphasizing how the government has no business intruding on people’s choices and all those negative consequences. But when I raised the issue of tobacco, they all became in a way, authoritarian... The evidence that fish and birds are dying because of cigarette butts is virtually non-existent. And even the evidence that seeing someone in a park or beach will encourage kids to smoke is extremely weak"

How Can Liberals Be Pro-Choice on Abortion and Anti-Choice on Everything Else? - "Marco Rubio recently drew a distinction between discriminating against people (e.g., by refusing to serve an LGBT customer at a restaurant) and declining to participate in an event (e.g., by refusing to officiate at a same-sex wedding). And there is another distinction, spelled out in an amicus brief by Eugene Volokh in the Elane Photography case, between forcing people to provide services that have no expressive component (such as driving a limousine) and services that do (such as writing press releases for various groups). Given that, as Volokh wrote, “speech compulsions are generally as unconstitutional as speech restrictions,” you could argue that photographers, writers, and perhaps even cake-makers have a First Amendment right not to provide expressive content with which they disagree. Consider, for instance, whether a Jewish printer should have to print placards promoting the American Nazi Party. Or consider the views of Kathy Trautvetter, a lesbian who owns a T-shirt company. Despite her sexual orientation, she defended a Christian printer’s right not to make signs for a gay-pride event: “When I read the story I immediately felt, ‘If I were in his shoes, what would they be forcing me to do?’ ”... If a pregnant woman is not responsible for the welfare of the child within her womb—the child she willingly helped create—then why should that pregnant woman be responsible for the welfare of a child she has never met? Or a middle-aged man halfway across the country who just lost a job? Or an old woman five states away who needs a hip replacement? Indeed, why should anyone be responsible for anybody’s welfare but their own?"

Kids of pushy parents 'face higher risk of depression'

Nude Hercules statue gets removable penis for special events - "The three-metre statue, which stands in a park in Arcachon, south-western France, was deprived of its member so often that the local council decided it would be best to leave it off — except during public events or ceremonies. The mayor, Yves Foulon told the Sud-Ouest newspaper: “I wouldn’t wish anyone — not even my worst enemies — to go through what has been inflicted on this statue”... It is not the first time that the statue’s penis has caused problems. When the statue was erected in the Parc Mauresque in 1948 to symbolise the valiant struggle of the French Resistance against the Nazi occupation, a number of influential ladies of Arcachon complained that it was over-endowed. The sculptor, Claude Bouscau, was twice forced to shorten the phallus to render the statue inoffensive in their eyes."
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