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Friday, June 24, 2016

Links - 24th June 2016

The road to Brexit: 16 things you need to know about what will happen if we vote to leave the EU - "Following a vote for Brexit, a period of negotiations about the UK’s future relationship with the EU would begin, as set out in Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. The Prime Minister triggers this by notifying the European Council (the collective body of the 28 member states’ prime ministers or presidents) that the UK intends to withdraw. That opens a two-year window for negotiating withdrawal terms – a period that can be extended, but only with the unanimous support of all the member states. We leave once a deal – which requires the support of the UK and a ‘qualified majority’ of the remaining 27 member states (specifically, 20 of them, comprising at least 65 per cent of their population) – is struck. If the two-year period comes to an end with neither a deal nor an extension, we leave automatically on terms we may not like"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, A Complex Man - "[On Duterte] He's presided over a remarkable recovery, with Davao now a prosperous and law abiding city. The local business community puts this entirely to the mayor's personal leadership style. He won't tolerate corruption, they told me. There's a strict smoking ban and a slow speed limit for traffic. Unlike almost anywhere else in the Philippines, these are actually enforced. Mr Duterte famously turned himself in for punishment when he was caught riding his motorbike without a helmet. Late at night, he likes to drive around town anonymously in a taxi checking on crime. He won't tolerate drug dealing either - a big issue in a country which is plagued by crystal meth addiction... She was warned by a police officer who'd been trying to arrest her oldest son Richard, then 18 years old, that if she didn't hand him over, all her boys would be killed one by one. And that's what happened. Over a period of 6 years, 4 of them were murdered, almost certainly by officially backed death squads. The youngest was 14 when he died. It's impossible not to feel queasy about a presidential candidate who sanctions that way of fighting crime. Yet there are many other sides of Rodrigo Duterte. He is applauded in Davao for example for measures he's taken to protect vulnerable women. He advocates negotiations, not confrontation with armed insurgents.And he supports LGBT rights. And in contrast to his macho image, he weeps freely and says he can't sleep without an old blanket that his mother gave him as a baby"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, India: How to Feed a Nation - "There is a downside to the Green Revolution basically made rice and wheat replace a lot of other cereals. A lot of them were far more nutritious than rice and wheat. All kinds of millets... pearl millets, I mean it's all sorts of millets... there's a helluva lot of them. All localised, different types. People have lost that taste. Most people will not go back to it. And there are minuses to all of these. There is also something which is an overhang of the fact that we have traditionally been a vegetarian society. Which means that much of our protein is coming really from pulses as well as from milk. These are the two main sources of protein in the country. Pulse production hasn't increased. Whatever increase has taken place has taken place in the last 10 years or so. Most countries in the world don't treat pulses as an important food. And therefore it's not easy to import. Milk has been one great saviour, that has grown, considerably. But there is an intrinsic problem when you try to use just 2 or 3 things as the source of protein. Most Indians are non vegetarians but we have a culture which dictates vegetarianism to a lot of people. They would actually go out and eat the other stuff, but they'll probably say that they don't"

The Office of Inclusive Excellence Sounds Like a Cult - "Yiannopoulos’s speaking series, which has generatedsimilar controversies at a host of other campuses, is called “The Dangerous Faggot Tour.” (Yiannopoulos is openly gay.) Yiannopoulos’s shtick involves deliberate provocation. One could even say that he is trying to reclaim faggot, a word that understandably offends a lot of people, although context should matter... Haynes’ eager repetition of meaningless buzzwords—Inclusive excellence! Collective sense of community! Ideological re-programming!—is both humorous and a little creepy, when one considers that his goal is to eliminate controversial expression from campus. Second, I might have expected the Office of Inclusive Excellence to support, well, inclusion: inclusion for pro-LGBT activists, inclusion for people like Yiannopolous who have a different opinion on the issues, inclusion for everybody. In UC-Irvine’s usage, inclusion appears to mean conformity (the better for “fortifying our collective sense of community,” I guess.) I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: look, college administrators, 1984 was supposed to be a warning, not an instruction manual."

X-Men: Apocalypse has a bad case of Batman v Superman disease - "the massive success of Fox’s Deadpool(which incorporated two X-Men not seen here) suggested a possible new direction for hero action in general. Its rambunctious humor was a big hit with audiences, and it reminded filmmakers that fans don’t need all their heroes to be like the glowering, repressed trauma victims seen here... The entire film feels like a Prozac ad, where everything has gone emotionally gray, and the world is waiting for a serotonin hit"

Why Does the Democratic Party Have Superdelegates? - "The driving idea behind the creation of this new group of delegates was to prevent highly contested nomination processes from producing a non-competitive candidate at the expense of the Party as happened in 1968 and 1972"

What's an animal? Road Traffic Act to be reviewed to dispel doubts - "Under current rules, motorists are only required to stop and help when they hit animals listed in the Act — such as a dog, horse, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or cattle. Failure to do so may result in a fine of up to S$3,000 or a jail term of up to a year. The Act is silent on other animals, including cats, monkeys, birds, rabbits, and wild boars."

Indonesia’s sex trade ‘impossible’ to shut down - "In school, Putri dreamed of becoming a doctor, but soon realised she would not be able to afford it. Her mother could barely pay her school fees, and she says the family constantly faced a chronic shortage of money. Being in the sex trade has helped. Putri claims an income of about Rp 8 million (US$600) every month, compared to the Rp 2.15 million (US$160) minimum wage in her hometown. Putri tells me there are other girls who work alongside their mothers. Now a mother herself, Putri hopes against all hope that her daughter won’t eventually follow suit. “I really want to see my child become successful and make her mum proud. I don’t want her to follow in her mum’s or grandma’s footsteps,” she said."

Blind woman Mary Ann Franco gets her sight back after falling over - "A woman who has been blind for the past 20 years has regained her sight after she fell over at her home."

Sex Talk for Muslim Women - NYTimes.com - "I am an Egyptian, Muslim woman who waited until she was 29 to have sex and has been making up for lost time. My upbringing and faith taught me that I should abstain until I married. I obeyed this until I could not find anyone I wanted to marry and grew impatient. I have come to regret that it took my younger self so long to rebel and experience something that gives me so much pleasure.

Arthur and Paul - gay-men-only-hotel-in-phnom-penh - "Not only are we gay-friendly, but we are a men-only hotel... Our rooms bear the names of the most famous and glamorous gay personalities and gay couples: Jules and Jim, Yves and Pierre, Pierre and Gilles, Kola Botom, Mika, Stefano and Domenico, Ricky, Jean and Jean, Tom and Richard, Elton and David. That should give you a head start to unleash your most wild fantasies. You will be welcomed, pampered and massaged by a staff exclusively composed of boys, providing highest quality service to the greatest degrees of elegance and discretion."
Apparently Cambodia is a gay paradise

Muslim women 'banned' from Facebook - "Muslim women should delete their Facebook accounts, not wear trousers or leave the house without their husband's permission under controversial rules published by British Islamic associations... It comes after the Blackburn Muslim Association, which is an affiliate of the Muslim Council of Britain, stated women should not be able to travel further than 48 miles without a male chaperone."

Shahr-e Gholghola - "Bamiyan's ruler Jalaludin held strong under Genghis Khan's siege, but he didn't reckon on the treachery of his daughter. She had quit her widowed father's castle in a fit of pique over his remarrying a princess from Ghazni. She betrayed the castle's secret entrance, expecting to be rewarded through her own betrothal to the Mongol ruler. But he put her to the sword anyway and slaughtered the rest of the defenders. The noise of the furious violence gave the citadel's modern name - 'City of Screams'."

TURKMENISTAN by Kim Lau - "While it bears many similarities to other markets of Central-Asia, Tolkuchka is unique in its way: screaming camel being hauled into trucks, trading of doors, cauldrons and satellites captures much attention."

Single Bronze Age 'king' responsible for half of western European men - "100 percent of the men tested descend from just one man who lived 190,000 years ago, more than a centamillennium before humanoids left Africa to explore the planet... 18th century Russian peasant Feodor Vassilyev fathered 87 children, including 22 sets of twins. To her credit, his first wife gave birth to 69 of them - and they're both in the Guinness Book of Records."

Cecil Jacobson The Baby Maker - "Cecil Jacobson was a US fertility doctor who was indicted in 1992 for using his own sperm to impregnate his female patients... It’s suspected that Jacobson may have fathered as many as 75 of these children by inseminating women with his sperm."

Can't Hack a Hacker: Reverse Engineering a Discovered ATM Skimmer

Do Singaporeans Really Vote Along Racial Lines? - "Would you simply believe someone’s questionable claims without concrete proof? For more than three decades, the People’s Action Party (PAP) government in Singapore has been peddling the notion that many Singaporeans vote along racial lines and that this has the potential to trigger a lack of minority representation in Parliament... Using all election statistical data since 1959, this article provides empirical evidence confirming the veracity of these two statements.
1) The assertion that Singaporeans vote along racial lines is fiction.
2) The assertion that Singaporeans vote along political lines is fact."

Modest makeover for Barbie - "Haneefah designs 'Hijarbies' to reflect modern Muslim culture and religion."

Ustad Metal: Muslim cleric by day, band singer by night - "Now hailed as the "new mainstream", metal music has captivated hundreds of thousands of fans, from the pluralistic city of Bandung, where metal is said to have taken root in the 1990s, to deeply religious Aceh province, where a concert last month saw teenage girls in headscarves head-banging along with boys... "My voice is not used for phone porn sex so, why haram?" Ms Asri retorted. "Metal sounds rough, but it is tolerant and celebrates diversity and creativity. It is not deviant"... "Allah's laws must not be violated, like getting drunk and womanising. We don't want to send wrong messages, so we always check our lyrics against religious scripts," he said."

How Ahsoka Tano Completed the Arc of Anakin Skywalker - "The problem with the large gap between Episodes 2 and 3 is that Anakin’s arc is essentially missing. We see the beginning; we see the end, but we don’t get any of his transformation from A to B. Thus, audiences had a hard time connecting with the character. Enter Ahsoka Tano, Anakin’s Padawan learner"

Hexi Corridor - "Hexi Corridor (河西走廊), Gansu China, is the historical passage into and out of China from the Xiyu (西域) – the western territories. This passage corridor contains many artifacts"

Effects of Infidelity on Men vs. Women Surprise Researchers - "Across the board, men felt guiltier about sexual cheating, while women felt guiltier about emotional infidelity... people might have an inherent inability to see one's values as different from that of a partner's... while both men and women think it would be harder for their significant other to forgive sexual, as opposed to emotional, infidelity, women —not men — say that they'd be more likely to leave if they found out their partner was sleeping with someone else."

The British and European Identity

Since today is Brexit-vote day, this is my story about the British sense of identity:

Once, when I flew into Gatwick from Boston, the passengers all got off and queued properly at the open immigration counters, which were all marked for "All Passports". The authorities opened two new counters and the announcement came over the speakers: "All Europeans, please move to special counters 9 and 10 on your right". Only a handful of people moved.

A couple of minutes later, the announcer came back on and said, "The British are European too". Huge laughs from everyone, followed by loads of people moving over to the new counters.

(via Daryl Sng)

The Malay Ideals: Wealth Accumulation and Pessimism

Wealth Accumulation

The postulations that the Malays were disinclined to work are not completely true. Actually, there are reasons for them to lack the motivation in accumulating wealth. This unwillingness to accumulate wealth had always been emphasised to show that the Malays were indolent. Because they were lazy to accumulate wealth, it was purported that they were indolent as a people.

For the Malays who existed centuries earlier, even if they were industrious, the profits would more often than not be confiscated by the Sultans and other leaders for fear that commoners would gather influence and following, and eventually lead to a power strife. Therefore, to a Malay man, even to toil for greater gains would be hazardous to his own existence. The Sultans or the Rajas were preoccupied with entertainment, and involved in vice without any concern for their subjects. Subjects were treated little more than slaves and as such, whatever little wealth the subjects accumulated would be exacted from them, if there was a need. Conspicuous wealth merely attracted the attention of rulers and chiefs who would forcefully appropriate these belongings from the commonfolk. The subjects were not allowed to have fine looking houses, nor the adornment of the self with expensive materials. Beautiful young girls would ultimately be taken away and kept as wives or concubines. The vying for power and of prestige among the members of the aristocracy, and the submissiveness of the commoners resulted in many excesses being committed by the aristocracy. Lawlessness prevailed. The men then became preoccupied with their krisses and the art of self-defence at the expense of work because this was the only way they can protect themselves and their families. There was no security for life nor was there any for property. A folklore telling the story of a pregnant young lady who was killed and then had her stomach sliced open because she was accused of stealing a jackfruit from the tree within the Sultan's premise illustrates cruelty that was rampant and malignant then. Within such an atmosphere, no community in this world could have had any motivation to make a better living for themselves and to accumulate wealth, with the exception of the notables. Man needed a purpose for work, and if you take that purpose away, the most industrious will be the most indolent...

The illogical and irrational connection between an action and its resulting outcome may in a way promote illogical and irrational thinking in the Malays themselves.

It is a characteristic feature of Malay oral and written literary traditions that themes such as family conflict, human aspiration, achievement in education, great success in economic activities are left untreated, unformulated and unmentioned. The nature of the social system and economy, the exclusiveness of the aristocracy, and the intellectually and motivationally stifling environment of the commoners are chiefly responsible for the lack of an awareness of such issues and concerns. A cursory glance at many sayings, similes and proverbs present in the Malay language that are widely used by the common folk will reveal that roughly two-thirds of them have pessimistic or negative meanings discouraging wealth accumulation, suspicion, lack of confidence, class society, sweet talking, irresponsible conduct, and others. These include, ”kalau tak bermeriam baiklah diam" (be silent if one does not possess a cannon), ”seperti anjing menyalak di pantat gajah” (like the dog barking at the elephant’s rear), "kalau tak berlela baiklah meredha” (without the swivel gun, it is best to resign), ”ada udang sebalik batu” (hidden agenda), "air yang tenang jangan disangka tiada buaya” (do not mistake for a calm river not to have its dangers), ”sudah jatuh ditimpa tangga" (as if it weren't enough to fall, the ladder lands on top), "human di seberang laut nampak, gajah di depan mata tidak kelihatan" (germs beyond the sea is visible but an elephant in front of the eyes is invisible), "jauh berbau bunga, dekat berbau tahi" (a relative faraway is always thought of but a relative enarby always ends up in quarrel)... "biar kalah asal menang sorak" (let us lose as long as we win cheers), "biar papa asalkan bergaya" (let us be poor so long as we are fashionable)... "kalau kail panjang sejengkal jangan laut hendak diduga" (if your fishing rod is a span long do not try to test the sea), "anak kucing tak adan jadi anak harimau" (a kitten will not become a cub), "ludah ke langit, timpa batang hidung sendiri" (spitting at the sky your own nose will get wet), ”tepuk air di dulang terpercik muka sendiri” (smacking the water in the tray it will cause it sprinkle onto yourself)... are all negative similes and proverbs.

By comparison, sayings, similes and proverbs that carry optimistic and positive meanings, those that encourage unity, care, sacrifice, industry, self-reliance and thrift for example are fewer in number and not dominant themes in the traditional Malay values. Literary elements that stress upon the importance of knowledge and acquisition of wealth is even a rarity...

There are also sayings which reflect potentially optimistic attributes, denoting strength, courage and persistence for example. But most of these are usually employed exclusively in criticising others i.e. used in a negative fashion. These include ”kancil hendak berak gajah” (the mouse deer wants to imitate the elephant), ”ular lidi hendak menelan naga” (a tiny snake wishes to gobble the dragon)... ”kaki untut dipakaikan gelang” (putting a bangle on an elephantitic leg), and others.

The presence of many negative elements within Malay literature may have been a reflection of the degree of extensive pessimism that plagued the Malay community. They might have been borne out of a community that dreaded reprimanding others directly for fear of repercussions and for the reason of not wanting to cause hurt. Reticence is often required within such a community make up. To circumvent this, elaborate similes, maxims, sayings, proverbs, metaphors, figures of speech, hyperbole, folklore, myths and other oral or written literary inputs, were thus produced, for the the purpose of criticism. This allowed the common Malay man to criticise fellow members within the society indirectly using stories, parables, similes, proverbs and others and thus causing minimal hurt.

The question whether initially Malay philosophical inclinations spawned a mirror image of ideals in its literature, or elements within literature had moulded Malay philosophical standing is not important here. What is of essence here is the effect of the dominance of these negative elements within literature which perpetuates a philosophy of life of the Malays which might be deemed unprogressive by current standards. Customs and habits determine a person's personality. The abundance of negative popular literary elements that are pessimistic and negative in outlook and orientation perpetuates a custom and habit of negativity in the Malay person himself. Negativity reinforces the feeling of inadequacy or inferiority. A state of inferiority complex, malady, despondency, and doubt will have crept in. Children and adults pick up these elements from their community's frequent usage of the oral literature. Children learn from their parents and grandparents. Adults absorb them from other adults. Literary elements are internalised by the Malays. These become informal "teachings" or "advice" which will affect the character of the Malay person over time.

--- The Malay Ideals / Asrul Zamani

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Links - 21st June 2016

EU Vote 'Fuelling UK Rush For Irish Passports' - "Figures obtained by Sky News reveal a 25% increase in the number of applications from England, Scotland and Wales."

Games of Thrones season 6, episode 8: 4 winners and 3 losers from “No One" - "if there were fans of the Dorne plot, they would be wondering how on earth the show managed to entirely forget about it. In case you, too, have forgotten, when last we saw Dorne, Ellaria Sand and her daughters pulled off a rather stunning coup d’état in which they killed Prince Doran Martell, his only son, Trystane, and Princess Marcella. That unquestionably means open warfare with House Lannister. Except instead of sending their army south to avenge their daughter and fight the inevitable war, Cersei and Jaime sent their army north to Riverrun and just forgot all about Dorne. And nobody else seems interested in these momentous events either — it doesn’t come up for conversation in Meereen among the Tullys or anywhere else. Perhaps the ravens all found this plot line too boring and incoherent to keep up with."

Chitchat Update on Civil Service Internet Block of its Network - "For those interested on the reasons behind the separation of the Govt Network and the internet.
1. Ministry for Foreign Affairs was successfully penetrated in 2014.
2. In 2009, delegates to APEC conference held in Singapore became targets of spear phishing and I understand that it was came in multiple waves which is usually the case for spear phishing
3. Both attacks believed to be have originated from the same entity.
4. Focus and target of this entity is South East Asia and India and its associated and linked political bodies such as Asean and Apec.
5. In view of the regional target focus, capability used and forensics assessments behind these attacks, it is clearly a nation state attack and China is the likely candidate.
6. Issues in the South China Sea has raised the level of concern coupled with Singapore's link to known adversaries of China. These includes the positions taken by countries at such meetings and also includes countries dealing with he Singapore government with assets here such subs and littoral military assets.
7. Following review of the MFA breach, CSA (Cyber Security Agency) formed and the decision to move towards Air-Gap separation of government networks and the outside online world in April 2015. Limited pilot on Air-Gap separation commences that same month"

Imtiaz Mahmood - Omar Mateen may have pulled the trigger. But make... - "Omar Mateen may have pulled the trigger. But make no mistake, it was religion that loaded the gun. Every time the priest, bishop or cleric said that homosexuality was a sin and you nodded without questioning, you loaded one bullet. Then when you repeated to your kids that a relationship between two men was wrong, you loaded one more. And when your kids went on to make fun of the gay boy in college, you loaded yet another"
If a priest, bishop or cleric says adultery is a sin, you tell your kids adultery is wrong, and they crack a joke about a friend's affair, and someone then shoots adulterers, does everyone have blood on their hands?

BBC Radio 4 - Today, 05/11/2014, The unintentional humour of newspaper comment sections - "'There're certain kind of characters that crop up again and again... there are sort of 5 broad categories which I think we probably both familiar with. The pointless, which is basically morons, illiterates, ranters and bland staters of the obvious. Pompous Pontificators. The kind of blogging type who think the world is hanging on their every word. Paranoids - people worried about child safety and whatever the sort of scare of the day is. And then sort of Hobbyists-obsessives whose whole purpose in life is to explain their world to people and correct perceived wrongs and misconceptions. And finally... what used to be called the green ink brigade which are the real sort of conspiracy theorists and nutcases who used to write in green ink to newspapers'...
'Nutcase internet commenters are as old as the Internet itself. They'll always be around'"

Ray Mancini - Years of meditation and enlightenment... And then... - "Years of meditation and enlightenment... And then you see the boobies, and everything is falling apart."

Images reveal Vietnam′s expansion in the South China Sea - "the scale and pace of construction on these two sites is dwarfed by that of China... China contends that it is simply doing what other countries are doing, and in that regard, experts argue Vietnam's land reclamation projects undermine its protests against ongoing Chinese reclamation efforts. However, as analyst Abuza pointed out there are a number of key differences. While Vietnam's latest reclamation efforts are of a much slower pace - Vietnam has added roughly 8.5 hectares (21 acres) to two features, less than 2 percent of China - Hanoi is also not using the islands or features it controls to change the status quo in the region, argues Abuza. "Vietnam is not using them to claim 12 nautical miles of territorial seas, or 200 nautical miles of exclusive economic zones and it is not using its position to force other claimants out, despite claiming all of the Spratly Islands." Hanoi is also not seeking to reinterpret international law, the expert stressed. China, on the other hand, is building two large airstrips, including one with enough prospective flights to require a taxiway. The analyst points to the possibility that China may use its artificial islands in an attempt to declare an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the entire South China Sea."

More Muslims practising stricter Islam - "Islamic Renaissance Front Director Farouk Musa has urged the government to open doors for dialogue between Muslim conservatives, moderates and a third group he called “revisionists”. “If there is no dialogue between these groups, we might eventually fall into practising the stricter version of Islam in politics and economics,” Farouk said in an interview with FMT. He defines conservative Muslims as those who believe their life is predetermined and are therefore not keen to participate in economic competition. The revisionists, he said, were those wanting to follow an unreasonably strict Islamic code... the ideological gap between Muslims in Malaysia was becoming more and more noticeable since the turn of the millennium, with more people taking the revisionist path."

Southeast Asian Muslims should appreciate own culture: Islamic studies scholar - "Muslims in Southeast Asia should embrace their unique cultural traditions instead of adopting Arabic customs, according to Libya’s Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Dr Aref Ali Nayed... Dr Nayed, who has been ranked as one of the top 50 most influential Muslims in the world by Jordanian think-tank The Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, made his remarks as the “Arabisation” of Islam and cultural practices in Southeast Asia stir controversy. In similar comments made recently in an interview with Malaysia’s The Star, the Sultan of Johor last week warned Malays to stick to their own culture instead of imitating Arab trends. The ruler was responding to the tendency for some Malaysian Malays to lean towards Arab culture amid growing conservatism. Dr Nayed - an Islamic studies scholar who has lectured on Islamic theology, logic, and spirituality at universities around the world - also warned against mindlessly accepting religious teachings from Arabic theologians."
So Lee Kuan Yew was right that Muslims should be less strict?

Copenhagen bar owners call for government to tackle Muslim 'Sharia patrols' - "A group of bar owners from a Copenhagen suburb claim they are being harassed by local Muslim youth activists from immigrant backgrounds attempting to impose a 'Sharia zone', and have appealed to the government for help... The bar owners claim that despite repeated requests police have failed to take action... Two young women were detained by police after shouting "fascist" and "Nazi" at the minister. Under Danish laws banning insults against public officials, they could be fined or imprisoned for up to six months if charged."
When in Denmark, do as the immigrants do - or you're fascist, a Nazi and Islamophobic

BBC Radio 4 - Today, 20/01/2015, Jewish school pupils trained to respond to armed attack - "One 11 year old told me he'd been shouted at on his way to school. The headmaster said on several school trips, pupils have been verbally abused by people who were angry about Israeli government policy and unfairly blamed British Jewish children. One child was threatened
Why is it okay to blame Jews for Israeli government policy? Often by people who would fume at blaming Muslims for Islamic terrorism (even though the link between a random Jew and the Israeli government is weaker than that between a random Muslim and his community if it produced terrorists)

McDonald's 'transformed our palates' - "'[The] 70s and people might've eaten out once or twice a year and it was a massive treat. Along came this new kind of restaurant which broke down the sort of times of day you could eat because you could eat at any time. It made it less of a treat. You know. You could take your family there. You could eat for a very little amount of money... it revolutionised the way that, the mealtimes that we have, it democratised the idea of eating out. Because it made it much easier for you to go out and it meant that kids could go to McDonald's on the way home so that stressed out moms and dads didn't have to cook for them... it enabled people to eat things that they wanted when they wanted'...
'It's been part of a transformation in our palates. Traditionally in Britain we had plenty of fast food, but it had a salty-sour note. If you think of fish and chips, if you think of jellied eels with vinegar, if you think of salt and vinegar crisps, and McDonald's changed this to salty-sweet. And if I think back to those first visits, that salt-sweetness was quite weird, it seemed very exotic, almost Scandinavian if you couple it with the dill pickles and then hose mouth-burningly hot apple pies which were so cinammony, totally unlike a British apple pie. But now it doesn't seem exotic at all because we've changed along with McDonald's. This change to our palates has huge consequences which we don't analyse enough and some dieticians now speak of the SFS palate - Salt, Fat, Sugar... everything now from the dessert to the main course, whether it's salted caramel ice cream, whether it's very sweet barbecue pulled pork, aspires to that sweet saltiness of a Big Mac'"

BBC Radio 4 - Today, 03/07/2014, Bacteria or bacterium? The use of Latin grammar - "'I think everyone's right actually, to be honest... you've got three issues. One is: what's correct Latin? The next is what is correct English? And the third would be: what is the relationship between those two?'...
'We don't use bacterium any longer because even scientists themselves say it sounds rather pedantic and dated so why bother?... when we get into referendums and all that sort of thing, and stadiums, again, where do we go? Because it depends whether it's a Latin word or not?'
'I think for me it depends whether you're using it as a Latin word you've borrowed, in which case you might want to put the Latin ending on it, or whether you're choosing to use it as a Latin word that's become an English word... the more Latin you do at school, university whatever, the more you realise how quickly linguistic change happens and how dynamic languages are... there's no strict rulebook that says in English this is how you have to do things
Take an example like say syllabus. The Latin plural would also end in us... because everyone in English has said, oh we know this rule that Latin plurals end in i, so we'll apply it to a word where it doesn't apply, it's become an extra category of English plural ending. We've made it up'
'But then if we use it for the next 500 years or something that would be alright would it?'...
'The word bacteria is itself a Greek word, and a singular.'
'Ah. You've silenced me'...
'I took an Italian friend to lunch on Saturday and she totally unselfconsciously ordered a panino because she's Italian and that's the singular. But of course every menu in the UK will have panini, plural paninis'"

BBC Radio 4 - Today, 14/01/2015, Charlie Hebdo reaction: "Why are they doing a picture again of our prophet?" - "'What would you say to those people who say we live in a society where you are allowed to offend in certain respects'
'That's fine, thats fair enough but then at the same time they can't get upset when things happen as consequences of that... something needs to be done to stop people from disrespecting our prophet'...
Some moderate believers say they're frightened to defend the argument for free speech because they fear it could aggravate Islamic extremists as this woman who was too afraid to give her name explains
Freedom of speech doesn't mean there're no consequences of speech. So North Korea has freedom of speech too; if defending free speech aggravates Islamic extremists doesn't it show that they "hate our freedoms"?

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Bottled Water: Do We Really Need It? - "[From Nestle person] There is research to show that when consumers go to purchase bottled water and they find that they can't, 63% of them will turn to sugar-sweetened beverages rather than tap water... If we talk about the water that you need every day... bottled water is a fraction of the water that people need. It's for drinking and hydration, health. You need to have absolutely clean portable water. In many of those region, unfortunately, for structural issues, there is not enough good quality for the kids and for themselves. So that's why in those places we can help to do that. But we never, never replace the work that the local authorities must do in order to provide good quantity and quality of water of people... in reality if you just think about making lots of money probably we should do a sugary drinks or other beverages I can tell you I can sell a sugary drink or a beer or a wine at 5 times, 10 times, 100 times more than a bottle of water. If we make choices in terms of purely business and profit, I can tell you water will not be the primary choice... public numbers, you see that the water division is not the most profitable division for Nestle"
If governments won't do the job, why blame the private sector for stepping up?

Adulation for the Kims / Fences vs Curtains

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, What is Truth? What is Fantasy?

"It's a world of pythonesque absurdity. I've just come up in the lift at the Kim Chaek university of technology. There is a lift attendant, but the lift is automatic. I could've just pressed a button for a floor. So, I wondered aloud, why have an attendant in an automatic lift? To prevent accidents, I was told. Our students are very precious.

I'm here in the land of the Supreme Leader, Marshall Kim Jong Un, with an European aristocrat, his Serene Highness, Prince Alfred of Liechtenstein. Prince Alfred is driven round in a black Mercedes. He propounds his message of peace in the lecture halls of Pyongyang under pictures of... Kim Il Sung and his son and successor, Kim Jong Il.

These icons are everywhere. There is a heriditary system here and the rulers have a religious aura. Prince Alfred believes very strongly in dialogue, that's why he's here. He thinks much about morality. He told me he tended not to eat meat unless he'd shot it himself. He points out that housing and education are free for the citizens of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea - a surreal title in itself - this place is not democratic.

How I wonder can he know the truth of the place? How can any of us from the outside?

We're given tours of hospitals and universities but it's hard to know how much is being staged. When I walked into the computer room at Kim Il Sung university, the Google homepage seemed to be up on many of the screens, but a bit of probing of the students' knowledge and skills revealed that at least some of them were not that familiar with the internet.

Are the children singing in the grandiose school children's palace there for the education for which the place is officially designated, or are they there for the Western visitors? Are the worshippers in the Anglican church genuine believers or are they part of a performance done for outsiders? Was the power cut in our part of town the other night an innocent malfunction, or was it a created darkness to mask tanks rumbling into the city for the great celebrations around the Workers' Party Congress?

I still don't know, but the perpetual puzzle and incongruity is disconcerting. It throws me off balance. You start whispering to friends in rooms. You wonder who's looking over your shoulder, or listening just outside that door. Pyongyang surprises.

Oh look - there's David Attenborough on television in Kew Gardens, voiced over in Korean. People speak more English than I expected - they laugh at jokes by English-speaking lecturers before a translator delivers the Korean version.

North Korea is stereotyped. The regime is repressive - no doubt about that. But it's not the whole story.

I watched a group of girls feeding ducks at a park. I was too far away for them to have noticed me. I watched them quietly as they crossed to a pair of statues of Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung. The father and grandfather of the current leader. These girls stood stock still reverently in front of the images. After some time, they turned and walked away. Their eyes were moist. Some will say brainwashing but I believe those tears were genuine. Do not doubt the loyalty North Koreans feel towards their country...

Hungary is again erecting fences. And Arpad Bella, the man who broke the Iron Curtain, supports that policy. In 1989, we buried an empire here, he says. But now it seems we're entering a new era in which as a consequence of globalisation and liberalisation, we appear to be digging ourselves a new grave"
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