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More adventurous than the average bear

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Links - 14th July 2017 (2)

Expat life not as rosy as it appears - "the reality of expat life is that marriages, inevitably, come under stress due to changes in routines as a result of relocating, changes in relationship dynamics when one spouse is no longer working or pursuing their career, and with children changing schools, and culture shock. In my research on expat divorce, marital stress among expatriates is found to be very high."

Chinese passenger deploys emergency slide to get off plane 'faster' in Hainan - "In another similar incident in Hangzhou, a Chinese man opened the emergency exit just before the plane took off to "get some air"... The incidents come right after a Chinese woman made the news by splashing hot water on an AirAsia stewardess because she was unhappy about not being given a seat beside her boyfriend."

Muslim men in Terengganu now face two years' jail for missing Friday prayers

The lost art of offline dating - ""People have an easier time picking out an emoticon to display the emotion they are feeling rather than actually showing it on their face"... "Men are almost afraid of being in the role of pursuing because they don't want to be perceived as creepy," Battista said. "And successful, independent women still want men to step up. As a result, it's almost like a standoff." Rejection, the kind that manifested itself in the awkward insecurities of middle school and survived maturity, remains the biggest enemy of dating success"

Why it's really possible to fall in love online - "Those who met in the dark room, on the whole, were much more open and intimate with their fellow participants than those who met face-to-face under the fluorescents. In short: When you get rid of all the stress attached to face-to-face meetings, people feel more free to be themselves and get to know each other... The Web allowed participants to pare away interpersonal distractions and focus on communicating openly and honestly.

Wing Commander II Took Its Installation Guide Very Seriously - "Back then we worked to enjoy “one of the most powerful entertainment products available,” and we loved it."

This is What Happens When Men Recreate Cliched Womens’ Photos

The lone wolf: a terrorist in search of a cause - "The simplistic idea that one thing leads to another seldom explains the specific actions of an individual: anger does not drive people to commit an atrocity; being an abusive husband does not lead to mass murder; and, contrary to the slippery-slope theorists, dislike of gay people does not necessarily end in a rifle-assault on a gay club... Although lone-wolf terrorism is a global problem, it is particularly prominent in the US. ‘American terrorism’, argues Hoffman, ‘differs from terrorism in other countries in that a significant proportion of terrorist attacks have been carried out by unaffiliated individuals rather than by members of terrorist organisations’. The motives driving these individuals are diffuse, ranging from racism and homophobia to radical Islamism and a desire for notoriety. What unites this disparate set of motivations is that the individual feels they are responding to a perceived threat to their identity and culture."

NHS: the state religion - "That the NHS is seemingly beyond criticism is hardly surprising. After all, as this weekend’s Observer put it, ‘it is much more than a provider of healthcare – it is a cherished national institution’. And as such, it is no longer to be questioned or improved like any other public-service provider; it is beyond criticism. Indeed, it’s a moral symbol; a ‘source of national pride’; a manifestation of British virtue. Where once Brits were encouraged to look to the imperial past as a source of glory, today they’re to look to Moorfields Eye Hospital or Great Ormond Street. This is why the NHS was the centrepiece of Danny Boyle’s London 2012 opening ceremony, and why the following year it beat both the monarchy and Team GB in an Ipsos-Mori poll on reasons to be proud to be British. For Britain’s cultural and political elite, the NHS has become the closest thing there is to a bona fide source of national identity and quasi-moral purpose, a reason to fight, an ideal to be defended. It is near enough sacred, or at least, to quote the former chancellor of the exchequer Nigel Lawson, ‘the closest thing the English have to a religion’... the NHS, this most sacred of secular cows, has become just about the only way for the state to establish a meaningful relationship between itself and its citizens. It provides the state with its moral purpose, and citizens with an idea not of the Good Life, but of the Healthy Life. It allows the state to relate itself to us not as citizens so much as patients, apparently with an ever-expanding set of biological and increasingly mental needs"

Don’t misuse Prophet Muhammad’s name to justify rape and marriage, ex-mufti says - "there were other considerations for a Shariah judge before approving marriage applications to minors. “To me, how far the marriage can make the child happy is subjective. It’s to do with how she is treated and nafkah,” he said, using an Arabic word meaning subsistence for living... "To the majority of Malay Muslims out there, you are not Prophet Muhammad. Stop pretending you are Prophet Muhammad""
Aren't Muslims supposed to emulate the Prophet Muhammad?

China should heed the lessons of Pearl Harbour - "For all the differences between Imperial Japan in the 1930s and Communist China today, I cannot help but see parallels between the two. Like Japan then, China is a rising Asian nation whose thinking is informed by patriotism, suspicion of outsiders and the remnants of an inferiority complex toward the West. Its military seems not entirely constrained by civilian control. And just as Japan did in the 1930s, China is defying international opinion and challenging the maritime status quo in the western Pacific, where the US defends vital sea lines of communication for all nations... The artificial islands it recently created by landfilling in the South China Sea seem to be a Chinese version of the “Manchurian Incident” of 1931 — a pretext Japan used for asserting sovereignty over disputed areas. Last July’s International Court of Arbitration award challenging China’s island-building is a contemporary version of the Lytton Commission report, which exposed Japan’s illicit aggression."
The comments (presumably by Singaporeans) are disappointing

Poll Says Hong Kongers Would Prefer British Rule - "An informal online poll by a Hong Kong newspaper inspired by a recent referendum in the Falkland Islands shows that 92 percent of readers who voted think Hong Kongers would prefer a return to British rule... He said the government had paid more attention to public opinion and traditional freedoms under British rule and that the gap between rich and poor had been narrower."

April Fools is no joke: China's official news agency Xinhua - "The occasion "does not conform with our nation's cultural traditions, nor does it conform with the core values of socialism""

No, China Is Not Reclaiming Land in the South China Sea - "China is not reclaiming land in the South China Sea in order to improve conditions on a land feature – an island – that has deteriorated due the impact of the environment or human use. China is dredging sand from the seabed and coral reefs to create artificial islands. China misleadingly states it is reclaiming land on islands over which it has sovereignty. This is not the case. China is building artificial structures on low tide elevations (submerged features at high tide) and rocks. China cannot claim sovereignty over these features. These features are not entitled to maritime zones or airspace... China is slowly and deliberately excising the maritime heart out of Southeast Asia."

China company rewarded best employee with a night with actress - "A company in China rewarded its best employee with a night with a Japan adult video actress at its appreciation dinner recently"

In China, Say Everything in Mandarin, Please - "About 30 percent of China’s 1.3 billion population, 400 million people, can’t communicate in Mandarin, according to Li Weihong, director of the State Language Commission, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Sept. 21. Include only those who speak the official dialect fluently, and the number shrinks further. “About 70 percent of the total population can speak Putonghua, and 95 percent of the literate population knows how to use standard Chinese characters. However, only 10 percent [of that 70 percent] can speak standard Putonghua fluently”"

Huawei's PR fail highlights wrongheaded approach for China's tech giants - "a bunch of foreign journalists went on a government-organized tour of several big Chinese tech companies designed to give them a chance to show off their facilities and technology. But the Huawei stop was weird. First, Huawei told reporters they couldn’t photograph anything for “security reasons.” Then, when a reporter asked about Huawei’s connections to the government reporters were told there was no comment. Then they were told they couldn’t mention Huawei at all in their articles, or even the name of their tour guide. When confused reporters wondered why they’d been invited in the first place, then, a PR person apparently told them: “We didn’t invite you. It was the government that invited you and now you should leave.”"

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, The moral purpose of tax - "When you think of the Victorian period, a period of great inequality, tremendous dynamism in the economy but also a period marked by levels of philanthropy which we don't have today because of the welfare state. In other words that was a period when rampant inequality as you would see it went absolutely hand in hand with and contributed to a sense of personal commitment to each other and benevolence which we don't have today...
Clement Atlee who founded the welfare state famously said if a rich man wants to help the poor he should pay his taxes, not dole out money on a whim...
He made the point that people ought to contribute. Now I think that is rather an interesting point because otherwise the great danger of democracy, that's really the point I was getting at in the last question to the last witness, the great danger of democracy is if you have lots of people not contributing then of course they can all gang up and say well we can have everything we want just by making the top one percent pay or the top ten percent, just as long as it's not me. So actually there is quite a strong case if you are going to have taxation, if you're going to get people to consider the morality and the ethics of taxation, of getting pretty much everybody spared because then everyone can appreciate that it's not just a free game where they can get someone else to pay"
The Atlee quote is from Francis Beckett

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Muslim Leadership - "There are said to be more British Muslims fighting for ISIS than serving in the British army. One in five of the inmates of our top security prisons is now a Muslim even though they only make up fewer than one in twenty of the population...
'Isn't it the case though that the Koran contains very explicit calls to violence? Isn't that an essential part of the problem here?'
'No it is not. That is the cut and paste approach which some people have taken which is causing the problem'
'Do you condemn those verses which are violent?'
'Absolutely not. My belief is that they don't condone the, I do not condemn any part of the Quran whatsoever because my belief is that this is the word from God. What I do condemn is the misuse out of context of certain verses by violent terrorist extremists-'
'But hang on. If you don't condemn the violent verses then aren't you also an extremist?'...
'The verses that are very explicit about fighting non believers about lying in ambush for them and being very brutal in the fight against them are within the context of a battle'...
'I want to try and work out where this sort of tradition of self critical vigilance which you talk about exists within the tradition that you occupy. I mean if you've never had those doubts, if you've never had doubts about the Koran, about God, how do you develop self critical vigilance?'...
'That is the fundamental tenet of Islam. One cannot have any doubt in the existence of God if they want to claim to be Muslim'...
'I did some research in northern cities many years ago and I was told that the attitude of young Muslim men towards white women was highly problematic. And it was kind of peculiar mixture, a moral critique of the west plus just men being men and we see that expressed in its extremist form, what happened in Rotherham'"

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Is it a Moral Duty to Vote? - "Mr Brand has more followers on Twitter than the entire House of Commons. More people belong to the RSPB the bird charity than all the political parties put together...
The point of democracy is it is the voice of the people freely given. It's not something that should be demanded...
The only rational vote is a spoilt paper because you can write a message on the paper and all of the candidates will see that paper because all this spoilt votes go to the candidate"

Halal: Is it meat you’re looking for? says China businessman - "hundred of Muslims took to the streets in Xi’an to protest the sale of alcohol in halal restaurants. In Qinghai province a crowd destroyed a bakery after pork sausages and ham were found in its delivery trucks."

Learning Mandarin is really, really hard — even for many Chinese people - LA Times - "There are aspects of Chinese that make it hard for foreigners to learn, and there are aspects that make it difficult for native Chinese. I think the one that gets the most press — and is in some sense the most controversial — is the Chinese characters. For alphabetic languages, there’s what they call a virtuous loop between the writing, speaking and listening — those three categories constitute one composite skill. But the problem with Chinese, and to some degree Japanese, is it breaks that loop. Speaking does not necessarily help your reading. Reading doesn’t necessarily help your writing. These become three different skills that have to be mastered in parallel, and separately... The implicit policy used to be that everyone had to learn Putonghua, but not everyone had to speak it in their local regions. The government wanted it to be a tool for universal communication, but the local dialects could continue to exist. And what’s happening now is the government is pushing that boundary, and encroaching onto the education system in places like Tibet and Xinjiang, increasingly insisting that classes be conducted in Putonghua. So the schoolkids in these areas are increasingly not exposed to their own language. That’s a big political controversy — a firestorm really — as a lot of ethnic Tibetans and Xinjiang people feel that the government is eroding their culture."

The sealed bottle garden still thriving after 40 years without fresh air or water

Cat videos are a ruse: Cats are fundamentally narcissistic and aggressive, and they’d eat you if they could. - "“Cats are like having a teenager. They just look at you over and over and say, ‘Can I have more stuff?’ ” he said. “They don’t really do anything; they lay about, so it’s hard to tell cats apart from teenagers, except teenagers hang out at malls more. And yet people still love their teenagers. And their cats.”... All other domesticated animals that humans adore are working animals... I should say I don’t mind looking at cats on the Internet, in part because they are ubiquitous and can’t be avoided, and in part because I think that’s where cats should live, on the Internet, imprisoned by my browser and one click away from being banished."

French mayor rants against kebabs so critics declare an international kebab festival - "the mayor justified his decision to block restaurants opening in Beziers's historic city center by explaining: "We are a nation of Judeo-Christian tradition." Menard then said that there were too many kebabs in his town, and that he would block new kebab restaurants opening in Beziers"

Passion Plays | Tell Me Something I Don't Know - "[On passionfruit] The passion comes from the passion flowers. It refers to the Passion of Jesus in Christian theology...
As a product designer I care about engaging people's emotions so they feel connected to their product. In other words I want you to fall in love with your appliances so when I was leading the interaction effort for a robot vacuum cleaner called the Neato botvac I thought very hard about the personality of the robot and how it might come to life using electronics. With my team we looked at the spectrum of emotion that the robot might have from feeling pride at successfully cleaning the room to maybe despair at getting stuck under the couch and then hired a composer to create the sounds for those emotional moments"

Collections | Tell Me Something I Don't Know - "vegetables and fruit are actually believed to be bad for the body... if you were going to take an herb sugar was a preservative... sugar was medicine and you had beer for breakfast...
There are two Russian languages: there's standard Russian and then there's Mat, which is the language of profanity. Here's how it works. So there are four really bad Russian words... over hundreds of years Russians have developed literally thousands of variations on these words that can mean anything under the sun. This means that Russians can have entire conversations using almost nothing but swear words. Entire plays and novels have been written in swear words and they do this because mat adds oomph. So it's like in English you could say f-ing for every word, except in Russian they add dicks and whores and vaginas... I can tell someone off by sending them to the dick *something*. I can put my dick on to something *something* which means to ignore it. Or I can throw my hands up and I can say *something* the dick knows which means that nobody knows... the Russian government over hundreds of years has tried to crack down on it seeing it as a language of dissent and resistance to authority so this means that if you take any period in Russian history and you look at the government's attitude towards mat it's a good barometer for the freedom of expression in general"

Does eating cheese before bed give you nightmares? - "85 percent of the female participants who were given a piece of Stilton before bed reported having super-crazy, vivid dreams, including "talking soft toys, a vegetarian crocodile upset because it could not eat children, dinner party guests being traded for camels, soldiers fighting with each other with kittens instead of guns, and a party in a lunatic asylum". Red Leicester, on the other hand, was great for ensuring a good night’s sleep, with 83 percent of the participants who ate it reporting that every night after a bit of Red Leicester was a good experience. And also a nostalgic one - 60 percent of the Red Leicester participants reported dreaming about fond memories of their childhood."
Supposedly the fungus is the reason for the cheese dreams (as per TMSIDK)
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