"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Links - 23rd November 2017 (2)

Anti-tourism attacks in Spain: Who is behind them and what do they want? - "Already plagued by long security queues at airports, holiday-makers visiting top destinations in Spain face more vacation woes once they arrive. Anti-tourism activists have been targeting Barcelona, Majorca, Valencia and San Sebastián with protests – some of them involving violence. The goal seems to be to rail against the negative impact of mass tourism on local life and living standards... Previously, an estimated 100 locals dressed up as tourists and paraded through the streets, satirising visitor behaviour (including urinating against walls) as a protest against “touristification”... A survey commissioned by Barcelona council found that locals consider tourism to be the city’s second most pressing problem, after unemployment"

How to stop city breaks killing our cities - "Growth is relentless. The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) even speaks about tourism as a right for all citizens"

Amsterdam to Spread Out Tourists - What's Really Going On in Amsterdam - "Amsterdam city officials, anxious to reduce the sheer number of tourists clustering at traditional attractions in the center of the city, such as the Anne Frank House, the Red Light District and Dam Square, have cooked up an innovative marketing campaign to persuade tourists that they should, instead, wander about the city’s outer districts. Sources in the council, speaking on condition of animosity, suggest that the primary motivation behind this policy is to somehow deal with the relatively new phenomenon of mass Chinese tourism. They tend to arrive unpredictably in large groups and seem to be unaware of when they are stepping onto a road or bicycle lane, leading to a record number of accidents in the city center. The feeling is that it makes more sense to send these Chinese coach parties out into the suburbs where they will have room to move, take photos and buy wooden clogs without getting knocked unconscious by a bicycle. If the Chinese can just be persuaded that the “cultural melting-pot” of Zuidoost will give them the quintessential Dutch experience, it will be a win for everyone, and it will certainly be a unique opportunity for people who have a culture of working incredibly hard throughout their lives to compare notes with locals who have never held a job."

Saudi police arrest a singer for hashish abuse - "Saudi anti-narcotics police arrested a Saudi singer for dabbing, a symbol of hashish abuse"

Why do stars like Adele keep losing their voice? - "“How many surgeries would Dr Zeitels consider performing on Adele? Or on anyone? After surgery, unless a singer makes major changes, ‘return to performing’ means a return to the vocal abuse that put her/him on the operating table in the first place,” Paglin wrote, in the small trade publication Intermezzo. “Concerts – injury – surgery – rest – concerts – injury – surgery. Is this the life of a professional singer?”... Voice specialists liken the physical toll on singers and stage performers to what athletes endure. Surgery to the professional singer’s vocal cords is what ligament reconstruction has become to the football player’s knee. Dusty theatres, stuffy airplane cabins, erratic eating and sleeping patterns, the stress of living off stingy contracts – all affect the vocal cords. Add to it the occupational hazard, at least in opera and classical music, of taking on roles that require you to sing above your natural range, and the cords become extremely susceptible to injury... One veteran teacher in Italy told me that female students in their early 20s who want to sing like Adele or a young Whitney Houston are the ones who come down with vocal nodules. Another music teacher told me she recently had to instruct one of her 10-year-old students to stop singing and get his damaged cords checked by a specialist. The rise in vocal injuries is linked to a change in what we consider good singing. Across all genres, it has become normal to believe that louder is better... responsibility for the modern decline of the voice lay at the feet of Verdi, Wagner and Puccini. These three composers were the pop music sensations of their day. Music scholars credit them with being the first to challenge their singers to push their voices to new limits, in order to capture the emotional ups and downs their characters were feeling... the emotionally charged, full-throated, operatic singing style Verdi and Wagner made popular in the late 19th century – and that Puccini amped up even further in the early 20th century – had subsequently infiltrated all singing genres and public performances... Unlike medical doctors, Brilla and Paglin don’t own a laryngoscope that allows them to peer into the throat. If someone comes to them with injuries, they treat the problem by ear. They sing a soft note and ask the student to match it precisely. They can hear in the response where the pitch is off-key, and where the damage is located on the cord... Paglin told me of a time when she was watching a singer perform on stage, and could tell there was something very wrong. She got a message to the singer that he urgently needed to see a doctor. He did, and was diagnosed with a form of throat cancer."

Chinese 'Sex and the City' confronting awkward truths in China - "Divorce rates have risen steadily and a Peking University survey last year found the average age for first time sex in China was 22.2 years for those born after 1980, dropping to 17.7 years for those born after 1995. Yuan Zidan, an Ode to Joy screenwriter, said there were bound to be comparisons to the hit American series Sex and the City. “Sex and the City takes love and sex as the core of discussion, whereas our drama takes women’s self-awareness and growth as the core for discussion,” she said, adding that the series was based on the lives of millions of Chinese women."

Why AFC Wimbledon's academy wear odd socks - "One of our main development strategies is to encourage all of our players to develop their weaker foot to at least a competent level, in order to give him the technical ability to make the right decision at the right time. Wearing an odd socks highlights a player's weaker foot, meaning the opposition will force him to use it."

Are Index Funds Bad for the Economy? - "if investors own a slice of every firm, they will make more money if firms compete less and collectively raise prices, at the expense of consumers. Knowing this, the firms’ managers will de-emphasize competition and behave more cooperatively with one another."

Does cigarette smoking relieve stress? Evidence from the event-related potential (ERP) - "Taken together, both the physiological (LPP) and the psychological responses from our study suggest that cigarette smoking perhaps relieves stress."

How The US Subsidizes Cheap Drugs For Europe - "“The problem is right now, the system is such that a company that sets a low price is not going to be rewarded for it—it’s going to be punished for it,” Kolassa said, noting that any company that lowered prices would face backlash from investors and stockholders. Instead, he said, “the incentive in the system is to keep going higher and higher until the whole thing falls apart.”"

Celebrating San Malverde, patron saint of thieves and drug dealers - "His popularity among drug lords is so widespread that police in California have admitted to searching for San Malverde paraphernalia on suspects in order to determine whether or not they may be linked to Mexican cartels... Although Malverde died in 1909, his cult did not become truly popular before the 1970s. By that time, the border area between the states of Sinaloa, Chihuahua and Durango had become a hub of marijuana and opium production, due to its ideal climate and remote location. The government tried to put an end to poppy and marijuana cultures but was met with fierce resistance from local populations. So the army was sent in to stamp out the practice by force, and locals, faced with a wave of violence and bloodshed, needed to turn to something ‘supernatural’ to give them strength in their fight against the authorities."

NBA Players Are Getting Their Nails Done Before Big Games - "When the stakes are highest during the NBA Finals, the biggest stars prepare themselves for game time by getting their nails done. That might strike some as strange, but these athletes make a living off their hands and feet, and most see manicures and pedicures as just another way to take care of their bodies... In addition to warding off infections, fungus, and ingrown toenails, manicures and pedicures get rid of calluses and help prevent players from jamming their toes on quick cuts"

The Distance Between Mars and Venus: Measuring Global Sex Differences in Personality - "The idea that there are only minor differences between the personality profiles of males and females should be rejected as based on inadequate methodology."

Medical marijuana policies and hospitalizations related to marijuana and opioid pain reliever - "Medical marijuana policies were significantly associated with reduced OPR-related hospitalizations but had no associations with marijuana-related hospitalizations. Given the epidemic of problematic use of OPR, future investigation is needed to explore the causal pathways of these findings."
Medical marijuana can solve the opioid crisis

Muslims make up just one in 20 Britons but one in SEVEN prison inmates - "‘He found out a paedophile had been slashed in Wakefield and thought he would be next: he was a marked man after he was convicted,’ revealed his sister Ann-Marie Bellfield. ‘He said they were good boys and would look after him ... he got friendly with Islamic guys and didn’t have a problem.’... Muslims now account for almost 15 per cent of all inmates. In high security jails, the figure is higher still — one in five; while in one Category A establishment, almost half are Muslims... As the number of Islamist extremists locked up for terror offences increases, so they are finding fertile ground among fellow prisoners. Indeed, it is claimed that some are deliberately getting custodial sentences so that they can target this pool of disaffected young men... Indeed, so pressing is the problem that the Government has announced it is considering the possibility of setting up ‘jihadi jails’ — prisons which solely house Islamist extremist terrorists... such is the influence of these gangs that in some prisons they have started to impose a ‘protection tax’ on anyone who does not follow Islam. The tax, called jizya, is reported to have been levied by gangs of Islamist extremists at Belmarsh, Long Lartin, Woodhill and Whitemoor prisons."

3 reasons why Singapore’s adoption of e-commerce is so slow, according to a Google Singapore exec

How to make cashless king - "Singapore is more reliant on cash and cheques compared with other developed economies in Asia like Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong. In Korea, only about 20 per cent of payments are made with cash - among the lowest in the world. In contrast, cash remains king in Singapore. A study last year found that 60 per cent of consumer payments were in cash while 30 per cent of business transactions used cheques in 2015. Cash in circulation in Singapore is 8.8 per cent of GDP, compared with 4.4 per cent in Australia, and 2.12 per cent in Sweden. In Singapore, each person wrote 12.7 cheques in 2014, compared with 7.1 in Australia... It's easy to withdraw cash - the number of ATMs increased by 65 per cent in the 10 years to 2015. About 90 per cent of Housing Board households have access to a local bank ATM within 500m of their homes... Analysts say another big reason for the slow take-up is the sheer complexity of existing payment systems. This results in people carrying different cards for different purposes. For merchants, it means a bewildering and costly array of card readers or terminals they potentially need to install."

Outrage over Google memo is misplaced - "one of the pillars that holds up our First Amendment is the "marketplace of ideas" theory -- that ideas should compete in the free market, and that through wide-open and robust debate, we will advance. In ideology-driven authoritarian regimes, locking someone out of the labor market because you don't like their ideas is a common approach. Behind the Iron Curtain, for instance, if you weren't sufficiently Marxist, it didn't necessarily mean a trip to the gulag. You would just find that you were out of a job. Of course, the blowback against this Google employee is not top-down authoritarianism or orthodoxy enforced by the state. No, in America when you violate the PC code of conduct, a small cadre of people will dust off the outrage machine -- and millions of people will fuel it. The result of such a lynch-mob mentality fueled by intolerance for different points of view is twofold. First, it winnows out those who might disagree, making the cone of tolerance and ideological pluralism ever-more narrow. Second, it drives holders of minority viewpoints or people with differing ideas underground, and causes them to seek out and communicate only those who agree with them -- which can push them to radicalization. These results destroy our marketplace of ideas -- replacing it with a melee of venom"

'Uber for escorts' app launches in Germany - "The app is called "Ohlala," and it has been dubbed the "Uber for escorts" by TechCrunch"

Sex worker explains the difference between legalizing and decriminalizing prostitution - "Widely presented as a more tolerant and pragmatic approach, the legalized model still criminalizes those sex workers who cannot or will not fulfill various bureaucratic responsibilities, and therefore retains some of the worst harms of criminalization. It disproportionately excludes sex workers who are already marginalized, like people who use drugs or who are undocumented. This makes their situation more precarious, and so reinforces the power of unscrupulous managers"

Ploughing on: The faces and insecurities of Singapore’s elderly working poor - "“In Singapore, no money how to live?”, is what Mr Ong Hock Soon says if asked why he is working long hours as a hawker’s assistant at the age of 69. But in the same breath, he’ll tell you that he has turned down offers of social assistance, and would rather be self-reliant and “work until cannot move”. That mentality of independence is something that crops up repeatedly among the working elderly. Ms Nurasyikin Amir once thought like most people – that seniors should stop going around collecting heavy loads of cardboard. “Like, rest at home, you’re old, retired already,” said the volunteer with the Happy People Helping People Foundation, which assists cardboard collectors like Eddie. “But what we came to realise is that when they collect boxes, they feel more empowered; they are earning their own money, even though it’s not much, maybe S$2, up to S$10 a day. Who are we to stop them, right?” she said... Indeed, there are those receiving financial assistance who still do the occasional odd job to “find meaning in life”, said Mr Ng Koon Sing, head of COMNET Senior Services under AMKFSC Community Services...
e’s been asking his boss to lower his pay – because he’s afraid he might get a reduced subsidy on his S$50-a-month rental flat."
We must help them even if they don't want it! And assume they're lying when they say they don't want help!

Could an algorithm replace the pill? - "Berglund has hired a team of researchers that includes Kristina Gemzell Danielsson, a professor in obstetrics and gynaecology at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. Their most recently published clinical study showed that Natural Cycles, when used correctly, is as efficient in preventing pregnancies as the pill. Unlike the pill, though, it doesn’t offer any cover for fertile days, which means that comparing the app to medical contraception can be tricky."

Could an app really replace the contraceptive pill? - "Berglund herself is perhaps her app’s biggest success story; having used it as a contraceptive for 18 months before deciding to try for a baby, she got pregnant on her first red day. “That’s the really revolutionary part,” she explains. “You can use the app over your reproductive lifetime. When you want to get pregnant, the data accumulated during the time spent on [using the app for] contraception can be used to pinpoint your most fertile days.”"

Catherinette - Wikipedia - "Catherinettes was a traditional French label for girls of twenty-five years old who were still unmarried by the Feast of Saint Catherine (25 November). A special celebration was offered to them on this day, while everyone wished them a fast end to their singlehood."
Christmas Cake theory!
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