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Thursday, September 04, 2008

"Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language." - Ludwig Wittgenstein


Sybil Squared - Weird News Story Archive - "Patricia Burgus['s] suit alleged that when she sought treatment for depression from Dr. Bennett Braun, he used “repressed memory therapy” to convince her that she had 300 personalities, was a cannibal who made meatloaf out of her friends, had molested her children, and was the high priestess of a satanic cult."

Fighting for survival - "After the 7 July 2005 terrorist attacks on London buses and subway trains, the official report on the response would find one "overarching, fundamental lesson" - emergency plans had been designed to meet the needs of emergency officials, not regular people... When emergency plans are written, regular people need to be at the table. When drills are held, regular people need to make up the majority of the participants... The most common response in most disasters is not panic, but rather the opposite... In the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001, about 1,000 people took the time to shut down their computers before evacuating. On average, people waited six minutes before beginning to leave. Once they entered the stairwell, they descended at the rate of about one minute per floor - twice as long as engineers would have predicted... It is time to move past the hackneyed disaster narrative - where we simply gape at the loss and then blame government or God alone for our suffering."

Men's makeup, Zac Efron - "The culture that gave birth to the rugged masculine ideal of the Marlboro Man may not be ready to reach for the blush brush just yet. A GQ survey in 2005 reported that "92 percent of men would not wear makeup even if it guaranteed them a more fulfilling sex life."... Au naturale hasn't always been considered better or more masculine. Male makeup has a long history... Men may no longer raise a tweezed eyebrow at the thought of manicures and facials, but makeup still draws severe reactions. The aforementioned GQ survey found that 65 percent of men thought plastic surgery acceptable but that only 14 percent would consider using makeup for a 25 percent salary increase. It seems men would rather go under the knife than get paid to put on some makeup to cover up wrinkles. The genius of the metrosexual concept was that the term divorced men's grooming and primping habits from homosexuality: A metrosexual man could feel secure in his heterosexuality even as he spread his legs to get a bikini wax."

Jesus Is Magic - "As the annual convention of the Fellowship of Christian Magicians kicks off on a hot July afternoon, the campus of Indiana Wesleyan University is awash in displays of irreverent reverence... In the gym, vendors sell mysteriously materializing Communion cups, paper that dissolves in water (perfect for making sins "disappear"), and fire-spouting Bibles... The fcm, which boasts about 2,000 members around the world, is a nondenominational organization dedicated to "the winning of souls to Christ" using "sleight of hand, optical illusion, ventriloquism, puppets, balloons, clowning, juggling, storytelling, and other visual arts."... But the relationship between the magical arts and evangelical Christianity is not without controversy. After all, Deuteronomy explicitly forbids witchcraft, divination, and sorcery, and Revelation warns that "those who practice magic arts" will wind up in "the fiery lake of burning sulfur" along with deviants, unbelievers, and murderers... when two secular Scottish magicians created a TV show in 2005 called The Magic of Jesus, in which they replicated biblical miracles, a Pentecostal bishop suggested that they attempt a new trick: crucifying themselves."

Help Save The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus From Extinction - "The Pacific Northwest tree octopus (Octopus paxarbolis) can be found in the temperate rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula on the west coast of North America... Because of the moistness of the rainforests and specialized skin adaptations, they are able to keep from becoming desiccated for prolonged periods of time, but given the chance they would prefer resting in pooled water."

EFF and ACLU of Northern California to ISPs and Content Owners: Do Your Part to Protect Political Speech - "Unfortunately, political speech has been threatened repeatedly by claims that controversial material violates a site’s terms of use or infringes copyrights or trademark rights... The International Olympics Committee demanded that YouTube remove a video of a protest by Students For A Free Tibet, based on a bogus copyright infringement claim. The IOC subsequently withdrew the notice, but the IOC’s demand is a lesson in the dangers of hair-trigger DMCA takedowns by service providers."

Part Time Assignment For Girls - "Experience: No work experience
Location: All Locations
Compensation: SGD 200 Hourly
Job Areas: Services
Job Type: Part Time
Job Description: Opening to young and outspoken local girls
Telephone: 12345678
Keywords: Customer Service"
Hurr hurr. In contrast, $11.34/hr for webcam work is nothing.

Surfer dude stuns physicists with theory of everything - "An impoverished surfer has drawn up a new theory of the universe, seen by some as the Holy Grail of physics, which has received rave reviews from scientists. Garrett Lisi, 39, has a doctorate but no university affiliation and spends most of the year surfing in Hawaii, where he has also been a hiking guide and bridge builder (when he slept in a jungle yurt)."

Anger at council fasting request - "Tower Hamlets councillors were asked to "not partake of any refreshments" until Muslim councillors received their permitted evening meal, known as Iftar. Liberal Democrat councillor Stephanie Eaton said: "This is going too far." The council said it wanted councillors to be sensitive about eating "whilst others in the room are fasting"."

My So-Called Japanese Life: Birth Control in Japan - "The male sexually-active expatriate soon learns that Japanese condoms are of diminished utility to him because they are, indeed, smaller than western condoms. For the average (or above average) man, Japanese condoms are perhaps workable but rather tight. Despite the desire of politically-correct and culturally-sensitive sorts to try and avoid making conclusions about penis size and nationality, the smaller condoms in Japan are an indication that size is related to nationality. I read a book quite some time ago called The Male Sexual Machine: An Owner's Manual which included scientific research on this topic (yes, they made measurements) and the book's chart showed that, on average, Japanese men have the smallest penises in the developed world so it makes sense that the condoms would be smaller."
Condom companies probably know better than academics.

Scholars Are Quietly Offering New Theories of the Koran - "Christoph Luxenberg, however, is a pseudonym, and his scholarly tome The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran had trouble finding a publisher... The Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz was stabbed because one of his books was thought to be irreligious. And when the Arab scholar Suliman Bashear argued that Islam developed as a religion gradually rather than emerging fully formed from the mouth of the Prophet, he was injured after being thrown from a second-story window by his students at the University of Nablus in the West Bank. Even many broad-minded liberal Muslims become upset when the historical veracity and authenticity of the Koran is questioned... Mr. Wansbrough insisted that the text of the Koran appeared to be a composite of different voices or texts compiled over dozens if not hundreds of years. After all, scholars agree that there is no evidence of the Koran until 691 -- 59 years after Muhammad's death -- when the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem was built, carrying several Koranic inscriptions... A return to the earliest Koran, Mr. Puin and others suggest, might lead to a more tolerant brand of Islam, as well as one that is more conscious of its close ties to both Judaism and Christianity.... Approaches to the Koran that are now branded as heretical -- interpreting the text metaphorically rather than literally -- were widely practiced in mainstream Islam a thousand years ago. ''When I teach the history of the interpretation it is eye-opening to students the amount of independent thought and diversity of interpretation that existed in the early centuries of Islam,'' Mr. Rippin says. ''It was only in more recent centuries that there was a need for limiting interpretation.'' "
The Virgins = Raisins story was widely reported, but I don't think this bit was (including defenestration). I wonder what Karen Armstrong thinks of the book hurr hurr

The sexual habits of males who molest (this is a Singaporean paper) - "To gain better understanding into the causes of molesting behaviour in males, we examined a prison cohort of molesters and compared them with a control group comprising thieves. The molesters were older, had attained a higher educational level and were more likely to be married. They had their initial sexual intercourse at an older age but tended to have multiple sexual relationships and were less likely to report having viewed pornographic material. Three months prior to committing their offences, molesters seemed to engage in less sexual activity. The implications are that molesters had a need for more explicit sexual contact but were unable to sustain ongoing, stable, intimate sexual relationships."
I wonder if any feminist will try to spin this as proving that molestation is about power, not sex.

otherwise » COMICS - ""Married to an illiterate farmer... After I met the missionaries, they helped me with food, clothes, and they told me about Jesus... They told me divorce was bad. That I needed to learn to accept ti. That this too was God's will... When the baby was 9 months old, i found out my husband was planning on selling me to someone else"... What missionary education entails. "Repeat after me: 'Islam is Enemy'; 'God rewards wage labor'; 'Good is Christian'"... Most of the missionaries - if not all of them - knew next to nothing about the places they went to. No political economy, no real history... It's their firsthand experience of rapid modernization that makes Koreans say to others: "If Korea can do it, so can you!" The caveat is... "Accept Jesus!""
Girl draws her PhD dissertation about Korean Christian Missionaries in comic form.

Love Addiction - "A love addict has a fear of change. They will attach themselves to another person as to obtain that person’s identity for themselves. Having a very low self-esteem and lacking self-identity, the person chooses a mate or friend they would like to become. Crimes of passion, murder, suicides, and stalking, bloom out of these relationships. Homosexuality is another byproduct of this problem, as it’s easier to take on the identity of someone of the same sex... The most beautiful expression of that kind of love which we all seek is found in the Bible... Find out who God is and you will find that true relationship you’ve searched for your whole life. Once that is settled, He will give you just the right person with whom to have a healthy, heart-based love."
What the hell. I don't know if this is worse than Jesus Loves Sailors

It’s official: you can be fat and fit - "Roughly half of overweight people in the US - about 36million people - do not have raised blood pressure or cholesterol levels. The same applies to about a third of the people - 20million - who are categorised as ‘obese’. Moreover, about a quarter of normal-weight individuals have high blood pressure or problematic levels of cholesterol... Last December the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study which followed 2,600 American adults aged over 60 for 12 years. Two striking findings emerged from the study. First, as in other studies, the overweight - that is those with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 30 - had slightly lower death rates than those of ‘normal’ weight. Second, levels of fitness, not BMI, was the most reliable predictor of death. Those with the lowest levels of fitness were significantly more likely to die, regardless of body weight."
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