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Thursday, January 08, 2009

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to." - Dorothy Parker


Shibuya scouts roll with regulation - "Tokyo’s Shibuya district is the ultimate gathering point for young, fashionable females dressed for attention in remarkably short skirts and snug tops, and it is this demographic that comprises these scouts’ prime target. If one spots a particular look or set of measurements that meets his company’s needs, he will quickly moves up beside and smoothly inquire as to whether she wants a part-time job. Should she stop, utter a peep, or acknowledge him in the slightest (all very rare occurrences), he will get down to brass tacks: “Do you like sex?”... Standard scout strategy is simple. For one, girls in pairs are untouchable. And, he insists, “make sure to choose the ones who are cute. A baby face and big boobs are the keys for AV. The gorgeous women are more for mizushobai, but we’ll talk to them, too.” On the street a scout’s honor is always certain. “You never try to trick her or soften the description of the work,”... Girls who do indeed enlist generally make between 100,000 and 1 million yen per AV movie... Drawbacks to the profession, which Mr. A has been engaged in for eight years, include the occasional punch, odd scream, and the relentless rejection."

Sex Vending Machines for rural pervs - "In fact, the majority of sex-related vending machines are not in the red light districts of cities, but in the mountains. After all, cities have plenty of sex shops already, but what does the average mountain-dweller do when he needs a dildo, porno, or pair of panties? Your answer is below"

Air India sacks 'fat' hostesses - "India's state-owned airline Air India has terminated the services of nine hostesses for being "overweight", a spokesman says... Last June, the Delhi high court ruled that Air India had the right to prevent overweight air hostesses from flying. The hostesses appealed against that order in the Supreme Court and the case is still pending there... A few years ago, during a recruitment drive for new crew, the airline said that it would not consider applicants with acne or bad teeth."

How the city hurts your brain - "Related research has demonstrated that increased "cognitive load" -- like the mental demands of being in a city -- makes people more likely to choose chocolate cake instead of fruit salad, or indulge in a unhealthy snack. This is the one-two punch of city life: It subverts our ability to resist temptation even as it surrounds us with it, from fast-food outlets to fancy clothing stores. The end result is too many calories and too much credit card debt... The density of 18th-century London may have triggered outbreaks of disease, but it also led to intellectual breakthroughs, just as the density of Cambridge -- one of the densest cities in America -- contributes to its success as a creative center. One corollary of this research is that less dense urban areas, like Phoenix, may, over time, generate less innovation."

Estonia, where being wired is a human right - "In 2000, the parliament, perhaps inspired by their new gizmos, passed a law declaring Internet access a fundamental human right of its citizenry... "Some people still think of Internet access as a luxury," explains Kuut, whose company, Vemis, works extensively in rural areas. "But 10 years ago, most people in Estonia looked at hot, running water as a luxury, and nobody would think that today.""

NASA Simulator Prepares Astronauts For Rigors Of An Interview With Larry King | The Onion - "The Larry King interview is notorious for its unpredictability and duration. We put all our astronauts through months of training in the Larry King simulator, to help them build up their tolerance to the lack of logic they'll face on Larry King Live. We're gonna be starting you on Level 1 of the King sim, so he'll be making a lot more sense than he would in reality. But it's still not gonna be anything like talking to a normal human being"

Child elopers' Africa plan foiled - "Two German children - aged five and six - have been stopped by police from eloping to Africa to tie the knot in the sun, reports say. The budding lovebirds, identified as Mika and Anna-Lena, packed bathing costumes, sunglasses and a lilo and headed for the airport. They even had the presence of mind to invite along an official witness - Anna-Lena's seven-year-old sister. The three got as far as Hanover railway station before police intervened. The young couple were "very much in love" and had decided to get married in Africa "where it is warm", police spokesman Holger Jureczko told the AFP news agency."

What Is Art For? - "Anyone (like me) who is too lazy to read the label that explains what the exhibit is all about will just wonder why they are looking at a lot of bunk beds. Indeed that is the problem with much of the art at Tate Modern. It contains many examples of works by living artists who seem to be incapable of communicating their ideas without the help of written display labels. In my opinion their works lack craftsmanship, novelty, recognisable iconography and even beauty. It makes me wonder, has modern art lost its way?... If like me you think that art should be about communicating without words, then you are justified in saying that exhibits which rely on labels to explain their meaning have failed."

Surprising insights from the social sciences - "The more people you're competing against, it turns out, the less motivated and competitive you are... "pay what you want" - could also be profitable... In fact, the average price paid for drinks at the delicatessen was slightly higher than normal. Although the average price at the restaurant was somewhat lower than normal, it sold so many more buffet lunches than usual that the owner retained the new approach and said he planned to replicate it at another restaurant... People get the same hormonal reaction from bonding with their dogs as with humans."
I doubt you get oxytocin from playing with pussies.

The Secret Political Blog: The World and Singapore: Top 5 international events in relation to Singapore - "Like Mugabe's information minister who claims that the current cholrea outbreak is due to the work of the British and has no direct link with people forced to drink from open sewers: "[The cholera in Zimbabwe resembles] a serious biological chemical weapon.... calculated, racist, terrorist attack on Zimbabwe... genocidal onslaught on the people of Zimbabwe by the British - Sikhanyiso Ndlovu" our government too creates an imaginary foreign enemy which threatens us: "There is a conspiracy to do us in. Why?... They see us as a threat" - MM Lee referring to human rights Organizations"

Bad Science » What if everything you thought you knew about Aids was wrong? - "That was the title of a book by Christine Maggiore, an HIV/Aids-denialist lauded in the American media. She is now dead. Maggiore decided that HIV does not cause Aids, and that antiretroviral drugs do not treat it. She was HIV positive, which the media loved. She declined to take ARV drugs and specifically decided not to take HIV drugs during her pregnancy, despite the strong evidence that they massively lower the risk of maternal transmission. She insisted on breastfeeding her children, even though it has been shown that this increases the risk of maternal transmission. She also refused to have her children tested for HIV. Her daughter, Eliza Jane Scovill, died three years ago. The coroner attributed the death to Aids and Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia. She was three years old... Duesberg went on to great things, including South Africa’s president Thabo Mbeki’s disastrous presidential advisory panel on Aids... [One] study estimates... around 171,000 new HIV infections and 343,000 deaths could have been prevented between 1999 and 2007... Just don’t let anyone tell you pseudoscience is harmless."

'Sex chip' being developed by scientists - "Neurosurgery professor Tipu Aziz, said: "There is evidence that this chip will work. A few years ago a scientist implanted such a device into the brain of a woman with a low sex drive and turned her into a very sexually active woman. She didn't like the sudden change, so the wiring in her head was removed.""

JimBastard - A take on Facebook pictures.

Planescape: Torment Gets A Facelift - "A series of mods for the classic RPG Planescape: Torment has been released, giving both RPG veterans and gaming newcomers a good reason to take a look at one of the finest games ever made."

Hustler's Larry Flynt and Girls Gone Wild CEO Joe Francis Ask for Government Bailout of the Adult Entertainment Industry - "According to Flynt the recession has acted like a national cold shower. "People are too depressed to be sexually active," Flynt says, "This is very unhealthy as a nation. Americans can do without cars and such but they cannot do without sex.""
"People who throw kisses are hopelessly lazy." - Bob Hope


Baltics trip
Day 14 - 29th May - Tallinn, Estonia
(Part 4)

It must be uncomfortable for people of both genders (albeit for different reasons) to ride bicycles on cobblestoned roads.

"The Legend of Dannebrog" (The Danish Flag)

Imperial Eagle on glass vessel (Humpen), 1599 (I didn't know the Empire's influence reached so far North)

Medieval seal-stamps and seals

Monk scribe

Executioner's sword. Presumably this is the oldest one from Tallinn, with a mid-16th-century Solingen blade in a 15th-century hilt.

Execution mockup (Johann von Uexxkyll). People get excited before executions but going to the extent of having a display is ridiculous. They must (still) hate the nobility.

"Medieval manor houses did not differ considerably from the peasants' dwellings" - This smacked of self-delusion.

Medieval town seals

Christmas Mass, fragment. 1450-1500

They also had a recording:

It sounded like every other medieval mass.


The Blackheads were unmarried merchants. Hah.

Light Plate Armour from Innsbruck. Notice the "INRI". Hurr hurr.

Russian Riders

Runic Calendars, 17th c.

Various aristocratic crap

Bone anatomical models

Glass with State Seal of Sweden, Prayer- and hymnbook

Tiles showing deference to Swedish sovereigns

The Estonians really like the Swedes, with their even being a phrase, "good old Swedish times"

Canteen and dedication ribbon used by Peter I

Military stuff, 18th c.

Swedish and Russian infantry uniforms: identical but for colour

Tobacco dish from Hamburg

Candle-snuffer, powder-sprinkler for wigs

Iron, Brazier

Catherine the Great

Runic stone, replica (of a Swedish one - HAH)

All in all, this was an excellent museum, and I wouldn't have minded seeing the rest of the collection, if not for the lack of time (material from after Catherine the Great was housed in another location; luckily I wasn't that interested in that period and had seen much material from then anyway)

Stage for party to celebrate Slovenia's entry into the EU

We had dinner at a student bar/cafe: Kompressor. We had Smoked trout, Bacon and smoked cheese pancakes. They were good but had little filling, but were nonetheless filling. We also had Solanka which had a lot of canned of tuna (but wasn't bad). In all, we got what we paid for - we saw why this was a student place.

Ads for adult shit: "Joy for a sore eye are offered by beautiful dancing girls and full striptease... 100 % safety guaranteed... 100% secure"

YC asked a war veteran a question we'd been wanting to ask: who was worse, the Soviets or the Nazis? The vet related a tale of his neighbor: the father was conscripted by the Germans and the son was conscripted by the Soviets, so for the wife which occupier was better? This was one of those profound-sounding but in reality really meaningless and cock answers.

In Estonia there's no sale of alcohol from kiosks and convenience stores from 8pm-8am. Hah.

Carbonated water was cheaper than still, and flavoured water (lemon, some red berry) was the cheapest of all. Wth. I was put in the mind of Pompeii's Ass mounting a Lion: "The world outside down"

I've no idea what this is (the website is in Estonian or Russian). Maybe a USB-powered fridge and washing machine.

I saw this girl in the waiting area wearing a wreath. Intrigued, I asked her what it was about, and she said she went into the woods with her friend and her friend made it for her:

She kindly consented to let me take photos.

We took an overnight bus to Vilnius in Lithuania, where we had started our adventure. The driver didn't turn on the aircon for the upper level of the bus - luckily I told him, or we'd all have suffocated.


How come no one respects smokers' rights? [Me: The same reason why no one respects the rights of perverts to molest other people.]
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