When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bizarre Japanese vending machine (NSFW):

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(click on the thumbnail - it's an animated GIF)

Damnit! 100 Yen is really cheap!

(via We Fry Our Brains and Say It's So Much Fun)
"Voir mille objets pour la première et pour la dernière fois, quoi de plus mélancolique et de plus profond! Voyager, c'est naître et mourir à chaque instant"
Why Dumb Toys Make Kids Smarter - "Pokémon didn’t seem so much an addiction as good-natured absorption—genuine, intrinsically oriented self-direction. We also realized the cards were teaching him category systems and math... our son started reading the fine-print paragraphs on the cards. He got more reading time in through his love of Pokémon than he ever did at night, when we handed him books... the paragraphs on the cards were syntactically far more complicated than anything he read in books. Soon, the same brain transformation that drove his math speed was reproduced with his reading speed... When it comes to kids, we often bring moralistic bias to their interests. There’s a pervasive tendency in our society to label things as either good for children or bad for children. Cultivating children’s natural intrinsic motivation requires abandoning all judgment of good and bad content... The motivated brain, literally, operates better, signals faster. Kids learn better"

Breaking news: Judge acquits SDP leaders - "In a stunning decision, District Judge John Ng acquitted leaders of the Singapore Democrats who were charged with taking part in a procession on 16 Sep 07. Judge Ng said that the walk “did not cause inconvenience to the public, affect traffic flow or make noise which disturbed the public peace.”"
Let's see if Rajendran's fate befalls him!

YouTube - Master the Power of the Angles! - "Using 'the Angles' can transform literally anyone. Learn the tricks with our super-duper interactive YouTube How to Video. Fantastic!"
I can't decide which is my favourite.

Singapore - CSO/Admin (PRC Chinese Only) (Aljunied/$1.5k-$1.6k/5 days)
The fact that they're dumb enough to advertise the fact that Singaporeans are Second Class Citizens in Singapore (if you want to discriminate, you don't have to admit to it) means they even more richly deserve the opprobrium heaped on them.

Utilikilt: Skirt Styles Made For Real Men - "Utilikilt is the answer for men who like the freedom of traditional kilts, but just don't find that they're practical for everyday use. It takes a real man to wear a skirt, and these are fashion designs with them in mind!"

Chinese media tempted by fantasy of women-only Swedish town - "The town, supposedly founded in 1820 in the northern Swedish woods by a wealthy widow, boasts 25,000 residents and a medieval castle, according to the Chinese news agency Xinhua... many of the town’s female residents turn to homosexuality “because they could not suppress their sexual needs”, the Chinese news service Harbin News reports... He was fairly certain no “women-only” city existed in northern Sweden, adding that the story reminded him of a stunt carried out in the 1980s by Pajala, a northern Swedish town suffering from a different problem. “They arranged for bus loads of women to come up to this town because there weren't enough of them,” he explained. When asked what else might be drawing tourists to northern Sweden besides the chance to visit an isolated town filled with sexually frustrated females, Wilhelmsson had a theory of his own. “It’s hard to say for sure, but I think part of it might be increased interest following our designation as Europe’s Cultural Capital for 2014,” he said."

One gay man, two lesbians, a three-legged cat and a poisoned curry plot - "A gay man tried to poison his lesbian neighbours by putting slug pellets into their curry after he was accused of kidnapping their three-legged cat"

Adult Toys: Artificial Virginity Hymen - "No more worry about losing your virginity. With this product, you can have your first night back anytime. Insert this artificial hymen into your vagina carefully. It will expand a little and make you feel tight. When your lover penetrate, it will ooze out a liquid that look like blood not too much but just the right amount. Add in a few moans and groans, you will pass through undetectable. Its easy to use, clinically proven non-toxic to human and has no side effects, no pain to use and no allergic reaction... Made in Japan
This item will be shipped from China"
A fake hymen's cooler than bringing a chicken into the bridal chamber. And cheaper than a hymenoplasty

Iron Chariots Wiki - ""And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron." — Judges 1:19
Welcome to Iron Chariots, the counter-apologetics wiki. Iron Chariots is intended to provide information on apologetics and counter-apologetics. We'll be collecting common arguments and providing responses, information and resources to help counter the glut of misinformation and poor arguments which masquerade as "evidence" for religious claims."

Friday, October 09, 2009

"Anybody who watches three games of football in a row should be declared brain dead." - Erma Bombeck


Achieving Fame, Wealth And Beauty Are Psychological Dead Ends, Study Says

"Using in-depth psychological surveys, the researchers assessed participants in key areas, including satisfaction with life, self-esteem, anxiety, physical signs of stress, and the experience of positive and negative emotions.

Aspirations were identified as either "intrinsic" or "extrinsic" by asking participants how much they valued having "deep, enduring relationships" and helping "others improve their lives" (intrinsic goals) versus being "a wealthy person" and achieving "the look I've been after" (extrinsic goals)...

As with earlier research, the study confirmed that the more committed an individual is to a goal, the greater the likelihood of success. But unlike previous findings, this analysis showed that getting what one wants is not always salubrious. "There is a strong tradition in psychology that says if you value goals and attain them, wellness will follow," says Niemiec. "But these earlier studies did not consider the content of the goals."

What's "striking and paradoxical" about this research, he says, is that it shows that reaching materialistic and image-related milestones actually contributes to ill-being; despite their accomplishments, individuals experience more negative emotions like shame and anger and more physical symptoms of anxiety such as headaches, stomachaches, and loss of energy. By contrast, individuals who value personal growth, close relationships, community involvement, and physical health are more satisfied as they meet success in those areas. They experience a deeper sense of well-being, more positive feelings toward themselves, richer connections with others, and fewer physical signs of stress...

The authors suggest that time devoted to extrinsic pursuits, like working long hours, often crowds out opportunities for psychologically nourishing experiences, such as relaxing with friends and family or pursuing a personal passion. Craving money and adoration also can lead to a preoccupation with "keeping up with the Joneses"—upward social comparisons that breed feelings of inadequacy and jealousy. And unlike the lasting benefits of caring relationships and hard-earned skills, the thrill of extrinsic accomplishments fade quickly; all too soon, the salary raise is a distant memory and the rave review forgotten."
After less than a year:

"the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples...

Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama's initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population."

Translation of the rationale: Lots of talk across a period of less than a year.

High profile trips around the world and appointing lots of Special Envoys do not Peace create.

And Guantanamo Bay is still open.

I'm not sure this is better than giving it for tree-planting.

Of course, I'm just waiting for the people who think saying Obama does not deserve the Nobel Peace Prize is...

Wait for it -

"Somewhere on this globe, every ten seconds, there is a woman giving birth to a child. She must be found and stopped." - Sam Levenson


My oppression by the heavy arm of the State

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"This play area is for the enjoyment of children from 2 to 6 years of age only."

Today, I was once again oppressed by the heavy arm of the State.

I was at Changi Airport with someone, and while walking around looking for a place to eat, I noticed 6 teenage girls were sitting under the sign above, which was posted in the Terminal 3 Childrens' Play Area.

Obviously, these girls were not anywhere near 6 years old, so I took a picture of this curious juxtaposition to add to my curious pictures series.

A few minutes later, I was surrounded by these 6 girls, who were demanding that I delete the photo I had just taken.

After I explained the reason for my taking the photo, they asked if I was going to post it on STOMP. When I averred that I hated the site, they asked what I was going to put it on my blog, and asked what I was going to do with it.

Evidently, they hadn't been paying attention during Literature class, since one of them suggested that after I deleted the photo I could go back and take a picture of the sign - with no one sitting underneath it.

The minutiae of their complaints are unimportant, but suffice it to say that they were, to varying degrees, annoyed by my catching them in a moment of irony. Even my explanation that I had similar pictures, like the irony of one of my Esplanade Underpass shots, did not placate them.

Esplanade: "Please Do Not Sleep In The Underpass"

They still clamored for me to delete the picture, and one of them even threatened to call the police; evidently despite knowing about STOMP, they were under the impression that the pictures posted on it were criminal (maybe they think taking photos in the MRT station is illegal as well). They probably figured that as with most Singaporeans, the slightest hint of the heavy arm of the State would be sufficient to make me bow to their wishes. Yet, I was pissed off at not being allowed to do something perfectly legal (as well as losing a record of a great moment of irony - after all, reflecting upon such incidents is what keeps me warm during the long gloomy days of winter) and refused to accede to their request.

I suggested that we get a third opinion, so we went down to the auxiliary police for one. I wasn't really under the illusion that they would agree with me, but I wanted to confirm my suspicion that they would not be able to tell me why I couldn't do what I did, but instead just provide a generalised account of "you cannot do this".

As expected, I was told that you could not take pictures of people in public, especially of girls (i.e. vague hints of Outrage of Modesty). None of the 3 auxiliary police members who handled me could tell me specifically why I was doing something illegal, even though they threatened to call the police. This was despite my mentioning that as far as I knew, France was the only country in the world where you needed permission to take someone's photograph in public.

Even my protest that street photography would be impossible if you could not take photographs of people without notifying them went unheard. Perhaps I should have mentioned STOMP - after all, if taking photographs of people without their knowledge is an activity sanctioned by our Nation-Building Press, it cannot be illegal.

In the end, I decided not to keep my friend waiting any longer, or to risk having to wait for 1-2 hours for the police to come down (similarly, if you're acquitted after having spent a year in jail, you've still wasted a year in jail). But then, if even sending lewd SMSes to a woman gets you two weeks in jail for "insulting a woman's modesty", who knows? I am almost willing to go to court to hear arguments about why taking pictures of girls (or people) who are not in compromising positions is wrong.

[Ed: I just realised that the ridiculous law cited here was Section 509 of the Penal Code - which I thought was a remnant of even less enlightened times, like the law on Obscene Songs:

Word or gesture intended to insult the modesty of a woman
509. Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.
{Indian Penal Code 1860, s. 509}]

Yet, I was too quick to delete the photograph, so the auxiliary police officers spent some time looking through my bizarre snapshots. Naturally, they had comments about some other pictures of mine. For example:

"Look, Ma. No pants!" (despite this being taken in the walkway of a shopping centre)

More curiously, I was asked about the previous picture I had taken at Tanah Merah MRT station:

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"Do not step beyond the Yellow Line until train stops. Fine $500"

On seeing this picture, 2 of the auxiliary police officers asked me if I was Singaporean. Perhaps they couldn't conceive of a Singaporean who would be amused by the quotidian aspects of daily life, let alone document them.

(Ironically, this was something I had already noted - 4 years ago. My memory must be going)

Either that or they thought I was some terrorist who was plotting to disrupt Singapore's transport infrastructure by flinging himself onto the MRT tracks. Which is only slightly less plausible than blowing up a petrol station by recording violations of health and safety regulations.

Hell, I was even questioned about a picture I took with a colleague. Presumably everything with a female in it was suspect (perhaps I should save to my phone some pictures of me helping old ladies cross the street just to see what happens).

Despite oppressing me with the heavy arm of the law, the last auxiliary police officer was unable to cite the specific law my action broke. I told him I wanted to look it up, and he advised me to go to the neighborhood police post, where they would "tell you the A-Z"; this is something I will try, though I am uncertain if they will provide legal advice so readily.

For what it's worth, the girls did not even ask me for an apology, even upon being prompted, but they surely went away wondering why I half-called their bluff and wasted everyone's time.

Of course, the easiest course of action would've been to delete the picture straightaway (indeed, the girls and the officers pointed this out a few times).

But then, the easiest course of action is not always the one we should follow.

Whenever people threaten to kick up a big fuss and invoke the heavy arm of the State over the slightest matter (even over a non-issue), it infantalises the body politic that much more. Not to mention gives the police more to do - next to this, 999 prank calls are nothing.

This fear of being whacked by a big stick is why, in Singapore, the best way to stop a Christian evangelising to you is to say that you are a Muslim, since they fear even the gentlest word might get them hauled up for Sedition.

Now, while I dislike being evangelised to, I fully support the right of Christians to evangelise (as long as it doesn't become harassment). Similarly, a Wahhabist in Saudi Arabia should not force a Christian to remove a "Honk if you love Jesus" bumper sticker from his car, no matter how offended he might be by it, let alone wave (or cause to be waved) a sword, that instrument of justice which the House of Saud so prizes.

In any case, the allergy to being captured on film (even if digital) is puzzling. It results in absurd situations like shops in Chinatown displaying signs like "No camera allowed. Fine $50". You would think that Singaporeans were some exotic Papua New Guinean tribe that believed that taking a person's photograph captured their soul.

Annex 1: Possible offence

On reflection, I can think of two possible approaches that could have been taken to arrive at the conclusion that I had done something illegal - violating a right to privacy or outraging modesty.

The tack taken here was quite obviously the latter. As such, women who complain about being seen as sex objects should, in addition to blaming men, blame other women (and perhaps themselves) for claiming that a picture taken in public with no erotic appeal (yes, some people might be turned on by pictures of girls sitting under a sign, but some people are turned on by shoes too, and we don't consider them sex toys) can somehow outrage their modesty.

As for privacy, there is no right to privacy in Singapore (besides having told this, none of the hits for "privacy" in the Statutes deal with the violation of privacy per se).

As such, the very most you can say about my photo-taking is that it was not very nice, putting it on a similar level with choping seats with tissue paper and not holding the door for people, thus letting it slam into them.

And then, maybe not even that. After all, people who take pictures of Kiasu or Ugly Singaporeans are not generally condemned - the same could be said of catching people misusing a facility meant for kids.

Annex 2: On the legality of taking photographs of people in Singapore

A Legal Opinion Musing: on the assumption that this is a one-off occurence which does not constitute to stalking, the individual being photographed is not an artiste, only singapore laws apply and the scene of the crime does not prohibit phototaking, it would not be illegal to take photos of people in public

if u werent photographing for erhm... immoral purposes\, i guess it is ok

but in the laws of some countries, you are not allowed to photograph them without permission
which is why i quantified that only sg laws apply

if u took photographs and posted it online with defamatory remarks, pls note it's another ball-game all together

but if the area prohibits photographing... then it is another matter

if it is a pte property, the owner has the right to limit photographing
[besides forcing you to leave the premises] he can ask u [to delete the photos] too. but if the photographs are "impt" to him, it is possible that he can bring an injunction against u to prevent u frm using the photos

Thursday, October 08, 2009

"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand." - Lewis Thomas


Why everything you thought you knew about being a good parent is WRONG

"'Nurtureshock' is an explosive new book which has already sparked a fierce debate in America by challenging many of our most basic assumptions about children and parenting.

At its heart is one of the most fundamental questions of our time: why, after decades of caring, progressive parenting and education, do we have so many social problems with children and teenagers from all backgrounds?...

The touchy-feely brand of modern parenting, where parents are too weak to criticise and discipline, will actually damage our children in the long term.

One of the biggest failures of modern parenting, say the authors, has been our belief in the importance of instilling high self-esteem at all costs. We praise our children constantly and indiscriminately. A simple drawing is 'brilliant'; getting a few ticks on their homework earns a delighted 'you're so clever'...

At sports days, no one is allowed to come first, so other children will be protected from feeling like a failure.

The theory is that this will build confidence and self-esteem in all the children - attributes which have been linked to happier, more successful lives and relationships in later life.

But new research from Dr Carol Dweck at Colombia University, who studied groups of children over ten years, indicates that the opposite is true. It suggests we are producing a generation of brats and 'praise junkies' who can't cope with the inevitable set-backs and failures of everyday life.

For example, if we tell a child frequently how clever they are, we may think we are being supportive and encouraging, when what we're really doing is giving them impossibly high expectations to live up to...

There is no evidence, say the authors, to show that high self-esteem has any effect on improving academic performance, or reducing anti-social behaviour.

In fact, over-praised children become more unpleasant to others and make poorer team players. Their prime goal becomes a kind of image maintenance, and they will do whatever they can - including criticising and dismissing others - to make themselves look good...

While 'co-parenting' has some benefits, it also leads to more arguments over parenting decisions, and to more conflict in the marriage.

Progressive fathers rate their marriages as less happy, and rate their families as not functioning as well as those with traditional fathers where gender roles are more defined, and where the father is the main earner/protector and the mother the main nurturer...

While some bullies are just thugs, most bullying is done by children who are popular and successful.

Most of what we call bullying behaviour - meanness, aggression, exclusion from groups or activities - is, in fact, the normal struggle for acceptance, popularity and 'social dominance'.

The children who best succeed are those who can call on a wide range of whatever-it-takes social skills and manipulation"

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

On procéde à le dénouement.

Je me souhaite, 'bonne chance'.

Je percuterai en feu!

Monday, October 05, 2009

"The human race is faced with a cruel choice: work or daytime television." - Unknown


First principles of justice: Rights and wrongs

"Mr Sandel illustrates the old classroom chestnut—is it ever right to kill one innocent person to save the lives of several others?—with a horrifying dilemma from Afghanistan in 2005. A four-man American unit on reconnaissance behind lines stumbled on a shepherd likely, if let go, to betray them to the Taliban. They could not hold him prisoner. Nor, on moral grounds, would the serviceman in charge kill him. Released, the shepherd alerted the Taliban, who surrounded the unit. Three were killed along with 16 Americans in a rescue helicopter. The soldier in command, who lived, called his decision “stupid, lamebrained and southern-fried”. Which was right, his earlier refusal or his later regret?...

He returns also to an old charge against the late John Rawls. In “Liberalism and the Limits of Justice” (1982) Mr Sandel argued that Rawls’s celebrated account of social justice downplayed the moral weight of family feeling, group loyalties and community attachments. He repeats those “communitarian” charges here."
Progressives conflate and confuse Scholarship and Activism.

Just as marriage of Church and State soils both, so too does combining Scholarship and Activism intimately prejudice both.

The ideals in Scholarship are Objectivity and Reason, yet when you bring Activism into the mix you get emotional and your thinking gets skewed.

Meanwhile, Activism is supposed to be relevant to the improvement of people's lives, but when you bring in Scholarship you risk barreling down obscure paths chasing academic conceits.

What results, in the end, is a confused conglomeration which is compromised in its pursuit of both causes - advancing human knowledge and improving people's lives.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

"There comes a time in every man's life and I've had many of them." - Casey Stengel


[Ed: While posting this, I got the error: "A post may have at most 10 labels" - so I have held some of the observations over for the next time]

Money illusion: thinking more money necessarily buys you more real goods
Goods illusion: thinking more possessions necessarily makes you more happy
Data illusion: thinking more data necessarily enlightens you more

I was told that someone espied, in a double hall room with double beds, 2 PRC couples going at it (on either bed - not at the same time)

When people get older, they usually wish they had been more adventurous. They rarely wish they had been more strait-laced.

In a girl, it's called "self-esteem" and is something you cannot injure.
In a guy it's called "ego" and deserves to be punctured.

Men wouldn't treat women as conquests if women didn't present themselves as entities to be conquered

I am very amused that in RGS, the girls are/were reminded not to hug one another - because of H1N1.

A most unfortunate Twitter handle for a girl: @SaggyTAN.

No, this is not my overactive imagination talking again:

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(Un)fortunately her user picture doesn't allow us to see if she really is Saggy.

Maybe she's a Sagittarius.

Then again, someone tells me he knew another girl called Saggy.

Citizenship classes in Singapore should teach - 'Singapore is hot and humid. Please bathe everyday'. Maybe they can sponsor this with the $10 million integration fund.

Judicial independence, vote secrecy, the anonymity of IVLE anonymous feedback and the like - even if they really do exist, it's telling that people think they don't. Either way it's sad for the institutions concerned.

No taxi driver's son, no matter how talented, will qualify for a PSC scholarship if he doesn't have a guarantor. Hurrah meritocracy!

Local journalism is about repackaging ministerial press releases. Because investigative and critical journalism are not nation-building.

The NDP cheerleaders were damn ugly. No wonder so many people are migrating.

[On The Cove] "If dolphins are so intelligent, why do they keep getting caught in tuna nets, or keep returning to Taiji every year?"

RT @samho_ outstanding. expressions in the army, 'lanjiao' is used to articulate your disagreement, while 'cheebye' is used to express you disgust

Most motivational shit is nice-sounding nonsense you want to agree with, but actually means nothing, or is false.

For example: RT @tinkertailor:
"What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger." Right. How about HIV?
"An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought." - Simon Cameron


Straits Times deleted Ris Low’s photo, but “sg-stupid.jpg” remains - "One cannot help but suspect if the journalists who took the trouble to dig out Miss Low’s past conviction and blowing it up in the media have a personal vendetta against her... This is the kind of gutter journalism we have in Singapore when the media industry is completely dominated by one single player under the control of the ruling party without any other competitors... Singaporeans should lobby for a change in the Newspaper and Printing Preses Law, break up SPH into various companies and liberalize the media industry in the future."
I love Temasek Review logic. ST calls Ris Low photo sg-stupid.jpg, therefore the law should be changed and SPH broken up. This is even better than the Shitty Times!

Cougar Cruise: Older Women Seek Younger Men - ""When people go on a cruise, all of their inhibitions go overboard. If you want to meet somebody of the opposite sex, this is the best way to do it," said Rich Gosse, chairman of the Society of Single Professionals, which came up with the trip idea along with the Singles Travel Co... "These cougar women tend to look younger and feel younger and have higher energy than most women their own age," he added. "They just can't date men their own age. The men can't keep up with them. The men they date that are their own age: all they want to do is sit on a sofa and watch TV."... For the first voyage, there aren't enough cougars and younger men -- called "cubs" -- to fill an entire cruise ship, so the cougar cruisers will set sail with other vacationers on a regular Carnival cruise out of the Los Angeles are on Dec. 4"
Do the cubs get discounted tickets?

It's true: all the taken men are best - "A new study provides evidence for what many have long suspected: that single women are much keener on pursuing a man who's already taken than a singleton... The most striking result was in the responses of single women. Offered a single man, 59 per cent were interested in pursuing a relationship. But when he was attached, 90 per cent said they were up for the chase. Men were keenest on pursuing new mates, but weren't bothered whether their target was already attached or not. Attached women showed least interest and were slightly more drawn to single men... Burkley and Parker speculate that single women may be more drawn to attached men because they've already been "pre-screened" by other women and found to be satisfactory as a mate, whereas single men are more of an unknown quantity"
FuturePundit: "I think there's a potential business here for a specialized escort service where women sell time with them in public places to guys who want to advertise their desirability"

Why women are changing their minds about men - "They found that as a woman's level of "resource control" increases - in other words as they become more financially independent - so does their preference for physical attractiveness in potential partners"
Preferences are context dependent. But dependent on framing, it might very well show that rich women go for even richer men.

YouTube - Moomedia Wedding Narrative - 10years in 6mins - "I like this piece because it is such a sweet story. Though adapted, a lot of elements were taken from their true life account. We had heaps of fun shooting it. This is Moomedia's first official MV shot almost entirely on the 5DmkII."
This is a nice wedding video.

cabel.name: Kashiwa Mystery Cafe - "At this cafe, you get what the person before you ordered. The next person gets what you ordered. Welcome to the Ogori cafe!... The Ogori cafe was an unforgettable travel moment, and an idea that has stuck with me: It was a complete surprise in our day. It encouraged communication between total strangers or, in this case, members of the Kashiwa community and a couple of weird guys from Oregon. It forced one to "let go", just for a brief moment, of the total control we're so used to exerting through commerce. It led you to taste something new, that you might not normally have ordered. It was a delight. Then, according to Noby, as quickly as it appeared, the Ogori cafe was gone."

unattended children will be shot. - "this hamfisted attempt at wit remains the scourge of retail establishments the world over."

YouTube - Chimpanzee doing sit-up
Damn Japs

THE LAST DAYS OF THE POLYMATH - "“Nowadays people that are called polymaths are dabblers—are dabblers in many different areas,” he says. “I aspire to be an intellectual polygamist... in the ideal polygamy I suspect there’s no number one wife and no number six wife. You have a deep connection with each person.”... Over the past 200 years the nature of intellectual endeavour has changed profoundly. The polymaths of old were one-brain universities. These days you count as a polymath if you excel at one thing and go on to write a decent book about another... Back in the early 19th century you could grasp a field with a little reading and a ready wit. But the distinction between the dabbling and doing is more demanding these days, because breaking new ground is so much harder... So many scientists are publishing research in each specialism that merely to keep up with the reading is a full-time job... “Even in relatively soft fields, specialists tend to develop a specialised vocabulary which creates barriers to entry,” Posner says with his economic hat pulled down over his head. “Specialists want to fend off the generalists. They may also want to convince themselves that what they are doing is really very difficult and challenging. One of the ways they do that is to develop what they regard a rigorous methodology—often mathematical... Depth is for monomaths—which is why experts so often seem to miss what really matters"

YouTube - How to welcome your mother in law

Dwarves found 'theme park' commune to escape bullying - "Everyone in the mountain commune in Kunming, southern China, must be under 4ft 3 ins tall and they run their own police force and fire brigade from their 120 residents. Now the group has turned itself into a tourist attraction by building mushroom houses and living and dressing like fairy tale characters"

JK Rowling lost out on Presidential Award because George Bush believed Harry Potter encouraged witchcraft
More spam FAIL:

From: Dongli Zhang (some Bryn Mawr College email account)
Reply-To: ELIZABETHETTERS (some Hotmail UK account)

Message: I am Mrs Elizabeth Etters, a devoted Christian. I have a foundation/Estateuncompleted {valued at USD 2,142,728.00 Dollars} and need you to help me finish it because of my health, Everything is available. Please contact me for more details. Private contact email: XXX. thank you.

Besides not even taking the effort to come up with a marginally plausible story, the idiot was dumb enough to send his spam from his college account (it's in the headers!) so I'm going to report him to his administrator, hoho.
"He played the king as if afraid someone else would play the ace." - John Mason Brown


The Dead Sea Scroll and the Ancient World (Part 2)
Part 1

"Special Blessing Draw Box"
Mixing God and Mammon. Tsk.

In the third chamber, another talk was beginning, and this was the best of the lot.

The Boo Boo Man. Who had no Ph.D (I didn't manage to glimpse or snap his nametag).

The Boo Boo Man was very proud of the exhibition having a page of the Gutenberg Bible, and claimed that no less than Bill Gates had offered $100 million for a copy - but no one was willing to share it with him. This is nonsense, since sources indicate that he does have one in his possession (and estimate he paid *only* $23 million for it).

Boo Boo Man then claimed that before the invention of movable type by Gutenberg, it had taken 6 months to inscribe the Bible. This was misleading, as Gutenberg did not invent *Printing* - wood block printing had already been around for more than a millennium.

Then came the best howler of all - he claimed that Elizabeth I of England had beheaded "her sister" "Bloody Mary" to take the throne. I hope he gets his Ph.D soon! But besides avoiding Biology he should also steer clear of History...

The first Bible printed in Spanish (1569), by Cassiodoro de Reina. It's also called the Bear Bible because its cover shows a bear reaching into a tree for honey.

Polyglot Bible, 1599, in Syriac, Greek, Latin, Hebrew, German, Italian, Spanish, Polish, English and Danish.

Miniature Bible chained to the pulpit, 1890.

Their Gutenberg Bible page, c. 1455.

Bible in Algonquin Indian

The best part of this panel is the claim that the Codex Alexandrinus was "transferred to Constantinople in 1621 and finally to the British Museum in 1627". Given that there was no such city in 1621 and no such museum in 1627, it makes you wonder if the person who wrote this was high on smoking Dead Sea Scroll fragments (Hans Sloane's collection formed the core of the Museum in 1758, but in 1627 he hadn't even been born yet).

This panel claims that the Codex Sinaiticus used to contain the whole Bible, and that it is a "complete Bible". In the sense that all the books were represented, this is true, yet this is a mischievous and misleading claim since the exhibition's agenda is to convince people that the Bible arrived by fax from Heaven.

Aside: there's a fascinating relationship between the Codex Sinaiticus and the rubbish bin.

More pottery

The gifts section was hilarious:

"How We Got the Bible
*Quote from 2 Timothy 3:16-17 on the Bible being perfect*"

Someone was flipping through it, and I read "The Bible is inspired by God" (I didn't take pictures as it was not polite). This would be a good exhibit for a lesson on logical fallacies.

A book by Craig Lampe, the father of the curator (who wrote the foreword for his father?!), with pages from the 1560 Geneva Bible and 1611 KJV.

The Roman coins had sold out already, but there were still Jewish coins.

I then went back to looking at the exhibition.

1649 Hybrid Bible - KJV with the Geneva notes

1560 Geneva Bible. Feel the waves of adulation.

The Pigrim's Progress. They didn't mention it here, but it's a religious allegory so no, it's not really a secular item.

Martin Luther's Sermons on The Letters of Peter and Jude, 1581

The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms, Isaac Newton. 1728.

"It is often claimed that William Shakespeare's phraseology influenced the making of the King James Bible. This is actually quite erroneous, for it was Tyndale who influenced Shakespeare. Scholars have counted over 5,000 instances in which William Shakespeare used the language of William Tyndale!"

I found some sources which claim Shakespeare based his language on Tyndale, but they were all evangelical Christian ones. The others talked about the latter having an influence on the former (many didn't even mention this, though that is unfair).

Greek NT, 1550

Counter-Reformation Bible, 1556

1519 Erasmus Bible

I overheard a conversation between one curator and someone - on usual weekdays they got 800 people, but the day I went there were 1,200.

There was also an activity room, where visitors (mainly kids) could do various things. Tellingly, virtually the activities had nothing to do with the Dead Sea Scrolls, even peripherally:

"Print Your Own Bible Lead Here!" (notice it's not "Print Your Own Dead Sea Scroll Here!")

Buy extracts from the KJV

Printing John 3:16 (not in the Dead Sea Scrolls) in Greek

Printing 1 John 4:8 (not in the Dead Sea Scrolls) in Greek

13th Century Bible

I was toying with telling them, at the end of the exhibition, that I was impressed by the Bible's integrity over the centuries, and the faith of all the people involved in preserving these religious texts, and that I wanted to know more about Christ. That would've been like a Wet Dream for them, but then Onanism is a Sin, so I decided not to lead them down the Path to Destruction.

"Free Will Gift For Guides. $2.00"
I think they meant "GOOD Will Gift"

Dead Sea product placement outside the exhibition rooms

Surprisingly, I didn't see anyone using their Camera Flashes during the exhibition - the crowd was remarkably well-behaved.
"The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Connor


This is priceless (perhaps more proof that modern liberalism kills your sense of irony and self-awareness):

Derailing for Dummies
Making Discrimination Easier!

"A simple, step-by-step guide to derailing awkward conversations by dismissing and trivialising your opposition's perspective and experience. Just some of the many issues you can apply it to:

*sexism* *whorephobia* *racism* *transphobia* *classism* *homophobia* *ableism* *kinkphobia* *fatphobia*

guaranteed, you can use it to marginalise anyone!...

You’re having a good time, sharing your knowledge about these people and their issues. This knowledge is incontrovertible - it’s been backed up in media representation, books, research and lots and lots of historical events, also your own unassailable sense of being right...

Apparently, they claim, you’ve got it all wrong and they’re offended about that...

By simply derailing the conversation, dismissing their opinion as false and ridiculing their experience you can be sure that they continue to be marginalised and unheard and you can continue to look like the expert you know you really are, deep down inside!


Just follow this step-by-step guide to Conversing with Marginalised People™ and in no time at all you will have a fool-proof method of derailing every challenging conversation you may get into, thus reaping the full benefits of every privilege that
you have.

The best part is, you don't even have to be a white, heterosexual, cisgendered, cissexual, upper-class male to enjoy the full benefits of derailing conversation! Nope, you can utilise the lesser-recognised tactic of Horizontal Hostility to
make sure that, despite being a member of a Marginalised Group™ yourself, you can exercise a privilege another Marginalised Group™ doesn't have in order not to heed their experience!...

If You Won't Educate Me How Can I Learn
If You Cared About These Matters You'd Be Willing To Educate Me
You're Being Hostile
But That Happens To Me Too!
You're Being Overemotional
You're Just Oversensitive - NEW!
You Just Enjoy Being Offended - NEW!
Don't You Have More Important Issues To Think About - NEW!
You're Taking Things Too Personally
You’re Not Being Intellectual Enough/You’re Being Overly Intellectual
You're Interrogating From The Wrong Perspective - NEW!
You're Arguing With Opinions Not Fact
Your Experience Is Not Representative Of Everyone
Unless You Can Prove Your Experience Is Widespread I Won't Believe It
I Don't Think You're As Marginalised As You Claim
Aren't You Treating Each Other Worse Anyway - NEW!
But You're Different To The Others - NEW!
Well I Know Another Person From Your Group Who Disagrees!
A In B Situation Is Not Equivalent To X In Y Situation
Who Wins Gold in the Oppression Olympics?
You Have A False Consciousness
You're Not Being A Team Player
You've Lost Your Temper So I Don't Have To Listen To You Anymore
You Are Damaging Your Cause By Being Angry
You're As Bad As They Are - NEW!
Surprise! I Was Playing “Devil’s Advocate” All Along!...

But That Happens To Me Too!
The Marginalised Person™ you’re dealing with has been subjected to this “othering”.

This means that their body is viewed as public property and the personal, intricate details of their lives and being are perceived as free information...

For example, people of African descent often express outrage and irritation at the fact many white people believe they can freely touch their hair. This invasion of their personal space is dressed up as flattery - “oh, what beautiful hair you have!” and permission is not sought or granted before the action is taken. “That happens to everyone!” you must exclaim. “My child has beautiful white-blonde hair and people are always touching it!”...

What this demonstrates is your total lack of understanding of what “othering” means in a practical sense. You’re ignoring the way your life is otherwise entirely immersed in a state of absolute privilege and revealing the fact you fail to comprehend the process of objectification and marginalising they go through all the time. When you are Privileged®, “similar” experiences simply do not happen on an equal footing because they do not otherwise reflect marginalisation. This obliviousness is highly insensitive and trivialising and will definitely cause them to grind their teeth!...

You're Being Overemotional
After all, proper “intellectual” discussions always involve detachment and rationality. What is “rationality”? It’s a way of approaching emotional matters devoid of sentiment, particularly prized by Privileged People® as it enables a continuing inequity of power that favours them: after all, if they aren’t emotionally attached to the topic by way of Lived Experience©, it is easier for them to be “rational”...

You're Arguing With Opinions Not Fact
If you really want to excel as a Privileged Person® you need to learn to value data, statistics, research studies and empirical evidence above all things, but especially above Lived Experience©.
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