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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Links - 27th April 2010

"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on." - Robert Frost


9 out of 10 UK expats say quality of life is better abroad - "'When it comes to living and working overseas the advantages come thick and fast. Working hours are far less intensive and expats say they manage to achieve a better work/life balance with much more leisure time. Professional expats can earn significantly more than their peers back home'... The countries with the lowest quality of life were those in the Far East and Middle East: China, Singapore, Hong Kong and the UAE. In each of these countries a majority of British workers said they intended to return home to retire"

Does Counting Sheep Really Help You Fall Asleep? - "Harvey and Payne found that subjects took longer than usual to fall asleep on the nights they were instructed to count sheep, or were not told to do anything. When the insomniacs were told to distract themselves with a relaxing scene like a quiet beach, a walk in the woods, a massage, etc., though, they fell asleep 20 minutes sooner, on average, than they did when sheep counting or doing nothing"

Totally Trivial: In the handset of the beholder - "54% of women quizzed by mobile phone retailer Phones4U said they would be more likely to date a man if he owns an iPhone... 37% of the U.K.'s seemingly shallowest 1,500 women also said owning an iPhone makes a man seem more reliable"

Powell's Books - Review-a-Day - The Adventures of Pinocchio (New York Review Books) by Carlo Collodi - "Very likely it was this irritation at writing in a genre he thought secondary that accounts for the story's extraordinary mood swings and unusually cavalier approach to such matters as narrative consistency. Ironically, these are the very qualities that give Pinocchio its extraordinary vitality... The celebrated and sugary Disney film adaptation (1940), by which most people outside Italy have come to know Pinocchio's story, announces itself as an example of how, if sincerely desired, even the greatest of wishes can come true: a reassuring message. Nothing could be further from the acid spirit of Collodi's "Story of a Puppet." The question with a puppet is: Who will manipulate him? When the puppet turns out to have a stubborn and stupid will of his own, that question becomes: Whom will he allow himself to be manipulated by?... Pinocchio does indeed capture a perplexing waywardness that one experiences every day in Italy... while Italy's best-known adult novel, The Betrothed, is Catholic and optimistic, its most-loved children's work dramatizes an irreverent and skeptical pessimism. Children perhaps have a thicker skin than their parents"

Blind men prefer a low waist-to-hip ratio - "Several explanations of [men liking a low waist:hip ratio] rely on the importance of visual input for the development of the preference, including explanations stressing the role of visual media. We report evidence showing that congenitally blind men, without previous visual experience, exhibit a preference for low female WHRs when assessing female body shapes through touch, as do their sighted counterparts. This finding shows that a preference for low WHR can develop in the complete absence of visual input and, hence, that such input is not necessary for the preference to develop. However, the strength of the preference was greater for the sighted than the blind men, suggesting that visual input might play a role in reinforcing the preference"

White robber fools police for weeks with elaborate African-American 'Hollywood' mask - "He wore an elaborate £450 silicon Hollywood special effects mask as part of an elaborate disguise."

The Effort Effect - "Some people achieve their potential while equally talented others don’t... The key, she found, isn’t ability; it’s whether you look at ability as something inherent that needs to be demonstrated or as something that can be developed... Students for whom performance is paramount want to look smart even if it means not learning a thing in the process. For them, each task is a challenge to their self-image, and each setback becomes a personal threat. So they pursue only activities at which they’re sure to shine—and avoid the sorts of experiences necessary to grow and flourish in any endeavor. Students with learning goals, on the other hand, take necessary risks and don’t worry about failure because each mistake becomes a chance to learn... Enron may have collapsed precisely because of the company’s talent-obsessed culture, not despite it. Dweck’s study showed that praising children for intelligence, rather than for effort, sapped their motivation. But more disturbingly, 40 percent of those whose intelligence was praised overstated their scores to peers"
This is not the same as "anyone can do anything with effort"; this also has interesting implications for corporate KPIs

Foreign Office apologises for Pope 'condom' memo - "Called "The ideal visit would see...", it said the Pope could be invited to open an abortion clinic and bless a gay marriage during September's visit. The Foreign Office stressed the paper, which resulted from a "brainstorm" on the visit, did not reflect its views."
This is hilarious

How Facebook is putting its users last - "It's almost become a joke: Facebook makes a change to its privacy settings that opts you in to a bunch of scary stuff, the entire Internet flips out about it, it rolls back the change, and then a few months or years later, it makes the same or a very similar update, opting you in to it again. It would be funny, if it weren't getting so damned insulting... it's pretty obvious that user desires are low on Facebook's priority list. What's high on its list is creating a massive data set that can be sliced, diced, and monetized until the cows come home... That's how you lose user trust, and losing user trust is how you lose users"

Police sought Google user info - "So far, police have asked for information on 62 Internet users, over a six-month period between July and December 2009... Police spokesman Tham Yee Lin would say only that information obtained during police investigations is confidential. Google spokesman Dickson Seow declined to elaborate on the specifics of Singapore's requests"

You Stuck My Flash Drive In Your Vagina [PIC] - "I am confused. I'd like to see you again. I'd like to see my flash drive again"

English Russia » A Different Angle of View on Lenin Monuments

YouTube - That Mitchell and Webb Look: Homeopathic A&E

YouTube - Ayaan Hirsi Ali on CNN: Religion, Violence & South Park - "Ayaan Hirsi Ali: "I grew up as a Moslem. And growing up as a Moslem, I learnt you don't criticise Allah, the Koran, or the Prophet Muhammad and you should, you know, participate in condemning, and eventually killing anybody who does. So that is just what the religion tells us. That's what scripture tells us. There are some people who want to act on it and there are some people who don't. The majority of Muslims do not want to act on the Scripture, but they are silent when fellow Muslims do... It is an assault on the Freedom of Expression, and we have to defend it tooth and nail. That means we all stand by Mr Stone and Mr Parker.
CNN's Anderson Cooper : Do you still live with guards, do you still have protection all around you?
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: I have protection but there comes a time when, if, not just Mr Parker and Mr Stone, but if the entertainment business were to take this on and just show how ridiculous this is, that there'll be too many people to threaten, and then I think at that time I won't need protection. And the gentlemen who made South Park will also not need protection, but it is something as a community and as a society we have to take them on. And that means, I think, scrutinising Islam, criticising it in the same way that we criticise Christianity, Judaism and other ideologies and other religions. Equal opportunity, scrutiny, equal opportunity offence."
Her solution is more sustainable than the Singaporean one, which wastes more and more police resources dealing with frivolous complaints: "These days, public complaints against religiously offensive websites and Net discussions are commonplace"

Now Australia Is Banning Small Boobs - "Why ban small boobs? I can only assume it stems from paranoia that flat chests somehow stir up the pedophiles. And you only need to mention that “p” word to start a full-scale moral panic in Parliament. Shall we put such hysteria aside and look at what this ruling is saying to Australian women? Basically, it’s classing a certain normal female body type as obscene. It’s declaring all flat chests to be automatically juvenile, something that should not be viewed by anyone because of a fear that it will stir up “base instincts” in certain people. Can the Classification Board be any more insulting or sexist?... Oh, and if you’re a guy who just happens to think small boobs are sexy? Look out, mate. You’re obviously a pervert."
Even more intriguingly: "To this day, any magazine showing any ‘genital detail’ must be sold in a sealed plastic bag. Like pornography. And I’m not talking about explicit legs akimbo shots, just shots of a normal girl standing up with her legs closed. She must look like Barbie or the airbrush will be deployed to make the censors happy and protect our sensitive eyes from OFFENSIVE VISIBLE LADY PARTS."

Individuals with Rare Disorder Have No Racial Biases - "Children with Williams syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that makes them lack normal social anxiety, have no racial biases. They do, however, traffic in gender stereotypes."
"the fact that the first truly color-blind population group is known for its naivety and lacks common sense suggests racial bias may be a hard habit for humanity to break."
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