When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Links - 6th March 2010

"We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others that in the end we become disguised to ourselves." - Francois de La Rochefoucauld


On Facebook, You're Really You - "Conventional wisdom tells us that social networking sites, blogs and other social media outlets have allowed people to carefully craft online "personas" - essentially idealized versions of who they are in real life. Are you wittier online? More outgoing? More social? Friendlier? For those hiding behind the keyboard and computer screen, personality traits like these are easier to fake. Or are they? According to a recent research study, maybe not. Psychologists found that "faking it" online is tougher than previously imagined. In fact, the results of the study show that people are much more likely to reveal their true personalities online and not the idealized image of who they want to be."

How Vacations Affect Your Happiness - "The largest boost in happiness comes from the simple act of planning a vacation... After the vacation, happiness quickly dropped back to baseline levels for most people. How much stress or relaxation a traveler experienced on the trip appeared to influence post-vacation happiness... One reason vacations don’t boost happiness after the trip may have to do with the stress of returning to work"

Turkey: Archeological Dig Reshaping Human History - "Schmidt's thesis is simple and bold: it was the urge to worship that brought mankind together in the very first urban conglomerations. The need to build and maintain this temple, he says, drove the builders to seek stable food sources, like grains and animals that could be domesticated, and then to settle down to guard their new way of life. The temple begat the city. This theory reverses a standard chronology of human origins... As far back as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, thinkers have argued that the social compact of cities came first, and only then the "high" religions with their great temples, a paradigm still taught in American high schools."

Hot Dogs in Hot Water With Pediatricians - "The American Academy of Pediatrics says they're interested in designing a choke-proof hot-dog that won't be a hazard to children... the AAP also cites foods like hard candy, peanuts, whole grapes, popcorn, chunks of peanut butter and even toys and coins in its report"

Lady Gaga's outrageous Brit Awards outfit inspires desperate farmer's scarecrow - "We put her up last week and she's had a remarkable effect. The birds must be terrified of her because they have stayed away"

Jail for photographing police? - "New laws are introduced that allow for the arrest - and imprisonment - of anyone who takes pictures of officers 'likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism'... In December, freelance press photographer Jess Hurd was detained for more than 45 minutes after she was stopped while covering the wedding of a couple married in Docklands... Last week, Icelandic police fired pepper spray on photojournalists as they were covering protests in front of the country's parliament building"

Why a DNA database is a very bad idea - "Querying DNA from a crime scene against a database ensures that some small fraction of the time there will be a false positive, and an innocent person will be arrested, possibly tried, and possibly convicted, especially with cold cases where DNA is the only remaining evidence"

The Age of Aidans - "Parents were always more conservative in naming boys, and less likely to view their name choice as a style statement... androgynous names are a one-way street: parents like boyish names for girls, not girlish names for boys"

Hillary Duff Teaches All Girls How To Handle Getting Engaged - "You cry. You text a picture of the ring to your friends to rub it in and then you suck a dick and you suck a dick fast. Take notes ladies. This is how it’s done"

OBAMA GAG ORDER ON FEDERAL WORKERS LIKE THOSE UNDER BUSH - "U.S. Forest Service staff are under new orders not to speak to news reporters about politically sensitive issues, according to a directive released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). This gag order resembles those issued by the Bush administration, belying vows by the Obama administration of government transparency"
Change we can believe in

Road rage: Ambulance driver attacked for blocking road - "The older man asked me, "What the ****, you think it's your father's road?... I might look fierce, but I'm soft-spoken and approachable. If I weren't that way, I wouldn't be a nurse... In foreign countries, people immediately give way to ambulances. But in Singapore, people think they own the road"

Long hours link to dementia risk - "This should say to employers that insisting people work long hours is actually not good for your business, and that there is a business case for making sure people have a good work-life balance"

Brit girls' boobs are the biggest - "Only in this country did more than half the women need a D cup or larger... Denmark second on 50 per cent, then Holland with 36 per cent. Smallest were the Italians where 68 per cent had a size B."

Rare Buddhist flower found under nun's washing machine - "The rare Youtan Poluo or Udumbara flower, which, according to Buddhist legend, only blooms every 3,000 years, measures just 1mm in diametre"

The Straight Dope: What's up with compostable plastics? - "Probably the most common compostable plastic is polylactic acid, or PLA... Used in everything from drink cups and water bottles to deli trays, PLA is advertised as compostable. However, breaking it down requires a special industrial facility that exposes the plastic to 140-degree-Fahrenheit heat for at least ten days... The big push these days is on figuring out ways to sequester carbon so it doesn't enter the atmosphere as CO2, one of the major greenhouse gases. What better way to do that than grow corn, which sucks CO2 out of the atmosphere, then use the corn to make plastic, which can be buried underground after use?"

Pupils aged five on hate register: Teachers must log playground taunts for Government database - "Teachers are to be told that even if a primary school child uses homophobic or racist words without knowing their meaning, simply teaching them such words are hurtful and inappropriate is not enough. Instead the incident has to be recorded and his or her behaviour monitored for future signs of 'hate' bullying... One report last year by the Manifesto Club civil liberties think-tank said that 40,000 children each year are having racist charges added to their school records... Rules for heads say that using language such as 'gay' - which has had near-universal usage among British schoolchildren in recent years to denote something as inferior - counts as homophobic bullying, even if pupils do not have any homophobic intention in mind when using the word"
One comment: "Your country is beyond parody, I am so glad my parents had the good sense to leave."

Heartland Bunnies - HDB Flowchart - "So which estate do I pick? -> Aunties with grocery trollies turn me on -> Toa Payoh"

Friday, March 05, 2010

"It is a good morning exercise for a research scientist to discard a pet hypothesis every day before breakfast. It keeps him young." - Konrad Lorenz


"these are what scientists really think about and discuss when planning experiements. These things were not taught to me as an undergrad, in texts, or anywhere else until i did actual lab work :

- do we have enough funding? where can we get funding? can we make the experiment cheaper?
- what's the impact factor if this expt is successful?
- is this in line with the institute (read: senior mgt)'s directions? will we get sustained support?
- how long does it take to do these experiments? whats the risk of failure? Can i graduate on time or get my contract renewed?
- which other lab is working on this? are they so far ahead we can't beat them even if we worked 24/7?
- can i get enough free labor (read: grad students) to work on this?
- will i have to work with that arsehole technician if i want to run this experiment?
- can i photoshop this to increase the contrast and make that band look more convincingly real?
- can i change my false discovery rate algorithm so that the difference between my control and experimental samples are more significant ?


and when us grad students see a newly published paper, we look at that picture and have a good laugh about how many hours of photoshopping they must have done, and how many bad gels they threw away before selecting that one."

Thursday, March 04, 2010

"For three days after death hair and fingernails continue to grow but phone calls taper off." - Johnny Carson


Someone suggested that August was the month with the most birthdays. I thought that this would be because people are bored during the festive season.

Here is some data supporting this observation:
Birthday Trends and Stats (Hallmark)

"August Is The Top Month For Birthdays; Third Quarter Boasts Most Births"

Data Sample from Meredith College:

(This corrects for month lengths; you'd expect a month with 31 days to have more birthdays than a month with 28, ceteris paribus)

The month with the disproportionately highest number of birthdays is September, followed by August and then July.

The months with the disproportionately lowest number of birthdays are October, then January.

The former supports my "friskiness during the festive season" theory (right after the festive season, you go back to work and have no time to fool around). The trough in January is perhaps because people want to go out when Spring comes.
"Never answer a critic, unless he's right." - Bernard M. Baruch


Rules from the NEA on scattering someone's ashes at sea in Singapore:

"Ashes may also be scattered at sea. The scattering of small amounts of ashes can be carried out at the designated site located about 1.5 nautical miles (2.8 km) south of Pulau Semakau. The scattering of ashes can be conducted daily, from 0700 hrs-1900 hours. For further information on scattering of ashes, please call the Port Marine Safety Control Centre at telephone number: 6325 2488."

Great, who wants to go so far out?!

Pulau Semakau in relation to mainland Singapore and Sentosa.
"Fortune can, for her pleasure, fools advance,
And toss them on the wheels of Chance." - Juvenal



"Your entry contains the word "ho", which others may find offensive. Please remove the word(s) before submitting your entry"

This was an error message when someone surnamed "Ho" tried to signup for an account on MFA eRegister and use his surname in his Display Name.

Comment from the person: "Disappointed. I’ll have to give myself a different last name… most people associate it with HO HO HO Merry Christmas… L"

I have just tried to replicate this bug and can confirm that it still exists.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

"The computing field is always in need of new cliches." - Alan Perlis


Amusing SDU SDN events:

1) Philosophy Night

Description: "Stimulate your mind while you explore and discuss a selected topic with other intellectual singles. A philosopher will facilitate and provide guidance in the lively discourse. This event is for singles who like to engage in thinking and expressing their thoughts and ideas."

This was supposed to be on 12th February, but it got cancelled. Probably because Singaporeans (or at least SDN members) aren't intellectual enough. Or maybe because it cost $88 (do philosophers cost that much to hire?!)

2) Economics of Dating

Description 1 (as of 23rd February): "Enjoy an interactive afternoon with other singles! Find out answers to your pondering questions using economic principles and decode the language of love. Price includes signature drink, desserts and light refreshments."

Description 2 (as of today): "Find out answers to your pondering questions using economic principles and decode the language of love. We'll have a Guest Speaker - a Phd in Economics from Harvard University. Price includes signature drink, desserts and light refreshments."

This still seems to be on for 13th March. Possibly because it costs only $48 - economists are cheaper to hire than philosophers (consider too that presumably refreshments weren't included for the first event).

I still say you get better value with my Unemployment Theory of Relationships.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

"Any fool can carry on, but only the wise man knows how to shorten sail" - Joseph Conrad


I know that my various antics amuse people, but this is the first time I have (apparently) saved a life:

"you literally saved my life. i have been searching for a way to look more real and natural. Breast forms sticking out a shirt just really dont look natural so thank you now i can continue transition without ending my life"

(comment on my How a guy (or very flat girl) can get decent cleavage with a few nu bras and a pushup bra YouTube video)

In other news, I think the majority of my YouTube subscribers became cross-dressers a while back.
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