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Saturday, January 08, 2011

Links - 8th January 2011

"A timid person is frightened before a danger, a coward during the time, and a courageous person afterward." - Jean Paul Richter


'Project Censored' lists top stories that go unreported - "The general inclination is “progressive” (i.e., leftist)... it has been criticized for some of its choices – including conspiracy theories about the September 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington (over which two Project Censored judges resigned in protest)"
NewSpeak is practised by everyone - not just the "Right"

Recruiting by U.S. universities of Chinese undergrads is hottest new education trend - "Vanderbilt University admissions dean Douglas Christiansen said a homogeneous international population doesn't increase campus diversity. "Do you want to build pipelines throughout the world," he asked, "or do you want to build pipelines to just one country?""
Meanwhile, in Singapore...

10 useful things to do with an old laptop - "Almost all laptops have both a wired and wireless network card, making an old one ideal to act as a bridge between a wired hub and your wireless network. Windows XP has the ability to act as a bridge built in"

ChickenPing - Your recipe book for Windows and Windows Mobile - "ChickenPing is a recipe organizer which lets you create, download, rate and share recipes. It offers: Find something to cook using "What's in the Fridge",USDA Nutritional analysis for 7000+ foods, High contrast mode with text-to-speech for when you're in the kitchen., Plan Meals"

Out of Context Science - "In which science articles are badly quoted in ways that are interesting but otherwise completely meaningless"
"She recruited 40 volunteers and showed them an unpleasant 12-minute film including graphic scenes of human surgery... Thirty minutes later, half of the group played Tetris for ten minutes"

God thinks the same as me - "People often set their moral compasses according to what they presume to be God's standards. "The central feature of a compass, however, is that it points north no matter what direction a person is facing," they conclude. "This research suggests that, unlike an actual compass, inferences about God's beliefs may instead point people further in whatever direction they are already facing""
In other words, people project their beliefs onto their gods, so their god agreed with them/their gods agreed with them

Six ads that changed the way you think - "Sadly, the three actors who played the Marlboro Man died of lung cancer. One sued Phillip Morris and the cigarettes became known colloquially as "cowboy killers""

Growth, innovation, scaling, and the pace of life in cities - "Many diverse properties of cities from patent production and personal income to electrical cable length are shown to be power law functions of population size with scaling exponents... as population grows, major innovation cycles must be generated at a continually accelerating rate to sustain growth and avoid stagnation or collapse"
Another implication: "creating a more sustainable society will require our big cities to get even bigger. We need more megalopolises"

From the 2010 APA in Boston: Neuropsychology and ethics - "When it comes to moral judgment, Greene's research shows that our automatic setting is "Kantian," meaning that our intuitive responses are deontological, rule driven. The manual setting, on the other hand, tends to be more utilitarian / consequentialist. Accordingly, the first mode involves emotional areas of the brain, the second one involves more cognitive areas... psychopaths turn out to be more utilitarian than normal subjects - presumably not because consequentialism is inherently pathological, but because their emotional responses are stunted... neuroscience matters to ethics because it reveals the hidden mechanisms of human moral decision making... some philosophers engage in rationalizing, rather than reason, as in Kant's famously convoluted idea that masturbation is wrong because one is using oneself as a mean to an end"

S.Korea schools get robot English teachers - "The robots, which display an avatar face of a Caucasian woman, are controlled remotely by teachers of English in the Philippines -- who can see and hear the children via a remote control system. Cameras detect the Filipino teachers' facial expressions and instantly reflect them on the avatar's face... "Well-educated, experienced Filipino teachers are far cheaper than their counterparts elsewhere, including South Korea," he told AFP"
This is quite disturbing (the racial dopplegangers)

Women Laughing Alone With Salad

China: From Famine to Oslo by Perry Link - "The Chinese government is... widely viewed as an emerging superpower. Nevertheless it sends plainclothes police to accompany a seventy-four-year-old woman as she sets out to buy vegetables. Why?... government spending on a relatively new budget category called “stability maintenance” (weiwen) has risen to 514 billion yuan annually, which is more than the government spends on health, education, or social welfare programs, and is second only to the 532 billion yuan that it spends on the military. Stability maintenance” means monitoring people—petitioners, aggrieved workers, professors, religious believers, and many kinds of bloggers and tweeters on the Internet—in order to stop “trouble,” especially any unauthorized organization, before it gets started"

YouTube - Merriam-Webster Ask the Editor - Octopus - "They all forgot one thing: whenever a word from a foreign language enters English, it becomes an English word, and gets inflected just like other English words, so octopuses is just fine"
On octopuses, octopi and octopodes

Economics focus: Exploding misconceptions | The Economist - "More schooling usually correlated with more agreement[that suicide-bombing aimed at American or other Western targets in Iraq was justified]... the poorest countries, those with low literacy, or those whose economies were relatively stagnant did not produce more terrorists... there was weak evidence the other way... terrorist organisations prefer to recruit skilled, educated people to carry out their missions... more educated suicide-bombers are assigned to attack more important targets. Such terrorists also kill more people and are less likely to fail or be caught during their attacks... countries which give their citizens fewer civil and political rights tend to produce more terrorists"

Saudi Arabia 'detains' Israeli vulture for spying - "The griffon vulture was carrying a GPS transmitter bearing the name of Tel Aviv University, prompting rumours it was part of a Zionist plot... In December, the governor of Egypt's South Sinai province, Mohamed Abdul Fadil Shousha, suggested the spy agency may have had a hand in a string of deadly shark attacks off the coast of the Sharm el-Sheikh resort. He said it was "not out of the question" that Mossad had put the killer shark in the area. The Israeli foreign ministry dismissed that allegation, saying the governor "must have seen Jaws one time too many, and confuses fact and fiction""

Starbucks unveils a new logo
Starbucks keeps cropping their logo. Their next one will just be a face

Malaysian man dumps wife for being a demon - "There has been a steady increase in complaints of cheating and sexual abuse, which has prompted the government to announce it will table a bill this year requiring faith healers to register with the Ministry of Health."

Fortune favors the Bold ( and the Italicized ) : Effects of disfluency on educational outcomes - "Disfluency – the subjective experience of difficulty associated with cognitive operations – leads to deeper processing... information in hard-to-read fonts was better remembered than easier to read information"

The Parable of the Poison Arrow (Majjhima-nikaya, Sutta 63) « Wasteland Buddhism - "Suppose, Maunkyaputa, a man were wounded by an arrow thickly smeared with poison, and his friends and companions brought a surgeon to treat him. The man would say: “I will not let the surgeon pull out the arrow until I know the name and clan of the man who wounded me; whether the bow that wounded me was long bow or crossbow; whether the arrow that wounded me was hoof-tipped or curved or barbed. All this would still not be known to that man and meanwhile he would die"
This form of pragmatism is good to defeat universal skepticism, or a claim that not having incontrovertible first principles is worse than taking first principles on faith

American ancestors - "In 1618, the authorities in London began to sweep up hundreds of troublesome urchins from the slums, and ignoring protests from the children and their families, shipped them to Virginia... Under Oliver Cromwell’s ethnic-cleansing policy in Ireland, unknown numbers of Catholic men women and children were forcibly transported to the colonies... The other unwilling participants in the colonial labour force were the kidnapped. Astounding numbers are reported to have been snatched from the streets and countryside by gangs of kidnappers or ‘spirits’ working to satisfy the colonial hunger for labour"

A Philosopher of Religion Calls it Quits - "'I have to confess that I now regard “the case for theism” as a fraud and I can no longer take it seriously enough to present it to a class as a respectable philosophical position—no more than I could present intelligent design as a legitimate biological theory'... “It’s not that often philosophers renounce fields!... I think most philosophers basically agree with a book John Mackie wrote many years ago called The Miracle of Theism, the idea being that it was a miracle anybody could believe that”... As in other subfields, much of philosophy of religion consists in working out the logical implications of arguments, which is less a matter of finding the right path than mapping out which paths exist... the very pressure that some philosophers of religion feel to rationalize their beliefs may be to thank for the subfield’s high levels of creativity"

Link Between Vaccine and Autism Link is 'Fraud' According to British Medical Journal - ""Clear evidence of falsification of data should now close the door on this damaging vaccine scare"... mumps cases are the second highest reported disease among all of the vaccine preventable diseases"

On the bowdlerization of Huckleberry Finn

"I'm always rather nervous about how you talk about women who are active in politics, whether they want to be talked about as women or as politicians" - JFK on the problems of Identity Politics


Huckleberry Finn loses the 'nigger' he loves, thanks to a publisher's ethnic cleansing

"Jew is far more pejorative in the mouths of Shakespeare’s characters than nigger is in the mouths of some of Mark Twain’s...

Striking out the word nigger every time it appears in Huckleberry Finn is a kind of ethnic cleansing, a pretence that in the land of the free no one referred to black people by a demeaning term once the Civil War had been won.

Worse, it is to confuse a word with a system of thought"

The bowdlerization is supposedly because many schools cannot teach the book because of that one word because people find it too "painful".

MFTTW: it's like saying thy can't teach about lynchings and the KKK?
cos it might be too painful?


New ‘Huckleberry Finn’ Edition Does Disservice to a Classic

"Never mind that today nigger is used by many rappers, who have reclaimed the word from its ugly past. Never mind that attaching the epithet slave to the character Jim — who has run away in a bid for freedom — effectively labels him as property, as the very thing he is trying to escape...

Just before Barack Obama’s inauguration, a high school teacher named John Foley wrote a guest column in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer in which he asserted that “Huckleberry Finn,” “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Of Mice and Men,” don’t belong on the curriculum anymore. “The time has arrived to update the literature we use in high school classrooms,” he wrote. “Barack Obama is president-elect of the United States, and novels that use the ‘N-word’ repeatedly need to go”...

[This] ratifies the narcissistic contemporary belief that art should be inoffensive and accessible; that books, plays and poetry from other times and places should somehow be made to conform to today’s democratic idea...

Tampering with a writer’s words underscores both editors’ extraordinary hubris and a cavalier attitude embraced by more and more people in this day of mash-ups, sampling and digital books — the attitude that all texts are fungible, that readers are entitled to alter as they please, that the very idea of authorship is old-fashioned...

Sometimes the urge to expurgate (if not outright ban) comes from the right, evangelicals and conservatives, worried about blasphemy, profane language and sexual innuendo. Fundamentalist groups, for instance, have tried to have dictionaries banned because of definitions offered for words like hot, tail, ball and nuts.

In other cases the drive to sanitize comes from the left, eager to impose its own multicultural, feminist worldviews and worried about offending religious or ethnic groups. Michael Radford’s 2004 film version of “The Merchant of Venice” (starring Al Pacino) revised the play to elide potentially offensive material, serving up a nicer, more sympathetic Shylock and blunting tough questions about anti-Semitism. More absurdly, a British theater company in 2002 changed the title of its production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” to “The Bellringer of Notre Dame”...

Euphemisms are sometimes pushed on writers by their publishers. Rinehart & Company persuaded Norman Mailer to use “fug” in his 1948 novel “The Naked and the Dead” instead of the F-word. Mailer later said the incident caused him “great embarrassment” because Tallulah Bankhead’s press agent supposedly planted a story in the papers that went, “Oh, hello, you’re Norman Mailer. You’re the young man that doesn’t know how to spell”...

But while James V. O’Connor, author of the book “Cuss Control,” argues that people can and should find word substitutions, even his own Web site grants Rhett Butler a “poetic license” exemption in “Gone With the Wind.” “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a hoot”? Now that’s damnable"

Also, NMA has a great video of this story.

The more to the left you go, the closer to the right you come - and vice versa.

More broadly, the psychic "harm" that people suffer when the word "nigger" is used is like the psychic "harm" that other people suffer when they are exposed to homosexuality.

Friday, January 07, 2011

One of the most insipid sets of lyrics I've had the misfortune to hear

"2 Live Crew - Face Down Ass Up: 2 Live Crew perform their classic "Face Down Ass Up" in front an audience made up of mostly white senior citizens."

I don't know what amuses me the most:

The puerile lyrics
The girls shaking their butts
The bemused looks of the Senior Citizens
The music video at the end where everyone is jiggling their thang

Observations - 7th January 2011

"All science is either physics or stamp collecting." - Ernest Rutherford


I HATE links to links. Then either another link or a summary/teaser with a link. They make me dizzy. Putain !

Men plan to get wealth and power. Women plan for their weddings.

Never trust a critic who never has anything bad to say. Or the reverse.

More than one person has remarked to me that eye surgeons do not themselves do Lasik - even those who offer Lasik. Supposedly it's because after a few years you may need glasses again.

ChineseClass101.com claims that it's the Southern Chinese who're obsessed with getting rich, not the Northerners. I am skeptical.

Mysteries of the universe: what is the difference between moisturiser and hand cream?

Someone should leak a sex video of Julian Assange and see him defend "free speech" (though the police records being leaked and he complaining was amusing enough)

All good things must come to an end, but shit can go on falling.

"I think forgiveness in itself is another example of a universal human value that's been claimed by religions as their own... Whether religions stress the necessity of forgiveness for inane issues that need no forgiveness at all is a separate issue altogether. In that case, forgiveness becomes a passive-aggressive way of controlling behaviour."

The proverb that goes "He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever" only works in school. Elsewhere, people will forever know that you were dumb. Alternatively, we can find another proverb with the opposite meaning: "Even a fool, when he holds his peace, is counted wise: and he that shuts his lips is esteemed a man of understanding".

RT @ladyxtel: Don't give up. Keep holding on.
Me: Unless you're a stalker

PRCs all praise Singapore. I don't blame them. If I PRC I'd like Singapore too

A UOB telemarketer asked me if I had any friends who might be interested in his credit cards. I told him that I was sure that they all got calls already. I don't know if he got it.

Apparently normal white girls take their husbands' names when they marry. Meanwhile this is rare in Singapore. What was that about a patriarchal society?
Addendum: "Bb" in comments - "Sgp women only take their husband's name if it's an 'upgrade'. I do not know of any Sgp woman who did not take the opportunity to 'upgrade' to a new married name. On the other hand, white woman married to Sgp/Asian men mostly take their husbands' names. I only know of one (white American, married to Japanese) who did not and I think that was only because she would not have changed her name no matter what, even if she had married someone with a 'Western' surname. So, what does that say abt Sgp women?"

Because of the way the law is written in Singapore, caressing someone's chest counts as "assault" or "criminal force". I am informed that "assault in most commonwealth countries include causing fear of violence in the victim".

I am very amused by @xtravangaz's innovative use of social media! (I was thanked for my compliments. When I asked if I would get a discount, I was told that Belinda was having a discount)

Buffets in Singapore are advertised as eat all you can, not all you want - because people eat more than they want

I'm not sure what annoys me the most about Singaporean 'food blogs': bad English, faux-artsy pictures or gushing sans food critiques

An SMRT recruitment ad says they're looking for Leaders. So who's following the bus and taxi drivers?

"Being the one cabbie that never gets asked to follow another cabbie. Which leads me to the unmistakable conclusion that I must be the cabbie all the other cabbies are following"

@msvindicta: "When you've already won her heart, you don't need to win every argument."
Me: And when you've already won his ***, you don't need to win ANY argument

Twitter tip of the year RT @rahrahrah: this is awsum. i blocked @zodiacfacts and i dont get them even when people RT! YAY.
"yeahhhhh these horoscope tweets are annoying! you read can already la, RT for what sia. Do i care if you have a high sex drive?!!!"
Me: "Care if you want to bang him :)"
"but its usually girls who RTs zodiacfacts. oh so mayb they RT-ing for the boys hahaha"

"Women fall in love by what they hear. Men fall in love by what they see. That's why women put make up and men lie."

RT @eisen Girls, do you know what I'm thinking when I'm looking at your hair? I'm thinking how my hair is better-looking than yours. Hahaha!!!

RT @jemauvais: wonders why AWARE isn't kicking up a fuss that there isn't any 'My Girlfriend, Our Army' ad....

RT @markleggett What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Quadriplegics can bench press crazy amounts.

RT @dweam: Gotta love this quote: "Cleavage is like time, squeeze hard enough and you will get more." LOL!

RT @esti_d some Sg bloggers are too emo or socially aloof. Would it kill you to make a polite reply? They should be like @gssq

[On humans] "We are special because we eat full already got nothing better to do then to come up with meanings for life."

France 2010 - Day 7, Part 2 - Provins - Legend of the Knights (Medieval Show)

"If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you." - Oscar Wilde


France 2010
Day 7 - 9th October - Provins - Legend of the Knights (Medieval Show)
(Part 2)

I then went for the medieval show.

I'd been wanting to see a medieval show since at least 1994, when in New York I saw a brochure for Medieval Times (their food is far from Medieval though).

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Horses and their maids. The girl on the right kept kissing her horses. I wanted to be a horse also.

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This was a huge mule. I wasn't sure if it was a mule, so I asked one of the girls what it was called, and was told 'tagairda' (tar'gare'dah). I realise that was its name - not its species. Oops.

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Information on siege weapons: Mangonel, Trebuchet, Couillard, Battering Ram, Siege Tower

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Siege engines

Again, the audience at the show was a good study on the Integration of Minorities. I saw less than 10 East Asians, and the rest were whites, mostly with kids. There was one couple where the woman was maybe North African, and one white woman with black kids, but that was it.

Idyllic village scene

The ducks were very well trained - they knew how to run into the coup

Idyllic village scene

Queen rides in


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An Appreciation of Orientalism

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The heroes ride in: the King and his Lackey (he's supposed to be Thubaud IV, Count of Champage and King of Navarre, but since we're suspending disbelief anyway I'll just call him the King - even though he's not in Navarre)

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Riding around with pennants

Showing off horse skills from the East

As you can see, this show was a bit of a sampler as horse skills were demonstrated (presumably not those of the Steppes - I doubt the Steppes show showcased the Parthian SHot, though)

Everyone shows off

The guy on the horse used his sword to cut open a cage, and the doves inside flew out (and flew to the area of the ticket booth, where they were doubtless put back in another cage). Such dedication (from the doves).

Prancing horse. It could curtsey too.

Feats on horseback

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Dizzying feat

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Asking the crowd to cheer for him


Precision strikes: Axes on shields from horseback

Trick as Proxy for Jousting

Then there was an invasion of the Wolf Lord.

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Closeup of one of the invaders

The King goes in for Battle
Maybe he lacks full plate and helmet so you can see his handome face (some of the promotional pictures/videos show him in more complete armour). Actually the armour he sported that day looked quite cheap.

Menacing dogs: They're probably dogs pretending to be wolves

Chief Bad Guy with Wolf Banner

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"Le terrible Torvark"

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The King challenges Torvark

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What's going on ?
Could this be my understanding
It's not your fault I was being too demanding
I must admit it's my pride that made me distant
All because I hoped that you'd be someone different
There's not much I know about you
Fear will always make you blind
But the answer is in clear view
It's amazing what you'll find face to face

This means War: Posturing, trebuchet firing, javelin and preparation for jousting

The firing of the trebuchet kept in the theme of the sampling.

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Joust preparations

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King charging a Lackey


Then, there was a Twist in the Tale:

The Queen has become Evil!

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King sparring with Wolf Lord

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King sparring with Blanche, his Fallen Queen (the website says she's Blanche of Castille)

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While the male lackey is being dragged from behind a horse, one of the village maidens has taken up arms (with 2 swords crossed behind her back, no less!) She was formerly helpless but slid down the rope you see on the right and took up arms

Village peasant woman fights - women are equally capable of fighting for Good as well as being Turned and in doing so, embodying Original Sin!
French Feminism: defending the village (instead of lobbying the government to send in a strike team)

Foot combat

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The King is Overwhelmed by Blanche

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More sparring

As the show went on, I was more and more put in mind of Lord of the Rings.

Le Coup de Grace
The King is about to be finished off by his Fallen Queen, until the Lord of the Rings-ish intervention by the Spirit of Provins. It's Lord of the Rings-ish, because I realised that's where the music came from.

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Forest Gandalf, the Deus Ex Machina
He looked like a woman on stilts

Restoration and the LOTR music becomes even more evident

Miscellaneous Ending Scene (1)

Miscellaneous Ending Scene (2)
Notice the pigs chasing the bad guys off

The drama ended with a whole flock of white doves - surely the same as the ones featured earlier in the show. There were a few stragglers though, and one refused to come out.

Victory procession


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Crowd filing out

Actually you can also find videos of the show on YouTube, some of which are up to 9 minutes long.

Perhaps the trickiest part of speaking French: how tell a Madame from a Mademoiselle. Not everyone weas rings, and age is not always accurate or apparent.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Links - 6th January 2011

"My dog is worried about the economy because Alpo is up to 99 cents a can. That's almost $7.00 in dog money." - Joe Weinstein


I Love Charts - "By people who love charts for people who love charts"

The Daily Patdown - "Your daily dose of security theater."

Bangable Dudes in History - "Dead man porn for your still-beating heart"

About : English / General Paper / IB TOK Tuition - "I write my own curriculum* that covers basics from stringing a coherent sentence, to eventually writing cogent essays. It comprises the skills I learnt at Harvard, students' learning experiences, and current recommendations from industry players. With some tweaking, it can be applied to all levels of learning... A firm grasp of English is a corollary to critical writing and both are not mutually exclusive...
Work Experience: Taught a Boston inner-city teenager English.
Vetted written, academic work of Harvard roommate.
Nominated for the President of the Republic of Singapore Social Service Award
Referee: Professor Mary C. Brinton"
Ad for this: "Harvard Honors Grad Tutor
Harvard University honors graduate offering English / GP & IB tuition."
This is quite sad.

YouTube - Funny Sexy Japanese Upskirt Game Show
Damn Japs

The World's Best Country for Women - "Swedish men rarely offer to pay, nor do they perform any other conventional courtesies, such as holding a door open or helping a woman visibly struggling under the load of a heavy bag. "Naturally, we can't complain"... With gender equality comes further dating awkwardness: By American standards, Swedish men are painfully slow to make the first romantic move. "Men treat women like friends," Anna-Maria says. "They rarely chat you up, unless they're drunk." Instead, Anna-Maria often does the asking herself. "Sure, I'd like to be chased, but men have grown lazy in Sweden. So I take the initiative. Though I have to say, it detracts from the sexual intrigue"... the world's first "female-friendly car"... is packed with woman-specific features: seats that auto-adjust to a female body shape, a special groove in the headrest for ponytails, and a high-heel rest near the foot pedals... While the [Feminist] party was initially touted as "the way for women's future," its support plummeted after its convention several months ago, during which members sang a rowdy song about "chopping men to bits"... Japanese women live longer, American women earn higher salaries, Greek women have lower rates of breast cancer, and according to one poll, Italian men are better kissers"

Who Gives A Tweet? - "Ever wondered what people think about your tweets? Get feedback from followers and the Internet!"

10 Things You Should Never Say to Your Boyfriend - Love + Sex on Shine - ""Do You Think She's Pretty?"
When you ask a question like this, your boyfriend knows he can’t win."
The advice here is so good, it must've been written by a guy

Audiophile Deathmatch: Monster Cables vs. a Coat Hanger - "Not only "after 5 tests, none [of the audiophiles] could determine which was the Monster 1000 cable or the coat hanger wire," but no one knew a coat hanger was used in the first place"

Woody - Imgur - NSFW disturbing images of Woody from Toy Story

Elif Shafak: The politics of fiction | Video on TED.com - "The "representative foreigner." In our classroom, there were children from all nationalities. Yet, this diversity did not necessarily lead to a cosmopolitan, egalitarian classroom democracy. Instead, it generated an atmosphere in which each child was seen, not as an individual on his own, but as the representative of something larger... He wanted to see the manifestation of my identity. He was looking for a Turkish woman in the book because I happened to be one... If you're a woman writer from the Muslim world, like me, then you are expected to write the stories of Muslim women and, preferably, the unhappy stories of unhappy Muslim women... When identity politics tries to put labels on us, it is our freedom of imagination that is in danger... [There is a] tendency to see a story as more than a story... I want to love and celebrate fiction for what it is, not as a means to an end... in creative writing courses today, the very first thing we teach students is write what you know? Perhaps that's not the right way to start at all... We should get out of our cultural ghetto and go visit the next one and the next"

English in Switzerland - "One is tempted to establish a correlation between the relative openness towards English and the minority/majority status of the territorial language: the larger the language territory is and the more speakers of the national Swiss language it has, the more open it is to allow English in. And the smaller the territory is, the less likey it is that English will be used... Swiss people, on the whole, cannot be considered truly multilingual, often they are not even functionally bilingual"

YouTube - The woman language translator - "The Manslater even works with men!... "Hey, mind if I catch a movie with guys?" "You are a lovely, wonderful woman who meets all of my needs, and even though I will miss you, this night I wish to see Death Cop 9 with my bros"
Addendum: Curiously, this was "Created for the Relationship Rehab series at http://centralchristian.com."

Biblical scholar's date for rapture: May 21, 2011 - "Harold Camping lets out a hearty chuckle when he considers the people who believe the world will end in 2012. "That date has not one stitch of biblical authority... It's like a fairy tale." The real date for the end of times, he says, is in 2011... This is not the first time Camping has made a bold prediction about Judgment Day... "We are now translated into 48 languages and have been transmitting into China on an AM station without getting jammed once," Camping said. "How can that happen without God's mercy?""
Let's see what his new excuse will be in May

Remembering the Boxer Uprising: A righteous fist | The Economist - "Debate still rages over what to make of the Boxer Uprising and how it relates to Chinese nationalism today. In 2006 a liberal weekly newspaper supplement, Freezing Point, was briefly closed down and its editor fired for publishing an article that said the portrayal of Boxer history in Chinese textbooks was poisoning the minds of young people. A journalist for History, a Beijing magazine, compares the empress-dowager Cixi’s manipulation of the Boxers with Hitler’s of German nationalists. China, he says, is in danger of breeding a similar mentality of vengeful nationalism unless it gets its history straight... Because both killers and victims in Zhujiahe were Chinese, communist histories gloss over the massacre. Wei County’s museum offers a rare mention of the event as if it were one of a series of Boxer victories"

YouTube - Pole Art - First pole dance video - pole art practice (Original)
Pachelbel's Canon is a strange song to pole dance to

YouTube - Cami Secret. Custom Cleavage. - "You love that low-cut top for going out at night, but in the office it's just not right. You've tried safety pins, but they leave holes and just look wrong, and with a camisole you end up tugging and adjusting all-day long"
6 of these for $10 is very cheap. But I suspect shipping & handling is steep

The science vs. creationism debate exemplified on a facebook page - "dont ever comment on my status telling me that i am wrong everrrr again. I didnt ask you did i? Answer: NO"

Margaret Thatcher 'death' website condemned as vulgar - "is Thatcher dead yet?, gives a simple progress report on the deteriorating health of the 85-year-old. Guests are currently told 'NOT YET' in large capital letters. A smaller message underneath adds: 'Can't be long though... she's still in hospital'... Visitors are also directed to a playlist on music streaming website Spotify and told to 'enjoy' songs such as Margaret On The Guillotine by Morrissey 'in the meantime'. The playlist features songs such as Stand Down Margaret by The Beat and Thatcher F***** the Kids by Frank Turner. Other songs include Margaret Thatcher, We Still Hate You by Terry Edwards and the Scapegoats and The Day That Thatcher Dies by Hefner... 'The reaction has been mainly positive - there is ten times more negativity towards Margaret Thatcher than towards the website... There are a lot of songs that criticise Thatcher but we couldn't find any for the playlist that praise her'"

The War Against English Language Invasion | - "[France's] Toubon Law... ludicrously wanted any use of the words ‘cheeseburger’ and ‘airbag’ to be punished with a six month prison sentence... the Chinese are also introducing legislation to stem the flow of ‘Chinglish’ across China... A retired school teacher... had gone to catch a train at a station in Bavaria and became incensed at the ‘Kiss&Ride’ zone outside the entrance whereby car drivers could drop off and pick up passengers without having to park... My favourite change is to the bicycle rental facility which has gone from being called ‘Call-A-Bike’ to the much more user-friendly ‘das Mietrad-Angebot der Deutschen Bahn’. Rumour has it that the parliamentarian who took up the complaint (Ernst Hinsken) was very keen to champion the cause because a newspaper had run a recent headline stating ‘Hinsken for Kiss & Ride’. He was apparently concerned that Germans who had only a faint grasp of English might think he was advocating a drive-by red light district... Even in English speaking nations, there are many examples of restrictions being put in place to stop English words creeping into the English language"

N. China - Day 5, Part 2 - Beijing: The Forbidden City - Inner Court

"There are 350 varieties of shark, not counting loan and pool." - L. M. Boyd


N. China
Day 5 - 3rd November - Beijing: The Forbidden City - Inner Court
(Part 2)

This day, I felt like I was in Mexico - in the shade I was cold and in the sun I was hot.

Let's Go (2005 edition) had said that the Forbidden City cost 60¥ - but the ticket cost me 40¥. Amazing - a price that had gone down.

There was an admirable number of benches in the Forbidden City, which was good as it was damn big.

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White stone railings and the head of a traitor on a spike

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White stone railings and head of stairs

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"Large stone carving" - an unusually unpoetic Chinese name

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Gate of Heavenly Purity

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I liked what is presumably Manchu. This had not been on the gate signs in the part of the Forbidden City I had visited earlier (the Outer Court), probably because the rear area was not for Court/public purposes, whereas in the Inner Court Manchu needs could be more properly taken care of.

The buildings of the Outer Court had very similar designs, essentially differing only in size. The Inner Court had slightly more variety.

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Palace of Heavenly Purity. IIRC Qing AM court was held here.

Adding to the plaque: Yongzheng had changed the succession system. Before it was a system of open succession, but then there was a rumour that he had changed his father's designated successor. His sytem was to have 2 copies of the succession, one of which the Emperor kept on his person at all times, and one of which would be in the box mentioned in the plaque. Yet, Cixi twice dictated the succession instead. No wonder the Qing Dynasty fell.

Note I can't figure out: "repotable people > 60 cm" took part in some ritual in the Hall

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Palace of Heavenly Purity interior

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Hall of Union and Peace. The Empress would sit here and receive felictations from the concubines

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Hall of Union and Peace interior

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Hall ceiling

There was an amusing ceremony: pigs would be slaughtered and the meat would be offered to the nobles, but it was boiled without seasoning. Yet, it was a disrespect if you did not finish the pork, so you bribed the Eunuchs to either bring you salt or smuggle the pork out.

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Hall of Earthly Tranquility

The garden was not very nice since it was too crowded. Of course I was not expecting the Gardens of Suzhou but some space would've been nice.

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"The branch-interlocked cypresses symbolize loyal love"

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"Around their roots were two earth heaps piled up with soil brought back from conquered areas in the Qing dynasty. Owing to trample and erosion, the shapeless heaps were changed into present flower terrace in the 1950s" - ... And I'm guessing the Communists had NOTHING to do with the re-landscaping.

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According to Baike Baidu,

"来自法国的名牌皮具,1924年由dunbaolu爵士创立于法国巴黎,至今已有八十余年历史。1896年出生于法国巴黎的dunbaolu,自小对艺术具有极高的天赋。1916年毕业于la chambre syndicale le hautecouture。"
("A famous brand of leather products from France, in 1924 dunbaolu was made in Paris, France, which gives it a history of 80 years etc etc")

This is a likely story. Turning to Western propaganda, I find the following lie:

"In another corner there were Lacoste rip-off shops, again close to each other. One was called New Crocodile, another Crocodile of the Yangtze, a third Crocokids, and the last Croc Croc. I walked into one of the shops and asked the clerk whether the real Lacoste—branded products were being sold in her shop or in France. “The
French crocodile and the Chinese crocodile are the same brand. They have merged,” she said. Then she waved dismissively atthe rival shops nearby. “They are all fakes, those ones. You can easily tell.”

A bit farther on, three shops had signs with the same distinctive tall and thin lettering that Dunhill uses. One was called Denghaoli, another Dunbaolu, and another Doctortoh. It was relatively easy to figure out that they were all trying to be like Dunhill. But others in a different corner presented a puzzle. I had to think for a while about Woershaqi before I assumed it must have been a derivative of Versace. Wearesaatchi, the next shop, was easier. Another outlet had come up with the idea of using an ice cream brand to sell haute couture. The shop sign read “Haagendess,” but there was not an ice cream in sighht. Only leather bags.

As I left the shopping mall, I bumped into a group of police-men. I asked them how so many fake brands could be allowed to do business so openly. China had agreed when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001 to stamp out piracy. They looked at one another and then looked back at me. One of them took the cigarette out of his mouth and used it to point at the wall a few feet away from Crocodile of the Yangtze. “See that plaque? There is a number on there. You can try calling that if you have a complaint,” he said.

The plaque read “Smashing Fakes Hotline. Call: 32157.” I called the number and a woman answered. She told me that I had the wrong city. This was Jinghua and I needed Yiwu, she said. "Try 5558853," she added. I did, and a man answered, but he told me that the hotime I had reached was not for reporting fakes but for consumer issues. I needed to speak to the fakes inspection brigade, he said. “Try 5324716.” He said the number quickly and then hung up. I had my cell phone wedged between one hunched shoulder and my ear, with my notebook resting on a knee. I just got the number down before I lost my balance. When I called, a man answered. He acknowledged that I had got through to the fakes hotline but added that he was too busy to talk. “I am writing a report,” he said. I told him I wanted to inform him of brand copyright violations, but he repeated that he was busy. “Try 32157,” he said, referring me back to the number I had started with.

I had no desire to go around in circles again so I left the mall and walked the rest of the way to the main wholesale-market exhibition hall. In the foyer, I was immediately confronted by a large sign near the escalators. “Value Quality. Honor Credibility,” it said in giant gold characters on a red velvet background. It was
signed by the Yiwu municipal government, the same people who were supposed to be running the antifakes hotline."

--- China shakes the world: a titan's rise and troubled future-- and the challenge for America / James Kynge

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Brazier. I think the audioguide said something about protection from fire

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Glazed tile

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Hall of Imperial Peace

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Hill of Accumulated Elegance. On the 9th day of the 9th month the Emperor and his women would all climb up. This was built from rocks from a lake in Jiangsu.

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Wanchunting Pavilion

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Ceiling of Pavilion

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Next were some of the smaller palaces in the Inner Court.

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Palace of Gathering Excellence
The audioguide called this the Palace of Concentrated Beauty - the beauty of the Empress and the concubines.
Cixi liked this place. American Express's sponsorship has not expired yet.

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Palace of Concentrated Beauty interior

There were some exhibits in the smaller palaces, but after a while they were all quite similar. Yet, it was too late to go elsewhere (in Winter stuff closed at 4:30pm), so I went slow and rested my feet.

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Giving the Qing Dynasty plates decorated with Napoleon might not have been the best way to wish it longevity

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Puyi's 1917 6 day reascension.

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Puyi found Western education more interesting than Chinese education. Looks like some things don't change.

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Puyi also found Western culture more interesting than Chinese culture.

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Puyi's badminton and photography

There was also an exhibition on the first telephone exchange in China.

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"In the Opium war, western powers landed on the soil of China, which brought about great changes to Chinese feudal society"
This must be the first Chinese mention of the Opium War which does not indulge in long denunciations. Even the Mandarin isn't too dramatic: "In the Opium War, the West blew open China's closed gates"

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Photo of the first telephone exchange in China

There was a concubine who cried so much she supposedly became blind. This is slightly more believable than the trope of hair turning white overnight.

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Wall with Dragon on it

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"Rice with Stewed Beef & Potato
Rice with Stewed chicken and Mushrooms
Beef Curry Rice
Multi Grain Sandwich
Desktop bolognese (this should be "Taiwanese style beef noodles")
Broiled beed noodles"
Strange selection of foods at the cafe

Next was a "Treasures of the Qing Palace" exhibition in many adjacent rooms.

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"Red Lacquer Box with the Design of Watching Waterfall"

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Buddhist Sutras (reproduction) with red lacquer box (presumably original)

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Jadeware Packing Complex of "Unity of Track in One Standard"

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Magic Sword with Stone-inlaid Holder

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Sword named "Icy Sharpness" with Jade Holder

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Guan Yin, looking like (s)he's still in his/her Indian incarnation. Notice how this is pointedly "presented by the eighth Dalai Lama"
There were some other items where the only English information was that they had been presented by some Lama or other.

As I expected, essentially the only material non-Chinese in provenance was in that dedicated to tribute to the Emperors (the only exceptions were some Western science instruments, perhaps due to their instrumental value). Indeed, the captions just mentioned the dynasty during which the objects were presented to the Emperor in question, telling one next-to-nothing about the objects themselves. This was yet more proof of the Sino-centric world view.

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Plaque for Western Medicines
The bottles were very ordinary. The "experiments" of the Kangxi Emperor with them are not mentioned. Hopefully they didn't involve poisoning people.

What I had seen above was a selection of the collections of the Palace Museum (i.e. the collections of the Forbidden City) and presumably its highlights. I was not impressed: most of the items were uninteresting, and almost all were unimpressive.

Due to a lack of time I didn't look at the main collection, but did not have any regrets given this standard; the Wikimedia collection and this Flickr pool are a lot more impressive, so I'm presuming that they were automatically defining everything in the Palace Museum as a "treasure", which was quite dishonest.

I suspect that they know the place is so big you can't do everything in one day (I bought my tickets at noon and still couldn't see everything in the Palace complex, let alone see any of the exhibits), and so will have to go back another day, and pay ticket fees again. Furthermore, signage and other information is not clear, and there is no museum route marked out - which is very annoying as the collection is spread out instead of being roughly contiguous like in virtually all other museums. This is a strategic move - situating a huge museum in an even huger palace complex.

Off the main route, signage was poor or non-existent, so I didn't manage to find the Archery Pavilion (though the audioguide did activate - it was built because Manchu princes were growing soft, not growing up on the steppes) or the Nine Dragon Screen. I think they closed off some areas - there were areas marked out on the audioguide that I couldn't find (and couldn't find signage pointing to), like the Hall of Imperial Supremacy, the Qianlong Garden, the Pavilion of Fluent Music.

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Guy dirtying place

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Long corridor

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Red walls

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Gate of Divine Prowess

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Pirated Dwarf. It advertises Baixue as a "China Brand", while also stating that the freezer is a product of German and Italian workmanship.

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Puzzling book you need to know 3 languages to fully appreciate

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Gate of Divine Prowess from outside Forbidden City

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"May we remind you: Please be self-restraint and be a good tourist to mold a well-mannered imagination"

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Moat outside Forbidden City

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Moat and Tower

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Jingshan Park from exit of Forbidden City

A sign on an ATM said to call 110 if you were robbed.

People thought my itinerary was very rushed, but this was only in the sense of moving between cities quickly. In the cities themselves I moved quite slowly, due to my decrepitude. Compare this to my first full day in Paris in 2006 (Notre Dame, The Pantheon, The Conciergerie, Sainte Chapelle, Napoleon's Tomb (Hotel des Invalides), Army Museum, Arc de Triomphe de l'Etoile, Eiffel Tower - the last 2 in the evening). Even then it wasn't really rushed, we just moved quickly.

I didn't go to the National Museum of China (in Tiananmen itself) in the interests of time and there being other things to see. Besides, I'd already been to the Shanghai Museum (Part 1, Part 2). Perhaps most importantly, the best stuff was in Taipei.
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