When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, February 05, 2011

Links - 5th February 2011

"There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened." - Douglas Adams


Monkeys, watermelons and black people
A comment from a Canadian: the people least aware of racial stereotypes are the people who *aren't racist*. I'd never heard of the watermelon stereotype, nor any correlation between African Americans and monkeys in slurs. Granted I'm from Canada and most Americans consider that a small town anyway, but really... people are just looking to be offended these days. Actually realizing that not everyone is trying to insult them will be a big step for people to move towards a prejudiceless society. Yes, there are still racists and bigots, but the fact a mayor has to resign when he may well have been oblivious to it (really, would you send something that's an obvious racial slur to a professional colleague of that descent if you actually knew what it meant?) is a bit ridiculous"

Woman claims yogurt sample tasted of semen

“Making Men Happy” - "Perhaps alluding to their status as members of the oldest profession, some prostitutes in his time called themselves professionals. When academy was a euphemism for ‘brothel,’ those who worked there were called academicians... During the American Civil War, camp followers, whose ranks included ‘canteen girls,’ and ‘drink sellers,’ offered soldiers their wares (themselves, mostly)... One of the most forlorn euphemisms for compensated sex that I’ve ever seen was in a news article about South Asian women who’d been laid off from factory jobs. Asked what she and her colleagues were doing now, one said that a young coworker was engaged in ‘making men happy’"

Skepticblog » The Tao of Chinese Medicine – I - "Between Taoism and Confucianism, all the necessary ingredients to incubate and foster critical thinking was “taught” out of the Chinese society."
From part II: "When the ginseng root and the quintessential female herb dong-quai were studied scientifically for their alleged cancer-curing power, they were found not only to be ineffective but in fact encouraged the growth of some cancer cells"

The Effect Of House Price On Fertility: Evidence From Hong Kong - "A 1% increase in [house prices] is significantly related to a 0.45% decrease in total fertility rates... high HP inflation can account for about 65% of the fertility decrease in Hong Kong in the past four decades"
Sounds like this can describe another city-state

What makes you Singaporean? | Discussion Forum | Your Say | REACH - "A Singaporean. I'm sorry I rather ask myself what makes myself a person. It is to be able to think and choose freely without fear and with a clear conscience.
To me being a Singaporean means to fearfully resign himself or herself to any indignities or inequities given out by those in power in the name of progress. No. I will not let that description define myself."

Eligible, actually - "She was once so lonely about a year after she divorced her husband of 13 years, that she text messaged him asking if he would like them to get back together. His reply was honest, if blunt. “Get a life. Move on”... One man who has seen the plight of the single Older Singaporean Woman at first hand is Martin Wong, 38, who runs a marriage agency [which] specialises in Vietnamese brides. But even so, he says that about 40 Singapore women have approached him for help during the five years he has been in the business. All of them are above 30, and 75% of them are over 35. Most of them hold administrative jobs. “Most of them are plain-looking, ordinary Singapore women who just want a chance at destiny,” he says. “They don’t have very high expectations. All they are looking for is a man with higher earning power than them.” But none has been successfully matched so far. “Frankly, men who have made up their minds to go for a young foreign bride will not be interested in older Singapore women,” he says"
It's a toss-up as to which quote I prefer: “Get a life. Move on” or “They don’t have very high expectations. All they are looking for is a man with higher earning power than them”

Extraordinary [religious] claims require extraordinary evidence - "'George Bush says he speaks to god every day, and Christians love him for it. If George Bush said he spoke to god through his hair dryer, they would think he was mad. I fail to see how the addition of a hair dryer makes it any more absurd'... when self-proclaimed “psychics” say that their powers fail when in the presence of a skeptic, I know of no skeptics who view this as a valid excuse that demands skeptics keep their psychic criticisms to themselves... if you’re the kind of person who views fair, objective criticisms of your beliefs as unwelcome personal attacks, then this may simply not be the right group for you"

YouTube - I am a Hong Kong Girl with 公主病 (Gung Jyuh Behng) - Cantonese Word of the Week!
Sounds familiar

Real men must eat meat say women as they turn their noses up at vegetarians - "Vegetarian men are seen as wimps and less macho than those who like tucking into a steak – even by women who do not eat meat themselves, research shows"

Ridicule: An instrument in the war on terrorism - "Demonization... can inadvertently aid the enemy’s own war aims... Directed properly at an enemy, ridicule can be a fate worse than death... Muhammad, the founder of Islam, personally used ridicule as a weapon of war early after he announced his prophethood... * To the enemy, ridicule can be worse than death. At least many enemies find death to be a supernatural martyrdom. Ridicule is much worse: destruction without martyrdom: A fate worse than death. And they have to live with it"

How to destroy the Earth @ Things Of Interest - "Semantics. A few people suggested exploiting a loophole in my mission statement and moving the Earth into orbit around a gas giant, making it a moon rather than a planet, or hurling it into interstellar space where it would become a wandering interstellar object. Yeah, yeah, very clever. Get back to work."

Brainwashed by a parasite - "When the fungus is ready to sporulate, the mycelia grow into the ant’s brain. The fungus then produces chemicals which act on the host’s brain and alter its perception of pheromones. This causes the ant to climb a plant and, upon reaching the top, to clamp its mandibles around a leaf or leaf stem, thus securing it firmly to what will be its final resting place. The fungus then devours the ant’s brain, killing the host. The fruiting bodies of the fungus sprout from the ant’s head, through gaps in the joints of the exoskeleton. Once mature, the fruiting bodies burst, releasing clusters of capsules into the air. These in turn explode on their descent, spreading airborne spores over the surrounding area. These spores then infect other ants, completing the life cycle of the fungus"

Last Suppers : James Reynolds - "A series of photographs documenting former Death Row prisoners' requests for their last meal before execution"

the cost of civilization - "Sedentism meant poorer diets, more illness, lots of toothache and gum disease, and earlier deaths. What is truly extraordinary is that these are all still factors in our lives today. Out of the thirty thousand types of edible plants thought to exist on Earth, just eleven - corn, rice, wheat, potatoes, cassava, sorghum, millet, beans, barley, rye, and oats - account for 93 percent of all that humans eat, and every one of them was first cultivated by our Neolithic ancestors. Exactly the same is true of husbandry. The animals we raise for food today are eaten not because they are notably delectable or nutritious or a pleasure to be around, but because they were the ones first domesticated in the Stone Age"

0907948 [2011] RRTA 54 (17 January 2011) - "He held the view that bearing arms is not a solution even when he undertook compulsory military service in Singapore. He did so out of fear of being detained and because his parents told him not to do anything stupid... When asked why he did not complete his degree, the applicant said because he spent a lot of time on student representation work... [his supervisor] was constantly on his case; perhaps because the applicant was not a ‘tough guy’. The applicant became stressed and as a result on one occasion he ordered the wrong amount of oranges. In his supervisor’s mind this was a bad thing and he was taken to trial and sentenced to 40 days military detention... During his time in Australia the applicant said he has built up the confidence to speak out against policies that are not in the public interest. This has become part of his character and he feels that if he returns to Singapore he will have to get rid of that characteristic or face problems from the authorities... the Tribunal is of the view that the harm the applicant would face as a national service defaulter would impact on him greatly"
Among other things, this is yet more proof of the oppressiveness of Slavery - 40 days for a mistake with oranges?!

Ayn Rand, Welfare Queen - "(Can you imagine getting any of her arguments in a student paper?) It's really doubtful there has ever been a more simple-minded "philosopher" with a public following than Rand, though the fact that she is so simple-minded obviously has much to do with her popularity in the United States (that, and of course the fact that she is an apologist for all the interests of the ruling class)... '"Ayn took the bail out even though Ayn "despised government interference and felt that people should and could live independently"... [Rand] didn't think people who disagreed with her should take help. Those who agreed with her were entitled to all they could get'"

Toilet paper orientation - Wikipedia - "Sociology professor Edgar Alan Burns describes some reasons why toilet paper politics is worthy of examination... They make connections to larger themes of sociology, including gender roles, the public and private spheres, race and ethnicity, social class, and age"

Man jailed three years for incest - "A MAN who had consensual sex with his 20-year-old daughter was jailed for three years... The daughter, now 23, was initially charged in March last year but was later given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal... they had a heated argument over the issue of her furthering her studies. She then texted a friend to call the police, who arrested him"
This fits the pattern of sex crime accusations in Singapore. Though CNA adds that "the charge against her will be revived" - her sentence (if any) will almost certainly be lower. Among other silly aspects (which still fit the pattern of sex crime accusations in Singapore), though, "He cannot be named to protect the woman's identity", they had sex again AFTER she claimed she didn't like it, she only complained after being worried about being impregnated and he was immediately arrested upon her lie that he had molested her

Pomelo sales hit a high as CNY nears - "Asked about the talk that stalls here tend to employ pretty and young women to lure customers, Lee acknowledged that some stall owners would adopt such a practice. ”But business is almost the same for everyone here,” she said. However, she cautioned that not all customers would go to stalls that were manned by young females. ”This is because some buyers would think that they would have to pay more if they buy from a pretty woman, which is not true,” she added... Lee said that some male customers did try to date her. “They would ask for my contact number. But I don’t go out with them,” she said"
For some reason half the article is about girls selling their pamelos

Friday, February 04, 2011

Headline FAIL

"Girls' schools still offering 'something special' - head"

- Gloucestershire Echo

Those Naughty Dolphins / Consuming Dolphins

"Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it." - Jane Wagner, (and Lily Tomlin)


"The dolphin’s affectionate image was made, not bestowed by nature, as a result of the intertwined and sometimes conflicting interests of science, the military, environmental organizations, and the commercial film and entertainment industries—an image that has had a prolound impact on the shape of scientific research, environmental policy, and international relations in the postwar years.

[It was] known as the “pig fish” or “herring hog” in the early twentieth century by American fisherman to denote its alleged voracious appetite for commercial fish...

Scientific research did not always lend support to the dolphin's career inthe public limelight...

The 1955 film sequel to Creature from the Black Lagoon, Revenge of the Creature, in which both Clint Eastwood and Flippy make their first Hollywood screen appearances, further familiarized mass audiences with the charismatic dolphin. To offer an entertaining and educational experience that the whole family could enjoy, however, Marine Studios had to perform some skillful editing and savvy public relations in the presentation of its star performer. While television shows such as Adventure and Zoo Parade offered visions of nature that conformed to the cult of domesticity found in the 1950s suburban home—with a focus on parenthood, traditional gender roles, and the nuclear family as routes to personal fulfillment—certain aspects of dolphin behavior were not so easily domesticated. Just as the research laboratory at Marine Studios was removed from public sight. so too were certain aspects of the dolphin’s sexual life, kept purposefully behind the scenes.

As early as 1914, Charles Townsend noted that dolphins kept briefly in captivity at the New York Aquarium attempted to mate frequently, although he said nothing more about their sexual behavior. In the first year of Marine Studios’ operation, McBride observed rampant sex play, particularly among males in the tank. In their scientific study on dolphin behavior published in 1948, McBride and Hebb were explicit about the kinds of sexual behavior observed. “Among males,” they reported. “there is a good deal of masturbation, on the floor of the tank and against other males. One male had the habit of holding his erect penis in the jet of the water intake for prolonged intervals. The males also show a good deal of sex play with sharks and turtles, with the appearance of attempted copulation. With the turtle as sex object, the penis is inserted into the soft tissues at the rear of the shell.” Flippy was himself known among Marine Studios personnel for his ceaseless “masturbatory practices.” Often, the sexual aggressiveness of dominant males resulted in the death of other dolphins and specimens in the tank. Herman, the first pilot whale ever to be kept in captivity, for example. was severely injured in 1949 after two bull dolphins and a female continually bit and rammed him into the sides of the tank during the mating season. He died later after a second attack resulted in a broken jaw. After the first live birth of a dolphin in 1947, McBride had to administer large doses of paraldehyde to the bull male in order to curb its frequent attacks on the newborn...

Not surprisingly, footage of female dolphins masturbating with a beach ball by inserting it into their vaginas, shot at Marine Studios for animal psychologist Frank Beach, never made its way to the theater. The image of the dolphin was being cropped for popular consumption.

Scientific research, tourism, and the entertainment industry had turned the dolphin into a highly valued commercial commodity in the 1950s. Typecast as a friendly, playful, highly intelligent mammal of the sea, the dolphin, with its charismatic built—in smile, played its part well. It was a role that capitalized on military, public, and scientific interest in the sea and conformed to the criteria of family fare and moral values widely evident in nature shows on television and the motion picture screen. How different a part it was from the place dolphins occupied in American culture at the turn of the century. When Townsend captured dolphins off the coast of Cape Hatteras for the New York Aquarium in 1914. their only commercial value was for jaw oil used in the lubrication of watches and clocks. In fact, the market for dolphin byproducts was so limited that only a few dolphin fisheries existed in the whole of North America, Even in the lae 1930s, the staff of Marine Studios looked upon dolphins as a cheap and easily accessible specimen for scientific research arid display. But the training of dolphins in the postwar era to assume the role of playmate and close relative to humans significantly increased their value as both experimental organisms and tourist attractions...

The conventions that shape our affections for dolphins have become so thoroughly entrenched and have played such an influential role in shaping marine mammal protection that efforts to shift environmental policy away from a focus on endangered species to ecosystem-processes face difficulty in attracting public support. [Anecdote of 1997, when the Clinton administration tried to move to "a more ecosystem-centered approach to fisheries management"]"

--- Reel nature: America's romance with wildlife on film / Gregg Mitman

Deal.com.sg's untrustworthy countdown timer

"Today's Deal : 51% Off Authentic Malaysian Cuisine @ PappaMia. Only $14.70 for $30 voucher!"

(NB: The link will only be valid today, after which the URL will change to http://www.deal.com.sg/deal2 and so on, which incidentally strikes me as stupid (a permalink would be much better) but I didn't raise USD$1 million in November, so what do I know?!)

Screenshot taken on Thursday, 3rd February, 2:05pm:

"Time left: 10 hours 55 minutes 10 seconds"

This would place the closing time of this deal at 1am on Friday, 4th February.

Yet, a screenshot taken on Friday, 4th February, 12:17pm shows:

"Time left: 12 hours 43 minutes 11 seconds"

This would place the closing time of this deal at 1am on Saturday, 5th February - 24 hours later than what we were told, yesterday, was the original closing time.

Note: this is the same deal

So far I've not seen this sort of deception on the other group buying websites.

Un cauchemar horrible

"J'ai fait un cauchemar horrible cette nuit : j'ai rêvé que j'avais 40 élèes !"
"Ah ? Et alors ?"
"Dont 10 violents, 7 déficients et même1 mort-vivant !"
"Et c'est un cauchemar ?"
"Oui : je devais leur expliquer les accords du participe passé avec avoir !"

En fait, je propose un point de grammaire plus douloureux - les doubles pronoms !!!

France 2010 - Day 9, Part 3 - Normandy: Avranches, Brittany: Dinan

"Computer dating is fine, if you’re a computer." - Rita Mae Brown


France 2010
Day 9 - 11th October - Normandy: Avranches, Brittany: Dinan
(Part 3)

After lunch I saw a couple of things in Avranches before driving off.

For one, the town had something of a fetish for Patton.

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"Voie de la Liberté 1944"
("Way of Liberty 1944")

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"Du 31 juillet au 10 août 1944, realisant la percée d'Avranches dans le vacarme de ses blindes en marche vers la victoire et la libération de la France, la glorieuse armée américaine du général Patton a franchi ce carrefour"
("From 31 July to 10 August 1944, breaking through at Avranches in his armoured push on the road to victory and the liberation of France, the glorious American army of General Patton passed these crossroads")
Patton memorial

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Patton Bust

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"En hommage à John BRUNEA. Dernier vétéran américain de la Manche. Débarqué le 6 juin 1944 à Omaha Beach. Décéde à Avranches le 11 janvier 2010"
("In tribute to John Brunea. Last American veteran of the [English] Channel. Disembarqued 6 June 1944 at Omaha Beach. Died at Avranches 11th January 2010")

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Showing which direction (and cities) part of the 8th Army headed for

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Interior of a Boulangerie-Pâtisserie (so much for specialisation)

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"ouest france. dimanche en vente ici"
The newspaper Ouest France is sold here on Sundays. Which means this place is open on Sundays. Which means you have something to do on Sundays.

We then left Normandy behind us and drove into Brittany, the old town of Dinan.

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An elegant solution to providing parking in old medieval towns - underground parking (the real underground area was behind me, but this gives you an idea). Besides being practical, this is also one of the more picturesque parking lots I've seen.

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Mairie (Mayor's Office)

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Place du Marchix: The modern and ancient on a street

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Rue de la Cordonnerie (Shoemaking Street)

There was also an interesting memorial:

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"Ici eût lieu - en champ clos en l'an 1359, le célèbre combat singulier entre Bertrand Duguesclin et Thomas de Cantorbery"
("Here saw - in an enclosed field in the year 1359, the famous duel between Bertrand du Guesclin and Thomas of Canterbury")

As you can imagine, this means the French guy (a Constable of France) won. The story is quite amusing, actually.

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Statue of Bertrand du Guesclin on horse

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Castle. Which had just closed (this was at 5:31pm)

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Rue de Léhon

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An abandoned church

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Hôtel de Keratry

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The Hôtel de Keratry claims a long heritage (being built in 1559) but what we see was reconstructed in 1938. Hurr hurr.

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Figurines on Hôtel

There was a street called "impasse" which was a dead end. In retrospect I should've seen it coming.

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"Mme Dubost Anceze. Corsets, gaines, lingerie, soutiens-gorges etc. Orthopedie"
("Madame Dubost Anceze. Corsets, girdles, lingerie, bras etc. Orthopedics")
Presumably if you bust a rib after wearing some fancy underwear you can see the doctor straightaway

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Basilica of St Sauveur

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One of the monuments

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Painting of angel spearing someone (who looks like he's been flayed and opened up?!)

One guy started talking to me (in English, despite my refusing to reply in that language - I guess we both wanted to practise) and pointed out the following to me:

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Where the heart of the guy who fought the English (Bertrand du Guesclin) is. Besides the hideous font, the inscription's not in modern French either so I won't transcribe it.

The double-headed eagle with strikethrough at the bottom was curious (I saw it on the wall of the Mairie too) but it seems to be a variation on the coat of arms of Bertrand du Guesclin:

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Le jardin anglais ("The English garden")

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Back of basilica

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Church unmarked on the guide touristique (so I don't know what it was)

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The lovely Rance River from the ramparts

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Bridge from ramparts

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River and bridge from the ramparts

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Random Arch

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Store with sleeping stuffed cats and dogs

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Place des Merciers ("Square of the Mercers" [cloth merchants[)

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Rue de la Chaux ("Lime Road")

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Rue de la Cordonnerie (Shoemaking Street) again
This should be from the opposite side of the previous instance

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Fake Greek restaurant. It claims to be Greek but its prime dish is Kebab, and there's no Gyros (or pork). It's almost certainly an ersatz Greek restaurant run by Turks!!!

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You know this restaurant is BAGUS because of the Malaysian Bee (with the trademark slurp, too!)

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Viaduct from river

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This is what passes for the "port" of Dinan. It is, rather, a marina.

We then left Dinan. Interestingly enough, we hadn't seen *any* signs in Breton (the nominal 'native tongue' of this region)

We headed for another Formule 1 (St. Malo). Each establishment being constructed from pre-fabricated units, I found this one eerily familiar.

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"Save water: shower together"
I know it's a budget chain, but this is kinda ridiculous...

The Formule 1 being in an industrial district, there weren't many dining options (especially at almost 9pm) but we ended up at a cafeteria ("Casino Cafeteria" - like Flunch but less tasty and without the légumes à volonte [side dish buffet]).

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Croustillant de fromage with Madeira sauce, meatballs, salad, peach compote
The rice was quite tasteless. Should've gotten more fries.

The dijon mustard was surprisingly hot - because I am used to dijonnaise, but it was not just because of that - even for dijon it was spicy. Meanwhile the madeira sauce was tasteless.

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I've no idea why you'd order Nestlé ice cream with all the lovely choices available

After dinner I had more problems with the car - no matter how hard I jiggled the steering wheel, I couldn't bypass the steering wheel lock and start it. Luckily a girl from the caféteria came to help me and she got the car going.

France has a lot of roundabouts. I guess they're cheaper than traffic lights (not least in maintenance!)

Leaflets in Formule 1 advertising Jersey and Guernsey: "So different, so British"
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