When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

"C'est un plaisir de vous rencontrer"

Friday, July 15, 2011

Links - 15th July 2011

"What luck for rulers that men do not think." - Adolf Hitler


The End of Cheap Labor in China - "The decision about where to produce a product is always driven by multiple factors, of which the cost of labor is but one... According to the BCG study, in 2000, China's average wage rate was 36% of the U.S.'s, adjusted for productivity. By the end of 2010, that gap had shrunk to 48%, and BCG estimates that it will be 69% in 2015"

China food scandals: China wrestles with food safety problems - "To eat, drink and be merry in China is done at a risk: Weddings increasingly end with trips to the emergency room... The Chinese government has enacted ever-more-strict policies to ensure food safety... It hasn't helped. If anything, China's food scandals are becoming increasingly frequent and bizarre. In May, a Shanghai woman who had left uncooked pork on her kitchen table woke up in the middle of the night and noticed that the meat was emitting a blue light, like something out of a science fiction movie. Experts pointed to phosphorescent bacteria, blamed for another case of glow-in-the-dark pork last year... To make some breeds of fish mature more quickly, aquatic farmers feed them ground-up birth-control pills, which cost virtually nothing because of China's strict limits on family size. In April, authorities in Hefei province busted businesses that were selling a glaze that makes pork look and smell like more expensive beef — bad news in a country with more than 20 million Muslims... "The profit margin is bigger than drug trafficking if you add the lean pork powder to the pig food"... The poor treatment of whistleblowers makes it nearly impossible for a consumer movement to take root. The Health Ministry went so far as to announce this month that it would set up a blacklist of journalists who were deemed to report irresponsibly on food safety issues... [there was] recycling of discarded cooking oil, which was being scooped out of sewers outside restaurants, reprocessed and then sold at a fraction of the cost of fresh cooking oil. He found that one in 10 restaurants in his area bought the recycled oil"

Weird & Wild: Caffeine-Eating Bacteria Revealed

Acculturation and Sexual Function in Asian Women - "Euro-Canadian women had significantly more sexual knowledge and experiences, more liberal attitudes, and higher rates of desire, arousal, sexual receptivity, and sexual pleasure. Anxiety from anticipated sexual activity was significantly higher in Asian women"
Someone asked me for proof that Asian women were frigid
Keywords: Asian women are frigid, Asian girls are frigid

Does Competition Kill? The Case of Classical Composers - "We investigate the impact of peer competition on longevity using a unique historical data set of classical composers. We measure the geographic concentration of peers by the number of composers located in the same area and the time spent in one of the main geographic clusters for classical music. Using instrumental variables, we find a significant negative effect of geographic concentration. An additional composer based in the same
location decreases longevity by 2.3 years, on average. Besides the widely known economic benefits associated with competition, these findings suggest that significant negative welfare externalities exist as well."

Listening to Mozart does not improve children's spatial ability: Final curtains for the Mozart effect - "Groups performed similarly on the control test and the experimental test, irrespective of whether they listened to Mozart or to popular dance music"

Diver Snaps First Photo of Fish Using Tools

The flotilla and the Third Intifada - "The flotilla is out to provoke violence and mayhem. The claim that its mission is a humanitarian one to relieve Israel’s ‘siege’ of Gaza is patently ludicrous. There is no siege. Israel allows in regular supplies, and Egypt recently opened its own Gaza border. No, the flotilla’s real aim by its illegal breaking of the legal maritime blockade of Gaza is to provoke Israel into violence against those on board so that they can pose as martyrs and will thus trap Israel into blackening its own image"

Guardian and Independent coverage of second flotilla omits key facts - "No mention was made of the fact that Israel has repeatedly offered to transport the aid to Gaza as long as flotilla ships do not attempt to directly reach the coastal territory themselves... the reporter made no mention of last year’s violence by passengers on the Mavi Marmara... Reuters, unlike the Jerusalem reporters from The Guardian and The Independent, did not evade mention of last year’s protester violence, citing how Israeli commandos ‘were confronted by passengers wielding clubs and knives’... A Turkish journalist’s subsequent account of events aboard the ship also supported Israel’s version"

Religious Experiences Shrink Part of the Brain - "The results showed significantly greater hippocampal atrophy in individuals reporting a life-changing religious experience. In addition, they found significantly greater hippocampal atrophy among born-again Protestants, Catholics, and those with no religious affiliation, compared with Protestants not identifying as born-again."

Dan Savage on the Virtues of Infidelity - "“I acknowledge the advantages of monogamy,” Savage told me, “when it comes to sexual safety, infections, emotional safety, paternity assurances. But people in monogamous relationships have to be willing to meet me a quarter of the way and acknowledge the drawbacks of monogamy around boredom, despair, lack of variety, sexual death and being taken for granted”... if they cannot fulfill all of each other’s desires, then it may be advisable to decide to go outside the bounds of marriage if that is what it takes to make the marriage work... In the feminist revolution, rather than extending to women “the same latitude and license and pressure-release valve that men had always enjoyed,” we extended to men the confines women had always endured. “And it’s been a disaster for marriage”... '[One should] place a higher value on the relationship itself than on one component of it, sexual exclusivity'"

Bering in Mind: Sex, Sleep and the Law: When Nocturnal Genitals Pose a Moral Dilemma - "Sexsomniacs are basically lascivious zombies. There’s presently no way to determine with absolute certainty if the phenomenon, when invoked as a defense, was really the cause or just a really convenient alibi... There are also those, I should point out, whose sex lives have actually benefited courtesy of their sexsomnia. Schenck and his coauthors review several such cases, including a woman who "reported infrequent and hurried sex with her [awake] husband, whom she described as distant and reluctant during wakefulness." This lady found that "nocturnal sex was more satisfactory, even if associated with bruises at times""

The Fundamentalist Stereotype: A Vindication

Crashing Into Stereotypes - "No one makes up their grievances out of thin air. Instead, the characters mostly engage in statistical discrimination. They generalize from their experience to form stereotypes about the members of different ethnic groups (including their own!), and act on those stereotypes when it is costly to make case-by-case judgments (as it usually is). In the story, moreover, stereotypes are almost invariably depicted as statistically accurate. Young black men are more likely to be car thieves; white cops are more likely to abuse black suspects; and Persians have bad tempers. Of course, the story also makes the point that some members of these groups violate the stereotype. But that "insight" is basic to all statistical reasoning... one of the deep truths of models of statistical discrimination: The real social conflict is not between groups, but within groups... The upshot: If you really want to improve your group's image, telling other groups to stop stereotyping won't work. The stereotype is based on the underlying distribution of fact. It is far more realistic to turn your complaining inward, and pressure the bad apples in your group to stop pulling down the average"

Chan Chun Sing’s ‘reform’ call hews to form - "It is depressing how quickly brand new ministers, supposedly the flag bearers for the People’s Action Party government’s reform and renewal, adopt the mindset of the old guard... he effectively told people to shut up if they had no suggestions worth implementing... Any criticism that challenges the prevailing paradigm is labelled “unconstructive” and thus delegitimised... If you want people to carry out their own ideas, you have to free up the space for them to do so — and that means a commitment to respect civil freedoms and human rights"

PAP supporter described netizen as case study for ‘lunatic fringe’ and accused him of ‘barking’ at her like a ‘dog’ - "As we can see from the above, Mr Cheah merely rebuke Ms Teoh and did not make any personal attacks at her. Instead of countering Mr Cheah’s argument, Ms Teoh went into a frenzy and called him names"

Can religious teachings prove evolution to be true? - "Biologist Phil Senter of the Fayette State University in North Carolina, US, has published the second of two papers that uses creation science techniques to examine the fossil record. In the first, published in 2010, he used a technique called classic multidimensional scaling (CMDS) to evaluate the appearance of coelurosaurian dinosaurs over geological time... CMDS is derived from a branch of creation science called baraminology, which classifies organisms according to a creationist framework. Animals fall into types, or baramins, which were created independently, but have diversified since... if CMDS shows that dinosaurs do show transitional forms, and are in fact genetically related to each other, then creationists are in a bit of a bind. Either they must accept that to be true, and therefore contradict their own position that these groups appeared without evolution. Or they must throw out the assertion, but also reject their own methodology, which they have used to validate their creationist claims"

Men agree on what's hot (girls do not) - "Most men liked women who were thin and posing seductively. Women, in contrast, were enticed by a far wider range of male characteristics. "

Plot Device on Vimeo - "A young filmmaker obtains a mysterious device that unleashes the full force of cinema on his front lawn."

Why Boys Are Failing in an Educational System Stacked Against Them - "Boys get the majority of D's and F's in most schools, create 90 percent of the discipline problems, are four times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ADHD and be medicated, account for three out of four children diagnosed learning disabilities, become 80 percent of the high school dropouts, and now make up less than 45 percent of the college population... Our modern educational system works for many children, particularly girls, but for some boys (and girls) it places constraints on a very normal and necessary experiential type of learning, not to mention the need of many children to move around rather than sit still. While it may be a cynical statement, I have often felt that co-ed schools are girls' schools that boys go to"

Man offers to be prey for hunters - "Mork Encino, 28, from Utah, is offering to be human prey for $10,000 - and says he will do it naked for another $2,000."

Workers push drunk boss's car home

Modes of Feminist Rhetoric

Yet another car crash:

Me: More sexism you won't see AWARE protesting: single men cannot adopt girls

Text of Adoption of Children Act: Restrictions on making adoption orders.

"An adoption order shall not be made in any case where the sole applicant is a male and the infant in respect of whom the application is made is a female unless the court is satisfied that there are special circumstances which justify as an exceptional measure the making of an adoption order."

A: This is sexism's equivalent of jaywalking right here.

Me: ?

A: quite a minor crime, not like murder

Me: Well, doesn't stop AWARE protesting minor crimes on the other side. It's selective enforcement.


A: While that is also rather trivial, it objectifies women, whereas denying single men adoption of girls does not objectify anyone.

Me: Among other things, it's not clear how objectification per se is a bad thing. I objectify the bus driver when I treat him as only a service provider.

Also denying single men adoption of girls is far worse than objectification. 377A has been proclaimed to be purely symbolic, but this law is still enforced. Yet there is lots of protest about the former than the latter.

A: In the case of the cup promotion it's a bad thing. And you should treat the bus driver like a human being, not as and object that provides you with a service. Who appreciates being dehumanized? Who thinks objectification is a good thing? why should an organization focused on advocating against discrimination against women spend time and resources on protesting adoption policies that discriminate against men? It's like expecting the NAACP to advocate on behalf of white people.

Me: It is not to say that objectification is a "good" thing, but that is is at most a venial sin, and not as bad as is claimed.

About | AWARE Singapore - http://www.aware.org.sg/ab​out/


A society where there is true gender equality – where women and men are valued as individuals free to make informed and responsible choices about their lives.


To remove all gender-based barriers so as to allow individuals in Singapore to develop their potential to the fullest and realise their personal visions and hopes...


AWARE is Singapore’s leading gender equality advocacy group.

AWARE believes in the rights of women and men to make informed and responsible choices about their lives and to have equal opportunities...

AWARE is dedicated to removing gender-based barriers."

Should the American Israel Public Affairs Committee condemn Israel when it violates human rights?

A: It depends what the human rights violations were and what they are using as a definition of human rights violation, and are you comparing Israel and America's relationship to AWARE's relationship to men? Are you saying men are like the Palestinians and the Israeli government are like the legislators that wrote the adoption law? Doesn't fit. Yes, there are worse things than objectification. Anyhow, I don't see why AWARE should prioritize minor forms of discrimination against men when the vast majority of gender discrimination is not directed at men.

Anyway I suggest emailing or phoning their office if you haven't already and seeing what their response is. Maybe no one informed them of the discrimination in adoption law...

B: ah, but what "use" do single men have for girls anyway?

Me: A: I am applying the same principle to both cases - that for credibility one should condemn injustice in the field one works in even if it's not injustice against the side that one purportedly champions. This is especially relevant since AWARE preoccupies itself with trivial pursuits in its pro-female cause, while ignoring more worthy injustices on the other side, despite its self-proclaimed mission of gender equality (another example: they supported the NoToFemaleRape campaign against the marital rape exception - ignoring the fact that female-on-male vaginal rape is not criminalised either, or that marital rapists have been and will be punished - just under a different section of the law)

And the legislators who wrote the adoption law (in 1972) aren't around anymore

In Singapore, as in most developed countries, the genders are not very far apart (indeed a case could be made that men are more disadvantaged). So pointing to gender discrimination in the past and in other countries is irrelevant when discussing an individual country's situation

Thanks for your suggestion. I have emailed AWARE. However I am not hopeful, given that their CEDAW Shadow Report (May 2011) quotes the Adoption law - including the section restricting single men from adopting girls - but does not highlight the discriminatory passage.

B: Presumably the same 'use' single women have for boys...

A: A case could be made that men are more disadvantaged? I find that very hard to believe, unless you are going to say that wealthy women have more advantages than poor men. I think organizations like AWARE probably don't have that many resources so they'll need to prioritize what issues they focus on, and unsurprisingly single men's adoption rights are not a priority. It seems that single men should form their own group to protest.

Me: Many of the examples of 'discrimination' that feminists point to aren't actually discrimination

For example women earn less than men because they are less qualified, have less relevant education, take more career breaks, are less risk-loving and choose less demanding jobs. This has been shown in many studies.

On the other hand it has also been shown that women are less likely to be convicted for crimes and to get lighter sentences even when they do.

- Has proclaimed that it is for gender equality for both genders
- Finds the time to protest free drinks promotions (but somehow not Ladies Nights which privilege women)

It is hard to believe that their priorities are not skewed

On Amnesty International:

"But an organisation which devotes more pages in its annual report to human-rights abuses in Britain and America than those in Belarus and Saudi Arabia cannot expect to escape doubters' scrutiny."

A: Less qualified because social pressures tell families that girls shouldn't be educated. Take more career breaks because of society telling them that they have to take full responsibility for caring for parents/kids. Less risk-loving - I've not heard whether this is true. This seems like something that only applies to finance and risk-taking isn't necessarily a good thing in finance. Choose less demanding jobs - so stuff like child care and housework isn't demanding? And many industries that are more demanding or "demanding" discourage women's participation.

Also, the whole "what about the poor, oppressed men" argument is anti-women. Yes, rape by women does happen and yes men can get raped, but are these really as serious problems in society than women being sexually assaulted? No. If the organization is focused on reducing human rights abuses in Britain and the US/Canada/Latin America, then why shouldn't it devote more pages of its reports on these places, than on Saudi Arabia, et al. Not sure what point you were trying to make with that.

Ladies nights do not objectify men like that cups promotion. Also Ladies Nights are not examples of misandry. This is like claiming that affirmative action is anti-white racism.

Also, dunno about SG but in the US/Canada more women graduate from university than men, so I doubt that they are less-qualified.

Re crimes - men accused of sexual assault and domestic violence rarely get convicted, and when they do, often get light sentences.

Me: Sure, one can say that there isn't direct discrimination against women, but that unequal outcomes are due to social pressures which affect the underlying variables. Yet that is a bait and switch, since the 'discrimination' which is railed against is direct discrimination, i.e. treating a woman differently from an otherwise-identical man. Also I note that while grand social engineering may be a treasured ambition of progressives, Communist attempts (e.g. Khmer Rouge) have shown us that such ambition is bound to cause more misery than it's worth.

In any case, in Singapore I believe more women are also in university than men (which opens up another avenue: when women have poorer education outcomes than men, there're allegations of sexual discrimination, but when men have poorer outcomes... we say nothing [except in the UK where I see people have pointed out this problem]). So it's not about social pressures against girls being educated.

Rather, girls take different courses and have lower GPAs. For example fewer finance courses, which leads to lower pay in the corporate and finance sectors. Or they take psychology or education instead of maths or engineering. Of course one could then say women are discouraged from taking finance/"harder" courses, but that is yet another separate argument. One should also consider that "single, widowed or divorced women earn more than their male counterparts" (which if anything points to discrimination against men in the workplace)

As for career breaks, family commitments are just one of many reasons for career breaks. I haven't been able to find studies on these things, but I think it is significant that of all the people I know or know of who have taken career breaks (in their 20s, too!), only 2 are men - one took the time off to do his CFA and one to travel the world. The rest are all girls. And many of them do not have children.

Also women take 4 months off (at least in Singapore) to have children. This fact of nature cannot be called discriminatory.

Yes, women are less risk-loving. This result has been consistently demonstrated in many studies. As for why this would lead to higher salaries for men, some mechanisms would include changing jobs more often and taking jobs with lower job security (and thus pay better)

By saying that I am saying that childcare is not demanding you are confusing the argument. I said that women don't take up demanding jobs - which pay better. That is entirely different. However I do actually think that childcare is not as demanding as salaried work. If it were as demanding, one would question why childcare workers are not paid more, wonder if our children were being properly taken care of or come to the strange conclusion that women are a lot more capable than men - it just doesn't show in the workplace.

I am not saying that rape of men by women is as serious a problem as women being sexually assaulted, but again you are going off on a tangent. I was referring specifically to *marital rape* in Singapore, which is a very restricted field. I don't see how the "what about the poor, oppressed men" argument is anti-women, any more than the "what about the poor, oppressed women" argument is anti-men. One should not think in such restrictive binary ways, where a win for one side is inevitably a loss for the other.

I know that the conviction rate for sexual crimes in the West is not very high, but that is as it should be. When it comes down to he said vs she said, where evidence is scarce and contested, the presumption of innocence should be maintained and result in a conservative conviction rate. Furthermore, 20% of rape samples the FBI puts through DNA testing exonerate suspects, while 20% are inconclusive. This should be very alarming, but is ignored by feminists. In any event, in Singapore is a male is accused of a sexual crime by a female he is basically screwed since women are unnaturally privileged here.

Sure I agree that an organization dedicated to human rights in Britain should concentrate on Britain, but here we are talking about Amnesty International, which I'm sure you know does not restrict its attention to the developed world. As they proclaim: "Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 3 million supporters, members and activists in more than 150 countries and territories who campaign to end grave abuses of human rights". One is thus impelled to question if double standards are being applied to what counts as a 'grave' abuse in the West as opposed to the rest of the world. And one must also note that in other circumstances, double standards would be considered discriminatory and unfair.

I'm not sure how the cup size promotion was an example of 'misandry' (privileging a party is tantamount to hating it?), and I didn't say that Ladies Nights were objectifying men (rather that they also objectified women - but AWARE did not complain about that). And actually yes, affirmative action discriminates in its present context discriminates against whites - as it discriminates against allegedly privileged groups in the rest of the world.

A: "If it were as demanding, one would question why childcare workers are not paid more, " Oh sure, like people are actually paid salaries that reflect how demanding their work is. Riiiighht. Tell that to minimum wage sweatshop workers.

Now that you admit to not supporting affirmative action, it makes sense why you hold such attitudes against women. Who's up for some bingo?

Me: That's about as helpful, constructive and logical as the attitudes they supposedly diss

A: Haha, sure whatever you say oh oppressed one. What else were you saying? Women are stupid and lazy and men are smart and hardworking - or in the immortal words of Barbie, "math class is hard, lets go shopping!", women getting maternity leave is unfair to men - those who don't have the experience bringing a child to term can't evaluate how much maternity leave people need, everyone is paid according to how hard their work is - all the hedge fund managers out there are smiling.

Me: ... and feminists complain when people think they are bra-burners

A: Yeah, because no bras were actually burnt. It's a myth.

Me: Sounds like all the bingo cards

A: What? You're saying bra burning isn't a myth or what

As far as bingo cards go, you hit several on them, especially this one

C: Rachel you are getting emotional. Why don't you take a time-out session.

A: Are you sure you didn't forget hysterical as well?

C: If that was meant as a sarcastic comment, your lack of self-awareness is quite intriguing. Putting words in your opponent's mouth isn't going to help your cause.

Me: While people may not know that bra-burning is a myth, I doubt most people who use the term today actually imagine that feminists burn their bras today (references to "minor bra- burning in the early 1970s" aside), any more than people imagine that, say, "card–carrying members of the ecology movement" actually carry around cards.

I would patiently explain why many of the points on that bingo card are misrepresentations or actually even correct, but it would appear that that would not be a good use of my time.

Suffice it to say that anyone can make bingo cards and throw them out. Whether what is on the bingo cards is really justified (in their use as satirical tools) is another matter.

Example from the other side:

Liberal reaction to logical arguments bingo

A: Yes anyone can make an argument about anything and some arguments have more merit than others. Who was claiming otherwise. I interpreted the other "go take a midol type" tone argument comment about being emotional as sarcastic so I responded in kind. If the emotional comment was serious it makes it a worse comment. Saying women don't work as hard on their careers is basically saying they're lazy, saying they're not educated, not qualified is basically saying they're stupid. Saying child care workers are compensated according to how demanding their work is is saying that people are paid fairly according to how demanding their work is, which is certainly not the case and classist, putting all faith in the so-called invisible hand on the free market. Saying giving women maternity leave is discrimination against men is certainly discriminatory and should not be decided by those who don't know what bringing a baby to term is like. Personally I like the Scandinavian model that provides both maternity and paternity leave. Anyway, you seem comfortable in your beliefs, though discriminatory, whether you can back them up with anecdata or real data. Bottom line, better off to form a men's rights group to protest an adoption law restrictive to single men than rely on Aware, which primarily focuses on discrimination against women. Probably won't continue this, cu.

Postscript 1: This is how more or less every disagreement with a feminist ends up - there have only been two who have been able to disagree civilly with me.

As Scott Adams observes:

"As emotion increases, reading comprehension decreases... You can see that the comments about the piece were little more than name-calling. When confronted with that sort of reaction, would it be wiser to treat the name-callers as you might treat respected professors with opinions worthy of consideration, or should you treat the name-callers as you would angry children, by not debating and not taking it personally?"

Postscript 2: I sent AWARE the following email about the adoption law on 19th June:


I was reading your CEDAW Shadow Report (May 2011) and noticed that you quoted Sections 3-5 of the Adoption of Children Act, including this part:

"An adoption order shall not be made in any case where the sole applicant is a male and the infant in respect of whom the application is made is a female unless the court is satisfied that there are special circumstances which justify as an exceptional measure the making of an adoption order."

However, I do not seem to be able to find anything on your website highlighting this glaring discrimination against single men who wish to adopt.

Hope you can address this issue in the future."

Yet, I still have gotten no reply from them.

I guess they rather spend their time protesting Ladies Nights and calling for Gender Studies classes in schools.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

France/Spain 2011 - Day 3, Part 4 - Strasbourg

"There’s so much comedy on television. Does that cause comedy in the streets?" - Dick Cavett


France/Spain 2011
Day 3 - 19th March - Strasbourg
(Part 4)

I then went back into the Cathedral to admire it.

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Stained glass

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2 guys admiring the altar

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Guy at altar

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Plaque on the choir (where the altar is)

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Plaque commemorating John Paul II's mass at the cathedral in 1988

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Rose Window

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Maison Kammerzell again

At about this time, I noticed some singing. On the cathedral tower I'd thought I'd heard a girl singing, and now it started again. And what singing it was:

Luc Arbogast with amazing falsetto (he was the busker from before)

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I was not the only enraptured one

Chest voice + falsetto

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Crowd from the back

One woman told a guy: "Il est castré... l'opéra" ("He's castrated... the opera"). Apparently she had never heard of counter-tenors.

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Luc Arbogast and his chest

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Luc Arbogast - Aux Portes de Sananda
I got one. Of the 12 tracks on the CD, 1 song comes from XIVth century Montserrat, one from the Italian repertoire of the 16th century, one is inspired by traditional Judeo-Andalousian music and the rest is by him.

From YouTube, he goes around topless (presumably when it's summer) to other parts of France to perform. He also has a MySpace.

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Rue de Maroquin ("Road of Moroccan leather")

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"Place du marché aux-cochons-de-lait"
("Square of the market with milk pigs")
Very nice name.

While doing a tour of Strasbourg (following the SNCF audioguide) I ran into a group of men at the Palais de Rohan (Rohan Palace - yes it's the same spelling as the land of the Rohirrim). It turned out they were following the same tradition as the all-female group from before (I asked but they were not getting married to each other).

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They were certainly a lot more colourful than the girls. Oh, and they also had condoms readily available. I told them a photo would be enough, but they still gave me sweets. They also had silicone (sealant, I think) and house glue for some reason.

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Palais de Rohan

The SNCF audioguide had interviews with historians. I was impressed. This was a free audioguide!

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Palais de Rohan side facing river

Not having time to visit everywhere the audioguide mentioned, I listened to some of the tracks without visiting those places. La Petite France (Little France) was called that because they used to keep people with Syphilis there. And since Syphilis was the French disease, the name stuck. Naturally this did not happen when Strasbourg was a French town.

There was also the Place Gutenberg and Brasserie du Canon on the audioguide map but it wasn't a real map (it wasn't to scale and didn't have streets etc) so I gave up.

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"Mouvement Jeunes Communistes"
("Movement of Young Communists")

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Exhibition on when Strasbourg was a Roman legionary camp on the Rhine from the 1st-4th centuries. I didn't have time sadly.

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More exhibitions

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Courtyard of Palais de Rohan

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Entrance to Courtyard

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A church

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Church side

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Wedding couple

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Hello Kitty boutique. Ugh.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

N. China - Day 10, Part 4 - Yungang Grottoes

"Normal is not something to aspire to, it's something to get away from." - Jodie Foster


N. China
Day 10 - 8th November - Yungang Grottoes
(Part 4)

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"经上级部门同意 云冈石窟在景区建设期间 执行门下浮价 每张100元"
("Since superiors have agreed Yungang Grottoes, during the renovations, will have a ticket price discount of 30¥")
The sign on our tickets announcing the entry fee reduction

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Ratnasambhava Buddha Cave 19 460-470 AD

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I can't figure out which cave this belongs to. Perhaps Cave 20.

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Cave 20

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Praying to Buddha

For caves 21-38 (which were less impressive than 1-20 and thus had no information plaques information available, and sometimes were not even individually marked with their numbers) they were erecting barriers like for 1-20.

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The higher one should be 22 and the lower 23

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Various caves

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Pagoda Cave 39

Shanxi industrial (coal mining) landscape around Yungang Grottoes

At this point there was a chair for an absent guard, and a sign that said "危险止步" ("Danger. Do not pass"). Naturally I ignored it.

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The Chinese idea of danger zzz (Caves 40-45)
In any case there was nothing inside them anyway

I then availed myself of the very modern conveniences.

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For China this was the lap of luxury. Appearance aside there was still the Chinese toilet smell.

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The Toilet Cleaners' Code:
保洁员保标准为五清 : 即人走镜清, 面池清, 台面清, 地面清, 便池清”
("Cleanliness personnel shall not leave their posts without permission for no needlessly while in second grade [?]
Cleanliness personnel's maintenance targets consist of the 5 Cleanlinesses: in other words, People walk and there is the cleanliness of the mirror, cleanliness of the sink, cleanliness of the counter, cleanliness of the floor, cleanliness of the cesspit)")
Presumably other cleanlinesses do not need to be taken care of.

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Some of the caves

The 2 nicest caves were the best preserved, and lots of colour (especially impressive given their age). They had statues from floor to ceiling. So I went back to have a look since photography was banned.

In cave 6, I saw a woman with her recording apparatus out. I have always been a big believer of "When in China, do as the Chinese do" so I did likewise.

Yungang Grottoes Cave 6 panorama

For #5, with the Giant Buddha, security was tigheter and there was less room to walk (for #6 there was a block in the middle one could hide behind). Also there was no one to be thrown out with me.

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Rock landscape on which they're building something. There was a sign saying there was a Temple of the Dragon King. I'd no idea what it referred to. Maybe they were building it.

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UNESCO plaque

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"Premier Zhou made his great contribution to protection of the cultural heritage of the world and he will be remembered forever!"
The sign talks about his 1973 visit and how he saw the state the site was in. Of course, it doesn't mention his role in protecting Chinese cultural and heritage from its biggest threat in history - the Cultural Revolution.

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Business Center - in a touristic site (the "self-service bank" is an ATM). Business never stops in China.
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