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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Links - 25th February 2012

"No animal should ever jump up on the dining-room furniture unless absolutely certain that he can hold his own in the conversation." - Fran Lebowitz


Red-Wine Researcher Charged With 'Photoshop' Fraud - "A University of Connecticut researcher known for touting the health benefits of red wine is guilty of 145 counts of fabricating and falsifying data with image-editing software... Dr. Das said the accusations against him are part of a campaign to rid the university health center of the "Indian community." "I became the Devil for the Health Center, and so did all the Indians working for me," he wrote. "The evidence for conspiracy and racial hatred is overwhelming." He also alleged that the stress of battling the university administration led to a brain hemorrhage and stroke"
White Privilege strikes again!

Porn star doesn't mean prostitute:Sunny Leone - ""My parents, who are originally from Punjab, were completely shocked when they found out I was in the adult entertainment industry. Their reaction was what I expected, and I was prepared for it. When my father realized what I did, he said, 'You didn't even ask us before you did this! But whatever you do, make sure you do it well'... the fact that my work didn't change me as a person worked in my favour. My parents soon realized it and respected me for who I am and my decisions... Have her parents seen any of her hardcore adult videos? "Of course not! Whose parents would do that?" she asks."

Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It - NYTimes.com - "Many people say they are angry because the government is wasting money and giving money to people who do not deserve it. But more than that, they say they want to reduce the role of government in their own lives. They are frustrated that they need help, feel guilty for taking it and resent the government for providing it... “It may hurt now, but it will be absolutely deadly for the next generation — that’s our children and our grandchildren”... Almost half of all Americans lived in households that received government benefits in 2010... One of the oldest criticisms of democracy is that the people will inevitably drain the treasury by demanding more spending than taxes. The theory is that citizens who get more than they pay for will vote for politicians who promise to increase spending. But Dean P. Lacy, a professor of political science at Dartmouth College, has identified a twist on that theme in American politics over the last generation. Support for Republican candidates, who generally promise to cut government spending, has increased since 1980 in states where the federal government spends more than it collects. The greater the dependence, the greater the support for Republican candidates. Conversely, states that pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits tend to support Democratic candidates. And Professor Lacy found that the pattern could not be explained by demographics or social issues... “I’m glad I’m not a politician,” he said. “We’re all going to complain no matter what they do. Nobody wants to put a noose around their own neck”"

CPI, inflation and the elephant in the room - "Imputed rent is designed as a 'proxy' variable for housing costs... let us be clear. It is basically a shadow price designed to capture the impact of housing inflation on the cost of living. And housing inflation is about as 'core' to the domestic inflation process as you can get in Singapore, both from a cost-push and demand-pull perspective. No other developed country excludes housing from the 'core', unless there is a measurement issue. In fact, the relatively more dominant role that housing plays in every Singaporean's personal balance sheet just adds to the case for inclusion. Just look at the relationship between mortgage growth and consumer price index (CPI) inflation. Pretending otherwise is pure sophistry"
Hoho with Adam Le Mesurier's forum letter maybe Goldman Sachs is gonna get whacked. Or his work permit/PR will be revoked like Ryan Goh Yew Hock

Smoker Inspired By Sight Of Elderly Smoker | The Onion - America's Finest News Source | Onion Radio News
Be against stereotypes!

A Common Organic Sweetener May Boost Arsenic Levels in Foods - "Organic brown rice syrup, a popular sweetener in organic and gluten-free foods -- including some formulas made for toddlers -- is a source of the toxin arsenic"
But it's Natural!

Android app permissions - How Google gets it right ... - "There's been a lot of news lately about a lapse in either security or judgment -- both, really -- at Apple that allows iOS applications to borrow your contact data and send it off to parts unknown without your consent. Apple has addressed the issue to members of the U.S. Congress, and will take steps to hold tighter control in a future iOS update"

Study suggests U.S. box office not affected by BitTorrent - "More importantly, the report revealed that movie studios hold the power to curb piracy by decreasing international box office release windows."

Familial Linkage between Neuropsychiatric Disorders and Intellectual Interests - "Students aspiring to technical majors (science/mathematics/engineering) were more likely than other students to report a sibling with an autism spectrum disorder (p = 0.037). Conversely, students interested in the humanities were more likely to report a family member with major depressive disorder (p = 8.8×10−4), bipolar disorder (p = 0.027), or substance abuse problems (p = 1.9×10−6)... shared genetic (and perhaps environmental) factors may both predispose for heritable neuropsychiatric disorders and influence the development of intellectual interests."

Social Media and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Asian Game Devs, I'm Begging You: No More Three Kingdoms - "In China, though, it seems almost as if “Three Kingdoms” is the default setting for any developer looking to make a game, virtually regardless of the genre."

Why film schools teach screenwriters not to pass the Bechdel test - "I had to understand that the audience only wanted white, straight, male leads. I was assured that as long as I made the white, straight men in my scripts prominent, I could still offer groundbreaking characters of other descriptions (fascinating, significant women, men of color, etc.) – as long as they didn’t distract the audience from the white men they really paid their money to see"
This points to a better explanation for why so many things fail the best other than what the same writer calls "an undeclared war against women": just as minority cultures have been ghettoised while White - or at least Anglo - culture has become World culture, so too do we see a division in gender coding between what is female and what is unisex. Similarly, men win the Nobel Peace Prize for Universal issues, while women win it for Women's issues

Dating Coach David Tian on Singapore TV: Why Are More Singapore Girls Dating Expat Men?

Attitudes of women, media and society towards contraception : are we making progress ? - "In 1930 in the encyclical Casti cannubii (Chaste Marriage) the Vatican began down the same road of theologic accommodation to the need for contraception. In a contrived and convoluted way the church began to approve the rhythm method of family planning. The Vatican Council in 1962 was a major milestone in Catholic theology. The majority of Catholics and practically all theologians of stature began to develop an ethical system that embraced so-called artificial contraception. In 1963 Pope Paul VI set up a Pontifical Commission to discuss the matter. Pope Paul was obsessed with the prestige of his office and in the end he rejected the majority findings of his own commission and endorsed a minority report by Cardinal Ottaviani, Fr. John Ford, and others... After Humane vitae the percentage of American Catholics attending mass on a weekly basis dropped from 71% to 50%... Family planning became a common practice regardless of religion, and today the percentage of Catholic women having abortions in the United States is slightly higher than the percentage of non-Catholic women"

Wikipedia top rated for ‘health’ information - "the quality of information on depression and schizophrenia on Wikipedia was generally as good as, or better than that provided by centrally controlled websites or psychiatry textbooks"

Wordmall: Mistakenly racist terms - "'A friend of mine became upset when I used the phrase “to call a spade a spade.” She says that it’s a vicious racist term'... It’s a sign of our hypersensitive times that innocent words are often branded as offensive. Quite bluntly, such a reaction is the product of ignorance... The same is true of “a coon’s age.” It refers to the raccoon and the mistaken notion that it lives a very long time... Twisted minds can take innocent words and images and turn them into an attack, but sometimes the fault is with the listener or reader who, through ignorance, interprets an innocent or unconnected word with verbal assault. This is why I take Ludwig Wittgenstein’s words to heart: “The limits of my language are the limits of my world”"

朵朵神速大宣传视频www.jbladyshop.com - YouTube - "Stop when you reach 36D. Please don't be too big *pictures of American women*"
What's with the Chinese and dodgy bust enhancement products? They need to open outlets in Singapore.

Heartbreaking photographs capture the facial expressions of animals

Bill Nicholson’s Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding

My Shepard is Asexual, and That's Okay - "But growing up asexual, without even a name to put to your confusion and disconnect, can become increasingly frustrating. Especially if you want to believe your hobby of choice has value, is artistically or ethically defensible, and/or does something for you another entertainment medium can't. Unsurprisingly, games insist upon being written for the same sexual majority as film and books. Knowing I hadn't a chance in hell to reshape those attitudes, I tried to adjust my own instead...
It sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? As though choosing not to have sex weren't just as important as choosing to have it. But I had been programemd to believe that there was something uncomfortably abnormal about not wanting sex. No-- that there was something wrong about me. It's almost embarrassing how much self-reflection it took to change my mind."
Asexuals: another group to cater to to be "inclusive"

Maths Problem of the Day

A Charming Korean Folktale

"Man always gets less than he demands from life." - Jack London


Why People’s Noses Run When They Catch Cold

Collected by Yim Suk-jay from a schoolboy of fifteen in 1915 in elementary school in Sunch’ang, North Cholla province. Translated by Roger L. and Dawnhee Yim Janelli.

The collector heard this scatological legend from a schoolmate. The teller was Pak Chong-tae from Taekang Myon, Manwon Kun, North Cholla province.

Motifs are A1337.0.2 “Disease caused by ghosts”; F547.3 “Extraordinary penis”; and F547.5.4 “Double vagina.”

Long, long ago, there was a king who had a son, and this son had two penises hanging there. So when it came time for him to marry, his father planned to marry him to a girl with two vulvas. But although they searched far and wide, they couldn’t find such a girl.

The king’s son died without ever getting married, so he became a ghost who wandered around looking for a girl with two vulvas. This ghost searched everywhere and looked very hard, but he just couldn’t find one. And so, since there was nothing else he could do, he began doing it to people’s nostrils. From that time on, people began to catch cold. When somebody catches a cold his nose is stuffed up at first and he can’t breathe, and then later his nose starts to run. That’s because when the ghost puts his penises up there the nose feels stuffed up. After he’s finished, he takes them out and that’s when people can start to breathe again. But because he left his liquid up there, their noses run.

--- Folktales Told Around the World / Richard Mercer Dorson

Addendum: Comment on reddit:

"I did a report on this while taking language courses back in 98. None of the teachers had ever heard of it.

When I went to Korea for 2 years a couple of years later, no one I ever asked had ever heard of it."

Friday, February 24, 2012

Rafles Place in the 1960s

"with Robinsons building, United Overseas Bank, The Chartered Bank and John Little."

Crying, Strength and Weakness

"What doesn’t kill you makes you smaller" – Mario


"People cry, not because they're weak. It's because they've been strong for too long"

This is another of those throwaway phrases that many people love.

Yet, what does it really mean? If we rephrase it, it comes out as the following restatements:

1) Weak people don't cry
2) People who aren't strong for too long don't cry
3) Only people who are strong for too long cry

From being a sign of weakness, crying has somehow now been transformed into a sign of strength, albeit overextended strength. This would befuddle not only those crying due to weakness or a problem (and possibly direct them from help they could well benefit from) but also those who know people who cry at the drop of a pin.

Of course one fudge is to say that nobody is weak, and we only have strong people who do not overextend themselves, and strong people who do.

Yet this is sophistry, for if no one is weak, then nobody can be strong either.

Measuring Media Bias, and Reactions

"Aristotle was famous for knowing everything. He taught that the brain exists merely to cool the blood and is not involved in the process of thinking. This is true only of certain persons." - Will Cuppy


Left Turn: When hell broke loose | Power Line

"18 of the 20 outlets were left of center. The only two that were not were the Washington Times and Fox News’ Special Report with Brit Hume.

Our findings, however, contradicted a few claims of conservatives. For instance, they showed that some mainstream news outlets are nearly perfectly centrist, albeit still left-leaning. Two were ABC’s Good Morning America and [PBS's] The Newshour with Jim Lehrer. Also, we found that many supposedly far-left news outlets were not that far left. For instance, we found that National Public Radio was no more liberal than the Washington Post, Time, or Newsweek. And we found that it was less liberal than the average speech by Senator Joe Lieberman...

Our study was denounced by hundreds, and maybe thousands, of left-wing blogs, including Media Matters, the Daily Kos, and the Huffington Post. At one point if you googled “crap UCLA study,” most of the first ten listings would refer to our study...

Many of the blogs attacked us personally and tried to insinuate that right wing groups had paid us to fudge our results.

The emails were even more vicious. “I’ve been in media relations for twelve years, and I’ve never seen anything like this... I hope your home address is not public”

A few people emailed the UCLA chancellor, insisting that I be fired. One of them noted on the subject line “Groseclose must be fired IMMEDIATELY,” as if simply firing me next week would a grave injustice...

[A colleague] casually mentioned how the only people who listen to Rush Limbaugh are ignorant extremists. I quickly explained why he was wrong, and told him, in fact, that I had been listening to Limbaugh that day...

I told him, “No, it’s not true that liberals and conservatives are equally decent. Liberals have worse manners, they go to church less, they more often live in aggressive, urban environments, they shout people down at public speeches, and they use more vulgarity when they talk.” At first he didn’t respond. I think he decided that the best response was just to give me a look as if I had just claimed that the earth was flat. But then, just for good measure, he said “Funny how all of those well-mannered conservatives favor pre-emptive strikes against innocent Iraqis”...

The chairs of the departments of sociology, religion, and German and Russian languages were especially angry, and they called it “offensive” and “scandalous.” One said “The study isn’t research. It’s agitprop for the conservative blogosphere.”

After the meeting, one of the professors sent Milyo an email to reprimand him:

… In that lay part of my objection, and here I have to say that it’s not to your work qua research at all. Rather, its presentation on the website made a pretty categorical claim about bias that taps into a charged political environment. There are difficult issues that underpin the website headline, and your study is complex and sophisticated enough to treat many of them; far more subtle and nuanced than the journalistic reductio. There are of course issues outstanding or open to discussion (what’s included by way of news sources, whether conceptual categories like liberal and conservative have veridical legitimacy as identity markers, where and how one designates boundaries of same [i.e., you can call something X and cite as reason a widely accepted standard, but that in no way means that the thing really is X, or so a philosopher would say], how one categorizes constellations of dispositions, how one treats what Bakhtin called dialogism in discourse analysis, and so forth. …

Milyo and I couldn’t understand him either...

The most vicious response of all was by Eric Alterman, a writer at Media Matters. He insinuated that we were paid by rightwing think tanks to fudge our results. “Rigging the Numbers” was the title of his essay...

Larry Greenfield, a fellow at the Claremont Institute, has made a profound observation about the psyche of the far left: “They worship the god of Equality.” A corollary of his observation is the following: While other virtues, such as kindness and honesty, are important, they are secondary when they clash with Equality.

Our study, at least in small ways, harms the goal of Equality. In at least small ways, it works to make U.S. public policy less “progressive” and less consistent with “social justice.” If you are an advocate of “social justice” and “progressive” values, then, even if you believe that our study is true, you should hate it. Further, if you value Equality more than other virtues, then it would be appropriate for you to conclude, “Smearing Groseclose and Milyo’s study is justified, even if the smears are false.” You would also be justified in attacking us personally, even saying false and vicious things about our character. As the leftwing icon Saul Alinsky advised, “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it [my emphasis], and polarize it”...

The present views of the average voter are distorted—that is, if it weren’t for media bias, then those views would be more conservative. While my original study found that the media is to the left of the (distorted) position of the average voter, the above fact means that the media is even further away from the natural, non-distorted position of the average voter. That is, not only is the media biased, it’s even more biased than people realize.

But before I describe that research, let me describe the most surprising response to our study—that of professors at elite universities...

Although the audiences at those universities were overwhelmingly liberal, and often they raised methodological objections, not once did anyone attack me personally; nor did anyone ever suggest that I was anything but honest while conducting the research...

Not one of the professors who criticized the study showed up at the debate...

At no point in the review process did anyone at the [Quarterly Journal of Economics] ask, “Are you currently, or have you ever been, associated with any conservative organization?” Many leftwing blogs, including Media Matters, denounced our paper because of our prior affiliation with conservative groups. Some blogs, for the same reason, even denounced the QJE for accepting our paper. The writers at these blogs should consider how much they sound like Joe McCarthy—once you substitute “conservative” for “communist.” The beauty of the review process at the QJE—and all other scientific journals of which I am aware—is that they don’t care about the political views and associations of the authors who submit papers. They judge the papers strictly by their merits...

A few months after the QJE accepted our paper, instead of firing me, UCLA promoted me—from Associate Professor of Political Science to “full” Professor of Political Science.

That one surprised me. Out of the many hundreds of professors at UCLA, I’m aware of only nine who voted for John McCain in 2008, and one of those nine asked me never to reveal that fact to anyone at UCLA. I am almost certain that not one dean, chancellor, or vice-chancellor at UCLA voted for McCain in 2008 or Bush in 2000 or 2004."

On the methodology:

"Dr. Tim Groseclose, a professor of political science and economics at UCLA, has spent years constructing precise, quantitative measures of the slants of media outlets. He does this by measuring the political content of news and converting that content into an SQ, or “slant quotient,” of the outlet. To determine bias, he compares SQs of news outlets to the PQs, or “political quotients,” of voters and politicians.

Among his conclusions are (i) all mainstream media outlets have a liberal bias, and (ii) while some supposedly conservative outlets—such as the Washington Times or Fox News Special Report—do lean right, their conservative bias is less than the liberal bias of most mainstream outlets."

Amusingly, I got 72.5 (more "liberal" than John F. Kennedy, and a bit less so than Joe Lieberman). Actually this just measures whether you'd vote more Democratic or Republican.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Australia 2011 - Day 5: Pictures from MR

"There is still a difference between something and nothing, but it is purely geometrical and there is nothing behind the geometry." - Martin Gardner


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Uluru Sunrise View

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Uluru and Plains

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Kata Tjuta in the Dawn Light

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Sun Disk

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The Kata Tjuta Landscape

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Kata Tjuta

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Kata Tjuta path

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Kata Tjuta

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Forlorn bench

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Dune in the "Dune Walk"

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Ayer's Rock and Mt Olga views from "Dune Walk"

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Ayer's Rock road

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Climbing Uluru

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Ayer's Rock side

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Holes in rock from jumping god

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Murals in another cave

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Testimony to popularity of camper vans

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Mala - one of the species of wallabies sacred to the aboriginals of the area

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Bear in mind that this was winter.

Bushfire 2

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Kings Canyon Path

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View from sunset spot

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Me trying strange Indomie

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Anti-dingo gate

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Silent and sure
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