When you can't live without bananas

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

La pire séduction de l'histoire (The worst seduction in history)

(they come with English subtitles as well)

"Je vous aime, Suzanne. Je vous aimerai jusqu'à la fin de mes jours.
Tu as de beaux seins."

"Et mes jambes, comment sont-elles ?"

"Aussi très belles. Je t'aime"

--- Un barrage contre le pacifique (The Sea Wall), 2008

Monsieur Jo (Randal Douc) faille séduire Suzanne (Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey) dans sa voiture / Mr Jo fails to seduce Suzanne in his car

Ce qu'on voit et ce qu'on ne voit pas

"Dans la sphère économique, un acte, une habitude, une institution, une loi n'engendrent pas seulement un effet, mais une série d'effets. De ces effets, le premier seul est immédiat; il se manifeste simultanément avec sa cause, on le voit. Les autres ne se déroulent que successivement, on ne les voit pas; heureux si on les prévoit.

Entre un mauvais et un bon Économiste, voici toute la différence: l'un s'en tient à l'effet visible; l'autre tient compte et de l'effet qu'on voit et de ceux qu'il faut prévoir.

Mais cette différence est énorme, car il arrive presque toujours que, lorsque la conséquence immédiate est favorable, les conséquences ultérieures sont funestes, et vice versa. — D'où il suit que le mauvais Économiste poursuit un petit bien actuel qui sera suivi d'un grand mal à venir, tandis que le vrai économiste poursuit un grand bien à venir, au risque d'une petit mal actuel.

Du reste, il en est ainsi en hygiène, en morale. Souvent, plus le premier fruit d'une habitude est doux, plus les autres sont amers. Témoin: la débauche, la paresse, la prodigalité. Lors donc qu'un homme, frappé de l'effet qu'on voit, n'a pas encore appris à discerner ceux qu'on ne voit pas, il s'abandonne à des habitudes funestes, non-seulement par penchant, mais par calcul.

Ceci explique l'évolution fatalement douloureuse de l'humanité. L'ignorance entoure son berceau; donc elle se détermine dans ses actes par leurs premières conséquences, les seules, à son origine, qu'elle puisse voir. Ce n'est qu'à la longue qu'elle apprend à tenir compte des autres. Deux maîtres, bien divers, lui enseignent cette leçon: l'Expérience et la Prévoyance. L'expérience régente efficacement mais brutalement. Elle nous instruit de tous les effets d'un acte en nous les faisant ressentir, et nous ne pouvons manquer de finir par savoir que le feu brûle, à force de nous brûler. À ce rude docteur, j'en voudrais, autant que possible, substituer un plus doux: la Prévoyance. C'est pourquoi je rechercherai les conséquences de quelques phénomènes économiques, opposant à celles qu'on voit celles qu'on ne voit pas."

--- Ce qu'on voit et ce qu'on ne voit pas / Frédéric Bastiat

Monday, June 10, 2013

Links - 10th June 2013

"The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten." - Anonymous


Race The Dead - Singapore First 5k Zombie Obstacle Run

Dutch Question St. Nick's Sidekick - "Sinterklaas, the Dutch inspiration for Santa Claus, does things differently. He travels to the Netherlands by boat, not by flying reindeer. He lives in Spain, not the North Pole. He is white-bearded, but not necessarily fat or jolly. Perhaps of greatest importance to his clients, Sinterklaas always delivers three weeks early--on the eve of St. Nicholas, which this year is Sunday. These are among the many Christmas traditions here, but much more remarkable is that Sinterklaas is always accompanied by one or more dark-complexioned helpers known as Zwarte Piet, or Black Peter. Black Peter has for centuries terrified Dutch children as the ultimate boogeyman of nightmares and parental threats. He is Sinterklaas's dark alter ego, his enforcer and his bagman. If you have been a good child, Black Peter will give you goodies from his bag. If you have been a naughty child, Black Peter will put you in his sack and take you away--to Spain!... "People say, 'Why Black Peter?' I say, 'Why not Black Peter?' " said Marvin Tuur, 31, a bartender born in Suriname, the former Dutch colony in South America where the population is almost entirely black-skinned. Tuur said the Sinterklaas-Black Peter tradition is still very strong in Suriname. "A White Peter wouldn't work," he said. "What's scary about that?"

Miss Korea contestants reveal faces without makeup to prove NO plastic surgery used - "Just a few days ago when the photos of Miss Korea contestants stir controversy over the internet because of their similar look. And plastic surgery has been blamed for creating look-alike candidates. Soon after the 20 contestants who dress in normal attire and wear light makeup prove us that they are not the products of plastic surgery...but makeup and Photoshop"

Meguro Parasitological Museum in Tokyo, Japan - "this veritable parasite safari will probably encourage you to cut back on your sushi intake. Although there isn't much English signage, you'll still get a kick out of the rows of formaldehyde-preserved critters, which are labelled with their Latin names (don't miss the 8.8m-long tapeworm!)"

Historical hipsters: Shakespeare and Elizabeth I get makeovers from modern artists

Can Singapore's hawker food heritage survive? - ""We have this culinary prejudice where we are willing to pay S$20 for a pasta carbonara but will complain when the price of a plate of Hokkien Mee [fried noodles] increases from S$3 to S$3.50. So we do need to place our own Singaporean heritage and hawker culture on a higher level." In other words, if Singaporeans want to continue eating the street food they love in the future, they may need to put their money where their mouth is - either by paying more, or changing their perceptions of the hawker industry."

Perfect Ice Cream Sandwich - How To - YouTube

Ten Types of Shitty Coworkers and How to Not Murder Them
11. The Passive-Aggressive sort who rages about everyone else

Sex-for-grades trial: Judge has harsh words for Tey - "Tey had also "played the lead role" in the two sexual encounters he had with Ms Ko, he said, and his "callousness" was evident as he had asked Ms Ko to "get rid of the baby", while claiming he had no money to pay for the abortion. As he caused her to lose her virginity and took a life through an abortion, Tey deserved a harsher sentence of three months each for those charges than the prosecution's suggestion of six to eight weeks per charge, he said. "The scourge of corruption, which causes untold misery and human suffering, must not be allowed to take root in our tertiary institutions," said the judge."
Apparently abortion and deflowering virgins are crimes in Singapore

Day of week of procedure and 30 day mortality for elective surgery: retrospective analysis of hospital episode statistics - "The adjusted odds of death were 44% and 82% higher, respectively, if the procedures were carried out on Friday (odds ratio 1.44, 95% confidence interval 1.39 to 1.50) or a weekend (1.82, 1.71 to 1.94) compared with Monday."

Why does France insist school pupils master philosophy? - "The purpose of the philosophy Bac is not to understand the history of human thought but to leap into the stream that is the actuality of human thought... one of the effects of having such an ideas-based vision of society, and elevating ideas to such heights, is that people actually start believing in them, and then maybe they start thinking the ideas are worth fighting for, or perhaps dying for, or perhaps even killing for. And then what? A few days ago, for example, a man shot himself dead in Notre Dame cathedral... In his last blog post he quoted Heidegger saying the last second of a man's life had as much significance as all that went before. Here was a man, arguably, who fell so in love with his own ideas that he decided to take his life. How very French."

1: Mos Espa | A Photographer Rediscovers The Crumbling Remains Of Tatooine

TV time 'does not breed badly behaved children' - "Spending hours watching TV or playing computer games each day does not harm young children's social development, say experts. The Medical Research Council (MRC) team who studied more than 11,000 primary school pupils says it is wrong to link bad behaviour to TV viewing. Although researchers found a small correlation between the two, they say other influences, such as parenting styles, most probably explain the link. But they still say "limit screen time". This cautionary advice is because spending lots of time in front of the TV every day might reduce how much time a child spends doing other important activities such as playing with friends and doing homework, they say."

Japanese Vending Machines "Used Panties" - YouTube - "Here is a quick vid of the vending machine corner not too far from my friends' apartments. Including the porno vending machines and one stocked with used panties. These are not fake!"
Despite noisy denials, they are real!

Classical music calms 'rowdy' Paris commuters - ""From now on, when our employees identify a group of young people that gives the impression of creating trouble, they can play classical music. Imagine, it works! Subjecting these persons to tunes they are not familiar with has the added benefit of making them flee," the statement added"

Are Associations Attitudes? - "I’d like to discuss the IAT (implicit association test) today; specifically, I’d like to address the matter of how well the racial IAT correlates (or rather, fails to correlate) with other measures of racial prejudice, and how we ought to interpret that result... Unfortunately, many psychological researchers and laypeople alike have taken a unwarranted conceptual leap: they assume that these differential association strengths imply implicit racist attitudes. This assumption happens to meet with an unfortunate snag, however, which is that these implicit associations tend to have very weak to no correlations with explicit measures of racial prejudice (even if the measures themselves, like the Modern Racism Scale, are of questionable validity to begin with). Indeed, as reviewed by Arkes & Tetlock (2004), whereas the vast majority of undergraduates tested manifest exceedingly low levels of “modern racism”, almost all of them display a stronger association between white faces and positivity. Faced with this lack of correlation, many people have gone on to make a second assumption to account for this lack, that assumption being that the implicit measure is able to tap some “truer” prejudiced attitude that the explicit measures are not as able to tease out... quicker associations between whites and positive concepts are capable of being generated by merely being aware of racial stereotypes, irrespective of whether one endorses them on any level, conscious or not. Indeed, even African American subjects were found to manifest pro-white biases in these tests. One could take those results as indicative of black subjects being implicit racist against their own ethnic group, though it would seem to make more sense to interpret those results in terms of the black subjects being aware of the stereotypes they did not endorse... the results of the IAT do not test whether there is a negative association towards any one group; just whether one group is rated more positively than another. While whites might have a stronger association with positive concepts than blacks, it does not follow that blacks have a negative association overall, nor that whites have a particularly positive one either. Both groups could be held in high or low regard overall, with one being slightly favored. In much the same way, I might enjoy eating both pizza and turkey sandwiches, but I would tend to enjoy eating pizza more. Since the IAT does not track whether these response time differentials are due to hostility, these results do not automatically seem to apply well to most definitions of prejudice. Finally, the authors make the (perhaps politically incorrect) point that noticing behavioral differences between groups – racial or otherwise – and altering behavior accordingly is not, de facto, evidence of an irrational racial biases; it could well represent the proper use of Bayesian inference, passing correspondence benchmarks for rational behavior... a final point worth considering is that this test measures the automaticity of activation; not necessarily the pattern of activation which will eventually obtain. While my immediate reaction towards a brownie within the first 200 milliseconds might be “eat that”, that doesn’t mean that I will eventually end up eating said brownie, nor would it make me implicitly opposed toward the idea of dieting. It would seem that, in spite of these implicit associations, society as a whole has been getting less overtly racist. The need for researchers to dig this deep to try and study racism could be taken as heartening, given that we, “now attempt to gauge prejudice not by what people do, or by what people say, but rather by millisecs of response facilitation of inhibition in implicit association paradigms”"
Even African Americans are racist!

Why Are They Called “Spoilers”? - "a hardcore Star Wars fan would probably not have enjoyed someone leaving the theater in 1980 blurting out that Darth Vader was Luke’s father; by comparison, someone who didn’t know anything about Star Wars probably wouldn’t have cared. In other words, the subjects likely have absolutely no emotional attachment to the stories they were reading and, as such, the information they were being given was not exactly a spoiler. If the authors weren’t studying what people would typically consider aversive spoilers in the first place, then their conclusions about spoilers more generally are misplaced. One of the other issues, as I hinted at before, is that the stories themselves were all rather short. It would take no more than a few minutes to read even the longest of them. This lack of investment of time could cause a major issue for the study"
Addendum: This is about the story which showed that spoilers increase enjoyment

France 2012 - Day 3-7 - Rambouillet (Part 1)

France 2012
Day 3-7 - 15th October-19th October - Rambouillet
(Part 1)

This week I had lessons at l'Institut International de Rambouillet. Unfortunately this was low season, so there were no activities and only two classes. The town of Rambouillet was half an hour from Paris by train, but having been there a few times I didn't really feel compelled to go there.

I wanted to watch La Fille du Régiment and Les Noces de Figaro, which were playing in Paris, despite the lack of surtitles and thus risking violating my rule of only watching operas if there were surtitles in a language I understood. Unfortunately tickets were sold out by the time I arrived in Rambouillet; so much for wanting to assess the ground (train schedules, class timetables etc) - I should just have bought tickets and skipped classes if necessary. So I missed Natalie Dessay in the former.

There were a lot of Japanese students there, and almost all of them were girls (indeed, I was one of the very few male students - and the only one in my class). We were discussing strange aspects of Japan, and it turned out the Japanese have a word for the area between a woman's hemline and her knee, which Japanese men have a fetish for. Then an Israeli woman complained that when she talked to Japanese they stared at the area between her bust and her neck, and she wanted to slap them. According to the Japanese girls, it would be impolite to look her in the eye.

All 3 Japanese girls in my class had that ubiquitous handheld translator device.

It seems people in Kyoto are not nice beause tourists annoy them.

Apparently many Japanese are allergic to alcohol. On this subject, an American girl was allergic to wheat flour but the Israeli to alcohol, and the former preferred her allergy.

Japanese use a lot of water and leave the lights on 24/7. This is a problem when Japanese students homestay. Incidentally I suspect it's only in Europe (including the UK) where you have motion-activated lights, or lights where a button will turn them on for a while but they will later turn off.

As expected the rooms were generally overheated (at least for my tastes), so I drank a lot of water and sat near the door in the classroom. The situation in my room was more annoying: despite fiddling with controls I was unable to turn down the heating, so my room became a sauna in the day. In the end I had to open the window to let all the hot air out, which was very wasteful.

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Street sign for "Le PUNJAB", an Indian restaurant

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"Bel-Air" kindergarten. Hurr.
Also the Arbouville farm must be very famous

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Rambouillet street
Notice that the Orange store almost faces its competitor SFR. SFR didn't have an attractive pre-paid mobile phone deal: €9,90 for the SIM and €35 for 1G of data, so I held out for Orange which was closed on Monday.

The town was bigger than I thought. There was even a Carrefour City, open from 9-1pm on Sundays.

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Lingerie - behind bars

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Their pride in their history - Henry IV (strangely, spelled the English way) granted them letters of patent in 1595

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"Everything rolls [functions] cheaper with Ada"
This is a bad pun

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Hôtel de Ville, 17th century. Naturally, Rambouillet is yet another "Ville d'art et d'histoire", and this building is certainly one reason. I'm surprised that there're only 167 cities in this category.

I then went snooping in Carrefour.

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Tea. Note that little is black tea - there were 1.5 shelves of plain black tea and Earl Grey: Lipton Yellow Label and Darjeeling. The rest were Green Tea, Infusions, Fruit Tea (technically Earl Grey is probably a Fruit Tea but it's in the canon so we let it pass)

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"Carrefour prawn fritters, which are crunchy and melt in your mouth, are a great accompaniment for your apéritifs and Asian meals. These prawn fritters lack colouring, preservatives and are made from fresh prawns"
Keropok never sounded so good
Surprisingly it was only €0,73 for 50g, which was okay. It's an Indonesian recipe, but uses sunflower oil - FAIL!

BJ was more expensive than I expected: €5,92 per pint. Haagen-Dazs was a few cents more. Of course, the cheapest wine was €1,50 for 750ml.

Cookies were cheaper than in Singapore (not Malaysian crap - one cannot compare to that) and so was pasta, but 150ml of Kikoman was €4,12 (discounted from €4,82). There was also "sauce for nems".

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Bread on shelf???

Since I was going to be in one place for a week (really rare for me), I could do grocery shopping. Well, if I'd had a car I could've done that too.

They had bread marked "longue conservation". Presumably this was full of preservatives like in Singapore.

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A shop open on Sunday! Even if only for 3 hours (9 hours on other days).

Really, shops should coordinate so they don't all close on Mondays. Grr.

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Normal price for movies: 10€
One thing that is still cheap in Singapore - movies. This is called Bread And Circuses.

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Tanning salon - open 7/7 days: 10-8 on Sundays too. Priorities!

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One road, many names. 8 names in 239 years is quite extreme

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"Rue du Général de Gaulle"
They gave up on putting its old name, just writing "Ancienne Grande Rue" (former Major Road)

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This hair salon had a list of prices for male hair - but they were smart enough to specify "short hair"
If you're under 20 you get a 20% discount

Walking in the Centre-ville (town centre) I counted 5-6 pharmacies. The French are really hypochondriacs.

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"Restaurant Sourire de Saigon [Smile of Saigon]. Thanks for your confidence"
That's a great "we've closed down" sign

2 Korean girls were at the Institute to study French for 6 weeks. They wanted to take makeup courses with just 6 weeks under their belts. I was skeptical about how that would work, but the Israeli lady, after 5 weeks, was able to speak quite well when she couldn't previously. Meanwhile one Japanese girl couldn't speak it 3 month before... and now had a French boyfriend (okay, maybe that's not such a good measure).

In the 70s people were told to throw their rubbish in gullies by the road.

According to one teacher, the Paris métro is not 24 hours to ensure people are not up and about 24/7. Ahh, social engineering.

A German woman said she saw Wagner without surtitles and was unable to understand it.

I was told that cat tastes like rabbit.

In Rambouillet, if your garden is too small you cannot grow food for your family. This was very puzzling.

There are cities/towns in France where one cannot be topless. Hah.

I wasn't terribly impressed by the food (even considering it was school food; I swear I'd taken pictures of the meals on some days, but I can't find them), but I was told this chef was new and took pride in cooking (he'd come out to watch us eat), and the old one was really terrible - there were insects in the vegetables and they were too salty, the chicken was overcooked and had no salt or pepper.

Dinner was from 7-8pm which was short enough, but from 745 we were chased out. I guess the staff wanted to go home.

I actually took some photos of the food (and some miscellaneous other things) but it seems all the non-foursquare pictures I took disappeared, probably due to accidental deletion. Ah well.

We got budget pudding which was so plainly packaged (like combat rations), even pet food looked more appealing (externally).

I saw a Korean eating her own sandwich bread instead of the provided baguette. She found it too hard, hard. At the Japanese table no one brought their own bread, but only half were eating baguette.

The Israeli woman found taking pictures of food strange. Someone suggested that I say it was how we said Grace in my country.
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