When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Links - 19th April 2014

Crisis in Sociology: The Need for Darwin: Joseph Lopreato, Timothy Alan Crippen: 9780765808745: Amazon.com: Books - "sociology's crisis has deep roots, traceable to the over-ambitious sweep of the discipline's founders. Generations of sociologists have failed to focus effectively on the tasks necessary to build a social science. The authors see sociology's most disabling flaw in the failure to discover even a single general law or principle. This makes it impossible to systematically organize empirical observations, guide inquiry by suggesting falsifiable hypotheses, or form the core of a genuinely cumulative body of knowledge. Absent such a theoretical tool, sociology can aspire to little more than an amorphous mass of hunches and disconnected facts. The condition engenders confusion and unproductive debate. It invites fragmentation and predation by applied social disciplines, such as business administration, criminal justice, social work, and urban studies. Even more dangerous are incursions by prestigious social sciences and by branches of evolutionary biology that constitute the frontier of the current revolution in behavioral science. Lopreato and Crippen argue that unless sociology takes into account central developments in evolutionary science, it will not survive as an academic discipline."

Singapore cost of living sees pawnshops thrive - "Singapore's pawnshop industry has seen phenomenal growth at a time when rising prices and a slowing economy are putting pressure on the household budgets of middle- and lower- income families... A consumer group said the average price of a bowl of noodles with fishballs, a staple dish, was 20 percent higher in 2012 from a year ago at Sg$3. Prices of basic food items like rice, meat, vegetables and dairy products have also risen. Some public-housing flats in choice areas now cost more than Sg$1.0 million while car ownership also remains out of reach for many due to high taxes and a vehicle quota system."

The hawks are out. As the rest of the world... - Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh - "The hawks are out. As the rest of the world mourns Ukraine's descent into violence, opportunists in Singapore have seized the chance to remind us why we need National Service and exorbitant military spending, some comparing Malaysia to Russia... to compare Malaysia-Singapore to Russia-Ukraine requires some unbelievable leap of imagination. This is Russia--of violent revolutions and Stalin's gulags, of the Bay of Pigs and nuclear recklessness, of the Cold War and distrust of the West, of the End of History and multiple insurgencies--led by one of the most bellicose world leaders in recent times. As a Malayan, it saddens me. Malaysia has many other socio-political challenges, but military adventurism is certainly not one of them."
Comment: "Actually I've just learnt that Ukraine has conscription... so maybe the lesson should be that even having NS won't save you."

Ukraine: The military balance of power - ""Ukraine's military is dispersed; it lacks readiness, and much of its equipment is in storage. Given the divisions inside the country, there must also be question marks about the loyalty of elements of the Ukrainian military to the new interim political authorities in Kiev... The Ukrainian military inherited a significant quantity of former Soviet equipment at independence. It is thus in many ways a smaller mirror image of the Russian forces, similarly equipped but having had very little money to modernise over the course of subsequent decades... it is far from cutting edge, with much of its equipment moth-balled or poorly maintained."
Ukraine's problem is not having a lack of soldiers (which is the only way conscription could possibly help). Indeed, extensive conscription could only make its problems worse:
- You are unsure about the loyalty and dedication of conscripts, especially if they come from the Russian-leaning portions of Ukraine
- Your equipment and money are spread out over more people who are less equipped to make use of them
- You need more time to mobilise and you have more part-time soldiers who are less trained and equipped to repel the foreign threat

NUS climbs world reputation rankings to No 21 - "NTU fell from the 71st to 80th band in the 2013 list to the 91st to 100th band this year. Only the top 50 universities are given a specific rank. London-based Times described NTU’s tumble as “a surprise”. The magazine added that NTU’s decision to deny journalism professor Cherian George tenure last year may have hurt its reputation among academics."

Ultraman comic falls to Home Ministry ban | Malaysia | The Malay Mail Online - "The Home Ministry has done what countless monsters and space aliens could not: Vanquish Ultraman."

Clue to earthquake lightning mystery - "Unidentified glowing objects were spotted moments before major quakes in China and Italy recently. These flickers could be triggered by shifting soil layers which generate huge electrical charge, say scientists. Using a tub of plain kitchen flour, they discovered an entirely new physical phenomenon."

Cupid on Trial: A 4-month Online Dating Experiment - "I must admit, I was excited. If you ever want to feel like a small-time god (albeit a somewhat meddling, devious one), I recommend creating multiple dating profiles... After being online for 24 hours, the ten accounts between them had amassed 90 messages. Remember, for this experiment, it was all about unsolicited messages—I sent no messages to anyone and never replied to ones received. As you can see from the graph above, the women got many times more messages than the men.
• Each woman received at least one message, but the two best looking women received 581% more messages than the other three combined.
• Only one man received any messages... when it comes to receiving unsolicited messages based on gender and photos alone, women wipe the floor with men, and very attractive
women sandblast the floor with the fellas. They kill. Their inboxes heave with hellos and how are yous. To make sure it wasn’t just an American thing, I refuelled the Deception Airways jet and relocated all of the profiles to the United Kingdom for a much longer stay. 4 months in fact... I left the 10 profiles dotted around England for over 4 months while I spent time on other projects, like analyzing the last words of 478 death row prisoners... most men compliment the attractive women a lot, they make reference to something in the woman’s profile (you would not believe how many times men mentioned the party tricks and ‘Arrow’ the cheetah from the generic profile I wrote), or they ask a general question about travel or something equally boring. They are rarely, if ever, imaginative and I sympathise with any woman who has struggled to find any diamonds amongst the rough myriad of messages she is bombarded with each and every day. Then again, what can a man say that hasn’t been said before? He has to make a good impression and show he’s attractive without coming off as a creep, without looking needy and without saying the same thing as every other chump"

Dating the Ethnic Man: Strategies for Success: Faizal Sahukhan - "Discover the challenges and rewards of dating ethnic men. Explore the hidden agendas that drive ethnic men’s relationships and family dynamics. Find the key to creating intercultural harmony and happiness. Multicultural relationships are increasingly common, despite the many challenges involved. If you’re a Caucasian woman considering a relationship with an ethnic man, this invaluable guide will open your eyes to the impact of religion, family obligations and peer pressure on your partner’s ability to fully commit to you."

Cantonese Proverbs in One Picture | 廣府話小研究Cantonese Resources - "阿塗(Ah To), a graphic designer and part-time cartoonist who concerns about the survival of Cantonese in Canton and Hong Kong, has just published a comic called ” The Great Canton and Hong Kong Proverbs” on Hong Kong independent media “Passion Times“. The cartoon contains illustrations of 83 Cantonese proverbs."

Idina Menzel's name changed to 'Adele Dazeem' on If/Then Boradway playbill

Susan G. Komen for the Cure donates a whopping 15% of what it receives to cancer research. - "“The Susan G. Komen for the Cure charity defines its mission as finding a cure for breast cancer. In recent years, however, it has cut by nearly half the proportion of fund-raising dollars it spends on grants to scientists working to understand the causes and develop effective new treatments for the disease”... “The irony is that they chose the color pink to counter the salmon ribbons of the Women’s Coalition Against Breast Cancer. SGK was founded because WCABC was publicising the connection between environmental factors like carcinogenic makeup and breast cancer. If makeup has a pink ribbon on its packaging, it is probably carcinogenic.” Finally, they have a nasty habit of paying their lawyers to sue other cancer charities."

What if the Kitchen Velociraptors in Jurassic Park were played by cats?

Nikhil Sabniveesu's answer to Awesomeness: What are some of the most badass photos ever taken? - Quora

The Putin Butt Plug Is Real - "Graphic designer Fernando Sosa has created the most interesting sex toy prototype yet, a 3D-printed Vladimir Putin butt plug that's not quite ready for prime-time use but is an intriguing piece of protest art just the same... I don't know how effective this toy will be in bringing an end to Russia's anti-gay policies (probably not very, but I am not a political scientist), but it could lead to interesting conversations, including one in which we all discuss whether making butt plugs in the likenesses of political leaders is a valid form of political protest."

Reality Check: 5 Risks of Raw Vegan Diet - "Testimonials from ordinary folks are endless, boasting advantages along the lines of having more energy, better skin, improved relationships with woodland creatures and so on... cooking breaks apart fibers and cellular walls to release nutrients that otherwise would be unavailable from the same raw food. Cooking tomatoes, for example, increases by five-fold the bioavailability of the antioxidant lycopene. Similarly, cooking carrots makes the beta-carotene they contain more available for the body to absorb. Soups are full of nutrients that would not be available in a pot of raw carrots, onions, parsnips and potatoes. Cooking can also reduce certain chemicals in a vegetable that inhibit the absorption of minerals, including important minerals like zinc, iron, calcium and magnesium. Cooking spinach makes more iron and calcium available from its leaves... Ironically for the raw vegan, most of the plant enzymes in raw food get destroyed anyway in the acid of the human gut. Only a few make it to the small intestine. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut can carry enzymes into the gut. Their contribution to digestion is not zero, but it does appear to be minimal. "I know of no importance of plant enzymes in human digestion," said McDougall... Some people on a raw food diet rely so much on fruit that their teeth begin to erode: from acids in the fruits that wear down the tooth enamel, from sugar promoting decay, from dried fruit (another raw vegan staple) sticking to the teeth and further promoting decay, and from a general mineral deficiency... "No other animal cooks food," many a raw vegan has stated. One can just as well say that no other animal combines their kale and clover with tropical bananas in a high-speed blender to make the foods more palatable and digestible. Or, that no other animal plays chess... no known human culture has ever attempted to survive solely on raw plant foods. It is the raw-only diet that is unnatural, because it is impossible to survive on this diet without modern conveniences such as refrigerators, storage devices and easy access to packaged foods — such as the aforementioned shelled nuts. In fact, a child raised on a raw, vegan diet without proper supplementation would likely develop severe neurological and growth problems due to a lack of vitamin B12 and other nutrients"

The Size of the State and Declining Equality

Podcasts | History Extra: Anglo-Saxon treasures, and did Britain invent freedom? (27th March 2014)

Rob Attar: Have there been any occasions in history where this level of freedom has actually had any detrimental effects. For example, in making it harder to govern people or reducing equality, perhaps?

Daniel Hannan (on "How We Invented Freedom and Why it Matters"): Y'know, it's a really fascinating question, that. In terms of making it harder to govern people, no. I think the answer to insurrection or violence or civil unrest is more liberty, it's not more control. If you give people more responsibility they behave more responsibly.

But the question of equality is a really fascinating one. This is something that I'd like to get into in more depth, it was something that I came across when researching the book and I haven't really properly had time to explore, but if you look at the really fundamental elemental indicators of human equality.

So, you know: age, longevity, infant mortality, literacy, calorie intake, height - we have been becoming a more equal society suddenly since the calamity of the Norman Conquest. That approximation, that growing equality only stopped within the last 60 years in the West, and on one or two measures it's gone into reverse. Now those 60 years, we can argue about why that happened - there are all sorts of different theories out there. Y'know, some people say it has to do with women having entered the workforce, and we find our spouses through work now and this has created a superclass - I'm not a sociologist, I don't know.

But one thing that I absolutely can say, because it's empirically obvious, is that slowing of the equalisation has happened when the government has been bigger than ever: when the tax take and the control of the economy by the state has been at its largest.

So it's not just a question of saying state-enforced equality carries a high price in terms of overall prosperity or overall freedom - the bigger the State is, the less equal society has been. That's the, the extraordinary paradox over the late 20th century. So absolutely I don't think there is a price. I think if you have competition, there is a automatic regulator that tends to level people up.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Links - 18th April 2014

Great Wall graffiti gets free hand - China - "Mutianyu, a famous section of the Great Wall, now has a designated area for graffiti to better protect it after media reported that many foreign tourists left their words on the old buildings."

Giant Virus Resurrected from Permafrost After 30,000 Years - ""We are inundated by millions of viruses as we move through our everyday life," said Curtis Suttle, a marine virologist at the University of British Columbia in Canada, who was not involved in the study. "Every time we swim in the sea, we swallow about a billion viruses and inhale many thousands every day. It is true that viruses will be archived in permafrost and glacial ice, but the probability that viral pathogens of humans are abundant enough, and would circulate extensively enough to affect human health, stretches scientific rationality to the breaking point." "I would be much more concerned about the hundreds of millions of people that will be displaced by rising sea levels than the risk of being exposed to pathogens from melting permafrost.""

About those industry funded GMO studies… - "Monsanto is a medium sized company ($57.43B). Is it really possible that they’ve manipulated tens of thousands of scientists performing thousands of studies for three decades with no whistleblowers? Could Monsanto’s power have resulted in a scientific consensus that has been bent completely to their will? In comparison, fossil fuel behemoths Exxon Mobil ($394.83B), Chevron ($215.45B) and BP ($150.07B) (total: $760.35B) have been completely stymied in their efforts to buy a scientific consensus on climate change... There are lots of industry funded studies. The majority in fact. But there are also many independent studies. How can we judge if the industry funded studies are reliable? If the independent studies and the industry studies come to the same conclusions, then we can conclude that the industry studies are reliable. And that is exactly what we find... An even more robust review of the total literature published in 2014 is more conclusive in their findings: “The scientific research conducted so far has not detected any significant hazards directly connected with the use of genetically engineered crops.” In An overview of the last 10 years of genetically engineered crop safety research, the authors collected and evaluated 1,783 research papers, reviews, relevant opinions, and reports published between 2002 and 2012, a process that took over 12 months to complete. The review was published in Critical Reviews in Biotechnology and covered all aspects of GM crop safety, from how the crops interact with the environment to how they could potentially affect the humans and animals who consume them... No association was found between financial conflict of interest (COI) and article outcome. The authors did find a correlation between “industry affiliation” and favorable study outcome. But realize how far we have moved the goal posts. We started with the proposition that we couldn’t trust any of the research because it was it was all paid for by the industry. But we found that’s not true... dismissing an entire body of research because it’s supposedly bought and paid for is foolish and lazy. When you shout ‘Conflict of Interest’ before evaluating the evidence and analysis, it becomes an excuse for discounting inconvenient evidence. Asking about conflicts of interest should be a safeguard against getting snookered by weak evidence. Instead, it becomes an excuse for dismissing good evidence. Examining the soundness of the evidence must come first. Then you can decide whether questions of funding and loyalties are relevant. This is how you maintain a firm footing on solid ground. Use awareness of conflicts of interest to avoid motivated reasoning. Otherwise you are only fueling the fire of your own biases."
Keywords: genetically modified, dismiss

Michael Martinez’s letter may have been marked spam—Palace - "The e-mail of figure skater Michael Christian Martinez’s mother that was sent to President Benigno Aquino III was probably marked spam, a Palace official said Tuesday. Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma reiterated that they did not receive any letter from Martinez’s mother, supposedly asking the government to support the skater’s bid in the Winter Olympics. "

Sean Parker: My Critics Are Nazis

Wireman gets 32 months for threatening to post 17 women's nude pictures online - "An electrical wireman who threatened to post nude photos of 17 women online if they did not have sex with him was jailed for 32 months on Thursday. Mani Velmurugan, 28, an Indian national, had posed as a Caucasian to the women he met through an online live chat website called Badoo last year. Using a photo of a Caucasian for his profile, he told some of them he was from England or Canada and introduced himself as Adam, Mark, Adam Mark or Mark Adam. His victims, aged between 21 and 39, hailed from a range of professions, such as clerk, manager and interior designer. A district court heard on Thursday that he would send the women nude photographs purportedly of himself and tricked them into sending him their nude pictures and in some cases, things like their passport information. He threatened to post their nude photographs online if they did not go to bed with him. Two had sex with him so as to delete their nude photographs and personal details from his mobile phone"
It's amazing how many stupid people there are out there

The Ethics of the PAP Internet Brigade - "the views expressed by the PAP IB have been anything but insightful. There has been no substantive and well-informed critique of the programmes of various Opposition Parties, other than cynical caterwauling and ad hominem attacks. Most pathetically, they do not even defend their own Party's many controversial policies... The PAP IB project also throws up the question of political ethics. Given the involvement of many ministers, the Brigade is operating under official sanctions. The question hence arises if the PAP or the Government is financing it."

Councilman Jim Kenney tells Chik-fil-A president Dan Cathy to 'take a hike' for anti-gay marriage comments - ""So please – take a hike and take your intolerance with you. There is no place for this type of hate in our great city of Brotherly and Sisterly Affection.”" Kenney said that he plans to introduce a resolution during City Council’s next session condemning Chik-fil-A and Cathy for his “expression of intolerance and hate.”"
Apparently being against gay marriage is 'hate'

No country for single women - "Essentially, if a single woman lives an independent life, away from her family it's assumed she may have loose morals."

World War One: Germany's forgotten war - "He regrets the fact very much and thinks it is because World War One in German consciousness was so over-shadowed by World War Two... A short distance from the massed graves in their lines is a grand statue. It was erected by those in power after the war. It is a regimental remembrance, consisting of a large, black plinth on which there is a statue of a dead soldier, completely shrouded in a flag. On his chest are a broken sword and a helmet. Only one part of his body is visible: From under the shroud, the dead soldier's clenched fist sticks out into the air. Under the body is the inscription: "Wir starben, auf dass Deutschland lebe, so lasset uns leben in euch" - "We died that Germany lives, so let us live in you"... It is an admonition to the living to make good the sacrifice of the dead - "let us, the dead of war, live through you, the living". This was a sentiment which was strong in the 20s and which caused much further catastrophe. The implication is - and was then - that Germany had lost the war because of a "stab in the back", an idea used by Hitler to foment violence against those he accused of being Germany's enemies within, principally Jews. It may be that any official reticence over the first war is strong because to open a debate about remembrance of that first war's military victims is to open a debate about German military victims of the war which followed."

The scribe of Bamako - "A love letter is never a one-size-fits-all affair. Maiga has to analyse the nature and magnitude of each passion - "what kind of love are we talking about?" - and assess the situation. Does he need to woo, seduce or charm? Should the billet doux contain a note of contrition, following an argument? Is it intended for a colleague at work, or a lover?"

China’s New Obsession: French Wine - NYTimes.com - "some in Bordeaux are keeping their prejudices closer to home. As one leading vintner said wryly, “I don’t care who buys these chateaus, as long as they are not from Paris.”"

BP caught in hilarious worldwide reply all email chain chaos

The Many Benefits, for Kids, of Playing Video Games - "Plato, in The Republic, argued that plays and poetry should be banned because of their harmful effects on the young... Video games have been under attack by the fear-mongers ever since they first appeared, and the attacks have not diminished. If you Google around the Internet using harmful effects of video games as a search phrase, you will find all sorts of frightening claims. One site warns that video games can cause depression, physical aggression, poor sleep, somatic complaints, obesity, attention disorders, and ... the list went on. The only malady they seemed to have left out was housemaid's knee. The most common complaints about video games are that they (1) are socially isolating, (2) reduce opportunities for outdoor activities and thereby lead to obesity and poor physical health, and (3) promote violence in kids, if the games have violent content. On the face of it, of course, the first two of these claims should be truer of book reading than of video gaming. Concerning the third claim, I don't see any obvious reason why pretend murder of animated characters in video games should be any more likely to provoke real murder than, say, reading Shakespeare's account of Hamlet's murder of his stepfather. Yet we make kids read Hamlet in school. If you look into the actual research literature, you find very little if any evidence supporting the fear-mongers claims, and considerable evidence against those claims. In fact, systematic surveys have shown that regular video-game players are, if anything, more physically fit, less likely to be obese, more likely to also enjoy outdoor play, more socially engaged, more socially well-adjusted, and more civic minded than are their non-gaming peers... college students were presented with a frustrating mental task and then were assessed for their feelings both of depression and hostility. The significant finding was that regular players of violent video games felt less depressed and less hostile 45 minutes after the frustrating experience than did otherwise similar students who didn't play such games. Quite a few well-controlled research studies have documented positive effects of video games on mental development... kids who previously showed little interest in reading and writing are now acquiring advanced literacy skills through the text-based communication in on-line video games. When kids are asked, in focus groups and surveys, what they like about video games, they generally talk about freedom, self-direction, and competence"

Nexus of homosexuality and Islam in Singapore - "This particular individual has equated Islam with extreme intolerance, specifically, of homosexuality while preaching a truth which in reality is based on one opinion and interpretation, therefore, unrepresentative of other Malay-Muslims. It signifies a myopic perspective compounded with misleading view of Islam. Should such intolerant and homophobic view is pervasive in the Malay-Muslim community; it does not bode well for the future for all Malay-Muslims, both heterosexuals and gay Malay-Muslims. On the surface is the lack of understanding pertaining sexual identities. At the very core, is the absence of critical thinking in assessing and following Islamic injunctions which are based on diverse interpretations. Waleed Aly, a politics lecturer and a former spokesman for Islamic Council of Victoria (Australia), highlights an important point during a televised debate, which Muslims tend to overlook or even unaware of: Islamic tradition is anarchic, specifically Sunni Islam; as there is no central authority to define an issue within established parameters thus, to be taught anything is “X” is automatically open for contestations. He emphasized that whatever the question or issue is, the position one takes is most likely to be of the majority, and more importantly, Muslims cannot make definitive statements on behalf of God because that is ultimately an act of polytheism"
Does this apply to all aspects of Islam? Can one say nothing definitive about Islam (not even that there are Five Pillars)?

u r wt u wr - 18th April 2014

u r wt u wr:
- 'Give a comment' (I told her I liked her shirt. She looked confused for a while then looked down)
- 'I'm sooo not in the mood *carebear with rain cloud*'
- 'You have to visit my blog right now' (She was 8 or so)
- 'I - heart- boys in uniform' (School uniform?)
- 'yummy' (they did look quite yummy)
- 'Kiss *lipstick mark * me I'm Irish' (She looked Filipino)
- 'lasso me' (She's trap and release)
- 'Don't call me cute girl'
- 'Parental advisory. Explicit content. Edited version also available'
- 'young, wild & free'
- 'Play game with me' (She was about 8)
- 'Let me'
- 'Come and get it'
- 'run to me'
- 'make me ♥ happy'
- 'make me feel better don't tell me I am not 'perfect''
- 'Life's too short to wait *park bench*' (Waiting for Godot reference?)
- 'très jolie' (She was wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap but did not look promising)
- 'honey do you want me' (She was pregnant. He had a hand over her)
- (Bag) 'f*** me I'm famous'
- 'first base rookie'
- 'my boyfriend is short of cash'
- 'make me go wild'
- 'pervert'
- 'hipster' (a hipster wouldn't wear this, but a hipster would appreciate the irony)
- 'Pretty young things' (At first I thought it was 'thing' and didn't think she'd qualify. Then I saw the S. I thought it referred to something hidden. But no matter how hard I looked, even when she made a sudden movement I couldn't see her earrings)
- 'no way too big'
- 'I only date super heroes' (the guy beside her looked normal)
- 'sexy'
- 'a beauty for your eyes' (repeated many times)
- 'all y♥u need is me'
- 'Barbie
- 'should we stay strangers?' (I'd say a resounding yes)
- 'I -mustache- you' (So she emasculates men?)
- 'Raver'

- '摄狼' (this is a pun on 'pervert')
- 'Coeur à louer' ('Heart for rent')
- "Just saw a couple wearing somewhat "matching" white T-shirts. A guy's one said "Sweat blood tears" and the girl's one said "Work less"" (contributed)
- 'don't Bro me if you don't know me'
- 'Yes I wore this yesterday' ("Yes" was inside a recycling sign)
- 'drop pants not bombs' (the "O" in "not" was a "no" sign with a bomb inside)
- 'lace my sneakers'

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Links - 17th April 2014

No sitting! Hong Kong trains to scrap seats for smartphone users - "Hong Kong is pondering whether to rip out some seats from overcrowded metro trains to give the city’s smartphone-addicted population more room to interact with their devices."

Trolls Just Want to Have Fun? - "trolls scored highly on a number of personality traits examined: Machiavellianism, psychopathy,narcissism, extraversion, disagreeableness and sadism."

Frozen - A Musical feat. Disney Princesses - YouTube I hate "strong female characters". The Princesses in this movie are much less interesting than the traditional Disney Princesses

Young people swap clothes with grandparents and parents for charming, fascinating photos [14 pics]

What’s the One Thing in Thailand Visible From Space? - Southeast Asia Real Time - WSJ

Police Arrest Man for Having Sex with Goat in Jigawa - "Kamisu was said to have admitted that the goat belonged to him and that he had asked the goat to have sexual intercourse with him but he was arrested by the village head of the area and handed over to the police... He regretted that if he knew that he would be arrested, he would have not tried it because it was the reason why he did not make love with women in the area. He said animals satisfied his demand, that is why he is not after women in the state just to avoid embarrassment but still he found himself ambushed by people in the area. He called on the court to do justice for him because he knows that what he did was an offence to a society and against the Islamic injunctions."

'Personalized Porn': Is Sex Becoming More Social?

Jell-O Covered Men Arrested For Filming Each Other Having Sex With Cow - "Michael Jones, 33, and Reid Fontaine, 31, were captured on film in flagrante delicto after a farmer set up hidden cameras in a bid to discover why his cows had suddenly stopped producing milk... As if being sexually abused by two Jell-O covered men wasn’t traumatic enough for the poor cow, it bolted when the TV cameras arrived and was hit by cars, leaving it dead in the road."

Egypt army criticized for claim of a device that cures AIDS - "According to the army, devices called C-Fast and I-Fast detect hepatitis C and the virus that causes AIDS through the use of electromagnetic waves. A patent filing with the World Intellectual Property Organization has already been made by the Egyptian Defense Ministry for C-Fast. The army also identified a device that treats both viruses, as well as psoriasis, called Complete Cure Device."

Tokyo fair showcases latest sex aids - "“Products that are safe and made with high quality materials, which can operate very quietly, are becoming the mainstream. They are also warranted for a year, just like home appliances.” Japanese sex aid maker Rends demonstrated its latest artificial vaginathe A10 Cyclone SA—a sleek cylinder, about 30 centimetres (12 inches) long, which can be remotely connected to a computer or a smart phone. The rotating barrel inside has seven different speeds, the company said, advertising it as a “sexual home appliance”. “Feel free to use at night when your family is sleeping, without worries,” it said."

Chinese state media outlet uses racial slur in editorial criticizing outgoing US ambassador - "The article called Gary Locke a "rotten banana," a guide dog for the blind, and a plague. It reflected Chinese nationalists' acute loathing toward the first Chinese-American to have been Washington's top envoy to Beijing... The editorial carried by China News belittled Locke's inability to speak his ancestral language and accused him of failing to understand China's law but fanning "evil winds" in Tibet and Xinjiang. "Banana" is a term for Asians identifying with Western values despite their skin color."

Where's the Asian in Asia's 50 Best Restaurants? - "Anywhere in the world, trying to rate restaurants relative to each other is going to be a prickly affair. So it didn't take long for feathers to be ruffled over David Thompson's topping the Asia's 50 Best Awards with his Bangkok restaurant Nahm earlier this week. "The no 1 restaurant in the 50 Best Asia list belongs to a white Australian guy? I quit the org(anisation) for good reasons," tweeted Jay Rayner, restaurant critic for the Observer in the United Kingdom and former UK chair of the World's 50 Best Restaurant Academy of voters... Yet a larger handful of chefs disagreed, dismissing the need to single out Asian chefs and Asian cuisine. "Good food doesn't discriminate by location or culture, a chef is a chef whether he is Chinese or cooking Italian food," says Gaggan Anand of third-ranked molecular Indian restaurant Gaggan in Bangkok. Local consultant chef Eric Teo adds: "The awards are titled Asia's 50 Best Restaurants, not Asia's 50 Best Chefs, so let's keep the chefs behind the scenes and judge based on the food." Furthermore, as Mr Teo points out, Singaporean chefs are topping culinary competitions in Europe, while Asian chefs such as David Chang and Nobu Matsuhisa have long made waves in the US. "People are naïve to say that a Westerner can't cook Thai food. David has spent all his life in Thailand, and his head chef is Thai," says The Tippling Club's Ryan Clift. "It's irrelevant and it touches on racism"... "Invariably it's the expatriates rather than the locals who are looking harder for the hole-in-the-wall eateries in each new country they move to," he elaborates. In a similar vein, having more Asians on the list doesn't mean you will get more Asian restaurants, with more Asians travelling widely, "and having fond memories of dining in Paris or London or anywhere in the world".

Lee Thé's answer to Why do some feminists hate evolutionary psychology? - Quora - "Doctrinaire feminism and sociobiology are incompatible concepts.Doctrinaire feminism is an ideology; sociobiology is a scientific discipline. Thus doctrinaire feminism is deductive–it derives its world map from ideas. While sociobiology is inductive–it derives its world map from reality, perceived via observation, experimentation, and mathematics. Doctrinaire feminism, like all ideologies, is descriptive, prescriptive and consequentialist–that is, the validity and worth of ideas are determined operationally, by whether they advance the cause of feminism, and to what degree they do. Sociobiology, like all scientific disciplines, is descriptive and predictive–the validity of ideas is determined empirically, with predictability, consistency, and mathematical rigor being the gold standards. Whether an idea advances or detracts from any cause has no bearing on whether it’s true or not. These are structural incompatibilities between all ideologies and all scientific disciplines"

When You're Mistakenly Angered by Man Nipples - "In Changsha, China, one shopper wasn't happy with the beautiful chests running on television screens in a shopping arcade.P The push-up bra ads were running in a public shopping area which has forty screens. In one part of the commercial, the announcer says, "Wow, even a man can wear this and have wonderful cleavage.""

San Francisco Sex Club Mission Control Sees Increase in Membership - "“If you’ve never tied (someone) up with an Ethernet cable,” Shannon once said, “you’re not geeky enough.”"

Lots of People Who Support Gay Marriage Think Gay Sex Is Immoral - "roughly a tenth of Americans don't like gay sex but think gay people should be able to get married anyway. In other words, they don't think public policy should necessarily mirror their private beliefs. A decade ago, this distinction between public and private was virtually non-existent. In 2003, 62 percent of Americans said gay marriage violated their religious beliefs, and roughly the same proportion (59 percent) believed that gay people shouldn't be allowed to marry. Fewer people believe that gay marriage violates their religious beliefs now, but of those who do still think that, some seem to have decided that their religious beliefs shouldn't determine who can get married... Nearly 70 percent of Millennials support same-sex marriage, but only 56 percent think gay sex is morally acceptable. That is pretty remarkable—young Americans are only slightly less skittish about it than the general population, 51 percent of which disapproves. But no matter what Millennials may think about gay sex, they've clearly decided to keep it to themselves"

South African scientists map HIV antibodies in vaccine hunt - "The outer covering of HIV has a coating of sugars that prevents antibodies from reaching the surface to neutralize the virus. In this patient, we found that her antibodies had 'long arms', which enabled them to reach through the sugar coat that protects HIV"

Diabetes Can Be Cured by Drugs That Mimic Gene Mutation

Vaccine education programs may not work as hoped - "Education campaigns that aim to inform people about the benefits of vaccines do little to increase the intent of parents to vaccinate their future children, according to a new study. Furthermore, researchers found that among a group of parents who were least likely to vaccinate their future children, some education campaigns actually added to their reservations."

Singapore named world's most expensive city: Economist Intelligence Unit - "Over the last decade a 40 percent currency appreciation, coupled with solid price inflation, has consistently pushed Singapore up the ranking. The city also has some structurally expensive items that skew the overall cost of living upwards. For example, car costs have very high related certificate of entitlement fees attached to them, which makes Singapore significantly more expensive than any other location when it comes to running a car. As a result, transport costs in Singapore are almost three times higher than in New York... As a city-state with very few natural resources to speak of, Singapore is reliant on other countries for energy and water supplies, making it the third most expensive destination for utility costs. The proliferation of expensive malls and boutiques on Orchard Road also make Singapore the priciest place in the world in which to buy clothes. Singapore's rise comes at the expense of Tokyo, traditionally the world's most expensive city, which has seen a slide in the valuation of the Yen, despite a return to inflation. The Japanese capital fell to joint 6th most expensive... Economic instability relating to the civil war and the collapse of the Syrian pound has placed Damascus among the world's cheapest cities, although local price inflation will have been impacted by supply issues."

PC overload? Ellen DeGeneres labeled 'transphobic' for Liza Minnelli joke - "Ellen DeGeneres, an openly gay talk-show host, has come under fire in the wake of a joke she made about Liza Minnelli at the Oscars on Sunday night, leading some to remark on a new, over-the-top level of political correctness in Hollywood... A source closely connected to the star – who is widely championed for her support of the LGBT community – assured us that Minnelli did not take offense. “Liza adores Ellen,” said the source. According to Dan Gainor, VP of Business and Culture at the Media Research Center, the upset over DeGeneres’s comments is just a case of the PC police going wild. “America has been bombarded by sudden PC rules involving the trans community. Even Oscar winner Jared Leto was criticized for playing a transgendered role in ‘Dallas Buyers Club.’ TIME magazine called it a ‘Mammy’ role and ‘dishonorable.’” he said. “Even a gay icon like Ellen now falls victim to their criticism. Gone is the concept of tolerance or even acceptance.”"

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Links - 16th April 2014

Dix raisons de ne pas aimer les Anglais - "plutôt que ces mesquineries, on préfère retenir tout ce que l'on aime en Angleterre.
>7. Les paysages des Highlands (Écosse) sont de toute beauté.
>9. Les stages de langues et à nous les petites Anglaises...!"

Some Kids Are Never Spanked - Do They Turn Out Better? - "In NurtureShock, we described some extensive cross-ethnic and international research on spanking by Drs. Jennifer Lansford and Ken Dodge. Their data suggested that if a culture views spanking as the normal consequence for bad behavior, kids aren’t damaged by its occasional use. To explain this shocker, the scholars suggested that in cultures or communities where spanking is common, parents are less agitated when administering spankings. Spanking almost never—when combined with losing your temper—can be worse than spanking frequently... almost a quarter of these teens report they were never spanked. So this is a perfect opportunity to answer a very simple question: are kids who’ve never been spanked any better off, long term? Gunnoe’s summary is blunt: “I didn’t find that in my data.”

'Dumb Starbucks': comedian Nathan Fielder reveals he set up parody store - "The comedian Nathan Fielder has outed himself as the man behind a parody coffee shop called Dumb Starbucks that appeared to throw down a gauntlet to the real Starbucks."

Where did my feminist wedding go? - "One of the first things I told my fiancé after we got engaged was, “I am not wearing a fuckingwhite dress.” Fast-forward to now, mere days before the wedding, and I am wearing a fucking white dress. That isn’t all. I spent hundreds of dollars on makeup and makeovers. I purchased multiple pairs of sparkly high-heeled shoes that left me limping after trying them on. I crash-dieted. I bought a pair of Spanx, a modern girdle (a contradiction in terms if there ever was one). One evening I earnestly told my fiancé, “Maybe I should wear fake eyelashes for the wedding.” Without missing a beat, he replied, “Baby … remember feminism?”... By the end of college, I was convinced that makeup, leg shaving and high heels were tools of the patriarchy. I would make such proclamations with an ironic self-mocking grin (but actually, no, seriously, it is the patriarchy). And yet, I participated anyway. It was one thing to think these things, it was another to live them. Really, what it came down to was that I wanted male attention more than I wanted to live by my intellectual principles. So, I resentfully applied makeup and hobbled around in heels that sent me to a podiatrist — until I found my person. Then it was comfortable shoes and an incredibly lazy leg-shaving routine. Conveniently, he didn’t care about such things. This felt like freedom, a battle won — but then there came the wedding... The deep-down truth that I hate to admit even to myself is that I care deeply about what people think. It is cowardly and superficial and uncreative, but I want to fulfill everyone else’s vision of the blushing bride. A wedding, as with so many moments in life, is a social performance — and when these times arise, I am still that teenage girl flipping through women’s magazines, looking for the secret to being acceptable."

We Hacked North Korea With Balloons and USB Drives - "The balloons rise and drift toward the border dividing democratic South Korea and Kim Jong Un’s totalitarian regime in the north. Each balloon carries a bundle containing DVDs, USBs, transistor radios, and tens of thousands of leaflets printed with information about the world outside North Korea. Once the balloons travel far enough north, a small timer will break open the sturdy plastic bags and shower the contents of the packages over the countryside. The text printed on the leaflets is changed from launch to launch; the leaflets we are using today contain a cartoon depicting Kim Jong Un’s execution of his uncle as well as pro-democracy and human rights literature. In preparation for Wednesday’s launch, a group of men and women, most defectors themselves, put together the precious cargo the balloons carry. This group is part of an organization called Fighters for a Free North Korea... many South Koreans regard the human rights struggle in the North as merely a distraction and an annoyance."

How fruit juice went from health food to junk food - "Not everybody is racing to demonise juice just yet. "It's about portion size. 150ml of fruit juice is perfectly acceptable as one of your five-a-day," says Azmina Govindji, dietitian and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association. "But we would suggest you have it with a meal so it doesn't make your blood sugar go up too quickly. I think the difficulty comes when people think of fruit juice as being a really healthy drink and having half a pint, or having it throughout the day, or where children are being brought up on large amounts... One recent survey found 41% of Britons had a pot of hummus in their fridge"

Suicide Bomb Trainer in Iraq Accidentally Blows Up His Class - NYTimes.com - "a commander at a secluded terrorist training camp north of Baghdad unwittingly used a belt packed with explosives while conducting a demonstration early Monday for a group of militants, killing himself and 21 other members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria... Raad Hashim, working the counter at a liquor store near the site of the attack, burst out laughing when he heard the news. “This is so funny,” Mr. Hashim said. “It shows how stupid they are, those dogs and sons of dogs”... Another resident of the area, who lives near the ministry building that was targeted last week, said: “I heard this today when my friend rang me in the afternoon to tell me about it. He was so happy as if he was getting married. “Which made me happy as well,” the resident said. “I hope that their graves burn and all the rest of them burn as well. I was not happy with the number killed, though: I wanted more of them to die, as I remember my friend who was killed by a suicide bomber in 2007”... Back at the liquor store in Baghdad on Monday evening, Mr. Hashim, in almost a celebratory mood, passed four bottles of Corona to a customer and took his money. “What happened today was not death, but it was life to us,” Mr. Hashim said. “Those 22 who were killed today might have killed hundreds of Iraqis, hundreds of innocent souls. May they burn in hell.”"

It's a scientific FACT: Online comment trolls are SADISTS - "The Canadian psychologists' paper is entitled "Trolls just want to have fun", which is not merely a bit of boffinary humor at the expense of Cyndi Lauper, but rather a reference to one of the researchers' findings. "We found clear evidence," they write, "that sadists tend to troll because they enjoy it.""

Why the CDC Stopped Calling Sex Without a Condom 'Unprotected Sex' - "The advocates’ argument hinges on the fact that there are now multiple ways to have safer sex when the goal is preventing HIV transmission. Condoms obviously still play an important role, but there are other ways individuals can protect themselves as well. Many HIV experts, for example, talk about treatment as prevention. Individuals who are on antiretroviral therapy (ART), which suppresses the replication of HIV, often have an undetectable viral load (a measure of the number of copies of HIV in a given blood sample). Though it is possible to transmit HIV even when one’s viral load is very low, it is much less likely... you are more likely to get hit by lightning twice than get HIV from oral sex... rates of other STDs are on the rise, and men who have sex with men are disproportionately affected."
You wouldn't know that MSM are disproportionately affected if you only read the HPB FAQ

NSA using 'leaky apps' like Angry Birds, Google Maps to siphon user data

Olympians Stand Tall in Their Onesies - NYTimes.com - "OnePiece’s outfits cost $200 to $250, which could be considered a lot considering that it’s basically a sweatsuit with an extra-large zipper. (The zipper disconcertingly extends to the top of the hood, enclosing your face.) But for a certain class of Russians, the price tag is part of the appeal. “Russian people like useless things for a high price,” said Vladimir Zakharov, a shopper who described himself only as “a businessman.”"

Florida Ordinance Makes It Illegal For Homeless To Use Blankets - "this law was applicable to anyone who used a blanket or news paper to cover themselves in public. Even if you got stuck in a city park because it was raining and you tried to shield yourself, you would technically be in violation of this ordinance and subject to arrest. So would your wife and child if they laid down with a blanket at a picnic or festival."

DHL Trolls UPS Like A Champ - YouTube

Anya Deason's answer to Barack Obama Presidency: Second Term (2013–17): Is the South bringing the United States down? - Quora - "If you remember, we had a government shut-down during the reign of Bill Clinton, a born and bred Southerner who was otherwise known as "Bubba." Bill Clinton is a conservative, neoliberal Democrat, and the vitriol unleashed on him by the embryonic Tea Party wing was not anti-Southern, nor was it racial in motivation. The right wing of the Republican Party hated Bill Clinton for appropriating and implementing their economic policy ideas, including the following: balanced budgets, global trade agreements and so-called welfare reform. A lot of media banter contains implications that Southerners are motivated by the racial issues of yesteryear. There are a lot of interracial marriages and mixed race people in the South; verbal assertions of anti-racism don't speak louder than this fact. As predicted by MLK, the South integrated quicker than the North. MLK attributed this to the fact that Southerners had always lived close together. My black history professor illustrated the point by showing film footage of riots during Northern school integration, including multiple shots of well dressed housewives, participating in attempts to turn over cars, etc. In the Southern footage, it was just a narrow band of zealots, and they have long since faded into the background down here... For the liberal wing of the media, it's easier to fight the Civil Rights Movement over and over again than to address today's oppressive issue: income inequality. It also allows media figures to feel like heroic characters from a Harper Lee novel, "great white hopes" so to speak. Some media figures cross the threshold of bigotry in their portrayal of the South, especially class-based bigotry. It seems like humans require a group to look down on, thereby pumping themselves up; and since it isn't socially acceptable to mock minorities, some in the media are deriving satisfaction from belittling Southerners... In Southern cities with a 15% minority population, there are many large corporate workplaces and large government agencies, where minorities comprise 80% to 90% of the workforce. Many of these jobs require long state exams, and many people jump through all the hoops, wanting these jobs that have benefits and slightly higher wages. I won't list all the specifics in this post, but let me assure you that it is not an advantage to be white in those jobs. In fact, it is a palpable disadvantage to be white in many jobs where whites are in the minority. Where is the media coverage?"

Snake eating itself : WTF

Women prisoners: Sex in prison is commonplace, the male inmates just hide it more than girls - "Inmates even judge each other. There are some crimes that even behind bars are seen as absolutely despicable and even fellow inmates will ostracise you if you are convicted of one of these. The most offensive to all are crimes against children. Although I do remember being at work one day when a van came in and it was rocking. There was a lot of shouting and there were threats being made from one set of inmates to another of what they would do when they got into reception. I was horrified. What crime was so terrible that it would garner such a reaction? Had these people murdered or assaulted a child in the most horrific way imaginable? No, it turned out they had stolen a teddy bear from outside Kensington palace when Princess Diana had died."

In sickness and health, sex keeps older couples happy: study

Japanese porn star hailed marketing genius - "Aoi’s Weibo account, established in 2010, has already garnered over 14,000,000 fans and is ranked 69th on Weibo celebrities’ fame list. So what strategies have been applied to make her stand tall from all competitors? Apple Daily’s columnist and marketing expert Yuan Xu concludes there are three key success factors."

Ne jamais être déstabilisé !

Ne jamais être déstabilisé !

Littré, l'auteur du dictionnaire, est dans le lit conjugal avec sa servante, sa femme entre et s'écrie : « Ah ! Monsieur, vous me surprenez ! ››

Et Littré, sons se démonter corrige calmement : « Non, madame, c'est nous qui sommes surpris. Vous, vous êtes étonnée ! ››

Dans l'absolu, voilà l'exemple même d'un comportement essentiel pour se donner la chance d'avoir le dernier mot. (Il n'est pas nécessaire de coucher avec sa servante !)

Ici, la situation est extrême, reconnaissons-le, et la riposte qui consiste à transférer la faute d'adultère sur une faute grommaticale est de la pius haute voltige. Vous verrez que les bonnes reparties s'appuient souvent sur ce principe de transfert.

--- Comment avoir le dernier mot: Développez votre sens de la repartie pour toujours répondre du tac au tac ! / Jean-Claude Martin

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Singapore before my time

TheBicycleDiaries: I remember Singapore

I remember Singapore

when there was no MRT,
and Nicoll Highway was the only expressway
(no ECP, AYE, PIE, CTE ...),
with 2 lanes going one way and one the other,
alternating between morn and evening peak hours

when buses had no AC,
but had conductors whom you paid,...
in exchange for punched tickets

when kids collected colourful bus tickets,
ice-cream sticks, bottle caps,
matchboxes, and if possible,
foreign coins and stamps

when there were no cell phones,
so you arranged meetings carefully,
and kept to them, waiting patiently for the other,
using coin pay-phones as a last resort

when there was no cable TV,
but only two free-to-air local channels,
and two others, courtesy of our neighbours,
all black and white,
with no remote

when there was no internet,
nor computers,
and libraries and books held
the information you needed,
with card indexes the "search engines" of the day

when Jalan Kayu was bordered
by rubber plantations,
and the prata was for 10c just outside
the school gates
(the school is gone and someone moved my prata!)

when Yaohan opened in Plaza Singapura
and half of Singapore went to check out the
Japanese store,
with its novel freshly baked goodies
and many freebies

when City Plaza,
Katong Shopping Centre,
and Beauty world
were the "IN" places
(they still exist but in a different IN)

when Katong Park was much
grander than it is now,
right at the edge of the sea,
now pushed away by reclamation

when Changi beach was the place to be
on weekends,
and planes landed at Paya Lebar Airport
where you could wave at people
from an open balcony

when the Malaysia Cup was
the football event of the year,
with live radio broadcasts
and shouts of "Goooooal"
heard from windows

when RI was at Stamford Road
(where Raffles City is now)
before it moved to Grange Road,
and split into RI and RJC as it moved again to Bishan.
Now I hear it is one RI again...
...but is it the same?

when the University of Singapore (US)
at Bukit Timah
was merged with the Nanyang University (NU)
of Jurong
to form the N-U-S at Kent Ridge
(and then split again into two, but with different names)

when the iconic Robinsons burnt down,
with smoke visible half an island away,
when Hotel New World
came tumbling down
and the Cable Cars got entangled

when NS uniforms were olive green
and needed to be starched,
with boots polished,
and the Singapore River was a truly stinky place

when posters at government departments warned
"you will be served last"
if you kept your hair long
(and when a famous physicist
had a hard time getting in the country to give his invited
talk...because of his long hair).

when cinema seats were hard
(some are re-used now in the Esplanade library)
and tickets cheap,
with huge halls
but not very clean
(chewing gum was still available)

when Yusof Ishak
was the President
and when Benjamin Sheares
was sworn in
as the second President

when Lee Kuan Yew
held court,
mesmerising the nation with
his speeches,
no special effects,
just a man with a mission
to realise a Vision

when an unknown
Chiam See Tong
stole some thunder,
at a little known
Potong Pasir,
and affirmed:
what is good can be better

That is what i remember
of old singapore,
I am sure I will remember more
when i get older,
will tell you then
(unless this simulation ends before
i put pen to paper again)

R .
April 2014
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