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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Links - 20th September 2014

Candlelight vigil for Roy Ngerng’s trial ordeal
Is he dead?

The King’s Singers: An Interview with David Hurley | The Oxford Culture Review - "We tend to approach music as just that - a piece of music that has been created to communicate something to the listener. Therefore we are most interested in finding the best way to connect with the audience through the music. We are less interested in being authentic in our performance, and we’re happy to adjust the music to fit our sound and line-up. We don’t ever offer our version as the definitive version. This was definitely the case with our recording of Thomas Tallis’s Spem in alium. We used multi-tracking recording techniques to layer up the 40 parts of Tallis’s masterpiece, more as an experiment than anything. However when we had sung the last notes we set up the recording desk to play the whole performance. The truth is that most recordings are full of edits, where different performances are stitched together to create the ‘perfect’ version. The techniques we used for this recording come from the world of studio pop recording, so it was interesting to see the technique used on a Renaissance piece. Generally in concert repertoire we subtly change the way we sing the different styles, almost without realising it."

Stanislav Petrov: The man who may have saved the world - "Thirty years ago, on 26 September 1983, the world was saved from potential nuclear disaster. In the early hours of the morning, the Soviet Union's early-warning systems detected an incoming missile strike from the United States. Computer readouts suggested several missiles had been launched. The protocol for the Soviet military would have been to retaliate with a nuclear attack of its own. But duty officer Stanislav Petrov - whose job it was to register apparent enemy missile launches - decided not to report them to his superiors, and instead dismissed them as a false alarm. This was a breach of his instructions, a dereliction of duty. The safe thing to do would have been to pass the responsibility on, to refer up. But his decision may have saved the world... Now, 30 years on, Mr Petrov thinks the odds were 50-50. He admits he was never absolutely sure that the alert was a false one. He says he was the only officer in his team who had received a civilian education. "My colleagues were all professional soldiers, they were taught to give and obey orders," he told us. So, he believes, if somebody else had been on shift, the alarm would have been raised."

The Problem with “Check your Privilege” - "“Check your privilege” is an arrogant phrase that really means “I know more than you. So shut up.” This only creates division among people and makes people feel guilty about things that they have no control over. I am not a man, but I should be allowed to voice an opinion on Selective Service and the male circumcision debate. We will never be able to overcome ugly racism and sexism if we refuse to engage in two-way discussions. The worst part about the concept of privilege is that it creates preconceived judgments about strangers. You cannot know someone’s full story by simply looking at their physical characteristics. As a woman, it would be presumptuous to conclude that a straight white male acquaintance has it easier than me, or is inherently privileged. Perhaps I should check my prejudice and acknowledge that I do not have enough personal information about this individual to make that claim. Perhaps he grew up poor? He has a learning disability? He is physically unattractive? He is battling a life threatening disease? We probably all know the old phrase about what happens when you assume, and what it makes out of you and me. Privilege puts people into groups, instead of seeing people as individuals. The concept tries to fit multidimensional people into neat little boxes. It doesn’t work that way... The concept of privilege is Eurocentric and becomes inconsistent when applied to different locations... I do not know what it is like to live as a gay man or a black woman. But here’s the thing: I will never know what it is like to be another individual. Period. No one on the face of the earth has lived a life identical to mine. The world would be a better place if we did not make arrogant assumptions about people based on superficial classifications"

Man Builds A Suit To Turn Himself Into A Human Fireworks Display, Lives - "Remember those crazy, fully functional Wolverine claws? That was him. Or the shoes that let their inventor walk on the ceiling? Those were his too. The wrist-worn flamethrows? Yep, him."

Amazon is killing my sex life - "I spent a half hour or more listening to him talk about his job. Since I am not in the tech industry, I don’t understand any of it. It was all job speak-the type of language ladder-climbers use; it was the kind of talk that shuts vaginas down cold... in the 25-44 age group, Seattle “has 119 single men for every 100 single women, slightly better than San Francisco at 121-but equal if you add in the impact from nearby Bellevue, which is an awful 144”... The gender disparity is bad enough in San Francisco that one company, The Dating Ring, has resorted to flying women into San Fran from other cities... You might think an abundance of men is a great thing, but as a wise woman once said, “The odds may be good, but the goods are odd”... They had money, but they were boring. They had a lot to say about their job, but their development as a complete human being seemed to be stunted. And they exhibited little to no interest in the other person at the table... “I often hear women say they either date A-holes or nerds-or if they’re really lucky, both in one”... I am a journalist, so I am very good at asking questions to get people to talk about themselves. But this was like squeezing blood from a stone... What was it about guys who work in tech that made them worse than lawyers or other white-collar industries? In a way they exhibit some of the same qualities of those professions-ego, arrogance, and unlimited amounts of cash. In San Francisco, said Violet, “There were a lot of men to date with disposable income who wanted to take women out. It’s just, it was so boring,” she said. “My dating life went from dating artists and writers and going on cheap but exciting dates, to men who thought the ability to buy someone an expensive meal made them interesting”... With the advent of programming as a mainstream career, the nerdy, awkward programmer who liked Game of Thrones before it was a TV show has been supplanted by cocky, arrogant guys who, in another life, would go into finance. It is bad enough that I’ve include a line on my OKCupid account: “NO: Brogrammers.”"

What Hannah Arendt understood about irony that David Foster Wallace didn’t - "Knott, a journalist and author living in Berlin, set out to explore how Arendt, a German Jew and one of the 20th century’s great political and moral thinkers, made sense of her times. As Knott puts it (in David Dollenmayer’s supple English translation), Arendt’s experiences in Nazi Germany forced her to deploy certain ways of thinking to find “escape routes from the dead ends of existing traditional conceptions of the world and the human being.” One of those intellectual tools was irony, or, as Knott also calls it, “laughter.”"

Penis size defence fails to work:Man guilty of sexual assault(Oh, those crazy Canucks) - "A 22-year-old student, who can't be identified, claimed his penis is too big to insert into an average vagina without special preparation or it causes bleeding and scarring. A urologist brought to court a plastic model that depicted the size of the member at a semi-relaxed state, which measured 8 1/2 inches long and 6 1/2 inches in girth"

Variation in Orgasm Occurrence by Sexual Orientation in a Sample of U.S. Singles - Garcia - 2014 - The Journal of Sexual Medicine - Wiley Online Library - "For men, mean occurrence rate of orgasm did not vary by sexual orientation: heterosexual men 85.5%, gay men 84.7%, bisexual men 77.6%... For women, however, mean occurrence rate of orgasm varied significantly by sexual orientation: heterosexual women 61.6%, lesbian women 74.7%, bisexual women 58.0%... Lesbian women had a significantly higher probability of orgasm than did either heterosexual or bisexual women (P < 0.05)." Nude Celebrity Photos Leak, World Peace Breaks Out - "Multiple sources confirmed there would be temporary cease-fires at conflict zones around the world in what is being dubbed a “humanitarian” move to allow soldiers and rebel groups to get to a computer and view the massive trove of nude celebrity photos that leaked online Sunday. The cease-fires between Israel and Gaza, Ukraine and Russia, and on the Korean peninsula and elsewhere are being hailed by activists as the first time prayers for world peace have finally been answered. Hopes for long-standing calm were soon dashed however, after ISIS militants resumed their fight against Syrian and Iraqi soldiers when they learned the leaked images had no goats among them."

Don't Be Silly, Hello Kitty Is a Cat - "In short, you cannot remove the cat element from Hello Kitty. So, it goes without saying that Hello Kitty is not a house cat like Tom from Tom and Jerry. Well, Mickey Mouse isn't a mouse like Jerry, either. He can drive a car. Over the years, he's had various jobs. He even has a pet-a dog named Pluto. But, Mickey Mouse is indeed a mouse, just like Hello Kitty is a cat."

The Hypocrisy in the Fappening Backlash - "'No matter how they did it, the flaccid-dicked trashcans who spread the hacked photos around are now under Apple scrutiny... First, I’m not sure using sexually demeaning language against those you accuse of a sexually demeaning act is a good strategy. I understand your feelings on what they did, I even agree with them, but I see no reason to stoop to their level. Secondly, and this is the big issue. This is a very different stance than the one Kate Knibbs took on the Anthony Weiner sexting scandal... Kate is blaming Weiner for his pics getting leaked to the public, but she is blaming Jennifer Lawrence’s hackers. I understand the difference between accidentally putting pictures in iCloud and sending them through twitter. Isn’t that really just the “she was asking for it” argument again though? I also get that Anthony Wiener was married and his wife was pregnant, would it be any less of a sexual assault if it happened to a woman who was cheating? Weiner was the butt of late night jokes and had to make a public apology, Jennifer Lawrence is just a victim. This does not of course make Jennifer Lawrence any less of a victim, she certainly is. I just find it interesting that this scandal was the one that outraged us... Kate Knibbs described Anthony Weiner as “lewd.” Maybe the real lesson of “the Fappening” is that we should rethink not just our attitude on sex scandals and hacking, but how we judge people."
Comment: "Were people outraged when Tiger Wood's private texts were released / sold to the media? Of course, not. He was a cheating bastard. Don Sterling being illegally recorded...

Answer to Has Apple or Google had a larger positive impact on humanity? - Quora - "Google has made a greater amount of knowledge available to a large segment of the global population. As a software engineer, PhD student, and all-around curious human being, I can't overstate the impact Google has had on my life.
Apple has made shinier toys appealing to our inner apes."

Answer to Ex-Muslims: How did it feel to leave Islam? - Quora - "The thing about Islam that really annoyed me the most was not Hijab, Polygamy or Terrorism. But when I learnt that we as Muslims are not encouraged to have many Non-Muslim friends or to put it in a proper way, "We should prefer Muslim friends over Non-Muslim ones"."

Lavender Food Square - where everyone is moving to

Last night (19th September) I was at Lavender Food Square, the famous hawker centre which is to close at the end of the month.


The previous time I'd been there a few months ago, I asked some stallholders where they were moving to, but all of them said they didn't know and to ask later.


Earlier this month, the Straits Times published an article: Time's up for foodie haunt in Lavender which contained information on where some stalls were moving to. Unfortunately this list was very incomplete with only 9 entries.


So here is my version, collected on the ground from signs and asking the stallholders. If you have information about stalls that were closed when I went, or which hadn't found a new location yet (or which are no longer in the supposed new locations listed below), do leave a comment or email me so I can update this list.


Desserts - closed (probably already moved out) - unknown


"Seafood" - Block 803 King George Avenue (really nearby). Tian Xiang Kopitiam, from 1st October 2014


Fruit Juice - ICA Building


Poly Western Food & Fried Rice (which has awesome chicken wings) - Block 803 King George Avenue (really nearby). Tian Xiang Kopitiam, from October 2014


Soup King - closing, but they have another outlet at 313's Food Republic


Bugis Street Char Kway Teow - Broadway Coffee Shop, 100 Tyrwhitt Road (Jalan Besar Stadium)


Wu Xiang Prawn Crackers (and Satay) - closed, they seemed to have already moved out without a note as to their new location - unknown


Macpherson Barbeque Seafood (Jackson Market) - 411 Balestier Road (Balestier Market) #01-03, from October
Confusingly, there was another, smaller, sign in Mandarin which gives another address of 539, Bedok North Street 3, #01-619 (I think this is another outlet)


Ah Long Pancake (which has fantastic freshly made, thin and crispy ban chang kuih) - Lavender Food Hub @ ZhuGe Liang (27 Foch Road #01-02 Hoa Nam Bldg - really nearby), original outlet to close on 25th September


Drinks stall - closing down (probably no one cares, but I asked this for completeness)


Eminent Frog Porridge - Lavender Food Hub @ ZhuGe Liang (27 Foch Road #01-02 Hoa Nam Bldg - really nearby). The man excitedly informed me that the new place would be air conditioned.


Starlit Homemade Curry - Heng Huat coffeeshop opposite (however they will no longer serve curry since it's troublesome - they'll just do rojak)


HZL (好再来) Korean Food - 100 Tyrwhitt Road, Jalan Besar Sports Complex #01-05, from 1st October 2014


98 Bread - closed, with no information on new outlet. According to The Straits Times their other outlet is at Block 19, Toa Payoh Lorong 7


Whitley Road Fishball Noodles - they're taking a break for now


Chicken Rice - Lavender Food Hub @ ZhuGe Liang (27 Foch Road #01-02 Hoa Nam Bldg - really nearby)


Albert Street Prawn Noodle - as you can see from the queue, they were busy so I didn't ask. Apparently there's another outlet at Old Airport Road Food Centre, 51 Old Airport Road, #01-10
Addendum: @cknewsstand on instagram was there on 15th September and they didn't know where they would go. They said to check their Facebook page which you can follow for updates


Pei Yun Hong Kong Tim Sum - still looking


Teochew Fish Porridge - still looking


Kim's Noodles - still looking


Kok Kee Wanton Noodles - as you can see from the queue, they were busy so I didn't ask. The Straits Times reported in early September that they hadn't found a location yet.
Addendum: According to @eleventhour on instagram, "They said they're gonna be taking a break before they decide what to do next". However according to my friend who heard it from the horse's mouth, "they say they are retiring".


Miow Sin Popiah, Carrot Cake - Balestier Food Centre (beside Boon Tong Kee), i.e. 411 Balestier Road (Balestier Market), closed after 28th September 2014, opening on 1st October 2014


No Signboard Yam Duck Rice, Kway Chap - Still looking


Mixed vegetable rice - closed - unknown


Lian Hua Chun Fruits Trading - closed - online says 506 Jurong West Street 51, Singapore 640506


Muslim Food - closed - unknown


Mun Chee Kee Pig's Organ Soup - closed - unknown (there's a similar stall Cheng Mun Chee Kee Pig Organ Soup/Authentic Mun Chee Kee Pig Organ Soup nearby at 24 Foch Rd)


Chong Pang Huat BBQ Chicken Wings - 27 Foch Road #01-02 Hoa Nam Building, from 23rd September 2014


Old Bibik's Traditional Peranakan Rendang - closed and looks like they moved out. The Straits Times reports the new location is MDIS Building, 190 Changi Road, #01-01, and is "a 60-seat restaurant cum photo gallery" (whatever that is), from 1st October 2014.


Ju Hao Lamian Xiao Long Bao - still looking


Chinatown Beef Noodle - they have 6-7 other outlets, including one in Jinsha (wherever that is)
Addendum: "the original famous beef noodle stall before this one took over is gone, the new one is terrible in comparison"


Somboon Thai Food (I forgot to take a photo so I cribbed this one from Yelp) - Block "567 Hougang Ring, near the market" (this seems to be Blk 567, Hougang Street 51)


Kin Turtle Soup (Geylang Lor 35) - Sin Huat Coffee Shop Geylang Lorong 35, from 15th September 2014

Friday, September 19, 2014

Links - 19th September 2014

How To Marry The Right Girl: A Mathematical Solution - "the best way to proceed is to interview (or date) the first 36.8 percent of the candidates. Don't hire (or marry) any of them, but as soon as you meet a candidate who's better than the best of that first group — that's the one you choose! Yes, the Very Best Candidate might show up in that first 36.8 percent — in which case you'll be stuck with second best, but still, if you like favorable odds, this is the best way to go."

Meet Swarm: Foursquare's ambitious plan to split its app in two - "Not only has Foursquare collected 6 billion check-ins, he says, but it has collected 6 billion signals to help it map out over 60 million places around the world. Each place is a shape that looks like a hot zone of check-ins — of times when people have said "I’m here." Foursquare’s "Pilgrim" location-guessing engine factors in everything from your GPS signal, to cell tower triangulation, to the number of bars you have, to the Wi-Fi networks nearby, in order to create these virtual shapes. Now that it has this data, Foursquare can make a very accurate guess at where you are when you stop moving, even without a check-in, a technology it hopes will allow it to keep its database of places fresh and accurate. Foursquare calls these implicit check-ins "p-check-ins," or Neighborhood Sharing. Take your phone into four or five different Japanese restaurants over the course of six months and without a single check-in Foursquare will learn that you like Japanese food and start making recommendations for you based on that data... "I walked into a restaurant and it told me what to order. I walked into a neighborhood and it told me three places to go to. My plane landed in a city I’ve never been to and it’s telling me that two friends are nearby. That’s stuff that we’re doing now, and I think what people will get is that it’s very clearly the future.""

Meet the Fokkens: Amsterdam's oldest prostitutes - "Amsterdam's oldest prostitutes have been thrust into the spotlight with the release of their memoirs and a documentary film about their lives. The film, Meet the Fokkens, follows 70-year-old identical twins Louise and Martine Fokken as they share secrets of selling sex in the city's famous red light district... Despite younger competition next door, there is still a market for Martine's services. She appears to specialise in bondage for older men. Targeting them with things they like to dress up in. Tempting them into her brothel with an array of dangerous looking whips and high-heeled shoes. It seems she has found a niche in the fetish market. "We know the tricks, we know what they want. We know how to talk to them and we know how to make them laugh too."

Howie Reith's answer to What does it feel like to be a male who pretends to be a female online? - Quora - "Every day I was getting over a hundred views of my profile. I would get between a dozen and a couple dozen messages. Most of them were "hi" or some pathetic attempt at flirting involving asking what I was getting my master's degree in. I don't think I would be exaggerating to say only 1% of the messages were anything remotely worth replying to. Some of the messages were truly bizarre. Some men would message me about wanting to satisfy their sexual fetishes with me. Some were borderline unreadable because of the grammatical issues. Others were just plane needy, telling me that I was the cutest girl they'd seen in their entire lives. It was funny, even though I wasn't the person in the picture, I still felt flattered. As I continued the experiment I found it curious how it was affecting me psychologically. I eventually started messaging guys I thought were interesting. They had witty profiles, were very good looking, or were successful business men. I would find myself getting frustrated when they wouldn't message me back. I would do all of the same sorts of things that consistently got me messages back from pretty girls - I would say something witty, show interest in what they talked about in their profile, etc. Nope. Guys wouldn't message me back. wtf? I'm hot god dammit."

The Scientific Secret Behind Batman's Hidden Identity Revealed - "We recognize Batman because we know he's Bruce Wayne/Christian Bale/whoever. So for us it's easy to make out his face's defining characteristics, even when obscured with the cow... however, research suggests that if we had no prior knowledge of who Batman was, we would find it difficult to recognize and remember his face. The Journal of Vision published a paper which explains that human facial recognition is all based in your temporal lobe. It remembers and recognizes faces not based on their overall appearance, but by analyzing the individual parts of a face and then constructing them into some kind of 'natural barcode'. This means when you see the face again, you can quickly scan it and figure out if you know the person."

Best Pictures from Russian Dating Sites

WTF Should I Do Today?

Bread maker who had sex with colleague's underage daughter jailed three years - "The victim told the accused that she "wanted to do it", which the accused understood to mean that she wanted to have sex. Initially, he refused but relented when she kept pleading with him, the court heard. The pair had sex again in July last year after the girl and her father had moved to another flat. She reported to police that she had been raped."

How progressive culture resists critique: The impasse of NGO Studies - "This article addresses the distinctive dilemmas that arise from this lack of distance between ethnographers and research subjects and particularly the difficulty of critically examining the moral sentiments of progressive actors. I tell the story of a first fieldwork project in which I struggled to objectify the social power of professional education reformers who already analyzed themselves and whose efforts to combat race and class inequalities seemed to be beyond reproach"
This is not limited to NGOs - progressive culture in general is resistant to critique. This is a good example of how activism interferes with scholarship

'Power Rangers' Movie News: Walter Jones Unsure On Cameo In New Film, But Is Excited To See It Regardless - ""It's a reboot so they're re-casting the whole entire film and there's a lot of excitement about it"... The script is being worked on by X-Men: First Class writers Zack Stenz and Ashley Miller with Roberto Orci producing. The film is set to open in theaters on July 22, 2016."

Dear Gays, Stop Being Offended by Hilarious Jokes! - "even when comedians who are outspoken advocates and allies of the LGBTQ community, there is a public outcry following every edgy joke that is made... should all art be void of gay material? Would it be better for the LGBTQ community for actors, comedians, celebrities, and artists to completely skirt around the issue of homosexuality? Or instead, should you ask yourself why you were offended by something? What is the fear in people making gay jokes? That through comedy, we are somehow setting our people back? Or perhaps, what is more likely, is that a certain joke touched on an insecurity of yours, and that is why you became offended. Isn’t making people laugh the impetus behind telling jokes? Perhaps sometimes the mechanism for doing so is being somewhat shocking or offensive, but the ultimate goal is laughter. And perhaps a particular joke isn’t your cup of tea, but does that mean that nobody should be able to tell that joke or even appreciate that joke because it hurt your feelings?... I would personally feel terrible if someone in my life felt that they had to walk on egg shells so as not to offend me. I want to hear funny jokes, including the gay ones, and I want people to feel comfortable saying them. Rather than responding to buzz words, I would encourage people to look at jokes within context, assess the intention behind the telling of the joke, and give people a break. I can’t imagine being offended by a gay joke, but I will absolutely be offended by those who vote homophobic leaders into office"

SEX & GOD: A New and Fascinating Book by Darrel Ray - "Darrel Ray, a psychologist and the author of SEX & GOD, provides a vast amount of evidence from former fundamentalist believers that sexual performance and happiness increased after they left their religions. His book systematically examines why religion is so interested in sex, the benefits to fundamentalist preachers who espouse arbitrary rules about sexuality, and how hundreds of thousands of former believers have found happiness outside of religion. In addition, SEX & GOD shows how sexual restrictions are used by major religions and why it works so well, especially in subjugating women and children. It also shows how one can combat religious programming about sexuality. The book further explores how to identify and avoid religion’s psychological traps that inhibit or condemn sexuality and offers an alternative view of healthy sexuality, free of guilt, deleterious restrictions, and illogical prohibitions."

Rainbow Cake Recipe Online Leads To Hilariously Absurd Comment War - "A colorful rainbow cake seems innocent enough, right? It's just some flour, sugar, an egg or two, correct? It turns out, that is not the case. This past week, a certain rainbow cake that is tie dyed on the outside and filled in the middle with the number five set off an epic comment war that has to be seen be believed."

Never again, PinkDot The Independent Singapore News - "My activist friends reported the organisers lecturing that this event is not for them, not for the benefit of the LGBTQI community, but for the benefit of appearing safe and unthreatening to mainstream Singapore and their straight allies. And so: a complete gag on safe sex. Straight people will freak out if you give out condoms and safe sex brochures and talk about safe sex! Please say as little about activism on this day itself. It’s too confrontational! No one really needs to hear the plight of transsexual sex workers, much less their rights. It’s too alternative! And please give us all your brochures to vet. We demand it... PinkDot plays up the so-called attacks, fosters a siege mentality, all to justify the wasteful, immodest, and immoral hiring of mercenary thugs at today’s event. Because in their bizarro universe, PinkDot’s cheerful and peaceful picnic atmosphere either doesn’t exist or is so fragile (despite a turnout of 3000 people on average) that a few protestors would create a riot. What does this say about the PinkDot organisers’ perception of the LGBTQI community? That they can be prodded into violence? That they could never react to opposition in a Gandhian manner? What does this say about PinkDot’s liberal credentials?"

Alex Coppen's answer to Why do some men hate feminists? - Quora - "men are largely egalitarian, i.e. they inherently believe in the equality of merit, as opposed to focusing on gender. Feminism, by contrast, is defined as the one-sided advocacy of one gender. Fairness and respect are the core of masculinity. Advocating one group over another isn't a level playing field, and it's not egalitarian. Personal value in masculinity arguably comes from prowess or stature; whereas you could say value in femininity comes from being valued for oneself (or beauty/motherhood etc). Ergo, the idea that women with the same capabilities, skills, or prowess should somehow be paid less, or valued less, actually goes against traditional masculinity. You'd be hard pressed to find a man in the Western world who would advocate paying anyone less for the same skillset, for example, even though it (wrongly) happens... I don't "hate" feminists. I just find the vast majority of self-described "feminists" utterly obnoxious - their gender is actually irrelevant. I don't like anyone on any side of anything when they're dogmatic and/or fundamentalist. That will never wash though, as any criticism will be almost certainly be met with the label "prejudice" because its leveled at perpetrators whose entire agenda is to claim prejudice... As with every issue that concerns dogmatism, it's often a case of having to fight through a jungle of crap to find the diamond hidden away at its core. The point(s) raised are valid. The people making them are some of the most difficult to discuss anything with, unless you agree completely and validate them completely. Sexism is a problem, as is a certain degree of misogyny. However, we never get to an honest discussion about it - let alone an action plan with equal support - because of the chorus of BS. If i wanted to put it honestly, this is what i'd probably say: "what you're talking about is important, but you're a dick, which is why i'm not listening"... But i'd say the biggest issue that stirs the feeling of "hate" amongst men towards these people is the feeling of being accused, attacked, and wronged, when they don't hold these views or beliefs, and actually would agree with the feminist point of view if it were presented with a bit more dignity and fairness. Insulting, attacking, criticising, or maligning men - or victimising your gender - never gets anyone anything but a very bad reaction. But a more far-reaching thought is in how neo-feminists claim they think of men in a positive way and just want equality, when they have nothing good to say about men at all - and patronisingly presume that men themselves are not perceptive enough to realise that they actually just don't like men... We can sense your feelings underneath, and there's no hiding it with equality-talk... When an advocacy group refuses to acknowledge data, you are not in a discussion - you are dealing with dogma. Men don't "hate" feminists per se. They can just be more perceptive to what's going on underneath the external arguments than these activists expect, and get extremely defensive when wrongly accused on a personal level."

mepersoner: Tsk Tsk - "The Female Privilege Checklist
8) If he doesn't orgasm when we have sex, it's his fault.
9) If I don't orgasm when we have sex, it's his fault.
14) Anytime I do well in business, the media will look at me as some messiah because I'm a woman. Everyone will be impressed.
24) If a crime is commited against me, the punishment will always be worse than it would be for commiting it against a man."

The Straw Stereotype

(Ed: A followup can be found at: The Straw Stereotype, Redux)

One thing that really annoys me is straw stereotypes.

Many people misinterpret, perhaps wilfully, statements that take the form "Group A possess attribute B" (or similar ones) to be absolute declarations (i.e. "All of Group A possess attribute B").

They then find one counter-example and crow triumphantly that the "generalisation" is false.

Let us take one example to see how ridiculous this is:

"Singapore is hotter than Anchorage, Alaska"

This is a pretty uncontroversial statement.

Yet, the highest temperature ever recorded in Anchorage, Alaska was 29 degrees Celsius (data from 1916-present, temperature recorded from Jun-Aug).

Meanwhile, the record low for Singapore was 19.4 degrees Celsius one January (data from 1929-1941, 1948-2011 data).

Therefore Singapore is not hotter than Anchorage, Alaska.

This sort of trivial "proof by contradiction" is not only not very interesting but alien to the way normal people process such statements.

When people say that "Singapore is hotter than Anchorage, Alaska" they do not mean:

"Singapore is always hotter than Anchorage, Alaska, has always been hotter than Anchorage, Alaska and will always be hotter than Anchorage, Alaska - come rain or shine, climate change or the End of the World",

But rather:

"Singapore is almost always hotter than Anchorage, Alaska" or even
"Singapore is usually hotter than Anchorage, Alaska"

In reality no one except people firing cheap shots at "stereotypes" and "generalisation" takes such a totalising and reductive approach to general statements; the only statements of the form "All of Group A possess attribute B" which are always true are tautologies (e.g. "All bachelors are unmarried").

Observations - 19th September 2014

"We are all self-made, but only the successful will admit it" - Earl Nightingale


"The first no means "not right now".

The second no means "not ever".

The third no means "please go away, I have already dialled 911 and I only have to press call""

"I suddenly remembered another beautiful example of privilege that also involves intersectionality.

Mystique of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Blue, does not look like an ordinary person, bullied for looking different: facing prejudice. Bio-mimic, can look like anyone she wants: privileged. Result: intersectionality!"

[On RJC] "I was from a batch where there was this incident, where people would leave their lecture notes in the library of the old Mount Sinai campus. And they would return to found them either missing or thrown in the trash.

They found the culprit a girl who was often made fun of because she was ugly. It was one of those things where you didn't know whether she was a victim or a culprit."

"Is it bad that i processed "card carrying feminist" as "a woman no one can take seriously"?"

"People don't hate her because she's a feminist. They hate her because she behaves like an asshole and cries persecution when she is called out on it."

No true feminist puts sugar on his porridge.

Amused that feminists are for "ending violence by men against women" but against "end racism by black people against white people".

If a single parent is as capable of parenting as two are (and thus we should not discourage single parenthood in children's interests), why are men blamed for not doing their fair share of the housework and childcare? After all, if single parents can manage on their own, the mother can manage on her own without the father.

"Do you really believe it's a choice? Who in their right mind would choose to believe in a sky fairy and subject oneself to a lifetime of social ridicule by liberals and misunderstanding, and a faith that the gay lobby is trying to make illegal?"

RT @necropants I've noticed a lot of people who ask for trigger warnings are those who actively search for sensitive topics to argue about

Not all smokers get lung cancer and not all lung cancer patients smoke
Ergo it's a stereotype and a lie that smoking causes lung cancer!

"Offended" as used by "activist" types though usually means "something I can't refute or disprove, but runs counter to what I think, so it needs to be suppressed."

"I hearby refuse to click on links with headlines that have been upworthified. If you see something worth sharing, share the original item, not the linkbaited upworthy and ilk shit. The headlines don't actually say what the item is"
"I also don't click on any link from Business Insider which, to this day, I don't think I've ever seen a legitimate business article."

“What is the best occupation in the world? Being a librarian..When you tell people to shut up, they have to shut up”

Amused that it's a seizable offence (up to 6 months jail) to display a national flag in Singapore (National Emblems (Control of Display) Act (Chapter 196))

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Links - 18th September 2014

Harvard boffins 'reverse-engineer' Chinese censorship - "they used anonymous volunteers from inside China to create accounts on sanctioned social media sites, and compared the posts allowed to remain to those taken down. The actions of the censors, they argue, “leaves large footprints and so reveals a great deal about itself and the intentions of the government”. Their study, published last week in Science (abstract here), found that criticising officials isn't a route to an automatic takedown. As study leader Jennifer Pan explained in this story at Popular Mechanics, criticisms help leaders form their picture of what's happening on the ground, “seeing which of the roughly 50,000 local governments is being led in a way that is not satisfying people”. Collective action of any kind, however – even in support of the government – quickly brings down the ban-hammer: “the state wants to limit people getting together outside of state control” so the government can “keep a monopoly on mass action”."

Peter Tatchell: The left and the anti-war movement have double standards when it comes to Hama - "Hamas is intensifying its repression of the Palestinian citizens of Gaza, according to recent reports by Amnesty International and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. This repression includes beatings, kneecappings, executions, detention without trial, torture, restrictions on civic organisations and violent attacks on critics and protesters, as reported in the Guardian last Friday. Amnesty International is highly critical of the Hamas "campaign of abductions, deliberate and unlawful killings, torture and death threats"... while progressive opinion is justifiably quick to condemn Israel, it is oddly silent when Palestinians are being persecuted by fellow Palestinians. Why the double standards?... It is therefore disturbing that significant sections (not all) of the left are flirting with Hamas. During the January protests in the UK against Israel's barbaric bombardment of Gaza, there were frequent pro-Hamas chants and placards. "We are all Hamas now!" some marchers yelled. At one rally in Hyde Park, speakers on the main stage urged "Victory to Hamas!" and received tumultuous cheers of approval (with only a few boos)... Some of the left seem to see Hamas as a Palestinian equivalent of the African National Congress of South Africa – a heroic national liberation movement that is resisting the iniquities of Israeli occupation. Sorry, this analogy does not wash, as Brett Lock argued on the Harry's Place blog a couple of weeks ago. He pointed out that Hamas is offering nothing akin to the political and ethical stature of the ANC's Freedom Charter. In fact, Hamas's charter is a charter for discrimination and religious tyranny – the exact opposite of what the ANC stood for"

Liberal Anti-Semitism | Valerie Tarico - "I hear the Israeli attack on Gaza described as genocide. I never hear the American attack on Iraq described that way... Our silence when it comes to the role of the surrounding countries, who want the Palestinians to remain right where they are as pawns in a global power struggle... If we Liberals are willing to assume that it takes a people generations to recover from slavery, can we not assume the same of genocide?... When Arabs or Muslims engage in mass political extermination, we say little. The same with smaller cruelties. Yet we hold the Israelis to a higher standard. Why is this? Why do we scream about Israeli rockets and yet we're mum when Hamas and Fatah are murdering each other?... Sometimes I wonder if it is actually a form of racism against Arabs and Muslims, like when we assume that a kid is fated to be a low-achiever and we write them off. But consider: How would we react if the Israelis treated their women like Saudis do? If they treated their Hindu servants like Omanis do? If they treated their religious minorities like the Iraqis do? If they pledged the extermination of Palestinians the way that Hamas pledges itself to the extermination of Jews?... when Evangelicals cite Leviticus to justify their attitudes toward homosexuals but then ignore the rest of Mosaic Law, something other than biblical literalism is at play. When the suffering of the Palestinian people arouses venom that seeps through in Liberal rants while other suffering leaves us cold, something other than compassion is at play. I loathe the kind of ignorant rant that kicked off this article. But the subtle bigotry of some fellow liberals feels worse. It violates the very humanitarian rhetoric that gives it cover. As a progressive, it shames me. And it makes me scared... We humans are probably hard-wired for tribalism, and we need little excuse to see the "other" as disgusting or evil. But we also are capable of thinking more complexly... Maybe in addition to looking at the dividing lines in the Middle East we could be looking more at the dividing lines in our own hearts."

Facebook’s satire tag would be good for Asia - "As a genre and as a concept, satire does not seem to be taught as much in the East as it is in the West. "

Isaac Shabtay's answer to If Hamas was not defending Palestine, who would in the absence of Palestinian military? - Quora - "Early in his role as president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas took a decision that had put him in an odd light within Fatah: he acknowledged the fact that using force against Israel is counterproductive to the Palestinian people, and thus decided that, instead of thinking in terms of "defending", "attacking" and "military", he's going to sit on his ass and build a state.
The result:
Wide acceptance of Mahmoud Abbas as the undisputed leader of the Palestinian people.
Minimum to no violence in the West Bank.
No blockade on the West Bank.
UN recognition of Palestine as a non-member observer state.
Immense political pressure in Israel to negotiate with Abbas and get stuff done with, not only from the left wing but also from within his own government.
The Israeli public is beginning to realize that Mahmoud Abbas is a negotiation partner. They may not be his biggest fans—very few people would be willing to forget the fact that he masterminded the Ma'alot Massacre—but they do realize that this is a person willing to sit down, discuss and act.
Is the Fatah "defending the West Bank"? nope. It doesn't need to, because it's not being attacked, because it's not engaging in battle. Instead, it's busy building a fucking state. Now let's look at Hamas and how it is "defending" Palestine."

Mystery meat: Photographer Peter Augustus shows food in original form

Stone Age tribe kills fishermen who strayed on to island

Children of Holocaust survivors 'learn' fear from mothers: researcher - "Mothers use the smell of fear to teach babies about threats, researchers have said, which may explain why children of Holocaust survivors suffer nightmares and flashbacks of events they never experienced. Experiments have shown that mothers may give off particular scents when frightened which their newborn babies pick up on. Even when the fearful event was during pregnancy, the newborns have learned to respond to it, the researchers said. Previous studies have suggested that fears can be inherited through changes in the DNA. The latest experiments were conducted using laboratory rats but the scientists believe the mechanism may explain how children are affected by traumatic events experienced by their mothers.
This probably explains how children can have "memories" of "past lives"

Arundhati Roy accuses Mahatma Gandhi of discrimination - "It is time to unveil a few truths about a person whose doctrine of nonviolence was based on the acceptance of a most brutal social hierarchy ever known, the caste system … Do we really need to name our universities after him?"

The Liberals' War on Science - "41 percent of Democrats are young Earth creationists, and 19 percent doubt that Earth is getting warmer. These numbers do not exactly bolster the common belief that liberals are the people of the science book. In addition, consider “cognitive creationists”—whom I define as those who accept the theory of evolution for the human body but not the brain. As Harvard University psychologist Steven Pinker documents in his 2002 book The Blank Slate (Viking), belief in the mind as a tabula rasa shaped almost entirely by culture has been mostly the mantra of liberal intellectuals, who in the 1980s and 1990s led an all-out assault against evolutionary psychology via such Orwellian-named far-left groups as Science for the People, for proffering the now uncontroversial idea that human thought and behavior are at least partially the result of our evolutionary past. There is more, and recent, antiscience fare from far-left progressives, documented in the 2012 book Science Left Behind (PublicAffairs) by science journalists Alex B. Berezow and Hank Campbell, who note that “if it is true that conservatives have declared a war on science, then progressives have declared Armageddon.” On energy issues, for example, the authors contend that progressive liberals tend to be antinuclear because of the waste-disposal problem, anti–fossil fuels because of global warming, antihydroelectric because dams disrupt river ecosystems, and anti–wind power because of avian fatalities. The underlying current is “everything natural is good” and “everything unnatural is bad.” Whereas conservatives obsess over the purity and sanctity of sex, the left's sacred values seem fixated on the environment, leading to an almost religious fervor over the purity and sanctity of air, water and especially food... Pace Barry Goldwater, extremism in the defense of liberty may not be a vice, but it is in defense of science, where facts matter more than faith—whether it comes in a religious or secular form—and where moderation in the pursuit of truth is a virtue"

Trans Activist Demands Apology From University For Allowing Dan Savage To Say “Tranny,” Making School “Unsafe” - "Opinionated author and occasional media critic Dan Savage is not the first gay activist to be labeled “transphobic” for his use of the word “tranny,” but he is certainly the first to be labeled such for using the word “tranny” in an actual discussion about the current policing of the word “tranny”... Hex interrupted the conversation from the audience to demand that the term “T-slur” replace the word “tranny” in the ensuing discussion, claiming that their use of the word was “to threaten me and make me feel uncomfortable in that space.” A dialogue between the three created “a tense atmosphere” and Hex reportedly left the room crying... Citing the experience as “dehumanizing,” Hex immediately began circulating a petition to force the University of Chicago to apologize to it and “prohibit the use of transphobic slurs” at future events. The petition garnered over 1,700 signatures."
Those who keep talking about "safe" spaces make spaces more unsafe than those they rail at ever could

A less Savage perspective - "it is disingenuous for the petition’s authors to allege (in some, though not all, of their conflicting, seemingly ever-changing statements), that students had been repeatedly interrupted by Savage and Cox at the seminar, or not given ample opportunity to voice their concerns. In the few instances when Cox and Savage did interrupt students, they did so only to request permission to finish their sentences—only because they had been interrupted by the students first. Near the end of the seminar, Cox even made a point to ask the petition’s only author still in attendance whether she felt like she had been heard. Her answer? “Yes.” It has been even more disingenuous for the students to repeatedly modify their petition’s pre-“update” language without notifying signatories, and to delete an astonishing number of their own and others’ public comments about the incident on social media. Having actually attended the seminar and observed countless inconsistencies between their descriptions and reality, I am taken aback by how many of my peers would sign such a strongly worded petition on the basis of incredibly minimal, misleading information. Even one of the petition’s own authors did not attend the seminar, opting to instead compile a litany of out-of-context quotes from Savage’s decade-old columns for a co-author to recite in their absence... the approach these students are taking is unfortunate, questionable, and destructive. It is akin to transforming important, under-discussed topics into minefields—mines that even LGBTQ allies will, and already are beginning to, fear setting off too much to even broach the subjects. If this is the sort of response speakers and attendees can expect at any kind of event about LGBTQ issues on our campus, even allies will be reluctant to participate. Indeed, such reluctance is already setting in. In the aftermath of the seminar, I have heard many of my peers express concern about being branded transphobic, and thus avoid discussing trans issues altogether"
It is better to ignore issues activists care about than have views they don't agree with - even if you care for the same constituency

WSJ Journalists Delete Tweets About Gaza Hospital Hit by Errant Hamas Rocket | NewsBusters

BBC staff told to stop inviting cranks on to science programmes - "man-made climate change was one area where too much weight had been given to unqualified critics."

snopes.com: Van Halen Contract Required Brown M&Ms - "The legendary "no brown M&Ms" contract clause was indeed real, but the purported motivation for it was not. The M&Ms provision was included in Van Halen's contracts not as an act of caprice, but because it served a practical purpose: to provide an easy way of determining whether the technical specifications of the contract had been thoroughly read (and complied with)"

Booed ‘Aida’ in Paris Repels With Klan, Gestapo: Review - "The booing started in Act I and reached tumultuous levels by the time director Olivier Py and Pierre-Andre Weitz, the set and costume designer, stepped in front of the curtain at the Bastille. The Paris Opera hasn’t seen a new “Aida” since 1939 and this isn’t one for the ages. Writing in the house program, Py claims that “Aida” is Verdi’s most political opera, “a great reflection on political violence.” That’s nonsense. Auguste Mariette, the French Egyptologist who wrote the original story, envisioned an Oriental spectacular to celebrate the 1869 opening of the Suez Canal"


A woman came home, screeching her car into the driveway, and ran into the house. She slammed the door and shouted at the top of her lungs:

"Honey, pack your bags; I've won the lottery!!!"

The husband said, "Oh my God! What should I pack, beach stuff or mountain stuff?"

"Doesn't matter," she said, "Just get out."


One day, a man came home and was greeted by his wife dressed in a very sexy nightie. "Tie me up," she purred, "and you can do anything you want."

So he tied her up and went golfing.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Links - 17th September 2014

In Tehran, Iran You Can Hire Somebody To Walk Behind Your Car And Block Your License Plate From Traffic Cameras - "In Tehran, Iran traffic authorities placed restrictions on the amount of cars on roads to reduce congestion and pollution. Cars with plates ending with odd numbers were restricted one day and even numbers the next. After having installed traffic cameras, locals in downtown Tehran found a way to beat the system. Drivers paid people to walk behind their cars to block their license plates."

Modern art: How gallery visitors only viewed work by Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin for less than 5 seconds

The 22 Most Extreme Selfies Ever Taken

America's love-affair with ranch dressing. - "Ranch dressing has been the nation's best-selling salad topper since 1992, when it overtook Italian. How did this simple mixture of mayonnaise, buttermilk, and herbs become America's favorite way to liven up lettuce?"

Matt Harbowy's answer to Tea: Does bouncing your tea bag actually do anything substantial? - Quora - "Within statistical error, under almost all testing conditions, I cannot find a difference between dunking and not dunking under controlled circumstances, so do it how you want. There is almost as much statistical noise in the wettability of the paper and the leaf from one bag to the next as there is in dissolution rates, and small changes in manufacture usually matter more than anything the consumer on the teabag side can control. The tea taster responsible for blending the tea bag can usually "blend" these variations away from year to year by using tea from a number of places around the world. "

New Batam immigration rules faze some Singaporeans - The 33-year-old tutor said they were waiting to clear Indonesian immigration when an officer made them, along with another woman, stand in a separate line. Their travel documents were also taken away, she said. The women said a senior immigration officer made an announcement to the entire hall and gestured at a sign which portrayed a finger on the lips. "It wasn't until much later that another officer came out of a room and asked us to follow him," she said. "He also handed our passports to a worker from the ferry service operator." They were taken to the departure point, where there were another four Singaporeans who had apparently been picked out earlier for either talking or using their mobile phones. Miss Fernandez said immigration officers could have at least told the group what they had done wrong. They found out more details only after they returned to Singapore."

Jobless man died after sex toy got stuck in his body and he was too embarrassed to see a doctor

Japan's sex doll industry 'reaches next level' with perfect artificial 'Dutch Wife' - "A Japanese company claims to have reached the next level in developing the most genuine looking sex doll which comes complete with realistic feeling skin and authentic looking eyes. Orient Industry say their new range of dolls, made from high quality silicon, are so realistic there is very little to distinguish them from a real girlfriend at first glance. The dolls, which are non inflatable, are sold under the name 'Dutch Wives', a Japanese term for a sex doll, and adverts in the media boast that anyone who buys one will never want a real girlfriend again."

George RR Martin: women beg me to write more gay sex scenes for Game of Thrones - ""I don't pretend to understand this," he said, as he disclosed he would not "shy away" from any storyline. But, he added the writing of his Song of Ice and Fire series was "not a democracy", joking fans would have killed off hated characters much sooner had they been given a vote... "When I was 12 or 13, I had teachers take science fiction books away from me, and told me you're a smart kid, you get good grades, why are you reading this s---? "Except they were teachers so they said trash. 'It'll rot your mind [they said]. You should be reading Silas Marner or something like that'. "If I had been reading Silas Marner I probably would have stopped reading." He added: "There's a lot of prejudice against science fiction, particularly against genre fiction. And it's still there but it's not nearly what it was. "I think these things are breaking down. Literary fiction in its present form is a genre itself and we should recognise it as that. "The real test is what books are going to survive. Tolkien has certainly survived. "All you can do is write the best story you can and put it in the hands of posterity. "The fact that people are arguing about my books is a sign that I take very well. A writer's real enemy is obscurity.""
Men <-> Lesbian Sex as Women <-> Gay Sex

brick me with a brick - Why Magical Girls Are Never Attacked During A Tranformation - "Back on May 15th, the theme of the episode was pataphysics/the science of sci-fi. One of the topics of the lecture held by university professor Yanagita Rikao was the age-old question of "WHY ARE MAGICAL GIRLS NEVER ATTACKED WHILE TRANSFORMING???""

Is our obsession with cleanliness doing more harm than good? - "On the docket for this week's 248th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) was research by Arizona State University citing concerns over the prevalence of two antibacterial compounds and the potential hazards they could pose to pregnant women. Thought to be used in over 2,000 everyday cleaning products including conventional hand washing soap, the two compounds in question, called triclosan (TCS) and triclocarban (TCC), are difficult to avoid. According to lead author Rolf Halden, PhD., a longtime opponent of the use of TCS and TCC, which were introduced in 1964 and 1957, respectively, the compounds' health threats expand well beyond the health of pregnant women, contributing to the increasing problem of antibacterial resistance."

What an Introvert Sounds Like - "introverts make heavy use of emoticons and words related to anime, but extroverts say “party,” “baby,” and “ya”... Open people talk about “dreams” and the “universe,” apparently, while people with “low openness”—“characterized by traits such as being unintelligent, unanalytical, unreflective, uninquisitive, unimaginative, uncreative, and unsophisticated”—use contractions, misspellings ... and misspelled contractions... People are much less likely to be “bored” at 60 than at 13, it turns out, but much more likely to feel proud. Twenty-five year olds tend to mention “drunk,” but 55-year-olds talk about “wine”... “males use the possessive ‘my’ when mentioning their wife or girlfriend more often than females use ‘my’ with ‘husband’ or ‘boyfriend.’”"

Emerging solar plants scorch birds in mid-air - "Federal wildlife investigators who visited the BrightSource Energy plant last year and watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one “streamer” every two minutes, are urging California officials to halt the operator’s application to build a still-bigger version... The bird kills mark the latest instance in which the quest for clean energy sometimes has inadvertent environmental harm. Solar farms have been criticised for their impacts on desert tortoises, and wind farms have killed birds, including numerous raptors... .Federal wildlife officials said Ivanpah might act as a “mega-trap” for wildlife, with the bright light of the plant attracting insects, which in turn attract insect-eating birds that fly to their death in the intensely focused light rays."
Green energy! Dams (for hydroelectric power) are great for wildlife too

Nut allergy girl stopped breathing when plane passenger ignored THREE warnings not to open packet of nuts

Ambition: Do you need it to succeed? - "Being an easy-going team player will actually get you farther than ambition, said Ghaemi. In the corporate world, the people who rise to the top tend to be fairly even-keeled. They have to be likeable, social and hard working, but more importantly, they have to be as normal as possible. “People who do well are people in the 50th percentile of everything,” said Ghaemi. “They have to be really well liked, but they’re also conformists. They’re not especially creative, they’re not super productive and they’re not especially innovative. They just need to be committed to the institution.” Although Coney disagrees with Ghaemi — “I tell my team you need to be an outlier,” he said — he does say that he made it to the CEO role more because he did what was asked of him and less because of his own ambition to succeed."

The Evolutionary Role Of PMS? - "Professor Michael Gillings, from Macquarie University, believes that in our evolutionary past there was a hidden selective advantage to PMS, because it increased the chance that infertile pair bonds would dissolve, thus improving the reproductive outcomes of women in such partnerships... The hypothesis was supported by the high heritability of PMS, and the fact that gene variants associated with PMS can be identified, not to mention the data that show animosity exhibited during PMS is preferentially directed at current partners."
The Paper: "behaviours exhibited during PMS may increase the chance of finding a new partner... Most women feel more sexual at particular phases of the menstrual cycle, and the premenstrual phase is nominated by more women than any other phase (Harvey 1987), despite the physical inconvenience associated with premenstrual symptoms... Finding new partners involves a degree of risk and intrasexual competition. Risk taking varies across the menstrual cycle, with women being most risk-averse during ovulation, and exhibiting more risky behaviours during nonfertile phases (Chavanne and Gallup Jr 1998; Bröder and Hohmann 2003). Women also display more competitive behaviours in the premenstrual phase in a number of experimental scenarios (Pearson and Schipper 2009; Buser 2012). PMDD is associated with increased activity in the amygdala during the late luteal phase. Some researchers suggest that changes in limbic activity lead to a consequent increase in impulsivity (Protopopescu et al. 2008)."

Too much, too little sodium is bad for heart, so what’s the Goldilocks amount? - "The good news is, though, that researchers found about 75 percent of Americans intake the appropriate amount of sodium per day"

Alone Again, Naturally - NYTimes.com - "A front-page article in The Times by Carl Hulse, Jeremy Peters and Michael Shear chronicled how the president’s disdain for politics has alienated many of his most stalwart Democratic supporters on Capitol Hill. His bored-bird-in-a-gilded-cage attitude, the article said, “has left him with few loyalists to effectively manage the issues erupting abroad and at home and could imperil his efforts to leave a legacy in his final stretch in office”... First the president couldn’t work with Republicans because they were too obdurate. Then he tried to chase down reporters with subpoenas. Now he finds members of his own party an unnecessary distraction. His circle keeps getting more inner. He golfs with aides and jocks, and he spent his one evening back in Washington from Martha’s Vineyard at a nearly five-hour dinner at the home of a nutritional adviser and former White House assistant chef, Sam Kass. The president who was elected because he was a hot commodity is now a wet blanket. The extraordinary candidate turns out to be the most ordinary of men, frittering away precious time on the links. Unlike L.B.J., who devoured problems as though he were being chased by demons, Obama’s main galvanizing impulse was to get himself elected. Almost everything else — from an all-out push on gun control after the Newtown massacre to going to see firsthand the Hispanic children thronging at the border to using his special status to defuse racial tensions in Ferguson — just seems like too much trouble. The 2004 speech that vaulted Obama into the White House soon after he breezed into town turned out to be wrong. He misdescribed the country he wanted to lead. There is a liberal America and a conservative America. And the red-blue divide has only gotten worse in the last six years. The man whose singular qualification was as a uniter turns out to be singularly unequipped to operate in a polarized environment... The sad part is that this is an ugly, confusing and frightening time at home and abroad, and the country needs its president to illuminate and lead, not sink into some petulant expression of his aloofness, where he regards himself as a party of his own and a victim of petty, needy, bickering egomaniacs."

On Lee Kuan Yew's Crocodile Tears

"We should not underestimate the importance of organized and ritualistic follower response behaviour because its antithesis was probably the most potent political action of disaffected followers in Singapore and Malaysia in the 1960s. The riots in Kuala Lumpur in 1969 — causing 196 deaths — sent shockwaves through the peninsular and there were also racially motivated riots in Singapore in July and September 1964, ln his biography, Lee blames these on a propaganda campaign by the Malay leader Ja'afar Albar and his mouthpiece, the newspaper Utusan Melayu, which reported speeches in which he argued that the Malays were discriminated against by the largely Chinese People's Action Party.

I would suggest that Lee was assisted by observing an important form of symbolic action of the Malaysian leader - the Tunku: like Mahathir later, he responded to the 1964 riots by dramatically breaking down in tears in public. The abandonment of Asian social norms that require tight restraint on emotional expression by losing emotional control is a type of symbolic action that seems to characterize Asian leaders and makes crying an effective communication technique. At the end of the merger between Singapore and Malaysia, Lee gave a televised press conference:

And I would like to add one . . . You see, this is a moment of . . . every time we look back on this moment when we signed this agreement which severed Singapore from Malaysia, it will be a moment of anguish. For me it is a moment of anguish because all my life... you see, the whole of my adult lile I have believed in Merger and the unity of these two territories. You know, it's a people, connected by geography, economics, and ties of kinship .. . Would you mind if we stop for a while?

At this point: ‘As if to prove his anguish, he broke down and wept before the cameras, and the press conference had to be postponed for 15 minutes to let him recover his composure. The Tunku later expressed surprise at the TV tears and remarked: "I don't know why Mr Lee acted like that . . . He was quite pleased about it". Evidently, then, there was some questioning as to the authenticity of‘ these tears and although taken us a genuine instance of being overwhelmed by emotion, it may have been Lee's awareness of the powerful symbolic effect that led him to emulate the act of breaking with cultural constraints on the display of emotion. I will discuss the role of metaphor in the breakdown of the merger in the section on legitimacy."

--- The Communication of Leadership: The Design of Leadership Style / Jonathan Charteris-Black

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Links - 16th September 2014

Affair with study mama a 'painful lesson' - "One afternoon, he came home and found Ah Bing "asleep on the sofa", clad only in a towel. She was "shocked" by his return and apologised profusely before hurrying into her room. The same scene was repeated a week later. He looks at his wife, then says: "All I want to say is, I reacted like a normal man under that circumstance.""

What liberals get wrong about single payer - "insurers aren’t where the big profits in the health-care system go. In 2009, Forbes ranked health insurance as the 35th most profitable industry, with an anemic 2.2 percent return on revenue. To understand why the U.S. health-care system is so expensive, you need to travel higher up the Forbes list. The pharmaceutical industry was in third place, with a 19.9 percent return, and the medical products and equipment industry was right behind it, with a 16.3 percent return. Meanwhile, doctors are more likely than members of any other profession to have incomes in the top 1 percent... The dirty truth about American health care is that it costs more not because insurers are so powerful, but because they’re so weak... That leaves the United States with the worst of both approaches: Prices aren’t set by the market, but they also aren’t set by the government... as is often the case, political power flows in part from popularity. So politicians who routinely rail against for-profit insurers are scared to criticize -- much less legislate against -- for-profit hospitals, doctors or device manufacturers (though drug companies come in for a drubbing now and then). These are the people who work every day to save our lives, even if they make us pay dearly for the privilege. No one cheers when you take them on."

If Singapore stat boards had hipster logos… | just random designs

Bring back mandatory military service in the US and UK - "The only way to keep a rein on our nations' military activities may be to make sure everyone is directly involved in them"
One wonders why the Greek city states were always at war with each other, given that the adults (not their children) fought in the armies
Comment: "I'm rather surprised the author has never heard of Suez, Cyrpus, Malaya, Korea or indeed the Mau Mau insurgency. All fought post war by British conscripts."

The left's irrational fear of American intervention | Niall Ferguson - "Not for the first time, human rights violations by a Middle Eastern tyrant pose a dilemma for leftists on both sides of the Atlantic. On the one hand, they don't like reading about people being gassed. On the other, they are deeply reluctant to will the means to end the killing, for fear of acknowledging that western – meaning, in practice, American – military power can be a force for good. Ever since the 1990s, when the United States finally bestirred itself to end the post-Yugoslav violence in the Balkans, I have made three arguments that the left cannot abide. The first is that American military power is the best available means of preventing crimes against humanity. The second is that, unfortunately, the US is a reluctant "liberal empire" because of three deficits: of manpower, money and attention. And the third is that, when it retreats from global hegemony, we shall see more not less violence... Inaction is a policy that also has consequences measurable in terms of human life. The assumption that there is nothing worse in the world than American empire is an article of leftwing faith. It is not supported by the historical record."

You Can Buy An Entire Italian Village For $330,000 On eBay

Survey finds quite a number of S’poreans are backstabbing foodies in the office

$10 potato salad Kickstarter idea nets $35,000 in pledges for Columbus man

Germany’s energy transition: Sunny, windy, costly and dirty | The Economist - "An average household now pays an extra €260 ($355) a year to subsidise renewables: the total cost of renewable subsidies in 2013 was €16 billion. Costs are also going up for companies, making them less competitive than rivals from America, where energy prices are falling thanks to the fracking boom... Cost is not the only problem with the Energiewende. It has in effect turned the entire German energy industry into a quasi-planned economy with perverse outcomes. At certain times on some days, sun and wind power may provide almost all German electricity. But the sun does not always shine, especially in winter, and the wind is unpredictable. And “batteries”—storage technologies that, for example, convert power to gas and back again to electricity—on a scale sufficient to supply a city are years away. Nuclear-power plants are being phased out (this week’s court decision that the closure of a plant in Hesse was illegal will raise costs even more, as it may entitle the operator to more compensation). So conventional power plants have to stay online in order to assure continuous supply. The Energiewende has, in effect, upset the economics of building new conventional power plants, especially those fired by gas, which is cleaner but more expensive than coal. So existing coal plants are doing more duty. Last year electricity production from brown coal (lignite), the least efficient and dirtiest sort, reached its highest level since 1990. Gas-fired power production, by contrast, has been declining (see chart). In effect, the Energiewende has so far increased, not decreased, emissions of greenhouse gases."

Should Other Nations Follow Germany's Lead On Promoting Solar Power? - "Solar power itself is a good thing, but Germany’s pro-renewables policy has been a disaster. It has the absurd distinction of completing the trifecta of bad energy policy:
Bad for consumers
Bad for producers
Bad for the environment (yes, really; I’ll explain)
Pretty much the only people who benefit are affluent home-owners and solar panel installation companies"

Idle warning - "It is, in fact, an offence to leave your engine running when your car is stationary - something many motorists polled by The New Paper said they did not know... An environmental engineer, who wanted to be known only as Miss Tan, said that leaving a car engine switched on for under 30 minutes would not make a difference. She said: "In fact, when you switch the engine off and back on, you're also contributing gases into the atmosphere because of the ignition's combustion. "Switching your engine off and leaving your car by the side of the road makes it dangerous for yourself, especially if there are other vehicles driving by. What if you need to suddenly move off, but can't?""
In other countries, you at least have a grace period. In Singapore, even 1 second of idling is theoretically an offence

Caitlin Self's answer to Culture of India: Why do Indians like to give wrong directions? - Quora - "Cultures are classified by being high-context and low-context. Cultures that are "low-context" tend to be more direct, and are not afraid to give blunt information or to say no. One of the lowest context cultures is Germany, but the U.S. is also considered a low-context culture. You ask a question, you get a straight answer in the form of WORDS. (This is key.)
High-context cultures are those that build their cultures around context clues (at least, that's how I like to remember it). You must not only listen to their words, but also the context of those words. Are their eyes shifting around? Are they moving uncomfortably? They might not be using their WORDS, but they're still trying to give you a straight answer, you just might not speak their cultural language. A lot of this relies on body language, an understanding of the culture, and the knowledge that high-context cultures don't like to say no, or they don't normally admit they don't know something. For this reason, many cultures tend to seem to "give wrong directions." In reality, you might not be reading their context clues, or they might be too afraid to actually say "no."

PRC couple file police report over Singaporean secretly taking their photo in MRT

Administrator Hiring Drove 28% Boom in Higher-Ed Work Force, Report Says - "What’s more, the report says, the number of full-time faculty and staff members per professional or managerial administrator has declined 40 percent, to around 2.5 to 1... And the kicker: You can’t blame faculty salaries for the rise in tuition. Faculty salaries were "essentially flat" from 2000 to 2012, the report says. And "we didn't see the savings that we would have expected from the shift to part-time faculty"... Faculty members typically don't deal with legal disputes, government regulations, athletics compliance, or intervention in mental-health, sexual-assault, or disabilities issues—that’s the professional staff's job, she said."

“The Daily Show”: Anti-vaxxers are the climate-denying “nutjobs” of the left

China LOL's new "Security" feature bans any English computer : leagueoflegends

Chinese officials debate why China can’t make a soap opera as good as South Korea’s - "At a meeting of delegates from the culture and entertainment industry, some blamed it partly on China’s censorship, euphemistically referred to as the “examination and approval system” at the meeting by Feng Xiaogang, a famous director and a CPPCC member. “My heart trembles,” he said, when waiting for a movie to go through this rigorous censoring procedure... Many viewed the popularity of the Korean drama as a heavy blow to Chinese confidence in their culture. “It is more than just a Korean soap opera. It hurts our culture dignity,”one CPPCC member said... While China has long considered itself the source of East Asian culture, the domination of Japanese comics and Korean soap operas in Chinese pop culture challenges that view... But, he said, the Korean soap opera also highlights how the Chinese value aspects of their traditional culture that can be seen in the drama. “The core and soul of the Korean opera is a distillation of traditional Chinese culture,” Wang said. “It just propagates traditional Chinese culture in the form of a TV drama.”"
How about JAV?

Russian Man Pretends to Die Before Proposing - "“I was so cross I almost killed him again, but for real this time,” she told Orange News."

How a River Otter Can Bag an Alligator for Lunch

Diego Noriega Mendoza's answer to Cinematography: Why do people feel strange when they see unexplained explosions in Power Rangers? - Quora - "Ask yourself which is more believable: Harry Potter killing Voldemort through the use of Expecto Patronexpeliarmus Kedavra, or Harry Potter killing Voldemort using a Barrett M107 coupled with a high precision scope? We are willing to take something that lacks verisimilitude, provided that it lies within what we consider to be acceptable and possible in the make believe world the filmmaker has built for us."

FiveFingers Maker Will Pay Millions To Suckers Who Bought Its Shoes - "Science takes time, and since the advent of Christopher McDougall's best-selling Born to Run (a book based mainly on anecdote that sparked the minimalist footwear revolution), science has discovered that barefoot running can really fuck you up. "This study showed that increases in bone marrow edema [the precursor to a stress fracture] are more common in subjects who were transitioning to the [Vibram FiveFingers]," concluded this 2013 study. In penance for its crimes against fashion and humanity, Vibram has placed $3.75 million into escrow. Those funds will go to the fitness idiots who purchased a pair after March 21, 2009, with up to $94 for each in an effort to help your friends and family not shudder when looking at your feet.

that didnt last very long

Monday, September 15, 2014

Published Opinion vs Public Opinion

"It is... notoriously difficult to get the measure of public opinion, and we should be wary of any judgement that relies exclusively on newspaper commentaries —'published opinion’ and ‘public opinion‘ are not the same thing. The Emperor may have lost ‘the aura of the sovereign who is above criticism,’ wrote one foreign observer in the autumn of 1908, when William II was engulfed in a scandal over tactless utterances published in the London Daily Telegraph. ‘But with all the personal magnetism that he possesses, he will always retain an immense ascendancy in the eyes of the mass of his subjects.' William's invocations of divine providence were the laughing stock of the quality papers, but they struck a sympathetic chord with the more plebeian theological tastes of many humbler Germans. By the same token, his outspoken denunciations of avant-garde art appeared ludicrous and retrograde to the cultural intelligentsia, but made sense to those more numerous cultural consumers who believed that art ought to provide escapism and edification. In Bavaria, the ceremonies of the ‘imperial cult' (parades, unveilings and the jubilee celebrations of 1913) attracted the mass attendance not only of the middle classes, but also of peasants and tradesmen.“ Even within the Social Democratic milieu of the industrial regions, there appears to have been a gulf between the critical perspective of the SPD elite and that of the mass of SPD supporters, among whom the Emperor was perceived as the embodiment of a ‘patriarchal-providential principle'. The conversations recorded by police informers in the taverns of Hamburg's working-class districts registered some disparaging, but also many supportive and even affectionate comments about ‘our William'. Substantial (if not precisely quantifiable) reserves of imperial-royalist capital did accumulate in German society. It would take the social transformations and political upheavals of a world war to consume them."

--- Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947 / Christopher Clark
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