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Friday, July 24, 2015

Headscarfs in the Arab World

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Iran's Nuclear Deal Boosts its Spending Power:

Ranja Sabri (sp?) of BBC Arabic:

"I was recently sitting in the Avenue Habibo Theba (sp?), the main street in Tunis, watching people fight back anxiety after the attacks on tourists on a beach that would surely paralyze tourism, their main source of foreign currency.

After a few moments, I realised that rather than wondering about the future, I was actually staring at Tunisian women, dressed in clothes that were more revealing than what women wear where I come from in Cairo. But it wasn't only the clothes that caught my eye. It was the bright colours and the confidence with which they carried themselves.

I'm not a conservative by any means, so catching myself in this act confused me. Until I discovered that I'm no longer used to seeing women who are prettily dressed. If you had been living in Cairo for the past 40 years, you'd have been a witness to the changing women's taste in clothing.

They cover themselves in swathes of fabric in line with the rising sense of religiosity. The intention is to appear less sexually attractive. The area of what is permissible for females in Cairo in terms of clothes or actions has been shrinking over the years.

Images of university students in the last century in Egypt show no veiled women or women wearing headscarfs until the late 80s.

Moving into the 90s, younger women covering their hair in colleges were a minority. And they would have been bought (sic) up either in the Gulf countries or in the countryside.

To get a sense of how things are today I'm the only female in my entire family who does not cover her hair. Women without headscarves are a minority, not just in my family, but in the entire country.

Harassment and looks of contempt from men and women on the streets make life for unveiled females difficult. Some of my friends have told me they have begun wearing the headscarf as a relief.

I don't have to worry about my bare head in the areas I dwell in in the capital Cairo, but had I been living in poor or rural areas, I wouldn't have had the courage to stay bareheaded.

In Egypt many women saw the freedoms offered by the Arab Spring as a chance to put aside their veils and headscarves, but some wouldn't dream of doing so.

Shireen Wahabba (sp?), a university professor, sees the veil as a integral part of who she is.

"It makes me very sad to see a friend of mine take off her veil. It is as if she had made a deal with Allah, then went back on it", she tells me. She says she would love her daughter to take up the veil, but will wait until she decides for herself, noting that not many of her peers are.

The Arab Spring bought (sic) with it wider discussion on whether society had the right to dictate what women should wear. For instance, recently a young woman published a post on Facebook asking young women what they would like to do if religious issues were put aside.

More than a thousand responded. It might have been a small sample but it told a sad story. Most wanted to wear dresses and feel the wind in their hair. A few wanted to let go of the colours favoured by religious conservatives: black, blue , brown and beige, and wear red or yellow for a change.

The post attracted criticism from people who accused the young woman of destabilising social norms and creating havoc.

Eventually, she felt forced to remove it.

Such tensions were sensed recently in Morocco where two young women were sent to court accused of violating the public dress code when they chose to wear skirts which were shorter than usual. The women were eventually acquitted after a series of protests in which women in headscarfs participated because they believed a woman should have the right to choose how she dresses.

The Arab Spring was an attempt by people across the Middle East to overthrow oppressive dictatorships, but it also revealed some of the differences and contradictions at the heart of our societies, including over what women should wear.

Some of us will continue to fight to be pretty, even if the Old Guard doesn't like it"

Spitefulness in Togo

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, Shaping a New World Order:

"Agram (sp?) sees his current poverty as a punishment.

Sometimes he spots the boys - now grown men - whom he trafficked.

One sometimes brings him gifts of clothes or food, a Togolese way of saying, "You did me harm, now see how successful I am despite you"

This, too, Agram considers a punishment."

The Evolution of English

BBC Radio 4 - Today, 20/07/2015, 'It’s definitely not laziness!':

On "the distinctive Scottish rolling "R" being lost as younger Scots no longer pronounce the letter as forcefully":

Host: Is there anything we could or should do about it?

Eleanor Lawson, sociolinguist at Queen Margaret University: I don't think there's anything we should do about it.

Language changes all the time.

In Anglo-English, R began to disappear from about 1700 and originally it was a working class London feature and it was heavily stigmatized.

And today most Anglo-English speakers don't produce R at the end of words and it's completely acceptable.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

What Gives You Voting Rights

History According to Bob, Articles of Confederation Era:

On the Aftermath of the American Revolution and the Articles of Confederation:

"There's going to be a requirement that in order to vote, you have to either pay taxes or you have to own property... [there's] a belief that you need to have something at risk in order to be of value"

Links - 23rd July 2015

Capons: Are Chickens Without Their Testes a Forgotten Delicacy or Disturbing Luxury? - "hormonal changes caused by caponization allow more fat to build up both below the skin and within muscle, capons come with the promise of a substantial amount of buttery, tender meat. So why are they gone? It comes down to fact that the method to make a capon a capon is still the same as it was when Beuoys wrote – a process that may be an unfairly forgotten piece of agriculture, or simply a means to a somewhat disturbing luxury good... farming capons depends upon a highly-trained, well-paid specialists — not the sort of assembly-line labor and mechanization on which the modern poultry industry runs. When Keough graduated from high school in the 1960’s, he could charge $75 an hour for his services, he says. “If I did it now, I might get rich,” he adds, wistfully. “But I spent it all. Girls…”... The flavor was unusually rich and complex, distinct from any chicken or turkey I’d had before, and the texture both moist and firm. After years of bland chickens and dried-out holiday turkeys, a taste of capon made me wish George Beuoy’s vision of the Capon of Tomorrow had come to pass."

White lady gets naked with african natives - YouTube
Comments: "I respect the hell out of white people. I do not care what anyone says. White people are very spiritual and very curious about everything. We blacks would probably be too embarrassed to take off our clothes in front of the cameras, but white people are willing to try to fit in to learn things."
"I find white tit censorship a bit racialist, ain't it?"

Include having kids in defining success in life - "I Love Children (ILC) could not agree more with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's views on Singapore's key challenges in the next 50 years at the Ho Rih Hwa Leadership in Asia lecture, organised by the Singapore Management University ("PM paints stark reality of challenges in 3 critical areas"; last Wednesday)."
Naturally this pissed some people off. No matter how you define success, someone will be excluded. And if everyone is successful, what does success even mean?

Online boast of not paying S&CC, police refers case to MND - "On 30 March, a resident who apparently lives in Aljunied GRC posted online that he owes the town council of his estate “4+ months” worth of service and conservancy charges. Mr KY Seetoh [posted] on a pro-People’s Action Party (PAP) Facebook page... It is against the law to refuse to pay one’s bills, including service and conservancy charges... He had also apparently posted some rather vulgar and obscene comments about activist Han Hui Hui in the past."

Moscow Takes Ukraine, Beijing Takes Mongolia? - "But now that Putin has opened up Pandora’s Box, what if China decided to annex territory it had long lost? Mongolia is one such large area of territory, ruled by the Manchurians during the Qing Dynasty. Following the collapse of the Qing Dynasty, the Mongols established the Temporary Government of Khalkha in November 1911, and in December, Mongolia declared independence from the Qing Dynasty, ending 220 years of Manchurian rule. Eventually Mongolia came under Soviet influence, becoming a Soviet satellite newly proclaimed as the Mongolian People’s Republic in 1924. When the Soviet Union threatened to further seize parts of Inner Mongolia from China in 1945, China chose to set aside its claims and back a referendum on Outer Mongolia’s independence. The referendum, which took place in October 1945, resulted in 100 percent of the electorate voting for independence."
Why doesn't China unilaterally declare Mongolia part of China and invade?

China claims territories of 23 countries, but only has borders with 14 - "The total area of China’s claims on other countries exceeds the size of modern China itself, but Beijing refuses to budge on its claims. Many are based on unsubstantiated (outside China) and unprecedented “historical precedents” dating back centuries."

The woman who has failed her driving test 771 times - "The office estimates she has spent more than 4 million won £1,600 in exam fees."

Working hours: Get a life | The Economist - "it seems that more productive—and, consequently, better-paid—workers put in less time at the office. The graph below shows the relationship between productivity (GDP per hour worked) and annual working hours. The Greeks are some of the most hardworking in the OECD, putting in over 2,000 hours a year on average. Germans, on the other hand, are comparative slackers, working about 1,400 hours each year. But German productivity is about 70% higher."
In Singapore, "Productivity" doesn't mean productivity, but total output

Choose your cutlery carefully: what you eat with changes how food tastes - "id you know, for example, that foods taste blander in noisy environments? Or that we perceive sweet popcorn as saltier if we eat it from a colored bowl? Or that the weight of the dish food is served in can alter how tasty and expensive we think it is?"

Warning: this article could radically alter the way you eat - "If we are given heavy cutlery, we will enjoy food more (for example, yoghurt will be perceived as creamier), think it is of higher quality and be willing to part with more cash for it. Even sounds in restaurants can up the takings: classical music makes diners come over all discerning and choose the most expensive menu options, while loud music increases soft drink sales... red plates are the path to reduced food intake. They think it’s something to do with there being less contrast between the food and plate. Blue lighting has also been shown to discourage overeating. You could argue that these tactics are akin to covering your food in unpalatable amounts of salt. Who wants a plate full of unappetising food? We eat 35% more when with one other person, 75% more with three others and twice as much when there are seven or more diners. Variety also encourages overeating. A bowl of mixed M&Ms will go down quicker than a bowl of just one colour... Spence easily tricked wine experts into reviewing a white wine with red food colouring as a red wine. Adding insult to injury, the 54-strong panel had already reviewed the wine in its original white form, using white-wine terms such as honey, lemon, lychee and straw (whereas the red version evoked chicory, coal, prune, chocolate and tobacco)."

On the psychological impact of food colour - "Expertise has been shown to modulate the psychological impact of food colouring on flavour perception. Some of the most impressive studies have come from the world of wine... Parr et al. conducted a follow-up in New Zealand in which they tested both experts (including professional wine taster and wine makers) and ‘social’ drinkers. The descriptions of the aroma of a Chardonnay wine given by the experts when it had been artificially coloured red were more accurate when the wine was served in an opaque glass than when served in a clear glass. Interestingly, this colour-induced biasing of flavour judgments occurred despite the fact that the experts had been explicitly instructed to rate each of the wines that they had been given to taste while ignoring any colour cues. Such results therefore suggest that the crossmodal effect of vision is not under cognitive control. Ironically, the social drinkers in Parr et al.’s study turned out to be so bad at reliably identifying the aromas present in the wine that it was difficult to discern any pattern in the data when an inappropriate wine colour was added. "

Melody on the menu: how a sprinkle of Mozart might give your meal zing - "“We have found that people can experience 15% more pleasure if music matches the wine,” he said. “It is an exciting area: how soundscapes come together with taste to make the whole experience more enjoyable … It’s a kind of digital seasoning”... Spence is confident of his findings and cites a study in which Tchaikovsky’s String Quartet No 1 in D Major turned out to be a very good match for Château Margaux 2004. Mozart’s Flute Quartet in D Major, meanwhile, was found to be the ideal adornment for Pouilly-Fumé –with drinkers enjoying their wine more when “paired” music was played more than in periods of silence... “We tested the four best wine experts in the Alicante region and fooled them all by colouring white wine red,” says Spence. “As experts, they are more likely to be fooled because the colour gives them expectations – of what they know about that colour. Likewise, chefs are more likely to be fooled than ordinary people by changing the sound of food because they use sound to judge freshness more than ordinary people do.”"

Why we’re so scared of GMOs, according to someone who has studied them since the start - "When Chipotle announced earlier this year that it would no longer serve food made with genetically modified organisms due to safety concerns, customers rejoiced. But there was one big problem: Just as more Americans grow wary of GMOs, the scientific community is moving in the opposite direction. There is now near unanimity among scientists that GMOs are safe to eat. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association have all said that GMOs are fine for consumption... it’s not necessarily that people have a strong, innate aversion to GMOs, per se, so much as that they have a negative reaction to something that seems like an additive or unusual... We actually tested this with a label on apples that said “this label is ripened using ethylene,” which is a very commonly used and safe process. But people were as averse to those apples as they were to GMOs, simply because they didn’t know what ethylene was... I have seen salt labeled as non-GMO, when salt, by definition, cannot be genetically modified, since it’s a mineral and doesn’t contain DNA... people might also just realize that most of the cheese they eat is made with enzymes that are genetically engineered. Diabetics, after all, use insulin that is made from a genetically engineered bacteria or yeast... people are less likely to believe in GMO crops if they’re made by big companies"

Goodbye Sweden | THE SWEDEN REPORT - "Today, it’s as if the inmates are running the asylum. The politicians are participating in a chicken race of “goodness” where everybody tries to one-up each other in caring for the citizens of OTHER countries while Swedish retirees, school children, handicapped and other vulnerable categories of people are thorougly ignored. Violence is exploding. Jihadist Trojan horses are flowTing through the porous border along with the tens of thousands ID-less refugees. "

Freakonomics » What You Don’t Know About Online Dating: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast - "I wanted to see if there was a lower limit to how awful a person could be before men would stop messaging her on an online dating site... one thing I wanted to make clear is that she’s not just a bad person, she wants to ruin your life. So under the section “what I am really good at” the only thing she lists is “convincing people I’m pregnant”... AaronCarterFan did very well. In the first 24 hours she got 150 messages... AaronCarterFan’s one redeeming quality is that she is very good looking. I asked my friend Rae Johnston, who is an Australian-based model and actress, if I could raid her Facebook photos and she very kindly said yes. And so Aaron Carter fan is stunningly good-looking... Women are in general a little bit more attracted to lawyers, doctors, men in the military and firefighters, which I’d always heard was a stereotype, but apparently it turns out to be at least a little bit true... looks matter a lot, but it turns out that weight doesn’t matter that much independent of looks. So an overweight person who is otherwise medium attractive will do almost as well as a medium attractive person who is not overweight... The Internet has turned matching upside down. It used to be that you would find compatibility first and then learn more about someone else’s attributes. And now you see all the attributes and then you learn about compatibility later. For an economist it’s very seductive to believe that more information makes these things work better"

Marie Curie and Women in Science

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, The Curies:

Patricia Fara, Senior Tutor of Clare College, University of Cambridge: She's an appalling role model for women who want to go into Science, because she - the way she's been set up, she absolutely confirms that, that wrong notion that you can't be a normal woman and a good scientist and she, she is, she confirms the stereotype: if you're a woman you have to be really eccentric and strange, and I dislike that

One of the men: Very few Great Scientists are Normal People...

Well, my reading of the history actually I have to say, Patricia, is very different. I think Mary is amazing in that she was a normal person. You know, she had a family, she was a loving mother. To be fair, she did other things, and she was a Great Scientist.

So only the Right kinds of women can be celebrated.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Everything's awesome to an American

BBC Today: Do US audiences struggle with British accents? (17/3/2015), on James Corden hosting The Late Late Show:

Lewis Schaffer (American comedian who has been based in the UK for 15 years):

"John Oliver and Craig Ferguson, they were, they seemed really happy to be there.

And they just acted like this is, like they've lucked out and won the lottery. And they had no expectations. And I think that's what Americans like: they like to be liked.

They're not like British people who, they, you know, you gotta be totally enthusiastic when you're in America.

Oh my god, I'm on TV. This is awesome.

Everything's awesome to an American.

Oh my god, we're in Iraq, oh how fantastic.

We've won, we've won in Iraq, didn't we win? We've won!

It's a learning lesson...

I think the reason he was chosen, because Craig Ferguson was English, and James Corden is English, in the minds of Americans.

Because it's all England to America.

So they thought, well, we had an English guy do well, let's get another one.

Host: Yeah, they could've gotten a Norwegian, couldn't they? They're still English

Lewis Schaffer: Hey, they're all islands off the coast of America"

Links - 20th July 2015

Reclaim Australia, No Room for Racism rally in Melbourne - "Right-wing group Reclaim Australia had only just begun its rally at 11am when counter-demonstrators from anti-racism groups and anarchists attempted to breach police lines on Spring Street. A small number of hooded and masked anti-racism protesters broke through and nearly reached screaming members of Reclaim, which included a man with Nazi tattoos taunting them with calls of "lefty scum"... As 1pm approached scuffles broke out as UFP supporters attempted to break through anti-racism blockades. A loud hailer was broken in the process and anti-racism protesters brought several people seeking to join the racism rally to the ground. A woman wearing an Australian flag held her head as she retreated after an altercation with anti-racism protester Debra Holland. The woman attempted to break through the blockade when Ms Holland placed a sign in her path. Other anti-racism protesters then turned on the woman... Mr Ox said a number of tactics were successfully used to stop the Reclaim Australia and United Patriots' Front rallies. The group then did a "victory march" down to Exhibition Street and then back to Bourke Street."
"Anti racism" means that you attack and censor people who disagree with you

SWTOR July 21 Maintenance for Patch 3.3 - Dulfy
Comment: "My predictions, patch goes live, 10 minutes later someone has found a way to jump from their new stronghold in some unpredictable way, into an operation that hasn't even been conceived and bring back loot from the future that vendors for 1 million credits each. Anarchy ensues. 1000 forum posts where we all yell at each other."

Christie Blatchford: Ruling in Twitter harassment trial could have enormous fallout for free speech - "Elliott is charged with criminally harassing two Toronto female political activists, Steph Guthrie and Heather Reilly, in 2012... These are astonishing repercussions given that it’s not alleged he ever threatened either woman (or any other, according to the testimony of the Toronto Police officer, Detective Jeff Bangild, who was in charge) or that he ever sexually harassed them. Indeed, Elliott’s chief sin appears to have been that he dared to disagree with the two young feminists and political activists... contrary to what Guthrie and Reilly testified to at trial, they weren’t afraid of his client — as suggested by both their spirited demeanour in the witness box and their deliberate online campaign to call Elliott out as a troll. Rather, Murphy said, they hated Elliott and were determined to silence him — not just by “blocking” his Tweets to them, but by demanding he cease even referring to them even in making comment about heated political issues... The criminal harassment charge is rooted in the alleged victim’s perception of the offending conduct. The statute says if that conduct caused the alleged victims “reasonably, in all the circumstances, to fear for their safety”, that’s good enough. Yet Guthrie and Reilly didn’t behave as though they were remotely frightened or intimidated: They convened a meeting of friends to discuss how Elliott should be publicly shamed; they bombarded their followers with furious tweets and retweets about him (including a grotesque suggestion from someone pretending she was a 13-year-old that he was a pedophile); they could and did dish it out. “They were not vulnerable,” Murphy said once. “They are very accomplished, politically savvy women. If they can’t handle being mentioned in the tail end of a political discussion (on Twitter), then they’re in the wrong business”... “If anybody was being criminally harassed in this case,” Murphy told the judge, “it was my client, it was Mr. Elliott.”"
"Man Faces 6 Months in Jail For Disagreeing With Feminists on Twitter"
Once again, those who disagree with feminists are "trolls"

Epic Star Wars Pre Wedding Shoot Done With Action Figures
If your photography shoot is mostly photoshop, is it still a photography shoot?

Inside the Islamic State by Malise Ruthven - "As Jürgen Todenhöfer, who spent ten days in ISIS-controlled areas in both Iraq and Syria, stated categorically in January: “We have to understand that ISIS is a country now”... According to Baghdadi’s online biography, supplied by the IS media agency al-Hayat, he is from a religious family that includes several imams (prayer leaders) and Koranic scholars. He is said to have attended the Islamic University of Baghdad where he received his BA, MA, and Ph.D., with his doctorate focusing on Islamic jurisprudence as well as including studies of Islamic culture and history... While skeptics may doubt the sincerity of the ex-Baathists, assuming they are seeking a return to the power they enjoyed before the US invasion, it seems more likely that their support for ISIS has been motivated by religious conviction. With their former hegemony lost, and the previously despised “infidel” Shias in the ascendant in Iraq, these erstwhile secularists are returning to their faith... Contrary to some media reports, girls are not deprived of education. Indeed ISIS in its online magazines makes a feature of its all-female schools and universities. While gender segregation is rigorously enforced, women are not forbidden by law to drive, as in Saudi Arabia... Far from being an undisciplined orgy of sadism, ISIS terror is a systematically applied policy that follows the ideas put forward in jihadist literature, notably in an online tract, The Management of Savagery, by the al-Qaeda ideologue Abu Bakr Naji. This treatise, posted in 2004 and widely cited by jihadists, is both a rationale for violence and a blueprint for the Caliphate. It draws heavily on the writings of Taqi al-Din ibn Taymiyyah (1263–1328), the medieval theologian who inspired the Arabian Wahhabi movement and is highly regarded by Islamists for holding rulers to account in the practice of true religion... The online theatricals serve to legitimize murder as a type of qisas—“retaliation in kind”—which is one of the well-known punishments in Islamic law... Also among such spoils of war are the antiquities taken to buyers from ancient archaeological sites, such as Palmyra. In general, sites are destroyed only after everything of value that can be transported has been removed... In June 2006 Zarqawi was tracked down and killed by a fighter jet after posting Rambo-style pictures of himself on the Internet, enabling US surveillance to pinpoint his location... jihadists who failed to master complex systems of cybersecurity were rapidly eliminated, leaving the field to their more sophisticated and technically proficient brethren... In an online poll conducted in July 2014, a formidable 92 percent of Saudi citizens agreed that ISIS “conforms to the values of Islam and Islamic law.”"
If Islamic State is not Islamic (as per David Cameron) can we say the Conservative party isn't Conservative?

National Archives reveal Hong Kong-to-NI 'spoof' - ""Sadly, it's impossible to make jokes like this any more, the Diplomatic Service has lost its sense of humour. "I think that's a shame because it's through humour that you build relationships, with other departments, with other diplomats at home and abroad." "

What is it like to have diarrhea in the cockpit as a fighter pilot? - Quora

Apple conspired to fix e-book prices, US court rules

Infographic: Average heights of Chinese men and women by province - "people dwelling in China's northern regions tend to be taller, while those in the southern areas are more likely to be shorter."

'Hong Kong is not China': Artist's illustrations go viral - "The unidentified designer of the illustrations revealed that the purpose of the collection was to “Mourn the fact that Hong Kong has been 'colonized' by mainland China" and to "tell the world about the differences between Hong Kongers and Chinese people"...
"Chinese love to be enslaved and manipulated by the Chinese Communist Party.
Hongkongers fuck the Hong Kong Government and Chinese Communist Party""

Why ‘Don’t Worry About Money, Just Travel’ Is the Worst Advice of All Time - "This idea that you must travel, as some sort of moral imperative, without worrying about something as trivial as “money.” The girl in question posts superficially inspiring quotes on her lush photos, about dropping everything and running away, or quitting that job you hate to start a new life somewhere new, or soaking up the beauty of the world while you are young and untethered enough to do so. It’s aspirational porn, which serves the dual purpose of tantalizing the viewer with a life they cannot have, while making them feel like some sort of failure for not being able to have it. It’s a way for the upper classes to pat themselves on the back for being able to do something that, quite literally, anyone with money can buy. Traveling for the sake of travel is not an achievement, nor is it guaranteed to make anyone a more cultured, nuanced person... nothing about your ability or inability to travel means anything about you as a person. Some people are simply saddled with more responsibilities and commitments, and less disposable income, whether from birth or not. And someone needing to stay at a job they may not love because they have a family to take care of, or college to pay for, or basic financial independence to achieve, does not mean that they don’t have the same desire to learn and grow as someone who travels. They simply do not have the same options, and are learning and growing in their own way, in the context of the life they have. They are learning what it means to work hard, to delay gratification, and to better yourself in slow, small ways. This may not be a backpacking trip around Eastern Europe, but it would be hard to argue that it builds any less character."

6 types of girls you see on Tinder in Singapore - "4) The frigid. large eyes, fair skin, with a smile so sweet she melts your cold heart.
She also loves jesus. and quotes from the bible. Typical profile description: “Swipe left if you’re looking for hookups.” (erm, Tinder is a hookup app? hello?)"

The incredible sexual problems Indians are facing every day - "My girlfriend and i have been dating for one year. We enjoy sex. But recently she has been talking a lot about her ex. This has given rise to strange problem. Every time i try to get intimate with her, i hear her ex’s voice coming from her navel and asking me to get lost. I have done some research and concluded that her navel is a portal to her ex. I love her very much and i want to marry her. But this is worrying me.
Tell your friend to tell her navel friend to get lost. You need to visit a psychiatrist. Please let me know your research technique. I too shall try talking to my navel...
My friend feels that her breasts are getting larger because of masturbation. Is this possible?
No. Does she think the clitoris is an air pump?"

Bug chasing: Men deliberately trying to catch HIV for sexual thrill in astonishing craze - "Experts have warned about a new craze in which men are secretly seeking and spreading HIV. The reckless practice, known as bug chasing, started in the US as a bizarre means of getting a ­sexual high from risk-taking. Now, according to one man who willingly caught the virus, hundreds of men in the UK are introducing themselves on online forums, Face­book groups and Twitter. Many then meet up and try to transmit the potentially life-threatening virus, which attacks the ­immune system weakening the body’s ability to fight disease. Some bug-chasers actually claim the virus gives them a better quality of life because of the medication they subsequently have to take. Nick, 30, an admin worker from the Midlands, said: “I feel fit as a fiddle. I feel full of energy and healthier as a result of being on my medication. “I get my liver function tests every three months, my cholesterol tested regularly and I get loads of general health checks so if there are any underlying conditions I know straight away. Even better, I get it all on the NHS”... An investigation by Rolling Stone magazine in 2003 claimed a ­quarter of all new HIV transmissions in the US could be attributed to bug chasing."

A loaf of bread will be more ‘crumpled’ because grains will have less protein - "It's not just the polar ice caps that are predicted to shrink as a result of global warming. Australian scientists have claimed long-term climate change will also cause loaves of bread to become smaller due to a reduction in the amount of protein in grains."

Polar Bears Now Eat Dolphins, Thanks to Global Warming

The Longest Game of Chess (Ever?)

Useless Information Podcast Episode #84 - The Honest Man with an Evil Eye

"Few if any games of chess took as long as the one between Hugh P Harrison and his aunt Annie Patton, who lived 20 miles or 32 kilometres apart from each other in England.

That game was played by sending their moves back and forth through the mail for 20 years.

It ended in 1940 when Mrs Patton died. The game was left unfinished, so... let's just call it a draw"

Spherical Cows

A dairy farmer asks a physicist friend to solve a problem the farmer is having at his dairy farm.

The physicist investigates the dairy farm and then goes away.

He returns a week later, and the farmer asks the physicist if he has come up with a solution to the problem.

The physicist says, “Yes, I have an excellent solution, but it applies only to a spherical cow in a vacuum.”
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