When you can't live without bananas

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Je fais ce que je peux

"Je fais ce que je peux. Avec mes silences et le reste. Avec mes peurs de bête. Avec mes cris d'enfant qui ne débordent plus. Je fais ce que je peux. Dans ce petit bain de cruauté et de lumière. Dans les éclats de sucre et de mensonge. Dans la délicatesse. Dans la violence du temps qui piétine nos rêves. Dans nos petits pataugements précieux. Un matin après l'autre. Un oubli après l'autre. Un mot sur le suivant. Je fais comme tout le monde. Avec le ciel et sans les dieux"

--- Les mots de Bleu de travail / Thomas Vinau

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Links - 22nd September 2015

Reform Party Kenneth Jeyaretnam: ‘What I see are similar margins in North Korea & China’ - "All this is a mandate for authoritarianism and brainwashing, it shows what you do when you control everybody’s housing, you control their savings, you control their jobs because you’re the major employer, you control all the media, and there’s no independent elections department. What I see are similar margins in North Korea and China, it’s just like the Chinese Communist Party. And I guess Singaporeans get the government they deserve, so I don’t want to hear any more complaints."
Insulting the electorate and winning elections only works if your name is Lee Kuan Yew

Hey Liberals, #IStandwithAhmed Isn't Only About Racism. It's About School Zero Tolerance Insanity. - "Irving, Texas, ninth-grader Ahmed Muhamed brought a harmless, homemade clock to school to impress his engineering teacher. But he made more of an impression on the police officers who slapped him in handcuffs, hauled him to the station, and accused him of perpetrating a bomb hoax... Some are suggesting that Ahmed’s race is the only reason he was treated so badly. This is the obvious, inescapable conclusion, according to many left-leaning pundits: school officials identified a kid with an Islamic-sounding name, saw him carting around a device he had built, and cried terrorist!... White kids are disciplined—and yes, arrested—for mild misbehavior in schools all the time. It literally happens every day. It happens to white kids. It happens to black kids. It happens to boys and girls, preschoolers and teenagers, athletes and eggheads, wealthy and poor, gay and straight, religious and atheists; it happens all the time, to young people of all stripes... No child is safe from having his or her rights’ trampled by assertive cops at school as long as paranoia about school safety and petty rules outlawing perfectly safe, normal teen behavior remain in place. Cops arrest kids for bringing harmless toys that vaguely resemble weapons to school. Schools suspend kids for talking, writing, or merely just thinking about said weapons while on school premises, or near school premises, or even just near the bus stop on their own front lawns. If cops made these arrests, and schools decreed these suspensions, in an entirely race-neutral and even-handed way, the arrests and suspensions would still be wrong"

Vandals Spray Paint Santa Barbara News-Press Office - "The Santa Barbara News-Press office in downtown Santa Barbara was vandalized sometime between Wednesday night and Thursday morning before scheduled protests were set to take place at 6 p.m. on Thursday in response to the allegedly racist front page headline published this past Saturday. The News-Press recently published a front page headline that read “Illegals Line Up for Driver’s Licenses”... According to Santa Barbara Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Riley Harwood, the spray paint included pro-immigration website references and statements such as “The border is illegal, not the people who cross it,” and “Fight back”... In a statement provided by Santa Barbara News-Press Director of News Operations Donald Katich, the News-Press has used the term “illegal” for 10 years now in regard to describing those living in the U.S. illegally, notwithstanding their country of origin. “This practice is under fire by some immigration groups who believe that this term is demeaning and does not accurately reflect the status of ‘undocumented immigrants,’ one of several terms other media use to describe people in the United States illegally,” the press release stated. “It is an appropriate term in describing someone as ‘illegal’ if they are in this country illegally.” The statement also advocated that protesters shift their frustration toward the legislative immigration process instead of at the News-Press... The recent act of vandalism came in the wake of a call to action by the community representation group People Organizing for the Defense of Santa Barbara Youth (PODER). In a statement, PODER said the use of “illegal” in the recent News-Press headline violates the journalistic standard dictated by AP Style and is an attack on local undocumented residents."
Grievance culture - where "racism" in the form of using a "wrong" word is an "attack" and is worse than vandalism

Santa Barbara News-Press' use of 'illegals' - "How is it racist to describe the legal status of an immigrant? Where is the reference to race? Anyone who crosses sovereign borders illegally is an illegal immigrant — as in, that person broke immigration laws to enter a country. Anyone, any country. And how is that word remotely comparable to "the 'N-word' for blacks," as Santa Barbara City Councilwoman Cathy Murillo alleges?"

When Will China’s Government Collapse? - "It has been fascinating to watch what strikes this observer, at least, as a certain betrayal of anxiety in the efforts of some of those who have rushed to take Shambaugh down, or at least refute and discredit his arguments. The notes have ranged from “how dare he?” to “who does this person think he is?” to, in some of the more breathless reactions, attacks on his motives: he is a pawn — or at least an unwitting agent of this or that occult force. Along the way, Shambaugh’s good faith has been questioned; he becomes an actor on behalf of America, or the West, which is said to be always trying bring China down, or cast its political and economic model in doubt. (This extends, of course, to the limited Chinese responses we have seen so far, such as that of the Global Times, which has responded with vilification, forgetting perhaps that for decades a cherished recurrent theme in Chinese propaganda has been the fundamentally flawed nature of Western democracy or capitalism, and, of course, its inevitable demise.)... The early, and one might say easy, phase of China’s takeoff is over. That period consisted in large measure of stopping doing stupid things and inflicting damage on oneself... China scholar Lucian Pye famously observed that China suffered a “crisis of authority” — a deep craving for the decisive power of effective authority ever since the 19th-century collapse of the Chinese empire. Chinese elite attributed China’s modern decline partially to the weakening of the state authority. The authority crisis called for the creation of an authoritarian state through revolution and nationalism"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, Novice on the Front Line - (on the annual session of the Chinese National Parliament) "The objective for most parliamentarians is to say and do nothing newsworthy at all. Only government ministers and provincial leaders are authorised to speak... only old people buy newspapers with political stories on the front page"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, 'We Dazed Them!' - (on protests against illegal immigration) "As John and I speak, a young man with a loudhailer tries to drown out the singing of 'God Bless America' by John's fellow protestors with accusations that they're racist. 'How can he say that?', John asks, shaking his head, 'he doesn't even know me'"

Drips, leaks and blocked drains in chic Paris - "I sort of knew it anecdotally but it's true: most leaks in Paris take place in August. Why? Well, it's because the city is half empty. The pressure from the mains is the same, but there are far fewer people using taps, and thus relieving that pressure. So the chances of a joint popping are all the higher. We also had an interesting chat about sanibroyeurs, which are still surprisingly common. Sanibroyeurs are machines Parisians use when they install lavatories in places where they're not supposed to go - i.e. with an outlet pipe of insufficient gauge, like a couple of centimetres. In order for this to function, the… errr… material has to be rendered as it were less... lumpy. So the sanibroyeur uses a blade and electricity to chop up the deposits so that they can pass down the tube."

Migrants crisis: Slovakia 'will only accept Christians' - "We could take 800 Muslims but we don't have any mosques in Slovakia so how can Muslims be integrated if they are not going to like it here?"
The migrants could always demand that mosques be built for them and allege Islamophobia, racism, discrimination and structural violence if none are

Police: Man has pooped on, and in, 19 Akron cars since 2012

10 surprising sex statistics - Health - Sexual health - "The average male loses his virginity at age 16.9; females average slightly older, at 17.4. And a new study shows that genetics may be a factor: inherited traits, such as impulsivity, can make a person more or less willing to have sex at an earlier age... Two-thirds of college students have been in a "friends with benefits" relationship, citing the lack of commitment required as the main advantage to such an arrangement. More than half of those who had sex with a friend said they had engaged in all forms of sex; 22.7 percent said they had intercourse only, while 8 percent said they did everything but have intercourse.

Why good athletes are good-looking, too - "Good-looking athletes seem to have it all — fame, money and often plenty of admiring women. And there may be a good reason for it, a new study finds. It seems better-looking men also perform better athletically. In fact, good looks might be a “shortcut” signal so that women can choose the most physically fit mate... “I got lots of emails from men that were almost offended,” Postma said. “They said ‘No way I can judge the attractiveness of other men’,” he added. But he got a few hundred to try, anyway. “It turned out they know very well what women find attractive,” he said. “If you think about it, it is probably not so surprising.” Men, after all, need to know their competition... The top 10 percent of cyclists in terms of performance in the race were rated at 25 percent more attractive than the bottom 10 percent, Postma reports in the journal Biology Letters"

The Downside to Virginity Pledges - "Young people who make pledges of virginity begin having sex later and have fewer sexual partners. But oddly they are infected with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) just as often, a new study found. One reason is that they are less likely to use condoms when the first enter the world of sex... Among virgins -- those who have not had vaginal intercourse -- male pledgers are four times more likely to have anal sex
Male and female pledgers are six times more likely to have oral sex than non-pledgers"

Small Talk Can Boost Business Deals for Men, Study Says - "Women get fewer bonus points from chatting because it's expected of them, researcher suggests"

Tiny frogs and giant spiders: the best of friends - "Crocraft & Hambler (1989) noted that the frog seemed to benefit from living in proximity to the spider by eating the small invertebrates that were attracted to prey remains left by the spider. The frog presumably also benefits by receiving protection: small frogs like this are preyed on by snakes and large arthropods, yet this frog is protected by a formidable spider bodyguard. Hunt (1980) suggested that the spider might gain benefit from the presence of the frog: microhylids specialise on eating ants, and ants are one of the major predators of spider eggs. By eating ants, the microhylids might help protect the spider’s eggs"

Accenture: Majority of UK graduates are underemployed - "While 72% of 2015 grads expect to find full time work after graduation, only 58% of those graduating in 2013 and 2014 did so. Furthermore, of those that did find employment, 60% say they are either underemployed or are doing non-graduate work

The True Purpose of Microsoft Solitaire, Minesweeper, and FreeCell - "The intention was that Solitaire would get a generation of computer users still most familiar with a command-line input to teach themselves how to drag and drop, without realizing that's what they were doing. The fact that we're still dragging and dropping today suggests that it worked rather well. Minesweeper, too, has a similar place in technological culture. The numbers-based logic puzzle has roots in the mainframe gaming scene of the 1960s and 1970s, where a version called "Cube" by Jerimac Ratliff became incredibly popular. Decades later, in 1992, the Microsoft version Minesweeper was introduced to Windows 3.1—not to demonstrate that Windows was an adept gaming operating system, but to make the idea of left and right clicking second nature for Windows users, and to foster speed and precision in mouse movement. If you needed any proof that this isn't a coincidence, look at another Microsoft card game: Hearts. It was introduced with 1992's Windows for Workgroups 3.1—the first network-ready version of Windows—and used Microsoft's new NetDDE technology to communicate with other Hearts clients on a local network. Again, this wasn't just a card game. It was a way to get people interested in (and hopefully impressed by) the networking capabilities of their new system. And finally, there's FreeCell. Released for Windows 3.1 as part of the Microsoft Entertainment Pack Volume 2, FreeCell was bundled with the Win32s package that allowed 32-bit applications to run on the 16-bit Windows 3.1. Its purpose was actually to test the 32-bit thunking layer (a data processing subsystem), which had been introduced as part of Win32s. If the thunking layer was improperly installed, FreeCell wouldn't run. So what you thought was a game was actually a stealth test of software systems."

Monday, September 21, 2015

Killing Mussolini / Dogs in Paris

Killing Mussolini | Podcast | History Extra

(on the plot to kill Mussolini) "They carry out plastic surgery to his face. Which is quite an extraordinary thing because I've always associated that with, sort of, Hollywood films and things and I didn't know they did it during the war. And this was the first case I found out about that. So he actually goes under the knife and has his face changed to do this...The British Headquarters that have trained him is in Cairo. Another Italian who he'd been training with, just sort of knocks on the door and says one day: actually, hang on a minute, there's something you need to know. And it turns out, to cut a long story short, that The Dejunta (?) the proposed assassin, had become so excited about his, this plan that he was doing that he told people about it...[Roberto] Farinacci... he's actually in bed here after he'd blown off one of his hands fishing with grenades in Ethiopia... he comes across as this kind of, sort of low-rent Bond villain... he was called the castor oil man of fascism, and that's because he and his thugs, in the 1920s used to ambush, sort of opponents of Mussolini in the streets in Rome and force them to drink castor oil which would have sort of laxative effects...he was given a new metal hand, so he's this kind of villainous, metal-handed, rather unpleasant individual... I actually went to Sicily... I went back to a place called Troina, in Eastern Sicily... I went in to the town archives, which was quite a good fun in itself. Because when I arriived, there were four archivists there... 'the town mayor says that you can't have access to these records'. And then they said 'but we don't like the town mayor, so basically... you can see all you like'...

[On dogs in Paris] In the 18th century, merchants, artisans and others were banned from letting their dogs loose on the cities at (?) day or night. This legislation became even more stringent in the 19th century, when stray dogs were widely reviled for undermining the myth that dogs' main role was to serve humans as loyal companions. Strays symbolised disorder. Observers criticised their fondness for public fornication in the supposedly modern city and, like human vagabonds, were treated as a threat to the rest of the population"
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