Photos of Children Around The World With Their Most Prized Possessions. Don’t you dare call it “super-cute” or else Pavel will hunt you down and kill you when he grows up.
A highlight of the recently-overthrown Egyptian government was the time someone interrupted a top secret cabinet meeting halfway through to point out that it was, in fact, being broadcast on live TV. What surprising insights into Egyptian leaders’ darkest and most private thoughts did we glean? Well, apparently they kind don’t like Israel so much.
Asking which countries are “happiest” is risky business, but Gallup tried asking a few sets of questions they thought screened for “positive emotions”. The most positive countries worldwide? Panama, Paraguay, and El Salvador. The least positive? Iraq, Armenia, and, in last place, Singapore. Which is not to say Singapore is a uniquely horrible place – it’s also close to the bottom of negative emotions worldwide. Apparently Singaporeans are just all emotionally dead.
“There were many chieftains in many lands who greatly disliked King Falfadinn, but did not like Jabbi, King of the Danes, either. Many went to new lands, to the Faroes or to Iceland or to the Hebrides or to the Orkneys or to the Shetlands. But the army of Falfadinn was great, and he had many large warships, and he raided the lands of those who would not acknowledge his absolute authority. He had many good men killed, and others he enslaved. He was a very unpopular king. And because King Falfadinn wanted to intimidate all who stood against him, he ordered to be built the greatest ship which men had ever seen upon the seas, and that ship held such a store of men and weapons that they could pillage an entire large city. And a name was given to that ship, and it was called Daudastjarna, or Death-Star.” – Star Wars as an Icelandic Saga. Scroll down to get past the prequels, but not so far you get to the version in Old Norse.
A group from Johns Hopkins are threatening to just find all the negative drug trials lurking in the file drawer and publish them themselves, which is apparently totally legal.
The Blaze: “The new ‘Jihawg’ ammunition claims to offer gun owners a ‘peaceful and natural deterrent’ to the growing threat of radical Islam, [by including] pork in the ammo to make it ‘unclean’ for radical Islamists.” Apparently killing pigs, liquifying their body, adding it to paint, coating bullets in the paint, and shooting them at Muslims now qualifies as “peaceful and natural”.
Screwtape Embraces the Internet: “My dear Wormwood…Your suggestion that I ‘sign up’ for something called ‘Twitter’ is noted…”
Well, someone’s finally done it. They’ve finally convinced me building new nuclear power plants is in fact a bad idea. But the article is called “The real reason to fight nuclear power has nothing to do with health risks”. It credibly makes the argument that renewable energy has reached the point where it is almost as cheap as nuclear and is quickly getting cheaper, and new nuclear plants take years to decades to build and will already be obsolete by the time they’re finished.
Did Thomas Aquinas really say that rape was less of a sin than masturbation? His text itself seems pretty darned clear and unambiguous, but commentators’ views range from “he didn’t really mean that”, to “well, it kind of is”. A parable on the danger of multi-step chains of abstract reasoning, and on how easy it is to reinterpret old texts after modernity has produced the right answer. Edit: See objection here, my response here.
“Thousands of Chinese students riot ont he streets of Zhongxiang, changing ‘We want fairness! There is no fairness if you do not let us cheat!’. The scary part is that under the circumstances the pro-cheating rioters were completely justified. See also the Reddit comment thread for interesting commentary.
The Church of England is trying to create a pagan branch in order to recruit New Age youth, with one reverend describing it as “a pagan church where Christianity was very much in the center”. It’s a good idea, but the pagan demographic is pretty small. If they really want to expand their target population, they should create a Muslim church. Edit: Mostly false, see here
Discussion on Eliezer’s Facebook page was leaning towards this being a deliberate spoof or concept art thing, but it sure doesn’t seem like anyone told the writer of this article: Introducing the NSA-Proof Font.
This post called Do You Think Like A Westerner Or An Easterner should probably be called “Do You Think Like A Relatively Primitive Machine Learning Algorithm Or A Human Being? Either way, it probably says something fundamental about you and it’s an interesting puzzle. I’m in the Easterner group (as, apparently, are most Westerners).
Before the Civil Rights movement, states blocked black people from voting with plausible deniability by making them take “literacy tests” first. Which doesn’t sound so bad if you’re a literate black person, until you see the tests that they used. Note the “take in ten minutes and get 100%” requirement. I am both disgusted at the racism of our ancestors, and sort of eager to see this test given to everyone on a race-neutral basis and see what happens when our country is run by extremely precise and quick-thinking word puzzle buffs. Edit: Possibly false or exaggerated
Why Are We Working So Hard?, the Guardian asks, just as I finish a month of 70 – 110 hour work weeks (I’ve been promised 50ish hour weeks in August). In the past, we were promised mechanization leading to higher productivity leading to shorter work weeks. We got the mechanization, we got the higher productivity, and the shorter work weeks just sort of fell by the wayside. Good companion reading to Eliezer’s Robots and Unemployment FAQ and gwern’s commentary.
Surgery Center of Oklahoma posts prices for its surgeries online, finds both that it’s charging a sixth of what anyone else charges and that no one at any point in health care transactions has any idea what any of them cost. This article is a bit unfair in that the reason hospitals charge lots of money for surgery isn’t because they expect anyone to pay that money, but because they’re playing some weird game with insurance companies where insurance companies will only pay 10% of the sticker price so they multiply the cost times ten, and then everyone’s happy except people with no insurance who have to pay ten times the real cost. But that’s another article.
A new interpretation of the marshmallow test suggests that it’s not about kids who can resist eating one marshmallow now for the promise of two later having higher willpower and therefore doing better in life. It’s probably about kids who can resist eating one marshmallow now for the promise of two later being more trusting – perhaps because they come from nicer families and nicer areas – and doing better in life because of those advantages.