within the world

I never was in love, you know that you were never good enough

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On February 14th, Kakumei-teki himote doumei (革命的非モテ同盟) — literally, “Revolutionary Alliance of Men That Woman Are Not Attracted To”– will gather in Shibuya, an area of Tokyo popular with young couples, to protest Valentine’s Day and its roots in what they call “romantic capitalist oppression.”

The group, known as Kakuhidou for short, was started in 2006, when its founder, Katsuhiro Furusawa, returned home one day after being dumped by his girlfriend and began reading the Communist Manifesto. He quickly came to the realization that being unpopular with girls is a class issue.

{ Spoon & Tamago | Continue reading }

Women tend to prefer men who make them laugh and men tend to prefer women who laugh at their jokes. However, it is unclear how robust this pattern is. Here we report a replication of one of the first studies (Bressler, Martin, and Balshine, 2006) to examine the sex differences in preferences for humor receptivity versus humor production. […]

We found that men viewed humor receptivity as a necessity and humor production as a luxury when they were asked to create an ideal long-term partner. For women, it was just the opposite.

{ Evolutionary Psychology | PDF }

You can be a millionaire… and never pay taxes!

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The flat white coffee drink was $4. A suggested tip was $3.

The cashier at Café Grumpy, a New York City coffeehouse, swiped the credit card, then whirled the screen of her iPad sales device around to face the customer. “Add a tip,” the screen commanded, listing three options: $1, $2 or $3.

In other words: 25 percent, 50 percent or 75 percent of the bill.

There was a “no tip” and a “customize tip” button, too, but neither seemed particularly inviting as the cashier looked on. Under that pressure, the middle choice — $2 — seemed easiest.

American consumers are feeling a bit of tip creep.

Leaving 15 percent for full service (the former standard tip at a sit-down restaurant), and less for quick transactions, is considered chintzy by some people. “We recommend 20 percent absolutely,” said Peter Post, managing director of the Emily Post Institute, which offers guidelines in etiquette.

The very concept of tipping is expanding beyond the service industry, with new platforms that enable Internet content creators to receive Bitcoin tips that reward their creativity rather than a simple thumbs up (or “Like”).

And in many situations, merchants as varied as cab companies and beauty salons rely on the ubiquitous touch screen or mobile app to push higher and higher gratuities.

New York City taxi riders paying with plastic are confronted with buttons for 20 percent, 25 percent or 30 percent tips. Anything less has to be manually entered (and calculated by the passenger). […]

In December, an Italian restaurant in Los Angeles, Alimento, took a different approach. It added a second gratuity line to diners’ checks — “tip” (for the server) and “kitchen” (for the traditionally untipped workers in the back). […]

In March, a Silicon Valley company opened ChangeTip, a platform that allows people to send small Bitcoin payments through social media, email, Skype or text to show their appreciation for content creators (or anyone) on the Internet.

The service has been growing about 30 percent a month and now has about 60,000 users who have collectively tipped over $250,000, said Nick Sullivan, founder and chief executive. The average payment, he said, was a little over $1.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

photo { Nobuyoshi Araki, Untitled, 1994 }

‘Nature even in chaos cannot proceed otherwise than regularly and according to order.’ –Kant

Our team has analyzed 144 of AQI’s and the ISI’s own financial and managerial documents. Captured by coalition and Iraqi forces between 2005 and 2010, these include scans of typed documents, as well as electronic files found on hard drives, USB sticks, and other media. Among them are spreadsheets listing the qualifications and training of hundreds of fighters, details on thousands of individual salary payments, and massive lists of itemized expenditures. […]

The group’s financing tactics, relying on extortion and criminal rackets, put it directly in conflict with local economic elites. […] Moreover, the way it managed human resources and finances—requiring numerous signatures and oversight—reflected high levels of internal mistrust. […]

The negative implication of our findings is that even those vulnerabilities don’t make the group easy to completely eradicate. From 2006 through 2009 the ISI was devastated by US and allied forces, Iraqi security forces, and local Sunni militias; during some months US Special Operations forces alone conducted 10 or more raids per night against the group. It stopped being a strategic threat, but it didn’t disappear. Its organizational structure was robust enough that it could go to ground, survive, and wait for the right circumstances to come roaring back.

{ Boston Globe | Continue reading }

related { One of the Islamic State’s senior commanders reveals exclusive details of the terror group’s origins inside an Iraqi prison – right under the noses of their American jailers. | The Guardian | full story }

‘Tell me what you eat, and I shall tell you what you are.’ –Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, 1825

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Galleries owned by Larry Gagosian, the powerful and well-connected dealer who has spent his career goosing the prices of contemporary art higher and higher: 14.

Restaurants owned by the chef Masayoshi Takayama, who has spent his career charging more for Japanese food than anyone else in the United States: five.

Restaurants the two men own together: one, Kappo Masa, in the basement below Mr. Gagosian’s Madison Avenue gallery. […]

Now three months old, Kappo Masa is not the most expensive restaurant in New York. That distinction belongs to Mr. Takayama’s home base, Masa, in the Time Warner Center. (Price of dinner for one before tax, tip and drinks: $450.) Still, it is expensive in a way that’s hard to forget either during or after the meal. The cost of eating at Kappo Masa is so brutally, illogically, relentlessly high, and so out of proportion to any pleasure you may get, that large numbers start to seem like uninvited and poorly behaved guests at the table. […]

Stars I am giving it: zero.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

‘War is a matter not so much of arms as of money.’ —Thucydides

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On January 2, 1977, the Shah of Iran made a painful admission about his country’s economy. “We’re broke,” he confided bluntly to his closest aide, court minister Asadollah Alam, in a private meeting. Alam predicted still more dangers to come: “We have squandered every cent we had only to find ourselves checkmated by a single move from Saudi Arabia,” he later wrote in a letter to the shah. “[W]e are now in dire financial peril and must tighten our belts if we are to survive.”

The two men were reacting to recent turmoil in the oil markets. A few weeks prior, at an OPEC meeting in Doha, the Saudis had announced they would resist an Iran-led majority vote to increase petroleum prices by 15 percent. (The shah needed the boost to pay for billions in new spending commitments.) King Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al Saud argued that a price hike wasn’t justified when Western economies were still mired in a recession — but he was also eager to place economic constraints on Iran at a time when the shah was ordering nuclear power plants and projecting influence throughout the Middle East. So the Saudis “flooded the markets,” ramping up oil production from 8 million to 11.8 million barrels per day and slashing crude prices. Unable to compete, Iran was quickly driven from the market: The country’s oil production plunged 38 percent in a month. Billions of dollars in anticipated oil revenues vanished, and Iran was forced to abandon its five-year budget estimates.

A damaging ripple effect persisted: Over the summer of 1977, industrial manufacturing in Iran fell by 50 percent. Inflation ran between 30 and 40 percent. The government made deep cuts to domestic spending to balance the books, but austerity only made matters worse when thousands of young, unskilled men lost their jobs. Before long, economic distress had eroded middle-class support for the shah’s monarchy — which collapsed two years later in the Iranian Revolution.

[…]

In November 2006, Nawaf Obaid, a Saudi security consultant connected to Prince Turki al-Faisal, then Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington, wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post noting that if “[i]f Saudi Arabia boosted production and cut the price of oil in half … it would be devastating to Iran … [and] limit Tehran’s ability to continue funneling hundreds of millions each year to Shiite militias in Iraq and elsewhere.” Two years later, at the height of the global financial crisis, the Saudis acted: They flooded the market, and within six months, oil prices had fallen from their record high of $147 per barrel to just $33. Thus, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began 2009, an election year, struggling with the sudden collapse in government oil revenues and forced to slash popular subsidies and social programs. The election’s contested outcome was accompanied by economic contraction and the worst political violence in Iran since the fall of the shah.

{ Foreign Policy | Continue reading }

image { Evander Batson }

previously { The Conventional Wisdom On Oil Is Always Wrong }

‘Comme je me sens vieux. Comme je me sens peu fait pour l’être. Jamais je ne vais savoir être vieux.’ –Georges Bernanos

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“Find your sugar baby,” the site exhorted its users.

This year, Paul Aronson, an 84-year-old from Manhattan, contacted a 17-year-old girl, Shaina Foster, through the site and took her out to dinner. On a second date, Ms. Foster brought along her twin sister, Shalaine.

For a few hours on Oct. 1, the evening looked as if it might turn into an old man’s fantasy. The three dined at an expensive restaurant in Midtown. Then Mr. Aronson invited the teenagers to have a drink with him at the four-story brick townhouse he owns on East 38th Street.

He bought a bottle of raspberry-flavored rum from a liquor store on the way, a defense lawyer said. But instead of receiving caresses or whispered flirtations, Mr. Aronson ended up tied to a coffee table for 20 hours. […]

Prosecutors say the two girls bound him with zip ties, took $470 in cash from his wallet and went on a spending spree with his credit cards, buying makeup and clothes. […]

Before he was tied up, Mr. Aronson had given the teenagers a tour of his townhouse and let them play with his tiny dog, a Yorkshire terrier named Muffins, Mr. Kennedy said. Then he poured them glasses of rum and asked them about their sex lives. […]

“He asked to do things I wasn’t going to do,” she told Detective Darryl Ng at the 17th Precinct after the girls were arrested on Oct. 21. “He is ugly, old and disgusting. I tied him up. I took his money and left. He was starting to creep me out.”

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

‘Death is the only thing we haven’t succeeded in completely vulgarizing.’ —Aldous Huxley

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Leveraging the insight that periods, while a pain, also bring women together, JWT has created an augmented reality app that combines Chinese consumers’ love of technology, cute characters and selfies into a new branded platform for Sofy sanitary pads.

{ Campaign Asia | Continue reading | Thanks Tim }

‘I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing — that it all started with a mouse.’ –Walt Disney

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“There’s as much biodiversity in the soils of Central Park as we found in the soil… from the Arctic to Antarctica” […] almost 170,000 different kinds of microbes. […] The team also found 2,000 species of microbes that are apparently unique to Central Park.

{ NPR | Continue reading }

‘It belongs to the imperfection of everything human that man can only attain his desire by passing through its opposite.’ –Kierkegaard

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Take the Danes, for instance. True, they claim to be the happiest people in the world, but why no mention of the fact they are second only to Iceland when it comes to consuming anti- depressants? […] The Danes also have the highest level of private debt in the world (four times as much as the Italians, to put it into context; enough to warrant a warning from the IMF), while more than half of them admit to using the black market to obtain goods and services.

Perhaps the Danes’ dirtiest secret is that, according to a 2012 report from the Worldwide Fund for Nature, they have the fourth largest per capita ecological footprint in the world. Even ahead of the US. […] According to the World Cancer Research Fund, the Danes have the highest cancer rates on the planet. “But at least the trains run on time!” I hear you say. No, that was Italy under Mussolini. The Danish national rail company has skirted bankruptcy in recent years, and the trains most assuredly do not run on time. […]

I am very fond of the Finns, a most pragmatic, redoubtable people with a Sahara-dry sense of humour. But would I want to live in Finland? In summer, you’ll be plagued by mosquitos, in winter, you’ll freeze – that’s assuming no one shoots you, or you don’t shoot yourself. Finland ranks third in global gun ownership behind only America and Yemen; has the highest murder rate in western Europe, double that of the UK; and by far the highest suicide rate in the Nordic countries.

The Finns are epic Friday-night bingers and alcohol is now the leading cause of death for Finnish men.

{ Guardian | Continue reading | More: Nordic nations respond to the original article }

Six feet of land was all that he needed

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She also learned an old cop trick: If you’re recovering a body in an apartment building, ask every tenant to make coffee — it covers the smell. “Oldest trick in the book,” one officer told her. […]

She began, as all autopsies do, by inserting a needle into the side of each eye to collect fluid — a delicate procedure Melinek perfected after once popping out a cadaver’s glass eyeball. […] Then she removed Booker’s testes, took a samples from each, and put them back in the scrotum. […]

There was the subway jumper at Union Square, for example, whose body was recovered on the tracks of the uptown 4 train with no blood — none at the scene, none in the body itself. She’d never seen anything like it, and only CME Hirsch could explain: The massive trauma to the entire body caused the bone marrow to absorb all the blood. […]

In one case, a man was shot in the chest, but the bullet was found in his liver.

{ NY Post | Continue reading }

photo { Hiroshi Sugimoto }

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow

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‘In the world of the dreamer there was solitude.’ –Anaïs Nin

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Polygyny rates are higher in western Africa than in eastern Africa. The African slave trades help explain this difference. More male slaves were exported in the transatlantic slave trades from western Africa, while more female slaves were exported in the Indian Ocean slave trades from eastern Africa. The slave trades led to prolonged periods of abnormal sex ratios, which affected the rates of polygyny across Africa.

{ Economic Development and Cultural Change | Continue reading }