from the world's big
Years of the Knife – The Stabbing Culture in East Asia
TAIPEI/TOKYO – What is this East-Asian obsession with blades and stabbings that has perverted these otherwise harmonious quarters of Confucian legacy?
The knife seems to be the preferred device of killing frenzies in those countries that restrict or ban firearms. Shooting fall-outs are rare from Beijing to Hong Kong, from Shanghai to Seoul, from Hong Kong to Tokyo. So, the hoodlums go out instead with kitchen blades, cleavers, and jackknives.
The latest killings happened just today at around 4 pm in a Taipei subway station. A 21-years old man allegedly boarded a crowded section of the train and knifed down at least 25 passengers, four of whom died in their blood. A relative in law of your author was struck three times –in her defense arm, her back, and, when she escaped, her fleeting ankle. She is in hospital, in stable condition, but still under shock. So is the entire island of Taiwan. Such random eruptions of violence are relatively rare in orderly Taipei, they say. Now they know it can happen any time.
ALSO ON DRAGONS AND PANDAS Beware of ‘Universal Ethics’
Stabbings are far more common in mainland China, although not always as widely reported as the Henan school knife attack in 2012 that witnessed 23 (barely out of kindergarten) kids with severe stab wounds. You can watch the video here (warning: it’s gruesome!). The perpetrator was clinical insane, or so he confessed. Henan authorities promptly advised all schools to hire security guards, which is –as everyone familiar with China knows –a gargantuan task of impossible dimensions –Henan alone administers 100 million citizens.
There are many more stabbings to speak of, in fact, just toady there occurred another knife massacre in the city of Lushan of Henan province. Seven neighbors lost their lives to a lunatic. Small villages are in particular vulnerable. Cutlery is sold left and right in the streets.
And then there was the Kunming Mass Stabbing in March 2014. It was so brutal and violent in scope and execution –the state denounced it as terrorist attack. Over 130 people were slashed, hacked, and ended, leaving 29 dead. The stabbers, four of them shot on the scene, came from Xinjiang, a region where –because of ethnical and political tensions- stabbings occur frequently.
Knives are often worn in public in Xinjiang and Tibetan, and are in fact among the most popular souvenirs. Yet, of course, stabbings are most media-effective if they occur in public places in the big cities. Just weeks after the Kunming massacre, for example, six people were gruesomely stabbed down at Guangzhou Railway Station in Guangdong.
Blades are typically the preferred fetish of death of serial killers, although the one or other shovel, hammer, or axe is frequently thrown in. Your author still recalls the time at Fudan University of Shanghai in summer 2003 when the killing spree of Yang Zhiya had kept the region in fear. He had early childhood dreams of murder and rape, his family concurred; and in 2000 the thug set out on his bike, smashing, chopping, and annihilating entire families on his trip. (He was executed in 2014, just three month after his arrest, a fast-track to ease the pain of the nation.)
Korea is constantly on knife-alert, too. True, stabbing rampages such as the 2008 Seoul incident are still uncommon. Yet, the country is under constant terror by frequent so-called rush-hour knifings (or crowd-stabbing, if you will).
ALSO ON DRAGONS AND PANDAS People with a death-wish
Tokyo, as well, had its unfair share of mayhem. The Japanese, stricken already by the highest suicide rate anywhere in this galaxy, and smitten by frequent earthquakes and tsunamis, are forever haunted by images of Tomohiro Kato, a 25-year-old ‘otaku’ (loosely translated as geek or nerd) drove a truck into a crowd at Tokyo’s busy Akihabara district (known as Electronic Town, popular with young people and tourists). After he steamrolled the pedestrians, he jumped out of the vehicle and stabbed some more. Seven people died. The list of knife crimes in Japan –even if the Yakuza is excluded- is wickedly long.
The imagery of knife-wielding "losers" –mostly young, male, underemployed, mentally ill- haunts East Asian citizens during their rush-hours, partly because there are potentially so many of them.
As one psychologist at Seoul National University once quipped it:
“Pent-up frustration and rage in a highly competitive society have caused the recent attacks against indiscriminate victims, and this was compounded by copy-cat behavior.”
If this is a correct observation, and we have reason to think it is, then governments have to address the causes of this spreading social sickness, and do so quickly.
It is very wise of East Asian authorities to categorically outlaw the possession of guns and rifles. But how do they prevent dangerous men from visiting a kitchen.
Image credit: Burlingham/Shutterstock
Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.
Richard Feynman once asked a silly question. Two MIT students just answered it.
Here's a fun experiment to try. Go to your pantry and see if you have a box of spaghetti. If you do, take out a noodle. Grab both ends of it and bend it until it breaks in half. How many pieces did it break into? If you got two large pieces and at least one small piece you're not alone.
But science loves a good challenge<p>The mystery remained unsolved until 2005, when French scientists <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~audoly/" target="_blank">Basile Audoly</a> and <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~neukirch/" target="_blank">Sebastien Neukirch </a>won an <a href="https://www.improbable.com/ig/" target="_blank">Ig Nobel Prize</a>, an award given to scientists for real work which is of a less serious nature than the discoveries that win Nobel prizes, for finally determining why this happens. <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/spaghetti/audoly_neukirch_fragmentation.pdf" target="_blank">Their paper describing the effect is wonderfully funny to read</a>, as it takes such a banal issue so seriously. </p><p>They demonstrated that when a rod is bent past a certain point, such as when spaghetti is snapped in half by bending it at the ends, a "snapback effect" is created. This causes energy to reverberate from the initial break to other parts of the rod, often leading to a second break elsewhere.</p><p>While this settled the issue of <em>why </em>spaghetti noodles break into three or more pieces, it didn't establish if they always had to break this way. The question of if the snapback could be regulated remained unsettled.</p>
Physicists, being themselves, immediately wanted to try and break pasta into two pieces using this info<p><a href="https://roheiss.wordpress.com/fun/" target="_blank">Ronald Heisser</a> and <a href="https://math.mit.edu/directory/profile.php?pid=1787" target="_blank">Vishal Patil</a>, two graduate students currently at Cornell and MIT respectively, read about Feynman's night of noodle snapping in class and were inspired to try and find what could be done to make sure the pasta always broke in two.</p><p><a href="http://news.mit.edu/2018/mit-mathematicians-solve-age-old-spaghetti-mystery-0813" target="_blank">By placing the noodles in a special machine</a> built for the task and recording the bending with a high-powered camera, the young scientists were able to observe in extreme detail exactly what each change in their snapping method did to the pasta. After breaking more than 500 noodles, they found the solution.</p>
The apparatus the MIT researchers built specifically for the task of snapping hundreds of spaghetti sticks.
(Courtesy of the researchers)
What possible application could this have?<p>The snapback effect is not limited to uncooked pasta noodles and can be applied to rods of all sorts. The discovery of how to cleanly break them in two could be applied to future engineering projects.</p><p>Likewise, knowing how things fragment and fail is always handy to know when you're trying to build things. Carbon Nanotubes, <a href="https://bigthink.com/ideafeed/carbon-nanotube-space-elevator" target="_self">super strong cylinders often hailed as the building material of the future</a>, are also rods which can be better understood thanks to this odd experiment.</p><p>Sometimes big discoveries can be inspired by silly questions. If it hadn't been for Richard Feynman bending noodles seventy years ago, we wouldn't know what we know now about how energy is dispersed through rods and how to control their fracturing. While not all silly questions will lead to such a significant discovery, they can all help us learn.</p>
Join Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and best-selling author Charles Duhigg as he interviews Victoria Montgomery Brown, co-founder and CEO of Big Think.
Women today are founding more businesses than ever. In 2018, they made up 40% of new entrepreneurs, yet in that same year, they received just 2.2% of all venture capital investment. The playing field is off-balance. So what can women do?
In a recent study, researchers examined how Christian nationalism is affecting the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A new study used survey data to examine the interplay between Christian nationalism and incautious behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The researchers defined Christian nationalism as "an ideology that idealizes and advocates a fusion of American civic life with a particular type of Christian identity and culture."
- The results showed that Christian nationalism was the leading predictor that Americans engaged in incautious behavior.
A pastor at the chapel of the St. Josef Hospital on April 1, 2020 in Bochum, German
Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images<p>Christian nationalists, in general, believe the U.S. and God's will are tied together, and they want the government to embody conservative Christian values and symbols. As such, they also believe the nation's fate depends on how closely it adheres to Christianity.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unsurprisingly then, in the midst of the COVID‐19 pandemic, conservative pastors prophesied God's protection over the nation, citing America's righteous support for President Trump and the prolife agenda," the researchers write.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Correspondingly, the link between Christian nationalism and God's influence on how COVID‐19 impacts America can be seen in proclamations about God's divine judgment for its immorality―with the logic being that God is using the pandemic to draw wayward America <em>back </em>to himself, which assumes the two belong together."</p><p>The logical conclusion to this kind of thinking: America can save itself not through cautionary measures, like mask-wearing, but through devotion to God. What's more, it stands to reason that Christian nationalists are less likely to trust the media and scientists, given that these sources are generally not concerned with promoting a conservative, religious view of the world.</p><p>(The researchers note that they're unaware of any research directly linking Christian nationalism to distrust of media sources, but that they're almost certain the two are connected.)</p>
Predicted values of Americans' frequency of incautious behaviors during the COVID‐19 pandemic across values of Christian nationalism
Perry et al.<p>In the new study, the researchers examined three waves of results from the Public and Discourse Ethics Survey. One wave of the survey was issued in May, and it asked respondents to rate how often they engaged in both incautious and precautionary behaviors.</p><p>Incautious behaviors included things like "ate inside a restaurant" and "went shopping for nonessential items," while precautionary behaviors included "washed my hands more often than typical" and "wore a mask in public."</p><p>To measure Christian nationalism, the researchers asked respondents to rate how strongly they agree with statements like "the federal government should advocate Christian values" and "the success of the United States is part of God's plan."</p><p>The results suggest that, compared to other groups, Christian nationalists are far less likely to wear masks, socially distance and take other precautionary measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Christian nationalism was the leading predictor that Americans engaged in incautious behavior during the pandemic, and the second leading predictor that Americans avoided taking precautionary measures."</p><p>But that's not to say that religious beliefs are causing Americans to reject mask-wearing or social distancing. In fact, when the study accounted for Christian nationalist beliefs, the results showed that Americans with high levels of religiosity were likely to take precautionary measures for COVID-19.</p>
Limitations<p>Still, the researchers note that they're theorizing about the connections between Christian nationalism and COVID-19 behaviors, not documenting them directly. What's more, they suggest that certain experiences — such as having a family member that contracts COVID-19 — might change a Christian nationalist's behaviors during the pandemic.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Limitations notwithstanding, the implications of this study are important for understanding Americans' curious inability to quickly implement informed and reasonable strategies to overcome the threat of COVID‐19, an inability that has likely cost thousands of lives," they write.</p>
Parental anxieties stem from the complex relationship between technology, child development, and the internet's trove of unseemly content.