The classical atlas

“The Barrington Atlas, created by the Classical Atlas Project (now, the Ancient World Mapping Center), is a reference work of permanent value. It has an exceptionally broad appeal to everyone worldwide with an interest in ancient Greeks and Romans, the lands they penetrated, and the peoples and cultures they encountered in Europe, North Africa and Western Asia. Scholars and libraries should all find it essential, although it is not just for them. It is also for students, travelers and lovers of fine cartography.”

Colin Berry expounds on risk and public opinion shaping [Spiked]

“The notion that the public is the aggregate of all the individuals in a given territory is strongly influenced by our particular view of representative democracy. Surely it is more realistic to regard the public as a collective concept, a grouping that avoids the influence of narrow personal interests in order to achieve benefits for the community?

The role of special interest or pressure groups seems to be important in influencing people’s views . There is a substantial body of research which claims that ‘what gets said is what matters’ – and because ‘what is said’ is increasingly the expressed views of commentators, chat-show hosts and others, rather than the considered statements of researchers or (dread word) experts, special interests appear to have a disproportionate influence in matters relating to science and new technologies.

This lack of leadership from properly informed opinion leads to the development of the precautionary principle. Scientists Soren Holm and John Harris define the precautionary principle as follows: ‘When an activity raises threats of serious or irreversible harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures that prevent the possibility of harm shall be taken even if the causal link between the activity and the possible harm has not been proven or the causal link is weak and the harm is unlikely to occur.’ ” MORE

The beauty below trounced 50 supermodels in a beauty contest…

“If you take a look at the picture to the left, you will quite certainly think that this is a very beautiful face. But what makes you be so sure about that? Finding answers to why we regard one face as being more beautiful than another is actually not as easy as it seems.

Nevertheless, at least in the case of the above photograph, it’s not a big surprise that you think this is an attractive face. Each pixel of that face has been calculated by scientists using a specialized software program – that is, it has been altered in a special way in order to make people think this is an attractive face.

On this homepage, you will find plenty of information on a large research project on ‘facial attractiveness’ that has been carried out at the universities of Regensburg and Rostock in Germany.

Find out about
why some faces are more beautiful than others
how scienctists help unravel the mystery of beauty and
the dangerous relationship between a beautiful body and social power ” MORE

The last resort [Observer]

“When you have a teenager on the rampage, who are you going to turn to? In America, parents send their troubled offspring to Jamaica’s Tranquility Bay – a ‘behaviour-modification centre’ which charges $40,000 a year to ‘cure’ them. Decca Aitkenhead, the first journalist to gain access to the centre in five years, wonders if there isn’t too high a price to pay” MORE

Onan's revenge: Masturbating may protect against prostate cancer [New Scientist]

“It will make you go blind. It will make your palms grow hairy. Such myths about masturbation are largely a thing of the past. But the latest research has even better news for young men: frequent self-pleasuring could protect against the most common kind of cancer.

A team in Australia led by Graham Giles of The Cancer Council Victoria in Melbourne asked 1079 men with prostate cancer to fill in a questionnaire detailing their sexual habits, and compared their responses with those of 1259 healthy men of the same age. The team concludes that the more men ejaculate between the ages of 20 and 50, the less likely they are to develop prostate cancer.” MORE

Two wives better than one for some SA men [SA]

“In post-apartheid South Africa, the black elite has not only found wealth and status, they have also discovered the “permanent mistress” and have elevated her status to that of second wife, since polygamy is now legal.

Except for the royal families and traditional leaders, polygamous marriages in the urban areas were in the past not only illegal, they were frowned upon and viewed as backward, mainly by women and members of mainstream churches.

However, with new-found democracy and wealth, there is a new school of thought among women as well, mostly middle-aged and single types, that maybe, just maybe, polygamy is not such a bad idea after all. ” MORE

What really makes business successful? [Harvard Business]

The 4+2 formula: “For years we had watched new management ideas come and go, passionately embraced one year, abruptly abandoned the next. ìWhat really works?î we wondered. Our curiosity prompted us to undertake a major, multiyear research effort in which we carefully examined more than 200 well-established management practices as they were employed over a ten-year period by 160 companies.

Our findings took us quite by surprise. Most of the management tools and techniques we studied had no direct causal relationship to superior business performance. What does matter, it turns out, is having a strong grasp of the business basics. Without exception, companies that outperformed their industry peers excelled at what we call the four primary management practicesóstrategy, execution, culture, and structure. And they supplemented their great skill in those areas with a mastery of any two out of four secondary management practicesótalent, innovation, leadership, and mergers and partnerships.

We learned, for example, that it doesnít really matter if you implement ERP software or a CRM system; it matters very much, though, that whatever technology you choose to implement you execute it flawlessly. Similarly, it matters little whether you centralize or decentralize your business as long as you pay attention to simplifying the way your organization is structured. We call the winning combination the 4+2 formula for business success. A company that consistently follows this formula has better than a 90 percent chance of sustaining superior business performance.” MORE

Bums mass-adopt the 37p tactic

Thrice in as many days I have been approached by beggars trying out the 37p tactic. Today it was in Waterstones in Ealing (Male, no reason given), yesterday it was in a supermarket on Portobello Road (female, dog food) and on Monday it was on the street in Notting Hill (female, bus fare).

I plan to keep handy packets of 37p in my pocket for future encounters.