November 2003

Global Attention Profiles [Harvard]

by Limbic on November 27, 2003

Which countries are getting media attention? This dynamic map shows you…

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Humans Are Unsustainable [Discovery]

by Limbic on November 27, 2003

1,000 Times Too Many Humans?

A study that compared humans with other species concluded there are 1,000 times too many humans to be sustainable.

The study, published in the current Proceedings B (Biological Sciences) by the Royal Society, used a statistical device known as “confidence limits” to measure what the sustainable norm should be for species populations. Other factors, such as carbon dioxide production, energy use, biomass consumption, and geographical range were taken into consideration.

“Our study found that when we compare ourselves to otherwise similar species, usually other mammals of our same body size, for example, we are abnormal and the situation is unsustainable,” said Charles Fowler, co-author of the paper and a lead researcher at the National Marine Mammal Laboratory, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. MORE

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From Nature:

Children accompanying their parents on Christmas shopping trips: take a tip from black-headed gull chicks, and team up with your siblings to increase pester power.

Gull nestlings put aside their differences and coordinate their begging to extract the maximum amount of regurgitated food from mum and dad, French researchers have discovered.

It flies in the face of conventional wisdom – children should fight each other for the biggest share of parental care. “Competition should increase with the number of chicks, but that’s not what we found,” says Nicolas Mathevon of Jean Monnet University in Saint-Etienne.”

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Man jailed for killing burglar

by Limbic on November 25, 2003

I know that the nature of the courts means that there is not and ought not to be too much uniformity in sentences. Judges are supposed to use their discretion to weigh up the merits of cases and defendants before passing judgement and sentencing. Despite this I keep finding myself overwhelmed by a sense of unfairness where I read about good citizens who are paced in terrifying and unnatural circumstances by criminals being punished for their actions during those incidents. The latest example is Barry-Lee Hastings. He has been sentenced to 5 years in prison for killing a burglar he found in his wife’s house. He stabbed the man repeatedly – probably terrified out of his wits – and he later died.

It is wrong that he is so severely punished for his actions under duress. Every day in the papers one reads about predatory criminals who set out to steal, burgle, assault, rape, maim and sometimes kill – yet the legal system is lenient with them. Oldham rioters who threw petrol bombs at police and tried to burn to death old people in a Labour club received 2 years.

This burglar might well have been like this one, and he could Have ended up like this poor sod.

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…you can see the new BETA of the Guardian and Observer digital editions.

It looks superb. You can browse the newspaper, see the images actual size, grab press cutting version and download as a PDF. Ver very cool.

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Master/Slave banned in LA [Snopes]

by Limbic on November 25, 2003

From Snopes.com:

Claim: The County of Los Angeles has requested that equipment vendors avoid using the industry term “Master/Slave” in product descriptions and labelling. Status: True.

…’master/slave,’ a term commonly used in computing (and related industries) to describe the unidirectional control of one device or process by another. Equipment vendors who do business with Los Angeles County received a message in November 2003 from the county’s Internal Services Department (ISD) informing them that “based on the cultural diversity and sensitivity of Los Angeles County,” labeling or describing equipment with the term ‘master/slave’ is no longer acceptable.

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US troops find a MIG buried in Iraq

by Limbic on November 25, 2003

See the pictures of them digging it up.

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iPod's dirty secret [short movie]

by Limbic on November 25, 2003

Thinking of buying an iPod? Check this first.

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We need to pull ourselves together [Telegraph]

by Limbic on November 25, 2003

Theodore Dalrymple reviews Therapy Culture by Frank Furedi. I have seen Frank Furedi speak at Spiked Online’s brilliant Panic conference and he is a very smart man.

“…the extension of belief in “therapy” is both symptomatic and productive of a profound change in human relations, and not for the better. It may also lead to an extension of the powers of the state over our lives. Therapeutic culture is therefore destructive – though the author fails to allow the possibility that many people may nevertheless benefit personally from the sympathetic ear and disinterested advice of third parties when they have no one else suitable to turn to.

…the bigger picture he presents is persuasive. He points out that in the not-so-distant past, people looked (at least in this country) to their relatives and friends to help them with their difficulties. They also turned to the consolations of religion, and believed in the virtue of stoicism. However, for a variety of cultural reasons many people have gradually come to consider the ups and downs of their emotional lives to be by far the most important aspect of their existence.

But self-absorption and an emphasis on self-realisation are divisive: to quote the cant phrase that makes my heart sink every time I hear it, people are no longer “there for one another”. Thus they increasingly turn to professional third parties – alleged experts such as counsellors – for support and advice. In the process, perfectly normal, inescapable, human experiences – such as those of loss, conflict, ambivalence and anxiety – are turned into quasi-medical problems to be treated by quasi-medical means.” MORE

I am really looking forward to hearing him speak at the Policy Exchange next monday.

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Profile: Victor Serge [TheAtlantic.com]

by Limbic on November 24, 2003

Christopher Hitchens profiles Victor Serge [Serge’s homepage]:

After Dostoyevsky and slightly before Arthur Koestler, but contemporary with Orwell and Kafka and somewhat anticipating Solzhenitsyn, there was Victor Serge. His novels and poems and memoirs, most of them directed at the exposure of Stalinism, were mainly composed in jail or on the run. Some of the manuscripts were confiscated or destroyed by the Soviet secret police; in the matter of poetry Serge was able to outwit them by rewriting from memory the verses he had composed in the Orenburg camp, deep in the Ural Mountain section of the Gulag Archipelago.

For many years Serge was almost lost to view. He was one of those intellectual misfits (I intend no disrespect by the term) who were ground to powder between the upper and nether millstones of Stalin and Hitler.

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