Sunday, July 22, 2007

Lazy linking - cleaning out my bookmarks edition

During the time I've had this blog, I've bookmarked a number of links, so I could write a post about them at some later stage. Of course, in quite a few cases, I've never gotten around to actually write something, so I thought I'd link them here, so the rest of you can comment on them, if you feel like it.

Praise the inspiring, fascinating - and pointless by Sam Leith (the Telegraph)

'Do something pointless every day." That was one of the key mantras of the motivational speaker John Jackson, star of the award-winning Jackson's Way. As it happens, Jackson is a spoof - the creation of Will Adamsdale - and the award he won was for comedy. Nevertheless, what a wise piece of advice.

How much better we all are for a peck of pointlessness. In the dreadful grind of this week's news - all that getting and spending and blaming and shaming - the three stories that stood out were all testament to the unquenchable human appetite for the pointless-but-interesting.

I am not quite sure that I agree that the stories are pointless, but I find the general point somewhat charming.

Human Security Report 2005 - War and Peace in the 21st Century

Human security is a relatively new concept, but one that is now widely used to describe the complex of interrelated threats associated with civil war, genocide and the displacement of populations. The distinction between human security and national security is an important one.

While national security focuses on the defence of the state from external attack, human security is about protecting individuals and communities from any form of political violence.

Human security and national security should be—and often are—mutually reinforcing. But secure states do not automatically mean secure peoples. Protecting citizens from foreign attack may be a necessary condition for the security of individuals, but it is not a sufficient one. Indeed, during the last 100 years far more people have been killed by their own governments than by foreign armies.

All proponents of human security agree that its primary goal is the protection of individuals. But consensus breaks down over what threats individuals should be protected from. Proponents of the ‘narrow’ concept of human security, which underpins the Human Security Report, focus on violent threats to individuals, while recognizing that these threats are strongly associated with poverty, lack of state capacity and various forms of socio-economic and political inequity,

Proponents of the ‘broad’ concept of human security articulated in the UN Development Programme’s 1994, Human Development Report, and the Commission on Human Security’s 2003 report, Human Security Now, argue that the threat agenda should be broadened to include hunger, disease and natural disasters because these kill far more people than war, genocide and terrorism combined.

Although still subject to lively debate within the research community, the two approaches to human security are complementary rather than contradictory.

Haven't gotten around to reading it yet.

White Hats vs. Black Hats - Who's who in Washington's scandal investigations by T.A. Frank and Zachary Roth (Washington Monthly)

A bit late to comment on that May 2006 piece, isn't it?

Researchers find kids need better online academic skills by Beth Krane (University of Connecticut)

When researchers in the Neag School of Education asked 25 seventh-graders from middle schools across the state to review a web site devoted to a fictitious endangered species, the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, the results troubled them:

* All 25 students fell for the Internet hoax;
* All but one of the 25 rated the site as "very credible;"
* Most struggled when asked to produce proof - or even clues - that the web site was false, even after the UConn researchers told them it was; and
* Some of the students still insisted vehemently that the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus really exists.

The students - identified as their schools' most proficient online readers - are taking part in a federal research project, funded by a $1.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Could explain a lot....

de profundis

Four years ago, the political got very personal.

I was a good little radical then; that night, if anything, is what galvanized me. I had wandered down into the streets ready to spend a few hours protesting the oncoming war and then go home and on a date and to my homework. I can't really claim much in the way of nobility: I cared, I cared until my little heart was worn out, but I wasn't a grownup about these things, not yet. I still wanted Bad Guys to line up against. I still wanted to Win and Go Home, because I still thought there was a chance things worked that way.

I might have linked that post before, but it's certainly worth a re-read.

Endless matter of life and death

Cassandra Laing's large, photorealistic, black and white drawings demand a reaction. How can one not respond to a delicately drawn dead finch, supine, sapped, a tag wrapped around its limp, pitiful little legs, the down on its underbelly so intricately detailed it seems clumped and damp? The dead finch lies over a snapshot of two pretty blonde girls, sitting on the tourist train at Queensland's Big Pineapple - the requisite family album shot. The older girl waves and smiles at the camera.

One woman who saw the drawing of the dead finch and young girls loved it. Her husband, however, couldn't get away from it fast enough. He walked out of the Helen Gory gallery where Laing's work is now on show. Images of transience, of life's fragility can be repellent to those who do not want to be reminded of their mortality, who cannot bear to contemplate the impermanence of all things.

Magazines: where are the women writers? by Heather Mallick (CBC)

When it comes to the magazine business, why is Harper's so bizarre about women writers?

Trends in Political Values and Core Attitudes: 1987-2007 - Political Landscape More Favorable To Democrats (The Pew Research Center)

Geometric whirlpools revealed - Recipe for making symmetrical holes in water is easy (News @ Nature)

Bizarre geometric shapes that appear at the centre of swirling vortices in planetary atmospheres might be explained by a simple experiment with a bucket of water.

Researchers at the Technical University of Denmark in Lyngby have created similar geometric shapes (holes in the form of stars, squares, pentagons and hexagons) in whirlpools of water in a cylindrical bucket. The shapes appear easily enough once the bucket is spinning at a rate of one to seven revolutions per second, they say.

Joan of Arc remains 'are fakes' (BBC News)

Bones thought to be the holy remains of 15th Century French heroine Joan of Arc were in fact made from an Egyptian mummy and a cat, research has revealed.

Giant crystals enjoyed perfection (BBC News)

With lengths over 11m, the giant gypsum crystals found in Mexico's Cueva de los Cristales are a great natural wonder.

Mouse brain simulated on computer (BBC News)

US researchers have simulated half a virtual mouse brain on a supercomputer.

From Thinking Ape Blues



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