Saturday, 6 May 2017

Starting off today's ten interesting items with a magnificent photograph

Turns out flying squirrels can fly while holding giant pine cones
via Boing Boing by Andrea James

Moonlight Gliders is a beautifully shot and reported piece on mating season for Montana's flying squirrels. Among the amazing facts shared by Alexander V. Badyaev: they can glide while carrying rather large pine cones in their mouths.
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5 Best Online Games to Play When Bored
via Lifehack by Abhay Jeet Mishra
Online gaming refers to playing of any type of game over a computer network or through the internet. People refer it as video games which they play over internet and multiple players connect together from different locations across the world. These games can be simple text-based games or games which are incorporated with virtual worlds and complex graphics. These require high-speed internet connection and optimal hardware. Some games need hardware devices like game controllers or joysticks, too. Gaming software is available in CDs or DVDs, or even available as a simple download through the internet. People are getting interested in online gaming for a number of reasons, but obviously, it helps to kill time when playing head-to-head games.
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The Seahorse In Your Brain: Where Body Parts Got Their Names
via 3 Quarks Daily: Joy Ho and Erin Ross in NPR

The name hippocampus comes from the Greek word for seahorse. It's a part of the brain involved in emotion and memory.
Joy Ho/NPR
When the ancient Greeks were naming body parts, they were probably trying to give them names that were easy to remember, says Mary Fissell, a professor in the Department of the History of Medicine at Johns Hopkins. "Sure, there were texts, but the ancient world was very oral, and the people learning this stuff have to remember it." So the Greek scholars, and later Roman and medieval scholars, named bones and organs and muscles after what they looked like. The thick bone at the front of your lower leg, the tibia, is named after a similar-looking flute.
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Finding North America’s lost medieval city: Cahokia was bigger than Paris – then it was completely abandoned
via 3 Quarks Daily: Annalee Newitz in Ars Technica

Artist’s recreation of downtown Cahokia, with Monk's Mound at its center.
A thousand years ago, huge pyramids and earthen mounds stood where East St. Louis sprawls today in Southern Illinois. This majestic urban architecture towered over the swampy Mississippi River floodplains, blotting out the region's tiny villages. Beginning in the late 900s, word about the city spread throughout the southeast. Thousands of people visited for feasts and rituals, lured by the promise of a new kind of civilization. Many decided to stay.
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Opus Anglicanum: medieval embroidery and fashion
via The National Archives Blog by Euan Roger and Paul Dryburgh
On Monday 7 November, members of The National Archives’ Medieval and Early Modern teams visited Opus Anglicanum, the Victoria and Albert Museum’s exhibition about medieval English embroidery. In this post we’re going to take a closer look at the exhibition and introduce some of the many records The National Archives holds which relate to medieval fine cloth and clothing.
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And you may like to look at the V&A exhibition page with some superb images

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An ax(e) to grind
via OUP Blog by Anatoly Liberman
indo-european_languages
“Indo-European languages” by MapLoader, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
That words travel from land to land is no secret. I do not only mean the trivial borrowings of the type known so well from the history of English. For instance, more than a thousand years ago, the Vikings settled in most of Britain, and therefore English is full of Scandinavian words. Some time later, the French conquered the country, and, as a result, two thirds or so of the words one finds in Webster’s dictionary are of French origin. Cultural cross-currents are equally obvious: the language of music is full of Italian terms, and the language of art testifies to the influence of French and Italian on English. All this is trivial information. It is much harder to trace the history of migratory words, for instance such as denote the names of tools. A case in point is the origin of the word ax (or, if you prefer the British spelling of it, then axe: an extra letter at the end of a word never hurts).
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Super-trippy interactive visualizer feels like getting high for free
via Boing Boing by Andrea James

If you don't live in a state that allows recreational marijuana yet, perhaps this fabulous Hopalong Orbits Visualizer by Iacopo Sassarini will tide you over till then.
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Star met spectacular fate: death by supermassive black hole
via the Guardian by Ian Sample
This artist’s impression depicts a sun-like star close to a rapidly spinning supermassive black hole, with a mass of about 100 million times the mass of the sun, in the centre of a distant galaxy.
This artist’s impression depicts a sun-like star close to a rapidly spinning supermassive black hole, with a mass of about 100 million times the mass of the sun, in the centre of a distant galaxy. Photograph: ESO, ESA/Hubble, M. Kornmesser
It was one of the most spectacular deaths in the known universe: an enormous star in a distant galaxy met its doom and as a parting shot released a brilliant flash of light half a trillion times brighter than the sun.
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Why Titan is the only colonizable world in the solar system beyond Earth
via Boing Boing by Rob Beschizza
This Voyager 2 photograph of Titan, taken Aug. 23, 1981 from a range of 2.3 million kilometers (1.4 million miles), shows some detail in the cloud systems on this Saturnian moon. The southern hemisphere appears lighter in contrast, a well-defined band is seen near the equator, and a dark collar is evident at the north pole. All these bands are associated with cloud circulation in Titan’s atmosphere. The extended haze, composed of submicron-size particles, is seen clearly around the satellite’s limb. This image was composed from blue, green and violet frames.



Friday, 5 May 2017

Finance proud and industry vulnerable: When governments fail to defend the economic realm, citizens revolt

an article by Ann Pettifor (Director of Policy Research in Macroeconomics (PRIME)) published in Juncture Volume 23 Issue 4 (Spring 2017)

Abstract

The subordination of society to self-regulating international markets is the reason why British workers and industries so often fall prey to predatory financiers, writes Ann Pettifor.

It is also a fundamental cause of current political crises throughout the west – just as Karl Polanyi described [in “The Great Transformation” see Wikipedia articlealmost 80 years ago.

Unfortunately full text is only available for purchase


People, places and earnings differentials in Scotland

an article by Patricia C. Melo (The James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen, Scotland) published in Regional Studies Volume 53 Issue 3 (March 2017)

Abstract

This paper investigates the contribution of ‘people’ and ‘place’ effects to earnings differentials in Scotland using individual and regional data. The main sources of differentials are attributed to workers’ characteristics (‘people’ effects), particularly academic and vocational qualifications, followed by occupational and industrial affiliations.

On the other hand, differences in the attributes of local area labour markets (‘place’ effects) explain only a small part of individual earnings differentials. The most relevant spatial attribute is local area human capital.

The findings suggest that people-based policies are likely to be more effective at improving workers’ earnings prospects than place-based policies.

Full text (HTML) scroll past the various translations of the abstract to read the main article


Developing effective policy to improve job quality

an article by Chris Warhurst (Professor and Director of the Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick) published in Poverty: Journal of the Child Poverty Action Group Issue 156 (Winter 2017)

Job quality is back on the UK policy agenda. Indeed, it is back on the policy agenda of many countries’ governments, as well as international governmental bodies. As part of the G20, the UK government signed the 2015 Ankara Declaration that committed the UK and the other member countries to improving job quality with the aim of promoting inclusive growth, creating sustainable growth and reducing inequalities. Chris Warhurst draws on his research with Angie Knox to look at how job quality has become a policy focus and examines the challenges in improving it.

Full text (PDF 4pp)


Thursday, 4 May 2017

Third sector independence: relations with the state in an age of austerity

an article by Valerie Egdell and Matthew Dutton (Napier University, Edinburgh, Scotland) published in Voluntary Sector Review Volume 8 Number 1 (March 2017)

Abstract

Third sector organisations deliver a range of public services for government. They are valued and trusted by commissioners, clients and wider society because of their independence.

However, the extent to which the third sector is independent is questioned.

Drawing on qualitative longitudinal research with third sector organisations in Scotland, this article explores how third sector organisations delivering public services manage the demands of changing funding structures and relationships with government, and the implications for their independence. It explores how organisations understand and negotiate the tension between their independence and mission-driven social action, and delivering commissioned and contracted public services.

In doing so, it highlights the challenges to independence in a dynamically changing political, policy and financial climate, as well as opportunities for organisations to emphasise their distinctive contribution to public service delivery.


Britain Works

an article by Jane Mansour (independent policy consultant) published in Poverty: Journal of the Child Poverty Action Group Issue 156 (Winter 2017)

Child Poverty Action Group and Working Families have launched a new project, ‘Britain works’, looking at in-work poverty and how work can be improved for families living on a low income. Here, Jane Mansour sets out the context, examining a range of evidence on the characteristics of low-paid work in Britain today, and reports on what employers say about their policies on and practices towards their low-paid staff.

Full text (PDF 4pp)


Corporate boards and environmental offence conviction: evidence from the United Kingdom

an article by Venancio Tauringana (University of Southampton, UK), Dragana Radicic (University of Cambridge, UK) and Alan Kirkpatrick and Renata Konadu (Bournemouth University, UK) published in Corporate Governance: The International Journal of Business in Society Volume 17 Issue 2 (2017)

Abstract

Purpose
This paper aims to report the results of an investigation into the relationship between corporate boards and the likelihood of a firm being convicted of an environmental offence in the United Kingdom (UK).

Design/methodology/approach
The study uses binary logistics regression analysis to model the relationship between corporate boards and the likelihood of a firm being convicted of an environmental offence in the UK, controlling for firm size, financial leverage and profitability.

Findings
The results suggest that the likelihood of a firm being convicted of an environmental offence increases with board size but decreases with the presence of a woman on the board. No support is found for the authors’ hypotheses about the proportion of outside directors and the presence of a lawyer on the board. Marginal effects’ results also show that adding one member to the board increases the chance of a firm being convicted for an environmental offence by 4.2 per cent, while having a woman on the board decreases the likelihood of a firm being convicted of an environmental offence by 31.8 per cent.

Research limitations/implications
The sample size of 55 firms is small which could affect the generalisability of the study.

Originality/value
The study uses proprietary data obtained from the UK Environmental Agency to provide evidence for the first time how corporate boards affect the chances of a listed firm being convicted of an environmental offence in the UK.


Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Euro area annual inflation up to 1.9%

Eurostat news release euroindicators 74/2017 - 28 April 2017

Flash estimate - April 2017
Euro area annual inflation up to 1.9%

Euro area annual inflation is expected to be 1.9% in April 2017, up from 1.5% in March 2017, according to a flash estimate from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

Looking at the main components of euro area inflation, energy is expected to have the highest annual rate in April (7.5%, compared with 7.4% in March), followed by services (1.8%, compared with 1.0% in March), food, alcohol & tobacco (1.5%, compared with 1.8% in March) and non-energy industrial goods (0.3%, stable compared with March).

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Employment rate of people aged 20 to 64 in the EU reached a new peak at 71.1% in 2016

Eurostat news release 69/2017 - 25 April 2017

In 2016, the employment rate of the population aged 20 to 64 in the European Union (EU) stood at 71.1%, up compared with both 2015 (70.1%) and its previous peak recorded in 2008 (70.3%). The Europe 2020 strategy target is to reach a total employment rate for people aged 20 to 64 of at least 75% in the EU by 2020. This objective has been translated into national targets in order to reflect the situation and possibilities of each Member State to contribute to the common goal.

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National evaluation of the Troubled Families Programme 2015 - 2020: family outcomes - family survey: part 1

via Interface Enterprises Ltd

A newly released report contains findings from the baseline survey of families (main carers and young people aged 11-21) in receipt of help from the Troubled Families Programme, conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

The national evaluation of the current Troubled Families Programme aims to explore the level of service transformation driven by the programme as well as establishing the impact of the family intervention approach on families themselves.

Key strands of the evaluation include:
  • The Family Survey - a quantitative longitudinal survey of families in receipt of help from the programme in nineteen local authorities
  • The National Impact Study, where individuals in families being worked with by all local authorities are matched to data held by other government departments and outcomes tracked throughout the programme
  • Annual staff surveys, online quantitative surveys of delivery staff (Troubled Family Co-ordinators, keyworkers/local practitioners and Troubled Family Employment Advisors (TFEAs))
  • Qualitative research involving in-depth interviews with staff delivering the programme and families receiving services
See the full report here.

This summary presents the key findings for families who are currently in receipt of troubled families support across the 19 local authorities participating in the Family Survey.


Sunday, 30 April 2017

Ten more interesting items (taken me longer than I planned to assemble these)

Powerful symbols chiselled into a shepherd’s shelter
via the Guardian by Ed Douglas
Two inverted Vs make an M
Two inverted Vs make an M in the gritstone. Photograph: Ed Douglas
The long flowing line of Stanage Edge is, for rock climbers, one of the world’s great crags, segmented, like a gritstone worm, into various buttresses and features, each of them named, each providing many different routes to the top, each of those – and there are hundreds – also named.
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Six Wives in the archives: the trial of Anne Boleyn
via The National Archives Blog by Marianne Wilson and Neil Johnston
Detail of alleged incest between Anne and George Boleyn (catalogue reference: KB 8/9, f. 10r)
Tonight [14 December 2016] on BBC One’s Six Wives with Lucy Worsley, the spotlight falls on the trial of Anne Boleyn, and some of the records pertaining to this most famous inquiry are held at The National Archives.
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Stepping back 3.6m years: footprints yield new clues to humans’ ancestors
via the Guardian by Ian Sample
An artists impression of the Australopithecus afarensis walking through Tanzania.
An artists impression of the Australopithecus afarensis walking through Tanzania.
Illustration: Dawid A Iurino
The footprints of five ancestors of humans who walked the Earth more than 3.6m years ago have been found preserved in volcanic ash that was dampened by ancient African rains. Researchers unearthed the tracks by accident when they began to excavate test pits that had been called for as part of an assessment of the impact of building a proposed museum on the site in Tanzania.
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Aging Cheddar: a timeline of the world-famous cheese
via OUP Blog by Marissa Lynch
5516100246_40baefa99c_b
“Cheese!” by Roxanne Ready. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr.
In the cheesemaking world, “Cheddar” is a generic term for cheeses that fall into a wide range of flavor, color, and texture. According to the US Code of Federal Regulations, any cheese with a moisture content of up to 39% and at least 50% fat in dry matter is legally considered a form of Cheddar. The varying processes involved in production have allowed regions around the world to create their own take on this globally consumed cheese.
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9 Powerful Quotes on Atheism
via Big Think by Derek Beres
Article Image
Pope Benedict XVI celebrates the Vespers of the first Sunday of the advent inside St.Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, 01 December 2007. Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images
The disparity between how humans feel about themselves and how we treat the world has grown thanks to social media. Awareness of the impact of climate change and the stunning destruction of fundamentalist religious ideologies has intensified, yet a belief in our innate specialness persists.
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A map of ships buried under San Francisco Financial District
via Boing Boing by Andrea James
satty-yerba-buena
Much of San Francisco's Financial District used to be Yerba Buena Cove, where Gold Rush ships were abandoned in such numbers that many just rotted away till they sank.
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Virtue Ethics: A Moral System You've Never Heard of – But Probably Use
via Big Think by Scotty Hendricks
Article Image
Plato and Aristotle, as depicted by Raphael.
Are you the sort of person who always works for the greater good, or always sticks to moral rules? Perhaps you use a mixture of both? Or, maybe, are you neither of the above? Of course, do you know what you are if you are not one of those two?
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And do not be put off by the start of the next paragraph “most people have heard …” because I haven’t and I do not know anyone who has ever used either of those words in my hearing!

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Dark matter, black holes, and dwarf spheroidal galaxies
via OUP Blog by Manuel Arca Sedda
Featured image credit: Galaxy. CC0 Public Domain via Pixabay
Galaxy. CCO Public Domain via Pixabay
Our current understanding of the Universe suggests that it is composed of an invisible component called “dark matter“. This mysterious type of matter represents more than 25% of the entire matter and energy of which the Universe is made. The matter that we are used to “seeing” in our everyday life and that represents the building blocks for both our bodies and stars that shine in the sky, represents only 5% of the Universe. We call this “ordinary” or “baryonic” matter.
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Treasure Palaces: Great Writers Visit Great Museums – review
via the Guardian by Alexandra Harris
Meeting point between art and everyday existence … William Wordsworth’s former home, Dove Cottage, in Grasmere, Cumbria.
Meeting point between art and everyday existence … William Wordsworth’s former home, Dove Cottage, in Grasmere, Cumbria. Photograph: Alamy
The 24 essays gathered here came about when distinguished writers were given what sounds like a most appealing brief: choose a museum that has played a part in your life, go back and write about it. It’s almost as good an opportunity as Desert Island Discs. Still, Richard Ford demurred, explaining that his eyes fail to focus after 45 minutes in a museum; David Sedaris said he prefers the cafe and gift shop. Alice Oswald clearly had her doubts. “I haven’t been to many museums,” she says. “I can’t help being depressed by the aloofness of things behind glass.”
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Yes, the Prado was referenced with a photo of Garden of Earthly delights. But to my mind the best of the Prado is The Dauphin’s Treasure.Wikipedia has a number of images
Dragón de cristal de roca (Prado O-112) 01a.jpg
By Carlos Reusser, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7758671

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Watch magnets do ballet in slow motion
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz
Taofledermaus writes:
Neodynmium magnets and a high speed camera? It turns out it is, as the kids say, oddly satisfying. I was practicing with some macro shots with the Chronos high speed camera, using LED lighting and filming at around 4000 frames per second. I dropped some hard drive magnets and noticed the magnets behaved very oddly and unpredictably.
Continue reading and do not blame me if you get nothing productive done for several minutes!

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Unemployment in the EU regions in 2016

Eurostat news release 72/2017 - 27 April 2017

Unemployment rates in the EU regions ranged from 2.1% to 31.3%

Unemployment rates fell in 8 out of 10 EU regions

More than 80% of the NUTS 2 regions of the European Union (EU) saw their unemployment rate fall in 2016 compared with 2015, and around 60% recorded a decrease of at least 0.5 percentage points. However, regional unemployment rates continued to vary widely across the EU regions, with the lowest rates recorded in Niederbayern (2.1%) in Germany and Praha (2.2%) in the Czech Republic, followed by the German regions of Oberbayern (2.4%), Mittelfranken and Unterfranken (both 2.5%) and Tübingen (2.6%).

At the opposite end of the scale, the highest unemployment rates were registered in Dytiki Makedonia (31.3%) in Greece, Ciudad Autónoma de Melilla (30.8%) in Spain, Dytiki Ellada (29.8%) in Greece, Andalucía (28.9%) and Extremadura (27.5%) in Spain and Mayotte (27.1%), an overseas region of France.

Continue reading (PDF 10pp)


Thursday, 27 April 2017

Ten fun, quirky items including fusion, Dr Seuss, and an album of gay love songs

Empire of Tolerance
via 3 Quarks Daily: Simon Winchester in The New York Times

Genghis Khan seated on his throne with his wife, as depicted in a 15th-century Persian work. CreditDeAgostini/Getty Images
It was in an earlier best-selling volume that [Jack] Weatherford persuasively argued that the 25-year blitzkrieg mounted by Genghis and his cavalries – who, in “the most extensive war in world history” beginning in 1206, swept mercilessly and unstoppably over the Altai Mountains to their west and the Gobi Desert to their south – brought civilization, fairness, meritocracy and avuncular kindliness to legions of undeserving satrapies across Eurasia. Those who believed Genghis to be a tyrant of monstrous heartlessness have thus lately come to think otherwise: Weatherford’s writings present us revisionist history on a grand scale, but one as scrupulously well researched (with ample endnotes) as such an intellectual overhaul needs to be.
Now, with “Genghis Khan and the Quest for God” he has taken his thesis still further, arguing with equal fervor and conviction that the Khan, though godless himself, favored total religious freedom for his subjugated millions. While his empire encompassed “Muslims, Buddhists, Taoists, Confucians, Zoroastrians, Manichaeans, Hindus, Jews, Christians and animists of different types” (Weatherford’s passions for lists can sometimes seem like stylistic overkill), he was eager that all should “live together in a cohesive society under one government.” No walls to be built, no immigration bans, no spiritual examinations.
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‘Lost’ Austrian film predicting rise of Nazism restored and relaunched
via the Guardian by Philip Oltermann
City Without Jews premiered in Vienna in 1924. Now the original version, lost for 90 years, has been saved from decay
A still from the film City without Jews
A still from the film City without Jews, which was based on a dystopian novel by the Jewish publicist Hugo Bettauer. Photograph: Filmarchiv Austria
It is the end of the first world war, inflation is soaring and the inhabitants of a German-speaking city are starting to turn on each other. Politicians are quick to find a scapegoat: “The people,” the chancellor announces, “demand the expulsion of all Jews.”
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The Side of Dr. Seuss You Don’t Know
via Big Think by Derek Beres
Article Image
Theodor Geisel was a political thinker. The lifelong cartoonist drew hundreds of confrontational and thoughtful panels highlighting not only his disdain for Hitler and war, but for American inactivity and politicking during World War II as well. Most people don’t know this side of the man, for it was his middle name used in his most famous works.
Seuss.
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Literal music video interpretation of Queen's “Bohemian Rhapsody”
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz
Advert is an integral part of the video at the end!
Of course, after this I had to go and listen to the real thing
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The Lightness of Errol Flynn
via 3 Quarks Daily: Brian Doyle at The American Scholar

I know this sounds crazy – believe me, I know – but I just saw 19 Errol Flynn movies in a row (from Captain Blood, the 1935 film that made him instantly famous, to 1953’s The Master of Ballantrae, his last decent film and good performance before he died in 1959, only 50 years old), and I just read all three of the books he wrote, and I have read an awful lot written and said about him by other people.
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But I'll have to hunt to find an Errol Flynn movie in my collection – something which needs to be remedied.

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Love Is a Drag: the story behind the groundbreaking secret 60s gay album
via the Guardian by Jim Farber
‘At a time when gay people were deep in the closet, here was an album for them’ ... the 1962 release Love Is A Drag.
It was Liberace’s favorite LP and gained a cult following, but the collection of love songs was released at a time when those behind it had to stay in the shadows
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Fusion Gets Closer as Scientists Discover Plasma’s Secret
via Big Think by Robby Berman
Article Image
99% of the universe is believed to be comprised of plasma, a hot ionized gas made up equally of positively charged ions and negatively charged electrons. It’s viewed as a fourth state of matter because it behaves differently than anything else: It’s electrically charged, responds to external magnetic fields, and contains its own magnetic fields. When the magnetic field lines in plasma come together, break apart, and re-join, they produce explosive bursts of energy in a process called “reconnection.” It results in solar flares, northern and southern lights, and cosmic gamma-ray bursts.
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Inequality and new forms of slavery
via OUP Blog by Ilaria Ramelli
christ-898330_1920
The issues of social justice, poverty, and all the forms of human trafficking, deployment, and oppression that can be grouped under the umbrella concept of “slavery” are problems that sorely affect the world today and urgently need concrete solutions. But they are not at all new problems; on the contrary, they were prominent and discussed already in antiquity and especially in late antiquity – a period in history that bears impressive similarities to our contemporary multi-cultural, multi-religious, and interconnected (“globalized”) world, with many conflicts to mediate and increasing inequality to correct. Investigating, and reflecting on, late antique history, society, philosophy, and religion can prove extremely valuable for humanity today, and for the improvement of human condition – what philosophy and religion should aim at.
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This shy octopus is too cute for scientists to handle
via Boing Boing by Caroline Siede
The scientists commenting on the E/V Nautilus live stream just can’t contain themselves when it comes to this adorable Flapjack Octopus.
[via The Dodo]
Click through for the video

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Roy Hudd: 'I saw Dick Whittington and spent a fortnight on all fours impersonating a cat'
via the Guardian: Interview by John Hind
Roy Hudd as Mother Goose at Wilton’s Music Hall. Food from Gatherers at Wilton’s.
Roy Hudd as Mother Goose at Wilton’s Music Hall. Food from Gatherers at Wilton’s.
Photograph: Pal Hansen for the Observer

I don’t remember eating with Mum or Dad. Dad wasn’t around in Croydon, then Mum died while I was evacuated out in Maidford. Afterwards Gran managed to bring us up on her £2 and 15 shillings pension and still found spare coins for seats at the Croydon Empire every Tuesday evening. I remember seeing Dick Whittington there and then impersonating a cat for the next fortnight – lapping my milk from a saucer, taking my meals under the kitchen table, on all fours. And Gran never batted an eyelid. People would say “Roy’s half daft” and she’d say “Well, I like him”.
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Monday, 24 April 2017

Let's start the week with non-work items -- items include skeletons, Samuel Pepys and chromosomes

Somerset skeletons are oldest evidence of monks found in UK
via the Guardian by Caroline Davies
Volunteers excavating the area that included the monastic graves in Somerset.
Skeletons excavated at a site near Glastonbury are the oldest examples of monks ever found in the UK, carbon dating has proved.
The remains, unearthed at the medieval Beckery chapel in Somerset, said to have been visited by legendary figures such as King Arthur and St Bridget, indicate a monastic cemetery dating back to the fifth or early sixth centuries AD, before Somerset was conquered by the Saxon kings of Wessex in the seventh century.
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Peter Sellers recites the Beatles (in funny voices)
via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow
Robbo writes, “Peter Sellers recorded a series of performances, in a variety of voices, reciting the lyrics of popular Beatles songs. It is demented weirdness - and perfect in all its madness.”
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The Mortal Marx
via Arts & Letters Daily: Jeremy Adelman in Public Books
In the mid-1860s, as an anxious and ailing Karl Marx worked on the 30-page essay that would billow into Das Kapital, his daughter Eleanor – “Tussy” – would play under his desk. With her dolls, kittens, and puppies, Tussy turned the sage’s study into her playroom. Occasionally, Marx would take a break from his “fat book” (as the family friend and patron, Friedrich Engels, called the growing pile of pages) to work on a children’s story to recite to his daughter. It featured an antihero, Hans Röckle, who became Tussy’s favorite character, a dark-eyed, bearded magician devoted to creating marvels in his chaotic toy shop. Years later, Eleanor would recognize Röckle’s struggles as her father’s own and see the child’s tale as a send-up of his unorthodox life. Röckle’s magic was also a parable about making value out of things and accumulating capital out of debt, the fictive version of what Marx was determined to demystify in Das Kapital.
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Adding 50 new tours for schools with Google Expeditions
via ResearchBuzz Firehose: Ben Schrom (Expeditions Product Manager, Google)
Since launching the Google Expeditions Pioneer Programme in September [2016], we’ve visited over 200,000 students across the UK. They’ve gone on hundreds of virtual journeys, from the peak of Mont Blanc to standing on the battlements of Edinburgh Castle. And today, we’re adding 50 new adventures to their classrooms with our virtual reality field trips taking the total number of expeditions now available to over 400.
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The man who brought 'Civilisation' to a mass market
via 3 Quarks Daily: Michael Dirda at The Washington Post

In 1969 the BBC aired a 13-part documentary entitled “Civilisation: A Personal View”. Hosted by an upper-class Englishman with crooked teeth and a penchant for tweed, it traced the history of European art, music and literature from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, ending on a note of slightly qualified despair. The humanist values celebrated in the series were being lost or forgotten. More and more, we worshipped the machine and the computer, and instead of living with joy, confidence and energy, we dwelt gloomily in the valley of the shadow of global destruction. Still, there had been Dark Ages in the past, and humankind just might squeak through, by – as the very first episode declared – “the skin of our teeth”.
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How cities took over the world: a history of globalisation spanning 4,000 years
via the Guardian by Greg Clark
By 1840 London had surpassed Beijing’s all-time population record, reaching two million.
History shows that cities have tended to embrace international opportunities in waves and cycles. They rarely break out into global activity by themselves. Cities participate in collective movements or networks to take advantage of new conditions, and often their demise or withdrawal from a global orientation is also experienced jointly with other cities as circumstances change, affecting many at once.
The world’s first great market-driven cities were established more than 4,000 years ago in the early bronze age, and their rich history is only now beginning to be understood. An urban revolution was taking place, with most residents of what is today southern Iraq living in cities, and this process of urbanisation was accompanied by trade on a new scale.
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How About a New Theory of Evolution with Less Natural Selection?
via Big Think by Robbery Berman
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In early November, a group of preeminent biologists, doctors, anthropologists, and computer scientists met in London to consider making a major change to the concept of evolutionary biology introduced by Charles Darwin in Origin of the Species in 1859. It’s not that they’re interested in throwing out the idea of natural selection. It’s just that they think recent research suggests it doesn’t account for evolution all by itself. This isn’t the first time such a revision has happened, actually. And it’s not clear that it will this time: Conference co-host Kevin Laland told Quanta magazine mid-conference, “I think it’s going quite well,” Laland said. “It hasn’t gone to fisticuffs yet.”
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The life and times of Samuel Pepys
via OUP Blog by Amelia Carruthers
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Samuel Pepys penned his famous diaries between January 1660 and the end of May 1669. During the course of this nine year period, England witnessed some of the most important events in its political and social history. The diaries are over a million words long and recount in minute and often incredibly personal detail events such as the restoration of the monarchy, the Second Anglo-Dutch War, the Great Fire, and Great Plague of London. By detailing his daily life with such frankness (Pepys never anticipated his diaries to be so publicly scrutinized) he provided an unprecedented window into the everyday experiences of seventeenth century Londoners as well as major political events.
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Almost Half of What’s In a Chromosome Is Still a Mystery
via Big Think by Robby Berman
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While it’s true that every chromosome contains some of 25,000 genes, it now turns out to be the case that this is only a little more than half the story. Computer modeling has revealed that up to 47% of each chromosome is an enigmatic sheath-like substance called the “chromosome periphery,” something about which little is known. That’s because it’s almost impossible to get a good look at actual chromosomes.
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The best place to sit in a “suicide circle” if you really don’t want to die
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder
Math problems are more interesting when they are posed as horror stories.
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Friday, 21 April 2017

What can be done to help low-achieving teenagers?

This article (CentrePiece Spring 2017) summarises ‘Adjusting Your Dreams? High School Plans and Dropout Behaviour’ by Dominique Goux, Marc Gurgand and Eric Maurin, which is forthcoming in the Economic Journal

Dominique Goux is at CREST, Paris. Marc Gurgand and Eric Maurin are at the Paris School of Economics. Maurin is also an international research associate in CEP’s education and skills programme and an expert adviser to the Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER) at LSE. He presented these findings as a keynote address at CVER’s annual conference in September 2016.

Abstract

Young people who drop out of school are far more likely to experience unemployment and poverty than their peers. Experimental research by Eric Maurin and colleagues in deprived neighbourhoods of Paris shows the effectiveness of low-cost interventions that clarify educational options for low-achievers and dramatically reduce the number of dropouts.

Full text (PDF)


Labour Market Policy under Conditions of Permanent Austerity: Any Sign of Social Investment?

an article by Mattias Bengtsson and Kerstin Jacobsson (University of Gothenburg, Sweden) and Caroline de la Porte (Copenhagen Business School, Denmark) published in Social Policy & Administration Volume 51 Issue 2 (March 2017)

Abstract

Social investment (SI) is part of a strategy to modernise the European welfare states by focusing on human resource development throughout the life-course, while ensuring financial sustainability. Recognising that this strategy was only partially implemented by the EU member states prior to the financial and Eurozone crises, this article investigates whether reforms and expenditure patterns in labour market policy (LMP) have moved more towards or away from SI following the 2008 financial crisis.

We use quantitative and qualitative data to investigate the degree to which there have been shifts in the SI aspects of LMPs in eight countries across four welfare state regimes. We also investigate which aspects of LMPs have been strengthened and which have been weakened, enabling us to make a nuanced assessment of labour market SIs across the EU in a period of permanent austerity.

We find that although the eight countries under examination have different starting points, there is little evidence of increased SI-orientation of LMPs. Upskilling, which is at the heart of SI, did not increase from 2004–08 to 2009–13, while incentive reinforcement and employment assistance – more about labour market entry and marketing of skills – grew in importance.

If this trend continues across Europe, there is a risk that SI will become lost in translation and end up as a clearer neo-liberal version of workfarism.

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Welfare States and Labour Market Change: What is the Possible Relation?

an article by Bent Greve (Roskilde University, Denmark) published in Social Policy & Administration Volume 51 Issue 2 (March 2017)

Abstract

Welfare states in many countries have, at least since the financial crisis, been under strong pressure from high levels of unemployment. We are expecting dramatic changes to labour markets.

This article first presents the various arguments as to why there have or have not been substantial changes to labour markets, and whether there might be in the future, including arguments pro and con the possible impact thereof. The article thus provides a review of knowledge within the field, with a focus especially on how this can or might have an impact on welfare states, given the often strong connection between being on the labour market, access to a variety of welfare benefits and the ability to finance welfare states.

It uses concepts such as under-employment and new forms of jobs as indicators of change. These changes implying, more than ever, that having a job does not necessarily entail that a person has a stable and solid income above the poverty level.

Lastly, the article discusses whether some welfare states régime types are more prepared than others.

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Thursday, 20 April 2017

10 interesting items for you to share

Spectacular bronze age gold torc unearthed in Cambridgeshire field
via the Guardian by Maev Kennedy
The bronze age torc
The torc is much larger than usual examples and is regarded as the best found in England in more than a century. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA
A gigantic gold torc, so big one expert thinks it may have been worn to protect a pregnant woman, has been found by a metal detectorist in a ploughed field in Cambridgeshire. It was made from 730 grams of almost pure gold more than 3,000 years ago, and is regarded as the best found in England in more than a century.
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“We Have Conquered Pain!” The Uses & Abuses of Ether in History
via The Chirugeon’s Apprentice by Dr Lindsey Fitzharris
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The surgical revolution began with an American dentist and a curiously sweet-smelling liquid known as ether.
Officially, ether had been discovered in 1275, but its stupefying effects weren’t synthesized until 1540, when the German botanist and chemist Valerius Cordus created a revolutionary formula that involved adding sulfuric acid to ethyl alcohol. His contemporary Paracelsus experimented with ether on chickens, noting that when the birds drank the liquid, they would undergo prolonged sleep and awake unharmed. He concluded that the substance “quiets all suffering without any harm and relieves all pain, and quenches all fevers, and prevents complications in all disease.” Yet inexplicably, it would be several hundred years before it was tested on humans.
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This viral photo changed America – in 1863
via Arts & Letters Daily: Christopher Klein in the Boston Globe
On the fourth of July in 1863 – an Independence Day that dawned with twisted, bloated bodies carpeting the fields and orchards of Gettysburg — tens of thousands of Americans who thought themselves numb to violence learned they were wrong. Leafing through the new issue of Harper’s Weekly, they encountered the graphic sight of a shirtless black slave in profile revealing a barbaric web of welts across the canvas of his bare back, testament to a ferocious whipping.
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I've not put the photograph in here – it is horrific and I do not want anyone coming across it unprepared as I did.

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'Housman Country: Into the Heart of England' by Peter Parker
via 3 Quarks Daily: Paul Keegan at the London Review of Books
Parker is interested in the daisies and dandelions, the untidy and contingent evidences of Housman’s continuing presence in an England whose further reaches include Morse or Morrissey. In the West Country you can drink Shropshire Lad ale or you could (until recently) be drawn by a locomotive of that name. But Housman had foresuffered all, with his lads who down their troubles in ‘pints and quarts of Ludlow beer’; or in a letter to his brother Laurence in 1920: ‘I have just flown to Paris and back, and I am never going by any other route, until they build the Channel Tunnel.’ Housman was already in full possession of the Housman effect.
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Capitol Records at 75: Frank Sinatra, the Beatles and MC Hammer
via the Guardian by Guardian Music
Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra at Capitol Tower studio B , Los Angeles, in October 1958, during the sessions for Martin’s Sleep Warm LP
To commemorate the 75th anniversary of Capitol Records in 2017, publisher Taschen delved into the company’s photographic archive for a new book that documents the label’s decades of success. From the studio to the streets of Hollywood, here’s a glimpse of Capitol’s 20th- and 21st-century evolution.
Stunning images here to save yourself £99.99 you may find the Taschen book in your local library.

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Remarkable New Theory Says There’s No Gravity, No Dark Matter, and Einstein Was Wrong
via Big Think by Paul Ratner
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Gravity is something all of us are familiar with from our first childhood experiences. You drop something - it falls. And the way physicists have described gravity has also been pretty consistent - it’s considered one of the four main forces or “interactions” of nature and how it works has been described by Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity all the way back in 1915.
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Watch a master glassblower make an intricate dragon
via Boing Boing by Andrea James
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In under an hour, glass artist James Mongrain transforms blobs of molten glass into a stunning green dragon. The choreographed teamwork, the variety of tools, and the interesting narration make this a real treat.
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Yes, the video is just under an hour long and no, I have not watched it right through but I have picked out bits.

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Top 20 Weirdest Inventions Ever
via Big Think by Paul Ratner
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For all the iPhones, virtual reality headsets, deep space rocket engines and self-driving cars that are a part of our modern world, many a crazy contraption was invented along the way. It’s entirely possible the ideas presented below are not the weirdest inventions ever simply because the truly weird ones probably never got close to the light of day or their creators were somehow destroyed in the process. Still, these are some of the strangest fruits of human ingenuity we know.
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Eye Candy for Today: Bosch’s vision of Hell
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder

Line and Colors decided today would be a good day to feature “Hell”, the right panel from the tryptich, The Garden of Earthly Delights, by Hieronymus Bosch. It was painted between 1480 and 1505.
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This takes me back to my weekend in Madrid with my daughter (birthday present) when I sat on the floor in front of this painting for what seemed like ages.

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The irony of gunpowder
via OUP Blog by Alex Roland
Few inventions have shaped history as powerfully as gunpowder. It significantly altered the human narrative in at least nine significant ways. The most important and enduring of those changes is the triumph of civilization over the “barbarians”. That last term rings discordant in the modern ear, but I use it in the original Greek sense to mean “not Greek” or “not civilized”. Historian Kenneth Chase has represented such people as nomads from “the Arid Zone” – the Eurasian steppe and the North African desert. They were often what anthropologists call pre-state communities, usually governed by tribal or kin relationships. Their containment made possible what sociologist Norbert Elias called The Civilizing Process (1939) and what psychologist Steven Pinker has recently captured in his magisterial The Better Angels of Our Nature: How Violence Has Declined (2011).
The irony, however, is not that gunpowder reduced violence.
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Origins of happiness

an article by Andrew Clark, Sarah Flèche, Richard Layard, Nick Powdthavee and George Ward (Centre for Economic Performance, LSE, London, UK) published in CentrePiece Volume 22 Number 1 (Spring 2017)

Abstract

Understanding the key determinants of people’s life satisfaction makes it possible to suggest policies for how best to reduce misery and promote well-being. A forthcoming book by Richard Layard and colleagues discusses evidence on the origins of happiness in survey data from Australia, Germany, the UK and the United States.

CentrePiece article full text (PDF)

Further reading

Richard Easterlin (1974) ‘Does Economic Growth Improve the Human Lot? Some Empirical Evidence’, in Nations and Households in Economic Growth: Essays in Honor of Moses Abramovitz edited by Paul David and Melvin Reder, Academic Press.

Sarah Flèche (2016) ‘Teacher Quality, Test Scores and Non-cognitive Skills: Evidence from Primary School Teachers in the UK’, CEP mimeo.

Richard Layard and David M Clark (2014) Thrive: The Power of Evidence-based Psychological Therapies, Penguin.

OECD (1962) ‘Policy Conference on Economic Growth and Investment in Education, Washington, 16th-20th October 1961: Targets for Education in Europe in 1970’, paper by Ingvar Svennilson in association with Friedrich Edding and Lionel Elvin.

Theodore Schultz (1961) ‘Investment in Human Capital’, American Economic Review 51(1): 1-17.

George Ward (2015) ‘Is Happiness a Predictor of Election Results?’, CEP Discussion Paper No. 1343.


Data mining approach to monitoring the requirements of the job market: A case study

an article by Ioannis Karakatsanis, Wala AlKhader, Armin Alibasic, Mohammad Atif Omar, Zeyar Aung and Wei Lee Woon (Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) and Frank MacCrory (MIT Sloan School of Management, Cambridge, MA, United States) published in Information Systems Volume 65 (April 2017)

Highlights
  • A Text-Mining approach for matching raw job advertisement documents with occupation description data in the O*NET database is proposed.
  • A Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) model was utilized along with a wide collection of preprocessed data from online sources.
  • Crowdsourcing was deployed to validate the proposed methodology.
  • Results reveal that the suggested method can be directly applied to different job markets, commercial sectors and geographical regions.
Abstract

In challenging economic times, the ability to monitor trends and shifts in the job market would be hugely valuable to job-seekers, employers, policy makers and investors. To analyze the job market, researchers are increasingly turning to data science and related techniques which are able to extract underlying patterns from large collections of data.

One database which is of particular relevance in the presence context is O*NET, which is one of the most comprehensive publicly accessible databases of occupational requirements for skills, abilities and knowledge.

However, by itself the information in O*NET is not enough to characterize the distribution of occupations required in a given market or region.

In this paper, we suggest a data mining based approach for identifying the most in-demand occupations in the modern job market.

To achieve this, a Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) model was developed that is capable of matching job advertisement extracted from the Web with occupation description data in the O*NET database.

The findings of this study demonstrate the general usefulness and applicability of the proposed method for highlighting job trends in different industries and geographical areas, identifying occupational clusters, studying the changes in jobs context over time and for various other research embodiments.

Hazel&rsquo's comment:
I do not wish to come across as a wet blanket but this or something similar has been tried before. Nothing, absolutely nothing, beats the intelligent human when it comes to indexing.


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

10 fun items for you (actually a couple are fairly serious)

Create a customizable animal robot
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder

Our pals at Two-Bit circus have designed this paper craft robotic owl, to give kids a "taste of basic mechanical principles, electronics and programming." It looks really cool.
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Take a 360° tour of Oxford's Bodleian Library – Hogwarts' library in the Harry Potter films
via Lone Wolf Librarian


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What the Trees Say
via 3 Quarks Daily: Thomas Pakenham in the New York Review of Books
Quiver Tree Forest, Namibia; photograph by Beth Moon from her book Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time (2014). A collection of her color photographs, Ancient Skies, Ancient Trees, has just been published by Abbeville.
Quiver Tree Forest, Namibia; photograph by Beth Moon from her book Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time (2014). A collection of her color photographs, Ancient Skies, Ancient Trees, has just been published by Abbeville.
In 1664 John Evelyn, diarist, country gentleman, and commissioner at the court of Charles II, produced his monumental book on trees: Sylva, or a Discourse of Forest Trees. It was a seventeenth-century best seller. Evelyn was a true son of the Renaissance. His book is learned and witty and practical and passionate all by turns. No later book on trees has ever had such an impact on the British public. His message? A very modern one. We are in desperate need of trees for all kinds of reasons. Get out there with your spade and plant one today.
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Louisa May Alcott: a practical utopian from a divided US
via the Guardian by Rafia Zakaria
Louisa May Alcott.
Practical utopian ... Louisa May Alcott. Photograph: Hulton Deutsch/Corbis/Getty
The author of Little Women grew up among idealistic transcendentalists – and the book itself was a practical sacrifice to sustain those dreams.
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Why Physics Is a Friend of Religion More than Other Sciences
via Big Think by Derek Beres
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Attempts to unite religion and science are not new. A big part of the challenge is finding the right language to draw parallels with, and physicists have been especially willing to walk this line.
The first of such physicists, Fritjof Capra, was aided with psychedelics. When Capra published The Tao of Physics in 1975, publishers were skeptical of relating theoretical physics with Eastern mysticism. But the book became a best-seller, catapulting a framework for discussing spirituality and science into new light – even as critics doubted whether Capra understood quantum field theory.
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10 representations of Psalm 137 throughout history [slideshow]
via OUP Blog by David Stowe
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Psalm 137 is the only one out of the 150 biblical psalms set in a particular time and place. The vivid tableau sketched by the opening lines has lent itself to visual representations over the millennia.
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept,
when we remembered Zion.
We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.
How shall we sing the Lord‘s song in a strange land?

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How Boys’ and Girls’ Brains React Differently to Stress
via Big Think by Philip Perry
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There is an old saying in education that girls cry tears while boys cry bullets. In other words, females are allowed in our society to express their vulnerability and less pleasant emotions such as sadness. While boys must remain stoic and shoulder the burden quietly or else get angry, and express their pain not through outbursts of emotion, but instead through action. Might there be a biological phenomenon behind these culture-based roles? A study published online in the journal Depression and Anxiety suggests so. It found that boy’s brains react differently than girls in the aftermath of a highly stressful event.
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Eye Candy for Today: Bosch’s vision of Hell
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder

Line and Colors decided today would be a good day to feature “Hell”, the right panel from the tryptich, The Garden of Earthly Delights, by Hieronymus Bosch. It was painted between 1480 and 1505.
Continue reading
This takes me back to my weekend in Madrid with my daughter (birthday present) when I sat on the floor in front of this painting for what seemed like ages.

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Primitive Technology: shrimp trap
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder
Primitive Technology is a YouTube video channel produced by an Australian guy who goes into the jungle with nothing but the clothes on his back, and makes things like shelters, tools, and weapons. There are no words or text in the video, only the sounds of nature for a soundtrack. In this episode, he weaves a trap to catch shrimp, which he puts in an earthenware jug, and then cooks them over a fire he starts with friction.
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Elizabeth I’s monarchy: rule of a ‘weak and feeble’ woman?
via The National Archives blog by Clare Horrie
A new online collection offers people interested in history unprecedented and extensive access to Queen Elizabeth I in her own words. It contains 40 unique documents from The National Archives’ collection, each transcribed and available to read in high definition.
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10 myths about the vikings
via OUP Blog by Eleanor Barraclough
The viking image has changed dramatically over the centuries. Romanticized in the 18th and 19th centuries, they are now alternatively portrayed as savage and violent heathens or adventurous explorers. Stereotypes and cliches run rampant in popular culture. Vikings and their influence appear in various forms, from Wagner’s Ring Cycle to the comic Hägar the Horrible, from History channel’s popular series Vikings to the Danish comic-book series Valhalla, and from J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings to Marvel’s Thor. But what is actually true? Eleanor Barraclough sheds light on and dispels ten common viking myths.
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In brief... Is technology to blame for jobless recoveries?

an article by Georg Graetz (Uppsala University and CEP, London, UK) and Guy Michaels (LSE, London, UK and CEP) published in CentrePiece Volume 22 Issue 1 (Spring 2017)

Abstract

Since the early 1990s, the United States has been plagued by weak employment growth when emerging from recessions – so-called ‘jobless recoveries’. Georg Graetz and Guy Michaels look at multiple recoveries elsewhere in the world over a 40-year period to see if the same applies – and whether modern technology is responsible.

JEL Classification: E32, J23, O33

CentrePiece article full text (PDF)

CEP Discussion Paper No. 1461 (January 2017) full text (PDF)


Work-based learning as a catalyst for sustainability: a review and prospects

an article by Tony Wall, Ann Hindley, Tamara Hunt, Jeremy Peach, Martin Preston, Courtney Hartle and Amy Fairbank (University of Chester, UK) published in Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning Volume 7 Issue 2 (2017)

Abstract

Purpose
The purpose of this paper is to highlight the continuing dearth of scholarship about the role of work-based learning in education for sustainable development, and particularly the urgent demands of climate literacy. It is proposed that forms of work-based learning can act as catalysts for wider cultural change, towards embedding climate literacy in higher education institutions.

Design/methodology/approach
This paper draws data from action research to present a case study of a Climate Change Project conducted through a work-based learning module at a mid-sized university in the UK.

Findings
Contrary to the predominantly fragmented and disciplinary bounded approaches to sustainability and climate literacy, the case study demonstrates how a form of work-based learning can create a unifying vision for action, and do so across multiple disciplinary, professional service, and identity boundaries. In addition, the project-generated indicators of cultural change including extensive faculty-level climate change resources, creative ideas for an innovative mobile application, and new infrastructural arrangements to further develop practice and research in climate change.

Practical implications
This paper provides an illustrative example of how a pan-faculty work-based learning module can act as a catalyst for change at a higher education institution.

Originality/value
This paper is a contemporary call for action to stimulate and expedite climate literacy in higher education, and is the first to propose that certain forms of work-based learning curricula can be a route to combating highly bounded and fragmented approaches, towards a unified and boundary-crossing approach.


Being old in an always-on culture: Older people’s perceptions and experiences of online communication

an article by Marika Lüders (University of Oslo, Norway) and Edith Roth Gjevjon (Diakonova University College, Oslo, Norway and University of Oslo, Norway) published in The Information Society: An International Journal Volume 33 Issue 2 (2017)

Abstract

Research on the digital divide has moved beyond connectivity to skills and usage disparities. Yet for many older people lack of connectivity remains a challenge, and for those who do have access, skills and usage remain an issue.

We report findings of an in-depth qualitative study of older people's perceptions of online communications and also their actual experiences.

Findings indicate that older people who are already socially well connected benefit from online communication more than those who are not.


Social Trust, Impartial Administration and Public Confidence in EU Crisis Management Institutions

an article by Thomas Persson, Charles F. Parker and Sten Widalm (Department of Government, Uppsala University, Sweden) published in Public Administration Volume 95 Issue 1 (March 2017)

Abstract

In this article, we investigate whether differences in social trust and impartial public administration have an impact on public confidence in EU crisis management institutions. Our assessment is based on a cross-country comparison using aggregate country-level data of the member states in the European Union.

Earlier studies on the EU as a crisis manager have not carefully studied to what extent differences in social trust and administrative culture may or may not matter.

Our analysis shows that in countries where citizens are treated impartially by their own national public administration institutions, people are less likely to support EU-coordinated civil protection efforts.

In contrast, in places where citizens perceive their government's treatment of them as partial and unfair, citizens will tend to support EU-coordinated civil protection.


Sanctions and the exit from unemployment in two different benefit schemes

an article by Henna Busk (Pellervo Economic Research PTT, Helsinki, Finland; University of Jyväskylä, Finland) published in Labour Economics Volume 42 (October 2016)

Highlights
  • We examine the effect of benefit sanctions on the exit rate from unemployment using the timing-of-events approach.
  • The effect of sanctions differs according to the benefits received.
  • Sanctions increase the exit rate from unemployment to work among flat-rate labour market support receivers.
  • Sanctions increase the exit rate from unemployment to outside the labour force among earnings-related benefit receivers.
Abstract

This paper investigates the effect of benefit sanctions on the exit rate from unemployment using a unique set of rich register data on unemployed Finnish individuals. The timing-of-events approach is applied to distinguish between the selection and causal effects of sanctioning.

The results imply that the effect of sanctions differs according to the benefits received. Sanctions encourage unemployed individuals receiving flat-rate labour market support (LMS) to find jobs, whereas unemployed individuals receiving earnings-related (UI) allowances to leave the labour force.

The encouraging effect of sanctions on active labour market policy programmes is relatively small and statistically significant only among LMS recipients.

JEL classification: C41, J64, J65