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March 02 2011


Global Warming and Snowstorms: Communication Nightmare, or Opportunity?

The Union of Concerned Scientists, a group I greatly admire, has held a press conference (with attendant media coverage) to air an argument that is already quite intuitive to me, but is probably precisely the opposite for others: Namely, that global warming could mean more mega-snowstorms, of the sort North America has seen in the past several years.

On a physical level, the case is sublimely simple. One of the fundamental aspects of global warming is that it increases the amount of moisture in the atmosphere, because warmer air holds more water vapor. From there, it’s a piece of cake—more snow can fall in snowstorms than before. In making this case, the UCS drew in part on the awesome weather blogger Jeff Masters:



complete article on, here.



U.S. Silent on Deadly Iraqi Gov't Crackdown on Protests; 300 Arrested in Sweeps Targeting - permalink

While the United States has sharply criticized the Libyan government for brutally cracking down on opposition protesters, it has remained noticeably silent on the recent attacks against Iraqi dissidents. On Friday, tens of thousands of people participated in Iraq's largest protest in years. Although the protests were largely peaceful, authorities fired water cannons, sound bombs and live bullets to disperse crowds as Iraqi army helicopters buzzed overhead, killing an estimated 29 people. Then on Sunday, U.S.-backed Iraqi security forces detained about 300 people, including prominent journalists, artists and lawyers who had taken part in the rallies.

For more on this story, Democracy Now! interviews Iraqi-American blogger Raed Jarrar and Samer Muscati, Iraq researcher with Human Rights Watch.

For the video/audio podcast, transcript, to sign up for the daily news digest, for more coverage of the uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa, visit
Reposted bykrekk krekk
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YouTube - "Fracking" -  Frankreich: Gefahr durch Erdgas - WELTBILDER - NDR

NDR/ARD - Permalink

Eine "Fracking" genannte Fördertechnologie soll die Erdgasgewinnung revolutionieren. Der Nachteil: verschmutztes und entzündbares Trinkwasser. Eine Protestbewegung formiert sich.


cf. also Link:

Natural Gas Industry Rhetoric Versus Reality

Reposted bylofi lofi
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The Precariat | The Global Sociology Blog

Or precarized proletariat (link to video… do watch the entire thing, it is well worth 10 minutes of your time).

And if you think this is limited to low-incomes, think again:

“Western Europeans and Americans are about to suffer a profound shock. For the past 30 years governments have explained that, while they can no longer protect jobs through traditional forms of state intervention such as subsidies and tariffs, they can expand and reform education to maximise opportunity. If enough people buckle down to acquiring higher-level skills and qualifications, Europeans and Americans will continue to enjoy rising living standards. If they work hard enough, each generation can still do better than its parents. All that is required is to bring schools up to scratch and persuade universities to teach “marketable” skills.


But the financial meltdown of 2008 and the subsequent squeeze on incomes is slowly revealing an awful truth. As figures out last week from the Office for National Statistics show, real UK wages have not risen since 2005, the longest sustained freeze in living standards since the 1920s. While it has not hit the elite in banking, the freeze affects most of the middle class as much as the working class. This is not a blip, nor the result of educational shortcomings. In the US, which introduced mass higher education long before Britain, the average graduate’s purchasing power has barely risen in 30 years. Just as education failed to deliver social democratic promises of social equality and mobility, so it will fail to deliver neoliberal promises of universal opportunity for betterment.


We are familiar with the outsourcing of routine white-collar “back office” jobs such as data inputting. But now the middle office is going too. Analysing X-rays, drawing up legal contracts, processing tax returns, researching bank clients, and even designing industrial systems are examples of skilled jobs going offshore. Even teaching is not immune: last year a north London primary school hired mathematicians in India to provide one-to-one tutoring over the internet. Microsoft, Siemens, General Motors and Philips are among big firms that now do at least some of their research in China. The pace will quicken. The export of “knowledge work” requires only the transmission of electronic information, not factories and machinery. Alan Blinder, a former vice-chairman of the US Federal Reserve, has estimated that a quarter of all American service sector jobs could go overseas.

Western neoliberal “flat earthers” (after Thomas Friedman’s book) believed jobs would migrate overseas in an orderly fashion. Some skilled work might eventually leave but, they argued, it would make space for new industries, requiring yet higher skills and paying better wages. Only highly educated westerners would be capable of the necessary originality and adaptability. Developing countries would obligingly wait for us to innovate in new areas before trying to compete.


It suggests neoliberals made a second, perhaps more important error. They assumed “knowledge work” would always entail the personal autonomy, creativity and job satisfaction to which the middle classes were accustomed. They did not understand that, as the industrial revolution allowed manual work to be routinised, so in the electronic revolution the same fate would overtake many professional jobs. Many “knowledge skills” will go the way of craft skills. They are being chopped up, codified and digitised.

Brown, Lauder and Ashton call this “digital Taylorism”, after Frederick Winslow Taylor who invented “scientific management” to improve industrial efficiency. Call centres, for example, require customers to input a series of numbers, directing you to a worker, possibly in a developing country, who will answer questions from a prescribed package. We are only at the beginning; even teaching is increasingly reduced to short-term, highly specific goals, governed by computerised checklists.

Digital Taylorism makes jobs easier to export but, crucially, changes the nature of much professional work. Aspirant graduates face the prospect not only of lower wages, smaller pensions and less job security than their parents enjoyed but also of less satisfying careers. True, every profession and company will retain a cadre of thinkers and decision-makers at the top – perhaps 10% or 15% of the total – but the mass of employees, whether or not they hold high qualifications, will perform routine functions for modest wages. Only for those with elite qualifications from elite universities (not all in Europe or America) will education deliver the promised rewards.


Governments will then need to rethink their attitudes to education, inequality and the state’s economic role.”

But they will not, not until they get forced to do it. And even then, I don’t think our power elite can think outside of the neoliberal frame.

Also: (I haven’t read it yet. I’m waiting for the paperback to come out here)

Reposted bysantaprecaria santaprecaria
Has Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law become a political tool in the hands of religious conservatives?
- group discussion: Riz Khan at Al Jazeera English 2011-02-22 (~25 min)
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YouTube - Exclusive footage of Shahbaz Bhatti's (assassinated 20110302) interview

Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's slain minister was aware of the threats that he faced in Pakistan.

Al Jazeera has obtained the footage of an interview with the minister in which he talks about how he would carry on fighting to end the suffering of his community.

Bhatti's close colleague shared the video with Al Jazeera saying that Bhatti had requested him to do so in the eventuality of his assassination because "it is with the Muslim world I want to share the message of love. That is the only message that can bring the Muslim world out of the circle of hate and killings".

Al Jazeera is not responsible for the content of this video.


The Federal Minister for Minority Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti, was assassinated in Islamabad on Wednesday. More here:

Brains: Consciousness studies in the popular media | - On Philosophy of Mind and Related Matters - 2011-03-02

One thing that I find frustrating, as I'm sure many of us do, is the quality of attempts to bring the study of consciousness (and the mind/brain more generally) to those outside of academia. I don't just mean oversimplifications (God brain area found!), but how much of what is said is simply false (I've included an example from a while back below). Many people, more qualified than I, have discussed the impact of this on education (e.g. classes where once the students have read lord of the flies the girls discuss the mental states of the characters and the boys make a map of the island...) and attitudes toward gender differences (under the amusing title of 'neurosexism'). So, I don't think this is a problem of mere academic interest, but a problem that can have real impact on people's lives. I take it that, as we are discussing things in blog form here, many of us are interested in brining the study of the mind to a wider audience, so my question is this: what can we do to improve the standard of public discussions of the mind, brain and consciousness (etc!)?

and now as promised an example and a retort (well, a list of mistakes is perhaps a better term) by Laura May Bottrill and I:

Having read Ray Tallis’ article “consciousness, not yet explained” (or ‘you won’t find consciousness in the brain’- depending on whether you get the e or print version) (New Scientist No2742, 9 January 2010) we felt obliged to respond, for we would hate for the wider public to believe that this gave an accurate view of consciousness studies. Consciousness studies is, in fact, progressing nicely and whilst we feel we could simply recount notable recent discoveries and progress, we would like here to point out what we think are some mistakes in Tallis’ presentation so that the public are not duped.


9611 150a


Unknown Artist-Seated figure with head resting on hand, Mexico, Puebla, Las Bocas, 1200-800 BC, White-slipped ceramic, 13 x 9 x 7.5 cm

Reposted fromStellaVista StellaVista
8483 e4ca


Dada Group - 1922
Top row, from left to right: Bernard Faÿ, Tristan Tzara, Philippe Soupault, Serge Charchoune
Bottom row: Man Ray, Paul Éluard, Jacques Rigaut, Céline Arnauld, Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes
Reposted fromjohnstaedler johnstaedler
Es ist schon traurig mitanzuschaun wozu Medein instande sind, wiederum ertaunt es mich auch das es seltens so eine einigkeit zu eine Politiker gab. Ich glaube so eine fähige Mann zu verjagen ist noch schlimmer als ein Lottozettel wo ein sechser drauf ist in den Müll zu schmeißen. Schade Schade Schade. Erinert alles a biserl an Friedric Merz. Der war auch sehr populär und hatte was im Kopf
Spaß mit Rücktritt: Wir wollen Guttenberg zurück! : - 2011-03-02

Information overload? Time to relax then | Technology |

"There are fascinating implications for a world of probabilistic resource use: for one thing, it points up the importance of "signal amplification" through retweets, reposts, and other recycling of interesting tit-bits – these are critical to the successful use of a medium that can't be consumed by any one person from tip to tail."
Reposted frommilkmiruku milkmiruku

Bahrain: Schools Break out in Protest (Videos)

Written by Yacoub Al-Slaise

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011.

A number of secondary (high) schools broke out into anti-government protests across Bahrain on Tuesday March 1. Both boys' and girls' schools in Isa Town, Hamad Town and Jidhafs marched out of their schools in the middle of the school day in support of protesters camping at Pearl (Lulu) Roundabout.

Schools in Isa Town headed towards the Ministry of Education demanding the resignation of the education minister and venting their anger on the volunteer teachers' scheme put in place when teachers went on strike in support of the Pearl Roundabout protesters and the fallen martyrs.

@mShareeda i got them on video in Isa Town High School!!!! #bahrain

*Click on hyperlink to view video

This video shows the names of the schools who joined the protest and marched towards the Ministry of Education gates. Uploaded by YouTube user MMulti2.

Students in Hamad Town took to the streets carrying their school bags, calling for an end to political naturalization of foreign citizens of the right background, which is particularly evident in the towns where applications for government housing units have been fast-tracked in order to be given to nationalized Arabs.

Uploaded by YouTube user AloOoOy93

Some tweeps expressed their frustration at the protesting students saying that they should focus on their studies rather than protesting.

@Teema_K What's the hell is going on n schools today!! Where's Ministry of education!! Till when the ignorance!! These teachers should be punished!

@Shirley_Riffa It is a teachers responsibility to guide students to live in peace and harmony and not to promote division in society

@RshRsho “Al Had AlZaher” (correct name: Al-Ahd Al-Zaher) students leaving school to protest! Who is responsible for this educational crime! #Bahrain

Al-Ahd al-zaher girls secondary school students marching towards the ministry of education in isa town

Al-Ahd Al-Zaher Girls Secondary School students marching towards the Ministry of Education in Isa Town

At the same school, a 17-year old girl was allegedly caught in a fight with a school nurse. Pro-government website Peace Bahrain published images of the girl's bruises.

Bruised nose of a student at al-ahd al-zaher secondary girls school fighting with the school's nurse who was protesting inside the school

Bruised nose of a student at Al-Ahd Al-Zaher Secondary Girls School fighting with the school's nurse who was protesting inside the school

Image courtesy of Peace Bahrain website

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011.

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