links for 2011-03-11

  • Apart from the tragic happenings in Japan yesterday, this story has brought an interesting point home to me. A few years ago, on news.bbc.co.uk, even if there was a huge story there would be a couple of pages on it. At the moment (00.30 on Saturday morning) the first 8 of the top 10 Most Read stories on the site are about the earthquake – video “highlights” (for want of a better word) from yesterday’s coverage, interactive demonstration of plate tectonic forces, the live updates from yesterday, two stories on the potential radiation leak,a photo gallery, a report on the rescue efforts this morning, and the live BBC News webstream. What strikes me about this is that the people reading the website no longer just read it once a day. I think that a lot of readers are on broadband, and have read the other stories earlier, and therefore are here to find *immediate* coverage, without turning on the TV. Only a couple of years ago the video would have been unwatchable due to poor quality.
  • I scanned all the headlines in the IT today for comment on the editor’s resignation. Nothing to be said apparently.
  • This is a rather cool diagram – it shows the various European countries and where they sit in terms of membership of the EU, Euro, Schengen, EFTA, European Council etc. From JoeMyGod blog.
  • Massive earthquake (7.9) off the east coast of Japan. Edit: This was bookmarked a few minutes after 7am on Friday morning – I had no idea how big the story would become.
  • Gallery of readers photos on the theme of black and white. Some really good ones!
  • Note to self: NEVER fly on an Indian airline. They are taking action against 67 pilots who showed up drunk in the last TWO YEARS?
  • Er so what? Unless they can actually do something other than talk, it”s no more than your SatNav does now really. There’s a really creepy photo of David Hasslhof with KITT from Knight Rider – he looks like one of the Midwich Cuckoo children, but all grown up (and with dark hair I suppose 🙂 ).
  • For a Tory, I would have a reasonable amount of time for Chris Patton. He did a very good job in Hong Kong before the handover to China in 1997.
  • Fun reading! Wells remains eminently readable, 150 years after he wrote his best known works. He stands up particularly well to comparison with his (approximate) contemporary Jules Verne, who I find totally unreadable.
  • Data about private messages sent by 3 Wikileaks users. Private doesn’t mean what you think it does! However I suppose Twitter deserves credit for fighting this, at least; Facebook would have handed everything over without a protest.
  • They must be kidding!!
  • Ivory Coast “on the brink of a bloodbath” | World news | The Guardian
    Not getting the coverage that the Arab countries are getting at the moment – no oil, and of course black Africa is expected to be a basket case. The tragedy is that the Ivory Coast was one of the least basket-y of African countries.
    Normally busy with traffic, Abobo is emptying as thousands of residents flee the anarchy. Burned out hulks of cars and pickup trucks litter the scorchmarked roads. Vast piles of rubbish are expanding and threatening public health. Along the single storey rows of shops, almost all the shutters are down, making a mockery of the glamorous faces grinning from advertising billboards.
  • Imagine – ONE KILBYTE of memory. But it is a think of beauty even now – the lines are gorgeous, and it’s not dated at all visually. I don’t remember it – the first PC I used was a BBC Micro (or does that count? probably not, it wouldn’t be a PC on the IBM model). I remember playing Othello on BBC Micros (the game, not the play). 🙂
  • The revelations call into question David Cameron’s judgment in choosing Coulson as director of communications at 10 Downing Street in May 2010. Both he and the deputy prime minister had been warned in March 2010 about Coulson’s responsibility for rehiring Rees after his prison sentence.
    Nice associates for the PM’s spokesman indeed… a PI with a conviction for planting evidence, links to corrupt police, and on trial for planting an axe in the back of his partner’s head (and the trial collapsed for reasons entirely unrelated to whether he was innocent or not).
  • “Every few years, gas prices go up, politicians pull out the same political playbook and nothing changes,” Mr. Obama said. “I think the American people are tired of talk. We’ve got to work together, Democrats, Republicans and everybody in between.”
    Poor old B.H.O. He *STILL* doesn”t seem to get it – the Republicans are not interested in bi-partisanship. If Obama proposed the entire Republican policy platform, they’d find reasons to vote against it.
  • “We didn’t know we were being followed by the security forces, and after we had finished filming we were arrested and our tapes taken from us. The message is clear – people should not protest, and if they do, journalists should not report it.”
  • Representative Frank R. Wolf of Virginia accused CAIR of “an attempt to stifle debate and obstruct cooperation with law enforcement.” Representative Chip Cravaack of Minnesota went further, telling a witness, Leroy D. Baca, the Los Angeles County sheriff, “Basically, you’re dealing with a terrorist organization.”
    Oh yes indeed. These hearings are just crazy, and pretty much guaranteed to seriously increase the radicalisation of US Muslims. It’s bound to make them feel like second-class citizens – at best.
  • After a wide ranging discussion, one young man said he wanted to address “the elephant in the room” and asked Mr Crowley what he thought about Wikileaks and in his words “torturing a prisoner in a military brig”? Mr Crowley did not address the issue of torture, but replied that what was being done to Pte Manning by colleagues at the Department of Defence was “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid”.
    Do my eyes deceive me or is this a US govt employee talking sense? Expect him to lose his job very soon.
  • The Editor of the Irish Times, Geraldine Kennedy, has announced her retirement as editor of the newspaper.
    Fintan O’Toole to take over?
  • List of all earthquakes of magnitude 4.5+ … amazing how many there are! The “Ring of Fire” features heavily of course.
  • Background, seismology, earthquake and tsunami proofing and its limitations.
  • Mitochondria are located in every human cell and act as “power houses” to provide the energy for cells to function. Yet mitochondrial DNA is not present in the nucleus of a fertilised egg, meaning scientists could extract the nucleus and place it into another egg from a donor. The resulting embryo would have almost 100% inherited genetic material from its mother and father.
    I do wish that more people would adopt the children who are already born and in desperate need of good homes, but the continued march of biotechnology is cool all the same.
  • Successive governments which have never been less than 86 per cent male have maintained a system that has the lowest state support for childcare in the developed world, which offers no paid paternity leave and in which women are paid less than men.
    Typical… she’s talking about equality but then her main issue is childcare. As if that is the only (or most important) issue that women would have input into….
  • I think Skinner is probably telling the truth when he says that lines like “An audience with nice tits” are intended at his own expense, rather than at women”s. He therefore assumes it must be obvious to everyone that he”s laughing at himself for being a bit pathetic. But people who grow up feeling a bit pathetic – or unpopular, or ugly, or unwanted, or lonely – often find that when their circumstances improve, their self image doesn”t always catch up with external perception. And for the first 30 years of his life, Skinner felt like a loser.
  • Japan has long been an anomaly: an advanced country that had continued building plants despite the twin nuclear disasters of Three Mile Island (1979) and Chernobyl (1986). Its network of reactors now supply about a third of Japan’s energy needs.
    Four years ago, the industry was shaken to its core when the powerful Niigata quake struck very close to the site of the world’s largest nuclear plant, the 8200-megawatt Kashiwazaki- Kariwa on the Sea of Japan coast. [snip] The upshot of that disaster was that new regulations were ordered for the network of plants, demanding that geologists identify quake faults active up to 130,000 years ago, a reaction to the stunning revelation that the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant sat atop an unknown fault. “The government keeps saying that the technology is failsafe and these plants are safe,” said Takemoto Kazuyuki, a Niigata resident who opposes the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa complex. “It is playing nuclear roulette with our lives.”
  • We’re at the Capuchin centre, where up to 500 breakfasts and 500 dinners are served free every day. “I’d be lost without this place,” says Harrington. “It’s somewhere to keep out of the cold and meet people.” The numbers using the service have doubled in the past 18 months, according to Br Kevin Crowley, who runs the centre. He expects numbers to increase.
  • As the shaking subsided and the terror of being buried beneath tonnes of steel and concrete faded, some people began crying. It had lasted two minutes. An almost palpable sense of relief filled the crowded station, like a single, giant sigh. Then everyone began pulling mobile phones out of bags and frantically calling family and friends to check whether they were okay – crashing the network.
  • The most recent estimates published by the Central Statistics Office indicated 27,700 of 65,300 emigrants recorded in the year to the end of April 2010 were Irish.
  • GALWAY-MAYO Institute of Technology has invited staff to review its policy on plagiarism and student assessments following recent controversies at the third-level institution.
  • [T]the big idea was to let people who were cash-poor but relatively rich in home equity draw on some (but not all) of that stored value. They’d get a lump sum, a line of credit or a monthly check for either a fixed period or for as long as they stayed in the home. And nearly everyone thought the rules were clear: Homeowners or their heirs would never, even decades later, owe a cent beyond the value of the property.
    I gather that a reverse mortgage is a bit like the “Life loan” product I’ve seen here, where older people who have paid off their mortgage can raise money against the value of the house, and it gets repaid after they die.The “reverse mortgage” seems slightly different in that instead of a lump sum, they get an annual payment. In any case, some people are getting screwed, even though this product was supposed to help older people realise some equity without selling.
    It’s odd how tightly controlled by the govt the US mortgage market is given how they are so big on “free markets” etc. The mortgage offerings by lenders are amazingly tightly controlled, and of course you had the Federal Govt itself acting as a massive mortgage lender through the late Fannie and Freddie Mae.
  • Me too buddy, although obviously not as directly affected by this as your are.
    As a veteran of countless Congressional hearings, Mr. Johnson sought to distinguish between a necessary inquiry into homegrown terrorism and the broad-based suspicion of an entire religious community. “When we address crime and drugs, we address it as the problem itself,” he said, “not as an ethnic or racial or religious group of people responsible for that problem.”
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~ by Lynn Duffy on March 12, 2011.

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