Archive | April 13, 2013

London Throws Party Celebrating Death Of Margaret Thatcher

Anti-Margaret Thatcher badge, 1980sReuters reports that only “hundreds” of people turned up for “the party of a lifetime” celebrating the death of reviled (and occasionally revered) former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher in London today:

Several hundred people turned up for a “party” in central London on Saturday to celebrate the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as a mass protest predicted by some failed to materialize.

The British capital’s mayor had warned of potential rioting as organizers promised thousands of opponents of Thatcher, who died aged 87 on Monday, would descend on London’s Trafalgar Square to mark the passing of a leader who was loved and loathed in equal measure.

Current British politicians and world leaders past and present have paid tributes to the former premier, Britain’s longest serving prime minister in over a century, but she continues to divide Britons over policies which saw her crush trade unions and privatize swathes of industry.

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Eight Cures That Did More Harm Than Good

Leeching-largeArallyn Primm writes at Mental Floss:

No one likes to be sick or suffering. Humans have tried to fight against disease and affliction since we could first comprehend “Hey, I ate that root, and now I don’t feel like death!” In the course of trying to find new cures for medical problems, or perceived medical problems, we’ve stumbled more than a few times along the way. Most of the time, treatments simply didn’t work, and were no more harmful than what they were meant to “cure.” Sometimes, though, the medicine was even worse than the condition itself.

1. To cure rabid human or dog bite

To his credit, Pliny the Elder discounted many purely-magical folk cures in his Natural Histories (not to mention writing entire chapters against the eating of infant brains), and was a proponent of several treatments which we now know to have some merit, such as aloe vera to dress burns.

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The 1969 Science Fiction Novel Which Eerily Predicted Today

zanzibarJohn Brunner’s Stand on Zanzibar, written more than forty years ago but set in an imagined year 2010 in which ever more power is concentrated in the hands of a few global corporations, is eerily accurate about so much current reality. Via the The Millions, Ted Gioia writes:

Brunner’s vision of the year 2010 even includes a popular leader named President Obomi. Let me list some of the other correct predictions in Brunner’s book:

Random acts of violence by crazy individuals, often taking place at schools, plague society in Stand on Zanzibar.

The other major source of instability and violence comes from terrorists, who are now a major threat to U.S. interests, and even manage to attack buildings within the United States.

Prices have increased sixfold between 1960 and 2010 because of inflation. (The actual increase in U.S. prices during that period was sevenfold, but Brunner was close.)

The most powerful U.S.

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Accepting Alternate Forms Of Intelligence In The Animal Kingdom

Our inability to perceive animal intelligence revealed the limits of our own. Via the Wall Street Journal, Frans de Waal writes:

Who is smarter: a person or an ape? Well, it depends on the task. Consider Ayumu, a young male chimpanzee at Kyoto University who, in a 2007 study, put human memory to shame. Trained on a touch screen, Ayumu could recall a random series of nine numbers, from 1 to 9, and tap them in the right order, even though the numbers had been displayed for just a fraction of a second and then replaced with white squares.

I tried the task myself and could not keep track of more than five numbers—and I was given much more time than the brainy ape. In the study, Ayumu outperformed a group of university students by a wide margin. The next year, he took on the British memory champion Ben Pridmore and emerged the “chimpion.”

A growing body of evidence shows, that we have grossly underestimated both the scope and the scale of animal intelligence.

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