Category Archives: Americas

Links o' the day, 23/10/2008

The journey so far… in numbers (Kathy Foley)

My Saks spree: How to spend $150,000 like Palin (Slate, chosen more for its oddness than me having an interesting in such shopping :P)

Is this the most eco-friendly car innovation since the hybrid? (Treehugger)

Leukemia drug halts, reverses MS (AFP)

New car targets 1,000mph record (Sky)

In Jordan, prayers for the persecuted (The National)

Fake cop busted after stopping real one (AP)

The return of micro-states? (Catholicgauze)

Dolls and toys that creep us out (Dark Roasted Blend)

X-rays made from Scotch tape (Boing Boing)

Links o' the day, 21/10/2008

The program for a supermajority. (Crooked Timber)

Ctrl-Alt-Del. (Robert Cringley)

Florida woman goes to jail over $7.45 bill. (AP)

Inconsistency irks with letter of the law. (Football365)

Reviving the fine art of cafe culture. (The Irish Times)

European economic weather map. (

Group says US used Ethiopia for dirty work. (The National)

And special mention for behind-the-times headline of the day:

Greens, greens, they’re good for your heart: study (AFP)

Diets worldwide that are rich in fried and salty foods increase heart attack risk, while eating lots of fruit, leafy greens and other vegetables reduces that risk, a groundbreaking study showed.

(The study was groundbreaking because it included developing countries, but this information is buried in the story.)

One man and his donkeys

I have a very long way to catch up with Luis Soriano, who brings his mobile library from village to village in Colombia.

“I started out with 70 books, and now I have a collection of more than 4,800,” said Soriano, 36, a primary school teacher who lives in a small house here with his wife and three children, with books piled to the ceilings.

“This began as a necessity, then it became an obligation, and after that a custom,” he explained, squinting at the hills undulating into the horizon. “Now,” he said, “it is an institution.”

I haven’t quite got to the “piled to the ceilings” point, although I do have a few hundred books scattered about the place and in some interesting, if impractical for use, stacks.

Links o' the day, 17/10/2008

Rogue ass jailed in Egypt. (RTÉ)

Palin lookalike strippers to strut in pageant. (AP)

RIAA appeals mistrial in file-sharing case. (CNet)

Its native tongue facing extinction, Native American tribe teaches the young. (International Herald Tribune)

Bee Gees song Stayin’ Alive helps doctors perform CPR. (The Daily Telegraph)

Your bottled water may be no purer than tap. (Lifehacker)

Space smells of steak, says Nasa. (The Sun)

Links o' the day, 16/10/08

I used to do a daily list of links, but that fell by the wayside for some reason. Consider this a restart.

Skippy on the menu as Australia seeks to fight global warming. (Bloomberg; for the record, kangaroo meat isn’t bad)

Suit against God tossed over lack of address. (AP/

Consumption of psychoactive drugs by Tiwanakuan mummies. (

Crate expectations: 12 shipping container housing ideas. (Treehugger)

What your home and workspace say about your politics. (Lifehacker)

The music alliance pact. (UnaRocks)

Nerd rage. (1,000 Tiny Things I Hate)

Forget subprime mortgages, it was bin Laden. (The National)

Choir mistress pays hospital parking fine in 3,500 pennies. (The Daily Telegraph)

Space talk

NASA is making all the right noises, with its chief, Michael Griffin, again asserting that space exploration is key to human survival. Good luck getting the cash for that one.

His vested interest is apparent and, given the environmental damage that has been wrought to Earth, he may have a point. But then again it’s NASA’s 50th anniversary, so we should expect him to promote the overall endeavour.

“As we move out in our solar system, expanding human presence, we can’t prove what we will find will be useful.

“It was understood in Columbus’s time that if voyagers discovered new lands they would find valuable things. We can’t prove today that we can exploit what we find to the benefit of humankind.”

However, in the long run, Griffin believes “human populations must diversify if it wishes to survive.”

To be fair, he has a point. The greater the number of human populations, the greatert the chance that the species will, in some form, survive. The Moon is the obvious candidate, followed by Mars; you don’t have to be a science-fiction fan to figure that out. Though conditions will be far from luxurious, at least to begin with, even a few thousand people on each body will aid our ultimate chances of survival.

Complete terraforming is well beyond our grasp, although for a snapshot of something we could do regarding the Moon, read Moonseed by Stephen Baxter. Kim Stanley Robinson’s substantial Mars series is a hard science look at the transformation of the Red Planet.

Closer to terra firma, Griffin is also adamant that he does not see China as a competitor in space exploration. He may come to regret his words, which come the same week that China prepared for its as China launches its riskiest orbital mission yet, including its first space walk.

It would not be in Griffin’s best interests to praise the Chinese project, even if it could eventually see the Asian nation launch and complete its own space station in the near future. The space walk is pivotal for developing the expertise to snap the thing together.