Sunday, July 05, 2009

Interesting Times

More weekend links:

#NZonScreen has posted up the first full period of Mr Gormsby and an old documentary on Ralph Hotere and the evolution of one of his commissioned works.

#I'm glad I grew up when it was OK for an eight year old to have his own pocket knife. It was a time when it was still considered a tool not a weapon. These days kids are so goddamn high maintenance. Movie critic Roger Ebert blogs on Free Range Kids:
We live in a reign of terror. Outside the home, molesters and drug pushers lurk. Children drown, are hit by cars, shot, electrocuted, bullied, burned, stabbed, attacked by pit bulls, or kidnapped and end up with their photos on milk cartons. When they play, they make "play dates." They can ride their bikes outside--but don't leave the block. They can shoot baskets, but in the driveway, or at a supervised playground. If some kid tells you to go f*** yourself and you whoop him, you'll be seeing his parents in court. If he comes over to play and falls down your basement stairs, you'll get sued for the house.
#Mother Jones has a big dig on the US military budget. With chapters such as Where is My Flying Tank? and The Axis of Pork, it goes to show one more flavour of financial shit that the US is in.

#Property rights to the ends of the earth - One of the few delights on acquiring my old mortgaged shoebox apartment in Auckland some years ago was reading how my land was actually an airspace and 1/26th share of the stairwell that lead back down to the earth. I, or more precisely the bank, owned a concrete and fibreboard tethered zeppelin.

Things are a bit different in Britain, where they consider property based along Roman precedent: "[C]uius est solum eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos” (“for whoever owns the soil, it is theirs up to the sky and down to the depths”) You can see reflections of these things from a Maori perspective on the Foreshore and Seabed matter.

#Last week's 60 Minutes programme looked a lot more interesting on the ads than the programme actually was. In an attempt to replicate the findings of a very rigorous overseas study, the reporter set up their own little experiment. This was supposed to show off the dangers of artificial food colourings in processed foods, a serious and deserving matter judging by some of the research findings. Instead, we got kids ODing on sugar and saying that it's actually the food colourings. The only conclusion I reached halfway through was clear. Current affairs reporting teams don't know shit about science.

One group of kids was fed only natural food and another bunch with only junk food. Afterwards, the ones who ate the party food were bouncing off the walls. One little show-off in particular caught the cameraman's attention. His Mum admits that little X doesn't normally eat any junk food in his diet, let alone sit don't to such a deliquent banquet as the one served up by 60 Minutes.

In short, it was crapulent reportage. And it's not just me. The Science Media Centre has called bullshit too:
"The experiment conducted by TV3 was probably one of the most biased you could ever hope to see and only showed that if you hype children up enough with expectations and make them very excited about unlimited treat food that they hardly ever have then they will behave badly."
#And talking about food, E. coli has been found in Nestlé cookie dough. So, you might say, shit happens. But consider:
Health officials still do not know how E. coli 0157, a bacterium that lives in cattle intestines, ended up in a product that seems so unlikely to contain it. The risk usually associated with cookie dough is salmonella, a bacterium that can be found in raw eggs. None of the ingredients in the dough -- eggs, milk, flour, chocolate, butter -- is known to host E. coli 0157.
#The Tao of Physics - Niels Bohr adopted the yinyang as his personal totem for a good reason. Hot on the heals of the Dalai Lama saying that democracy not theocracy should rule his homeland, the monks are learning physics. About time.

#And finally, what would the cast of Battlestar Gallactica look like on the Simpsons?