Thursday, 14 May 2015

Oops

Just when I was thinking that my mental health was as stable as it could be I “fell off the shelf” or whatever the right expression is.

Today I am sitting in the British Library with the most recent issue of Poverty: Journal of the Child Poverty Action Group (Issue 150 (Winter 2015)) and have realised just how much I’d missed – about poverty and benefits.

Now appreciating the time lag between posts as well.

Back to the grindstone, Hazel.
Pull your socks up (but if anyone actually said that to me I would probably dot them one).

On a brighter note I have been managing to do some other things like an information pack of “approved by Hazel” websites for people with mental health problems (for a church event).


Friday, 8 May 2015

Trivia (should have been 31 January)

Illinois Central: 1942
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive – Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
Illinois Central: 1942
November 1942 “Chicago, Illinois. Engine taking on coal at an Illinois Central Railroad yard.”
Medium-format negative by Jack Delano
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Bad to the Bone: The Worst Children in Literature
via AbeBooks.co.uk by Scott Laming
The children from The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham
Children can be innocent, inquisitive and the embodiment of hope. But those characteristics make for boring stories. Sometimes authors enjoy creating a fictional child that is just plain nasty. Draco Malfoy might be a bigot and a bully, but he’s rarely dull and is a vital ingredient in the Harry Potter novels. Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory would not be such a tasty read without greedy Augustus Gloop, bratty Violet Beauregarde and the spoiled Veruca Salt.
Continue reading

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via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Book and its author
A white male writer is a writer. The rest are pigeonholed: female writer, black writer, African writer. But literature is a way to seek universality… more

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The development of peace
via OUP Blog by Oliver P. Richmond
1260-bird-465816_1280
The story of peace is as old as the story of humanity itself, and certainly as old as war. It is a story of progress, often in very difficult circumstances.
Historically, peace has often been taken, to imply an absence of overt violence or war between or sometimes within states – in other words, a negative peace.
Continue reading and discover that the writer believes this attitude to peace is wrong. Peace is something positive not simply the absence of conflict.

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Solar system drinking glasses
via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow

The Planetary Glass Set comprises ten glasses (one for each planet, plus one each for Pluto and Sol) representing the bodies of our solar system, very very very loosely sized to express their relative dimensions.
Continue reading

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via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Are we morally smarter?
A person of average intelligence today would have been exceptionally intelligent a century ago. We’re getting smarter. Are we getting more moral?… more

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Tate Archive has put thousands of artist artifacts online
via Research Buzz by Tara (Guardian)
“About 52,000 photographs, letters, sketchbooks and technical records offering insights into some of Britain’s greatest 20th-century artists are to be put online for the first time.” (Only about 6,000 are up so far.)
Continue reading

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The earliest known Arabic short stories
via 3 Quarks Daily by Robert Irwin in The Independent
Ali
The Ottoman sultan Selim the Grim – having defeated the Mamluks in two major battles in Syria and Egypt – entered Cairo in 1517. He celebrated his victory by watching the crucifixion of the last Mamluk sultan at the Zuwayla Gate. Then he presided over the systematic looting of Cairo’s cultural treasures. Among that loot was the content of most of Cairo’s great libraries. Arabic manuscripts were shipped to Istanbul and distributed among the city’s mosques. This is probably how the manuscript of Tales of the Marvellous and News of the Strange ended up in the library of the great mosque of Ayasofya. There it lay unread and gathering dust, a ragged manuscript that no one even knew existed, until 1933 when Hellmut Ritter, a German orientalist, stumbled across it and translated it into his mother tongue. An Arabic edition was belatedly printed in 1956.
Continue reading

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via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Reasonable science doubters
Vaccines, climate change, GMOs: Conspiracy-minded skeptics have declared war on scientific expertise. In this debate, facts are futile… more

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You Are Wrong About Chocolate…
via Lifehack by Robert Locke
You Are Wrong About Chocolate
I have to make a confession. I am a chocoholic! I promise that this article will be as balanced as possible but if there is some bias, I am sure you will forgive me.
The Aztecs and the Mayan people of Central America highly valued the cacao plant and its seeds. It seems that the Nahuatl language had the word ‘xocolatl’ for a cocoa drink which means ‘bitter water’.
Continue reading

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

From the Cradle to the Grave: Funeral Welfare from an International Perspective

an article by Christine Valentine and Kate Woodthorpe (Department of Social and Policy Sciences, University of Bath) published in Social Policy & Administration Volume 48 Issue 5 (October 2014)

Abstract

This article reports on a pilot study examining funeral welfare for citizens from low income backgrounds.

Through a review of funeral welfare provision in 12 capitalist democratic countries it seeks to inform the current system of state support in Britain, arguing that insufficient attention has been given to funeral costs as a policy issue.

Mindful of the British welfare state’s original ‘cradle to grave’ ethos, such attention is ever more pressing in light of rising funeral costs, an ageing population and projected increases in the death rate. Arguing that funeral costs are an issue of income support, the article draws on Esping-Andersen's threefold welfare-regime typology to situate the British system within a comparative study of funeral welfare that identifies similarities and differences both within and between the three welfare-regime types.

On the basis of an empirical example, the article further argues that systems of funeral welfare reflect the relationship between culture, politics and local practice.

The findings indicate that the British system is hampered by a discourse of welfare dependency rather than entitlement, which stigmatises those who need support with funeral costs at a time when they are under pressure to ensure that the deceased person receives a ‘dignified’ send-off.


Sexual orientation issues with a global workforce

via Personnel Today by Pam Loch

Although it is not currently unlawful, tolerance towards homosexuality in countries such as Russia vary considerably, while others around the world still regard homosexual activities as a crime.

Pam Loch, managing director of Loch Associates Employment Lawyers and HR Advise Me Limited, examines what happens if you have an employee who keeps their sexual orientation a secret and then you require them to work in a country where it is unlawful or not tolerated.

Continue reading

Hazel’s comment:
One of the hazards of reading articles in hard copy publications and then finding the original source online is that it is often several months out of date.
Add to that the fact that I had a massive mental health “blip” last autumn and you have something which is only just less than a year old.
Given the subject matter I doubt that much has changed, except, maybe, to get worse.



Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Getting Around When You’re Just Getting By: Transportation Survival Strategies of the Poor

an article by Evelyn Blumenberg (UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies, Los Angeles, California) and Asha Weinstein Agrawal (San José State University, California) published in Journal of Poverty Volume 18 Issue 4 (2014)

Abstract

Researchers argue that transportation expenditures impose a heavy burden on low-income households, many of whom experience difficulty managing their travel costs. However, relatively little research explores how low-income households manage their mobility needs.

To address this issue, this study uses qualitative data from interviews with 73 low-income people living in and around San Jose, California. The interviews reveal the resiliency of low-income families in creatively managing their transportation costs.

However, the transportation survival strategies of the poor can come at a high price – fewer miles travelled and, therefore, reduced access to opportunities that may lift them out of poverty.


Monday, 4 May 2015

Trivia (should have been 25 January)

Watch Your Step: 1933
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive – Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
Watch Your Step: 1933
CRESCENT LIMITED TRAIN WRECK at ANACOSTIA BRIDGE
WASHINGTON, Aug. 27, 1933 -- Harried by accident, Pennsylvania Railroad officials last night were bringing up heavy reinforcements of workmen and machinery for the task of reopening the main passenger line into Washington, closed by the collapse of the bridge under the Crescent Limited just inside the District near Kenilworth early Thursday. Two persons were killed and 13 injured in the train crash. A huge pile driver swayed from its fastenings yesterday and plunged into the Eastern Branch. This mishap followed the toppling of a telephone pole, which killed one workman and seriously injured another. A score of men missed death or injury as the pile driver careened into the river. The string of mishaps at the wreck scene continued last night when a beam fell from a wrecking train, crushing the foot of William Covington, colored, Baltimore laborer. Covington was taken to Casualty Hospital ...
August 1933, Washington, D.C.
“Crescent Limited train wreck”
Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative
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Who was the Marquis de Sade really?
via 3 Quarks Daily by Suzi Feay in The Telegraph
The Marquis de Sade, who died 200 years ago today, lived a turbulent life. He was born into an aristocratic Provençal family, enjoying all the privileges of the ancien régime before it took against him; he kept his head through the French Revolution and died, aged 74, in a lunatic asylum. His libertarian writings alienated two kings, a revolutionary tribunal and an emperor. He spent most of his adult life under lock and key: if they couldn’t get him for being bad, being mad would do.
Continue reading

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via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Temp shifts
The natural world is not easily shoehorned into a mathematical formula. Thus the long, strange history of efforts to reimagine the calendar… more
Fascinating article

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Milky Way over Devils Tower
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz
screenshot
David Lane’s absolutely stunning image of the Milky Way over Devils Tower. If everything’s ready here on the Dark Side of the Moon... play the five tones.
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Created and still developing: an online archive of troubadour crusade poetry. How cool is that?
via Research Buzz by Tara
“Researchers from the University of Warwick are editing and collating the first comprehensive archive of troubadour and trouvere poetry and songs covering the Crusades as part of a new Anglo-Italian research project which will open up the lyric poetry of the medieval troubadours and trouveres to its widest-ever audience. The poetry, some of it long forgotten to modern audiences, will be published on the University of Warwick and University of Naples websites complete with translations, information on manuscripts and earlier editions, and details of the historical circumstances of their original composition and performance.”

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via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
In love with poetry
When the times are brutal and the news is all lies, great poets experience our loneliness for us. Andrew O’Hagan explains… more

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The history of the newspaper
via OUP Blog by Hannah Charters
On 28th November 1814 The Times in London was printed by automatic, steam powered presses for the first time. These presses, built by the German inventors Friedrich Koenig and Andreas Friedrich Bauer, meant that newspapers were now available to a new mass audience, and by 1815 The Times had a circulation of approximately 5,000 people.
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A master of otherworldly space art
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz
29-16-cygni-b-b
Above, the extrasolar planet 16 Cygni Bb as rendered by artist Ron Miller, illustrator of science, astronomy, and science fiction, and author of The Art of Space: The History of Space Art, from the Earliest Visions to the Graphics of the Modern Era.
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via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
How letters tell stories
The alphabet is an arrangement of convenience – maybe a temporary one. Letters are born, grow, fight, change, or die… more

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The legacy of Sinclair’s Spectrum
via BBC News/technology by Leo Kelion, Technology desk editor
Sir Clive Sinclair appears pretty laid back about concerns that he may have hastened the demise of the human race.
His ZX Spectrum computers were in large part responsible for creating a generation of programmers back in the 1980s, when the machines and their clones became best-sellers in the UK, Russia, and elsewhere.
Continue reading (and there’s a video to watch)

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Trivia (should have been 24 January)

A Case of the Mondays: 1925
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive – Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
A Case of the Mondays: 1925
There’s no caption for this yellowing print of a lady at an office desk with postage stamps (quite possibly on October 19, 1925). Yet there must be some reason it’s in the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog.
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The Hierarchy of Disagreement, by Paul Graham
via Stephen’s Lighthouse
climateadaptation:

The Hierarchy of Disagreement, by Paul Graham.
No comment is required but if you would like to see this in a more readable form here is the place to be.

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Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Travelling corpse
What the story of one dead man pulled through the snow by another man says about history, historical fiction, and the human imagination… more

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Which Endangered Species Would You Save?
via 3 Quarks Daily by Carrie Arnold in Nautilus
Image result for blobfish image
You have just been appointed Conservation Czar. But there is a catch. You can only save three animals...After you make your choices, you will learn about the endangered status of each animal.
Continue reading

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Museum switches on historic computer
via BBC Technology
Edsac
A project to recreate one of Britain’s pioneering computers has reached a key milestone. The first recreated parts of the re-built Edsac machine have been switched on at The National Museum of Computing. The Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator first ran in 1949 and was created to serve scientists at Cambridge University.
Continue reading

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Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Electric shock studies
Stanley Milgram’s studies endure not because they clarify our capacity for evil, but because his work doesn’t prove what he claimed it does… more

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Humans Really Have Seven Senses (Don't Forget Proprioception and Vestibular Sensation)
via Big Think by Orion Jones
Smelling_flowers
The way we understand the world is mediated by our five senses: touch, taste, sound, smell, and sight. Right? Well it turns out that humans have more than five senses, if by sense you mean way of knowing about the physical world. Here are two additional senses that don’t easily fit into the customary five:
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The literature and history of Chaucer
via OUP Blog by Stephen Rigby
1280px-Blake_Canterbury_Pilgrims_engraving2
To read Chaucer today is, in some measure, to read him historically. For instance, when the poet tells us in the ‘General Prologue’ to the Canterbury Tales that the Knight’s crusading experiences include service with the Teutonic Order in ‘Lettow’ (i.e. Lithuania), comprehension of the literal sense or denotation of the text requires some knowledge of fourteenth-century institutions, ideas and events. More generally, discussions of whether the Knight’s crusading activities are being held up for approval or disapproval in the ‘General Prologue’ (i.e., of the text’s connotations), are likely to cite the various, and sometimes conflicting, ways in which the morality of crusading, and in particular of campaigns mounted by the Teutonic Order against the Lithuanians, were regarded in Chaucer’s own day.
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Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Artists under Hitler
Art and the Third Reich. Why did artists cooperate with the régime? Their motivation came down to – what else? – self-interest and ego… more

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Weapon: A Visual History of Arms and Armor
via Boing Boing

As with other books from DK, Weapon: A Visual History of Arms and Armor is filled with high quality photographs along with neatly organized informative captions.
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