January 17, 2015

Miscellany 3

In Aeon, How Stories Change Hearts and Minds

One man talked about his identification with Santiago, the beleaguered fisherman in Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. The man said he sometimes felt an inner pull to go back to his drug habit, but that Santiago’s will to persevere motivated him to stay a sober course. ‘The fictional character was alive for the student at that crucial moment, an inspiration, a stranger become a friend,’ Waxler writes. ‘It was not an exaggeration to say that a story had caught this student’s attention and perhaps saved his life that day.’ In a study of 600 participants, rates of criminal activity declined by 60 per cent compared to only 16 per cent in a control group.

Something Amazing: Gravity Glue

Vinepair's United States of Alcohol

 United-States-Of-Alcohol-Map click for full size

You won'f forget the Royal Dutch Guide Dog Foundation commercial for veteran dogs.

The Beautiful Math Inside All Living Things from RealClearScience

For most evolved life, efficiency is everything. It is in pursuit of this perfection that some of nature's most astounding patterns have arisen. Ever count the petals of a flower or the spirals of a pinecone? Each will always be a number from the Fibonacci Sequence, in which the previous two numbers add up to the next: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, etc……At first, this is mind-boggling. Why would Nature do this? But as YouTube educator Vi Hart pointed out, the reason is beautifully simple. Plants want to maximize the amount of sunlight they receive, so logically, each petal should never completely block another out. "This design provides the best physical accommodation for the number of branches, while maximizing sun exposure," the University of Georgia's Nikhat Parveen described.

The Victorian Fight Against Filth Mud was ubiquitous on London’s streets during Victoria’s reign. It was mostly horse dung, plus particles of iron and cobblestone…..Lady F.W. Harberton ( Florence Wallace Pomeroy, wife of Viscount Harberton), who campaigned for sensible female attire, claimed to describe the flotsam caught up in a trailing skirt during a walk through Piccadilly—including a piece of pork pie, orange peel, cigar ends, toothpicks and part of a boot.

The murder that has obsessed Italy On 26 November 2010, Yara Gambirasio, 13, went missing. Three months later her body was discovered in scrubland nearby. So began one of the most complex murder investigations in Italian history, which will reach its climax later this year.

Much of the investigation focused on DNA evidence from Ignito 1 (unknown 1)
If Ignoto 1 really was the son of the late Giuseppe Guerinoni, the only explanation was that, somewhere out there, was his illegitimate child. “It became,” Ruggeri says, “an investigation within an investigation.” She was now hunting a woman, presumably in middle- to old-age, who 30 or 40 years ago had had an affair with a married man, now long dead, and given birth to a boy who went on to murder Yara Gambirasio.
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Long-forgotten infidelities and old suspicions surfaced. Bonicelli laughs as he describes how his journalists discovered five illegitimate children in two small villages: “Five! We could have started a gossip magazine. It was like an open sewer: we were receiving anonymous letters, stories, people telling us about backgrounds and cuckolds.” A society which had always prided itself on its sense of loyalty and traditional Catholicism, suddenly discovered the betrayals in its midst. “Perhaps the point is this,” Bonicelli wrote in an editorial, “we don’t know each other any more.”

The Overprotected Kid A preoccupation with safety has stripped childhood of independence, risk taking, and discovery—without making it safer. A new kind of playground points to a better solution.

Posted by Jill Fallon at January 17, 2015 10:15 AM | Permalink