Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday links

My friends have emailed me and posted on FB some fascinating reading this week. These are from them to you.

1/ How to lose readers without even trying. (HT: JK)
‎"You can declare the world’s religions to be cesspools of confusion and bigotry, you can argue that all drugs should be made legal and that free will is an illusion. You can even write in defense of torture. But I assure you that nothing will rile and winnow your audience like the suggestion that billionaires should contribute more of their wealth to the good of society."

2/ The Scots who left: how the attitude of America towards Scots has changed over the years. (HT: MM)
"A Scotchman, when he is first admitted into a house, is so humble that he will sit upon the lowest step of the staircase. By degrees he gets into the kitchen, and from thence, by the most submissive behaviour, is advanced to the parlour. If he gets into the dining room, as ten to one but he will, the master of the house must take care of himself, for in all probability he will turn him out of doors, and, by the assistance of his countrymen, keep possession forever." 

3/ Sometimes a bike is just a bike: the symbolism and politics of bicycling in DC. (HT: MCO)
About two years ago, Christopher Jerry says, a bike lane appeared on 25th Street SE. “It’s a steep hill—not really steep, but steep. One day, I saw some lines painted there, indicating the bike lanes,” says Jerry, who lives on T Street SE in Ward 7. “They were doing it in such a way that was going to eliminate 80 percent of parking on one side of the street. On that particular street, people use both sides of the street to park their cars. Not everyone can park in the alley.” 

4/ 100+ CEOs promise no electoral campaign donations. (HT: RD)
Led by Howard Schultz of Starbucks, more than 100 CEOs have signed a pledge to halt all political campaign contributions until lawmakers, as Schultz puts it, "stop the partisan gridlock in Washington, D.C." Last week, he mounted a one-man bull rush against a political culture that has "chosen to put partisan and ideological purity over the well being of the people." Schultz said he was going to stop writing checks, and he asked other CEOs to join him. They have. 

5/ The contribution of cycling to the UK economy. (HT: MCO)
"[The] growth in cycling participation has had the knock-on effect of bringing economic and social benefits to the UK. In 2010 the result was a gross cycling contribution to the UK economy of £2.9b. In addition, this report sets out to quantify the economic benefits generated by each individual cyclist, taking into account factors including bicycle manufacturing, cycle and accessory retail, and employment. In 2010, we determine that the gross cycling product (GCP) reached £230 per cyclist, per annum. If this trend of growth in cycling participation continues, 1m additional Regular Cyclists could contribute £141m to the UK economy by 2013 whilst concurrently reducing absenteeism and improving the individual’s health, providing an incremental economic benefit."

6/ Churnalism (HT: MM)
Compare published news stories with press releases to see how much journalism is actually original and how much is just churn.

7/ The most spectacular works of photo journalism from 2010. (HT: SS)

8/ African space research. (HT: MM*)
It would be easy to laugh at Chris Nsamba, founder of the African Space Research Programme. For a start, his research centre is based in his back garden where there's not much evidence of the type of sophisticated tools and machinery I'd imagine you need for this kind of work. When I was there, most of the engineers were equipped with just sandpaper and paint brushes.They haven't even started work on the shuttle yet, at the moment it's more of a theoretical project.

*Three! Probably the best week of your life! :)

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