1 Indian Onion
With its capacity for bringing down governments and scarring political careers, the onion plays an explosive role in Indian politics. This week, reports of rising onion prices have made front-page news and absorbed the attention of the governing elite.
The most vital ingredient in Indian cooking, the basic element with which all dishes begin and, normally, the cheapest vegetable available, the pink onion is an essential item in the shopping basket of families of all classes. But in recent weeks, the onion has started to seem an unaffordable luxury for India’s poor. Over the past fews days, another sharp surge in prices has begun to unsettle the influential urban middle classes. The sudden spike in prices has been caused by large exports to neighboring countries and a shortage of supply. But the increase follows a trend of rising consumer prices across the board — from diesel fuel to cement, from milk to lentils.
2 Kashmir Whispers of Rediscovered Appeal
Two decades ago, Kashmiri houseboat-owners rubbed their hands every spring at the prospect of the annual influx of tourists. From May to October, the hyacinth-choked waters of Dal Lake saw flotillas of vividly painted shikaras carrying Indian families, boho westerners, young travelers and wide‐eyed Japanese. Carpet‐sellers honed their skills, as did purveyors of anything remotely embroidered while the houseboats initiated by the British Raj provided unusual accommodation. The economy boomed.
Then, in 1989, everything changed. Hindus and countless Kashmiri business people bolted, at least 35,000 people were killed in a decade, the lake stagnated and the houseboats rotted. Any foreigners venturing there risked their lives – proved in 1995 when five young Europeans were kidnapped and murdered.
3 Stress Knows Few Borders
Stress that tense feeling often connected to having too much to do, too many bill to pay and not enough time or money is a common emotion that knows few borders.
About three-fourths of people in the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy South Korea and the United Kingdom say they experience stress on a daily basis, according to a polling. Those anxious feelings are even more intense during the holidays.
Germans feel stress more intensely than those in other countries polled. People in the US cited financial pressure as the top worry. About half the people in Britain said they frequently or sometimes felt life was beyond their control, the highest level in the 10 countries surveyed.
4 Impressionism (1)
Movement in painting that originated in France in the 1860s and had enormous influence in European and North American painting in the late 19th century. The Impressionists wanted to depict real life, to paint straight from nature, and to capture the changing effects of light. The term was first used abusively to describe Claude Monet’s painting Impression: Sunrise (1872). The other leading Impressionists included Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Alfred Sisley, but only Monet remained devoted to Impressionist ideas throughout his career.
The core of the Impressionist group was formed in the early 1860s by Monet, Renoir, and Sisley, who met as students and enjoyed painting in the open air — one of the hallmarks of Impressionism. They met other members of the Impressionist circle through Paris café society. They never made up a formal group, but they organized eight group exhibitions between 1874 and 1886, at the first of which the name Impressionism was applied. Their styles were diverse, but all experimented with effects of light and movement created with distinct brushstrokes and fragments of color dabbed side-by-side on the canvas rather than mixed on the palette. By the 1880s the movement’s central impulse had dispersed, and a number of new styles were emerging, later described as post-Impressionism.
British Impressionism had a major influence on the more experimental and progressive British painters in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of the painters were affected in the circle of Walter Sickert, who spent much of his career in France and was an influential figure who inspired many younger artists. His friend and exact contemporary Philip Wilson Steer is generally regarded as the most outstanding British Impressionist.
5 Edible Insects
FANCY a locust for lunch? Probably not, if you live in the west, but elsewhere it’s a different story. Edible insects — termites, stick insects, dragonflies, grasshoppers and giant water bugs — are on the menu for an estimated 80 per cent of the world’s population.
More than 1000 species of insects are served up around the world. For example, “kungu cakes” — made from midges — are a delicacy in parts of Africa. Mexico is an insect-eating — or entomophagous — hotspot, where more than 200 insect species are consumed. Demand is so high that 40 species are now under threat, including white agave worms. These caterpillars of the tequila giant-skipper butterfly fetch around $250 a kilogram.
Eating insects makes nutritional sense. Some contain more protein than meat or fish. The female gypsy moth, for instance, is about 80 per cent protein. Insects can be a good source of vitamins and minerals too: a type of caterpillar (Usta terpsichore) eaten in Angola is rich in iron, zinc and thiamine. What do they taste like? Ants have a lemon tang, apparently, whereas giant water bugs taste of mint and fire ant pupae of watermelon. You have probably, inadvertently, already tasted some of these things, as insects are often accidental tourists in other types of food. The US Food and Drug Administration even issues guidelines for the number of insect parts allowed in certain foods. For example, it is acceptable for 225 grams of macaroni to contain up to 225 insect fragments.
6 Using Images in the Writing Process
It is the assertion of this article that students who use visual art as a pre-writing stimulus are composing their ideas both in images and in words. The result of the art creation process allows students the distance to elaborate, add details, and create more coherent text. The process of writing is more than putting words on a piece of paper. Effective authors are able to create imagery and to communicate ideas using well-chosen words, phrases, and text structures. Emergent writers struggle with the mechanics of the writing process, i.e., fine motor control for printing legibly, recall of spelling patterns, and the use of syntax and grammar rules. As a result, texts written by young writers tend to be simplistic and formulaic. The artwork facilitates the writing process, resulting in a text that is richer in sensory detail and more intricate than the more traditional writing-first crayon drawing-second approach.
7 Black Diamonds from Outer Space
An exotic type of diamond may have come to Earth from outer space, scientists say. Called carbonado or “black” diamonds, the mysterious stones are found in Brazil and the Central African Republic. They are unusual for being the color of charcoal and full of frothy bubbles.
The diamonds, which can weigh in at more than 3,600 carats, can also have a face that looks like melted glass. Because of their odd appearance, the diamonds are unsuitable as gemstones. But they do have industrial applications and were used in the drill bits that helped dig the Panama Canal.
Now a team led by Stephen Haggerty of Florida International University in Miami has presented a new study suggesting that the odd stones were brought to Earth by an asteroid billions of years ago. The findings were published online in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters on December 20.
The scientists exposed polished pieces of carbonado to extremely intense infrared light. The test revealed the presence of many hydrogen-carbon bonds, indicating that the diamonds probably formed in a hydrogen-rich environment—such as that found in space.
The diamonds also showed strong similarities to tiny Nano diamonds, which are frequently found in meteorites. “They’re not identical” Haggerty said, “but they’re very similar.” Astrophysicists, he added, have developed theories predicting that Nano diamonds form easily in the titanic stellar explosions called supernovas, which scatter debris through interstellar space. The deposits in the Central African Republic and Brazil, he said probably come from the impact of a diamond-rich asteroid billions of years ago, when South America and Africa were joined.
8 The Snake that Hears Sound through its Jaw
The horned desert viper’s ability to hunt at night has always puzzled biologists. Though it lies with its head buried in the sand, it can strike with great precision as soon as prey appears.
Now, Young and physicists Leo van Hemmen and Paul Friedel at the Technical University of Munich in Germany have developed a computer model of the snake’s auditory system to explain how the snake “hears” its prey without really having the ears for it.
Although the vipers have internal ears that can hear frequencies between 200 and 1000 hertz, it is not the sound of the mouse scurrying about that they are detecting.
“The snakes don’t have external eardrums,” says van Hemmen. “So unless the mouse wears boots and starts stamping, the snake won’t hear it.”
9 Technology Education
The first section of the book covers new modes of assessment. In Chapter 1, Kimbell (Goldsmith College, London) responds to criticisms of design programs as formalistic and conventional, stating that a focus on risk-taking rather than hard work in design innovation is equally problematic. His research contains three parts that include preliminary exploration of design innovation qualities, investigation of resulting classroom practices, and development of evidence-based assessment. The assessment he describes is presented in the form of a structured worksheet, which includes a collaborative element and digital photographs, in story format. Such a device encourages stimulating ideas, but does not recognize students as design innovators. The assessment sheet includes holistic impressions as well as details about “having, growing, and proving” ideas.
Colloquial judgments are evident in terms such as “wow” and “yawn” and reward the quality and quantity of ideas with the term, “sparkiness”, which fittingly is a pun as the model project was to design light bulb packaging. In addition, the assessment focuses on the process of optimizing or complexity control as well as proving ideas with thoughtful criticism and not just generation of novel ideas. The definitions for qualities such as “technical” and “aesthetic” pertaining to users, are too narrow and ill-defined. The author provides examples of the project, its features and structures, student’s notes and judgments, and their sketches and photographs of finished light bulb packages, in the Appendix.
10 Personal Politics
The morality of the welfare state depends on contribution and responsibility. Since some people don’t contribute and many are irresponsible, the choice of those who do contribute and are responsible is either to tolerate the free riders, refuse to pay for the effects of their irresponsibility or trust the state to educate them.
Hence the government campaigns against smoking, alcoholism, obesity and gas guzzling ‐ the first two solidly in place, the other two ramping up. But the British state now goes further: it acts in favor of sexual and racial minorities. In the case of gay men and women this means progressively removing the legal disadvantages under which they have lived, and ensuring that society as a whole observes the new order.
11 Jean Piaget
Jean Piaget, the pioneering Swiss philosopher and psychologist, spent much of his professional life listening to children, watching children and poring over reports of researchers around the world who were doing the same. He found, to put it most succinctly, that children don’t think like grownups. After thousands of interactions with young people often barely old enough to talk, Piaget began to suspect that behind their cute and seemingly illogical utterances were thought processes that had their own kind of order and their own special logic. Einstein called it a discovery “so simple that only a genius could have thought of it.”
Piaget’s insight opened a new window into the inner workings of the mind. By the end of a wide-ranging and remarkably prolific research career that spanned nearly 75 years–from his first scientific publication at age 10 to work still in progress when he died at 84–Piaget had developed several new fields of science.
Developmental psychology, cognitive theory and what came to be called genetic epistemology. Although not an educational reformer, he championed a way of thinking about children that provided the foundation for today’s education-reform movements. It was a shift comparable to the displacement of stories of “noble savages” and “cannibals” by modern anthropology. One might say that Piaget was the first to take children’s thinking seriously.
12 Exploring the Deep Ocean Floor
The ocean floor is home to many unique communities of plants and animals. Most of these marine ecosystems are near the water surface, such as the Great Barrier Reef, a 2000-km-long coral formation off the northeastern coast of Australia. Coral reefs, like nearly all complex living communities, depend on solar energy for growth (photosynthesis). The sun’s energy, however, penetrates at most only about 300 m below the surface of the water. The relatively shallow penetration of solar energy and the sinking of cold, sub polar water combine to make most of the deep ocean floor a frigid environment with few life forms.
In 1977, scientists discovered hot springs at a depth of 2.5 km, on the Galapagos Rift (spreading ridge) off the coast of Ecuador. This exciting discovery was not really a surprise. Since the early 1970s, scientists had predicted that hot springs (geothermal vents) should be found at the active spreading centers along the mid-oceanic ridges, where magma, at temperatures over 1000 °C, presumably was being erupted to form new oceanic crust. More exciting, because it was totally unexpected, was the discovery of abundant and unusual sea life – giant tube worms, huge clams, and mussels — that thrived around the hot springs.