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Links June 2011

TED has published a list of resources for suicide prevention and to help survivors and their families [1].

Psychology Today has an interesting article by Paula J. Caplan, Ph.D about the recent US Supreme Court decision denying female employees of Walmart the ability to file a class action lawsuit about their poor pay and working conditions [2]. She describes the problem as a focus on rights of the ruling class vs fairness to the workers, it could also be described as prioritising perceived rights of the rich over the rights of workers to fair treatment. It seems to me that her article has relevance to some of the discussions related to the treatment of women in the Free Software community.

New Scientist has an interesting article by Ferris Jabr about the use of MRI to discover brain-wave patterns correlated with Autism in sleeping toddlers [3]. This doesn’t seem likely to be useful for scanning the entire population as it currently has a false-positive rate of 7/43 (which would make false-positives outnumber true-positives by about 15:1). But it does seem likely to do some good in identifying young children who might be on the Autism Spectrum.

Shea Hembry gave an amusing TED talk about how he created art works for 100 fictional artists for his own exhibition [4]. He created a biography for each “artist” and every one had a unique style of art.

Steve Keil gave a passionate TED talk about the benefits of play – for children and for adults [5]. He focussed on the benefits for Bulgaria (where his talk was given) but it all applies to all humans.

Frederic Bastiat’s 1850 essays on economics are interesting, informatice, and well written [6]. Some of the themes such as the supposed economic benefits of maintaining a large army are the subject of political debate today.

Paula J. Caplan, Ph.D wrote an insightful article for Psychology Today about the recent US supreme court decision in regard to the Wal-mart case [7]. Her article seems to have some obvious parallels to the situation in the FOSS community. The idea of rights vs fairness, beliefs that are unconscious or unexamined, and the comparison of attitudes towards racial vs sexual discrimination (in terms of not treating sexual discrimination and harassment seriously) seem to all apply clearly.

Al Jazeera reports that the Fukushima disaster is worse than is reported in the mainstream “western” press [8]. Generally I wouldn’t be inclined to trust al Jazeera if other news sources were reliable. But unfortunately reliable news related to contentious issues such as nuclear power is quite rare. It will probably be quite a long time before we can be confident that we know much about Fukushima, everyone who knows seems to be lying.

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