Ironic choice of host
The tiny super-rich gulf state of Qatar will host UN climate negotiations COP-18 in 2012,” the New Scientist reports. “Qatar has the world’s highest per capita carbon dioxide emissions. At more than 50 tonnes a head, emissions are seven times those of the U.K. and more than triple those of the U.S.”
Plastic manhole covers
North Somerset Council in England has taken drastic action to tackle an epidemic of metal thieves, by introducing plastic manhole covers, reports The Daily Telegraph. “It is trialling the use of the new plastic, anti-skid covers … after scores of metal ones were stolen earlier this year. A total of 19 manhole and drain covers, made out of wrought iron and costing around £4,000 ($6,400), were stolen from across North Somerset in just 48 hours in March. … The new plastic covers cost in the region of £400 ($641)each and last for around 15 years, compared to the metal ones which cost around £110 ($176) but need replacing every five years.” The new covers are less likely to be stolen, said an official, because they have no scrap value.
The bland euro
“Jan. 1 will mark 10 years since the euro coins and notes appeared in people’s wallets,” The Guardian says. “But as simple objects, pieces of design and branding, emotional items that bind us together, they are seen as a failure: a limp bureaucratic compromise where art was needed. … The design was deliberately tepid. The notes feature neither people nor places, just bland, fake architecture that doesn’t exist. Ten years ago, the French economist André Orléan suspected this would become a problem. ‘Look at the symbolism: bridges and imaginary windows. The euro isn’t anchored in the past, it’s virtual, it doesn’t correspond to any reality.’ The French ethnologist Patrick Prado called it a ‘ghost money,’ with ‘no reference, no country, no past, no roots, no memory, defined by no value other than itself.’”
Are women cheating more?
“Studies dating back to the 1960s have found that men cheat significantly more often than women in college,” writes Claire Gordon for The Huffington Post. “Why? Women are more socialized to obey rules, researchers … have concluded. … But the cheating gender gap may not last long, according to Don McCabe, a professor at Rutgers University Business School who has studied academic integrity for more than 20 years. In a 1997 study, Prof. McCabe found that while there were significant cheating differences by gender, those differences nearly vanish when comparing men and women in the same major. Business and engineering studies, two of the most male-dominated disciplines, are plagued by cheating more than others. This has been found at the undergraduate level and, perhaps more disturbingly, at the graduate level. … The cheaters’ attitude ‘seems to be, ‘Hey, you have to – everybody does it,’’ Prof. McCabe explained at the time. ‘And business students already have developed a bottom-line mentality – anything to get the job done, however you have to do it.’ Women aren’t above that kind of thinking. ‘As they enter business and engineering, they’ve taken on the habits of the men to remain competitive,’ Prof. McCabe told The Huffington Post.”
“Nowadays, it’s impossible to speak Japanese without using English loan words, which make up about 10 per cent of the spoken language,” reports New York magazine. “Here’s a look at a subgroup of such words.”
– Burapi: Brad Pitt.
– Chaamu pointo (charm point): The most attractive feature, particularly of a woman.
– Manshon (mansion): A plain old concrete apartment.
– Hippu (hips): A euphemism for “rear end.”
– Sukinshippu (skinship): Physical closeness, be it hugging or hand-holding, in a sauna or bedroom.
– Mai peesu (my pace): Marching to the beat of your own drum.
Thought du jour
“There are four ways, and only four ways, in which we have contact with the world. We are evaluated and classified by these four contacts: what we do, how we look, what we say and how we say it.”
– Dale Carnegie (1888-1955), U.S. writer and lecturer