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social studies

How much land would it take to feed your family? Add to ...

The spread you need

“When you look ahead to planting rows of cauliflower and string beans, you may wonder: Just how much land would I need if I wanted to feed my whole family this way?” writes Kevin Hartnett in The Boston Globe. “The company One Block Off the Grid … estimates that to feed a family of four strictly on a home-grown diet of vegetables, you’d need 1.76 acres [7,100 square metres] of land (which would yield 2,300 calories per person per day). Add meat, dairy, corn and wheat to those vegetables and you’d need more land, but not much more – about two well-organized acres would be enough to cultivate it all.”

Stonehenge seeks manager

For the first time in its 5,000-year history, says The Daily Telegraph, the owners of Stonehenge are seeking a general manager, whose responsibilities will include liaising with Druid leaders and maintaining the “dignity of the stones.” Only the “brightest and the best” need apply for the $100,000-a-year job. “The successful candidate will be expected to manage the attraction, which is aligned with the solstice sun, muck in to help the site’s one million visitors and lead the monument’s 180 staff members and volunteers.”

Politics: for the birds

In folk wisdom, birds are ascribed a certain predictive power, writes Brian Kimberling in The New York Times. “‘Auspice’ and ‘augury’ share a Latin origin with ‘avian.’ An augur was a priest in ancient Rome who studied birds to determine the will of the gods (Cicero was one). When an elected official is inaugurated today, he or she is etymologically promoted to birdwatcher in chief.”

Too big for their britches?

“Bus drivers in a French city said they will go on strike because, among other grievances, the uniform pants they are required to wear are too tight,” reports United Press International. The drivers, who work for the public transport authority in Marseilles, said 1,600 company employees will strike for 24 hours on June 3 because they don’t approve of “the quality, the colour or the fit” of their new uniform pants. “I won’t be wearing them,” a driver told La Provence newspaper. “You’d think we work for [car repair company] Speedy! The shirts are all right, but these pants are far too tight.” The union leaders are upset, said one leader, because they weren’t consulted in choosing the uniforms.

Happy trails to you

“Imagine choosing not just the quickest path to your destination but the one that is most likely to lift your mood,” says Scientific American. U.S. Patent 8,364,395 “fuses advances in mapping and traffic data with those in mood detection to form an emotionally intelligent navigation system. Route-planning devices and maps already allow users to choose a path that avoids tolls or traffic jams. And some technologies can gauge mood: microphones detect vocal stress in drivers asking for directions or screaming expletives; sensors detect a driver’s pulse and sweaty palms on the steering wheel, and software mines social-media streams for users’ emotions and locations. A new device designed by IBM researchers could help tourists navigate unfamiliar cities, avoiding protests and road-rage incidents but taking in buzz-generating restaurants or tranquil scenery. Emoticons displayed along the routes would serve as guides. The device factors in recent history. ‘You can choose a destination where people are happiest now or where people over the last week [have been happy],’ says co-inventor Paul French, a systems architect at IBM. If an area cheered visitors up, the system would classify the route as mood-enhancing.”

Thought du jour

“We are usually the best men when in the worst health.”

English proverb

 

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