Sunday, November 05, 2006

Topics of interest: Week ending Nov. 5

Following is a wrap-up of media stories that struck me as interesting over this past week in subjects ranging from the election and health to witchcraft and history and a lot in between (in no particular order):

An Evolutionary Theory of Right and Wrong
New York Times
Who doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong? Yet that essential knowledge, generally assumed to come from parental teaching or religious or legal instruction, could turn out to have a quite different origin.

Here Come the Great-Grandparents
New York Times
Because Americans are living longer and are healthier now than in previous generations, demographers say more people are likely to have at least one living great-grandparent, and to have that great-grandparent in their lives longer.

Trick or Treat? For Many Britons, the Reply Is Neither
New York Times
Halloween is big business here now. ... But it is still a rude culture shock for a generation of older people whose need for a macabre fall festival was traditionally satisfied by Bonfire Night.

Trained by Inmates, New Best Friends for Disabled Veterans
New York Times
Rainbow looks like any other Labrador retriever, but she is not a pet. Trained by a prison inmate, her mission is to help Roland Paquette, an injured veteran of the conflict in Afghanistan, stay on his new feet, the ones he got after an explosion destroyed his legs.

Wine 'allows guilt-free gluttony'
A chemical found in red wine could make guilt-free gluttony a reality, an international study suggests.

Al-Jazeera's popularity and impact

Arab governments have recalled diplomats because of it, the USA has allegedly targeted its offices with bombs, but over 40 million Arabs watch it.

Iraq veteran fights mid-term battle

In a strip mall nestled among the petrol stations and donut shops of Lombard, Illinois, Tammy Duckworth, one of the great Democratic hopefuls of this mid-term election, is selling her message to a round table of military veterans.

Dangerous cipher that led to the death of a queen
The Scotsman
Truth can of course be stranger than fiction and history reveals that this is exactly what unfolded in the last days of the tragic life of Mary, Queen of Scots, executed in 1587 on the orders of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England.

Tribute to Britain's last 'witch'
The Scotsman
She was the last person in Britain to be tried as a witch - in a 1944 case Winston Churchill called "obsolete tomfoolery". Her ability to inform relatives about loved ones who had died abroad during the Second World War led to her family being demonised.

Secrets in the stone
The Scotsman
On the south wall of Rosslyn Chapel, alongside the entrance historically used by women, is a very curious carving. ... To anyone familiar with the rites of Freemasonry, this carving bears a remarkable similarity to a Masonic initiation ceremony. But if Alan Butler and John Ritchie, the authors of Rosslyn Revealed, are correct, the resemblance is anything but coincidental.

Seeing the light
The Scotsman
When he caught sight of the bright red pentagon glowing above the great rose window of Rosslyn Chapel, Alan Butler almost let out a scream. At that point, he knew beyond doubt that Rosslyn was far more than just another medieval church.

The Elephant in the Room
New York Times
With Iraq locked in seemingly endless violence and a contentious midterm election just weeks away ... People who once feistily shared their convictions about politics now report biting their tongues around — or even completely avoiding — friends and relatives who disagree, trying to avoid fights over the Bush administration and, specifically, the war.

Architect's legacy going up in smoke
Chicago Tribune
En route to giving the skyscraper its modern form, an aesthetic exported around the world, Louis Sullivan designed almost 135 buildings in Chicago. Twenty-one remain.

US election ads: Hitting below the belt
No-one expected the fight for control of the US Congress to be a gentlemanly affair, but as races come down to the wire, even experts are surprised at how vicious some of the advertising has been.

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