The surprisingly low carbon footprint of a banana

"Both kiwis and bananas are shipped long-distance. But what is being grown—and the inputs (fertilizer, pesticide, heat) needed to grow it—often matters as much as where the growing happens. The point: Carbon footprints for food are, unfortunately, not terribly intuitive. To me, this is why we need some standardized system of carbon labeling. Right now, it's all but impossible for individuals to make decisions about the carbon footprint of the things they buy. You shouldn't have to be an expert, or tote a calculator and the proper formulas around with you."

History of piracy, reviewed by EFF's senior copyright lawyer

Fred von Lohmann, senior copyright attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, has just posted a review of Adrian John's monumental, 500-page Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates, a thoroughgoing and well-researched history that draws compelling conclusions about the need to view piracy as a business-model crisis, not a moral one

Bruce Sterling Interview: Cities Jon Thu, 07/08/2010 - 08:21

How do you think the psychogeography of the city might be affecting identity and tribalism? Do you suspect the trend is more towards collaboration or fragmentation?

That word "psychogeography" probably means something, but guys who use it go out on Situationist drifts and look for urban ley-lines. I do a lot of similar activity, but I don't like to dignify it too much.

Modern large cities are the engines of globalization in the way that New York used to be an engine of Americanization. You look at New York back in the 1800s, obviously collaboration and fragmentation were going on there at the same time. Little Italy, Little Ukraine, whatever... but those sharp distinctions tended to melt with time. Cities that segregate their citizens into ghettos tend to go broke.

What the invention of Nicaraguan Sign Language teaches us about the human brain Jon Thu, 07/08/2010 - 08:16

Sign languages tend to spontaneously emerge when the deaf people of a country or region first start coming together to form a community, usually based around a school. It's happening right now in Nicaragua, where special education schools opened in the 1970s. Over the past 30 years, Nicaraguan Sign Language has evolved from simple gestures between friends, to a full and complete language. That recent evolution makes Nicaraguan Sign Language the enticing blue bug zapper to linguists' and cognitive scientists' curious moths. Case in point: The study of the way language and learning interact. The structure and composition of the language you speak has a big impact on how you think and perceive the world.

ACLU: America is riddled with politically motivated surveillance

At a California State University, Fresno lecture on veganism, six of the 60 in attendance were undercover officers from the local and campus police. The Oakland Police Department in California had infiltrated a police-brutality demonstration, and its undercover officers selected "the route of the march."
A vegetarian activist in Georgia was arrested for jotting down the license plate of a Department of Homeland Security agent who was snapping photos of a protest outside a Honey Baked Ham store. A Joint Terrorism Task Force in Illinois went on a three-day manhunt in Chicago searching for a Muslim man for his suspicious activity of using a hand counter on a bus. As it turned out, the man was counting his daily prayers.

Yissum develops potato-powered batteries for the developing world Jon Sun, 06/20/2010 - 15:09

I wonder if this is actually valuable?