This is absolutely humbling: “The delicate workings at the heart of a 2,000-year-old analogue computer have been revealed by scientists.

Writing in Nature, the team says that the mechanism was “technically more complex than any known device for at least a millennium afterwards”.” BBC

How cool is this?
If you were worried by the change in law last year that made it an ‘offence to organise or take part in a demonstration in a public place within the “designated area” (up to 1 km around parliament)’ but didn’t know what to do about it, someone has done all the thinking for you. Just register your protest on the second Wednesday of every month and protest whatever you like on the third Wednesday of every month.
“A recent law has made it illegal to demonstrate anywhere near Parliament without official police permission, and Mark is organising MASS LONE DEMONSTRATIONS to highlight the danger and stupidity of having this law in a democracy.”

I’m really not sure what prompted Blair to do this, but maybe John Howard will think apologising is cool now and say ‘sorry‘.
“Prime Minister Tony Blair has voiced his “deep sorrow” over Britain’s role in the slave trade on Monday – a trade that helped Britain become one of the world’s greatest powers in the 17th and 18th centuries.”
Until I went to Waterford, Ireland, recently I had no idea Cromwell made Irish Catholics into slaves so it’s interesting to see it mentioned here:
“The slaves included not only Africans but men arrested after a Royalist uprising in the West Country in 1655, and Irish Catholics captured by Oliver Cromwell.” BBC

Working, working, working… but in a brief moment of procrastination (double checking spelling to send a greeting in Dutch to a colleague) I managed to discover this handy Welsh phrase for the English at the moment: G

I was sent this ages ago but never got around to blogging it. I don’t agree with it all but it does raise some good points about opportunities that just aren’t available in Australia. Personally one of the main reasons I left was that I couldn’t face life under a Howard government and because I wanted to travel, but I can’t imagine going back anytime soon.
“In this extract from his new book, Ryan Heath, author of Please Just F* Off, It’s Our Turn Now, writes about the generation of young Australians who live overseas – why they leave and why they really hope to come back and what it means if they don’t.” Ful article in The Age

Is feminism a dirty word?
I’ve quoted lots of the article below because it sums up some of the thinking I’ve been doing recently. Between discussions of the normalisation of cosmetic surgery on shows like Extreme Makeover, female chauvinist pigs and the right of women to wear the veil, where do I stand? And what about the role of first world feminists in the cause of women’s rights in developing countries, or under religious fundamentalism, Christian, Islamic or otherwise? I’m still working it out.
I miss the luxury of an arts degree that allows time for reading and theorising but there’s no point waiting for the Germaine Greers, Marilyn Frenchs or Gloria Steinems, let alone the Judith Butlers, Julia Kristeva or Luce Irigarays – it’s up to our generation to acknowledge and deal with these issues.
“It’s anachronistic; no woman I know would unapologetically describe herself as a feminist. If the concept and importance of gender equality as an issue has crossed her mind, then there is only one acceptable way of communicating this: “I’m not a feminist, but…” for this read, “please don’t think I’m a lesbian/man hater /being difficult…” In short, feminism is a dirty word, and only by denying it are we happy to use it in our vocabulary.
So why are we afraid to be seen as feminists? Because it is a now euphemism for being awkward, for pointing out difficult, uncomfortable things people don’t want to hear.

This is where the battles remain – in the everyday way life is lived. To be a feminist now means challenging those around us, our family, friends and colleagues, to be aware of their behaviour. This is a notion that seems exhausting and intimidating. The risk of being ostracised for our beliefs feels all too real.

Empowerment shouldn’t mean getting paid for being ogled. Empowerment should mean the liberation of men and women alike from false value systems.”

Go Ken!
“Young people who play their music out loud on buses in London could be stripped of their free travel passes, the mayor has said.” BBC
Then again, it probably wouldn’t be such an issue if we still had conductors…

It’s Buy Nothing Day on Saturday.
From the website: “It’s a day where you challenge yourself, your family and friends to switch off from shopping and tune into life. Anyone can take part provided they spend a day without spending!
This year our message is simple, shop less – live more! The challenge is to try simple living for a day, spend time with family and friends, rather than spend money on them.
Buy Nothing Day also exposes the environmental and ethical consequences of consumerism. The developed countries – only 20% of the world population are consuming over 80% of the earth’s natural resources, causing a disproportionate level of environmental damage and unfair distribution of wealth.”
I’m not generally drinking alcohol at the moment, which makes it easier because the hard part would be getting through the different events I’m meant to be going to without buying someone a drink.