It’s money that matters

Jack Whinery, homesteader, and his family, Pie...

“If you like to think of America as The Greatest Country on Earth, and you’d rather not examine its claim to that title too closely, The Spirit Level will not be your favorite new book. On nearly every one of its 250-plus pages, a stark, unflattering graph shows the USA topping the charts among developed countries for some social ailment: drug use, obesity, violence, mental illness, teenage pregnancy, illiteracy. But authors Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson, a pair of British social scientists, have another, more enlightening point to make. With striking consistency, they say, the severity of social decay in different countries reflects a key difference among them: not the number of poor people or the depth of their poverty, but the size of the gap between the poorest and the richest. (Boston Globe)

Weaponizing Mozart

{{de|1=Apollon Musagète bei Probe im Prinzrege...

Weaponizing How Britain is using classical music as a form of social control. “Britain might not make steel anymore, or cars, or pop music worth listening to, but, boy, are we world-beaters when it comes to tyranny. And now classical music, which was once taught to young people as a way of elevating their minds and tingling their souls, is being mined for its potential as a deterrent against bad behavior.” (Reason Magazine)

Saluting Cops with One Finger

Legal, Not Advised: ‘…[An] Oregon man is suing suburban Portland cops (.pdf) over his use of the gesture, claiming civil rights violations. Twice he flipped them off for no apparent reason while driving and was pulled over each time — resulting in what he said was a “bogus” traffic citation that was later dismissed, and a tongue lashing he still remembers.

“The guy flew into a road rage,” Robert Ekas, a retired Silicon Valley systems analyst, said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

Lawrence Wolf, a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, said there was no law against flipping off cops. And in most instances when it leads to an arrest or conviction, the charges are dismissed. But the gesture invites police confrontation, he said.

“It’s certainly not the smartest thing one can do,” Wolf said.

American University legal scholar Ira Robbins has written a definitive paper on flipping the bird: “Digitus Impudicus: The Middle Finger and the Law.” (.pdf)…’ (Wired)

Giant Iceberg Collision as Seen From Space

The collision in early February of the 60-mile-long B-9B iceberg with the protruding tongue of the Mertz Glacier in East Antarctica is captured here in a series of satellite radar images.

The crash created a second massive iceberg nearly 50 miles long and 25 miles wide, named C-28. The name means that it’s the 28th glacier since 1976 that has broken off from the quadrant of Antarctica that faces Australia.

The two icebergs have since drifted into a polynya, which is an area of open water that’s surrounded by sea ice but stays unfrozen for much or all of the year. The bergs are obstructing the ocean circulation created by the polynya, and could deprive local marine life of oxygen if they don’t move.

The images were taken by the synthetic-aperture-radar instrument aboard the European Space Agency’s Envisat satellite.” (Wired)

How Big Waves Go Rogue

Freak wave. Picture taken in the Bay of Biscay...

An extra-tall wave struck a cruise ship off the Mediterranean coast of Spain this week, claiming two lives and injuring one person on board. Though the wave may not qualify as a “rogue wave,” it could have been created by the same forces.” (Wired)

World’s Biggest Recorded Tsunami

1720 feet-tall – Lituya Bay, Alaska, July 9, 1958 ( Yes, that’s 1720 feet, 1/3 of a mile high.