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Essays 2011

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Paul Sims - Demonising Muslims. On 3 December last year, emergency services were called to a mosque in the Hanley area of Stoke-on-Trent after CCTV showed smoke billowing from the windows of the building.

Paul Sims - Demonising Muslims

A gas pipe from a neighbouring property had been detached and fed through the window of the mosque, before being lit in a clear attempt to cause an explosion. This incident, which led to the arrest of four teenagers aged between 16 and 19, was one of the 43 acts of violence against Muslims and their property documented by the Institute of Race Relations last year (just a small sample of the national total – London’s Metropolitan Police alone dealt with 333 anti-Muslim crimes in 2010-11).

Of these attacks, 47 per cent involved damage to property, including three incidents where Muslim graves were desecrated, while 51 per cent involved verbal abuse, with Muslims falling victim to intimidation on public transport or in the workplace. William Petit Case - Dr William Petit Profile. Books Without Borders by Paul Constant. I t's embarrassing now, but on the day that I was hired to work at Boston's flagship Borders store in 1996, I was so happy that I danced around my apartment.

After dropping out of college, I had worked a succession of crappy jobs: mall Easter Bunny, stock boy at Sears and Kmart and Walmart, a brief and nearly fatal stint as a landscaper. A job at Borders seemed to be a step, at long last, toward my ultimate goal of writing for a living. At least I would be working with books. And the scruffy Borders employees, in their jeans and band T-shirts, felt a lot closer to my ideal urban intellectuals than the stuffy Barnes & Noble employees with their oppressive dress code and lame vests.

The @-symbol, part 1 of 2. In 1971, Ray Tomlinson was a 29-year-old computer engineer working for the consulting firm Bolt, Beranek and Newman.[1] Founded just over two decades previously,[2]BBN had recently been awarded a contract by the US government’s Advanced Research Projects Agency to undertake an ambitious project to connect computers all over America.[3] The so-called ‘ARPANET’ would go on to provide the foundations for the modern Internet, and quite apart from his technical contributions to it, Tomlinson would also inadvertently grant it its first global emblem in the form of the ‘@’ symbol.

The @-symbol, part 1 of 2

Brian Phillips on the boxing career of freed American slave Tom Molineaux. On December 10, 1810, in a muddy field around 25 miles from London, a fight took place that was so dramatic, controversial, and ferocious that it continues to haunt the imagination of boxing more than 200 years later.

Brian Phillips on the boxing career of freed American slave Tom Molineaux

One of the fighters was the greatest champion of his age, a bareknuckle boxer so tough he reportedly trained by punching the bark off trees. The other was a freed slave, an illiterate African-American who had made the voyage across the Atlantic to seek glory in the ring. Rumors about the match had circulated for weeks, transfixing England. Thousands of fans braved a pounding rain to watch the bout. Some of the first professional sportswriters were on hand to record it. James Mollison's Photos of Children's Bedrooms Are a Commentary on Class and Poverty. How 'Game of Thrones' Explains Our World - By Alyssa Rosenberg.

When George R.R.

How 'Game of Thrones' Explains Our World - By Alyssa Rosenberg

Gustav Landauer: A Nationalist Anarchist. Gustav Landauer was the most important anarchist thinker in Germany after Max Stirner.

Gustav Landauer: A Nationalist Anarchist

He was born in 1870 of a middle-class Jewish family in Karlsruhe in southern Germany. As a student he joined the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). Due to his political activities, which led to a spell in prison, he was refused entrance to the School of Medicine at Freiburg University. The Meaning of Zombies. Photo by Pink Sherbet. They sway as they walk. Their feet turn inwards – perhaps they’re walking on their ankles. They’re wounded, each of them in a different way – a bandaged head, a torn shirt revealing a bloody stomach, perhaps a chunk bitten out of the neck.

Their clothing is tattered. Vanishing Virgil. Photo by Patrick Denker. It is mid-afternoon, the breaking point of daylight, when I finally reach the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo and walk down a curving ramp in a long white tunnel. I am there to find a two-year-old girl named Rosalia Lombardo who died in 1920. It was hard to find this place where the unburied dead are on display for the living.

Forget drinking by numbers – enjoy your Christmas tipple! A few months ago, a palm-sized piece of red and white card dropped onto my doormat.

Forget drinking by numbers – enjoy your Christmas tipple!

It was a device for finding out how many units and calories are in different amounts of various drinks, designed to fit in a handbag or back pocket. Like a child’s picture book, you pull the loose piece of card in the middle up until you can read the relevant drink and amounts through a little window. Surprisingly, this doesn’t seem to have caught on. Apart from at a push being helpful to someone on a stringent diet, it is difficult to imagine people pulling these out regularly in pubs.

Back in July, it was reported that MPs were to review Government guidelines on drinking and perhaps relax them following European norms. The case reveals the grasping nature of alcohol policy; in particular, its reliance on scrappy scientism – or tendency to defer to the latest dubious study – tempered only by an obsession with what happens in the supposedly more civilised continental Europe.

Peter G Tatchell: Future Sex: Beyond Gay and Straight. In most parts of the world, homophobia is in decline.

Peter G Tatchell: Future Sex: Beyond Gay and Straight

The global trend is for the repeal of anti-gay laws and for greater public understanding and acceptance of sexual difference. Overall, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are gradually gaining respect and rights - not losing them. WILD CHILD: THE REMARKABLE CASE OF VICTOR OF AVEYRON. He was naked, grunting and digging up roots in the forest.


As he stuffed raw acorns into his mouth, he was spotted by three sportsmen on horseback. They gave chase, intrigued by such a bizarre creature, only to watch wide-eyed as the wild child before them scrambled into the upper branches of a tree. It was 1798 and the feral child of Aveyron - a rugged area of southern France - was about to become an unwitting celebrity. The sportsmen eventually caught him and named him Victor. Pleased with their captive, who was more like an animal than a person, they took him to a nearby lodgings for further study. But Victor escaped before they could discover his identity. The future: Too old to care about tomorrow. The problem with polygamy. © TLC/Kyle Christy These are boom times for memoirs about growing up in, marrying into or escaping from polygamous families.

The problem with polygamy

Sister wives appear as minor celebrities in the pages of People, piggybacking on their popular reality TV show. And oh yes, we have a presidential candidate whose great-grandfather was an actual bona fide polygamist. Libby Copeland is a writer in New York and a regular Slate contributor. She was previously a Washington Post reporter and editor for 11 years.

Follow Americans are fixated these days on polygamy, and it’s fair to say we don’t know how to feel about it. History suggests that it is. “Monogamous marriage reduces crime,” Henrich and colleagues write, pulling together studies showing that polygynous societies create large numbers of unmarried men, whose presence is correlated with increased rates of rape, theft, murder, and substance abuse. A Season in Hell. On the wall at the foot of my bed, a poster displays the Faces Pain Scale, a series of earless, genderless everymen arranged, from right to left, in increasing degrees of agony.1 “The faces show how much pain or discomfort someone is feeling,” the caption explains.

A Season in Hell

“The face on the left shows no pain. Each face shows more and more pain and the last face shows the worst pain possible. Point to the face that shows how bad your pain is right NOW.”2 The blurb adds, helpfully, that your face need not resemble the cartoon visages in the Pain Scale. It’s August 2011. I Was Wrong, and So Are You - Magazine. A libertarian economist retracts a swipe at the left—after discovering that our political leanings leave us more biased than we think. Back in June 2010, I published a Wall Street Journal op-ed arguing that the American left was unenlightened, by and large, as to economic matters. Responding to a set of survey questions that tested people’s real-world understanding of basic economic principles, self-identified progressives and liberals did much worse than conservatives and libertarians, I reported.