Short Takes: News From All Over

Confessions of an eBay Opium Addict
By Peter Thompson, Sacramento News & Review via AlterNet
Documenting his downward spiral from a self-proclaimed ‘Spiceaisle junkie’ to a full-on opium addict, Peter Thompson explains how eBay supplied his junk. The sordid tale sparked a heated online discussion on AlterNet, with readers sounding off on the nature of addiction, prohibition laws, Narcotics Anonymous vs. Rational Recovery, Hunter S. Thompson, the ethics of glorifying drug-induced stupors, and Leary-esque dreams of altered-state enlightenment. — Barb Jacobs

10 Steps to More Democratic Media
By Jeffrey Chester and Gary O. Larson, Yes!
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 is up for a revision this year and a number of key issues regarding the future of independent media will be in play. With corporations undoubtedly lobbying for even more control of the airways, it’s imperative that media foster democracy — not serve as a mouthpiece for capitalism and government. Here’s a list of proactive steps you can take to help democratize media and get free speech back on track. — Marca Bradt

The Giraffe Heroes Project
By Staff, The Giraffe Heroes Project
There’s a host of people who have stuck their proverbial necks out far enough to be deemed heroes by The Giraffe Heroes Project. The nonprofit’s goal is to recognize ‘giraffes’ who take responsibility for solving tough problems both globally and locally and, in hopes of creating tomorrow’s heroes, inspire others to take similar strides. — Marca Bradt

Brass Jugs Polish Off Disease
By Roxanne Khamsi,
A recent microbiology study serves as a reminder that there’s wisdom built into traditional tools. Despite being a cheaper, more ‘modern’ option, the plastic containers now popular in developing countries don’t provide the same defense against water-borne diseases as the brass pitchers of yesteryear. The key is the copper in brass, which doesn’t harm people but does do a number on menacing bacteria such as E. coli. — Hannah Lobel

Teens’ Sexual Rights
By Rachel Kramer Bussel, Village Voice
As any parent can testify, talking to teens about sex is no easy task, especially in today’s world of abstinence-only education. In this piece Ellen Friedrichs, a health educator, lays out a strong and familiar argument for informing kids rather than decreeing unrealistic mandates (i.e., waiting until heterosexual marriage to have sex). Her positions, and the helpful teen-oriented web sites linked to throughout the piece, provide a handy reference tool for parents and teens (and teachers) gearing up for that birds-and-bees talk. — Hannah Lobel,bussel,62884,24.html

A Tragedy of Manners
By Umbra Fisk, Grist Magazine
Umbra Fisk puts on her Emily Post-hat to advise a reader who’s unsure of how to breach environmental concerns when traveling with a not-so-eco-minded group. Consulting the only manners books immediately available to her — Essential Manners for Men and The Guide to Good Manners for Kids — Fisk comes up with some handy tips on how to educate without preaching. — Hannah Lobel

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