Short Takes: News From All Over

Growing Resistance to War: Learning from Victory Gardeners
By Anna Kirkpatrick, Peace Magazine
World Wars I and II deeply influenced food production. By fashioning tractor design after the tank and buying surplus nitrogen for fertilizer, large-scale farming took off after the second World War. But the two wars also spawned ‘victory gardens’ — plots the government encouraged citizens to tend in schoolyards, vacant lots, even golf courses. The project was so successful that these gardens produced 40 percent of the vegetables during WWII. In our own time of war, gardener Anna Kirkpatrick calls on people to resurrect the victory garden, this time as a statement of peace. — Rachel Anderson

Skyscraper Habitats
By Nancy Bazilchuk, Conservation in Practice
London’s remaining World War II bomb sites and the city’s dilapidated brownfields have become unlikely habitats for many rare species of birds and insects. Yet, as urban development reclaims these once-abandoned spaces, the critters that call them home are being evicted and driven further toward extinction. As an answer to this dilemma, Dusty Gedge, a former street performer volunteering with the London Biodiversity Partnership, proposes converting London’s 400,000 square meters of rooftops into bird and bug mini-sanctuaries. In July 2005, Gedge designed one such ‘living roof’ atop the Canary Wharf Headquarters of Barclay Bank, London’s seventh-tallest skyscraper, to mimic the arid mountainside habitat of the black redstart. — Evan Noetzel

The Virtuous Eater
By Katherine Mangu-Ward, Doublethink
Overwhelmed by all the different dietary modes with rules proliferating at ever increasing rates? Let Katherine Mangu-Ward sort through the mess for you. In satirical fashion she presents her vision of the ethical consumer’s utopia, a world inhabited by the new religions of vegetarianism, veganism, flexitarianism (a ‘culinary Unitarian’), pescetarianism, and freeganism (‘the ultra-orthodox of the ethical eating scene’). With biting humor, Mangu-Ward explores the lifestyle of the Virtuous Eater, the reasons people begin to eat virtuously — from status to concern for the health of their children — and the complications that arise at every turn. — Suzanne Lindgren

Daddies Unbound
By Jessica Francis Kane, The Morning News
After waves and waves of feminism, it still appears that many fathers aren’t pulling equal weight when it comes to childrearing. While some women endlessly debate about what they can do to get fathers more involved, Jessica Francis Kane suggests that women actually should do less. When mothers take all the responsibility, she argues, they also train fathers to sit on the sidelines as second-string caregivers. So let Dad pack the diaper bag — even though he may forget the wipes the first time around. This tactic has worked so well for Kane that her children often yelp for their father after scraping a knee. And while that may be hard on the mother-ego, it also frees one to work and think about other things.  — Suzanne Lindgren

Democracy: The Free and Open Source Internet TV Platform
TV sets may go the way of the eight-track player, thanks to Democracy, an online video service aiming to revolutionize how we view — and interact with — television. Anyone with an internet connection can download the player to watch 500 channels of movies, newscasts, clips from network shows, and self-created video blogs in a high-quality, full-screen format. The free, open-source program was developed by the nonprofit Participatory Culture Foundation as more than just competition for YouTube. The group’s founders are rebelling against a ‘top-down’ media culture, by providing tools ‘to ensure that people are in control of their own media.’ (Thanks, Future Tense.
Kristen Mueller

Look Around You: A Visual Exploration of Complex Networks
By Edit Staff, SEED
Complex networks exist in and shape every function of science, from mapping the human genome to tracing stock market trends. Given that these complex networks structure and illustrate hard and theoretical phenomena alike — in the form of anything from strictly ordered patterns to all-but-random variations — such complexity is arguably most compelling visually, as SEED shows in this spread of uniquely beautiful examples of graphically illustrated complex networks. Among the images is the depiction of three cortical mouse neurons, magnified to 1,000 times their actual size, joining together to form a neural circuit. — Evan Noetzel

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