Short Takes: News From All Over

Superheroes: Invisibles No M?s
By Gabriel Thompson, In These Times
When photographer Dulce Pinz?n snaps a shot of Superman in New York City, the Man of Steel is on a bike with delivery pizzas in his basket. Wonder Woman works at a Laundromat. They and the other superheroes Pinz?n depicts are Mexican immigrants. Pinz?n portrays average migrant workers in superhero suits, illustrating the noble intent of their everyday lives as they work to send money to family members in Mexico. The artist says she feels a connection to working-class immigrants in New York City that was missing during her privileged upbringing in Mexico. Now, with photos of Hombre El?stico and the Incredible Hulk, she illuminates the immigrant debate from a more personal angle. — Suzanne Lindgren

Who’s Happiest: Denmark or Vanuatu?
By Daniel Ben-Ami, sp!ked
Last month, the World Map of Happiness (WMH) and the Happy Planet Index (HPI) released two completely different lists of the happiest countries. The WMH declares Denmark happiest, followed by many affluent European nations; the HPI ranks Vanuatu highest (and war-torn Colombia second) in a list dominated by small Latin American and Caribbean nations. Daniel Ben-Ami is skeptical that either list offers true indicators of happiness: the WMH considers education and GDP, favoring wealthy nations; the HPI factors in ecological footprints, skewing the results toward middle-income, low-consumption nations. So is anything to be gained from these reports? Perhaps. As Ben-Ami points out, ‘world happiness rankings reveal more about the prejudices of their compilers than they do about the inhabitants of different nations.’ — Rachel Anderson

Garbage Scout
By Jim Nachlin, Garbage Scout
Garbage Scout, the brainchild of computer programmer Jim Nachlin, ushers the art of Dumpster diving into the internet age. Nachlin’s freegan-friendly site displays an interactive map of New York City streets dotted with trashcan icons — burning trash cans designate the most recent posts. With the click of a mouse, a digital image of a found garbage goodie pops up with the details on when it was posted and a descriptive caption like ‘bike wheels @ 585 6th ave.’ Garbage Scout, which also offers sites for Philadelphia and San Francisco, operates as a communal resource, encouraging visitors to post finds in addition to searching for them. (Thanks, Plenty.) — Evan Noetzel

Willpower Is Best Used with Care
By Cordelia Fine, The Australian
A recent study published in Psychological Science shows that self-discipline is more important than raw intelligence when it comes to academic success. For those with a weak ‘moral muscle,’ the suggestion is to build it up with regular exercise of self-control. But Cordelia Fine sees a flaw in that plan, namely that such regular use would wear the muscle out for folks like her. For those of her ilk, Fine suggests using the moral muscle discerningly to spare precious reserves in times of high demand. At last, a justification for skipping the dishes and eating ice cream when you’re planning that dreaded PowerPoint presentation. — Suzanne Lindgren,20867,19460829-12332,00.html

The Martingale School of Foreign Policy
By John Steinberg, Raw Story
The Martingale System instructs gamblers to double their bets after each loss and when the odds fall in their favor, the theory goes, they’ll gain it all back. But with a table limit on bets and funding limits on the players’ wallets, the method has been proven faulty. Too bad Bush and his neocon cronies haven’t learned that lesson. They bet we could win in Afghanistan, we’re losing. Bush doubled the bet with Iraq, only to see greater losses. Now, some in the Beltway are talking Iran — a bet with even higher stakes, Steinberg argues, when the United States can’t even afford the ante. — Suzanne Lindgren

This Just In: WMDs Found in Iraq
By John Stauber, Guerrilla News Network
A recent Harris Poll reported that 50 percent of Americans believe that weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, up from 36 percent in February of 2005. Why the increase? John Stauber says the cause is misinformation. Although Bush has publicly stated that no WMD stockpile was ever located, Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Michigan Rep. Peter Hoekstra released an intelligence report two weeks before the survey announcing the discovery of 500 chemical munitions. Though the Pentagon acknowledged that the weapons were more than a decade old, degraded, scattered, and found over the course of the past few years, Santorum and Hoekstra’s sensational story apparently made the greater impression on the public. — Suzanne Lindgren

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