Short Takes: News From All Over

By SoundTransit
The pastimes of field recording and phonography are echoing across the globe, thanks to a collaborative online community for listening and posting sounds of all kinds. SoundTransit is the premiere stop on the web to hear the clanging bells of snake charmers in Bhaktapur, Nepal; the explosive 2003 invasion of Baghdad; a gurgling mountain stream in Skaftafell, Iceland; street clatter echoing up a balcony in Maputo, Mozambique; or the ruckus in the swine barn at the Minnesota State Fair. Search the database for sounds of a certain type or from a specific geographic location and you may find your chronic wanderlust strangely sated. — Elizabeth Oliver

Arms Without Borders
By the Control Arms Campaign
Boeing, Land Systems, and Thyssen Henschel don’t just enable human rights violations in nations including Israel, Uganda, and Algeria, they turn a profit off them by selling armored vehicles, attack helicopters, and armored personnel carriers. The connection between designer, supplier, and victim is made explicit with this animated, sound-scaped map created by the Control Arms campaign of Amnesty International, IANSA, and Oxfam. Glide your mouse over your choice of attack vehicles and hear the cocking of gun. Pick one and watch the war machines journey from the country of origin to the field of battle. A text box accompanied by eerie illustrations explains how the arms have been abused. (Thanks, — Suzanne Lindgren

Hey, Nice Clothes. But Are They Ethical?
By Stephanie Hanes, Christian Science Monitor
In the tiny and impoverished southern African country of Lesotho, textiles have been a key economic driver for decades. But the industry, unable to compete with cheaper Chinese clothing, has taken a hit recently, losing 10,000 jobs in a nation of 1.9 million. Enter ethically produced clothing. By tapping the West’s thirst for such duds, a coalition of companies, nongovernmental agencies, and government representatives are reviving Lesotho’s industry by reconfiguring it as an ethical source of sweatshop-free clothing. Seven thousand jobs have been restored so far. — Jenna Fisher

Top Ten Ways For A Politician To Fake As A Conservationist
By Alan Gregory, Lowbagger
The next time you see a green political lawn sign, don’t automatically assume that the politician whose name is scrawled across it is a conservationist. Lowbagger has published ten simple ways you too can get yourself elected on a green platform funded by big-business polluters. Suggestions include, ‘Look spiffy in outdoorsy tan or olive-drab attire,’ and ‘Surround one’s self with advisers (cronies) who are actually professional liars.’ — Bennett Gordon

Last Orgasm in Hollywood
By Judith Lewis, LA Weekly
A recent viewing of the sexually frank new film Shortbus inspires Judith Lewis to muse about how, ‘when it comes to sex in movies, we’re all pretty much puritans.’ In surveying Hollywood depictions of sex, Lewis identifies some consistent formulas: Happy, healthy sex is the domain of couples, while the dirty variety proffers an eroticism that ultimately ends in problems (like death). According to this formula, the key to making sex erotic is shrouding it in a veil of shame. Films like Shortbus, however, stand out by dispatching with shame and romanticized monogamy, in favor of just sex. — Rachel Anderson

You Were Born With Your Future Facial Expressions
By Roxanne Khamsi, NewScientist
A new study by Israeli scientists suggests that genetics play a crucial role in the development of our facial expressions. Scientists studied the faces of 21 people born blind and the faces of their relatives as they were exposed to situations designed to evoke certain emotions. The blind participants’ facial movements when angry, thoughtful, and sad resembled those of their relatives significantly more than those of strangers, indicating that we don’t develop our expressions entirely by mimicry as children. Raising an eyebrow at this? Maybe your uncle is, too. — Elizabeth Ryan

Comments? Story tips? Write a letter to the editor

Like this? Want more?Subscribe to Utne magazine

In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.