Short Takes: News From All Over

The Great Backyard Bird Count
By the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon
From February 16 to 19, neighborhood bird spies armed with cameras and binoculars will be watching the skies across North America in an annual effort to help scientists gather information on the health of avian populations. The project’s official website has information on bird flight patterns and how you can participate as well as historical maps, graphs, and lists showing the types and numbers of birds in your area. — Jenna Fisher

Fast Forward
By Sue Carter Flinn, the Coast
Considering the enduring popularity of speed dating and internet dating websites, Sue Carter Flinn thinks that people are looking for love in all the wrong places. Instead of searching for instant gratification, Flinn has founded a ‘tr?s romantique‘ outfit called the ‘Slow Love Club.’ Just as the Slow Food movement seeks to counteract the prevailing fast-food culture, the Slow Love movement encourages people to take their time dating, and actually meet face-to-face. — Bennett Gordon

Graduating to Prison: Native Americans Sue School District
By Mary Annette Pember, the Progressive
Tribal leaders from the Rosebud Sioux (Lakota) reservation in South Dakota have teamed-up with the local American Civil Liberties Union chapter to launch a class action suit against the Winner school district for ‘discriminatory disciplinary practices’ and ‘unfair criminal prosecution’ of Native American students. The coalition points to some damning statistics to bolster their case. Among them: ‘Native students are three times more likely to be suspended from school and ten times more likely to be referred to law enforcement than white students.’ — Elizabeth Oliver

Breathing Earth
By David Bleja
With all the talk of global warming, what better way to understand the pressing fragility of the planet than a real-time simulation? David Bleja’s interactive map tracks carbon dioxide emissions and birth and death rates for countries throughout the world, using data from the CIA’s World Factbook. As an ongoing display of symbols and red flashes pepper the map, you can scroll over countries to compare data. The site also keeps a running ticker to see how those numbers have grown since you opened the site. — Elizabeth Ryan

Jean-Philippe Charbonnier: Psychiatric Hospitals
By Jean-Philippe Charbonnier, Luminous-Lint
Straight jackets, electroshock therapy, and frontal lobotomies. Such are the images captured by Jean-Philippe Charbonnier during his visit to French psychiatric hospitals in 1954 and published a year later in the French magazine R?alit?s. In 2006, many of the photos were republished as a 24-page booklet. Haunting and disturbing, the photos depict the painful reality of being committed during a time when psychiatric theories differed widely from those accepted today. For a similarly stunning visual study, check out Utne Reader‘s recent profile of photographer David Maisel’s Library of Dust. (Thanks, — Mary O’Regan

I Was a Zen Drop-Out
By Laura Hawes, Killing the Buddha
It’s hard to imagine burning out on Zen Buddhism, centered as it is on the principles of not doing. Yet for Laura Hawes, Zen practice was just another way to compete and, eventually, burn out. In her first-person account, Hawes reflects on her attraction to Buddhism as a 21-year-old, frazzled Ivy-leaguer. At first, she found Zen practice to be a welcome relief. The problem was, Hawes writes, ‘I couldn’t help trying… to be the best Zen Buddhist.’ When she eventually stopped practicing, Hawes found that her years of Buddhist study proved good training for a more daunting task than spiritual enlightenment: motherhood. — Evelyn Hampton

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