Short Takes: News From All Over: February 23, 2006

By Staff and Utne.Com

Speed Dating With a Literary Twist as Libraries Offer Love
By Constant Brand, The Independent
Where in the world is there a welcoming place for well-read singles to mingle and talk literature? In Antwerp, Belgium, look no further than the Dutch-language Permeke library. Two librarians there started a fad they are calling “bib-dating,” after the Dutch word for library, bibliotheek. The new form of speed dating draws would-be couples to libraries for quick get-to-know you sessions that focus on participants’ literary leanings. It’s been so successful they’ve trained librarians from more than 300 libraries to host similar events. Maybe this is what libraries need in order to diffuse the stereotype that they’re old-fashioned and boring. — Beth Petsan

The “Read the Bills Act”
By Staff,
The idea is simple: Congress should require legislators to actually read every bill and every amendment before they pass it., an internet-based political advocacy group, wants members of Congress to sign an affidavit testifying that he or she has “attentively either personally read, or heard read, the complete bill to be voted on.” The action is meant to slow down the government, and, by extension, government growth, and make lawmakers think long and hard about the bills they’re passing. (Thanks, Dispatches from the Culture Wars.) — Bennett Gordon

Of Crafts and Causes
By Phoebe Connelly, In These Times
What do you get when you take “the best of Martha Stewart, then add a dash of your dumpster-diving, protest-attending college roommate”? You get the DIY revolution. Crafters have been making a buzz lately with books like Bazaar Bizarre: Not Your Granny’s Crafts! and ReadyMade: How to Make (Almost) Everything. In These Times gives a brief history of the movement and ponders the political implications of taking the creation process out of the hands of businesses. — Bennett Gordon

Voter Databases Must Be Secured, Report Says
By Declan McCullagh, CNET
In an attempt to comply with the Help America Vote Act of 2002, well-meaning but ultimately technologically naïve state election officials are building internet-accessible voter databases. Such databases, a new report warns, will be easily hackable, providing little insurance against vote tampering. (Thanks, — Nick Rose

Gene linked to HIV Progression Among Chinese
By Jia Hepeng, Science and Development Network
Research in the United States and Europe has indicated that a specific gene may be the reason why a small group of HIV patients don’t develop full-blown AIDS. Now, new research in Beijing has linked a different gene to the progression of AIDS. The study suggests this gene is most likely unique to the Chinese. — Nick Rose

For Many Immigrants, Will Consumerism Eclipse Frugality?
By Andrew Lam, New America Media
When Andrew Lam immigrated to the United States from Vietnam in the 1970s, he and his family marveled at — and later embraced — America’s consumer culture predicated on landfills. His youthful “giddiness” gave way to a sober realization of how problematic our relationship is to consumption and waste, as the US produces seven pounds of waste a day per capita. Lam wonders when we as a culture will come to the same realization — hopefully sooner rather than later — and change our wasteful ways. — Nick Rose

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