Sunday again, and wow, the last day of November. Christmas will be upon us before we know it. Thank goodness I found the advent calendars yesterday. I confess I didn’t win NaNoWriMo this year but I was still busy writing, so in that sense, it’s a win. The other win is some amazing gardening weather, so I’m heading out shortly to pick up some raspberry canes from an acquaintance. I’m so excited about growing my own raspberries!
Of course, the following links have nothing to do with raspberries, but I hope you enjoy them anyway.
How you would you feel if someone said that they could add something to the water which would reduce suicide and violent crimes in your community? Lithium occurs naturally in our drinking water, and some studies have shown that where it exists in higher concentrations, there appear to be fewer suicides. This is an interesting idea – especially as there is some evidence that lithium also appears to reduce the occurrence of dementia. I would argue that we need to have more research in this, and even then, I believe the idea would be hard to sell to the population at large. I’ll admit that my own gut reaction is that I’d rather not have my mood monitored through a mood stabliser which is administered by the government. Perhaps that’s folly – it could indeed improve our quality of life or even save lives, but what might happen in the case of overdose?
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A voucher scheme linked to encouraging breastfeeding in parts of the UK is inspiring some debate about what factors are influential in women deciding to breast-or bottle-feed. One thing I thought the article pointed out very well (in addition to the pertinent comments about observational research) was that the reasons surrounding a mother’s choice to breastfeed are varied and complex – and it is a choice. But if we don’t address those issues which affect it – be they a lack of emotional support, or the need to return to work and the difficulty women have expressing milk, or the fact that we are still yet to get over women being able to feed their children with breasts which are otherwise seen as sexual objects – then giving women ‘free stuff’ is not going to change their minds about breastfeeding. It’s all wonderful to be able to get more groceries than you would otherwise be able to afford, but at 3 am when your baby won’t latch and you are in the lonely dark with a screaming child, having a well-stocked pantry is not an immediate comfort.
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An interesting article about how one’s own historical background is so very important when researching the history of others. Wilkie discusses how one’s own sense of ‘local’ is something we bring with us when we study history. Where we grow up has a profound affect on how we see the world as adults, and also, how we see the past. I think this can be applied to everything we’re studying. We need to be at least aware of what we’re bringing to the table when we learn about others – it can’t be that we come as completely blank slates (nor should we want to) but we cannot afford to disregard our preconceptions, our prejudices, our expectations of events, whether in the past or in the present.
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Finally, light pollution is something we don’t often consider a major problem – probably because it doesn’t seem to affect our quality of life like the pollution of water or air. However, it’s not only a masive use of energy and a disturbance to our diurnal rhythm (and the nocturnal rhythm of other animals), but it also prevents us from seeing stars. Those in larger cities often miss out on seeing any but the brightest stars or planets. Thierry Cohen has worked some photographic magic to show what the starry skies above some of the biggest cities in the world look like. It’s beautiful.