New study on bullying

My attention was drawn to a recent news story, which reported that bullying can be good for children. Oh, really? Assuming for a moment that the Daily Fail story was accurately representing the results of the research, I drew a very different conclusion from the one in the headline (and URL). A study has shown that youngsters are more popular and more admired by teachers and friends if they return schoolyard hostility in kind.

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Food riots are in the news. Meanwhile, the New York Times talks about the fact that food prices for Americans, as a fraction of income, are almost at an all-time low; and that Americans waste 27% of the food available. This is one respect in which I have been unable to “go native”. I don’t remember exactly what my mother said to me as a child. I remember being told about starving children.

Format wars

The New York Times reports that most people have decided to sit out the HD format war between Blu-ray and HD-DVD. I’m one of them. I remember DCC vs MiniDisc. MiniDisc won, if by ‘won’ you mean ‘lingered for a few years longer’. I also remember SACD vs DVD-Audio. Both of those lost, in that even people who have DVD players capable of playing DVD Audio (like me) typically don’t bother to hook them up to support it (like me).

Staggering hypocrisy from Google

Google press release: We recognize the impact that our operations have on the Earth’s climate, and are taking steps to ensure that we are carbon neutral by the end of 2007. Solving climate change won’t be simple, and there won’t be a single solution that addresses the entire problem at once. We all need to act together to meet the challenge – from the largest corporations and governments to individual households.

Social mobility

According to the New York Times, I can no longer think of myself as in any way middle class. Interestingly, the US has worse social mobility than several European countries—but not worse than the UK. I remember back in the John Major days, hearing a lot of talk about the “classless society”. A lot of people seemed to believe the US was one.

Business ethics and telemarketing

InfoUSA is a list broker, a company that aggregates personal data and sells it to telemarketers and catalog sales companies. The New York Times reports: InfoUSA advertised lists of “Elderly Opportunity Seekers,” 3.3 million older people “looking for ways to make money,” and “Suffering Seniors,” 4.7 million people with cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. “Oldies but Goodies” contained 500,000 gamblers over 55 years old, for 8.5 cents apiece. One list said: “These people are gullible.

Rollergirls on A&E

A&E is showing a reality TV series about one of the Austin roller derby teams, the Texas Rollergirls. Reviews from the New York based media seem to have missed something. AP writes: This new generation of roller derby queens skates that thin line between blue collar and white trash, balancing nights of tequila shots with days of their real-life careers as nurses, teachers and rubber-lingerie designers. […] Despite their penchant for fishnet uniforms and rump-shaking celebrations, they bristle (in episode two) at the suggestion that roller girls are easy.

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You may know that the NSA are not supposed to carry out surveillance against American citizens, as per US Signals Intelligence Directive 18, unless given special permission by the Attorney General. You may also know that the Supreme Court has ruled that the NSA cannot spy against US citizens. They used to get around this by working with GCHQ in the UK—GCHQ would spy on Americans, the NSA would spy on the English, and they’d exchange data.

News you can use

To celebrate its redesign, The Guardian is offering free access to its online edition for the next two weeks. If you live in America and have always wondered what a real newspaper would be like, now’s your chance to find out. (If you think the New York Times is a real newspaper…well, they ditched their entire technology section to make way for more articles on shopping, fitness and fashion. Says it all really.

Kerry’s popularity

Guardian today: A new poll suggested yesterday that Ralph Nader’s independent presidential bid represented a serious threat to the Democratic candidate, Senator John Kerry. The New York Times and CBS News poll revealed a tight two-man race for the White House between President George Bush and Mr Kerry. Mr Bush had a narrow lead of 46% over Mr Kerry’s 43% — within the poll’s margin of error. But when Americans were asked about a three-man race including Mr Nader, the 70-year-old consumer activist attracted 7% support, mostly at the expense of the Democrat.