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Archive for October, 2010

Rather than a list of things that have inspired me this week I am just going to go with this amazing podcast from  This American Life on unconditional love. Anyone who knows me will be very unsurprised to hear that it made me cry – which was embarrassing as I was walking down the street at the time while listening on my iPod.

For those who haven’t heard the program before, its usual format is to have three of four stories on one topic.

This week starts off with psychologist Harry Harlow who performed experiments  in order to prove that it was good for parents to show love to their children. Unbelievable as it may sound, before the 1950s the prevailing wisdom was that it was harmful to  hold or kiss babies too often – too often being defined as once a year.

The second story is about Heidi and Rick Solomon, who adopt a seven and a half-year old boy from a Romanian orphanage and their perseverance and dedication as they teach him how to love, despite his battles against them.

In the final story Dave Royko talks about his family’s decision on whether to put their autistic son into full-time residential care – which proves that both love and being a parent are hard.

The podcast is about an hour but is an hour well spent: listen here.

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Some visual inspiration from this week :

– above is a Mandelbrot fractal in honour of inventor Polish-born mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot who passed away on 14 October 2010;

– slideshow of the 12 “On the Verge” sites that are in danger of disappearing according to The Global Heritage Fund;

Wall Street Monopoly;

Wildlife photographer of the year.

Have a good weekend.

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Amazing slideshow in The New York Times of work by French “photograffeur” JR, who  has been awarded this year’s TED prize for placing huge photographs in poor neighbourhoods around the globe.

Just as cool as his photographs – he gets to donate the $10,000 award to a humanitarian project of his choice.

(JR/Agence VU)

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“Earthquakes and aftershocks: the things that turn us into brothers, the glue that binds our broken country together.”

Beltrán Soler, a seismologist in Alberto Fuguet’s novel The Movies of My Life

He would have to add the miraculous rescue of the 33 miners who were trapped underground for 69 days to that list. I will never forget watching the rescue of the last few miners online and seeing the messages of joy pour in from around the globe. However much politicians might try and exploit our differences, I think this evidence of our common humanity is much closer to the truth.

China’s Charter 08, in honour of the Nobel Peace prize winner, also refers to universal human values:

“Freedom is at the core of universal human values. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom in where to live, and the freedoms to strike, to demonstrate, and to protest, among others, are the forms that freedom takes. Without freedom, China will always remain far from civilized ideals.”

– promoting freedom of another kind: Love Commandos, a group of volunteers in India rescuing couples whose lives are in danger because they want to marry someone from a different caste;

– a battle for freedom that was fought 50 years ago: Janice Mack Guess tells her story as one of the children who helped desegregate public schools in North Carolina;

– a senior financier admits that in rich societies many of the most highly paid people devote their skills to activities that cannot increase human happiness;

– cracked.com includes wealth amongst its 5 Things You Think Will Make You Happy (But Won’t) ;

– Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s installation in the Turbine Hall of London’s Tate Modern;

Carl Warner’s amazing food landscapes.

Have a good weekend.

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Strong women

“For every good woman out here that can’t be held down. She keeps her house together, she keeps her mind together, she keeps her family together. She’s beautiful, she’s strong. And you’re that woman, and nobody can break you down!”

– Mary J Blige

In honour of one of my favourite singers who was fantastic when I was lucky enough to catch her live this week:

– New York Times: “As Ms Blige took her time, what had been a show of power became an immersion in soul“;

New York Post:

“At this show there wasn’t a phony lip-synched note, just pure live music brimming with spontaneity and musical grace. It was the kind of regal performance you’d expect from the Queen of Hip-Hop.”

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On the day that Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, John Simpson, world affairs editor at BBC News, has written a wonderfully appropriate piece on how individuals can change the world:

“At a single day’s trial last December, Mr Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison after having helped to draft Charter 08, a manifesto for political change in China.

The act of official irritability which took away Mr Liu’s freedom is becoming more and more of an international embarrassment to China.

Now, in every country in the world, his name and cause will be known; and more people in dictatorships everywhere will be emboldened to imitate his small act of resistance.”

He also points to a book that is published today – Small Acts of Resistance: How Courage, Tenacity, and Ingenuity Can Change the World – which details how governments which deny their people freedom have been brought down by individuals determined to speak and act as though they are free.

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