The Null Device
German actor (of Turkish extraction) Serdar Somuncu has been satirising xenophobia in a novel (and technically illegal) way: by publicly reading from Mein Kampf, interspersed with reflections on life in modern-day Germany.
"Banning it only gives it a cult following," Somuncu said. "Reading it aloud demystifies it. It shows what's inside -- how ridiculous his (Hitler's) ideology was and how ridiculous the 'right' ideology is. It's my artistic way of making a stance against this extremism."
The skinheads and knee-jerk leftists are, as you can imagine, pissed off, though Somuncu has gotten a positive response from Holocaust survivors at his readings.
Life imitates a Philip K. Dick novel: A criminal gang in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has been running a shadow Office of the Chief Minister, in parallel to the real one, and made at least 100 public service appointments under false pretenses. (via Leviathan)
Researchers at the U.S. Center for Disease Control have determined the primary cause of the U.S.'s skyrocketing rates of obesity. It's not calorie consumption (which has not increased as rapidly) or fat content in the diet (which has declined over the past 20 years); it's urban sprawl and automobile dependence. Modern American suburbs (and their Australian equivalents; have a look at Glen Waverley or Rowville sometime) are modelled around the automobile, with no high-street shops and often no footpaths; hence, those who live there have to drive to go anywhere, with exercise being a special activity strictly for the fitness enthusiasts with gym memberships.
Few suburbs now have footpaths, so pedestrians are forced on to the road. Police and private security patrols view with suspicion anyone on a suburban estate without a car: either they have run out of petrol and are in distress, or they are poor and up to no good.
An investigation into walking habits in Seattle found a direct correlation between physical activity and the year a house was built. Residents in streets built before 1947 walked or cycled at least three times every two days. Those in more modern houses used cars almost exclusively.
Which makes me feel a bit better for being one of the povo scum who rely on walking and public transport. Though one thing I have noticed is that, when I had a car, I read fewer books than when I did not (as my commute was not usable as reading time). I wonder whether a correlation can be drawn between car dependence and ignorance or mental atrophy...