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According to the laws of my people a girl child can’t inherit, she has no right to possessions, if there is no male child in the family, sooner or later the estate gets divided up among the other families of the clan – the land, the animals, the women. In accordance with the Kanun, a family without a man is doomed to extinction. Still, there is a way out, the clan can elect a girl to be its future head, a girl who, from that moment on, must live as a man, she must wear men’s clothes, have her hair cut short like a man, and must adopt a bearing very different from her humble girl companions; also, she must never come to know love, either first hand or otherwise, neither as a man nor as a woman. But by way of compensation she can play dice and tavli with the men in the tavern, she can drink with the men, but they never ask for her opinion, for she’s just a woman, after all, even if she’s got a gun slung over her shoulder, a woman whose been saved from servitude, but also from the ecstasy of physical love. Because those thus elected must take an oath of virginity and can never know the touch of a man unless, of course, we consider the practice of the blood feud a kind of touching, because the sworn virgin, or virgjinesha, as my people call these women turned into men, must not only head the clan after their fathers have grown too old, not only must they make decisions and manage the estate, they must also exact vengeance if need be, just like a man – after all, the virgjinesha is the head of the family now, while the blood feud, or gjakmarrje, as we call it, is practically an everyday occurrence in the highlands that was my birthplace. –“Sworn Virgin,” Kinga Kali, Magyar Lettre via Eurozine
Lomborg opens Cool It with a long discussion on polar bears, arguing that no more than two (of 20) groups are declining in population, that their numbers are not falling overall, and, in places where they are, that it is not a result of global (or Arctic) warming. In fact, polar-bear populations in warming regions are rising, he argues, suggesting that a warmer world will be beneficial to the bears. As Friel shows, Lomborg sourced that to a blog post and to a study that never mentioned polar bears. But he ignored the clear message of the most authoritative assessment of the bears’ population trends, namely, research by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It found that bear populations are indeed declining where the Arctic is warming. In fact, concluded the IUCN, polar-bear populations “have declined significantly” where spring temperatures have risen dramatically. It also offered an explanation for Lomborg’s claim that numbers are falling most where temps are getting colder: that area happens to be where there is unregulated hunting. –“Book Review: The Lomborg Deception–Debunking the claims of the climate-change skeptic,” Sharon Begley, Newsweek
Social leveller that it is, the internet has taken south Indian music beyond an exclusive aristocracy of practitioners and listeners. One of Raman’s best students today is an Atlanta-based IT professional who had earlier tried to teach himself—with flutes fashioned out of pvc pipes and reeds of bamboo from his backyard—through flute tutorials on YouTube. Thanks to Raman, most of that has now been safely unlearnt, and this son of a bus driver from a small village in Karnataka now plays before packed Kannada Sabha halls around Georgia. Says Raman, “He told me none of this would have been possible if he’d remained in India.” Singer Shubha Mudgal observes that the more serious online students are usually from the south. “I hate to generalise, but south Indians have a more sustained interest in learning, whereas in north India, music lessons are often at best a finishing school experience,” she says wryly. –“Ether Music: Online classical lessons have restored the guru-shishya harmony across continents,” Shruti Ravindran, OutlookIndia.com
Gordon Brown is hurt by claims of bullying;
the Internet’s greatest fear: Facebook may start charging;
a scary, interesting video about the future of games (meaning that everything is a game, and that everything is Facebook)
Number of people per sauna in Finland:
Argentine scientists who attached plastic flatulence-gathering backpacks to cows found that the animals emit up to 1,000 liters of flatulence each day.
China debarked the rover Jade Rabbit onto the moon’s Bay of Rainbows.
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Notes on South Africa’s failed revolution
“I will never know what goes on in your mind, or what that shield of a smile behind which we try to advance should tell us.”