Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Virtual Japanese Candy Pop Stars, Dying Vultures, and the Secret Lives of Journalists (Link Round-Up 6/22-23/11)


Nature vs. Nurture
Across cultures, when peddling beauty-related products, advertisers use endorsers who have highly symmetric faces. Around the world, online female escorts are advertised as possessing the universally preferred hourglass figure. Globally, religious narratives, cosmetic companies and self-help gurus offer solace and hope to assuage the exact same set of Darwinian-based insecurities (e.g., mortality, mating concerns, parental worries, status angst).

Ultimately, successful global marketers are those who recognize the shared biological-based features that unite all consumers within the proverbial global village. To slightly reword the famous quote by the evolutionary geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky: Nothing in consumer behavior makes sense except in the light of evolution.
Domino Theory
India's vulture population drops as its wild dog population soars
Vultures that ingest carcasses treated with diclofenac, a mild painkiller akin to such harmless curatives as aspirin and ibuprofen, develop untreatable kidney failure that kills them within weeks. Commonly used by humans worldwide for decades to control pain, Indians began using the drug on their livestock in the early 1990s. The effect on the vultures was immediate—dead birds literally falling from trees.
...
One study figured that 70 per cent of the world’s rabies deaths occur in India, where there are more than 17 million dog bites every year. In the decade of major vulture decline, from 1992 to 2003, one estimate showed dog populations increasing by a third, up to nearly 30 million. The escalation of the dog population corresponds perfectly with the disappearance of India’s vultures.
Don't Call It A Comeback
The Turkish leader once compared democracy to a streetcar: “When you come to your stop, you get off.” We are in for a surprise if the destination under his leadership turns out to be a new Muslim empire in the Middle East.
United They Stand
If Uttar Pradesh were to declare independence, it would be the world’s fifth most populous country (as the map below shows, it has about the same number of residents as Brazil). Yet its economy would only be the size of Qatar, a tiny oil-rich state of fewer than 2m people. That makes it poor on a per person basis. Despite India’s two decades of rapid growth, Uttar Pradesh’s GDP per head is close to that of Kenya. The map below presents country equivalents for India’s states and territories in terms of GDP, GDP per person (in PPP terms) and population.
The Medium Is The Message
Virtual Japanese pop group member created for candy advertisement
This past Sunday, Ezaki Glico, the candy company which aired the commercial, confirmed what many of AKB 48’s fans had come to suspect: Aimi Eguchi wasn’t real. The new group member, it turns out, was a computer-generated composite of the real band members. Her pretty face was actually made up of the “best features” of six other members: her eyes, nose, mouth, hair/body, face outline and eyebrows were not flesh-and-blood, but cut-and-paste.
Who, What, Where, When, Why, How
Journalist Jose Antonio Vargas on (reluctantly) being a illegal immigrant
In the five years that followed, I did my best to “do enough.” I was promoted to staff writer, reported on video-game culture, wrote a series on Washington’s H.I.V./AIDS epidemic and covered the role of technology and social media in the 2008 presidential race. I visited the White House, where I interviewed senior aides and covered a state dinner — and gave the Secret Service the Social Security number I obtained with false documents.
Journalists worldwide under-report their own rapes and sexual assaults
“The most I was ever groped was at Arafat’s funeral,” freelance photojournalist Stephanie Sinclair said. “I got groped a thousand times. It was horrifying. Everyone said it was hardest thing they ever covered. It was awful to be groped like that, on every part of my body.”

Kate Brooks, a photographer based in Turkey who freelances for The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal and others, said a man grabbed her crotch from behind as she was photographing the scene of a suicide bombing in Afghanistan. Brooks said she usually tolerates groping—“it’s the way things are in the field”—but she found that episode as inexplicable as it was disturbing. Can it possibly be sexual, she asked, in such circumstances?

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