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16 Nov 05:00

O manifesto e a saída da ministra

Na semana passada, tratei do manifesto assinado por diversos economistas heterodoxos, com críticas a um ajustamento econômico mais profundo no segundo mandato de Dilma. O texto do manifesto pode ser encontrado em http://brasildebate.com.br/economistas-pelo-desenvolvimento-e-pela-inclusao-social/.

O manifesto defende a continuidade da política econômica adotada a partir de 2009 e com mais intensidade a partir de 2011.

Trata-se de um conjunto de medidas, que ficou conhecido por nova matriz econômica, na expres-são cunhada pelo ministro da Fazenda, que representa forte virada heterodoxa em relação ao regime de política econômica do período de Malan e Palocci, também chamado de "Malocci".

Entre tantas medidas do paco-te de heterodoxias do atual regime de política econômica, podem ser mencionados:

a) o controle direto dos preços e a maior leniência com a inflação; b) a tentativa de reduzir na marra os juros; c) a perda de transpa-
rência na política fiscal, além da forte piora das contas públicas; d) o excesso de intervencionismo nas políticas de desenvolvimento setorial (política de conteúdo nacio-nal e alteração do marco regulatório do petróleo, entre outras) e de concessão de crédito subsidiado (hipertrofia do BNDES); e) desonerações de impostos tópicas, segundo lógica muito pouco transparente; etc. A lista é longa.

Evidentemente discordo integralmente dos termos do manifesto. Devo ser mais um dos "porta-vozes do mercado financeiro", que é como o documento se refere a quem pensa diferente deles.

Um dos erros mais crassos do manifesto é comparar a situação econômica que vivemos com a dos países centrais, principalmente a União Europeia e o Japão e em menor medida os Estados Unidos.

As economias centrais experimentam elevadas taxas de desemprego, risco deflacionário, juros nominais nulos e superavit externo.

No nosso caso temos baixo desemprego, inflação no teto da meta, juros nominais de 11,25% ao ano e subindo e deficit externo a caminho de 4% do PIB. O baixo crescimento, diferentemente do caso europeu ou do japonês, não resulta da carência de demanda, mas sim do baixo crescimento da produtividade. Trata-se de problema de oferta, e não de demanda.

Na semana passada, a ministra da Cultura e ex-prefeita de São Paulo pelo PT, Marta Suplicy, entregou sua carta de demissão.

Carta de oito parágrafos, no sétimo lê-se: "Todos nós, brasileiros, desejamos, neste momento, que a senhora seja iluminada ao escolher sua nova equipe de trabalho, a começar por uma equipe econômica independente, experiente e comprovada, que resgate a confiança e a credibilidade ao seu governo e que, acima de tudo, esteja comprometida com uma nova agenda de estabilidade e crescimento para o nosso país. Isso é o que hoje o Brasil, ansiosamente, aguarda e espera".

Há claramente na carta da ministra demissionária uma crítica ao atual regime de política econômica e um pedido para que se retorne ao regime de política econômica do período "Malocci".

Meu entendimento é que a ministra ecoa crítica maior do partido, e principalmente dos políticos do partido, à alteração do regime de política econômica que houve em 2009.

Os políticos, animais pragmáticos que são, incluindo Lula, já perceberam há tempos que a nova matriz econômica deu com os burros n'água. A defesa da nova matriz é tarefa unicamente ideológica das pessoas que, por formação, creem que esse pacote de política econômica está correto e que todos os problemas que temos tido resultam da crise internacional.

A temperatura deve estar quente nas hostes petistas. De um lado, os políticos profissionais, liderados por Lula, demandando uma virada pragmática na política econômica -de preferência que a presidente terceirize a política econômica para um novo Palocci.

Enquanto isso, economistas ideológicos, incluindo a presidente e o atual ministro-chefe da Casa Civil, Aloizio Mercadante, defendem o legado da nova matriz.

É esse o sentido da escolha do novo ministro da Fazenda. O nome sinalizará se haverá ou não uma virada liberal na política econômica.

22 Nov 17:00

nevver: Odd Nerdrum

14 Nov 18:14

Homem com leucemia entra em remissão após ser tratado com vírus da Aids

Adam Victor Brandizzi

Menção obrigatória a xkcd http://xkcd.com/938/

RIO - Um homem que sofre com uma leucemia agressiva está agora em remissão após médicos usarem o vírus HIV para alvejar e matar células cancerígenas.

Marshall Jensen foi diagnosticado com leucemia linfoblástica aguda, um câncer das células brancas do sangue, logo depois de se casar em 2012.

Jensen, 30, e sua família deixaram sua casa em Utah e passaram os dois anos seguintes viajando pelos Estados Unidos em busca de um tratamento que poderia lutar contra o câncer, a emissora KSL relata.

Na Filadélfia, Jensen ficou sabendo de um tratamento raro, experimental, aproveitando da capacidade HIV vírus para inserir novos genes nas células T do paciente, a fim de matar o câncer de outra forma incurável.

O tratamento é o resultado de duas décadas de pesquisas por Carl June e sua equipe da Penn Medicine, que produziu um estudo sobre os “assassinos específicos de leucemia”, publicado no “New England Journal of Medicine”.

- É um vírus desativado - explicou June. - Mas ele retém a característica essencial de um HIV, que é a capacidade de inserir novos genes nas células.

A terapia trabalha levando milhares de milhões de células T de um paciente com câncer. O DNA nas células é então alterado com uma forma inofensiva do vírus HIV.

As células são programadas para reconhecer e matar o câncer e são colocadas de volta no corpo da pessoa.

June disse que as células agem como “serial killers” e continuam a permanecer latentes no corpo, a menos que o câncer retorne. Sua equipe descobriu que uma das células T modificadas pode matar cerca de mil células tumorais.

O tratamento tem sido bem sucedido até agora e Jensen voltou para casa na quinta-feira depois de ter sido dito que ele está em remissão.

Um total de 30 crianças e adultos receberam o tratamento no estudo de June. Vinte e três dos pacientes estão vivos e 19 já alcançaram a remissão completa.

June vai começar os testes em pacientes com câncer de pâncreas no verão de 2015.

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18 Nov 09:08

Chegada da Amazon aquece debate no mercado sobre o preço fixo do livro - 17/11/2014 - Ilustrada - Folha de S.Paulo

A gigante americana Amazon ainda está mais para nanica no Brasil, onde vende livros impressos há três meses, mas editores e livreiros temem esperar para ver a varejista crescer ao ponto de monopolizar o mercado, como acontece nos EUA e a Inglaterra.

Após anos de discussões sobre uma legislação que estipule o preço fixo para o livro, e apesar de o tema ainda dividir o mercado, um projeto de lei deve ser apresentado em Brasília em 2015. A iniciativa será da senadora eleita Fátima Bezerra (PT-RN), com apoio da Associação Nacional de Livrarias (ANL).

As leis de preço fixo, em vigor em países como a França e a Espanha, impedem as lojas de darem descontos acima de 5% em lançamentos. Os grandes descontos, comuns às redes —que, ao comprar mais livros dos editores, conseguem adquiri-los e repassá-los ao consumidor por preços mais baixos— são considerados prejudiciais às livrarias independentes.

Antes de a discussão chegar ao Senado, nesta segunda (17) e nesta terça (18), no Rio e em São Paulo, dois seminários debaterão o tema —o segundo será capitaneado pela ANL, antiga defensora da lei do preço fixo, mas a surpresa fica por conta do primeiro encontro, coordenado pelo Sindicato Nacional dos Editores de Livros (Snel), que por anos foi contrário à proposta.

"O Snel sempre acreditou que o preço é uma ferramenta de marketing e, como tal, pode ser utilizado como impulsionador de vendas. Está aí a Black Friday, em que promoções trazem resultados incríveis. Mas temos recebido queixas dos pequenos livreiros, que sofrem com a pressão da concorrência. Daí um seminário para entender como funciona o modelo em mercados mais maduros que o nosso", diz Sônia Jardim, presidente do Snel.

'A HORA É AGORA'

O seminário carioca reúne nesta segunda palestrantes de países que adotam a prática, como França e Alemanha, ou já adotaram, como a Inglaterra.

Entre os participantes, o britânico Sam Edenborough, presidente da Associação de Autores e Agentes do Reino Unido, país em que um acordo comercial para o preço fixo vigorou de 1890 a 1997, afirma que, se o Brasil quiser implantar uma lei, deve fazê-lo já.

"Há uma janela estreia de oportunidade no Brasil —e a hora é agora— para introduzir uma lei do preço fixo. Isso poderia estabilizar a indústria e impedir a Amazon de construir uma posição extremamente dominante. Nos EUA e no Reino Unido ela [a Amazon] fez isso; na Alemanha, na França e em outros países que têm regulamentação, ela não conseguiu", diz o especialista.

Para ele, uma lei protegeria autores, editores, livreiros e consumidores —que teriam mais títulos a escolher. "O importante é que os consumidores entendam por que a lei pode ser necessária e como poderia beneficiá-los."

Ednilson Xavier, presidente da ANL, diz que a regulamentação pode até baratear o livro. "Havendo mais livrarias para o escoamento do livro, este pode ser barateado pela escala." Para ele, um dos perigo dos grandes descontos é que eles reduzem a bibliodiversidade.

ERA DOS DESCONTOS

Um exemplo desse cenário pôde ser percebido no Reino Unido nas últimas décadas, desde que, em meados dos anos 1990, alguns editores abandonaram o acordo comercial que estabelecia o preço fixo.

"Com o fim do acordo, começou uma era de grandes descontos, especialmente nos best-sellers. Os editores passaram a focar em títulos mais comerciais —ficção de massa, biografias de celebridades, livros de filmes. O alcance e a diversidade dos livros sofreu, e essa situação permitiu que um único varejista passasse a dar as regras", diz Sam Edenborough, que não vê mais possibilidade de um novo acordo no Reino Unido.

O seminário do Snel reúne ainda nomes da França, onde uma lei permite descontos de apenas 5% até dois anos depois do lançamento, e da Alemanha, onde o controle é exercido pela indústria, mas não trouxe nenhum especialista dos EUA, que nunca exerceu controle do tipo.

A presidente do Snel, Sônia Jardim, tem dúvidas sobre qual modelo seria mais efetivo no caso de adoção no Brasil —na avaliação dela, o alemão seria o mais adequado, já que pode ser mais facilmente revertido caso não funcione.

"Mas não sei, por exemplo, como ficariam eventos promocionais, como as bienais do livro ou datas específicas. O desconto ficaria limitado ao previsto pela lei?"

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18 Nov 09:26

Compras de Natal: Marcas que utilizam trabalho escravo no Brasil - ET

Adam Victor Brandizzi

Nem responder ao IBGE vai poder mais.

A Repórter Brasil acompanha as fiscalizações realizadas no setor das confecções desde 2009, quando foi lançado o Pacto Municipal Tripartite Contra a Fraude e a Precarização, e pelo Emprego e Trabalho Decentes em São Paulo, do qual a organização é signatária.

Confira os principais casos envolvendo empresas do setor, com as datas dos flagrantes:

M.Officer – novembro de 2013

Roupa da M.Officer em oficina flagrada com trabalho escravo (MPT-PRT2)

Roupa da M.Officer em oficina flagrada com trabalho escravo (MPT-PRT2)

Ação conjunta realizada pelo Ministério Público do Trabalho e pelo Ministério do Trabalho e Emprego resgatou duas pessoas produzindo peças da M.Officer em uma confecção no Bom Retiro, bairro da região central de São Paulo.  Casados, os dois trabalhadores são bolivianos e viviam com seus dois filhos no local em que costuravam. A casa  não possuía condições de higiene e não tinha local para alimentação, o que fazia que a família tivesse de comer sobre a cama. Os quatro tinham de dividir a cama de casal. No local de trabalho, onde foram encontradas instalações elétricas irregulares junto a material inflamável, não havia extintores de incêndio. Os trabalhadores tinham de pagar todas as despesas da casa, como luz, água, produtos de limpeza e de higiene, valor descontado do que recebiam por mês.  Eles costuravam exclusivamente para a M.Officer há sete meses e foram contratados por uma terceirizada pela empresa para a produção, a Spazio. Ambos ganhavam  R$ 7 por peça produzida.

Saiba mais:
Justiça determina bloqueio de R$ 1 mi de dona da M.Officer por caso de trabalho análogo ao de escravo
Justiça cassa bloqueio de bens em caso de escravidão envolvendo empresa dona da M.Officer
Os grilhões ocultos da elite brasileira

Le Lis Blanc e Bo.Bô – junho 2013

Registro de dívida por passagem em caderno encontrado na oficina da Le Lis Blanc (Anali Dupré)

Registro de dívida por passagem em caderno encontrado na oficina da Le Lis Blanc (Anali Dupré)

Fiscalização realizada em junho resultou na libertação de 28 pessoas que produziam peças para a grife Le Lis Blanc em três oficinas clandestinas diferentes, incluindo uma adolescente de 16 anos. Eles recebiam entre R$ 2,50 e R$ 7 por unidade costurada. As peças eram vendidas por até 100 vezes mais. Todos os resgatados eram bolivianos, e alguns estavam aprisionados por dívidas. Além de escravidão, a fiscalização identificou também tráfico de pessoas.

Saiba mais:
Roupas da Le Lis Blanc são fabricadas com escravidão
Fiscalização liberta trabalhadores que produziam roupas para grife Bo.Bô
Diretor da Le Lis Blanc e Bo.Bô nega explorar escravos
Após flagrante de escravidão, donos da Le Lis Blanc e Bo.Bô prometem medidas imediatas
Proprietários da marca terá que pagar R$ 1 milhão em indenizações

Cori, Emme e Luigi Bertolli – março 2013

Pagos por produção, trabalhadores continuaram costurando mesmo durante a fiscalização. Ao todo, 28 trabalhadores bolivianos foram resgatados em condições degradantes (Anali Dupré)

Pagos por produção, trabalhadores continuaram costurando mesmo durante a fiscalização. Ao todo, 28 trabalhadores bolivianos foram resgatados em condições degradantes (Anali Dupré)

Fiscalização realizada em 19 de março resultou na libertação de 28 costureiros bolivianos de condições análogas às de escravos em uma oficina clandestina na zona leste de São Paulo. Submetidos a condições degradantes, jornadas exaustivas e servidão por dívida, eles produziam peças para a empresa GEP, que é formada pelas marcas Emme, Cori e Luigi Bertolli, e que pertence ao grupo que representa a grife internacional GAP no Brasil. O resgate foi resultado de uma investigação de mais de dois meses, na qual trabalharam juntos Ministério Público do Trabalho (MPT), Ministério do Trabalho e Emprego (MTE) e Receita Federal. A fiscalização aconteceu na mesma semana que a São Paulo Fashion Week, principal evento de moda da capital paulista.

Saiba mais:
Fiscais flagram escravidão envolvendo grupo que representa a GAP no Brasil
Donos de Cori, Emme e Luigi Bertolli terão que explicar escravidão na Assembléia Legislativa de SP
Diretor do grupo GEP alega ‘traição’ de fornecedores por caso de trabalho escravo

Gangster – março 2013

Fiscal toma depoimento de trabalhador em regime de escravidão  produzindo peças da Gangster numa em uma pequena oficina no bairro São João, em Guarulhos (SP) (Guilherme Zocchio)

Fiscal toma depoimento de trabalhador em regime de escravidão produzindo peças da Gangster numa em uma pequena oficina no bairro São João, em Guarulhos (SP) (Guilherme Zocchio)

Trabalhadores em condições análogas às de escravos foram resgatados produzindo peças da Gangster Surf and Skate Wear, confecção paulistana que tem como público-alvo surfistas, skatistas e praticantes de outros esportes radicais. A libertação aconteceu em 19 de março, durante fiscalização em uma pequena oficina localizada no bairro São João, em Guarulhos (SP), onde trabalhavam dois bolivianos e um peruano. Toda a produção da oficina era destinada à Gangster, loja do bairro do Brás, região central da capital paulista.

Saiba mais:
Fiscalização flagra escravidão na produção de roupas para skatistas e surfistas

Hippychick – janeiro 2013

Página da Hippychick com selo da Abvtex, que foi retirado após a denúncia (Reprodução)

Página da Hippychick com selo da Abvtex, que foi retirado após a denúncia (Reprodução)

A Hippychick Moda Infantil, confecção de roupas infantis que, segundo o Ministério do Trabalho e Emprego (MTE), terceirizava sua produção para uma oficina de costura flagrada explorando trabalho escravo, tinha desde outubro de 2012 o selo da Associação Brasileira do Vestuário Têxtil (ABVTEX) de responsabilidade social. Após a libertação de cinco trabalhadores bolivianos, em 22 de janeiro de 2013, o MTE e o Ministério Público do Trabalho (MPT), que também participou da operação, investigam a responsabilidade das Lojas Americanas na exploração de mão de obra escrava. Segundo o MPT, a suspeita é de que as peças produzidas pela oficina terceirizada eram revendidas exclusivamente nas Lojas Americanas com a marca “Basic+ Kids”. Por conta do flagrante no seu fornecedor, em setembro de 2013 as Lojas Americanas firmaram TAC se comprometendo a melhorar a fiscalização da cadeia produtiva.

Saiba mais:
Após flagrante em fornecedor, Lojas Americanas se comprometem a fiscalizar cadeia produtiva
Confecção de roupas infantis flagrada explorando escravos tinha certificação

Talita Kume – julho 2012

Crianças ficavam expostas a diversos riscos na oficina de costura interditada, num sobrado na Zona Norte de São Paulo (SRTE/SP)

Crianças ficavam expostas a diversos riscos na oficina de costura interditada, num sobrado na Zona Norte de São Paulo (SRTE/SP)

Um grupo de oito pessoas vindas da Bolívia, incluindo um adolescente de 17 anos, foi resgatado de condições análogas à escravidão pela fiscalização dedicada ao combate desse tipo de crime em áreas urbanas. A libertação ocorreu no último dia 19 de junho. Além dos indícios de tráfico de pessoas, as vítimas eram submetidas a jornadas exaustivas, à servidão por dívida, ao cerceamento de liberdade de ir e vir e a condições de trabalho degradantes. O grupo costurava para a marca coreana Talita Kume, cuja sede fica no bairro do Bom Retiro, na zona central da capital.

Saiba mais:
Trabalho escravo abastece produção da marca Talita Kume
Donos da Talita Kume podem ser convocados pela CPI do Trabalho Escravo

Gregory – maio 2012

Jovem cuida do filho recém nascido enquanto trabalha. O carrinho fica ao lado da máquina de costura na Zona Norte da capital paulista (SRTE-SP)

Jovem cuida do filho recém nascido enquanto trabalha. O carrinho fica ao lado da máquina de costura na Zona Norte da capital paulista (SRTE-SP)

No mesmo dia em que a grife de roupas femininas Gregory lançava a sua coleção Outono-Inverno 2012 com pompa e circunstância, uma equipe de fiscalização trabalhista flagrava situação de cerceamento de liberdade, servidão por dívida, jornada exaustiva, ambiente degradante de trabalho e indícios de tráfico de pessoas em uma oficina que produzia peças para a marca, na Zona Norte da cidade da capital paulista. O conjunto de inspeções resultou na libertação de 23 pessoas, todas elas estrangeiras de nacionalidade boliviana, que estavam sendo submetidas à condições análogas à escravidão.

Saiba mais:
Fiscalização associa Gregory à exploração de trabalho escravo

Após flagrante de escravidão, Gregory é questionada pelo Facebook

Caso Zara – agosto 2011

Fiscais flagraram servidão por dívidas, degradância e jornadas exaustivas, em oficina em Sâo Paulo (Repórter Brasil)

Fiscais flagraram servidão por dívidas, degradância e jornadas exaustivas, em oficina em Sâo Paulo (Repórter Brasil)

Confira a série especial de reportagens publicadas sobre o flagrante de trabalho escravo na cadeia produtiva da grife de moda Zara, da empresa espanhola Inditex. A Repórter Brasil acompanhou as investigações do Ministério do Trabalho e Emprego e as fiscalizações in loco e trouxe o caso à tona, que ganhou repercussão internacional.

Saiba mais:
MPT destina parte de verba da Zara para libertados
Acordo entre Zara e MPT descarta dano moral coletivo 

Zara recusa acordo com Ministério Público do Trabalho

Cobranças públicas dirigidas à grife Zara são intensificadas
Após desculpas, Zara anuncia “acordos” ainda não fechados
Zara não comparece à Assembleia Legislativa; CPI é defendida
Fabricantes da Zara não foram revisitados por auditorias em 2010
Roupas da Zara são fabricadas com mão de obra escrava
Zara é denunciada por escravidão na Argentina

Collins – maio 2011

De acordo com a DPU-SP, Collins abusou ao usar "trabalho escravo para aumento de lucro" (Bianca Pyl)

De acordo com a DPU-SP, Collins abusou ao usar “trabalho escravo para aumento de lucro” (Bianca Pyl)

A Defensoria Pública da União em São Paulo (DPU/SP) ajuizou ação civil pública contra a empresa de vestuário Collins, envolvida em flagrante de trabalho análogo à escravidão em agosto de 2010. Trata-se da primeira ação coletiva apresentada pelo órgão ao Judiciário trabalhista. “Por falta de defensores, não há como atuarmos também na Justiça do Trabalho. Contudo, quando há uma relação com questões de direitos humanos, como é o caso do tráfico internacional e do trabalho escravo, nós atuamos”, observa Marcus Vinícius Rodrigues Lima, do Oficio de Direitos Humanos e Tutela Coletiva da DPU/SP, que moveu a ação.

Saiba mais:
DPU ajuíza ação contra a Collins por trabalho escravo 

Pernambucanas – abril 2011

Mulheres também foram encontradas em condições análogas à escravidão na oficina em rua tranquila da Zona Norte da capital paulista (Bianca Pyl)

Mulheres também foram encontradas em condições análogas à escravidão na oficina em rua tranquila da Zona Norte da capital paulista (Bianca Pyl)

A casa branca, localizada em uma rua tranquila da Zona Norte da capital paulista, não levantava suspeita. Dentro dela, no entanto, 16 pessoas vindas da Bolívia viviam e eram explorados em condições de escravidão contemporânea na fabricação de roupas. O grupo costurava blusas da coleção Outono-Inverno da Argonaut, marca jovem da tradicional Pernambucanas, no momento em que auditores fiscais da Superintendência Regional do Trabalho e Emprego de São Paulo (SRTE/SP) chegaram ao local. A marca este envolvida em dois flagrantes: um em março de 2011 e outro em setembro de 2010.

Saiba mais:
Trabalho escravo é flagrado na cadeia da Pernambucanas
Rede Pernambucanas esteve envolvida em flagrante anterior 

775 – novembro 2010

Meio ambiente de trabalho na oficina que atendia a marca 775 era irregular e prejudicial aos trabalhadores (SRTE-SP)

Meio ambiente de trabalho na oficina que atendia a marca 775 era irregular e prejudicial aos trabalhadores (SRTE-SP)

Fiscalização encontrou duas bolivianas em condição de trabalho escravo no meio urbano e providenciou abrigo às vítimas. Submetidas a uma rotina de violências físicas e morais, elas costuraram exclusivamente para a marca 775.

Saiba mais:
Costureiras são resgatadas de escravidão em ação inédita

IBGE- outubro 2010

Quando chegou ao complexo de oficinas, fiscalização flagrou boliviano vestindo colete do IBGE, confeccionado em regime análogo ao escravo (Bianca Pyl)

Quando chegou ao complexo de oficinas, fiscalização flagrou boliviano vestindo colete do IBGE, confeccionado em regime análogo ao escravo (Bianca Pyl)

Vencedora da licitação dos 230 mil coletes deixou quase toda a produção (99,12%) para terceiros. Um deles, que não tinha nem registro básico, repassou parte da demanda para oficina que mantinha trabalho escravo.

Confira:
Escravizados produziram coletes de recenseadores do IBGE

Marisa – março 2010

Oficina de costura fiscalizada produzia peças femininas para a Marisa, uma das maiores redes varejistas do país (Maurício Hashizume)

Oficina de costura fiscalizada produzia peças femininas para a Marisa, uma das maiores redes varejistas do país (Maurício Hashizume)

Etapas do processo desde o aliciamento até as lojas do magazine foram apuradas pela Superintendência Regional do Trabalho e Emprego de São Paulo (SRTE-SP), que aplicou 43 autos de infração, com passivo total de R$ 633,6 mil.

Saiba mais:
Escravidão é flagrada em oficina de costura ligada à Marisa
Marisa assina Pacto contra escravidão e anuncia mudanças
Marisa é suspensa de pacto contra escravidão
Para AGU, Marisa deve ser incluída na “lista suja” do trabalho escravo
Justiça absolve Lojas Marisa em caso de trabalho escravo

Especial atualizado regularmente com inclusão de novos casos.

Esta matéria foi originalmente publicada pelo Repórter Brasil

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18 Nov 20:29

Cartoonist Josh Hara Draws on His Coffee Cup(s) Every Morning...





















Cartoonist Josh Hara Draws on His Coffee Cup(s) Every Morning [more]

Previously: How to Get 10% Off Your Order at Not a Burger Stand

18 Nov 05:23

The Double Dust Disks of HD 95086

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2014 November 17
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

The Double Dust Disks of HD 95086
Illustration Credit: Spitzer Space Telescope, JPL, NASA

Explanation: What do other star systems look like? To help find out, astronomers are carrying out detailed observations of nearby stars in infrared light to see which have dust disks that might be forming planets. Observations by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and ESA's Herschel Space Observatory have found that planetary system HD 95086 has two dust disks: a hot one near the parent star and a cooler one farther out. An artist's illustration of how the system might appear is featured here, including hypothetical planets with large rings that orbit between the disks. The planets may have created the large gap between the disks by absorbing and deflecting dust with their gravity. HD 95086 is a blue star about 60 percent more massive than our Sun that lies about 300 light years from Earth and is visible with binoculars toward the constellation of Carina. Studying the HD 95086 system may help astronomers better understand the formation and evolution of our own Solar System as well as the Earth.

New Mirror Site: APOD is now available from Serbia in Serbian.
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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
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17 Nov 21:00

Zeugma mosaics





















Zeugma mosaics

20 Nov 01:39

Me: *Watching video tutorial*

Me: *Watching video tutorial*
Person in the video: Heyyyyyyy... Everybodyy... Todayyyy I will show you how to...
Me: HURRY THE FUCK UP
16 Nov 23:00

WHEN I TRY TO WORK FROM HOME

credit: Alison

20 Nov 15:58

Cats Welcoming Soldiers Home [via]Previously: Cats Giving High...













Cats Welcoming Soldiers Home [via]

Previously: Cats Giving High Fives

20 Nov 05:30

[jimbenton]

21 Nov 06:00

Comic for November 21, 2014

21 Nov 11:13

Of The Internet

by DOGHOUSE DIARIES

Of The Internet

UPDATED: Now includes the 4chan one from the mouseover. Wikipedia: the library where they give you scissors, whiteout, and a pen when you walk in, of the internet. Comments on Facebook!

21 Nov 21:00

The Civil War Comes Alive As 3D GIFS

21 Nov 17:00

Photo



21 Nov 17:47

The Vest Epiphany

Adam Victor Brandizzi

¡¡¡EU PRECISAVA SABER DISTO HÁ DOIS ANOS!!!

Using this image without linking to here isn't sharing it's just theft.  

You've heard the old adage 'you learn something new everyday' or even 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks'? Well this old dog recently learned a very new trick.

Ten years I've been a Mum, ten years.  Not once in these ten years did I question why baby vests have envelope shoulders.  I just blithely accepted that this is how the world is.  Sure, it makes them a bit easier to get them over baby's head but that's about it.  Then somebody on a FaceBook parenting group enlightened me with the news that the shoulder design serves a purpose.  We've all been there, your baby has created a poonami.  Shit (or vomit) has quite literally hit the fan (and everywhere else).  You need to strip baby and hose them down. You fear things couldn't possibly get any worse until you try to get the vest over their head (something many babies object to even when the vest isn't dripping with shit) cue poo being moved up over their chest, shoulders and in their hair.

So what if I told you that you can roll the vests down and take them off that way?  Crisis averted.

If you already knew this, why didn't you tell me?! If this is news to you, like it was to me, welcome to enlightenment!

Ever the cynic I decided to try this strange witchery out.  It works.  Better still, it works one handed! How do I know this? why, I filmed it of course!  Actually I filmed it twice.  The first time was a genuine poonami situation yet I feared the site of explosive breastfed poo splattered baby may traumatise you so I did it again with a clean Moomin then tossed a coin as to which one I blogged.  Excuse the crap video, I'm not a V-Blogger, it was midnight with shit lighting and it's filmed one handed with my phone. Oh and yes, Moomin did infact poo mid video.  She's her Father's child.





***Disclaimer: this entry is a bit of fun. Obviously I don't know if this is officially the reason they were designed this way but it's certainly made my life a whole lot easier!



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17 Nov 11:37

Brazil leads creation of Internet governance initiative | ZDNet

Six months after hosting governance conference NETMundial, Brazil is leading the creation of a permanent platform to discuss improvements in the way the Internet is managed.

The country's Internet steering committee CGI, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) are the organizations behind the initiative, which is presented as a collaborative group that will be coordinated by stakeholders across the globe.

According to the organizers, the idea is to turn the NETmundial initiative into an "essential mechanism to advance the creation of policies and governance for the global Internet."

"Dialog is essential, but the global community is now ready to take action. The NETmundial initiative channels this energy to offer practical solutions in Internet governance to solve immediate needs," says ICANN president Fadi Chehadé.

The platform has been described as a "meeting point", where stakeholders will be able to put ideas forward, discuss them and attract the support to make them reality if necessary. In that sense, the WEF support icomes in handy, given its reach within the business community. 

But the initiative's "caretakers" CGI and ICANN, as well as supporter WEF, will not be responsible for any activities regarding the selection of financing of the projects and are keen to stress the collaborative nature of the initiative. To that end, the organizations have started a process of putting together the group's coordinating council and this will be done through a nomination process, open until December 6.

Some 20 individuals from all continents - from governments and academia/technology experts to private sector and the civil society - will take part in the Council. In addition, the CGI and ICANN will take two seats each, while the WEF and the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) will take up individual seats in the coordinating group for the initiative.

Demi Getschko, board member at the CGI and chief executive at the Brazilian Network Information Center (NIC.br), highlighted that the individuals that, as well as the organizations that kickstarted the initiative, the Council will have no decision-making function other than ensuring that the platform functions properly.

"All Council members will also have to support and agree with the principles that came out of the NETmundial meeting in São Paulo earlier this year," he told ZDNet.

According to Getschko, the collaborative work within the Internet governance initiative will be carried out mostly online and there is no set agenda for meetings, online or in person.

For now, the only goals in terms of timescales are that the Council should be in place by year end and that some form of inaugural meeting will take place in January 2015 so the initiative can start its activities.

Brazil's role in global Internet governance

The NETmundial initiative follows a conference with the same name, organized by the Brazilian government and held in São Paulo in April, in the aftermath of the National Security Agency spying scandal that included Brazil as one of the non-adversarial countries being monitored by the United States.

Back then, the Brazilian government said that the US government's plan to end its contractual oversight of ICANN over certain key aspects of Internet addressing and naming also made NETmundial "even more timely."

But Dilma Rousseff's government stressed that it wasn't intending to seize control of the Internet - rather, it was advocating for a more globalized mechanism that would allow discussions around Internet governance to take place in a multistakeholder environment.

Local Internet steering group CGI was responsible for a manifesto document that described principles for Web use and governance and was ultimately used as a foundation for Brazil's Marco Civil da Internet (also known as the country's "Internet Constitution"), passed a day before the April event and guided many of the debates at the conference.

Senior government representatives, academics, Internet heavyweights and supporters of Brazil's campaign to secure a more democratic and decentralized web all attended the São Paulo event, where two documents were produced collaboratively to set the initial agenda of the group and future governance goals.

According to CGI's Getschko, while the documents are not a mandatory set of rules for supporting organizations and countries, they "paint a picture of aspirations and commitments from the overwhelming majority of the international community to guide Internet governance from that point on."

The Internet pioneer adds that the fact these discussions started in Brazil and the steps the country has taken towards a multistakeholder model for Internet governance meant the country was an obvious leader for the NETmundial initiative, despite the fact that other nations were also involved in the original debate.

"Through CGI, Brazil is a good paradigm in that area and ended up serving as an inspiration for the process of horizontally integrating all sectors and also with regards to the meeting results, which generated a letter with fundamental principles that should guide future steps in Internet governance," Getschko says.

"So when it came to following up on all those discussions that NETmundial started, CGI was naturally approached to be part of this continuation and also make it happen," he adds.

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17 Nov 12:46

The Red Baron flies again! Hobbyist flies £50,000 Fokker replica

  • Paul Ford, 52, spent five years on his DIY replica inside an old factory in his in-laws' garden in Cambridgeshire
  • All 320 Fokker Dr1 Dreideckers have been destroyed or lost, so he had to base it on 1970s U.S. technical drawings
  • Mr Ford is no ordinary enthusiast - he spent 26 years at Cambridge University and entered BBC hit show Robot Wars
  • He narrowly avoided death when he crashed it last year, but rebuilt plane and made sure it passed safety checks
  • 'It was very scary the first time I flew it,' the hobbyist admitted. 'But after the first time they're just so much fun to fly'

A plane-mad engineer has spent five years and £50,000 building a perfect replica of the Red Baron's Fokker triplane - and is still flying it despite coming close to death in a crash.

Paul Ford used his wife's patience, his in-laws' garden and his three children's help to recreate the Fokker Dr1 Dreidecker, a First World War fighter made famous by German pilot Manfred Von Richthofen.

Nicknamed 'The Red Baron' for his penchant for painting his aircraft scarlet, Von Richthofen downed at least 70 allied pilots until his death in aerial combat aged 25 a few months before the war ended in 1918.

Scroll down for video 

Now that's a model plane: Paul Ford, 52, spent five years and £50,000 creating his working replica of the Fokker Dr1 Dreidecker. The German First World War fighter was made famous by Manfred Von Richthofen, aka the Red Baron, who shot down 70 allied pilots

Now that's a model plane: Paul Ford, 52, spent five years and £50,000 creating his working replica of the Fokker Dr1 Dreidecker. The German First World War fighter was made famous by Manfred Von Richthofen, aka the Red Baron, who shot down 70 allied pilots

Those magnificent men: Instead of converting an existing craft, Mr Ford created his Fokker triplane from scratch - and it is back in the skies after one of the wing struts was broken in a crash last year. Each part was hand-crafted by the Cambridge engineer's friends

Those magnificent men: Instead of converting an existing craft, Mr Ford created his Fokker triplane from scratch - and it is back in the skies after one of the wing struts was broken in a crash last year. Each part was hand-crafted by the Cambridge engineer's friends

Impressive: With the help of friends and his three children - Ashley, 25, Kirsty, 20, and Michael, 17- Mr Ford's Fokker had its first test flight six years ago and built up a reputation at British air shows, where it flies replica dogfights with an original Tiger Moth

Impressive: With the help of friends and his three children - Ashley, 25, Kirsty, 20, and Michael, 17- Mr Ford's Fokker had its first test flight six years ago and built up a reputation at British air shows, where it flies replica dogfights with an original Tiger Moth

Jaunt: The assistant at Derby Aero Club in his fully-functional replica. His madcap project took 3,500 hours and began 15 years ago, when he built a radio-controlled quarter-size model of the Red Baron's scarlet craft - but he said: 'I had to have the real thing'

Jaunt: The assistant at Derby Aero Club in his fully-functional replica. His madcap project took 3,500 hours and began 15 years ago, when he built a radio-controlled quarter-size model of the Red Baron's scarlet craft - but he said: 'I had to have the real thing'

The 52-year-old co-owner of Derby Aero Club has been obsessed with vintage planes since he became an 11-year-old volunteer at Duxford Airfield in Cambridgeshire, now home to the Imperial War Museum.

The triplane is his crowning achievement and his full-time career - delighting air show crowds across Britain in mock dogfights with a vintage Tiger Moth.

'It is the ultimate plane from the First World War,' he said. 'My wife, Sarah didn't believe I'd do it until one day when the metal and the wood arrived at the front door.'

His madcap project took 3,500 hours and began 15 years ago, when he built a radio-controlled quarter-size model of the Red Baron's scarlet craft.

'I wasn't satisfied', he said. 'I had to have the real thing'.

So to the bemusement of his 50-year-old wife, he bought a book called How to Build a WW1 Replica AND Stay Married! and began work on the Fokker in his in-laws' garden in the village of Cottenham, Cambridgeshire.

'Ironically my wife had time to read it but I didn't,' he said. 'I was too busy working on the plane'.

Challenge: To the bemusement of his 50-year-old wife, Mr Ford bought a book called How to Build a WW1 Replica AND Stay Married! and began work on the Fokker in his in-laws' garden in the village of Cottenham, Cambridgeshire. It had its first test flight six years ago

Challenge: To the bemusement of his 50-year-old wife, Mr Ford bought a book called How to Build a WW1 Replica AND Stay Married! and began work on the Fokker in his in-laws' garden in the village of Cottenham, Cambridgeshire. It had its first test flight six years ago

Unfamiliar sight: The Fokker Dr1 Dreidecker, of which only 320 were built and none survive, was a favourite of the feared Red Baron

Unfamiliar sight: The Fokker Dr1 Dreidecker, of which only 320 were built and none survive, was a favourite of the feared Red Baron

Meticulous: The plane had to be based on 1970s technical drawings by a U.S. enthusiast in order to pass strict safety tests by authorities

Meticulous: The plane had to be based on 1970s technical drawings by a U.S. enthusiast in order to pass strict safety tests by authorities

Mr Ford added: 'I was very lucky. Sarah's parents lived in a very old Victorian house and in the garden there was an old basket-waving factory from the 1800s so we used that. Most of it was built in there'.

The challenge was not easy. All 320 Fokker Dr1 Dreideckers have been destroyed or lost, and many surviving photos were grainy at best.

If there had been a fire I wouldn't be here. One of the wing struts was broken and it took a year to rebuild

Paul Ford on crashing the Fokker

So Mr Ford, from Egginton, South Derbyshire, used technical drawings created in the 1970s by aviation fanatic Ron Sands, a U.S. engineer who drew up detailed plans for many wartime planes.

It meant converting many imperial measurements into metric ones and hand-making the parts, but without the drawings the plane would never have been cleared to fly by the Light Aircraft Association.

With the help of friends and Mr Ford's three children - Ashley, 25, Kirsty, 20, and Michael, 17- the Fokker had its first test flight six years ago and built up a reputation at air shows, where it flies replica dogfights with an original Tiger Moth.

But a year ago, Mr Ford crashed the plane on the grass runway of Podington Airfield in Northamptonshire - narrowly avoiding death.

'I had a little accident', he admitted.

'The trouble with First World War planes is they have to be landed into the wind. Unfortunately a gust of wind caught me sideways, the wing clipped a gate and I landed on my back.

'If there had been a fire I wouldn't be here. One of the wing struts was broken and it took a year to rebuild. We've only just got it flying again.'

View from the cockpit: Mr Ford spent 26 years developing gas turbines in Cambridge University's engineering department - despite not having a degree - before making Mortis, one of the most celebrated entrants to the BBC's hit geeks' battleground show Robot Wars

View from the cockpit: Mr Ford spent 26 years developing gas turbines in Cambridge University's engineering department - despite not having a degree - before making Mortis, one of the most celebrated entrants to the BBC's hit geeks' battleground show Robot Wars

Detailed: Everything on the plane is as it would be except for the engine. These three 'cylinders' are actually old fire extinguishers
Detailed: Everything on the plane is as it would be except for the engine. These three 'cylinders' are actually old fire extinguishers

Detailed: Everything on the plane is as it would be except for the engine. These three 'cylinders' are actually old fire extinguishers

Transported in time: Mr Ford wears a vintage-style flying helmet to complete the look. 'It was very scary the first time I flew it,' he admitted. 'Having built it myself I was a little bit nervous - you always are. But after the first time they're just so much fun to fly'

Transported in time: Mr Ford wears a vintage-style flying helmet to complete the look. 'It was very scary the first time I flew it,' he admitted. 'Having built it myself I was a little bit nervous - you always are. But after the first time they're just so much fun to fly'

Defiant: Mr Ford continues flying despite a crash last year. 'If there had been a fire I wouldn't be here,' he said. 'It took a year to rebuild'

Defiant: Mr Ford continues flying despite a crash last year. 'If there had been a fire I wouldn't be here,' he said. 'It took a year to rebuild'

To this day, the only part of the plane which wouldn't have been the same in 1918 is the engine. Instead of a rotary engine it is a U.S.-made Lycoming which allows him to fly for up to four hours.

To complete the look there is a dummy engine - little more than three old fire extinguishers painted silver - and machine guns on the nose, unarmed of course.

Mr Ford is no ordinary hobbyist.

He spent 26 years developing gas turbines in Cambridge University's engineering department - despite not having a degree.

With talented colleagues there he made Mortis, one of the most famous, fearsome and expensive entrants ever to the BBC's hit show Robot Wars.

He then quit to run his own company which worked on military jet engines, where he spent ten years.

Unlike similar lookalikes which modified an existing plane, the Fokker was completely built from scratch. 

Clunky: The plane is a little unstable, but its creator said it helped improve manoeuvrability in a high-octane (imitation) dogfight

Clunky: The plane is a little unstable, but its creator said it helped improve manoeuvrability in a high-octane (imitation) dogfight

Everything thought of: The plane's labels are in German and weights in kilograms - the latter was a problem when using American plans

Everything thought of: The plane's labels are in German and weights in kilograms - the latter was a problem when using American plans

Taking aim: The plane has a vintage machine gun, though of course an unarmed one, for its travels over airshows across Britain

Taking aim: The plane has a vintage machine gun, though of course an unarmed one, for its travels over airshows across Britain

Crowning achievement: While building the plane, the engineer bought a book called How to Build a WW1 Replica AND Stay Married! 'Ironically my wife had time to read it but I didn't,' he said. 'I was too busy working on the plane' - which now flies triumphant over Britain

Crowning achievement: While building the plane, the engineer bought a book called How to Build a WW1 Replica AND Stay Married! 'Ironically my wife had time to read it but I didn't,' he said. 'I was too busy working on the plane' - which now flies triumphant over Britain

'There are a few other planes that are quite similar to this one but the Fokker just stood out to me,' Mr Ford said. 'It can be a little unstable when flying it but that's what makes it so special.

'It's actually unstable on purpose because it means when it's in the air it can get out of the way very, very quickly and back on your opponent's tail in a dog-fighting situation.

'It was very scary the first time I flew it. Having built it myself I was a little bit nervous - you always are. But after the first time they're just so much fun to fly.'

The Red Baron's is not the first plane Paul has built. He is currently working on two other projects inspired by German First World War planes which he hopes to have finished by next year. Once they are completed, he intends to begin work on a British plane.

Paul, who thanked several devoted friends and family members including his wife for their help, said: 'They cost around £50,000 to make, but they're worth a lot more. The tri-plane is worth around £180,000, but I won't sell any of them.

'They're a lot of fun, and they'll keep me busy when I retire.' 

FIGHTER ACE FEARED BY BRITS: HOW THE RED BARON FOUND INFAMY IN A NEW WAR OF AERIAL COMBAT

The achievements of fighter ace Baron Manfred von Richthofen (right) - who shot down some 70 allied pilots in the First World War - made him hated by the Brits and a propaganda tool for the Germans.

He was 22 and stationed on Germany's eastern border when the war broke out in 1914, but it was not always guaranteed he would become a pilot.

At first he was a cavalryman, but his unit became rapidly obsolete in what would be the world's first modern mechanised war.

In May 1915 he travelled to Cologne to become an Air Service observer before taking to the skies for the first time later that year.

His reputation became formidable quickly. Just a month after first sitting in a flying plane as a gunner, he took his first solo flight and soon became one of the best-known names in the German military.

His nickname - also translated as Red Devil and Red Knight - came from his disregard of combat or camouflage colours to paint his aircraft blood-red in a show of fearlessness.

But it was that love of combat that would be his undoing. 

In the summer of 1917, General Jan Smuts produced a War Office report calling for the creation of an entirely new addition to the Armed Forces.

Both the Royal Navy and the Army had developed their own airborne units - the Royal Naval Air Squadron and the Royal Flying Corps - but the war had made the argument for a separate entity to govern the sky.

The Government agreed. Within a year, the Royal Air Force was born and the 1st Viscount Rothermere was appointed the first Secretary of State for Air.

It was in aerial combat with the allies - and flying a Fokker DR1 - that the Baron would meet his fate. The pilot was 25 years old when he was shot down and killed near Amiens, France, on 21 April 1918.

Many theories exist about who killed him, and for a long time the RAF credited Canadian Captain Arthur 'Roy' Brown, who had to dive steeply at high speed to intervene in the dogfight. Later theories suggested the bullet which downed the Baron was fired from the ground.

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20 Nov 21:00

thefrogman: [video]

20 Nov 17:00

Photo



20 Nov 12:36

The only Susan Greenfield article you'll ever need

Adam Victor Brandizzi

This article might change your brain!

Steve Gentleman prepares to dissect a human brain.

The human brain, about to be irreparably damaged by technology (a scalpel is technology, so it counts). Photograph: Graeme Robertson/Guardian

Following her recent article about the potential neurological dangers of the newly announced "Facebook phone", it's becoming increasingly likely that any new technological development will eventually have an article about it in which Susan Greenfield predicts the serious damage it could do to people's brains.

Overlooking the fact that the recent article reads as though it was written by someone whose understanding of Facebook and smartphones is based exclusively on an overheard conversation between two drunken advertising executives in a pub, Greenfield tends to stick to a reliable and predictable formula.

Technological advances usually focus on making things faster, slicker and more efficient. So, should you need a Greenfield-esque article about the latest technological announcement to make your needless paranoia-inducing agenda seem more scientific/credible, there's no need to wait until the Baroness herself can fit you into her schedule. Now you can write your own by following this simple step-by-step guide.

INTRODUCE THE TECHNOLOGY

Begin with a simple description of the technology that is to be the focus of the article. It doesn't really matter what it is, as long as it's something new that people can experience in a way that involves the brain. Previous examples include video games, online porn, social networking, anything with a screen, the internet in general, television, books, typewriters, the printing press, the internal combustion engine, carrier pigeons, and that hot orange stuff you get when you rub sticks together that makes raw food dangerously edible.

Not newspapers, though. Never ever newspapers!

EXPLAIN THE BRAIN

The article is concerned about the effects this new technology will have on the brain, so you will need to include a general explanation of the brain's workings, particularly a feature of it that is somehow relevant to this new thing people should be scared of.

It's impossible to summarise the brain in a paragraph, nobody would expect that. Generally pointing out that the brain is very adaptive thanks to its inherent plasticity is a safe bet. The brain changes in response to things you experience; this is the basis of learning and memory. Ergo, anything you experience, like a new technology, has the ability to change your brain. So it's not "wrong" to make that claim.

You can be more specific if you have more details. For example, if the new technology offers new types of visual stimulation, briefly describe the brain's complex visual system. If it's more language based, the language processing features of the brain can be discussed. It's a big, complex organ, the brain; there's probably some feature of it that seemingly supports your "concerns", so don't feel restricted.

EMPHASISE THE DANGER

After explaining the brain a bit, explicitly state how the new technology could damage it or lead to harmful changes. This can be as tenuous as you like. For example, "people's sense of smell has been linked to powerful emotional responses. This has caused many to worry that 'smellovision', which allows people to experience any smell at any time, will turn us into emotionally stunted robots". Or maybe "the human brain has evolved to recognise faces, so there is a very real possibility that automated Rhytidectomy kits will cause our brains to get confused, leaving us unable to recognise our own mothers". It's a prediction; you're not saying a thing does happen, just that it might, so it doesn't matter how unlikely it really is.

If possible, present the danger as a matter of a stark binary choice, as in the following example:

"If I had to choose between unfettered internet access, and having children potentially harmed psychologically or worse by porn sites, then for me the decision is an easy one."

That's top-level Greenfielding there. There's no middle ground; it's access to porn or undamaged children. If you can, come up with your own, e.g. holographic phone interfaces or the survival of the human race.

FOCUS ON THE CHILDREN

Ensure that you enhance the impact of your claims by emphasising the harm that could be done to children. Children's brains are, undeniably, still developing, so any harm inflicted by the new technology will be doubly dangerous for their vulnerable young minds. The focus on children will increase the impact among parents, allow you to present your claims as motivated by concern and moral obligation and make any critics look like cruel monsters who actively want to use technology to warp fragile youthful brains.

You can also get extra Greenfield irony points if you contextualise your claims amid wider concerns about technology making children too insular and disengaged from the outside world then publishing your piece in a publication that regularly portrays the outside world as a lawless maelstrom of perverts, workshy criminals and powerful carcinogens.

EVIDENCE

You don't really need evidence. Evidence is for bitter people who hate children. It's fine to just make your claims with confidence. If you need to back up your claims, it's fine to say you've spoken to some relevant people about this. There may even be a survey or two that will back you up. Don't limit yourself to the scientific literature, that's needlessly complicated. If you really need to cite some research, it's probably sufficient to link to a study that didn't really look at what you're talking about but has some relevant words in the title.

If anyone criticises you over this, just ignore them.

AT THE END

Most Susan Greenfield articles end with a summary of who she is, her position and possibly her website. If you do this with your article, it would imply that she's written it, so don't do that because she hasn't and this is almost certainly illegal.

Dean Burnett has spent so long mocking Greenfield's claims that it's probably altered his brain in some way, which is ironic. He's on Twitter, @garwboy


There's a lot in the world to get stressed about lately. This last week alone we've seen bombings and city-wide gunfights in Boston, massive explosions in Texas, on-going violence in the Middle East, emotions raised over Thatcher's funeral, increasing measles cases in Swansea, continuing savage benefit cuts and maybe an alien invasion or two that got lost among the onslaught of bad news.

It seems to many that the world in general is becoming an increasingly awful and depressing place. Is this the case? Or is there as much bad stuff happening as there's ever been, but 24-hour rolling news and an increasingly interconnected, always-online society have contributed to ensuring that no bad news ever goes unreported? Either way, it doesn't really matter; the negative effects on people's wellbeing are the same.

But the things covered in the news, as terrible as they can be, are more "mainstream" worries; things that everyone can worry about to some extent. The more typical concerns people have tend to be more specific, as they're things that affect them personally and directly and maybe affect them alone.

When stressful events keep occurring, you will often hear people claim they are heading for a "nervous breakdown". You may be someone who says this, or you may be someone who has experienced (or is experiencing) such a thing. It's a well-known concept. Even celebrities are vulnerable to nervous breakdowns. Stephen Fry has spoken candidly about his breakdown, Spike Milligan had several, and the Rolling Stones claim to have had at least 19 (although that may be an exaggeration).

But "nervous breakdown" seems to be one of those terms that is often used but not well understood. As a neuroscientist, I always find myself reflexively thinking it means nervous tissue is breaking down, so means someone is suffering from a neurodegenerative disorder like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease. This may seem a bit ridiculous, but then what does "nervous breakdown" actually mean? Is it one of those terms that people use freely without understanding the actual meaning, like "irony" or "offside"? Interestingly, despite its widespread use, "nervous breakdown" isn't a term that is used by the medical profession.

[As an aside, my first draft of this used the phrase "medically speaking, there's no such thing as a nervous breakdown", but that's not that accurate a statement, and I also worried that someone from ATOS would read it and immediately declare thousands of sick people fit for work.]

The term nervous breakdown is actually surprisingly old, and stems from a time when both "nervous" and "breakdown" arguably had different meanings to their modern ones. It seems the "breakdown" element refers to a breakdown in the same way that cars or other machines can break down. And nervous just refers to the nervous tissue. So originally it meant a fault or error in the nervous tissue that controls the body. And suddenly my interpretation doesn't seem so literal.

But this doesn't mean it's an invalid term, it's just more of a rule-of-thumb or generalisation used to refer to what happens when someone becomes psychologically unable to function as normal. In the simplest sense it could be said that, mentally speaking, a nervous breakdown occurs when an individual finds that the number of things that they are able to cope with is lower than the number of things that they have to cope with.

In a psychiatric/psychological sense, these things you have to cope with are known as stressors. Stressors don't necessarily have to be negative, anyone who's ever gone on holiday will know this; for something that's meant to be fun and relaxing, they involve quite a lot of stress, especially if they involve Ryanair in some way. But stressors generally have certain qualities in common, such as:

• They reduce personal control (as in they remove the amount of authority you have on your own life)
• They reduce options for action (as in, they restrict your options regarding what to do about them)
• They cause fatigue (as in, dealing with them leaves you physically or mentally knackered)

And so on. Most people in our society probably experience stress in the workplace. Unfortunately, stressors can lead to more stressors and greater stress, part of the stress cycle. Say you get a new boss who assigns you a lot more work than is reasonable. This would cause stress, and you react to this stress by working longer hours to deal with the workload, and eating and drinking more to unwind. This has negative consequences on your health, which stresses you out further and makes you vulnerable to further stressors.

Alternatively, you could break into your boss's house and smother him with a pillow as he sleeps. This may remove the cause of the original stress, but the guilt coupled with the danger and hazards of life on the run from the law would cause ample stress. And on it goes.

These are all external factors, of course. They are easier to identify, and even have their own scale to measure how bad they can be. But there are also internal factors, like pre-existing illnesses (physical or mental), a general predisposition to reacting badly to stressors for whatever reason (e.g. harsh life events, genetic factors), even something like having a big ego can make things worse (if your self-image is very important to you, then finding you can't deal with something will potentially stress you even more). And stress has numerous health consequences.

This delicate balance between stress and vulnerability is well documented, particularly in the case of psychosis, by the stress-vulnerability model, which basically shows that the more vulnerable you are to stressors, the less stress it takes to tip you over the edge.

Sufferers of psychosis may call this an "episode", but a breakdown can take many forms. A psychotic episode, a depressive funk, panic attacks, anything that means you can't function normally any more. Like I said, it's a general term, not a specific one.

The point of this article, if there is one, is to demonstrate that stress affects everyone, and some people, largely through no fault of their own, are more vulnerable to it, and this can lead to a nervous breakdown, however you choose to define such a thing. But as unpleasant as they may be, they're not permanent, and even those with pre-existing conditions can return to "normal" (which is another term that isn't that specific). So if you're experiencing a breakdown of any description, know that you're not alone, and that countless other people have gone through something similar.

Of course, now that I've explained it, I may have made things worse. Another cause of stress in humans is uncertainty. This is why a troubled economy and job market can cause a lot of consternation even when they don't directly impact your present situation or daily routine. So by explaining how a nervous breakdown can occur, I've introduced an awareness of the possibility of one occurring in people who would otherwise have remained blissfully ignorant, thus adding to their overall stress levels.

Stupid science and its chaotic consequences!

Dean Burnett tries to maintain a stress-free life by saying nothing controversial on Twitter, @garwboy

His new science/humour podcast "Dean and Dave's science webnoise" with close friend and fellow science blogger David Steele, is available here and via iTunes.

Bookmarked at brandizzi Delicious' sharing tag and expanded by Delicious sharing tag expander.
20 Nov 05:00

November 20, 2014


Whee!
20 Nov 16:23

Britain's first 'poo bus' hits the streets

by Matt Brian
Thanks to a range of new technologies, Britain's buses are steadily swapping traditional fuel for greener alternatives. Over in Bristol, however, Wessex Water believes more can be done with the brown stuff. That's why it's today put the UK's first...
20 Nov 12:04

RT @raphael__prado: Foda ser velho, fiz piada na firm com a musica da poupança bamerindus...

by Osias Jota
Adam Victor Brandizzi

#dramasreais
(passei pelo mesmo ao mencionar os anões do orçamento...)

Author: Osias Jota
Source: Twitter Web Client
RT @raphael__prado: Foda ser velho, fiz piada na firm com a musica da poupança bamerindus e o cara que nasceu em 92 não entendeu
12 Nov 14:15

Avogadro Loves the Ladies

28 Apr 18:13

What You Love

by Reza

what_you_love

14 Jul 19:29

The Process

by Reza

process

19 Nov 13:19

Las fotos panorámicas también pueden ser divertidas

by Troy

La funcionalidad de hacer fotos panorámicas, presente en los smartphones modernos, es interesante. Especialmente cuando nos ponemos en "modo experto" y queremos capturar paisajes en todo su esplendor.

Pero lo mejor viene cuando añadimos al escenario elementos en movimiento, especialmente personas o animales. Con un poco de suerte podemos generar imágenes especialmente grotescas y divertidas, como vemos en estos ejemplos.


Sobre esta imagen, aclarar que no voy a hacer ningún comentario relativo a esa gran obra del cine contemporáneo llamada "The human centipede" y además no voy a poner ningún enlace. El que quiera, que lo busque en Google por su cuenta y riesgo.


Visto en LikeCool

Ver más: fotografia, fotos, fotos panorámicas, panorámicas
Seguir @NoPuedoCreer - @QueLoVendan

 

19 Nov 00:00

11.19.2014