Everest is wired
Mount Everest is now wired for the Internet, Engadget.com reports. "TeliaSonera subsidiary Ncell has just completed installation of a 3G base station at 5,200 metres (17,000 feet) that will reach the 8,848-metre peak of Mount Everest. Mind you, we've already seen a cellphone call made from the world's highest peak using a temporary base station in a Motorola publicity stunt. This time, however, it's permanent and faster, allowing climbers to surf the Internet or make 3G video calls."
A new goddess
"A new language deity is about to appear in a tiny impoverished Indian village where a temple is being built to the 'Goddess English,' " The Times of London reports. "A black granite shrine in Bankar in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh will soon hold a bronze idol of the new goddess. Locals, most of whom speak Hindi, hope that she will bring them prosperity and fresh opportunities. The temple has been paid for by the Dalit, or 'Untouchable,' community. … The idol in the shrine will depict a female figure inspired by the Statue of Liberty, standing astride a computer, clutching a copy of the Indian Constitution. The symbolism is hard to miss: if Dalits want to live the new Indian Dream and join the country's burgeoning middle classes, they must first learn the language of Shakespeare and Milton."
Seeing the sound
"A blind cricket commentator in Zimbabwe manages to judge the power and direction of a shot - and rarely makes mistakes," The Daily Telegraph reports. "When the ball hits the bat, the radio announcer exclaims that it's sailing far. Dean Du Plessis's acute sense of hearing and his eavesdropping on other commentators helps him overcome the fact that he is blind, producing a delivery so polished that most listeners are unaware that he can't see. Mr. Du Plessis hears the power and direction of the hit. He listens to the speed and spin of the ball, along with the players' exertions and their cries of elation or frustration. He senses the excitement - or otherwise - of the play on the cricket field and collates the scores with a computer-like memory."
Men are disposable?
"The reason women live longer than men - and why the final act of sex discrimination favours females over males - may at long last have a scientifically valid explanation," The Independent reports. "… Prof. Tom Kirkwood, a leading gerontologist at the University of Newcastle, believes there is now growing evidence to suggest that men are literally more disposable than women, because the cells of their bodies are not genetically programmed to last as long as they are in females." In an article to be published in the November issue of Scientific American, he writes: "Could it be that women live longer because they are less disposable than men? This notion, in fact, makes excellent biological sense."
"At long last, science has tackled the phenomenon of the hipster, the contradictory symbol of coolness that strives for nothing other than complete 'hipsterness' while firmly rejecting any association whatsoever with the term 'hipster,' " Miller-mccune.com reports. "As Zeynep Arsel of Concordia University and J. Craig Thompson at the University of Wisconsin-Madison write in the Journal of Consumer Research, 'This iconic category has evolved from its countercultural roots, originally aligned with beat sensibilities, to a trend-seeking uber-consumer of the 2000s.' … To reach their conclusions, the authors interviewed the movers and shakers of the indie marketplace, tastemakers such as DJs and music critics. … 'Interestingly, all participants but one wanted to talk about how they were mistaken for, or accused of being, a hipster just because they were consuming indie products,' the authors write."
Down with lists
"Every film critic I know loathes making lists," Roger Ebert writes for The Wall Street Journal. "Most of us make an annual Year's Best Films List, because that's our equivalent of signing the Hippocratic Oath when you're a doctor. One year I picked the year's 20 best films, and the readers screamed bloody hell. Didn't I know that the rules said I had to choose 10? … Lists inspire endless e-mails from readers asking questions like, 'How could you possibly put Bad Lieutenant above The Hurt Locker? I shot back an instant reply: 'Because my list is alphabetical.' Man, did that make them angry. The year I listed 20 films alphabetically, several people informed me they would never read me again, and one cancelled a subscription. No, really."
Thought du jour
"Historians and archeologists will discover that the advertisements of our time are the richest and most faithful reflections that any society ever made of its entire range of activities."
Marshall McLuhan (1911-80), Canadian philosopher and scholar