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Nielsen (think ‘tv ratings’) called me up today. They wanted me to install software to track which podcasts I view over the next 3 months. I politely declined their offer.

  • Researchers link human brain size and climate.
  • Modern man’s earliest known close ancestor was significantly more apelike than previously believed.
  • Ear bone remains suggest some prehistoric people spent a lot of time in the water.
  • Dinosaurs dug deep, possibly to survive catastrophe. Underground den reveals first evidence that at least one dinosaur species could burrow.
  • Llama dung mites track fall of the Inca.
  • The Ancient Order of Druids.
  • Ancient pollen could lead scientists to the kilns where the figures in China’s terracotta army were made.
  • Genomics throws species definition of microbes into question.
  • Why do mitochondrial genes move to the nucleus?
  • Female rats avoid mating with males whose great-grandsires were exposed to a common fungicide.
  • Doctors have identified a third type of twins: semi-identical – somewhere between identical and fraternal.
  • Marmosets swap genes in the womb. More.
  • Antimatter device loses its ride to space.
  • Lines of magnetism may be what makes the sun’s corona 100 times hotter than the surface.
  • In 1859, the largest solar flare of the past 500 years may have temporarily shredded Earth’s ozone layer.
  • Global warming could re-make the world’s climate zones by 2100. Take Arizona’s ‘sky islands’, for instance, where higher temperatures are tearing at a fabric of life that dates to the last ice age.
  • Greenland’s mysterious winds tied to global climate.
  • New Orleans: a modern-day Atlantis?
  • Britain is now being watched by a staggering 4.2million CCTV cameras – one for every 14 people, and a fifth of the cameras in the entire world.
  • The secret wills of the royals: a tale of mistresses, jewels and cover-ups.
  • A battle is raging over who sets the rules for treating patients who are in pain: narcotics agents and prosecutors, or doctors and scientists.
  • Whitley’s Journal: The UFO elephant is stampeding in the living room.
  • Can you live with the voices in your head? On a related note: Chuck Bonnet and the hallucinations.
  • Importers question genetic purity of U.S. crops. A not-so-distant thunderclap on the GMO horizon?
  • The Farewell Dossier: a mountain of secret Soviet documents detailing the penetration of KGB spies in US industries was revealed by a KGB defector in 1980.
  • Russian military sources warn that the US plans to attack Iran on April 6; Russian general calls for emergency session of the UN Security Council to ward off looming US aggression.
  • Bush’s Shadow Army: Jeremy Scahill reports on the Bush Administration’s growing dependence on private security forces such as Blackwater USA and efforts in Congress to rein them in. This article is adapted from his new book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army (Amazon US & UK).
  • America’s hidden war dead: More than 770 civilians working for US firms have lost their lives supporting the military in Iraq, and some families are now speaking out.
  • Here’s the first chapter of Andrew Cockburn’s new book, Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall, and Catastrophic Legacy (Amazon US & UK), detailing Rumsfeld’s odd behavior on the morning of September 11, 2001.
  • Today’s adolescents are the first generation to have grown up less healthy than their parents.

Quote of the Day:

…through childhood games we discovered early in life some of our strengths and weaknesses. I knew beyond doubt after my tiny mushroom farm failed to grow and most of my day-old chicks died that I would never be either an entrepreneur or a farmer. And I thank God for the early disappointment.

Will today’s children ever have the unexpected benefits of such disappointments, or enjoy those rehearsals for adult life if their young days are lived only through electronic images on a high definition screen? It will certainly be more difficult.

We can’t stop technological progress, and in many ways computer games are preparing the next generation for a different kind of adult world from the one I’ve known. But, however brilliant, computers are no substitute for real-life adventures.

Ray Connolly in his mailonsunday editorial, Why a real childhood gave us a blueprint for life.