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Saturday, May 31, 2003
congo

HYUN-SUNG KHANG, World Food Program: There were six of them. They raped her, and after the rape was finished, four of them wanted to kill her. But the others took pity on her, and so they eventually released her. But she's still very traumatized by the event. She has a little brother and she told me, "even though I love my little brother, sometimes, I don't know why, I just hit him."

[...]

RAY SUAREZ: The UNICEF head for Bunia said there are almost no military casualties, either among the thousand dead who were found in April or the 300 dead found just this week. Why are civilians bearing the brunt of this fighting?

SALIH BOOKER: Well, they're really the targets. And that's often why it is sometimes referred to as possibly reaching proportions of genocide, a direct targeting by one ethnic group of another. As was explained, rape is being used as an instrument of war. Some 50 percent of all the armed forces in the area of the various militias and rebel armies are children under the age of 18. And that's another reason why civilians are targeted and victimized. It's not a conflict where you have military bodies actually focusing on their military adversaries. It is, in fact, the civilians that are targeted in this fighting.
wu
Silver-haired, immaculately groomed, short, bespectacled and, reportedly, very smart, the 65-year-old Wu is the most powerful woman in a political system dominated by colorless men who dye their hair black. Many analysts say that Wu is not running the country only because she is a woman. Others say that if she had spent more time making friends among the political elite and less time working, she would have risen faster in the Communist Party hierarchy. Wu made it onto the Politburo only last year even though she has carried some of the country's most important portfolios for more than a decade.

Wu managed China's entry into the World Trade Organization, was involved in reorganizing the customs service after a series of high-profile smuggling cases and went head-to-head with U.S. negotiators over the widespread violation of intellectual property rights by Chinese firms.

[...]

Wu is one of the country's most popular politicians among both men and women. At the 16th Congress of the Communist Party last year, she received more votes for her seat on the Politburo than many of the men who became her superiors on the Politburo's standing committee. Among college-age women she is routinely chosen as the most esteemed person in China.

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Thursday, May 15, 2003
who cares about fireflies?

Mr. diCurcio, said, "I want you to figure out a rule about this pendulum." He handed each of us a little toy pendulum with a retractable bob. You could make it a little bit longer or shorter in clicks, in discrete steps. We were each handed a stopwatch and told to let the pendulum swing ten times, and then click, measure how long it takes for ten swings, and then click again, repeating the measurement after making the pendulum a little bit longer. The point was to see how the length of the pendulum determines how long it takes to make ten swings. The experiment was supposed to teach us about graph paper, and how to make a relationship between one variable and another, but as I was dutifully plotting the length of time the pendulum took to swing ten times versus its length, it occurred to me after about the fourth or fifth dot that a pattern was starting to emerge. These dots were falling on a particular curve that I recognized because I'd seen it in my algebra class—it was a parabola, the same shape that water makes coming out of a fountain.

I remember having an enveloping sensation of fear; it was not a happy feeling, but an awestruck feeling. It was as if this pendulum knew algebra. What was the connection between the parabolas in algebra class and the motion of this pendulum? There it was on the graph paper. It was a moment that struck me, and was my first sense that the phrase, "law of nature," meant something. I suddenly knew what people were talking about when they said that there could be order in the universe and that, more to the point, you couldn't see it unless you knew math.

math discovery may aid resource management

For 30 years researchers have debated this paradox between the way the world appeared to work – a “tangled web” of thriving organisms, as Charles Darwin described it – with May’s mathematical description of the way it should work. Since the mathematical theory had not been reconciled with real-world observations, many field ecologists dismissed its importance. Applied mathematics are being used to manage fishing, hunting and control of pests, Li said, in situations that only relate to one or two species – but they have not been applied to ecosystems or communities.

“What we came to realize, however, is that May’s mathematical analysis was not really wrong, it just didn’t go far enough, as even May conceded,” Rossignol said. “So what we’ve tried to do is shine some light into this black box, by identifying more degrees of stability and using more variables, allowing the math to consider complexity and eventually arrive at different conclusions.”

The researchers were struggling with their approach when Jeffrey Dambacher, then an OSU graduate student, had a chance conversation about what was needed with some faculty in OSU’s Department of Mathematics. They mentioned a largely forgotten theorem of matrix algebra developed in the early 1800s by the French mathematician Augustin Cauchy. The theory, so far as they knew, had never yet found any useful application. But it appeared to be ideal for the problem at hand.

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Thursday, May 1, 2003
moral

If you look at evil this way, as a failure to thrive, there's always going to be evil in the world -- as long as people are capable of deluding themselves and becoming frustrated [in the process].

abuse

It stopped short of rape, Prasse said, because she cried and asked him, ''How would you feel if this was happening to your sister?''

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