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Short Takes: News From All Over
April 5, 2007

April 2007 Issue

Raising Pagans
By Kathleen Richards, East Bay Express
Paganism has surged in popularity over the past several decades, paving the way for a new generation of youngsters who are eager to inherit the caldron. Kathleen Richards explores the ups and downs of raising Pagan children in a multifaith family, from schoolyard bullying to SpiralScout meetings ("a Pagan alternative to Boy and Girl Scouts"). One couple profiled in the article preaches both Catholicism and paganism, hoping that their kids will pick up values from each. -- Mary O'Regan

Brilliantly Boring
By Oliver Burkeman, the Guardian
Watching a 44-pound hunk of cheddar cheese age on a live web broadcast seems a little, well, boring. Yet as Oliver Burkeman discovered, thousands of people are tuning in daily to Cheddarvision. The cult phenomenon of banal webcam subjects, Burkeman suggests, might be attributed to the paradoxical increase of boredom in the age of information. The very first webcam, which broadcasted a coffee pot in the Cambridge University computer lab, paved the way for other "brilliant" sites such as and Hencam. -- Natalie Hudson,,2048813,00.html
The History of Branding
Do the Starbucks mermaid and Linux penguin ever get together? They do, at the website of the History of Branding. There, you'll find a wide array of some of the world's most recognizable corporate logos. Click on a brand and you can read a short history of the company, or just bask in the pixilated glow resulting from packing all the logos of our commercial landscape onto a single webpage. (Thanks, -- Evelyn Hampton

Beyond Barter
By Beyond Barter
Need a masseuse in LA? It might cost you a yoga lesson. Beyond Barter is a "skills pool" where Angelenos trade only in services, not the usual cash-based swaps that sites like Craig's List cater to. After paying a small fee, members specify how much time they're willing to give each week. What makes Beyond Barter better than bartering, according to the group's website, is that members don't have to "balance out"; they can use as many services as they want, no matter how many they give. It sounds so. . . LA, but in a good way. -- Evelyn Hampton

Houses Made of Waste
By Roland Piquepaille, ZDNet
House-high heaps of garbage in landfills might actually be used to build houses. The Bitublock, developed by John Forth of the University of Leeds' School of Civil Engineering, is a building block made of waste materials like glass, metal slag, sewage sludge, and incinerator ash. Forth says the blocks are about six-times stronger than concrete, yet no more expensive. ZDNet's Roland Piquepaille reports that a prototype house made with the sustainable building material should be appearing soon. -- Evelyn Hampton

The Speech Accent Archive
By George Mason University
George Mason University has compiled an archive of 681 different speakers from all over the world speaking the same paragraph in English. You can hear what distinguishes Argentine and Chilean accents, or the difference between Tagalog and Amharic. There are also examples in English, so visitors can listen to British, Australian, and different US accents. The website is designed for teachers, actors, or "[a]nyone who finds foreign accent to be interesting." -- Bennett Gordon

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