Jill Bolte Taylor watches her own stroke

I was at a SIMA training event yesterday, which finished with a look Jill Bolte Taylor's story on TED.com. You have to watch this! I hadn't come across TED.com before: it's a site full of significant video presentations. So follow the link to take a look, or watch the YouTube version below.

Jill is a scientist who studies the brain. She had a stroke which disabled the left side of her brain, and thus part of the right side of her body and also her ability to use language, and from which she recovered over eight years. She describes what happens – not seeing it just as a disability but an awesome discovery of the capability of the right side of her brain. In her mind this is a powerful spiritual experience, as she explains the way in which this increased her sense of perception and connectivity to the power of the universe, as against her usual left hemisphere domination with her individuality and sense of time.

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The Spirit Level

A few years ago I remember reading an article which said that the countries with the best overall quality of health were those with the least income gap between the richest and the poorest.

Will Hutton this week writes in The Observer about a new book called The Spirit Level. This has a similar theme, that more unequal societies are more dysfunctional across the board.  Our instinct is to be collaborative, but where there are big income gaps the rich no longer fear the censure of the poor, and the poor no longer feel able to bridge the wealth gap through their own efforts. This results in a ruder and more violent society.

The comments on the web under Will's article do not dispute the statistics, but some comment that statistics cannot show causation. So these things may be true, but does one cause the other, or are they both caused by something else?

It's a good question, but it seems to me obvious that where there are big differences of wealth it indicates that the rich care less about the poor and so the outcomes he cites are likely.

Original article here.

Source: The Week, 21st March 2009.

Britain’s secret manufacturing triumph

Philip Whyte, a guest columnist in the Times, is seeking to lay to rest the myth that Britain's manufacturing base has shrunk. This interests me because with an engineering background I enjoy manuafacturing, and also because recent “Credit Crunch” events should discourage us from being overly reliant on the finance sector.

He writes that manufacturing in Britain forms a larger proportion of GDP than in France of the USA, and that – before the recent recession – our industrial output was higher than ever. So, our industry has grown, but services have grown more, he writes.

Original article here.

Source: The Week, 21st March 2009.