Archive for October, 2010

Bali, bees, Peckham and US infrastructure

October 24, 2010

Links to interesting stuff I’ve come across in the last month or two.

  • Chart showing interdependencies in US infrastucture. Note the vulnerability of public health. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to look into the underlying methodology at some point:
  • The Peckham Experiment: pioneering insights into family and social development, or wacky 1930s pseudoscience? A successor organisation still exists, while the project’s founders explain in their own words (this 1943 publication is available online, interestingly, through the Socialist Health Association). Not an experiment in the modern sense, but perhaps important nonetheless. An early pointer towards the concept of social capital? If nothing else, I’m sure it made Peckham a pleasanter place to live for the member families between 1935 and 1950.
  • Met some beekeepers a few weeks ago. They were quick to talk about bees as a superorganism (later I found this on the internet: social insects and complex adaptive systems). I asked them about colony collapse disorder (CCD). Not a problem in the UK apparently, and while they didn’t have specific theories, they intuited it to be related to the US commercial beekeeping practice of shifting bees around the continent en masse to pollinate monocultures, such as almond trees. Unhealthily “like feeding people on a Mars Bar-only diet,” as one of them put it. Apparently pesticides have been blamed, but now it seems that an unholy alliance of virus and fungus is responsible. I imagine there are still some unresolved hows and whys, though.