Politicians: try using social media before you start legislating for it
The incident showed how the online community can moderate itself. Wikipedia is a prime example of how self-moderation works – it’s not a perfect system, but it’s a pretty good one.
Sites such as Twitter, Facebook and even YouTube are not inherently benign, but they’re not inherently evil either. It’s how you use them that determines their impact.
Dumb system hobbles the 'smart economy'
In the run up to the last election, an awful lot of hot air was spouted about developing a “smart economy”. Barely two years on, students are availing of food vouchers while they wait for their grants to come through, due to problems with the Student Universal Support Ireland (Susi), the centralised grants system.
Of the students whose applications have been approved, 28 per cent (about 5,500) have yet to receive payment, according to the USI president John Logue. Many of them are going hungry. As a result, significant numbers will never go on to be part of the much-vaunted smart economy: they have been forced to drop out of college and return home.
We claim to be surprised when the students who make it through the system then suddenly hop on a plane to London, Sydney or Toronto.
What hope have we of ever delivering on the so-called smart economy if we can’t even build a working student grant-payment system?
Coke please, but hold the burger
Two health studies published this week are likely to provide post-festive cheer to those who have no desire to go on a January diet.
The first found that the old chestnut about using Coca-Cola to treat stomach problems might have some truth to it. A study carried out by researchers at Athens University found that the soft drink is 90 per cent effective in treating a condition called gastric phytobezoar, a stomach blockage that can lead to bowel obstruction. The researchers conclude that “Coca-Cola administration is a cheap, easy-to-perform and safe procedure”.
The second, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, offered even better news: it claimed that being overweight can lead to a longer life.
The researchers at the US National Centre for Health Statistics examined 97 studies involving nearly 2.9 million people to compare death rates with Body Mass Index (BMI). They found that overweight people (with a BMI of between 25 and 30) were 6 per cent less likely to die early than those considered to have a healthy weight.
But don’t get too excited – the study was barely off the presses when health experts labelled it nonsense. Prof John Wass, vice president of the UK Royal College of Physicians asked the BBC: “Have you ever seen a 100-year-old human being who is overweight?” Fair point.