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Sad but true: Childhood bullying is a good preparation for cycling on England’s roads

So true, bullying can never be justified!

Helen Blackman

As a schoolchild I was subjected to some horrendous bullying for the crime of being (drrrrumroll) ginger. Explaining this, as an adult, it’s not unusual for other adults to ask why I didn’t just dye my hair, which amazes me because even at the age of 11 I had worked out that the problem wasn’t me being ginger. The problem was other people’s attitudes to me being ginger and those attitudes would have become more entrenched, not less, if I had dyed my hair brown. By the time I was in my teens I had worked out that it was important not to change but to maintain my appearance. If people rejected me because of the colour of my hair they weren’t worth knowing. As a reason for discriminating against someone, this was less than skin deep.

There is no doubt that the bullying scarred me. I attribute much of…

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The Finger, or “Bird Is the Word”

A potted history of how to get away with telling someone to “fuck off” without using words!

Strong Language

Nixon did it, and so did Kennedy. George W. Bush has been caught numerous times on tape grinning broadly and flashing what he called the “one-finger salute.” It has been described as “flipping someone off” or “giving someone the bird,” but when it comes right down to it, the gesture of raising the middle finger ultimately translates as “fuck you!” Every nation has its own array of verbal assaults, but they also have their arsenal of insulting gestures as well. In the United States, the ubiquitous finger is our call to arms. Unlike swearing aloud, which is based upon actual words with specific meanings, gestures are purely visual, and the finger has a kind of inherent meaning that words don’t have. In our case, the raised finger was initially most likely meant to resemble the erect penis, with the tucked-under fingers as testicles. As obvious as this may be, few…

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The Problem with ‘Saving the Bees’

Such an interesting starting point for a discussion…

The Liber Ero Blog: Reports from the front lines of conservation biology

IMG_1215 A native bumble bee (photo Sheila Colla).

By Sheila Colla

I’ve been researching pollinator declines over the past decade. It has been encouraging and inspiring to see my chosen subject matter go from completely off the general public’s radar to one of the most important environmental issues of our time. These days, it would be difficult to go a full week without seeing something alarming about pollinator declines in a newspaper or social media headline.

In general, it is great that the public and policy makers are starting to appreciate the insect pollinators and the ecosystem service they provide. Heck, even Obama himself wants to help! These little creatures feed on nectar and pollen and move pollen grains from flower to flower while foraging. This behaviour allows gene flow to occur among plants, which then leads to the production of seeds and fruit. Given the estimates that over 3/4 of…

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