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Richard Farmer’s chunky bits: recession bites Europe…again

The impact of the world financial crisis lingers on. And the harsh-austerity countries did much worse than the OECD was expecting.

Not ended yet. The impact of the world financial crisis lingers on. Last night came the news that a large part of Europe was back in a double dip recession.

And from Paul Krugman comes this look at just how wrong the OECD was in arguing back in its 2010 Economic Outlook that policies of fiscal austerity would put things right:

The harsh-austerity countries did much worse than the OECD was expecting.

And you thought computer games were good for nothing. Worried about all those hours your children are spending with joystick in hand playing games on a computer screen. Relax. You might have the next generation of skilled surgeons in the making.

According to a new study from researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) — a world leader in minimally invasive and robotic surgery — the superior hand-eye coordination and hand skills gained from hours of repetitive joystick maneuvers mimic the abilities needed to perform today’s most technologically-advanced robotic surgeries.

To offer insight on how best to train future surgeons, the study placed high school and college students head to head with resident physicians in robotic surgery simulations. The results, presented at the American Gynecologic Laparoscopists’ 41st Annual Global Congress on Minimally Invasive Gynecology in Las Vegas, were surprising.

Both high school sophomores who played video games on average two hours per day and college students who played four hours of video games daily matched, and in some cases exceeded, the skills of the residents on parameters that included how much tension the subjects put on their instruments, how precise their hand-eye coordination was and how steady their grasping skills were when performing surgical tasks suck as suturing, passing a needle or lifting surgical instruments with the robotic arms.

“The inspiration for this study first developed when I saw my son, an avid video game player, take the reins of a robotic surgery simulator at a medical convention,” said Dr. Sami Kilic, in a press release. “With no formal training, he was immediately at ease with the technology and the type of movements required to operate the robot.”

The world’s poorest president — not many like him. He’s the kind of president to give politicians a good name! Jose Mujica might be president of Uruguay but he spurns the official residence to live on his wife’s ramshackle farm off a dirt road outside the capital, Montevideo, where the couple work the land themselves, growing flowers. The BBC reports that this austere lifestyle — and the fact that Mujica donates about 90% of his monthly salary, equivalent to about $12,000, to charity — has led him to be labelled “the poorest president in the world.”

Women returning to work. Keeping their job or because the boss asked them to were the main reasons (26%) that women with a child under two years of age returned to work a survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics has found. “Financial” and “Maintain self-esteem” came next — both 15%.

Nearly eight in 10 women (79%) of the 205,500 women in November 2011 with a child under two years who had started or returned to work after the birth of their child who started or returned to work used at least one type of informal child care and four in 10 (40%) used at least one type of formal care.

The main types of child care used when women started or returned to work were “Grandparent” (27%), “Father/partner” (26%) and “Long day care centre” (23%).

Of the 205,500 women who started or returned to work after the birth of their child, 84% usually worked part-time, with the majority (54%) working between 15-34 hours per week. Of the 33,200 women who usually worked full-time in their first main job since the birth of their child, six in 10 preferred to work part-time.

Approximately 176,500 women used at least one type of flexible work arrangements to assist with the care of their child. The most common flexible work arrangements reported by women to assist with the care of the child were:

  • working part-time (76%);
  • using flexible working hours (40%); and
  • working from home (30%).

Pseph eye-candy: mapping the US. Every four years, Mark Newman, a complex systems analyst at the University of Michigan (go Wolverines), corrects the most demoralising thing about the US electoral map — that, despite stonking Democrat victories, the map still runs Republican Red, because they dominate the states that contain not much more than rattlesnakes, Karl Rove, and other vermin.

Newman reshapes the map by population, and a variety of other transformations. The final result? The US is more blue than you’d guess, but ultimately a lot more “purple” than political campaigns would suggest. Nevertheless, the Democrats control a series of urban bases, giving them a good geo-demographic headstart in any contest. The full set is available here. — Guy Rundle

News and views noted along the way.


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2 thoughts on “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits: recession bites Europe…again

  1. klewso

    Ole for Jose – he seems to have figured out “how much money is enough”?

  2. Sandifeet

    What a coincidence you put in that story about the president of Uruguay I have just moved here & saw Jose on tv yesterday I thought he was drunk & asked my Spanish language teacher (26) about him & he repeated almost exactly what the BBC had to say! He seems popular enough & his views show a similar compassion that most Uruguayans seem to have for poorer kinsmen than themselves? I like it here!!