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El Sistem: Orchestrating Venezuela's Youth

The other side of El Sistema: Music education, discipline, and profit

The Venezuelan youth orchestra scheme El Sistema is perhaps the world’s most famous music education program today. It’s lauded as a revolutionary social program that has rescued hundreds of thousands of Venezuela’s poorest children. Simon Rattle has called it “the most important thing happening in music anywhere in the world.” Classical music education is back in vogue, now aligned with the rhetoric of social justice.

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Word Origins And How We Know Them

The ayes have it

The ayes may have it, but we, poor naysayers, remain in ignorance about the derivation of ay(e) “yes.” I hope to discuss the various forms of assent in December, and we’ll see that that the origin of some synonyms of ay(e) is also enigmatic.

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Put the debate about slacktivism to rest

The term slacktivism is based on a question that should never have been asked: are digital activists doing anything worthwhile, or are they mere “slacktivists,” activists who are slacking off?

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Slacktivism as optical illusion

Slacktivism is a portmanteau, bridging slacker and activism. It is usually not intended as a compliment. The term is born out of frustration with the current state of public discourse: signing an e-petition, retweeting a message, or “liking” something on Facebook seems too easy.

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Slacktivism, clicktivism, and “real” social change

Like its corollary clicktivism, slacktivism is a term that unites entrenched technosceptics and romantic revolutionaries from a pre-Internet or, more precisely, a pre-social media age as they admonish younger generations for their lack of commitment to “real” social change or willingness to do “what it takes” to make the world around them a better place.

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Does workplace stress play a role in retirement drinking?

Alcohol misuse among the retired population is a phenomenon that has been long recognized by scholars and practitioners. The retirement process is complex, and researchers posit that the pre-retirement workplace can either protect against—or contribute to—alcohol misuse among retirees.

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Give thanks for Chelmsford, the birthplace of the USA

Autumn is here again – in England, the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, in the US also the season of Thanksgiving. On the fourth Thursday in November, schoolchildren across the country will stage pageants, some playing black-suited Puritans, others Native Americans bedecked with feathers. By tradition, Barack Obama will ‘pardon’ a turkey, but 46 million others will be eaten in a feast complete with corncobs and pumpkin pie. The holiday has a long history: Lincoln fixed the date (amended by Roosevelt in 1941).

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The legitimate fear that months of civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri will end in rioting

On 9 August 2014, Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson, Missouri (a suburb of St. Louis) Police Department, shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old. Officer Wilson is white and Michael Brown was black, sparking allegations from wide swaths of the local and national black community that Wilson’s shooting of Brown, and the Ferguson Police Department’s reluctance to arrest the officer, are both racially motivated events that smack of an historic trend of black inequality within the US criminal justice system.

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Vaping and the data on e-cigarettes

Vaping is the term for using an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette). Since e-cigarettes involve inhaling vapour rather than smoke, it is distinct from smoking. The vapour looks a somewhat like cigarette smoke but dissipates much more quickly and has very little odour since it mostly consist of water droplets.

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The rise of electronic cigarettes and their impact on public health

A new report from the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention shows that use of e-cigarettes among high schools students has tripled in two years. The finding raises the question is vaping—the use of tobacco-free electronic cigarettes—an important tool for helping smokers quit or a ploy by Big Tobacco to addict another generation of young people to nicotine?

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What do we love about new words?

The lexicographers at Oxford Dictionaries keep watch on our collective neology and select a word—or words–of the year: a word that is both forward-looking and reflects the culture of the current year. From 2004 we’ve had chav, podcast, carbon-neutral, locavore, unfriend, refudiate, squeezed middle, the verb GIF, and selfie.

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A guide to European cartels

On Tuesday 25th and Wednesday 26th November we are looking forward to returning to Brussels for the IBC Advanced EU Competition Law. The conference will see some of the leading competition lawyers, regulators, competition authorities, economists, legal advisors, and academics come together to discuss cartels, private enforcement, vertical restraints, state aid, mergers, and more. To find out what you can expect from the conference watch the video highlights from last year, including a clip of our very own Francesca Halstead.

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Oxford Dictionaries

The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is… vape

As 2014 draws to a close, it’s time to look back and see which words have been significant throughout the past twelve months, and to announce the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year. Without further ado, we can exclusively reveal that the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2014 is…vape.

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Swanson

The future of systems neuroscience

How does the brain work? It’s a question on a lot of people’s minds these days, especially with the launch of massive new research efforts like the American BRAIN Initiative and the European Human Brain Project.

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Pagan

Chemical warfare in terrestrial flatworms

Biologically-produced toxins include some of the most interesting substances in nature. As advanced as the chemical sciences are, nothing beats nature in terms of the wide variety of structures with specific biochemical properties.

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