Coolest Thing I saw last week: Volkswagen Electronic Concept Car

This car was cruising through the UK on the M1 as I was being driven down to the airport, getting lots of looks from passers by. Me and my sister did a couple of what we thought might be crafty manouevres (I know I have spelt that wrong) in order to get a better a look at it but obviously the driver had seen all of that shit before.

The XL1, nor any of its predecessor designs, ever went into mass production – this was one of 250 which was first shipped to its owner in June 2014. It’s pretty nifty for an electric car, though it’s not strictly electric – it has a hybrid engine. More info can be found at your friendly local wikipedia article….

Iraq suspends the licences 10 Satellite News Stations

Attention statisticians and undergraduates!

The BBC is reporting today that Iraq has suspended the broadcasting licences of 10 satellite news stations after a wave of sectarian violence swept (and is still sweeping) over the country. The sectarian lines in the greater part of Iraq are divided between Sunni and Shia muslims; Iraq has a Shia majority but while Saddam Hussein was in power, the Sunni majority were represented by his Ba’ath party and thus held all the power.

It would be interesting to see if this effective ban has an effect in reducing or increasing the violence across the country. In the BBC report the correspondent says that most of the stations are ‘Sunni-owned while Qatar-based al-Jazeera is perceived as more pro-Sunni in its Arabic-language reporting in Iraq.’

If the rates of violence reduce, what does this mean for societies around the world in times of crisis? 24-hour news is one of the defining characteristics of the 21st century, with effects that are as yet unclear – 24 hour news may or may not increase partisanship, paranoia, negative perceptions of the world, and lead to more unverified reporting, of the people who consume it in great numbers. But to what extent is this an effect of the actual phenomenon of 24 hour news, or is it simply a vector for manipulation that was more traditionally seen in the newspapers? I say this because one negative example of this culture that my mind leapt to was the United States, where you are either a Fox person or a CNN person with no apparent room for someone in between.

So in Iraq, they are suspending these 10 satellite news stations, but the report does not say if it is banning all satellite news stations. In any case, we can only wait and see what happens in Iraq for the period of the license suspension, which is not given in the report…

“Anyone who fights with monsters should take care that he does not in the process become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” – Beyond Good and Evil

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