21 October 2014

11 October 2014

A dame

6 October 2014

Seattle: The new paragon of cool

Seattle has definitely become the coolest place in the U.S. as can be seen in their recent decision to dump Columbus Day for a day celebrating indigenous peoples. The move has been too long coming. (In fact, I wrote a long screed about this way back in 2006). This is from an account of the period following Columbus's "discovery" of the Americas:

When he arrived on Hispaniola in 1508, Las Casas says, "there were 60,000 people living on this island, including the Indians; so that from 1494 to 1508, over three million people had perished from war, slavery, and the mines". 

To put this in some perspective, if the numbers are accurate, we're talking about a death-toll roughly half that of the Holocaust. (And all this without modern weapons and bureaucracies!) Columbus Day is the equivalent of a Celebrate Hitler Day.

3 October 2014

Is God a good theory?

I enjoyed listening to this talk by Sean Carroll on why God isn't a good theory. Carroll's a physicist, so he dwells mostly on physics. The final part of the talk where he talks about how our world isn't what we'd expect if God (the way he's typically imagined and described) existed could be expanded into another talk.

30 September 2014

Who benefits when the U.S. economy grows?

These graphs (and their accompanying analysis) should be grounds for deep apprehension about the direction of the U.S. economy and all its imitators.

In this chart (from Pavlina Tcherneva's homepage), similar data are plotted slightly differently. The symmetry of the decline of the majority and rise of the poor is startling.

It doesn't get any better if we focus on the 1%.

Opposing the "Property Party" in HK

Some interesting photos of the HK protest posted on Shi Tao TV (an internet TV station?)

     The Chinese on the sign doesn't just say "no," it explicitly says, "Overthrow the Communist Part." The Chinese word for "Communist Party" has three characters, the first meaning mutual, together, and so on, the second meaning property, and that last a party of faction. Notice that the mutual/together character has been crossed out, leaving only "the property party."

This photo, taken around Sept. 29, shows the scale of the protest.

Air-pollution: A real-time map

I came across this map that compares air quality across the world. The air quality in China is amazingly bad.

21 September 2014

A year of solitude

I came across Kull's 1993 PhD dissertation on living a year alone in the wilderness in Chile. I wish it described living alone in a U.S. or Canadian wilderness, since I'm more likely to go to those places. All the same, I'm amazed that this was accepted as a PhD thesis. McGill needs to be congratulated for being open to such things. I haven't read much beyond a few excerpts, but it looks interesting. Some pictures with brief descriptions are available at Bob Kull's website.