I keep a weblog like it's still the 90s. For commentary and dissent please visit jontaylor.ca, or various other purveyors of thought online.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Think Again: Africa's Crisis

Think Again: Africa's Crisis | Foreign Policy: "The spread of these technologies has helped expand economies, improve quality of life, and extend health. About 10 percent of infants die in their first year of life in Africa -- still shockingly high, but considerably lower than the European average less than 100 years ago, let alone 800 years past. And about two thirds of Africans are literate -- a level achieved in Spain only in the 1920s"

I Think My Friend Was Wrong

I Think My Friend Was Wrong: The Cartoon Lounge : The New Yorker: "A friend of mine recently made the comment, “There’s not a lot of things in the world that are better than a New York City sidewalk hot dog.” I agreed wholeheartedly at the time, but later, as I was making a mental list, I started to think that maybe my friend was wrong. Here’s what I have so far:

Most Coen Brothers movies
BBQ ribs
A bear-skin rug
A rodeo
A Frisbee-catching dog

Blue Chip, White Cotton: What Underwear Says About the Economy

Blue Chip, White Cotton: What Underwear Says About the Economy - washingtonpost.com: "Here's the theory, briefly: Sales of men's underwear typically are stable because they rank as a necessity. But during times of severe financial strain, men will try to stretch the time between buying new pairs, causing underwear sales to dip."

The Powerful Have a Different Perspective on Ethical Behavior

News Blog Articles | The Powerful Have a Different Perspective on Ethical Behavior | Miller-McCune Online Magazine: "Are rules made to be broken — or obeyed? Newly published research suggests your answer to that question depends largely upon whether you are mulling it over from a position of power."

GENERATIONS REFERENCE MANUAL by Tim Saccardo - Artist: Marek Haiduk

MADATOMS - GENERATIONS REFERENCE MANUAL by Tim Saccardo - Artist: Marek Haiduk

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Decade in Pop

Pitchfork: Articles: The Decade in Pop: "It's not a free marketplace, or a fair one; it's not rational, and it often ignores or destroys quality. But as soon as you step aside from it, as soon as you start to say, 'OK, this stuff is proper pop and this stuff isn't,' you're defining something else."

Lesser Evils

Lesser Evils - The New York Times: "Sticking too firmly to the rule of law simply allows terrorists too much leeway to exploit our freedoms. Abandoning the rule of law altogether betrays our most valued institutions. To defeat evil, we may have to traffic in evils: indefinite detention of suspects, coercive interrogations, targeted assassinations, even pre-emptive war. These are evils because each strays from national and international law and because they kill people or deprive them of freedom without due process. They can be justified only because they prevent the greater evil. The question is not whether we should be trafficking in lesser evils but whether we can keep lesser evils under the control of free institutions. If we can't, any victories we gain in the war on terror will be Pyrrhic ones."

Saturday, August 29, 2009

While My Guitar Gently Beeps - The Beatles - Rock Band

While My Guitar Gently Beeps - The Beatles - Rock Band - NYTimes.com: "Martin is a youthful 39, with his father’s patrician accent but also a rakish demeanor that more recalls the young Lennon. “When they first approached me, I thought, Do I really want to do a plastic-guitar Beatles game?” he said. He was persuaded to do so, he told me, after seeing how the games intensify people’s engagement with music. “In the same way we listened to records over and over again,” he observed, “because I don’t think kids do that anymore. They’ve got too much other stuff competing for their attention.”"

Booming Middle-Class Diet May Stress Asia's Water Needs

Booming Middle-Class Diet May Stress Asia's Water Needs: "South Asia would have to expand its irrigated crop areas by 30 percent and increase water use by 57 percent. Given existing agriculture pressure on water resources and territory, that's an impossible scenario, the study authors said. In South Asia, for example, 94 percent of suitable land is already being farmed."

Partisans and sober second thought

Partisans and sober second thought - The Globe and Mail: "Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister, was right to fill nine vacancies in the Senate yesterday, though he should also work harder toward making it into an elected chamber. The Senate is in any case part of the Canadian form of government. The Constitution established, and continues to require, a bicameral Parliament. The Senate should be enabled to function, not left to wither away."

Something has always bothered me about the chamber of sober second thought. Many Liberals in the past have defended keeping it by appointment only to "temper" the decisions made by the government du-jour. As was the case during my youth, the LPC had majorities in both the senate and the house, and all was well.

Now we're very close to a CPC (and allies) majority in the senate, and suddenly the Globe and Mail is pro senate reform. Suddenly they don't consider the thought to be so sober.

In essence, a second thought is only "sober" if it falls into your view of right. So the sober second thought of the senate, is unelected partisans preventing the democratic will of the people.

For a party that ushered Ignatieff into power by subverting their own constitution, it's pretty disturbing to hear that appointment is "sober" democracy.

Magic and Chimps

How Does Scratching Relieve an Itch?

How Does Scratching Relieve an Itch?: "The group hypothesized that the relief mechanism doesn’t take place along the nerves of itchy skin, as had been thought, but deep in the central nervous system, in the same area that the itches themselves are communicated."

Good Novels Don’t Have to Be Hard Work

Good Novels Don’t Have to Be Hard Work - WSJ.com: "But let's look back for a second at where the Modernists came from, and what exactly they did with the novel. They drew a tough hand, historically speaking. All the bad news of the modern era had just arrived more or less at the same time: mass media, advertising, psychoanalysis, mechanized warfare. The rise of electric light and internal combustion had turned their world into a noisy, reeking travesty of the gas-lit, horse-drawn world they grew up in. The orderly, complacent, optimistic Victorian novel had nothing to say to them. Worse than nothing: it felt like a lie. The novel was a mirror the Modernists needed to break, the better to reflect their broken world. So they did.

One of the things they broke was plot. To the Modernists, stories were a distortion of real life. In real life stories don't tie up neatly. Events don't line up in a tidy sequence and mean the same things to everybody they happen to. Ask a veteran of the Somme whether his tour of duty resembled the 'Boy's Own' war stories he grew up on. The Modernists broke the clear straight lines of causality and perception and chronological sequence, to make them look more like life as it's actually lived. They took in 'The Mill on the Floss' and spat out 'The Sound and the Fury.'"

Darwin, Magic and Evolution

Marginal Revolution: Darwin, Magic and Evolution

Friday, August 28, 2009

Gone Forever: What Does It Take to Really Disappear?

Gone Forever: What Does It Take to Really Disappear? | Vanish | Wired.com: "The urge to disappear, to shed one’s identity and reemerge in another, surely must be as old as human society. It’s a fantasy that can flicker tantalizingly on the horizon at moments of crisis or grow into a persistent daydream that accompanies life’s daily burdens. A fight with your spouse leaves you momentarily despondent, perhaps, or a longtime relationship feels dead on its feet. Your mortgage payment becomes suddenly unmanageable, or a pile of debts gradually rises above your head. Maybe you simply awaken one day unable to shake your disappointment over a choice you could have made or a better life you might have had. And then the thought occurs to you: What if I could drop everything, abandon my life’s baggage, and start over as someone else?"

20 Fascinating Ancient Maps

20 Fascinating Ancient Maps

Long debate ended over cause, demise of ice ages – solar and earth wobble – CO2 not main driver

Long debate ended over cause, demise of ice ages – solar and earth wobble – CO2 not main driver � Watts Up With That?: "In a publication to be released Friday in the journal Science, researchers from Oregon State University and other institutions conclude that the known wobbles in Earth’s rotation caused global ice levels to reach their peak about 26,000 years ago, stabilize for 7,000 years and then begin melting 19,000 years ago, eventually bringing to an end the last ice age.

The melting was first caused by more solar radiation, not changes in carbon dioxide levels or ocean temperatures, as some scientists have suggested in recent years."

Facebook changes privacy policy

BBC NEWS | Technology | Facebook changes privacy policy: "Last month the social network was found to breach Canadian law by holding on to users' personal data indefinitely.

Facebook has now agreed to make changes to the way it handles this information and be more transparent about what data it collects and why."

Keeping a lid on fun in Vancouver

Keeping a lid on fun in Vancouver - Arts & Culture - Macleans.ca: "With its conservative liquor laws and reputation for discouraging revelry (for the Millennium, police told celebrants to stay home), Vancouver has long been chided as “no-fun.” But what struck James, 31, when she moved there in 2006, was the extent to which the alternative music scene was being pushed underground—in some cases, quite literally. Experimental bands were regularly performing in illicit venues—warehouses, lofts, even the lower level of a parking garage. “You didn’t always know who was playing. The fliers didn’t have the address on it,” she says."

Mercury in fish: Hold the sushi

Mercury in fish: Hold the sushi | The Economist: "The new study was conducted by the US Geological Survey (USGS), a scientific agency run by the government. It found traces of methylmercury, a form of mercury that is readily absorbed, in every fish sampled in 291 streams across the country. In around a quarter of those fish, the amount of mercury was above the level set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as safe for human consumption. Mercury levels at more than two-thirds of the sites exceeded what scientists believe fish-eating mammals, such as mink and otters, should ingest.

The leading source of mercury is pollution from coal-burning power plants, which accounts for 40% of all domestic anthropogenic mercury, according to the EPA."

Religion_and_Health_All_August09.pdf (application/pdf Object)

Religion_and_Health_All_August09.pdf (application/pdf Object)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What We Are Not Embarrassed by

What We Are Not Embarrassed by: "Do you understand the point of contrasting actually-existing economic culture to a doctrine? Neither do I. Standard, non-Marxist economic history is not only better history, but equally sweeping. Should we therefore say that the New Institutionalist school of economic history, for example, “is opposed to capitalism in its relationship to time”? Not if we don’t want to sound silly."

The Fuhrer's Obsession with Art: 'Hitler Considered Himself an Artistic Genius'l

The Fuhrer's Obsession with Art: 'Hitler Considered Himself an Artistic Genius' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International: "In fact, his love of art led directly into the heart of evil. But neither is it the root of everything else. His fanatical pursuit of his own cause, and his self-image as a genius, contributed to his powers of persuasion and, therefore, his success. Art was part of his life until his last hours, even playing a role in his private will, in which he mentions his collections. This was someone who issued the so-called Nero Decree (Ed's note: Hitler's Nero Decree, issued in March 1945, ordered the destruction of any infrastructure which could be of use to the Allies.) while at the same time making sure art treasures were rescued. But no one is willing to admit to his obsession with art."

Liberalism without labor unions? | Salon

Liberalism without labor unions? | Salon: "Is the future of American liberalism a politics of charity rather than a politics of solidarity? In my darker moments, I sometimes wonder whether the relatively brief influence of labor unions in the Democratic Party in the mid-20th century was not an exception to the rule of elitism in American politics. You can write a narrative of American history in which, first, agrarian populism and 19th-century labor movements are crushed by repression and bloodshed by the 1900s. Then organized labor, after a brief, unforeseen period of influence from the 1930s to the 1960s, is crushed a second time by neoliberal Democrats and conservative Republicans alike, leaving an America in which the only significant conflicts are those within the economic elite."

We’ve Got 35 Times More Horsepower in Our Cars Than in Our Power Plants

We’ve Got 35 Times More Horsepower in Our Cars Than in Our Power Plants: "I decided to run the numbers for today’s overpowered vehicle fleet. (The math is below.) Turns out we have something on the order of 51 billion peak horsepower sitting in our driveways. That’s an incredible 38,276 gigawatts of power available. That absolutely dwarfs the nameplate capacity of our electrical power plants, which total up to a mere 1,087 gigawatts. In fact, each week of 2008, a horrible year for car sales, almost 38 gigawatts of capacity rolled into the streets of America."

Missing kindergartner found in 1st grade

Missing kindergartner found in 1st grade: "seriously? is this news?"

Monday, August 24, 2009

Professor Paul Krugman at war with Niall Ferguson over inflation

Professor Paul Krugman at war with Niall Ferguson over inflation - Times Online: "The collapse of the American banking system allowed Krugman to say that advocates of laissez-faire capitalism had got it wrong. “We’re all socialists now,” he said, calling for the government to “seize the commanding heights of the economy”.

Niall Ferguson has taken a similarly rugged approach to academia and public life, never afraid of a contrary approach. This runs through many of his general works — he argued that the British Empire was not a bad thing and that a de facto American-led empire could do even more good works.

The same approach runs through his economic histories. In his best known book, The Ascent of Money, he examined how good banking and financial systems eclipsed poor ones.

Unlike Krugman, he has been sceptical about the effectiveness of government programmes to fix the economic crisis. “My worry is that we end up with an over-reaction,” he said. “All this zeal for regulation actually grows out of a very faulty analysis. If deregulation were such a big problem, why was it that the most regulated entities, banks, caused the biggest trouble?”"

A Taste of Pyongyang.

McSweeney's Internet Tendency: A Taste of Pyongyang.: "A Taste of Pyongyang, the newest eatery by the secretive North Korean phenom, Jimmy Kim, combines uncompromising Totalitarian food concepts with a flair for the dramatic.

The spent (hopefully) nuclear fuel rods lining the wall of ATOP give diners their first clue that this will not be a normal or even a necessarily pleasant dining experience. That's because Kim's culinary philosophy radically departs from the views of most restaurateurs. Kim, a graduate of the Dear Leader Culinary Institute in Pyongyang, believes that you should suffer as much as humanly possible in his establishment. This is evident from the moment you walk though the front door, past the guards dressed in full military garb with automatic weapons on their shoulders.

The ma�tre d' confronts you with his signature greeting of 'Leave now or be completely and utterly annihilated.'"

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The suburban lawn: enemy of lakes, oceans and rivers everywhere

The suburban lawn: enemy of lakes, oceans and rivers everywhere: Scientific American Blog: "The reason? Lawns and gardens.

Water that runs off from these green acres typically picks up a load of fertilizers, pesticides and other potentially toxic chemicals, and washes them—via sewers or directly—into lakes, rivers, streams and even the ocean. Once there, joined by similar runoff from agriculture, the chemicals can drive a host of environmental problems, ranging from dead zones to contaminated fish."

A modest proposal for improving football: the ‘time-in’

A modest proposal for improving football: the ‘time-in’ - The Boston Globe: "The idea is simple: When the clock is stopped, for whatever reason, a coach could call a “time-in,” and force the clock to start up again. Think of it as the antimatter version of the timeout."

The Artist Formerly Known as Dissident: Artists have a duty to dissent—even against Obama

The Artist Formerly Known as Dissident: Artists have a duty to dissent—even against Obama - Reason Magazine: "'The only thing missing is a noose.' Philip Kennicott of The Washington Post stated, 'So why the anonymity? Perhaps because the poster is ultimately a racially charged image.' Bedlam magazine, the first to comment on the poster back in April, argued, 'The Joker white-face imposed on Obama's visage has a sort of malicious, racist, Jim Crow quality to it.' Why would any artist who hopes to have (or keep) a career create images that criticize the president when both journalists and art reviewers make such irrational comments? To give some perspective, remember that the 'noose' comment came from a publication that once presented a cover image of George W. Bush as a bloodthirsty vampire."

Why the Khadr fetish?

Why the Khadr fetish?: "Take Burma, a brutal country that just extended the illegal house arrest of democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner. The CBA recently sponsored a tourist junket to Burma, full of sightseeing and shopping. Suu Kyi has specifically called for a tourism boycott, saying in a 1999 interview 'to suggest that there's anything new that tourists can teach the people of Burma about their own situation is not simply patronizing, it's also racist.'"

Your Baby Is Smarter Than You Think

Op-Ed Contributor - Your Baby Is Smarter Than You Think - NYTimes.com: "New studies, however, demonstrate that babies and very young children know, observe, explore, imagine and learn more than we would ever have thought possible. In some ways, they are smarter than adults."

Friday, August 14, 2009

Please Excuse Our Inefficiently High-Quality Blogging

Please Excuse Our Inefficiently High-Quality Blogging � Cheap Talk: "Has it ever struck you how peculiar it is that the price of so much writing these days is zero? No, I don’t mean that it is suprising that blogs don’t charge a price. There is so much supply that competition drives the price down to zero."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Anthropogenic Continental Drift: An Incoherent Truth

The People's Cube :: View topic - Anthropogenic Continental Drift: An Incoherent Truth: "Anthropogenic Continental Drift (ACD) will result in catastrophic damage and untold suffering, unless immediate indemnity payments from the United Sates, Europe, and Australia be made to the governments of non-industrial nations, to counteract this man-made threat to the world's habitats."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ontario’s big windy gamble

Ontario’s big windy gamble - Environment Top01 - Macleans.ca: "Ontario is already North America’s friendliest jurisdiction for wind and other renewable energy projects, thanks to its recently proclaimed Green Energy Act, meant to speed along approval, and the establishment of European-style 20-year fixed-price energy contracts."

Meanwhile BC languishes under the weight of socialism.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Can I call you Belinda?

Can I call you Belinda? - Beyond The Commons Capital Read - Macleans.ca: "The first name basis on which we seem to be with most female politicians is an interesting point. Part of it probably has to do with little more than the fact that the lack of women in positions of political power makes female names all the more singular—you know who is being discussed when someone mentions Belinda or Ruby, there’d be more possibility of confusion if we talked about Michael or Stephen."

I call my MP Dr. Fry.

Photo With Kim Jong Il and Bill Clinton Tied to Journalists’ Release Spotlights Dictator Kitsch

Photo With Kim Jong Il and Bill Clinton Tied to Journalists’ Release Spotlights Dictator Kitsch - WSJ.com: "Totalitarian kitsch puts those ideas in the service of the state. It is the official art of authoritarian governments, aimed at extending state control through propaganda. Totalitarian kitsch exists to glorify the state, foster a personality cult surrounding the dictator and celebrate ceaseless and irrevocable social and economic progress through images of churning factories and happy, exultant workers. It does so using the corrupted language of academic realism—heavily muscled supermen and women and colossal scale. Pyongyang’s “Monument to Party Foundation” consists of three hands each emerging from a circular platform and holding, respectively, a hammer, a hoe and a brush. The hands alone are over 150 feet tall."

Ten Drugs You Shouldn't Do While Driving

Ten Drugs You Shouldn't Do While Driving - Miss Cellania - Miss Cellania

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Doctors vs. Gunowners

Sean Linnane: Doctors vs. Gunowners: "statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners."

Do Animals or People Get Better Care?

Health-Care Reform: Do Animals or People Get Better Care? - WSJ.com: "As a British dog, you get to choose (through an intermediary, I admit) your veterinarian. If you don’t like him, you can pick up your leash and go elsewhere, that very day if necessary. Any vet will see you straight away, there is no delay in such investigations as you may need, and treatment is immediate. There are no waiting lists for dogs, no operations postponed because something more important has come up, no appalling stories of dogs being made to wait for years because other dogs—or hamsters—come first.
Nevertheless, there is one drawback to the superior care British dogs receive by comparison with that of British humans: they have to pay for it, there and then. By contrast, British humans receive health care that is free at the point of delivery. Of course, some dogs have had the foresight to take out insurance, but others have to pay out of their savings. Nevertheless, the iron principle holds: cash on delivery."

Living Root Bridges

Living Root Bridges: "In the depths of northeastern India, in one of the wettest places on earth, bridges aren't built - they're grown"

Saturday, August 8, 2009

'Buy American' rule clogs plans for U.S. sewer upgrades

'Buy American' rule clogs plans for U.S. sewer upgrades: "Contractors are searching the United States in vain for filters as well as bolts and manhole covers needed to build wastewater plants, sewers and water pipes financed by the economic stimulus. As officials wait for federal waivers to buy those goods outside the United States, water projects from Maine to Kansas have been delayed."

I work in the water industry using equipment from Slovakia, France, Germany, Switzerland, Korea, Mexico, Canada, the USA and China. I'm glad the Canadian government hasn't gone "full retard" and put a similar clause on our projects.

B.C. Mountie kills pit bull that attacked llama

B.C. Mountie kills pit bull that attacked llama

Why am I not surprised to read this headline? I've become jaded to random headlines.

The history of the Times New Roman typeface

FT.com / Reportage - The history of the Times New Roman typeface: "The case that Parker makes about the real origins of Times New Roman stands on narrow foundations. The sole piece of surviving evidence for his version of history is a brass pattern plate bearing a large capital letter B. He holds the plate up to show the familiar form of the letter, its characteristic curves and serifs. The point, he says, is that such pattern plates represent a technology that was not used after 1915. The creation of Times New Roman was announced in 1932."

Detroit's Beautiful, Horrible Decline

Detroit's Beautiful, Horrible Decline - Photo Essays - TIME

Friday, August 7, 2009

Sceptic switches tack

FT.com / World - Sceptic switches tack: "Bjorn Lomborg, an influential figure among climate change sceptics, has thrown his weight behind a drive to forge a global deal to halt rising world temperatures at a summit in Copenhagen this year."

Vancouver car-free Sundays hit a red light

Vancouver car-free Sundays hit a red light: "What they found was that on the order of 80 per cent of the businesses just were not seeing a benefit and were not interested to see it continue,"

My guess... people like cars.

Radiohead: Harry Patch (In memory of)

BBC - Today - Radiohead: Harry Patch (In memory of):
"It was an ambush
They came up from all sides
Give your leaders each a gun and then let them fight it out themselves"

David Letterman’s Top Ten Numbers From One to Ten

David Letterman’s Top Ten Numbers From One to Ten

Is CYXYMU the first "digital refugee"?

Is CYXYMU the first "digital refugee"? | Net Effect: "I think that the attackers' real goal was humiliation, not censorship (however, more on the censorship part at the very end). A secondary goal was to generate awe-inducing headlines about Russia's cyberpower all over the Web; there is no better way to do it these days than to make Twitter inaccessible for a few hours.

However, we should keep in mind that we still don't really know if there is any connection to the Kremlin, even though the scale of the attacks (and the costs associated with it) suggest that they probably had a sponsor (nevertheless, it's also true that there are plenty of rich people in Russia who are not exactly fans of the current Georgian government; furthermore, there are surely some people in Georgia who think that generating negative PR for Russia by attacking a Georgian blogger is not exactly a bad deal)."

Sincerely, John Hughes

We'll Know When We Get There: Sincerely, John Hughes: "There were a few months in 1987 when I didn't hear from John. I missed his letters and the strength and power and confidence they gave me and so I sent a letter to Ned Tanen who, by that time, was the President of Paramount Pictures (he died earlier this year). In my letter I asked Mr. Tanen if he knew what was up with John, why he hadn't been writing and if he could perhaps give him a poke on my behalf.

He did.

I came home from school soon after to find an enormous box on my front porch filled with t-shirts and tapes and posters and scripts and my very own Ferris Bueller's Day Off watch.

And a note.

'I missed you too. Don't get me in trouble with my boss any more. Sincerely, John Hughes.'"

Why Michael Ignatieff is hard to find these days

Why Michael Ignatieff is hard to find these days - Paul Wells - Macleans.ca: "Ekos found the Harper government’s “right direction” numbers exceed his “wrong direction” numbers in every region except Quebec, both genders, every age bracket and at every level of educational attainment. Forty-two per cent of Liberal voters reported they believe the Harper government is moving in the right direction."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Killing Flipper

Killing Flipper - Arts & Culture - Macleans.ca: "O’Barry is about to get the world’s attention. His efforts have inspired an astonishing documentary called The Cove, which blows the lid off the dirty little secret behind dolphin showbiz. This devastating expos�takes us to Taiji, a seaside town in Japan, where dolphins are captured for export to aquariums around the world. Thousands of others are slaughtered for their flesh, a mercury-laden meat that was fed to Japanese schoolchildren as part of a free but compulsory lunch program; kids were forced to clean their plates."

San Diego to test mobile electric car charger

San Diego to test mobile electric car charger | Green Tech - CNET News: "Plug-in electric car drivers in San Diego will be able to charge up at a friend's house without leaving behind a hefty electric bill.

Utility San Diego Gas & Electric said on Wednesday that it plans to use a mobile car-charging device from Juice Technologies as part of a trial of plug-in electric cars in the region."


CATcerto - Videos

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Musicians and Their Awesome Sesame Street Appearances

15 MORE Musicians and Their Awesome Sesame Street Appearances

Video: Dawkins vs. Wright

Little Green Footballs - Video: Dawkins vs. Wright

Are Bees the Next Mass-Extinction Species?

Are Bees the Next Mass-Extinction Species?: "Honeybees don't just make honey; they pollinate more than 90 of the tastiest flowering crops we have. Among them: apples, nuts, avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash and cucumbers. And lots of the really sweet and tart stuff, too, including citrus fruit, peaches, kiwi, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, cantaloupe and other melons.

In fact, about one-third of the human diet comes from insect- pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture."

Is High-Speed Rail a Good Public Investment?

Is High-Speed Rail a Good Public Investment? - Economix Blog - NYTimes.com: "the cost of a 240-mile line, like the one that could connect Dallas and Houston, would probably run about $12 billion, but it could be as cheap as $6 billion or as expensive as $24 billion, and these are the numbers that we have most confidence about."

Stats Confirm It: Teens Don’t Tweet

Stats Confirm It: Teens Don’t Tweet: "Nielsen has compiled data from its NetRatings panel of 250,000 US Internet users and discovered that there are fewer young people on Twitter (Twitter) than on the Internet as a whole: one quarter of US Internet users are under 25, Nielsen says, but only 16% of Twitter users lie in that age range"

Runaway Train?

Runaway Train? - Freakonomics Blog - NYTimes.com: "Big infrastructure projects might be killed on the drawing board, but once under construction they will almost never be canceled, even by those who bitterly oppose them. No matter how high the cost overruns are or how disastrous the engineering mishaps may be (think the Big Dig), no elected official wants to abandon a half-built expressway, leaving a rusting blot on the landscape which screams testimony to the incompetence of government."

The 7 vices of highly creative people

Salon People Feature | The 7 vices of highly creative people: "It has been my experience that those with no vices have very few virtues"

Do International Labor Standards Contribute to the Persistence of the Child Labor Problem?

Do International Labor Standards Contribute to the Persistence of the Child Labor Problem?: "international labor standards and product boycotts may delay the ultimate eradication of child labor"

There's a gate... sorry for anyone who hasn't a decent library.

Does closing roads cut delays?

Does closing roads cut delays? | csmonitor.com: "Imagine two routes to a destination, a short but narrow bridge and a longer but wider highway. Let’s also imagine that the combined travel times of all the drivers is shortest if half take the bridge and half take the highway. But because each driver is selfishly trying to seek the shortest route for himself, this doesn’t happen"

Where Did The Easter Bunny Come From?

mental_floss Blog - Where Did The Easter Bunny Come From?: "but even if you allow for miracles, angels, and pancake Jesus, the Easter Bunny really comes out of left field."

China's Broken Olympic Promises: Detained Activist's Kafkaesque Nightmare

China's Broken Olympic Promises: Detained Activist's Kafkaesque Nightmare - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International: "His story begins with a photograph taken by Danish photographer Mads Nissen on Aug. 11, 2008, on the fourth day of the impressive Beijing Games. The photo depicts Ji, who was 58 at the time, still dressed in the white, short-sleeved shirt and worn trousers he had been wearing that morning when he submitted his application. He is accompanied by two men dressed in civilian clothes, who are seen forcing him into a minivan. Shortly afterwards Ji was reached once, briefly, on his mobile phone before his service was disconnected. After Aug. 11, not even his family could reach him. He had simply disappeared without a trace"

Canada auto sales weaken in July, but Ford shines

reportonbusiness.com: globeinvestor.com - Canada auto sales weaken in July, but Ford shines: "Ford, the only Detroit auto company not supported by emergency government funding, sold 26,788 vehicles in Canada in July, up 47.4 percent from 18,171 in July 2008, but down slightly from sales in June 2009, the company said on Tuesday in a statement.

The result, driven by a 60 percent jump in sales of trucks such as the F-Series pickup and Escape SUV, means Ford Canada's year-to-date sales are now 2.3 percent ahead of last year's pace."

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Omnivore’s Delusion: Against the Agri-intellectuals

The Omnivore’s Delusion: Against the Agri-intellectuals — The American, A Magazine of Ideas: "the parts of farming that are the most “industrial” are the most likely to be owned by the kind of family farmers that elicit such a positive response from the consumer. Corn farms are almost all owned and managed by small family farmers. But corn farmers salivate at the thought of one more biotech breakthrough, use vast amounts of energy to increase production, and raise large quantities of an indistinguishable commodity to sell to huge corporations that turn that corn into thousands of industrial products."

The Spectecutive Branch

The Spectecutive Branch - Mark Steyn - The Corner on National Review Online: "A legislator is elected to legislate — so, if he doesn't read the law before he makes it law, he's not doing the only job he has"

Why Most Journalists Are Democrats: A View from the Soviet Socialist Trenches

Why Most Journalists Are Democrats: A View from the Soviet Socialist Trenches | Psychology Today: "having worked among the Soviets, I know that large groups of very intelligent people can fall into a collective delusion that what they are doing in certain areas is the right thing, when it's actually not the right thing at all"

What Does Renewable Energy Look Like?

Clean Energy Insight - Moving Energy Forward - Blog Archive - What Does Renewable Energy Look Like?: "If you’ve looked for a comparison in land areas needed for different power sources, I would be willing to bet that you found a lot of numbers and zero pictures. In order for you to gain a valuable perspective on the amount of land area needed for different energy sources, I feel that a graphical presentation would be more of an eye opener."

Cronkite’s Signature Mix of Authority and Approachability

An Appraisal - Cronkite’s Signature Mix of Authority and Approachability - NYTimes.com: "An appraisal on Saturday about Walter Cronkite’s career included a number of errors. In some copies, it misstated the date that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed and referred incorrectly to Mr. Cronkite’s coverage of D-Day. Dr. King was killed on April 4, 1968, not April 30. Mr. Cronkite covered the D-Day landing from a warplane; he did not storm the beaches. In addition, Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, not July 26. “The CBS Evening News” overtook “The Huntley-Brinkley Report” on NBC in the ratings during the 1967-68 television season, not after Chet Huntley retired in 1970. A communications satellite used to relay correspondents’ reports from around the world was Telstar, not Telestar. Howard K. Smith was not one of the CBS correspondents Mr. Cronkite would turn to for reports from the field after he became anchor of “The CBS Evening News” in 1962; he left CBS before Mr. Cronkite was the anchor. Because of an editing error, the appraisal also misstated the name of the news agency for which Mr. Cronkite was Moscow bureau chief after World War II. At that time it was United Press, not United Press International."

I wonder how many letters they got.

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