I have posted several times on the blog about one of my favorite planets. This is a pretty cool video–I’d recommended clicking through to the actual Vimeo site for a larger format. (And I did have some trouble with it “buffering” slowly…):
Amazing stuff here:
We are getting fatter. In Australia, the United States, and many other countries, it has become commonplace to see people so fat that they waddle rather than walk. The rise in obesity is steepest in the developed world, but it is occurring in middle-income and poor countries as well.
Is a personâ€™s weight his or her own business? Should we simply become more accepting of diverse body shapes? I donâ€™t think so. Obesity is an ethical issue, because an increase in weight by some imposes costs on others.
I am writing this at an airport. A slight Asian woman has checked in with, I would guess, about 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of suitcases and boxes. She pays extra for exceeding the weight allowance. A man who must weigh at least 40 kilos more than she does, but whose baggage is under the limit, pays nothing. Yet, in terms of the airplaneâ€™s fuel consumption, it is all the same whether the extra weight is baggage or body fat.
Tony Webber, a former chief economist for the Australian airline Qantas, has pointed out that, since 2000, the average weight of adult passengers on its planes has increased by two kilos. For a large, modern aircraft like the Airbus A380, that means that an extra $472 of fuel has to be burned on a flight from Sydney to London. If the airline flies that route in both directions three times a day, over a year it will spend an additional $1 million for fuel, or, on current margins, about 13% of the airlineâ€™s profit from operating that route…[Rest of article]
An incredible visualization of earthquake activity leading up to last year’s tsunami in Japan. Give it at least two minutes–you won’t be disappointed:
And here’s a world map of same:
This never ceases to depress me. I have written here before about the “doll test” that they have done in the past with children, using a black doll and a white doll and asking “Which is the good one?”, etc. (You really should watch the video linked in the previous sentence before watching the following one):
And here we go again, this time in Mexico:
I haven’t posted for quite some time about one of my major new hobbies (I’ve been devoting about 3 hours per day to this for the last three years)–language learning. I do have a link over in the right sidebar to a much-visited-by-me site called “Learning Languages” (referenced in the article below) and to the Supermemo site (the software I use so much for vocabulary drilling). I have picked up a tiny smattering of Russian (completed the 3 Pimsleur courses), can stumble through a conversation in Spanish, am still working on Japanese (again, I’ve completed all Pimsleur courses–90 lessons–for both Spanish and Japanese), and recently started working on Italian (much easier after learning Spanish).
My methodology has been to listen to the Pimsleur courses, chop up the phrases I don’t know into small MP3’s, and import them into Supermemo for drill. It seems to be working.
So I was pleased to see the topic discussed today at the FREAKONOMICS site:
A few years after I learned German, I got the chance to learn French. That experience gave me lots of ideas for why our teaching of many subjects, especially science and mathematics, is so unsuccessfulâ€”and for how we can improve our learning.
I studied French in school for five years. However, when I went to France after college, I could barely buy a train ticket. The impetus to try again came a few years later, in the summer of 1993. Our whole family was going to spend two months in Lyon while my father took a sabbatical. The rest of us enrolled in a four-week language course at the Alliance FranÃ§aise.
While still in America, to get more benefit from the language course, I started relearning French. On the recommendation of a friend who is a linguist and mathematician, I got the self-study French course made by Assimil entitled Le Nouveau FranÃ§ais sans Peine (New French With Ease). (Many other self-study courses should also work well. I have not tried them, so I do not have the knowledge to draw out lessons for learning other subjects, which is my main interest here. But to learn about language programs, I recommend the excellent â€œHow to learn any languageâ€ site.) [Rest of article]
…with a grain of salt: