More random links

The truth about cats' and dogs' environmental impact
"Okin says he found that cats and dogs are responsible for 25 to 30 percent of the environmental impact of meat consumption in the United States. If Americans' 163 million Fidos and Felixes comprised a separate country, their fluffy nation would rank fifth in global meat consumption"
Be Cautious with the Precautionary Principle: Evidence from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident
"We estimate that the increase in mortality from higher electricity prices outnumbers the mortality from the accident itself, suggesting the decision to cease nuclear production has contributed to more deaths than the accident itself."
Igbo Excellence on Twitter
"I noticed African Architecture isn’t really showcased compared to Asian, European, Middle Eastern and Indian. So here is a thread of African Architectural styles."

Random links

The Orbital Index
"since light travels faster in a vacuum than in glass, satellite links could provide better latency than terrestrial fiber for distances greater than ~3,000 km."
We Are Living in Historic Times. Or Are We?
"Danto suggests that history’s arc is essentially unpredictable. Even the wisest people will have no idea whether a current event is a world-changer. Is that claim correct? A research team, led by Joseph Risi at Microsoft Research, recently tried to test that question. The answer is: Not quite, but pretty close."
Propagation of Error: Approving Citations to Problematic Research
"Using data from over 3,000 retracted articles and over 74,000 citations to these articles, we find that at least 31.2% of the citations to retracted articles happen a year after they have been retracted. And that 91.4% of the postretraction citations are approving—note no concern with the cited article. ... Data suggest that problematic research was approvingly cited more frequently after the problem was publicized.'

Protesting in Lebanon

This seems to me one of the more interesting protests going on around the planet at the moment:

I remember bumping into this in history class. You have, e.g., the Ottoman-era millet system which set different legal codes for those officially affiliated with particular regions, and then there's the current approach in Lebanese politics:

Lebanon’s power-sharing system based on 18 recognized religious sects dates back to French colonial rule, allocating posts for each of the country’s communities and forming the basis of its major political parties.

An illustration of what this looks like (courtesy Wikipedia since I couldn't quite remember what the exact allocations were):

The 1943 National Pact, an unwritten agreement that established the political foundations of modern Lebanon, allocated political power on an essentially confessional system based on the 1932 census. Seats in parliament were divided on a 6-to-5 ratio of Christians to Muslims, until 1990 when the ratio changed to half and half. Positions in the government bureaucracy are allocated on a similar basis. The pact also by custom allocated public offices along religious lines, with the top three positions in the ruling "troika" distributed as follows:

  • The President, a Maronite Christian.
  • The Speaker of the Parliament, a Shi'a Muslim.
  • The Prime Minister, a Sunni Muslim.

The lesser the extent to which you can guess what group someone falls into the easier it seems likely to change. The Lebanese case in a way is anti-identity-politics but doesn't quite map to more-commonly-discussed instances of the same.

Don't expect people to remember

Events always fade from history - yet it seems that people are always forgeting this. I'd previously written up Is the Holocaust fading from memory? to which the answer was of course yes, but probably less than a lot of other historical events. Been thinking of this again recently, prompted by this tweet:

Here's another recent example from my twitter feed:

(The original tweet here also isn't the only time that that tweet about people having forgotten Abu Ghraib got retweeted into my feed recently).


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