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Facemask use for Covid-19

Facemasks in the United States

Taiwan president wearing a facemask

During the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the WHO and CDC initially performed a disservice by downplaying the advantages of facemasks. This was due to the critical shortage of these and the need for health and medical personnel to have access to them. In particular, the CDC underscored that surgical masks or N-95 respirators be reserved for healthcare professionals and first responders.

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Future Studies and Pandemics

In the mid-2000s I attended courses in Future Studies at the University of Hawaii. Jim Dator, one of the founders of Future Studies in North America was there, and he had some useful, if soft, methods for going about understanding different futures.

This is relevant to the latest pandemic because it is one of the few ways to get a grip on the possibilities that are unfolding in front of us. The future is, after all, unpredictable by definition. However, one can become sensitive to certain scenarios.

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So Good They Can’t Ignore You

This book is badly in need of an editor. That is not surprising as it appears to be a collection of blog posts, but the redundancies and useless repetition truly get in the way of the important points. Also, stylistically the first person voice is also a bit pedantic. Agreed, the author points out that the book is in manifesto form, but there are fine manifestos without such glaring flaws (The Communist Manifesto being a good example).

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Metric vs. Imperialism

If there ever will be a world government, one which speaks for and works on behalf of humanity for the entire planet, or most of it, that system will not use miles, pounds, ounces, inches, and yards. That system will be a rational measurement system that 99.5% of the earth already uses.

This is how America denies the future, and therefore denies itself a part of that future.

My real nitpick today is with most weather websites which insist on using fahrenheit, and require setting change (on every, single, visit) to that of celcius. You suck. Assume that traffic from anywhere but the USA wants the metric system, and allow for a preference override. OBVIOUS.

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Ten Million Years

When one wants to understand what the most sigificant digits are regarding courses of action, it is vital to have the appropriate time-scale. What can be done in 1 day is a much more constrained problem than one can be done in 1 year, 10 years, 1,000 years, etc. Ten million years is sufficiently large to rethink pretty much everything. As Peter Brannan writes in The Anthropocene is a Joke:

Unless we fast learn how to endure on this planet, and on a scale far beyond anything we’ve yet proved ourselves capable of, the detritus of civilization will be quickly devoured by the maw of deep time.

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The World Until Yesterday – Book Review

The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? by Jared Diamond
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, very interesting. If the past helps us understand the present, and help informed decisions on the future, then this work is an important one, and a fascinating read. There is an amalgam of different aspects, which do not hold together as well as some of Diamond's other works, but is interesting nonetheless. How people in traditional societies find/raise food, eat, raise children, comforted the aged, as well as wage war, are covered in this work.

Sections on "constructive paranoia" and bilingualism (and language extinction), as well as chapter 11 on "salt, sugar, fat, and sloth" are definitely a wake-up call to dangerous trends in America. In addition, the chapters on civil society "justice" vs. the more "conflict resolution" mechanisms in traditional societies is quite insightful.

Missing from this is a more extended discussion of marriage and gender relations, though certainly there is much of this sprinkled throughout the work.

In any case, one of the best works I've read this year (as of August, 2019). The book was published in 2012 but has certainly aged well (if at all) in the past 7 years. Highly relevant and an entertaining read.

Diamond has certain preferences regarding what we can learn from traditional societies, based on his fifty years of learning about them. Some takeaways:

- Crib bilingualism as a prophyactic against alzheimers
- Children cry half as much if picked up/comforted immediately upon the start of crying, vs. the Dutch and German tactics of ignoring the child some of the time
- Nuclear families tend to not function well as child caretaking/rearing, but rather extended families and a variety of "allo-parents" in terms of neighbors and villagers.
- On demand nursing is common in traditional societies (for various reasons)
- A lot more infant-adult contact (and being carried, as humans are "carry animals")
- Physical punishment is common in some societies and uncommon in others, and probably doesn't work very well
- Multi-age playgroups are a good thing (aka Montessori style and even more extended)
- Child play and education are entwined, and the current mass manufactured toys and video game play makes children less creative, by certain measures
- Children in traditional societies are generally more emotionally secure, self-confident, curious, and autonomous based in some part on greater freedom (and certainly some forms of greater constraint, e.g., living with little privacy)
- There is wisdom in older people (story of a harrowing boat ride and talk with someone who avoided that boat and the captain as they looked young, foolish, and with a powerful motor)
- Minority languages are not harmful but helpful in terms of bilingualism, and could and should be supported by governments and in schools
- Salt, sugar, fat, and sloth are killers and are increasingly so

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New Year 2019 CE / 2562 BE

For those not in Cambodia, Laos or Thailand, 2562 is the Buddhist Era (BE) date, which is 543 years ahead of the Common Era calendar.

New Year, The Last Before 2020

Ah yes, the end of a year and beginning of another. A time to reflect, etc., etc. Well, this year much was accomplished and much was not. The small children are developing, which is a joy and fascination itself to witness. For anyone interested in AI/ML, watching children learn is intriguing.

Recession is Coming

Though economists mostly discuss 2020 and 2021, around half of businessmen place the next recession firmly in 2019. Looking at labor markets in China, it seems obvious we are just around the corner.

The Internet is Fake

More and more and more fake at the years go by, and this should not be forgotten even for a day.

Markets Transfer Wealth Upward

Companies' pursuit of high profits is making the top 20% richer at the expense of the bottom 80%, to the tune of 3% in 1996..

Resistance is Needed

Invest in those things that provide value, ongoing, only.

Canis Major - Robert Frost

The great Overdog
That heavenly beast
With a star in one eye
Gives a leap in the east.

He dances upright
All the way to the west
And never once drops
On his forefeet to rest.

I'm a poor underdog,
But to-night I will bark
With the great Overdog
That romps through the dark.