Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"Romancing The Wind"



"Romancing The Wind" - Ray Bethell
Ray Bethell performs a kite ballet to Flower Duet from Lakme by Delibes.
     

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Good reasons not to write too fancy

Why Clarence Thomas Uses Simple Words in His Opinions
[...] What I tell my law clerks is that we write these so that they are accessible to regular people. That doesn't mean that there's no law in it. But there are simple ways to put important things in language that's accessible. As I say to them, the beauty, the genius is not to write a 5 cent idea in a ten dollar sentence. It's to put a ten dollar idea in a 5 cent sentence.

That's beauty. That's editing. That's writing.

The editing we do is for clarity and simplicity without losing meaning, and without adding things. You don't see a lot of double entendres, you don't see word play and cuteness. We're not there to win a literary award. We're there to write opinions that some busy person or somebody at their kitchen table can read and say, "I don't agree with a word he said, but I understand what he said." [...]
Read the whole thing. Sensible editing for effective communication.
     

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No Peak Oil. Peak Anything Else?

Peak Everything -- Why Everything Costs More
Peak Oil -- No Longer the Right Question

A Shell Oil geologist named M. King Hubbert predicted in 1956 that U.S. oil production would peak in the early 1970s. When it did, Hubbert became the geologist equivalent of a rock star and gave the young environmental movement evidence for something it was seeking: a limit to growth.

When is -- or was -- peak world oil production? It's just not the right question anymore. Deepwater drilling, tar sands extraction, and the shale gas boom have extended the supply of hydrocarbon fuels. The new question: What's the smartest way to use them?

The iconic Peak Oil example has inspired parlor-game questions about other resources. Some, like coal, are finite; others, like water, are renewable but have limits to how quickly reserves can be replenished. Can Earth keep up with our demand? Call it Peak Everything. [...]
The article goes one to examine a bunch of other resources, and why they might peak - or why they won't.
     

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Rawanda Healthcare: Lessons for us all?

Rwanda's Historic Health Recovery: What the U.S. Might Learn
[...] Over the last ten years, Rwanda's health system development has led to the most dramatic improvements of health in history. Rwanda is the only country in sub-Saharan Africa on track to meet most of the Millennium Development Goals. Deaths from HIV, TB, and malaria have each dropped by roughly 80 percent over the last decade and the maternal mortality ratio dropped by 60 percent over the same period. Even as the population has increased by 35 percent since 2000, the number of annual child deaths has fallen by 63 percent. In turn, these advances bolstered Rwanda's economic growth: GDP per person tripled to $580, and millions lifted themselves from poverty over the last decade.

The rest of the world, wealthy countries and well as poor, can learn from Rwanda's rapid rise.

[...]

Rwanda achieves exceptional results not from how much money they spend on health, but from how they spend it. A recent article in BMJ, led by Farmer, examined World Health Organization data and sought to identify why Rwanda developed so rapidly, and to clarify the lessons for other countries. Rather than a single cause, the authors identified a series of interconnected factors that contributed to the country's turnaround.

First and foremost, credit belongs to the government of Rwanda's centralized planning. In 2000, the Rwandan government created a plan, called Vision 2020, to develop economically into a middle-income country over the next two decades. Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Rwanda's Minister of Health, explained that "health is a key pillar of our development" and that without improving health, they will never alleviate the country's poverty.

[...]

While the specific context of Rwanda cannot be replicated, Dr. Farmer contends that Rwanda's focus on evidence-based policy, central planning, health systems, and equitable access to care should be heeded both by countries looking rebuild their health system and those with strong systems already in place. "In our commitment to understanding complexity," said Farmer, "we need to not forget that there are generalizable lessons to delivering care that are not acceptable to ignore."

While the United States still exceeds Rwanda in most traditional health metrics (such as life expectancy), and its hospitals and medical care surpass those in Rwanda, U.S. health outcomes still falter because too many patients fall through the cracks. The U.S. health system relies too heavily on doctors and hospitals to provide care. A growing body of research suggests that more frequent health care use and higher costs may lead to poorer health.

Farmer believes that, if the United States extended health care into the community like Rwanda, care for chronic diseases would markedly improve while costs would over time drop. Indeed, community-based pilots in the United States have proven effective in settings from inner-city Boston to rural Mississippi. [...]
There is much more in the full article. Lots of food for thought.
     

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Tuesday, February 05, 2013

German cartoon explains "Inflation Monster"



I heard about this on a segment of NPR, and decided to look up the cartoon. Most of the names in the credits at the end seem to be German. The Germans know a lot about hyper-inflation, because it destroyed their currency in the 1920s, with devastating consequences, so it's not surprising that they want to teach about that danger to the rest of the EU.

This cartoon is also promoting the European Central Bank. It makes them seem ever-so reasonable, working to contain inflation and deflation. But I have to wonder about all Central Banks everywhere. Are the problems they are working to contain, problems that they created in the first place? Like printing too much money and debasing the currency? Some of the comments that were made on the Youtube page, posted beneath the video, offer food for thought:

ECB Inflation Monster Cartoon
[...]

Propaganda doesn't have to be lies. But it's subtly implying that the ECB is actually good for europe...

[...]

its not propaganda everything is true what it says but the ecb isnt explaining why they printed 1000 billion euros for the banks last year in this cartoon

[...]

That's a great question. Greenspan "talked" free market capitalism. The problem is, the Federal Reserve is NOT part of a free market. Controlling the price and amount of money (interest rates and inflation) is NOT free markets. A free market hasn't really been tried since 1913. It's a fallacy to say what we have today is a free market, when a central bank controls the money supply, along with government access to that "unlimited" supply, and while government is in partnership with big business.

[...]

This video is very misleading. Keynesian economics and central banking is now being proven out that it doesn't work! Free market economics (also known as the Austrian school of economics) is the way to prosperity for all! Also, deflation is a natural occurrence as technology increases and the cost of making things goes down, which is good for everyone!

[...]

This is banking propaganda rubbish. You don't need to fight off these "monsters" if you have "real" money, like silver or gold. A central bank is justified in existence because governments want to be able to spend without restraints, and big corporations want cheap loans from the central bank. That's why we get these freaking boom and busts!

[...]

So how does the Stockmarket feed this "Inflation Monster" thingy? With Futures and Futures of Futures leading to Concealed Inflation (4:54), once profits are cashed out of the Casino Stockmarket scene, and real world business become commodities, along with real estate, the Inflation Monster looks like Punch in a Judy show run by the "Stockmarket Index" monster, and Oliver twists in his grave, by Dickens!

[...]


Related Links:

Commentary: Stimulate the economy, not government

What would a U.S. currency collapse look like?

Argentina's Example: Are we heading there?

Our true national debt: $130,000,000,000,000.

The Literal High Price (or prices!) of QE3

Has US Currency already "collapsed"?

"The psychological pain will be much greater than the Great Depression, even though the physical conditions will be much better."

     

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Alaska Earthquake January 5th 2013

From surveillance video in a hardware store:



     

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The Day Before



     

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Monday, February 04, 2013

A Smartphone for Africa


Microsoft and Huawei debut Windows Phone for Africa
Microsoft and Huawei announced today that they're partnering to bring a new Windows Phone to Africa. The two companies are targeting the continent, which is one of the fastest growing technology markets in the world but has seen few smartphones to date and whose majority of users still rely on feature phones.

"We believe there has never been a better time to invest in Africa and that access to technology -- particularly cloud services and smart devices -- can and will serve as a great accelerator for African competitiveness," president of Microsoft International Jean-Philippe Courtois said today in a statement.

Dubbed Huawei 4Afrika, the smartphone will be the first in a series of devices being created for the region. The phone is expected to roll out in Angola, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa later this month.

Microsoft is focusing on Africa and it's population of more than 1 billion to get a stronger hold on the smartphone market. The company said that more than 90 percent of all the phones sold in Kenya and Nigeria are feature phones. Besides Huawei, Microsoft has also worked with HTC, Samsung, and Nokia in developing Windows Phone devices for the continent. [...]
It goes on to say that Huawei's 4Afrika is similar to their Ascent W1 phone. The 4Afrika will sell for about $150.00. Follow the link for details.

     

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