This article may be of interest to both my (past/present/future) "Mission Possible: Global Issues, Leadership Choices" students and my (past/present/future) "Philosophically Speaking" students:
"Philosophy skeptics have a tendency to sniffingly dismiss the field as useless. 'What’s the point?' they ask, shrugging at the greatest ideas in human history. Well, aside from the intellectual pursuit of the truth etc., one point of philosophy is it shapes the world around us: Societal instincts and political ideals are often an expression of theories first put forward in philosophy books. This isn’t just some ancient tendency but an ongoing, modern phenomenon. Global leaders and grassroots ideologues continue to refer to philosophers as the inspiration behind their political outlook. ... For those hoping to make sense of politics in 2018, here are a few of the philosophers worth knowing."
An Iranian tanker on the way to China with a cargo of condensate, a light liquid oil, collided with a freighter earlier this month and, after burning for several days, eventually sank in the East China Sea. This graphic from Reuters (UK) looks at the likely path of the oil leaking from the wreck, based on the currents and other physical geography of the region, and overlays it with fishing grounds and coral reefs. fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/rngs/CHINA-SHIPPING-SPILL/010060NC166/index.html
This winter has been unusual in that every state, including Hawaii, Florida, and Louisiana, has recorded snow this year. This map shows snowfall in the contiguous United States from the start of the winter through early January: www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/sites/default/files/scald-image/350_inline_snowmap.gif
Do you know a K-12 student interested in issues surrounding the question of "truth"? (Does it exist? How would we know? What is the difference between knowledge and belief? Are there degrees of truth? Does truth matter?) Questions, a journal that publishes the philosophical work of K-12 students, is soliciting submissions for its upcoming issue on "truth." Entries are due April 30. For more information, see www.plato-philosophy.org/journal-questions/
A cartogram is a map that has been weighted for a particular variable. This pair of cartograms was created to mark the recently concluded World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The top cartogram adjusts country size according to current population. The bottom cartogram adjusts country size according to economic output as measured by GDP. www.viewsoftheworld.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/TheWorldIn2018.png
Home school curriculum provider Bookshark is offering a free 8-day unit study kit to tie in to the upcoming Winter Olympics in South Korea. To request yours, see homeschool.bookshark.com/
NASA recently updated its famous "world at night" images for the first time since 2012 and is employing new software to work towards providing real-time updates. This article explains some of the applications for real-time updates (like identifying areas of Puerto Rico without power after Hurricane Maria) and compares 2012 and 2016 images. www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2017/new-night-lights-maps-open-up-possible-real-time-applications
The U.S. has been supporting the Saudis' war against Yemen's Houthi movement for more than two years, contributing to the world's worst humanitarian crisis. But who are the Houthis? Why do the Saudis want to see them defeated? Why is the U.S. involved? This article by Brookings scholar (and former intelligence official) Bruce Riedel is an excellent primer for anyone seeking to understand the Houthis and the current conflict in Yemen: www.brookings.edu/blog/markaz/2017/12/18/who-are-the-houthis-and-why-are-we-at-war-with-them/
In less than three months, Cape Town, South Africa, may become the first major city to, literally, run out of water. Following three years of unprecedented droughts, Cape Town has announced it may be forced to turn off the city's municipal water system on or about April 22, requiring residents to line up at water distribution points across the city, under armed guard, to collect a maximum daily allotment of 6.6 gallons of water per day. time.com/5103259/cape-town-water-crisis/
Americans currently hold almost $13 trillion in personal debt (mortgage, student loans, credit card debt, car loan, etc.). This map breaks down average (self-reported) personal debt by state. howmuch.net/articles/americans-debt-by-state
Are you "entitled to your opinion"? In this article, Australian philosophy professor Patrick Stokes argues that, no, it's not that simple:
"The problem with “I’m entitled to my opinion” is that, all too often, it’s used to shelter beliefs that should have been abandoned. It becomes shorthand for “I can say or think whatever I like” – and by extension, continuing to argue is somehow disrespectful. And this attitude feeds, I suggest, into the false equivalence between experts and non-experts that is an increasingly pernicious feature of our public discourse.
"Firstly, what’s an opinion?
"Plato distinguished between opinion or common belief (doxa) and certain knowledge, and that’s still a workable distinction today: unlike “1+1=2” or “there are no square circles,” an opinion has a degree of subjectivity and uncertainty to it. But “opinion” ranges from tastes or preferences, through views about questions that concern most people such as prudence or politics, to views grounded in technical expertise, such as legal or scientific opinions.
"You can’t really argue about the first kind of opinion. I’d be silly to insist that you’re wrong to think strawberry ice cream is better than chocolate. The problem is that sometimes we implicitly seem to take opinions of the second and even the third sort to be unarguable in the way questions of taste are. ...
"So what does it mean to be “entitled” to an opinion?
"If “Everyone’s entitled to their opinion” just means no-one has the right to stop people thinking and saying whatever they want, then the statement is true, but fairly trivial. No one can stop you saying that vaccines cause autism, no matter how many times that claim has been disproven. But if ‘entitled to an opinion’ means ‘entitled to have your views treated as serious candidates for the truth’ then it’s pretty clearly false. And this too is a distinction that tends to get blurred."
The efforts of Catalonia to separate from the rest of Spain continue to make headlines, but Spain's headache is one many other European countries share. This map looks at separatist movements across Europe, and the accompanying article from The Guardian (UK) provides information on each one:
The National Geographic Society in Washington, DC, is accepting reservations for its spring semester student programs. Students have the opportunity to attend five different live presentations given by NGS-affiliated photographers, engineers, and biologists. For more information about the student matinee series, see www.nationalgeographic.org/dc/events/?q=&occurrences=&per_page=25&category=Student+Matinee
New Zealand's two major islands (the North Island and the South Island) are separated by the Cook Strait. The North Island is home to 3/4 of the country's population, but this map shows even there the population is concentrated in a few specific locations: the population of the green areas rounds to zero people per square kilometer. www.nzherald.co.nz/resizer/FkDilYsUaUOtiuVXuxK5izigfe4=/620x884/smart/filters:quality(70)/arc-anglerfish-syd-prod-nzme.s3.amazonaws.com/public/GLFNE2UDIZHZXEJ4P5OGMO7CZI.JPG
Do you honor international sanctions applied to another country, even if it means forgoing economic opportunities for your own country? According to the Institute for Science and International Security, the 49 countries in orange and red on this map violated international sanctions on North Korea to some degree between March 2014 and September 2017. www.statista.com/chart/12184/49-countries-have-violated-sanctions-on-north-korea/
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