One of the most visible aspects of human geography, defining our space and how we use it, is our architecture. This geo-graphic looks at the one of the most iconic examples of modern architecture: the skyscraper -- and the resulting competition to build the tallest, most elaborate skyscraper. howmuch.net/articles/most-expensive-skyscrapers-in-last-30-years
One of the questions my "Philosophically Speaking" students grapple with after reading and discussing both Kant and the utilitarians is, "From an ethical standpoint, which is more important: intentions or consequences?" The article excerpted below adds the confounding variable of luck to highlight why this is a tricky question to answer:
"There is a contradiction in our ordinary ideas about moral responsibility. Let’s explore it by considering two examples. Killer, our first character, is at a party and drives home drunk. At a certain point in her journey, she swerves, hits the curb, and kills a pedestrian who was on the curb. Merely Reckless, our second character, is in every way exactly like Killer but, when she swerves and hits a curb, she kills no one. There wasn’t a pedestrian on the curb for her to kill. The difference between Killer and Merely Reckless is a matter of luck. Does Killer deserve more blame – that is, resentment and indignation – than Merely Reckless? Or, do Killer and Merely Reckless deserve the same degree of blame? We feel a pull to answer ‘yes’ to both questions. Let’s consider why."
This unusual collaborative mapping project shows real-time lightning strikes around the world, primarily in the U.S. and Europe. www.lightningmaps.org
On Tuesday (8/1) visitors can try their hand at unraveling a "crime" scene at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History: "A group of hikers stumbled across what looks like human remains. Have they found a crime scene or could there be another explanation? During this drop-in program, visitors will examine real human bones, objects and artifacts using the forensic tools and techniques of Smithsonian scientists to determine age, sex, time since death, and maybe even cause of death." Free; in the Q?rius lab on the lower level of the museum; no reservations required; recommended for ages 10 and up. naturalhistory.si.edu/calEvents/#/?i=1
Thirty-three countries have land below sea level, but more than 25% of the Netherlands is below sea level. This map looks at the history of Dutch land reclamation from the late Middle Ages to today. The newest Dutch province, Flevoland, was created in 1986 from land reclaimed in the 1950s and '60s. brilliantmaps.com/wp-content/uploads/netherlands-reclaimed-timeline.png
"GLOBAL ISSUES, LEADERSHIP CHOICES":
Students in my "Mission Possible: Global Issues, Leadership Choices" class have been known to use propaganda to target neighboring countries and their own people. This behavior, of course, is consistent with decisions by actual world leaders. Oxford University's Computational Propaganda Research Project recently issued a report finding that "cyber troops" -- defined as "government, military or political party teams committed to manipulating public opinion over social media" -- are "a pervasive and global phenomenon." Cyber troop tactics in the 28 democracies and authoritarian countries studied have ranged from intimidating journalists, activists, and opinion leaders on Twitter to promoting the government's agenda through fake social media accounts to flooding threads with unrelated content to make the negative comments harder to find to responding directly to residents' social media posts to employing bots to spread political messages, spam, and fake news. For the full report, see comprop.oii.ox.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/89/2017/07/Troops-Trolls-and-Troublemakers.pdf
October will mark the beginning of the 45th year of America's all-volunteer military. This map looks at where in the U.S. military recruits came from in FY2015. Not surprisingly, the most populous states -- California, Texas, Florida -- contribute the largest percentage of military recruits. What is less obvious from this particular map, though, is that the South produced a disproportionate share of military recruits: 44.3% despite having only about 37% of the country's 18- to 24-year-olds. www.washingtonpost.com/apps/g/page/lifestyle/where-do-military-recruits-come-from-not-the-district/2229/
To mark the birthday of one of my favorite photographers, I am sharing this collection of stunning photographs taken by drone. From natural wonders to urban environments to world heritage sites, these photos give you an unexpected view of our planet's physical and human geography. www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/best-drone-photos
The philosophy of language holds that the meaning that emerges from a string of words is not necessarily fixed but dependent on culture and social context. This interview with a philosophy professor at the University of London looks at the philosophy of language as it applies to swearing specifically.
"[W]e’re doing various things when we swear: we’re signaling what sort of person we are, what sort of person we think we’re addressing, what context we think we’re in and so on. I think that explains why swearwords have this power to offend. It’s really not quite about the words themselves but what we’re signalling to others. If you are in a job interview, say, and it’s a fairly formal context and you swear and people are offended then it’s not because you’ve used that particular word, because presumably they hear these words in other contexts without being offended. It’s more that you’re signalling disrespect and contempt for their feelings by knowing that they’re not expecting you to swear in this context and doing it anyway."
Please note: although this excerpt does not, the article uses -- and dissects from an intellectual standpoint -- language that may offend some people, as might be expected by the subject matter. iainews.iai.tv/articles/on-swearing-and-philosophy-an-interview-with-rebecca-roache-auid-832
Subway system maps are topological maps -- simplified diagrams that retain essential information without much regard to scale. How much do these maps differ from reality? These animated GIFs of various subway systems around the world compare the official subway diagrams with maps created by Reddit users that show actual distances and directions: http://mymodernmet.com/animated-subway-maps
You can observe animal behavior without leaving the house: this site has a great collection of live wildlife cams. This link is to the camera at Katmai National Park in Alaska -- watch brown bears catch salmon! -- but you can access more than a hundred others by clicking on the "live cams" link: explore.org/live-cams/player/brown-bear-salmon-cam-brooks-falls
Hoping to see the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21? This map shows the path of the eclipse across the U.S. (the light-colored band) against major cities and the probability of having a clear sky that day. (The bluer the background, the higher the probability of clear skies, based on historical weather data.) Boise, ID, and Salem, OR, look to be promising destinations. img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/files/2017/07/ClearSkyProbEclipseWeb.jpg&w=1484
Advocates of democracy have been studying "islands of stability" within conflict zones for clues about how to promote elected representational government while respecting local traditions and preserving existing borders. Case in point: Somalia has been a failed state for 25 years, but the semi-autonomous northwestern part of the country known as Somaliland (green on the map below) has a population of 4.5 million people with their own currency, coast guard, courts, and elections. Based on their research in Somaliland, the authors of this article share three observations that may bear relevance for other hot spots from Afghanistan to Syria to Yemen. (1) It can be better to reinforce regional authority instead of trying to support (or create) a strong central state; (2) traditional government by elders can be blended successfully with democracy; and (3) "statehood" can accommodate a range of self-government situations without outright secession. www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/07/18/as-the-u-s-gets-more-involved-in-somalia-beware-these-three-fallacies
This year's proposed budget for the U.S. military again calls for more tanks than the Pentagon itself has requested. Where does one park extra tanks? You'd want a spot that is dry, flat, isolated, not prone to natural disasters or extreme temperatures, yet relatively near a port. The Sierra Army Depot in Northern California's high desert, north of Lake Tahoe, fits the bill. The Sierra Army Depot stores munitions and serves as a vast parking lot for roughly 26,000 military vehicles, including 2,000 M1 Abrams tanks. www.atlasobscura.com/places/sierra-army-depot
This map uses country flags to show the largest immigrant population within each European country. Great Britain, for example, is home to more people born in India than any other country (other than Great Britain itself). Likewise, Romanians are the largest immigrant group in Spain, Italy, and Hungary, and Algerians are the largest immigrant group in France. d36tnp772eyphs.cloudfront.net/blogs/1/2017/06/Europelargestsecondnationality.jpg Need to brush up on your national flags? Try this: www.countries-ofthe-world.com/flags-of-the-world.html
Philosophically inclined students between the ages of 15 and 18 still have two weeks (until July 31) to enter the John Locke Institute's philosophy essay contest. In under 2000 words, students can choose to address one of three topics:
1. Is it possible that the whole world came into existence only five minutes ago? How do we know that it didn't?
2. 'Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant...then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.’ - Karl Popper, The Open Society and its Enemies Can a liberal society afford to tolerate the intolerant?
3. When I say, 'I want to become a better man' perhaps I believe I have some control over who I am, or who I shall become. This can be true in one sense: I (the subject) can act to make myself (the object) a better person. But in another sense, I am ultimately constrained by who I already am. I (the subject) cannot choose retrospectively to be other than the person I find myself to be, as an inevitable consequence of my genes and my experiences. And if so, the rewards and punishments promised in the Christian Bible are incoherent. Aren't they?
For more information, see www.johnlockeinstitute.com/philosophy-essay
With a fragile cease fire in place in southwestern Syria, this map shows regions of control as they currently exist. [Damascus is the capital of Syria; Aleppo had been Syria's largest city before the civil war; Raqqa was claimed by the Islamic State as its capital; Deir Az Zor is where IS is regrouping now that Raqqa is encircled and Mosul is (mostly) back under the control of the Iraqi government.] interactive.aljazeera.com/aje/syriamap/syriamap.jpg
Happy Bastille Day! Students wanting to learn more about this French holiday may enjoy this website: http://www.euroclubschools.co.uk/page76.htm
Everyone's heard of the Great Wall of China, but the Great Wall of India?? In the western Indian state of Rajasthan an enormous wall runs for roughly 22 miles around the 15th century hill fort of Kumbhalgarh. Enclosing the fort and several temples, the Kumbhalgarh wall is the second longest in the world and, like the Great Wall of China, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. www.atlasobscura.com/places/great-wall-india
Syria's civil war is only the most recent high-profile example of people being forced to flee their homes because of leadership decisions. What choices would you make if you had to leave? Where would you go and what would you take with you? This interactive BBC site allows users to experiment with various options and compare choices with those made by actual Syrian refugees. www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-32057601
This map is a follow-up to yesterday's. (Yesterday's post, which looked at federal Medicaid payments by state, noted that 65% of nursing home residents rely on Medicaid as their primary source of payment for nursing home care.) Today's map compares the cost of a one-month stay in a nursing home by state. cdn.howmuch.net/content/images/nursinghome-1.png
As Congress returns from its break to reconsider the Senate health care proposal that would make significant cuts to federal Medicaid spending going forward, maps like this will be in the background of the debate. This map shows the percentage of each state's Medicaid spending that comes from the federal government. Although most Americans think of Medicaid as health care for "poor people," Medicaid is the primary source of payment for roughly 65% of nursing home residents. (Medicare, the nationwide health care plan for retirees, does not cover nursing home care.) static6.businessinsider.com/image/594d53bfd084cca4008b51ff-1200/percent-federal-v2.png
Why teach philosophy to children? In addition to engaging kids in critical thinking and self-expression, it turns out exposure to philosophical inquiry improves math and literacy levels too. A study in the UK, involving 46 schools and more than 3,000 students, has found that 9- and 10-year-olds who had a 40-minute class once a week reflecting on and then discussing truth, friendship, justice, etc. (based on film clips and readings of stories and poems, not snippets of Plato or Kant) not only improved their cognitive abilities, self-confidence, and ability to listen to others, they also made strides in math and literacy -- equivalent to two months of extra teaching! -- even though the class was not designed to improve either math or literacy skills. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds saw the biggest gains, equivalent to four months of extra teaching in reading and three months in math. To learn more about the P4C (Philosophy for Children) program, see https://p4c.com/ To read about the study, see qz.com/635002/teaching-kids-philosophy-makes-them-smarter-in-math-and-english/
Lithium is a critical resource for any kind of technology reliant on lithium-ion batteries. Yet most of the world's lithium comes from just three countries: Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia. This map from The Economist (UK) shows South America's "lithium triangle." (Other countries that won the geological lottery and have smaller lithium deposits: China, the U.S., Australia, and Canada.) cdn.static-economist.com/sites/default/files/images/print-edition/20170617_AMM932.png
Want to compare DNA, experiment with biomedical engineering, or explore the lobes of the human brain or the science behind sunburn? The Koshland Science Museum (near the Gallery Place and Judiciary Square Metros) will be hosting free hands-on science programs highlighting health and the human body this month. The program is recommended for ages 10+ and will be offered from 11:00-2:00 on 7/15, 7/22, and 7/29 (all Saturdays). Registration is preferred but not required. Click on "Events" and the date you'd like to attend to find out more or to register: https://www.koshland-science-museum.org/
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