Percent or (percentage) used to be spelled per cent (and sometimes still is). It comes from the latin per centum meaning by the hundred.
What percent means is changing any list of numbers that add up to an irregular total into a modified list that adds up to 100. Once you get used to it reading a table of percentages becomes familiar and comfortable. Percentages can also be expressed as fractions and odds (think racecourses).
For example, 50% is a half, or odds of 2 to 1 in racecourse parlance (still meaning 1 chance in 2, but expressed this way because you get $2 profit for every $1 bet). 33% is about one third, 25% a quarter, 20% one fifth and 10% one tenth. Continue reading “The Humble Percent & Food Labels”→
What is History 6: The Development or Evolution of Religion
Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens: A brief history of humankind Harper 2014 (first published in Hebrew in 2011).
I feel guilty delving into Harari before embarking on Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel 1997 a much more profound book and one I have spent an enormous amount of time with, by reading and delving into Diamond’s sources. Harari himself acknowledges Diamond. He says:
Special thanks to Jared Diamond, who taught me to see the big picture.
Yuval Noah Harari’s book Sapiens: A brief history of humankind is a brave and ambitious enterprise, but he doesn’t quite carry it off. In some ways, he reminds me of Marvin Harris a popularising anthropologist who wrote Cannibals and Kings in 1977, which I also like immensely. For all his faults, Harari takes us on a great journey.
Classic SciFi 10: Arkady & Boris Strugatsky, Roadside Picnic 1977
Vladimir Putin is sometimes treated as a bit of a joke in the West. This is a dangerous delusion, Putin has resurrected the oligarchy of the old Soviet Union. The uncontrolled Mafia and free market millionaires are gone. The Kremlin wants its cut of everything. If one resists, ruin or death may follow. If you cease to be useful or know too much, you can end up face-down in your own swimming pool.
The poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in the UK in 2006 with polonium-210 seemed extreme, but it sent a powerful message to other Russians.
Denise and I have recently read two books on the new Russia and would recommend them to you.
Everything is True and Nothing is Impossible by Peter Pomerantsev 2014 covers the changes in Russia from the early 2000s to 2010. Pomerantsev, a UK born journalist of Russian descent, worked in Russia for around eight years making documentaries for Russian television, beginning in the midst of an oil boom. In the process, he covered much of the weird and wonderful in Russia at the time. The portrait is amazing and idiosyncratic. It documents the rise of Putin’s Russia and the strange consequences in Russian Society. It is amusing but also chilling and rather frightening. Returning to the UK in 2010, Pomerantsev discovered that many of the beneficiaries of the Russian system had moved to Britain and were continuing life in the UK, as if in Russia — an internationalising of the wealth and the excess, but still firmly controlled by Putin’s Russian oligarchy.
The true reason I chose to write about travel blogs was that I was embarrassed about my links page. I’d neglected it since shortly after setting up my blog. I thought that writing articles about the relevant categories was the way to make the links more relevant and useful to others. Continue reading “19 Best Travel Blogs & Websites”→
Huw Davies Gallery, Manuka Arts Centre, Canberra, 27 October — 13 November, 2011
Moral Ambiguities in 2011 was a major exhibition because it was a compilation of artworks that had been tentatively shown elsewhere in smaller size. It was the first time that the majority of works from this period had been shown together in one venue and at full size.
Denise and I left Australia on 16 January and returned on 7 March 2017. We stayed in Chiang Mai from 24 February to 5 March (10 days) a much shorter time than usual. We’d previously spent four weeks in Burma, attended a family wedding in Bangkok, and spent a few days at a resort in Hua Hin (not my favourite style or place, but family).
It is always nice to come back to Chiang Mai. It is one of my favourite places in Thailand — much cheaper than Bangkok, but more manageable also.
Chiang Mai has been changing rapidly over the past five years with continuing development. Chinese tourism is having a major impact (especially at Chinese New year) and will continue to expand. As in many places, the provincial government is not always making sensible decisions with regard to development.
The killer robots come later. I bought two novels at Asia Books in Bangkok in late February and was offered, as part of a promotion, one book free from a remainder pile. I dithered between a beginners guide to Nietzche (not a Belgian — Google it!) and The Robots of Dawn.
The Robots of Dawn is a ‘whodunit’ science fiction novel by Isaac Asimov, first published in 1983. It is the third novel in Asimov’s Robot series (Wikipedia). The first novel is I, Robot (1950).
I, Robot is not really a novel but a collection of previously published stories with linking text, by a fictional researcher cum writer.
The Robots of Dawn I found to be incredibly tedious and lacking in action. I must grudgingly admit though that it contained some interesting ideas about robots and humans. I would only recommend these novels and the additional robot stories beyond those in I, Robot to an Asimov scholar. I, Robot is quite sufficient to gain an understanding of Asimov’s approach to and ideas on robots. Continue reading “Classic SciFi 9: Isaac Asimov I, Robot & Killer Robots”→