within the world

‘And above all, away with the body, this wretched idée fixe of the senses.’ –Nietzsche

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We present a new tool that provides a means to measure the psychological and cultural distance between two societies and create a distance scale with any population as the point of comparison. Since psychological data is dominated by samples drawn from the United States or other WEIRD nations, this tool provides a “WEIRD scale.” […]

Decades of psychological research designed to uncover truths about human psychology may have instead uncovered truths about a thin slice of our species – those who live in Western Educated Industrialized Rich Democratic (WEIRD) nations. […]

Just how psychologically different are the nations of the world compared to each other and to the over-scrutinized United States? Many hard drives have been filled with the ways in which China and Japan differ from the United States and Canada, but just how psychologically distant is the culture of China from Japan, the United States from Canada, or Azerbaijan from Zambia? Here we introduce a robust method for quantifying this distance. […]

[We compared] the cultural differences between regions of the four largest populations—China, India, United States and European Union. These analyses reveal that the cultural differences between regions of the overscrutinized United States are considerably smaller than the European Union, China, or India. […]

The Far East has always held a certain exoticism, which may have driven a generation of cultural psychologists to document the many ways in which East Asian societies differ from the West. However, the most extensively researched East Asian nations aren’t anywhere near the extreme on the WEIRD scale and some are barely halfway. Moreover, there is considerable diversity within China, let alone between China, Japan, and Hong Kong. This diversity has been exploited by other researchers, for example, showing the role of agriculture on individualism and collectivism, but nowhere the levels performed within the United States, where we know state by state differences in psychological differences such as tightness-looseness. […]

Relatively little attention has been paid to the Middle East and Africa both by the World Values Survey and the psychological sciences. However, given the relative cultural distance to the United States and Africa’s large genetic, linguistic, and likely cultural variation, we have every reason to suspect the WEIRD scale will continue to stretch as we map out these psychological terra incognita. These regions, as well as other underrepresented regions, such as the South Pacific, may in fact hold a treasure trove of findings for the next wave of cultural psychologists.

{ SSRN | PDF }

You got a question, you ask the 8 ball

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One of the curious features of language is that it varies from one place to another.

Even among speakers of the same language, regional variations are common, and the divide between these regions can be surprisingly sharp. […]

For example, the term “you guys” is used most often in the northern parts of the US, while “y’all” is used more in the south.

{ Technology Review | Continue reading }

5 On Your Side

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movies and shows have been using the fake 555 numbers since as far back as the 1950s. […]

The number 555-2368 has risen to particularly rarefied air […] dialing 555-2368 will get you the Ghostbusters, the hotel room from Memento, Jim Rockford of The Rockford Files, and Jaime Sommers from The Bionic Woman, among others. […]

Since 1994, 555 numbers have actually been available for personal or business use. […] except for 555-0100 through 555-0199, which were held back for fictional use.

{ MentalFloss | Continue reading }

The heart of the rool! And hit the hencoop.

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In 2017, the United States imported approximately 10.14 million barrels per day (MMb/d) of petroleum from about 84 countries. Petroleum includes crude oil, hydrocarbon gas liquids, refined petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel fuel, and biofuels including ethanol and biodiesel. Crude oil accounted for about 79% of U.S. gross petroleum imports in 2017 and non-crude oil petroleum accounted for about 21% of gross petroleum imports.

In 2017, the United States exported about 6.38 MMb/d of petroleum to 186 countries, of which about 18% was crude oil and 82% was non-crude oil petroleum.

The resulting net imports (imports minus exports) of petroleum were about 3.77 MMb/d.

The top five source countries of U.S. petroleum imports in 2017 were Canada (40%), Saudi Arabia (9%), Mexico (7%), Venezuela (7%), and Iraq (6%).

The top five destination countries of U.S. petroleum exports in 2017 were Mexico (17%), Canada (14%), China (7%), Brazil (6%), Japan (5%).

{ EIA | Continue reading }

still { The Oily Maniac, 1976 }

Funny how love becomes a cold rainy day

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Nauru is an island country in Micronesia, a subregion of Oceania, in the Central Pacific.

With 11,347 residents in a 21-square-kilometre (8.1 sq mi) area, Nauru is the third-smallest state by area in the world, behind only Vatican City and Monaco.

The Nauruan economy peaked in the mid-1970s to early-1980s, when the phosphate deposits that originate from the droppings of sea birds began to be depleted. At its peak, Nauru’s GDP per capita was estimated to be US$50,000, second only to Saudi Arabia.

In anticipation of the exhaustion of its phosphate deposits, substantial amounts of the income from phosphates were invested in trust funds aimed to help cushion the transition and provide for Nauru’s economic future. However, because of mismanagement, including some wasteful foreign investment activities, the government is now facing virtual bankruptcy.

The phosphate reserves on Nauru are now almost entirely depleted. Phosphate mining in the central plateau has left a barren terrain of jagged limestone pinnacles up to 15 metres (49 ft) high. Mining has stripped and devastated about 80 per cent of Nauru’s land area leaving it uninhabitable, and has also affected the surrounding exclusive economic zone; 40 per cent of marine life is estimated to have been killed by silt and phosphate runoff.

In the 1990s, Nauru became an illegal money laundering centre, a tax haven and offered passports to foreign nationals for a fee. During the 1990s, it was possible to establish a licensed bank in Nauru for only US$25,000 with no other requirements. Under pressure from FATF, Nauru introduced anti-avoidance legislation in 2003, after which foreign hot money left the country.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

drone photo { Aydın Büyüktaş }

THREAT TO ‘SHOOT THE PLACE UP’

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Vyacheslav Molotov (1890 – 1986) was a Soviet politician and diplomat, and a leading figure in the Soviet government from the 1920s, when he rose to power as a protégé of Joseph Stalin. […] Molotov served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1939 to 1949 and from 1953 to 1956. […]

The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union (USSR) and Finland. It began with a Soviet invasion of Finland on 30 November 1939, three months after the outbreak of World War II, and ended three and a half months later with the Moscow Peace Treaty on 13 March 1940. […]

The Molotov cocktail is a term coined by the Finns during the Winter War, as a generic name used for a variety of improvised incendiary weapons. During the Winter War, the Soviet air force made extensive use of incendiaries and cluster bombs against Finnish troops and fortifications. When Molotov claimed in radio broadcasts that they were not bombing, but rather delivering food to the starving Finns, the Finns started to call the air bombs Molotov bread baskets. Soon they responded by attacking advancing tanks with “Molotov cocktails,” which were “a drink to go with the food.”

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

watercolour on paper { JMW Turner, Clouds at Dawn or Sunset, c.1834 }

‘Tis the first art of kings, the power to suffer hate.’ –Seneca

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During winter the khazri sweeps through, driven by polar air masses

In 1905 about half of the world’s oil was produced in or near Baku. […] Baku is reputed to be the world’s lowest capital city, standing about 28 meters below sea level. […] It is the first Shiite country I have visited, and it seems less conservative than say the Turkey of ten years ago. […] Baku has three working synagogues, and, unlike in almost every other country in the world, they do not require police protection.  It is a remarkably safe city.

{ Marginal Revolution | Continue reading }

related { Baku, most polluted city in the world, 2008 }

A husky fifenote blew. Blew. Blue bloom is on the.

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“Modern” Homo sapiens (that is, people who were roughly like we are now) first walked the Earth about 50,000 years ago. Since then, more than 108 billion members of our species have ever been born, according to estimates by Population Reference Bureau (PRB). Given the current global population of about 7.5 billion (based on our most recent estimate as of mid-2017), that means those of us currently alive represent about 7 percent of the total number of humans who have ever lived.

{ Population Reference Bureau | Continue reading }

photo { Edward Weston, Death Valley, 1947 }

‘Nous sommes dans l’inconcevable, mais avec des repères éblouissants.’ —René Char

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Someone Completely Demolished Trump’s Hollywood Star with a Pickax

‘Now this world is arranged as it had to be if it were to be capable of continuing with great difficulty to exist; if it were a little worse, it would be no longer capable of continuing to exist. […] and so this world itself is the worst of all possible worlds.’ –Schopenhauer

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While we have come to expect bullshit from politicians, there is no shortage of judicial bullshit either. After discussing Harry Frankfurt’s famous description of bullshit, I illustrate possible instances of judicial bullshit in a wide range of bioethics cases, mostly at the Supreme Court. Along the way, we see judges bullshit for many reasons including the desire to keep precedents malleable, avoid line drawing, hide the arbitrariness of line drawing, sound important, be memorable, gloss over inconvenient facts, sound poetic, make it seem like their hands are tied, and appear to address profound questions without actually staking out provocative positions.

{ Arizona State Law Journal | Continue reading }

photo { Ramón Masats, Tomelloso, Ciudad Real, 1960 }

Are you better at exits? Or entrances?

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Every year, millions of tonnes of plastic debris ends up in the sea […] Where does all the plastic come from anyhow? And how does it get into the sea? […]

Researchers calculated that ten rivers (eight in Asia and two in Africa) are responsible for around 90 percent of the global input of plastic into the sea.

{ Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research | Continue reading }