Bharat’s Pocket Scraps June 30

What I found Interesting this week

Gap of Time Jeanette Winterson Update

Finished the book, loved the lyrical writing, and the story choices, go read it!

Canada and the Looting of ‘Africa’s Last Colony’

This month a cargo ship carrying 55,000 tonnes of phosphate rock will land in North Vancouver. The cargo ostensibly belongs to Canadian-based Agrium Inc., purchased from the Moroccan state mining company OCP Group to produce fertilizer. End of story? Not quite.

Responsible mining is, in many ways, an oxymoron. Our need for stuff has consequences. This is one specific instance I had not heard of.

Read Canada and the Looting of ‘Africa’s Last Colony’

Why Are Bird Eggs Egg-Shaped? An Eggsplainer

When Mary Caswell Stoddard started measuring bird eggs from hundreds of species, she wasn’t expecting to learn that most eggs are not egg-shaped. Think about an egg and you’ll probably conjure up an ellipse that’s slightly fatter at one end—the classic chicken egg.

Oh, punny headlines, I love you. Ed Yong is one of my favourite science writers, and he brings his engaging, clear writing style to this interesting question. Next up, why did the chicken cross the road?

Read Why Are Bird Eggs Egg-Shaped? An Eggsplainer

How two common medications were combined into one $455-million specialty pill

Everything happened so fast as I walked out of the doctor’s exam room. I was tucking in my shirt and wondering if I’d asked all my questions about my injured shoulder when one of the doctor’s assistants handed me two small boxes of pills.

Dean Baker of the Centre for Economic and Policy Research talks about drug pricing as one of the examples of a huge protectionist intervention in the “free market” supported by all ardent free market supporters. This article is just one example of many, google Dean’s work, he has a number of blog articles and free ebooks on this issue.

Read How two common medications were combined into one $455-million specialty pill

How to read and understand a scientific paper: a guide for non-scientists

From vaccinations to climate change, getting science wrong has very real consequences. But journal articles, a primary way science is communicated in academia, are a different format to newspaper articles or blogs and require a level of skill and undoubtedly a greater amount of patience.

A good refresher, note, applies to economics as much (maybe more) as it does to science articles, though I must say that it’s hard for even peer reviewers to catch some experiment flaws and data errors, so there’s only so much you can do. Biggest piece of advice I can give, never rely on a single study, that’s not how research works.

Read How to read and understand a scientific paper: a guide for non-scientists

Dystopian dreams: how feminist science fiction predicted the future

From Mary Shelley to Margaret Atwood, feminist science fiction writers have imagined other ways of living that prompt us to ask, could we do things differently?

p>Okay Naomi Alderman, well played, writing about the best in my favoured fiction genre is a good way to make me want to read your new book :)

Read Dystopian dreams: how feminist science fiction predicted the future

Google gets closer to building its own city in San Jose

Google has been making major development moves in downtown San Jose and yesterday the City Council agreed to negotiate a sale of 16 parcels of land owned by the city. The deal has been strongly supported by San Jose’s mayor and vice mayor but the city’s residents have been a bit more hesitant.

On a related note, Atwood, Piercy, Butler, and so many others have written dystopias (or alt-opias?) where order in the commons has generally collapsed, and only the privileged who work and live in company towns (Piercy calls them multis, for example, in He, She and It) have peace, order and good (if somewhat totalitarian) government. Now google is building its own “village”, I can’t wait…

Read Google gets closer to building its own city in San Jose

The male community must take responsibility for male terrorists

However, I want to make it clear that we are completely against the generalization that men are blood-thirsty, demon-like neanderthals biologically predisposed to large-scale, targeted attacks. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m just saying that we can’t ignore the link between these vicious murderers and our brothers, fathers, uncles, boyfriends and mailmen. Clearly, there is a connection..

Well played Beaverton (US/other friends, this is Canada’s Onion, more political and topical though. The “author” is Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard who recently asked all Muslims to take responsibility for terror attacks. I think male violence of all kinds is our most serious violence problem, so I read this satire as mostly true.

Read The male community must take responsibility for male terrorists

The Amazing Arab Scholar Who Beat Adam Smith by Half a Millennium

Joseph Schumpeter argued that there is a “Great Gap” in the history of economics. The concept justifies the general ignorance in economics curricula towards economic thinking between early Christian and Scholastic times, emphasizing the lack of relevant positive (“scientific”) economic thinking in this period.

Yuval Harari’s Sapiens (a book I enjoyed) was diminished by his western triumphalist chapters on economics and recent history. He is wrong, and so are many western scholars. You did not invent modern economics, there were people before you, here’s one of them. Yes, the article overstates its cases a bit, but overall, a good reminder.

Read The Amazing Arab Scholar Who Beat Adam Smith by Half a Millennium

Fracking, First Nations and Water (pdf)

This paper looks at the growing concerns that First Nations in British Columbia have with the fossil fuel industry’s increasing need for large volumes of water. It proposes what steps should be taken to create a more meaningful pre-development consultation process; one that gives First Nations a long overdue and more substantive role in shaping the scale, timing, frequency and location of fossil fuel developments within their territories.

This is a very important issue in BC, and Ben Parfitt does a good job of putting our natural gas fracking water use into context, and how the expanding patchwork of fracking wells, roads and infrastructure affect first nations use of their land.

Read Fracking, First Nations and Water (pdf)

Canada 150 is a celebration of Indigenous genocide

For many Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island (North America), it’s difficult to imagine Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – who has said that “no relationship is more important to Canada than the one with Indigenous peoples” – celebrating the last 150 years of brutal colonization and the foundat

As you go into the flag waving drunken holiday that is July 1st in Canada, special emphasis on the so called 150th anniversary of Settler Canada, I leave you with this from Pam Palmater, happy Friday

Read Canada 150 is a celebration of Indigenous genocide

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