Do you recall this prescient (if completely misguided) ad?
This ad from the 1970’s had it all about right. It’s not nice to fool mother nature.
I have recently read Beyond Smoke and Mirrors and am now reading Four Fish (both in Kindle format, of course) and if there’s anything to be learned, it’s simple: it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature. I recommend both books, and will try to find time to say something more than “you should read them” soon. Until then…
(What “delicious” irony that Chiffon Margarine, laughing in the face of Mother Nature herself was hawking a product similar to butter, made of corn oil. Oops — we now think it’s far worse for our health than the butter it was trying to fool Mother Nature with. And in a related news item, Mother Nature was recently rushed to the hospital suffering chest pains.)
During my obsessive period prior to the latest Presidential Election, I read a lot, but I came to trust one view of the world: FiveThirtyEight.com, Nate Silver’s brilliant blog, started as a vehicle to predict the outcome of the 2008 election. He is a statistician (of the highest order, not an econometrician, but a baseball statistician — they’re the ones that really have to get it right).
Rather than conducting polls, he pumped polling data from numerous sources into his own models that accounted for the bias, trends, methods and other factors the skew polling data, then posted his results with an unapologetic liberal viewpoint. He seemed to correctly predict most outcomes of that election.
For a moment after the election, he wondered aloud what he would do now that the election was over. But it quickly became clear that his work was not done — he called the tight senate race in Minnesota well before others, and has done a lot of other cool stuff since. Nate Silver has a knack for presenting dense statistical data in a clear and useful way.
I read a post of his from several weeks back, in which he analyzed the results of a poll on people’s views of on climate change. Here’s a graph from his results, showing a very, very important result: we don’t think global warming will affect us (even if it will affect everyone else):
His assessment is simple:
Advocates of cap-and-trade may need to find ways to personalize the terms of the debate.
I encourage you to read his post on this topic; his conclusion is appropriately impassive and pragmatic.
I hope they continue to make attempts to improve their shipping practices. They do claim that their packaging is “right sized” and mostly made of recycled materials, but they have to be able to do better. As one of the country’s (world?) leading online retailers, they should have some power.
Reuters is reporting a water powered car by a company called Genepax. Almost every source I could find left it at that: you pour in some water (any kind will do) and its generator will separate hydrogen from water, then use the hydrogen to power the vehicle. Just pour in more water to make the car go further. Just like the press release says. Nothing more.
There’s a kind of plastic packaging that I have injured myself with several times. This is intentional on the part of marketers — when packaged for retail, shoplifting is much harder.
But I buy a lot of stuff online. (In fact, I get a sick feeling in my stomach when I enter almost any big-box retail store. They never have what I need, they try to sell me junk I don’t need, and I occasionally settle for an inferior alternative to what I want out of frustration.) Why can’t the five percent of items needed for retail display be packaged in this way, and the rest be packaged efficiently? (more…)
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