Assorted links


4a. Anyone who has tried to use a digital textbook will quickly understand how print is far superior for textbooks. This applies double to courses with lots of formulas and calculations. The problem sets often meld lots of parts of a chapter or include previous chapters. It is hard to flip back in a digital book, while flipping around and dog earing a paper textbook is simple.

I personally don't mind digital for any other type of reading, though Instill use an old Kindle with no backlight since I don't like the glare of most tablets when reading for several hours.

The tragic part is that textbooks are an area where computers can do better than paper if you don't stick to much to the idea of a "book". At least this is true in technical fields, if you can't remember what Eq (A.23) said, or what the function $mu(z)$, was supposed to be, then hypertext and tooltips can help. But digital books usually fail to have those when they are needed, and actually end up less navigable than a paper book.

I had one course a few years back in Anthropology where half the books were e-books and the simple ability to ctrl-f words in an entire work made the class far easier. I can see the issue in more technical fields though

I was a ChemE so admittedly I didn't take many classes like Anthropology.

When there are hundreds of equations in a chapter it's not easy to remember that 41-a is the one you need, it's more like "oh this is an application of Bernoulli's principle! Now where was that..." Just searching for it when there might be 4 forms of the equation and countless mentions isn't fast when you can have key pages and charts tabbed. If the problem set told you what equation you need that defeats the purpose since engineering teaching today is 100% application. Any monkey can use a formula, knowing which to use and why is what is valuable.
Also at least at my school every Chem E test minus our weed out course was open book with computers not allowed. So moving through the text quickly was a skill that was important to develop. If our classes were designed around digital format, maybe that would swing the pendulum back some.

I think all the current formatting and presentation issues with digital reading devices/media will be solved over time (though I definitely see how there are problem areas now). For prose fiction and even poetry, I am quite happy now to use my Kindle and the Kindle app on my phone and tablet for everything. But I also collect artbooks and at least right now could not see switching to digital for those. Although, to be honest, hard copy artbooks can be poorly designed too... like when they have a full image spread over two pages and they don't have a sufficient gutter to present the image properly along the spine -- an issue that would never be a problem in a virtual version.

Flipping between Notepad and Reader in Windows 8.1 on a tablet is extremely easy (in the case that the PDF doesn't allow one to take notes in the document). Also, I can read my notes easier in Notepad.


Civil war can be modeled as a market for security, wherein protection must be purchased from multiple substate rackets.... under what conditions the interests of the profit-driven business class align with those of ideologically motivated Islamist groups.

Well I can't get the full text and the abstract doesn't actually explain how the Islamic advantage works (damnit, aren't abstracts supposed to sumarise important points?!). However it is not surprising that there is such an advantage.

Pre-Islamic Arabia was not one big civil war, but it was an anarchic patchwork of sub-state actors. Islam was wildly successful in that environment and we should not be surprised if it is good at coping with similar environments today.

Indeed if classical liberalism is a formula for turning monarchies into modern capitalist polities, then Islamism is a formula for turning tribal anarchies into medieval empires.

#1 - Was there a non-Muslim population in Somalia at any time in the last, say, 800 years? They behead, burn, hang, shoot, stone infidels, don't they? Therein lies the "advantage."

Most useful in the excerpt: "substate rackets." That pretty much explains al Shabbabb (Coming soon to a mall near you!), AQ and ISIS until they establish the caliphate. Then, it becomes a state racket.

> Well I can’t get the full text and the abstract doesn’t actually explain how the Islamic advantage works (damnit, aren’t abstracts supposed to sumarise important points?!). However it is not surprising that there is such an advantage.

Basically, the security market consists of Islamists and a large variety of clans and warlords that discriminate heavily on ethnic and tribal lines, favoring locals over outsiders. Trade and business often requires dealing with multiple different clans, and in that situation the merchants eventually get completely shafted by at least one of them. In contrast, while the Islamists discriminate heavily on religion, so long as you are Muslim you can actually travel between Islamist mini-polities and expect not to be shot for the goods you happen to have with you because you don't look local and therefore are not a real person.

This means that any kind of productive trade suffers ouside the Islamist-controlled areas and thrives (well, suffers less) inside them, resulting in the Islamists becoming richer and stabler and more powerful, eventually allowing them to bulldoze their neighbours.

The notion of a "business-Islamist alliance" squares nicely with what Chris Hedges recently said about ISIS morphing into the so-called "new Israel."

The notion is that in about 20 years, give or take a few years, if ISIS can maintain control of enough property and resources, our corporate masters will legitimize them and bring them into the global crime cartel.

Only time will tell.

3: As a Dutch speaker this was somewhat entertaining although I was hoping for everyone to rap in their own language. I suppose it's less funny as an unemployed Greek or a Ukrainian.

6. With the high percentage of boys born compared to girls in China, the result is not that surprising. I still think China is going to have real problems with so many single young men without women.

The beauty of a paper book is that you can write on it. A textbook that is not scribbled upon has not been used well.

Typing will always be more readable than handwriting.

But less information capacity. Try typing mathematical statements.

#6 Not only unhappy but unwise too.

The dowry map of China,

In Guizhou the av. dowry is USD$3200 plus electronics (TV?) and a a four piece set (furniture?)

In Fujian you might hit the jackpot dowry of USD$150M,

Perhaps Venezuela is cunningly engineering a demographic boom.

Beehive contraption is amazing. This actually does belong in a "no great stagnation tag" because the technology allows for automated extraction of honey. Currently extracting honey requires skill, risk and equipment and the people who do it get paid for that. Now the whole thing can be automated with a pump. Productivity will go through the roof. Price of honey might not go down much because the contraption sounds rather expensive though I imagine it will get cheaper in time.

I'm surprised this hasn't gotten that much attention in the news. This really turns the traditional business of beekeeping upside down. Harvesting honey the old fashioned way takes quite some effort (plus stressful for the bees). This eliminates several steps.

Meanwhile Flow hive contributions are up to 3,5$ mln. They probably didn't dream it would be this succesful. I hope they're able to process and ship all those units.

"Build a better beehive, and the world will beat a path to your door."

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