Tuesday assorted links

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5. It's plausible. English is the foreign language Chinese kids learn in school, not German, French or any EU language. So if you are Chinese and wanting to buy an apartment in the suburbs you will go for the English language countries. Plus general knowledge of the culture from media.

English is an EU language, and will remain one after Brexit.

Will English remain one of the working languages of the EU?

Probably. Either Ireland or Malta could drop their traditional language from the official languages of the EU in favour of English - I think both use English more anyway. If they don't, some other option will be found - most EU citizens know English better than any language they are not native speakers of. Myself included...

I am absolutely certain that the Irish use English more than Irish Gaelic, by a proportion of about 97 to 3.

Never been to Malta. Spent a lot of time in Ireland.

Irrelevant. Neither Ireland nor Malta will ever allow their traditional languages to be dropped as official EU languages.

Fantastic site. Lots of useful information here.
I'm sending it to a few friends ans also sharing in delicious.
And of course, thanks in your sweat!

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The point is between working and official language - the EU seems extremely likely to continue using English as a working language, regardless of whether it is an official language or not.

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Absolutely. Get a Frenchman, German, and Italian in a room to talk business, and they'll speak English.

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Nah. Chinese high school students must learn a second language which can be anything. I once had a colleague from China who has French as his second language and has a French STEM degree. We once entertained a visitor from Senegal who spoke French and I asked him to do the translation. He promptly translated French into French for me :(

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#5: Sumner: Nope, the world’s biggest current account surpluses are mostly in other rich places like the Netherlands (9.7% of GDP), Switzerland (9.6% of GDP), Singapore (15.8% of GDP), Denmark (6.8% of GDP), Norway (7.1% of GDP) and Germany (6.5% of GDP.) High wages do not cause CA deficits.

Really? Use. Wage. And. Consumption. Data. Directly. Not. GDP.

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"2. Ethiopia plants 350 million trees in 12 hours."

How close are they planting those saplings to each other?

Assuming they are using a dibble bar, about one pace - at least that is how we did it in the Boy Scouts (admittedly, we were planting loblollies.) The idea is both to provide as much cover as quickly as possible, and then to thin the trees over time, thus providing firewood from fairly early on,

However, the Ethiopian tree planting seems fairly dilettantish compared to serious reforestation work (the planned 40 saplings per citizen this summer is maybe an hour or two worth of work), though possibly the people doing the planting will also ensure the trees grow through more care than is typical in an American reforestation context.

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Question is why is TC so vulnerable to blatant fake news?

Total population of Ethiopia - over 100 million

Time to plant 5 saplings - 5 minutes (being generous)

Why even bother to have you do the math, particularly assuming that using a dibbler, a person can easily plant hundreds of seedlings in less than a day.

Do you think it's realistic in a continent without no roads at all, where people die of hunger because of a lacking distribution network, that they will all coordinate to plant trees on the same day, on some land that was previously unused, for no pay at all in exchange, and that there's going to be some entity counting the number of trees? Really?

It's probably exaggerated, but do you really think Ethiopia, much less Africa, has no roads at all? Here is one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jYjkT9KF6U

Also, there is no famine in Ethiopia at this time and there has not been one for some time.

'but do you really think Ethiopia, much less Africa, has no roads at all'

Well, the user name is a hint, though after a while, one does begin to wonder about Poe and laws.

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And all this effort to move a sapling from point A to point B. No gain at all. In a country that barely can count it's people and assemble national accounts, and it's ministers can't write properly. I call it a big fat lie that TC and you all are swallowing.

Yes, I wonder about that 350M figure also. Does Ethiopia have the infrastructure to produce 350M saplings, or the funds to import them if as I suspect they don't have that many saplings on hand. And how do you distribute 350M saplings to the population? Even if they focused on the 10M Ethiopians who live conveniently closest to ports, rail lines, or roads, that's 35 saplings per person, where did they even store those saplings prior to the Big Planting Day?

It's easier if they planted seeds or fruit, so maybe that's how they reached the 350M figure; a few apples would contain 35 seeds that could be planted.

The article I read is basically a fluff piece, but the word sapling is most likely incorrect - seedling is probably the correct term.

And as so often the case in this comments section, one gets the feeling that basically no one has ever spent any time doing what they are commenting on. Such as spending a a couple of days actually planting seedlings. A 14 year old can easily plant a thousand loblolly seedlings in that amount of time.

One person can plant a bunch of trees, fine. The question is scale. If, as you claim, a teenager can plant a thousand seedlings (really, 500, because you're giving them "a couple of days" and Ethiopia is claiming 12 hours), how did Ethiopia acquire, transport, and store 500-1000 seedlings for each of 350K-700K people?

There are other people who are smelling BS here and Tyler linked to them in #4 of his Wednesday link. The expert quoted in that article BTW says 100 trees per day is the number to expect from one person.
https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2019/08/wednesday-assorted-links-216.html

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'and it's ministers can't write properly'

Not just Ethiopian ministers, it seems.

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> Question is why is TC so vulnerable to blatant fake news?

Question is why are you a sucker for the lying MSM who reported only half of the news and forgot to mention the sponsorship??

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-07/20/c_138243635.htm

"As part of these joint efforts, a tree planting program was done on Saturday in the premises of the Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway main building in the outskirts of Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, which was attended by Chinese and Ethiopian officials. ... Tilahun Sarka, Director General of the Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway Share Company (EDRSC), said Ethiopia and China have worked together in various fields, with the cooperation on the tree planting initiative serving as the latest example of the expanding bilateral ties between the two nations."

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More importantly, how many people will be guarding those saplings 24/7 to prevent goats from grazing on them? Because the smirking goatherds just don't give a damn.

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#2 I'm reminded of the Chinese parable of Fenghuashan (Phoenix Mountain), where the imperial governor is told repeatedly the folly of trying to move a mountain, he should go around. The entire provincial population is rallied on one day of the year under the guise of a census, only to be told imperial generosity will only come if they bring one handful of dirt from Phoenix mountain. The rest is history.

#4 Sounds like folly to me.

#5 Part of the picture but not the whole picture. Governance and culture have a lot more to do with it. But fear not, non-English speaking nations will inherit this too before they inherit the wind.

#2 Mountains are mostly solid rock, not dirt. And mountain dirt isn't readily distinguishable from regular dirt.

If we model the mountain as a conical hill of height 1000 ft with a 45-degree slope, and a "handful" as a two-inch-wide cube, then there will be slightly more than one billion cubic feet of "dirt", or a bit more than 200 billion handfuls.

Maybe there's a modern parable where Trump tells everyone to bring a dollar bill to Washington, to pay off the national debt.

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https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jun/04/scientists-warn-against-chinas-plan-to-flatten-over-700-mountains

"Scientists warn against China's plan to flatten over 700 mountains"

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2. I wonder about the effectiveness of planting all those seedlings. Is it possible that a lot of the seedlings weren't planted properly and will never grow into a developed tree? What is the probability of success for any given seedling planted in the wild?

Also, were there considerations for the environmental effects planting non-native trees in an ecosystem? (Just because a tree is native to a country does not mean it is native to a given ecosystem within that country.) What about other adverse effects? I think we often spend excess amounts on policies that sound good and signal certain virtues but do very little to achieve certain goals.

A link for more thoughts on this: https://qz.com/africa/1679528/ethiopias-tree-planting-might-not-help-its-climate-change-battle/

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Better to plant one tree than to curse the deforestation.

+1, I agree, though the 350 million figure makes me feel it's more about the numbers than the effect. But then again, if it takes a high number to motivate people then maybe that's worth a little inefficiency.

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this was a reference, for those who missed it , to the Bible Verse "It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness"

or, for Peanuts fans, to the 1964 4-panel classic where Linus, the frequent victim of Lucy's selfish, autistic, and nasty comments, quoted this Bible verse to Lucy, in an attempt to make her a better person (you can look it up if you want to understand the context)

and ....

did Lucy become a better person?

Next time you are out and about, look at the women who, like Lucy, were born in approximately 1944 (women in their 70s).

Some of them look like they have lived good lives, full of love for others, starting with their families, sometimes, and for many who were not family members, sometimes .....

and some of them look exactly like what you would expect the mean older sisters of the early 1950s to look like, 7 decades later.

But the funny thing is this, God loves them all, and anyone can just say to God, sorry, it took me a while to understand that it is simple .... kindness, hope, prayer, following the 10 commandments ---- it is simple to be what you want me to be, your friend .....
when you get very very old please try to want God to be important in your future.

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Better to father another child than crying the murdered one ;)

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The Ten Commandments remain valid in all times and places and always will.

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4. As a general rule, this sort of things a waste. At this time, Java is so densely populated it might conceivably be worth considering. One thing you might consider is building a complex of government offices adjacent to Makassar on Celebes. There's already a large city there, so perhaps you can expand the capacity of existing infrastructure.

> One thing you might consider is building a complex of government offices adjacent to Makassar on Celebes.

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Willem_De_Lange2/publication/226929573/figure/fig1/AS:302318626066432@1449089785295/Tectonic-and-tsunami-map-of-the-Indonesian-archipelago-Since-1900-eighteen-tsunamis.png

"Since 1900, eighteen tsunamis have been generated by large shallow earthquakes. Six of these tsunamis have occurred in the Makassar Strait. Numbers on the map represent the year of the tsunami event"

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/7fdb/8f401282ac1b5be76bfaa2debd5e5a630896.pdf

"An Estimation of Earthquake Impact to Population in Makassar by Probabilistic Approach"

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Well, this seems more appropriate to the MR comments section in terms of brilliant understanding - 'Thus you’d naturally expect Europe’s financial center to be located in a country that uses the euro.'

Considering that London has been a leading financial center for at least 10 times as long as the euro has existed, why would anyone think that?

Pointing out that Switzerand also has a leading financial role would likely undermine the argument being made, so it is understandable that it is ignored.

Either way, it's white privilege all the way down!

One can wonder what the bankers in Tokyo or Singapore or Shanghai think about that statement.

In Intersectionality terms, Asians are neither white nor non-white, except in certain situations.

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#2 I wonder how if Yonas and his family planted any.

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#1 Imo Dreher and Betty reduce Houellebecq to a scolding one-note from his early books and their focus on extreme out-of-control protagonists (some people, some institutions, all voyeuristic and/or fetishized ...); they remind me of narrow reviews of T. Bernhard. Just as one sees a fuller Bernhard in Woodcutters, I'd cite Houellebecq's The Map and the Territory for a much fuller picture. Both those novels are novels of coping, not freaking. They're also tales of artistic enterprise.

Moreover the whole interview is just a laborious paraphrase of Nietszche's "god is dead" idea. Which is indeed one important theme in Houellebecq's works, but one among many.

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Wow, I generally find a lot of what is posted here to be at least interesting, although I disagree with your politics, but that pointer to the Dreher interview with Louis Betty is truly awful, and makes me seriously rethink how much of my time I'm willing to spend in a place where such an awful piece can be "recommended." I understand and even sympathize with many of the libertarian ideas you espouse, but this piece was beyond the pale.

Somehow my concern about the treatment of Native Americans, historically, branded in this piece as "ethnic and racial identitarianism," and placed alongside " religious extremism and terrorism," is one of the most pernicious attempts to fill the void left by the retreat of religion? I'm someone who believes strongly in the importance of civil discourse in a free and open society, but believe me that I mean it sincerely when I say: fuck that noise.

You seem pretty sensitive.

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How do you do, fellow libertarians and MR readers?

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What a bizarre reading of the interview.

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I, too, think it's healthy to wring one's hands over the deaths of people I never met from over a century ago.

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Seventeen lines of righteous indignation about the Houllebecq piece and your only argument is about Native Americans, who aren’t even mentioned in the entire article. Solid use of outrage and conflation but it’s a horrific rebuttal of why that article may be wrong. You must be a modern leftist.

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Brilliant satire.

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+1. The piece plays up "Judeo-Christian heritage" which is a more recent framing of history and plays down secular humanism, which has been the default mode for centuries now, saying it was coasting on the fumes of the former. Read a biography of any of America's founders and for a good part of it, you will see a way of thinking and living that makes for a great civilization and has proved enduring to this very day. The best societies today are post-Enlightenment societies that allow a large number of freedoms. Religious based societies are a mixed bag with the greatest number of Christians in Latin America/Africa and most Muslims outside of India live under Sharia law.

The other concern I had is similar to yours regarding "religious extremism and terrorism." Religion is the savior to civilization, he states, but if it goes bad it must be individualism's fault. How awfully convenient and completely undersupported.

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1. Interesting. It suggests that identity politics may be a reconciliation of the Enlightenment push for liberty with humankinds need for community and meaning.

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Religion can be a uniting force, it is seldom acknowledged that a shallow look around the USA without religion telling you all can be brothers and without deep thought and investigation could leave one a bit racist.

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Awesome!! Brazil has officially revealed that PS4 game consoles' prices have been slashed thanks to the lowering of taxes on games ordered by the federal government. In days like today, I would like to be Brazilian. It is good to know at least one government cares about its own people!!

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No bedbugs at Doral. The Radical Left Democrats, upon hearing that the perfectly located (for the next G-7) Doral National MIAMI was under consideration for the next G-7, spread that false and nasty rumor. Not nice!

+1

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3. Shame is perhaps Rushdie’s best novel, though it is super-rude, here is one overview.

I've started four or five Rushdie novels and never gotten far or finished one. They read to me as overly targeted at English professors and underly targeted at humans.

+1! Just recently tried to read the critically recommended "Golden House." Quit after a couple of chapters when it became clear that the omniscient narrator was just not going to stop nattering on.

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"Shame is perhaps Rushdie’s best novel, though it is super-rude, here is one overview."

Is this some kind of esoteric Tyler-signal?

A new book hit the stores yesterday https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/salman-rushdie-quichotte-review-book-release-date-length-booker-prize-shortlist-a9074476.html

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#4: huge costs, questionable benefits. I can still see a megalomaniacal leader deciding to do this so that like the pharaohs he can leave his mark on history, but why spend those multiple 10s of billions of dollars (to say nothing of how much private citizens will have to spend to make the move and do construction) on a new city instead of improving the existing one?

If the existing capital is truly destined for the dustbin of history (or to go down the drain thanks to global warming and sea levels rising, or earthquakes), then yeah it makes sense. But my guess is that if this does happen, it's because President Widodo had already bought, or had his family and friends buy, all the land that they could in the area. Instant windfall profits.

Jakarta is sinking at an alarming rate. North Jakarta has sunk about 2.5 meters over the past 10 years alone and will be submerged by 2050.

Other countries have created new capital cities: Brasilia, Abuja, Astana and others. Canberra too, and Ottawa, and Washington, if you go back far enough. It is hardly unprecedented.

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3. I thought a review of "Quichotte" would be more timely.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/27/books/review-quichotte-salman-rushdie.html

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TC, any insight on Bret Stephens temper tantrum on being called a 'bedbug' and his nth "I'm quitting Twitter because it sucks and people are mean" and "let me talk with your manager" rant?

Does this follow the whole Mr. Tough Conservative, let free speech and market of ideas reign, universities are the nexus of safe spaces and the p*ssification of society - yet is the epitome of the easily triggered and hurt online archetype from trivial criticism?

BS is, well, full of BS. My 8 year old has been called worse than a bedbug (somebody called him a poo-poo head!) and has a thicker skin than a thousand Brets

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2. Ethiopia plants 350 million trees in 12 hours.

I have 30 million hole diggers out of a population of 100 million. Comes to a tree per hour. Where did they get all the trees? (the article was gated)

Don't bother to investigate further. This story is just complete bullshit. Ethiopian economy cannot deliver this kind of achievement.

To repeat some information from above, revealing that it was not exactly the Ethiopian economy by itself, though one is welcome to question the figures, of course.

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-07/20/c_138243635.htm

"As part of these joint efforts, a tree planting program was done on Saturday in the premises of the Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway main building in the outskirts of Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, which was attended by Chinese and Ethiopian officials. ... Tilahun Sarka, Director General of the Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway Share Company (EDRSC), said Ethiopia and China have worked together in various fields, with the cooperation on the tree planting initiative serving as the latest example of the expanding bilateral ties between the two nations."

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5. “So why do the English-speaking countries have persistent CA deficits?“
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Because China has a closed financial system, and they are the most spoken language. After English comes Hindi and Spanish, not significant on a weighted basis. So the question is really, why does China, and Asian in general. like to keep tidy balances?

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1. Liberalism doesn’t prevent people from embedding themselves in communities; it actually fosters that embedding by letting people choose what communities they wanted to be embedded in and giving them the space to find one they like. I hated the community I grew up in, experimented with several different ones as a young adult, and am now part of a very satisfying and meaningful community of people, some of who were born on the other side of the planet but all of who have voluntarily bonded over shared interests and values rather than accidents of birth. My social life would have been far emptier without the liberating effects of modern liberalism.

Identitarianism is also nothing new and was not caused by liberalism or the death of religion. One only needs to view the history of Catholics and Protestants, or Sunnis and Shias today, to see how religion in fact is a primary source of identitarianism. Nor does the death of religion mean the end of a civilization’s identity. Traditional religion is mostly dead in China and Japan, yet those two countries have their civilizational identity intact. Cultures are always evolving and secularization is simply an positive example of this evolution.

Thoughtful post, I award 5 internet points.

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Exactly my thought. Liberalism allows freedom of association. Some people want a monopoly on culture, that is a monoculture, rather a federation of communities. Liberalism has its faults but at least there are choices. In a monoculture, where do you go if you want out?

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People have long formed new communities, and people have long lived in ones they are born into.

It seems difficult to correlate that to liberalism.

Relational mobility kinda correlates to liberal political regimes, but not really. Many regimes with the lowest levels of relational mobility (Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong - have fairly liberal political regimes.

See - https://phys.org/news/2018-06-mobility-interpersonal-behaviors.html - for a more solid predictor of relational mobility.

I tend to prefer societies with lower relational mobility, those where people have to deal with the relationships they find themselves in, as above - "People from societies assigned a high relational mobility rank showed an overall higher rate of personal self-esteem, closeness in friendship, and proactive interpersonal behaviors such as disclosing personal secrets. In contrast, people from societies assigned a low rank mentioned having lower levels of self-esteem and trust. However, people from societies with low relational mobility tend to expect more permanence and stability in their jobs and relationships, qualities that seem less secure in high relational mobility societies.".

It's better for a society to have harder limit to people "cancelling" others from their social network, than it it is to have stronger ability for individuals to choose their social network. Freedom from exclusion probably matters more than freedom of association. "Cohesion" matters more than the ability of individuals to select relationships which make them happiest, and social anomie and narcissism are more pressing problems in the West today, than being trapped in unsatisfactory relationships.

See - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/pere.12174 - "In societies with high relational mobility, where relationships are relatively more fragile, more active engagement in close relationships helps individuals to impress potential, and retain current, partners. "

This can be framed as a positive or a negative, but the essence of it is that in societies where individuals are freer to choose relationships, one is obliged to become a salesman for the self, manipulating their image and actions to maintain relationships.

That seems a lesser freedom than exists in societies where individuals are stuck with the relationships they've got, where you are more or less guaranteed a social life even if you're not particularly likeable and say things which tend to be disturbing and dissonant for the majority.

In a sense "cancel culture", the latest encroaching oppression of Western society, is relational mobility par excellence. Relational mobility and "freedom of association" must be subject to limits, to present "freedom of association" becoming "freedom to ostracize".

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1. The interviewee regrets that the economy is too strong and suggest a good Venezuelian-style deep recession so that young people go back to church and that the society will "feel better". WTF. And that interview is somewhat "recommended".

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1. Betty says Houllebecq believes it is impossible to have a society without a metaphysical foundation. That's obviously true if you mean concepts of cause and effect, "theory of mind" (other people have desires and feelings and minds a lot like mine), some sort of Golden Rule, and a few other things. But exactly what do they need beyond that?

Most people do not have, and have never had, a well-thought-out and consistent "religious" metaphysics. That's very much an academic/intellectual thing. Which is no doubt one reason Betty and Houllebecq, academic and intellectual, make too much of it.

They may well be right that most people wouldn't feel right if they believed in a thoroughgoing materialism. But almost nobody in the "secular" rich countries does. I am astounded by the number of people who say, as if it's the most ordinary thing, "everything happens for a reason." They don't mean everything has a material cause. They mean ,,, well ... usually they don't have any well-thought-out specific meaning. Just a kind of vague "understanding" that the universe is a good place and good will eventually come out of bad.

Is this sort of thing enough? Is it stable? Beats the bleep out of me.

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#2.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/09/16/the-countries-of-the-world-ranked-by-their-tree-wealth/

According to that WP article Nigeria in 2015 had 12,000 trees per square km, 924,000 square km, and 11 billion trees total.

Adding 350m trees gives it just under 12,300 trees per square km.

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