Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Map of U.S. Postal Codes Connected Sequentially

ZipScribbles by Robert Kosara.

When I was young I wondered if all the ZIP codes connected in order, and wanted to walk them in that order.  Even if they did I wouldn't want to now.  Woe adulthood!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Uruguay May Legalize Marijuana

WSJ story here.  Vacation time!  Remember to set your watches ahead by 4:20.  (ZING!)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

British Columbia Court Upholds Physician-Assisted Suicide

If you don't own yourself, what else matters?  In most of the developed world we aren't allowed to ask a medical professional to help us decide when we no longer want to exist - the state thinks it's wiser in this regard.  One more sub-national entity is on the side of reason, for now.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Baseball Debated Longer in Senate than Iraq War

A Reddit post highlights the childishness of American legislative bodies with regards to professional sports.  These trials get the kind of attention from legislative bodies that should be reserved for government scandals.  Even John McCain fell prey to this in the last decade when he proposed a Federal commission on boxing.  Why not a Federal NASCAR Commission then?  A Federal Video Game Commission?

Professional sports are not government agencies.  We don't need the Feds or anyone else wasting our money and attention on regulating them.

The Transparency-of-Agriculture Theory of State Emergence

A commonly held theory of the emergence of states is that agricultural surplus encouraged the development of complex political structures.  Previously I outlined a theory that agricultural production which requires organization is the trigger for state formation.  Most of the time this happens with agriculture in marginal environments (deserts or desert-adjacent areas) which require irrigation and coordination with annual weather events, and explains why states don't emerge in rich environments (like volcanic temperate rainforests>) which would otherwise be more intuitive.  In China, this occurred because the crop that was adopted and fit the local environment was labor-intensive.  That is:  in all these examples, food production and organization emerged together and created a positive feedback loop.
A new theory holds that agricultural production makes food (and neolithic wealth) transparent, and enables the kleptocratic aspect of states.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Almost All Wines Taste the Same, Even to Experts

Report and data here, commentary here.  New Jersey has scored a coup in the wine world just like Napa did in the 1970s.

It may be that there's nothing special about fermented grape juice as a beverage, relative to other alcoholic drinks.  In its current context, tasting wine signals class and erudition and time invested in culture; so for developing a taste in wine to be rational, the status signaling effects must outweigh the costs of (otherwise foolishly) making your marginal unit of pleasure more difficult to obtain.  Of course that latter consideration might not matter at all if it all tastes the same.