Hey! Did You See This?

A Small But Varied Collection of Fun/Interesting Things Found Online


Smorgasbord Time

Every so often we take a break from focusing on one thing to share some assorted tidbits that seem worth sharing. Today is such a day. Hope you enjoy these as much as I have. Most are short descriptions of and reflections on interesting articles, along with links to those articles. The last two are simply me thinking out loud. One never knows what will bubble to the top of my (or your) brain; here are a couple for today.

10 Books About Geopolitics

One of my disappointments in high school (boy, was that a long time ago), was the cancellation of a planned course in geography and geopolitics. We did not have enough students interested in these topics to make a go of the course. Imagine that. I was disappointed in my fellow students then. I probably would be more so today if I surveyed the general population about such matters.

Geography – both positioning and composition – have profoundly shaped human history. Think, for example, of how America might have developed differently were it not a relatively isolated continental power for most of our history. While we have managed to overcome many geography-related factors in the modern era, certainly not all of them. And in a world defined in so many ways by globalization, we find how geography affects others can affect all of us, in powerful ways.

The link below provides a delightfully thought-provoking set of short reviews of 10 books  that address this reality is interesting and varied ways. Check out the list, maybe read some reviews and sample passages. Think a bit about our planet and how our places on it affect so much. This is fundamental stuff we often overlook.


A Better Way to Think About Taxation

 It is undeniable that the American middle class has lost economic ground, badly, over several decades. It is equally clear that we have made some gains at the economic bottom of our society, although not nearly enough. And, boy is is clear, that the wealthy have done really, really, really well over the same period. We are badly out of balance. We are to the degree of approaching imbalances that cannot sustain a society. The simple chart below illustrates the point quite simply.

For me, the case for redressing the tax code and for some form of wealth tax is indisputable. But this note from my old stomping ground, The Brookings Institution, makes a good case for another focus. Stop focusing so much of the taxation debate on income, especially wages. Move instead to taxing consumption and carbon. Not a solution for all that ails us, but the article makes a compelling case to take these two steps to make a real dent in environmental and socio-economic shortfalls.


Animals Laugh, Too. What Does That Mean?

It turns out that a lot, I mean a lot, of the animal kingdom enjoys a good laugh. And birds, too! How they express that and what laughter means can mean very different things. We are slowly learning that animals are much more sophisticated and sensate than we ever thought. Here is further proof. This is a fun read. Turns out we all laugh, cross species, for many of the same reasons. Have a chuckle on me.


What is the Difference Between Copyright, Patent, and Trademark?

Yeah, I know. How boring does this topic sound? But in an era of mega corporations, international companies, and challenges in court of everything by everybody, or so it seems, a little basic knowledge of what constitutes protection for intellectual property rights is important to understand. You may have heard we and the Chinese, for example, have “a few” differences in this area. This is life and death stuff for creators and companies. Turnout this is really interesting reading, learning what the differences are in what is covered and for how long by which process. Read on.


Two Just From Me

 Let’s close out today with two small personal observations, that don’t relate to any grand scheme in life, but have popped up enough in my consciousness to make them worth sharing with you.

I Learned How to Do That on YouTube

I am a bit cautious in using YouTube these days, since it is owned by Google, which means someone somewhere is tracking your use. Remember when Google’s motto was “Do No Harm”? Boy, those were the days. Still, there is no denying that YouTube is an unmatched treasure trove of incredibly useful if mundane information.

The site is full of limitless how-to do stuff, evaluations of new or competing products, etc. For example, every time I need to add new fishing line to my string trimmer, I wind up nearly hanging myself and covering the garage in yards of tangled line. A quick check of one of the dozens of YouTube homemade videos on how to do this, and I am good to go. I believe there is similar wisdom and relief for about everything imaginable. If you ever want to experiment with brain surgery…. You name it, whatever it is, it’s likely there.

Measuring The Changes in “Normal” at This Point in The Pandemic

I am really interested in how the pandemic has changed our country. I am even more fascinated that the changes are still being wrought and being recognized. I suspect that overall, we have not a clue. We are likely the better part of a year away from having much of an appreciation.

It is clear that many economic, workplace, and social environments have changed forever, and are still solidifying. If, as I fear, we have something of a third wave in the Fall as the Delta variant of COVID sinks into under inoculated communities, still more changes are coming our way. Over and above the effects on our lives, this is fascinating stuff from cultural and historical perspectives.  Some of these changes are likely to be good (a better appreciation of public hygiene, for example), some destructive (politicizing science and medicine), some simply happening so get used to them (labor shortages in service industries and accelerated use of artificial intelligence and robotics, for example).

Let’s talk about this again a year from now and see where we are.

See you next week.

                     Bill Clontz

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