Things I’ve Learned This Week

  • Being an interstellar pilot might be incredibly fun at first, but in the end it would always end up being excessively dangerous, or excessively automated (and thus kinda boring). Not that I am getting bored of the EVE Online, but rather that I cannot imagine making my living that way for many years in real life.
  • An apple a day doesn’t really keep the doctor away, but that’s good when you’re dating a doctor-to-be.
  • Being really organized isn’t all that hard. It just takes a tiny bit more effort output at the beginning of a project… but will require much less effort later on.

    I now have all my classlists, homework sheets, handouts, and a “covered-in-class” & “assigned homework” tracking sheet for each class as well, tucked into the roll sheet. It’s not that I NEVER knew what we’d done last week, but that sometimes I’d forget assigned homework, and sometimes I’d lose track when one class got out of synch with the others, as they sometimes do. This is much better than relying on my memory for everything.

  • The Chinese really did set up little colonies and collect tributes all over the world—like, in the Americas, in parts of South Asia, and in Africa—during the early 1400s. I was fluipping through my copy of Gavin Menzies’ 1421: The Year China Discovered the World and I am left with the indelible impression that this is true. (See the official webpage.)
  • Corporations sometimes really are more powerful than government now. The City of Vancouver doesn’t even have the power to carry out citizens’ objections to using Shell Oil on account of Shell’s cooperation with South Africa during the Apartheid Era. When the City of Vancouver ruled it would not use Shell products with city vehicles, Shell sued for “discriminiation” and won, and the judge in the case opined that the City only had the right to make decisions based on the lives of Vancouver residents, not to base decisions on the consequences of supporting offending companies for people in other countries. The judge basically said, “That stuff over there is none of your business, you’re just a city government.” The City Councilors did later vote not to use Shell Oil as a matter of principle, as opposed to of legal contracts, but that was because if they enshrined their decision in terms of laws and contracts, they’d be sued again.
  • USA*Engage is a horrifying front for all kinds of companies who want to wheedle their way around human rights sanctions for the sake of profits. It’s one thing when governments are too chicken to sanction China for human rights issues, but it’s quite another when even the timid, bet-hedging politicians approve sanctions and then companies just take the sneaky way ’round and keep dealing with them. Interestingly, their website isn’t showing up on Google, but I found a link to it from this Mother Jones article, which by the way is really fascinating if you want a look at how bastard companies actually go through the process of sidestepping human rights sanctions for a little more cash:

    “But we wanna make money off Sudan/Burma/Nigeria! Who are you to tell us we cannot profit from others’ misery, and cannot prop up evil regimes in the process?”

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