A Word to the Wise

“Servants are a necessary evil. He who shall contrive to obviate their necessity, or remove their inconveniences, will render to human comfort a greater benefit than has yet been conferred by all the useful-knowledge societies of the age. They are domestic spies, who continually embarrass the intercourse of the members of a family, or possess themselves of private information that renders their presence hateful, and their absence dangerous. It is a rare thing to see persons who are not controlled by their servants. Theirs, too, is not the only kitchen cabinet which begins by serving and ends by ruling.”

— From The Laws of Etiquette, by “A Gentleman,” 1836

“… Except for All Those Others”

Dubious states:

  • albocracy – government by white people
  • argentocracy – government by money
  • barbarocracy – government by barbarians
  • cannonarchy – government by superior firepower
  • capelocracy – government by shopkeepers
  • chiliarchy – government by one thousand people
  • chirocracy – government by physical force
  • corpocracy – government by corporate bureaucrats
  • demonarchy – government by a demon
  • dulocracy – government by slaves
  • foolocracy – government by fools
  • iatrarchy – government by physicians
  • infantocracy – government by an infant
  • millionocracy – government by millionaires
  • neocracy – government by new or inexperienced rulers
  • partocracy – government by a single unopposed political party
  • pollarchy – government by the multitude or a mob
  • squarsonocracy – government by landholding clergymen
  • tritheocracy – government by three gods
  • xenocracy – government by a body of foreigners

Domesticated Animals

Dates of first domestication:

  • Sheep, goat, pig: 8,000 B.C.
  • Cow: 6,000 B.C.
  • Horse: 4,000 B.C.
  • Donkey, water buffalo, honeybee: 4,000 B.C.
  • Chicken, cat, llama: 3,500 B.C.
  • Silkworm: 3,000 B.C.
  • Camel: 2,500 B.C.

Dogs, by far, are man’s best friend. Some estimates put them with us as early as 150,000 B.C. It’s thought that scavenging wolves grew less fearful of humans, and we found they could help with hunting and warn us of approaching enemies. “To his dog, every man is Napoleon,” wrote Aldous Huxley. “Hence the constant popularity of dogs.”

National Statistics Per Capita

Large countries get the most attention, but the picture changes when you adjust for size:

  • Highest GDP: United States
  • Highest GDP per capita: Luxembourg
  • Largest military: China
  • Largest military per capita: Vatican City
  • Most expensive military: United States
  • Most expensive military per capita: Israel
  • Most Olympic medals: United States
  • Most Olympic medals per capita: Australia
  • Most Cannes Palmes d’Or: United States
  • Most Cannes Palmes d’Or per capita: Denmark
  • Most Nobel Prizes: United States
  • Most Nobel Prizes per capita: Iceland
  • Most startup companies: United States
  • Most startup companies per capita: Israel

Yap Stone Money

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yap_Stone_Money.jpg
Image: Wikimedia Commons

“The great affair, we always find, is to get money.” So wrote Adam Smith, but he might have been surprised to visit the Micronesian island of Yap, where a coin’s value is determined by its size. If a native pays you a large debt, you might find yourself with a limestone coin 12 feet in diameter and weighing several tons. You might display it outside your home, as a status symbol — or you might just leave it where it is (even underwater) and agree that ownership has been transferred. Easier on the back.

The Forer Effect

Does this describe you?

You have a need for other people to like and admire you, and yet you tend to be critical of yourself. While you have some personality weaknesses you are generally able to compensate for them. You have considerable unused capacity that you have not turned to your advantage. Disciplined and self-controlled on the outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure on the inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You also pride yourself as an independent thinker; and do not accept others’ statements without satisfactory proof. But you have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, and sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, and reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be rather unrealistic.

If you said yes, you’ve been had. The description was assembled from random horoscopes by psychologist B.R. Forer in 1948. He found that if you give someone a vague, mostly positive personality description, and tell him it’s tailored specifically to him, he’ll rate it as highly accurate. It’s called “the Forer effect.”

The Madness of Crowds

Countries with the densest populations:

  1. Monaco – 16,620 inhabitants per square kilometer
  2. Singapore – 6,389
  3. Vatican City – 2,093
  4. Malta – 1,261
  5. Maldives – 1,163
  6. Bahrain – 1,035
  7. Bangladesh – 1,002
  8. Barbados – 647
  9. Republic of China (Taiwan) – 636
  10. Nauru – 621

… and the least dense:

  1. Guyana – 3 inhabitants per square kilometer
  2. Canada – 3
  3. Libya – 3
  4. Mauritania – 2
  5. Iceland – 2
  6. Botswana – 2
  7. Suriname – 2
  8. Australia – 2
  9. Namibia – 2
  10. Mongolia – 1

Taken as a whole, the population density of the planet is 43 inhabitants per square kilometer.