bookmark_borderAmerican cities in Europe

As I’ve mentioned before, Europeans tend to think that most American cities are located much further north than they actually are (because we don’t take into account the effects of the Gulf Stream).

To illustrate this, I’ve tried to place a few cities of the US and Canada on a map of Europe:

In general, US cities are on the same latitude as Spain, Italy, Greece and northern Africa, while Canadian cities would be placed in Germany and France. Only Alaska really is far north.

PS: If you want to do what I did, search for a place name in Google Maps, right-click on the “A” icon and select “What’s here?”; the coordinates will now appear in the search bar, and you can replace the longitude number with a European value (between -10 and 40).

bookmark_borderGlobal warming means colder winters here

Igloo fun
Originally uploaded by PhylB

I’ve noticed that many people seem to take the severity of recent winters as an indication that global warming might not be happening.

However, meteorology isn’t a simple science, and today I found an article that claims to have found a reason why global warming would lead to colder winters in Europe: “shrinking sea ice in the eastern Arctic has caused some regional warming of lower air levels and could possibly lead to anomalies in atmospheric airstreams, which may trigger an overall cooling of the northern continents. These anomalies could triple the probability of cold winter extremes in Europe and northern Asia”.

This is of course quite separate from the possibility that the Gulf Stream might one day move or slow down, which would give Scotland and Denmark a climate more like Alaska’s.

Update (3/12): Here are two more articles about this topic, one in Danish and one in English.

bookmark_borderFun in the snow

This weekend is André’s, so the three biggies were supposed to be with him from Friday at 5.30pm to Sunday at 8pm.

However, yesterday morning I was just chatting to HSBC on the phone while making American blueberry pancakes when Charlotte and Léon came running into the kitchen. Apparently André had broken his glasses, so he wanted us to babysit while he went shopping in Tesco with Marcel.

Given that it had been snowing overnight, we decided to go out and play in the snow:

bookmark_borderDet nordiske troldmandsgymnasium

Originally uploaded by Yersinia

I Harry Potter-bøgerne omtales tre skoler, Hogwarts (Storbritannien og Irland), Beauxbatons (Frankrig) og Durmstrang (muligvis Rusland), men det er ikke oplagt, hvad troldmænd og hekse i andre lande gør, så lad os se på, hvad vi kan udlede om, hvad situationen i Danmark må være.

Først må vi se på størrelsen. Jeg fandt flg. på Wikipedia:

Rowling initially said there are about one thousand students at Hogwarts. She later suggested around six hundred, while acknowledging that this number was still inconsistent with the small number of people in Harry’s year. She further explained that this had resulted from her creating only 40 characters for Harry’s year.

Der er altså mindst 280 elever (7 årgange à 40 elever), men nok snarere 600, og måske 1000. Hvis vi antager, at der relativt er lige mange mennesker med magiske evner i Storbritannien og Danmark, vil en dansk troldmandsskole have mindst 24 elever, men nok snarere 50, og måske 85, fordelt på syv årgange. Det er godt nok ikke ret mange!

Lad os nu se på strukturen. Idéen med at lade børnene gå i normale skoler, til de bliver 11, og så sende dem på kostskole, er meget engelsk, og det er ikke oplagt, at en dansk troldmandsskole ville gøre det samme.

Det er nok mere sandsynligt, at børnene bliver i folkeskolen til og med 9. klasse, og at troldmandsskolen er en slags troldmandsgymnasium med kostafdeling.

Et troldmandsgymnasium ville naturligvis være endnu mindre – der ville kun være mellem 10 og 36 elever, men typisk 22, fordelt på de tre årgange, og jeg har svært ved at forestille mig, at en så lille skole ville være levedygtig.

Det er nok sandsynligt, at man i stedet har en fællesnordisk uddannelsesinstitution på trods af de sproglige udfordringer.

Det er nok tvivlsomt, om der findes videregående uddannelser bagefter. Jeg vil ikke tro, der kan findes meget mere end 500 troldmænd og hekse i Danmark (inkl. spædbørn og pensionister), så hvis man vil lære mere efter gymnasiet, skal man nok en tur til udlandet.

bookmark_borderFrère Jacques in Klingon

Originally uploaded by Infidelic

Years ago I translated Frère Jacques into Klingon for a linguistic party.

My translation seems to have got lost (unless one of my readers would happen to have kept a copy), so I thought I’d better redo it:

yIvem yaq yaS! yIvem yaq yaS!

bIQong’a’? bIQong’a’?

pengmey DaQoybe”a’? pengmey DaQoybe”a’?

bum! bum! bum! bum! bum! bum!

Literally, this means: Wake up, officer Yaq! Are you sleeping? Don’t you hear the torpedoes all over the place? Boom! Boom! Boom!

I think most of it should be correct Klingon, but I’m only guessing that ‘boom’ would be bum. If anybody reading this speaks Klingon more fluently than me, I’d be happy to correct any errors.

Update: Here’s the lyrics in IPA for those who are not aware of the conventions of the Klingon transliteration scheme: /jɪvɛm jɑqʰ jɑʃ – mbɪqʰoʊŋʔɑʔ – pʰɛŋmɛj ɳɖɑqχojmbɛʔːɑʔ – mbuːm mbuːm mbuːm/.

bookmark_borderFrom each according to his ability, to each according to his need

Fathers 4 Justice
Originally uploaded by minifig

The CoLD coalition’s new proposal on legal aid in England is quite scary, given that so many people will be unable to go to the courts even when the law is completely on their side, simply because the cannot afford to.

However, legal aid was already unavailable to lots of people who couldn’t realistically pay the lawyer’s fee (without having to sell their home).

The way I see it, the price for going to the courts should depend on your ability to pay – it shouldn’t be limited to rich people and those on legal aid. Ideally, it should be free if the courts decide you’re in the right, and cost a certain percentage of your wealth/income if you’re in the wrong.

The same goes for compensations received. It’s ludicrous that you can get more money for the same injury if it was the fault of a big corporation than if it was caused by a poor person – to the injured, the consequences are the same.

The solution would be to pool everything: All legal fees and damages should be determined by people’s ability to pay and put into one massive pot, and compensations should come out of this according to need.

In that way, nobody would we priced out of using the legal system, and nobody would lose their home or become instant millionaires depending on the outcome of a court case.

bookmark_borderFirst the gold standard, then Bretton Woods, then floating exchange rates, and now what?

Bretton Woods
Originally uploaded by robinpresta

Edmund Conway (who is always worth reading) has written a very insightful article about the shift in international monetary structures.

He points out that the current system (floating exchange rates) has become unstable because “many developing nations (typified by China) have chosen instead to fix their currencies (in an effort to protect their exports)”, which means that “the world’s monetary system is being run in two incompatible ways”. (He doesn’t mention the euro in that context, but I presume it must be another factor in the break-down of the floating exchange rate system.)

Although he lists two possible outcomes, he seems to think that the problems won’t completely go away until China overtakes the US as the main economic power of the World.

It’s definitely worth reading the whole thing!