Wikipedia articles of interest

I went to Copenhagen over the weekend and so I didn’t have a lot of time for blogging.

I completed Pamela Regan’s book yesterday, but aside from a few remarks here I won’t post any more about it. Some of the chapters I had not read when I last posted turned out to be disappointing. Not just because of the stuff covered but also because of the stuff not covered. The results of likely deeply flawed studies are reported and a few of the problems with the studies are mentioned – but some places the author basically acts as if you can’t really do any more stuff with the data once you’ve done an OLS regression and had a look at the p-values. This despite the fact that she’s previously talked about the results of psychometric studies using factor analysis and thus should at least be aware that there’s more potential stuff in the statistical toolbox than meets the eye (/her eyes). Despite my previous remarks about the book not being a self-help book, the last part of the book, especially the last chapters, unfortunately does read way too much like a self-help book. And let’s just say that after having read the last chapter I remain wholly unconvinced that a) relationship counseling ‘works’, and b) that I should trust Regan’s opinion on the matter. She spends a total of one sentence on the self-selection problem (i.e. the problem that couples that seek and go through counseling may be different from couples that do not).). All those critical remarks aside, there’s also some good stuff in some of the later chapters and overall I’m glad I’ve read the book as I think I learned some stuff from it.

In related matters, I spent some hours Friday reading David Abulafia’s The Great Sea, A Human History of the Mediterranean, and I also read a bit in it today. I first started reading it in October last year, but back then my studies got in the way and so I never got very far; I only ever finished the first 260 pages or so (out of 650 pages). I expect to finish it tomorrow.

Okay, on to the wikipedia articles:

i. Factor analysis. (Now I’ve already mentioned it in the post and I’m sure some readers don’t know about this stuff…)

ii. Finnish Civil War (featured). The very brief version:

“The Finnish Civil War (Finnish: Suomen sisällissota, kansalaissota; Swedish: Finska inbördeskriget) was a part of the national, political and social turmoil caused by World War I (1914–1918) in Europe. The Civil War concerned control and leadership of the Grand Duchy of Finland after it had become sovereign in 1917. The war was fought from 27 January to 15 May 1918 between the forces of the Social Democrats led by the People’s Deputation of Finland, commonly called the “Reds” (Finnish: punaiset, Swedish: röda), and the forces of the non-socialist, conservative-led Senate, commonly called the “Whites” (Finnish: valkoiset, Swedish: vita). The Reds—dominated by industrial and agrarian workers—were supported by the Russian Soviet Republic. The Whites—dominated by peasants and middle- and upper-class factions, in particular upper-class Swedish speakers—received marked military assistance from the German Empire. The Reds were based in the towns and industrial centres of southern Finland, while the Whites controlled more rural central and northern Finland. The Whites won the war, in which about 37,000 people died out of a population of 3 million.[5]

Following the Diet of Porvoo in 1809, Finland had been ruled as a nominally autonomous part of the Russian Empire, known as the Grand Duchy of Finland. It was gradually developing into what would become the Finnish state, including a marked rise of the Fennoman movement standing for the Finnic majority of the population, with minority Swedish speakers representing the marked Swedish cultural background. By 1917 Finland had experienced rapid population growth, industrialization, improvements in the economy and standard of living, and the rise of a comprehensive labor movement; economic, social, and political divisions were deepening while the Finnish political system was in an unstable phase of democratization and modernization.[6]

The collapse of the Russian Empire following the February and October Revolutions of 1917 spurred the collapse of the Grand Duchy of Finland, and the resultant power vacuum led to bitter conflict between the left-leaning labor movement, led by the Social Democrats, and more conservative non-socialists. A breakdown of power and authority penetrated all levels of society as both sides, aiming to gain supremacy for their own faction, refused to make political compromises. Finland’s declaration of independence on 6 December 1917 – though supported by most Finns and soon recognized by the Russian Bolshevist Council of People’s Commissars – occurred in the context of the worsening power struggle, and therefore failed to either unite or pacify the nation.[7]

With the dissolution of regular police and military forces, both left and right began forming armed groups in the spring of 1917. Two rival paramilitary forces, the White Guards and Red Guards, emerged. An atmosphere of political violence, fear and mistrust reigned over the country. Fighting broke out between the Reds and the Whites in January 1918 and quickly escalated. The fate of the Finns during 1917–1918 was much like that of the peoples of minor nations separating from (disintegrating) large ones.[8]

If you think 37.000 dead people doesn’t sound like a very big deal, here’s a bit more about those deaths:

Lives lost

“Almost 37,000 people perished, 5,900 of whom (16 percent of the total) were between 14 and 20 years old, the youngest victims of the battles and the terror being between 8 and 10 years. Only about 10,000 of these casualties occurred on the battlefields; most of the deaths resulted from the terror campaigns and from the appalling conditions in the prison camps. In addition, the war left about 20,000 children orphaned.”

iii. Anglo–Zulu War.

“The Anglo–Zulu War was fought in 1879 between the British Empire and the Zulu Kingdom. It was thought that similar combined military and political campaigns might succeed with the other African kingdoms, tribal areas and Boer republics in South Africa. In 1874, Sir Henry Bartle Frere was sent to South Africa as High Commissioner for the British Empire to bring such plans into being. Among the obstacles were the presence of the independent states of the South African Republic and the Kingdom of Zululand and its army.[6] Frere, on his own initiative, without the approval of the British government[7][8] and with the intent of instigating a war with the Zulu, had presented an ultimatum on 11 December 1878, to the Zulu king Cetshwayo with which the Zulu king could not comply.[9] Cetshwayo did not comply and Bartle Frere sent Lord Chelmsford to invade Zululand.[10] The war is notable for several particularly bloody battles, including a stunning opening victory by the Zulu at Isandlwana, as well as for being a landmark in the timeline of imperialism in the region. The war eventually resulted in a British victory and the end of the Zulu nation’s independence. […]

This part was pretty wild to think about:

“20,000 Zulu warriors[42] attacked Wood’s 2,068 men in a well-fortified camp at Kambula, apparently without Cetshwayo’s permission. The British held them off in the Battle of Kambula and after five hours of heavy attacks the Zulus withdrew with heavy losses but were pursued by British mounted troops, who killed many more fleeing and wounded warriors. British losses amounted to 83 (28 killed and 55 wounded), while the Zulus lost up to 2,000 killed.[43] The effect of the battle of Kambula on the Zulu army was severe. Their commander Mnyamana tried to get the regiments to return to Ulundi but many demoralised warriors simply went home.[44]

iv. Green sea turtle.

I thought this part was particularly awesome: “Sea turtles spend almost all their lives submerged, but must breathe air for the oxygen needed to meet the demands of vigorous activity. With a single explosive exhalation and rapid inhalation, sea turtles can quickly replace the air in their lungs. The lungs permit a rapid exchange of oxygen and prevent gases from being trapped during deep dives. Sea turtle blood can deliver oxygen efficiently to body tissues even at the pressures encountered during diving. During routine activity, green and loggerhead turtles dive for about four to five minutes, and surface to breathe for one to three seconds.

Turtles can rest or sleep underwater for several hours at a time…”

v. Tenerife airport disaster. This was a really horrible event, but maybe because it happened before I was ever born I’d never heard about it:

“The Tenerife airport disaster occurred on Sunday, March 27, 1977, when two Boeing 747 passenger aircraft collided on the runway of Los Rodeos Airport (now known as Tenerife North Airport) on the Spanish island of Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands. With a total of 583 fatalities, the crash is the deadliest accident in aviation history.

After a bomb exploded at Gran Canaria Airport, many aircraft were diverted to Tenerife. Among them were KLM Flight 4805 and Pan Am Flight 1736 – the two aircraft involved in the accident. The threat of a second bomb forced the authorities to close the airport while a search was conducted, resulting in many airplanes being diverted to the smaller Tenerife airport where air traffic controllers were forced to park many of the airplanes on the taxiway, thereby blocking it. Further complicating the situation, while authorities waited to reopen Gran Canaria, a dense fog developed at Tenerife, greatly reducing visibility. When Gran Canaria reopened, the parked aircraft blocking the taxiway at Tenerife required both of the 747s to taxi on the only runway in order to get in position for takeoff. Due to the fog, neither aircraft could see the other, nor could the controller in the tower see the runway or the two 747s on it. As the airport did not have ground radar, the only means for the controller to identify the location of each airplane was via voice reports over the radio. As a result of several misunderstandings in the ensuing communication, the KLM flight attempted to take off while the Pan Am flight was still on the runway. The resulting collision destroyed both aircraft, killing all 248 aboard the KLM flight and 335 of 396 aboard the Pan Am flight. Sixty-one people aboard the Pan Am flight, including the pilots and flight engineer, survived the disaster.[1]

vi. World’s Columbian Exposition.

“The World’s Columbian Exposition (the official shortened name for the World’s Fair: Columbian Exposition,[1] also known as The Chicago World’s Fair) was a World’s Fair held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus‘s arrival in the New World in 1492. Chicago bested New York City; Washington, D.C.; and St. Louis for the honor of hosting the fair. The fair had a profound effect on architecture, the arts, Chicago’s self-image, and American industrial optimism. The Chicago Columbian Exposition was, in large part, designed by Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted. It was the prototype of what Burnham and his colleagues thought a city should be. It was designed to follow Beaux Arts principles of design, namely French neoclassical architecture principles based on symmetry, balance, and splendor.

The exposition covered more than 600 acres (2.4 km2), featuring nearly 200 new (but purposely temporary) buildings of predominantly neoclassical architecture, canals and lagoons, and people and cultures from around the world. More than 27 million people attended the exposition during its six-month run. Its scale and grandeur far exceeded the other world fairs, and it became a symbol of the emerging American Exceptionalism, much in the same way that the Great Exhibition became a symbol of the Victorian era United Kingdom.”

January 28, 2013 - Posted by | Biology, Books, History, Statistics, Wikipedia, Zoology

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