The American war on science

“By most objective measures, the United States is the undisputed world leader in science and innovation, whether it’s funding for research and development, the number of PhD students it graduates or its share of the world’s patents. For the world’s wealthiest nation, this is hardly a remarkable feat. What is remarkable is that the US accomplished this with a supply of domestic talent whose skills in math and science are, also according to most objective measures, merely mediocre. Luckily, in the past, many excellent foreign students have shouldered the load, preferring to come here to study and work than stay in their home countries. This import of talent has been valued at more than $13 billion per year.” Christopher Mims, The American War on Science

Two billion people

“At the beginning of the twentieth century, there was a serious scare about an imminent Malthusian crisis: the world’s rapidly expanding population was coming up against the limits of agricultural productivity… Earl Butz, Nixon’s Secretary of Agriculture, was despised by organic farmers, but he might not have been wrong when he said, in 1971, that if America returned to organic methods ‘someone must decide which fifty million of our people will starve!’ According to a more recent estimate, if synthetic fertilizers suddenly disappeared from the face of the earth, about two billion people would perish.” Steven Shapin, on the cost of sustainably grown and locally produced organic food

Filipino table etiquette punished at local school

“The case of 7-year-old Luc Cagadoc has become front-page news in his parents’ native Philippines and a Quebec-based rights group says it will haul a suburban Montreal school before the provincial human rights commission after it repeatedly disciplined the slight, bespectacled boy because he allegedly ‘eats like a pig.’ The Philippines’ ambassador to Canada issued a statement of support for Cagadoc’s family and Montreal’s Filipino community, which he said was rightly offended by the school’s reaction to the way the boy eats… the traditional Filipino method of using a fork to mush food into a spoon before swallowing the contents.” Toronto Star, A1

Water world

“30 to 50 litres of clean water is considered the basic daily need of every human for drinking, cooking, and sanitation. Africans consume 37 litres of water a day on average; Americans consume 420 litres a day.” Social Studies, The Globe and Mail

Thirsty World

“Today the world grows twice as much food as it did a generation ago, but it uses three times as much water to grow it. Two-thirds of all the water abstracted from the environment goes to irrigate crops. This use of water is massively unsustainable…” New Scientist

Major League Soccer

“When MLS kicked off in 1996, it did so with team names like the Crew, the Mutiny and the Rapids — American names. After the 2004 season, the thinking shifted to accommodate the league’s fastest growing fan base. The Dallas Burn was renamed FC Dallas (‘F’ for futbol rather than football), acknowledging that the club’s core support came from the Latino community. An expansion franchise aimed at Los Angeles’s Spanish speakers was named Deportivo Chivas. Another in Utah, where Latinos make up more than one-tenth of the population, was dubbed Real Salt Lake. Most white Utahns, even the soccer fans, mistakenly pronounced it ‘Reel’ instead of ‘Ray-al.’” Toronto Star’s Cathal Kelly, on Major League Soccer’s recent interest in ethnic fans