Tanganyika v. Tanzania

Tanzania is the name of a country in Africa. Tanganyika is, among other things, the older name of that country, more or less. It is a formerly used term that should no longer be used to refer to that country.

Wikipedia has this wrong on the indicated page on August 16th, 2014. Any wiki authors out there, please feel free to fix. I recommend changing the term “Tanganyika” to “Tanzania” and deleting the rest of the sentence.

Why not change this myself? Here’s why.

Midori’s Floating World Cafe

Midori’s Floating World Cafe
Lizzie, got a job. It’s a pretty nice job, with benefits and a salary and everything. Not in her field (biology), but it is a job she likes. So I took her out for a congratulatory dinner, which ultimately gave me a chance to try a new restaurant. Also, we had been in a routine for a few months of meeting almost every week to work on a project, and those meetings had stopped due to scheduling issues (like, that she went and got a job …). It was time for another dose.

My plan was to trick Lizzie into determining where we were going to eat. This was going to be difficult. Lizzie is a quiet, unassuming and thoughtful person whose first inclination would be to accommodate my (or anyone else’s) preferences in matters such as this. It would be totally out of character for her to start out by telling me where we should go for dinner. But I wanted her to pick, partly because it was her celebration and partly because of a quirk I have. Sometimes I like to experience the preferences and choices of someone that I care for. I wanted Lizzie to suggest where to eat, and I wanted to try her favorite selections off the menu and probably drink what she was drinking and so on.

I’m still grinning at the conversation.

“So, where do you want to go?”

“Oh, anywhere, I don’t care.”

(And so on and so on…via email, in person, for three or four days. Then, finally, we’re in the car about to drive off to…somewhere.)

“So, have you eaten anyplace good lately?”

“Yeah, I like this new Japanese restaurant off Lake Street.”

“Oh. So when was the last time you ate there?”

“Two days ago.”

“Oh. So you probably don’t want to eat there again right away.”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“Well, there’s Greek.”

“I could do Greek.”

“We could just go over to Eat Street and see what happens.”

“We could.”

“Maybe Azia or some place.”

“We could.”

“You want to eat in your Japanese restaurant, right?”

“It’s my favorite place. I want to show it to you.”

“What will we order?”

“Eel. It’s my favorite.”

“And what will we–”

“Sake. Of course.”

“Okay, lead the way.”

And thusly, we proceeded to Midori’s Floating World Cafe on 27th Ave in South Minneapolis. At the time we ate there, it was right across the street from the old Resources Center for the America’s building, and next to The Real CMF’s favorite restaurant (to which I had not yet been). Subsequently, Midori’s has moved a couple of hundred feet away.

We had one of the noodle dishes, a biggish bottle of hot sake, and some sushi.

As we were ordering, I remembered that neither of us had brought along our List of Endangered Fish: Do Not Eat wallet insert, but we tried to do our best by staying away from sea mammals and anything that was really expensive.

It turns out that Lizzie and I have pretty much exactly the same taste in sushi: It’s all good, but there must be eel. We figured eel would be safe from an environmental point of view, but we later learned that we had that totally backwards. Eel is one of the worst things you can order from the menu if you care about the planet. Oh, well. We learn.

I liked the fact that we were drinking hot sake. I had not had that since being in Japan a few years ago. In fact, I regaled Lizzie with a story about a fairly intensive foray into the world of hot sake at a bar in Kyoto. Apparently, the custom in Kyoto is for young men to hook up with a particular small neighborhood bar. These bars are all owned and run by women, who develop bonds with these young men and have a sort of motherly relationship with them. So I went to such a bar where two Japanese colleagues, both of whom work in Central Africa, had “grown up.”

Now, you have to understand that my Japanese is nonexistent, and my colleagues have hardly ever spent time in the English-speaking world, so their English sucked. My host in Japan, a woman who had lived for years in the U.S., was with us, and her English was perfect. But the main point of this gathering was for us Africanists to spend some time together. So, as it developed, Mother Bar Owner and my host (Hitomi) had a nice conversation about who knows what, in Japanese, while my two colleagues and I spend the evening reminiscing in KiSwahili. Much to the amusement of the occasional customer who wandered briefly into this tiny little establishment.

What was really funny was also too subtle for almost anyone to have noticed: We learned our KiSwahili in very different contexts. So, I was speaking with a Pygmy accent, one of my colleagues was speaking with a Chinese accent, and another was speaking with an Italian accent. That was funny.

I have three things to say about Midori’s Floating World Cafe. 1) It has a very nice atmosphere, a small establishment with a simple lineup of unpretentious tables and a sushi bar, family run, staffed with excellent servers. 2) The food is quite good. And 3) the prices are very reasonable.

Lizzie is living in what we used to call a “crash house”…the sort of place I misspent a fair amount of time in my youth. Her stories of life at home reminded me of my own stories, which made good comparisons, so I think we ended up making each other laugh a lot. Maybe we were a little boisterous, because when we got around to leaving, we were the only customers and the proprietor seemed really happy (to see us go?).

I highly recommend dinner with Lizzie. But since most of you can’t have that, I recommend that you try Midori’s Floating World Cafe in South Minneapolis with someone who makes you smile.

Midori’s Floating World Cafe is located on 2629 Lake Street, Minneapolis, which is a new location.

And speaking of sushi, this is the video of the famous Japanese Frilled Shark.

Climate Change Science Search Engine

This search engine will scan a large number of sites known to have good climate change related information on them.

Below is a list of sites scanned. If you know of a site that is not included here but that should be, please put a link in the comments. Don’t bother with climate science denialist sites, they will not be added.

Also note that many sites are parts of larger domains. So if the site you suggest is already part of, for example, Scienceblogs, The Guardian, etc. then it is already on the list by default. This, of course, means that some of the hits from this search engine will be not “certified” as part of this excellent list of sources because a large domain could have science denialism lurking around on it. But for the most part, the results of this search should be pretty useful. Also, since some very large domains are searched you may want to use some climate change related keywords. For example, searching for the term “hiatus” by itself will get you links for broadway shows taking a hiatus. But searching for “global warming hiatus” will get you (mostly) links about the so-called “pause” in global warming.

There are also aggregating or linky sites on this list so there may be some redundancy in your search results, but there is not much one can do about that.


Federal court rules that most NSA phone record collections likely violates constitution

A federal judge has ruled that the “wholesale collection of the phone record metadata” of all U.S. citizens — a program exposed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden — likely violates the 4th Amendment and is unconstitutional.

In the decision, Judge Leon rules that the plaintiff challenging the bulk collection of U.S. phone records, legal activist and Judicial Watch founder Larry Klayman, have “demonstrated a substantial likelihood of succession the merits of their Fourth Amendment claims, and that they will suffer irreparable harm absent preliminary injunctive relief.”


My comments on “On Writing and Sanity” by Kelly McCullough

The parts in quotes are the bits from Kelly’s original post of excellent advice for writers (HERE), which I herein Fisk (The original is posted in a no-comment zone.):

You are home writing a book but you have not proven yourself.

“First, the way you should feel about whatever book or story you are writing this very minute, is that it is absolutely your best work ever and will be irresistable to readers.” Call to adventure!

“Second, whatever book or story you are revising or getting critiqued at this very moment, is a solid piece of work that can and will be improved if you work at it and learn from comments.” Initiation and trial!

“Third, whatever work you have just finished, is ready to go out to agents or editors and you’re excited to get it in the mail.” Return home!

“Fourth, whatever work has been bought or is being shopped around, no longer exists until and unless a decision is called for on your part.” The Magic Fight!

“Fifth, whatever work has been published or set aside is complete and an example of your work at the time, not something that reflects the writer you are now.” Rescue!

“Sixth, whatever work you are going to embark on next will be made better by what you will learn from the completion of what you are working on now. So much so that once you have finished the current work, this new project will be the best thing you have ever written, bar non.” The return threshold, you are the master of two worlds, you have the freedom to live!

Funny how these things work.

Petition asking Google to stop funding Science Denialist Alec

From Forecast the Facts:

Google’s motto is “Don’t Be Evil,” but it has recently been revealed that Google is secretly funding one of the worst climate-denier groups in the world: the fossil-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, which argues that global warming is good for America and fights to kill renewable energy standards. Google has been a corporate leader in fighting climate pollution. Its support for liars like ALEC is a glaring mistake.

ALEC denies global warming is causing glaciers to retreat or sea level to rise. They’ve even argued “substantial global warming is likely to be of benefit to the United States.”

Google chairman Eric Schmidt has said: “You can lie about the effects of climate change, but eventually you’ll be seen as a liar.”

Since Susan Molinari took over Google’s lobbying operations, the company has financed top members of the climate-denial machine, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and now ALEC. Tell Google: live up to your corporate values and don’t fund evil.

Here’s the petition.

Why I Don’t Edit Wikipedia

Every now and then I find a mistake in Wikipedia. Often, I note the mistake on one of my blogs or, more often, on my facebook page. Usually, somebody fixes it. But also, usually somebody tells me that I should just go and fix it because I can easily do that because Wikipedia is the people’s encyclopedia and everybody can fix it.

I don’t do that, and here’s why. There are actually three reasons. The first and least important reason is that making a change in Wikipedia is part of a community process in which the change I make may be unmade by someone else, or challenged. There’s nothing wrong with that … that process is how Wikipedia manages to get to a point where the articles (depending on the article) are reasonably accurate and useful. The problem is, I can’t tell in advance what that process is going to entail. I may make a change and it gets revised to be better. That’s good. But I also might make a change and find myself in the middle of a pre-existing fight (or a fight that emerges simply because I made the change) that I wasn’t planning on getting involved in, and once I’ve gotten involved in it … especially in the case where my change caused the fight … I’d have the responsibility to continue engagement. There would be a risk that a change I’d make would lead ultimately to a change I would be very much against if I don’t maintain my involvement. I don’t want to do that because I’m already engaged in more fights than I want to be engaged in.

Second, as a writer I like to write my own tuff. Other people can certainly critique or comment on the things I write (especially if it is on a blog where they can comment) but it is still my writing. I am perfectly happy with collaborative writing, and I’ve done plenty of that, but I don’t consider any involvement I’d have in Wikipedia collaborative unless I more fully engaged in it and became part of some sub-community maintaining certain pages. Again, I chose to not expend my energy in that particular area.

Third, although it seems to be easy to get involved in Wikipedia page writing, editing, and maintenance, I don’t think it is all that easy. The people who do it make it look easy, and I very much appreciate their efforts. But for me to assume that I can engage in this activity without learning to become effective, and backing up my inputs with a longer term commitment, is hubris. I’d be very happy to help any Wikipedia contributor working in an area where I have some expertise or knowledge by providing information I have at my fingertips. But, I think engagement in Wikipedia is a responsibility that involves some skill and knowledge and a longer term commitment which I’m not interested in doing at this time.

There is a fourth and less specific and less well articulated reason that I should mention. I think Wikipedia is great, but it also has the potential for messing up the information that is available on a certain topic. Since it is collaborative and often does not include the perspective of experienced experts on a topic, it can become too homogeneous and even in its treatment of sources. Here’s an example. If you try to find out in Wikipedia what the proper divisions of the geography of Africa are (what countries should be included in terms like “West Africa”, “Central Africa”, “East Africa” etc.) you’ll find, I think, something that you’ll never or only rarely see in an actual course, or module in a course, on the divisions of the continent, or in a standard textbook. This is, I think, because there are multiple government agencies or NGO’s, such as the US CIA, various units of the UN, and so on, that have taken the more traditional ways of dividing the continent and revised them significantly for their own purposes. These particularistic paradigms of division address institute-specific issues like which languages are spoken, where an agency has resources, or other large scale economic, political, or cultural issues that are useful for those specific organizations but that conflict with other requirements. The best overall geographical divisions are probably those that include a large number of factors and have a strong link to historical background, and also, that are relatively stable. In other words, there really is probably only ONE way to divide up a continent like Africa, and this way will have problems for every single division (should Rwananda be part of Central or East Africa?) but by having one single method, terms like East Africa, North Africa, etc. will have general utility. Last time I checked Wikipedia on this there was no single best method proposed, and none of the methods discussed were the classic method that I learned in school and that the vast majority of my colleagues in Anthropology and Geography actually use.

Thank you to all the people who actively engage in making Wikipedia so useful. But I’ll need to continue to use my current method: Suggesting changes or pointing out problems now and then, and hoping others with the skills and experience that I don’t have consider addressing those issues.