Source: xkcd: Trapped
Posts Tagged ‘XKCD’
Source: xkcd: Earth Temperature Timeline
Randall Munroe shows the surface area of the planets and asteroids in the Solar System that are hard enough to walk on. Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus don’t count because they don’t have solid surfaces. If they did, their surfaces would be many times bigger than that whole map.
Randall Munroe, creator of the web comic xkcd, is a great creator of infographics. The chart above is a section of his new poster about money and its distribution. The list of billionaires is from last year’s Forbes. A lot of the names were unfamiliar to me, so I looked them up on Wikipedia.
Carlos Slim made his billions by buying the Mexican government telephone system at a bargain rate and jacking up phone rates.
Bill Gates, as almost everyone knows, is a founder of Microsoft.
Warren Buffett is an extremely successful investor/speculator in the stock market.
Bernard Arnault is a Frenchman who owns Louis Vuittron and other luxury goods companies.
Larry Ellison is founder of the Oracle software company.
Laksimi Mittai is CEO of the world’s largest steel company, which is based in India.
Amancio Ortega is a Spanish merchandiser of luxury clothing.
Eike Batista is a Brazilian mining and oil-and-gas magnate.
Mukesh Ambani is CEO of India’s Reliance Industries, who expanded the family textile business back into polyester fibers and then into the oil and gas industry.
Christy Walton is one of the heirs of Sam Walton, founder of the Wal-mart store chain.
I’m continually surprised at the number of people who know little and care less about events before they were born. Since I was 30 or so, I’ve been muttering to myself, “Kids these days! They think history began with the Kennedy assassination.” “…with Watergate.” “with the Reagan administration.” “…with the Monica Lewinsky scandal.” “…with the 9/11 attacks.”
Historical knowledge gives you a frame of reference for understanding the present, as well as providing a reminder that things weren’t always the way they were today. Without knowledge of history and culture, I would be at the mercy of the advertising, propaganda and the mass media. If I didn’t remember the Joe McCarthy era, or have knowledge of the internment of the Japanese during World War Two, Big Red Scare of the 1920s or the Alien and Sedition laws in the early days of the American republic, I might regard our present Homeland Security state as normal
My earliest historical memory is of World War Two. I don’t remember Pearl Harbor, but I remember patriotically collecting scrap paper and metal, and I do remember how my third grade class was given the day off in honor of V-E Day. My earliest memory of a political argument was from when I was in the sixth grade, and I argued for re-election of President Harry Truman against the challenger Thomas E. Dewey.
But World War Two didn’t occur merely because Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo were evil people. It had its roots in World War One and the blood-and-soil nationalism of the 19th century. Truman and Dewey didn’t come out of nowhere. They were the political heirs of Franklin Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover, of the Great Depression and New Deal, and of the conflicts of the Populist and Progressive eras around the turn of the previous century.
It wouldn’t be reasonable to expect everyone to be as fascinated with history as I am. But I continually find people who consider themselves to be highly educated who are ignorant of basic historical facts. I wonder whether this historical amnesia is distinctively American or whether it is universal in the modern world.
Click on xkcd for cartoons and occasional infographics like the one above.