Friday, January 31, 2014

Violent Death in the Workplace

The trend persists...

Click on chart to enlarge

The 2012 BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) CFOI (Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries) shows the downward trend in the number of violent deaths in the workplace continues.  "Violence and other injuries by persons or animals" accounted for 17% (as in 2011) of an slightly smaller quantity of occupational fatalities.

Click on chart to enlarge

As in years past Type I - Criminal offenders and Suicide account for the bulk of the tragedies.  Type II, III, and IV continue to garner most of the headlines.  

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Not Enough Time in the Day

A five minute commute is changing my podcast listening habits...

Living all of two miles from work has shortened my daily drive time significantly.  Even at 2x a fella cannot get through the introduction of his formerly favorite podcasts, so some pruning was in order.

American Freethought - Religion

Astronomy Cast - Science

Big Picture Science - Science

Brain Science Podcast - Science

Ideas with Paul Kennedy - Ideas

LSE Public Lectures & Events - Ideas (gone is the very similar RSA podcast)

Monster Talk - Science

On Being with Krista Tippett - Religion

On the Media - Ideas

Point of Inquiry - Ideas (also gone is its doppelganger For Good Reason)

QuackCast - Science

Rationally Speaking - Ideas

Reasonable Doubts - Religion

Reasonable Faith with William Lane Craig - Religion

Skeptiko -Science at the Tipping Point - Critical thinking, or how not too

Skeptoid - Critical thinking

Unbelievable with Justin Brierly - Religion

Gone also are TED (which really deserves to be watched rather than merely listened to) and PopTech.

I regret most of all the deletion of Skeptics Guide to the Universe, but they have totally "jumped the shark" with some of their newer commercial interruptions.  I will continue to make time to read Steve Novella's excellent NeuroLogica Blog.

I still use iTunes to to manager my podcasts.

When I finally move into a cabin in the pines on the outskirts of Prescott, Arizona, I predict my drive time will lengthen, I can repopulate my iPhone, and order will be restored to my podcast universe.  Time will tell.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

What Do Marcus Aurelius, the Prophet Muhammed, and Karen Armstrong Have in Common?

Their books, and many others, are on my 2014 reading list...

If you have not read while eating croissant and sipping ca phe den in a little cafe in Hanoi, you should.

My 2014 reading list is coming along nicely...

The Ghost Brigades, by John Scalzi

The Divine Comedy, by Dante Aligheri

The Book of Enoch, translated by R.H. Charles.  This is where almost all your angelology and more than a few screenplays come from.

The Other End of Time, by Frederick Pohl.  Unreadable...

Saturn, by Ben Bova

Old Man's War, by John Scalzi

The Ware Tetrology, by Rudy Rucker

How Jesus Became God, by Bart Ehrman.  His best to date. 

Zero History, by William Gibson

The Philosophy of Spinoza, edited by Joseph Ratner

Paradise Lost, by John Milton.  Whew!

Did Jesus Rise From The Dead, by William Lane Craig. This eBook is more of a monograph, but he calls it a book so I'm claiming it.  Still, it's fideist fluff.

The Tank Killers, by Harry Yeide

Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, by Bart Ehrman

Escape From Hell, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

Value and Virtue in a Godless Universe, by Erik J. Wielenberg

The Gun, by C.J. Chivers

Archduke Franz Ferdinand Lives!: A World without World War I, by Richard Ned Lebow. This was a goodreads giveaway. Lebow's assessment of first order effects were pretty good but as with all such alternative histories the second order impacts of small changes are anyone's guess. It would benefit from a different style of presentation that made more clear when the author was moving from historical to alternative futures.

From Babylon to Bethlehem: The Jewish People from the Exile to the Messiah, by H.L. Ellison

3001: The Final Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Tough slogging...

The Engines of God, by Jack McDevitt

The Radicalism of the American Revolution, by Gordon S. Wood

Perdido Street Station, by China MiƩville is mesmerizing, nauseating, and transgressive; a disjoint admixture of Terry Gilliam, William Burroughs, and H.P. Lovecraft. Steam-punk, science-fiction, mytho-poetic, horror-fantasy novels aren't my usual thing but China Mieville is so viciously skilled a writer he makes it work even for me.

Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius

Paul Was Not a Christian: The Original Message of a Misunderstood Apostle, by Pamela Eisenbaum. Fun stuff. "Paul Was Not a Christian" should be on every Christian theology nerd's reading list.

The Quran. Must be much, much better in the original Arabic.

Encountering Evil: Live Options in Theodicy, by Stephen T. Davis. I'm not even a Christian, or even a theist, and still it gives me hope to see these philosophers of religion going at it all "hammer and tongs" about a concept so central to their respective theologies. Wondrous stuff!

The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions, by Karen Armstrong is a well-written analysis of the origins of many of the world's current religions (and a few, like Zoroastrianism, which we have not heard from in a while). The organizing idea, that there was an Axial Age when these traditions solidified at the same time in Greece, the Levant, India, and China, comes across as a little strained, mostly coincidentally, and largely unrelated.

Jesus, Humanity, and the Trinity, by Kathryn Tanner Have you ever noticed how much theology is mostly about harmonizing irreconcilable ideas you already believe? Neither especially systematic nor particularly brief.

Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge, by Terence McKenna

Derrida and the End of History, by Stuart Sim

Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos, by Robert D. Kaplan is thought-provoking and crisply readable.

Moses and Monotheism, by Sigmund Freud Has the theory, that Moses was an Egyptian priest under Ikhnaton who led an Hebrew Exodus (along with his retainers who became the Levites) when monotheism was repudiated in his homeland, been treated seriously by anyone else since? What an intriguing , if pseudo-scientific, notion, but I should think it would have gotten more play if the idea was supported by more recent scholarship.

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb is at once chewy, astringent, refreshing, and off-putting. I'd probably like it even more if I understood it better.

A Layman's Guide to Protestant Theology, by William E. Hordern is concise and informative review of the topic into the late 1960s (and has anything else changed much since then?). Very accessible.

Sunday, January 12, 2014


The number of unread books on these shelves...

Of them 52 are on religious, psychological, or philosophical themes. The rest are divided between hunting, fighting, biography, and history generally, seasoned with a smattering of fiction. I had a low energy afternoon while I continued to recover from jet lag so I rearranged my second room and reshuffled my bookshelves. The bookshelves from left to right: 1) read, 2) top 1-1/2 shelves unread, 3) top four shelves unread, 4) all unread. At my current rate of not quite 50 books a year I've got four years of reading...if I don't buy any more.

UPDATE: My Goodreads account lists 484 books in my To-Read list, 1118 in the Read column. Both lists continue to grow...

Monday, January 6, 2014

Almost Home

I've been out of the office, out of town, and out of the country...

In Vietnam even I put sugar in my coffee!

My daughter Cassandra currently lives and works in Hanoi, Vietnam.  I had not seen her since March of 2013 so a visit was in order.  Her mother and brother went to see her in June.  Cassie and I reprised several sights and sought out some new ones as well.

Hanoi - Bun Bo Nam Bo, my son Erik's favorite restaurant in Hanoi, is quite the eatery.  They serve only one dish - Bun Bo - which is a little like soup and salad all in the same bowl.  Bia Hanoi, while a pilsner like all beer in Vietnam, is tasty, cheap, and safe to drink.

Sapa - In the extreme north of the country along the border with China.  Cold at night, cool and damp in the morning. Pleasant in the afternoon, in the sun at least.  It snowed there the day before we arrived.

Halong Bay - on the northeast coast, again close to the border with China, is a popular getaway.

Hue - was the traditional capital of Vietnam and the scene of brutal fighting during the 1968 Tet Offensive.

Hoi An - A quiet coastal village south of Danang.  We ate at all three stores operated by Ms Trinh Diem Vy, the owner of Morning Glory Restaurant.  Each was delicious in different ways.

The Champa ruins at My Son - Are ruins because the US bombed a Viet Cong weapons depot there in 1969.  The Vietnamese are not fond of the B52.

Saigon - Bia Saigon is good too...and only $0.60 a bottle.

Mekong Delta at Can Tho - Beautiful and a little spooky. I know men who suffered badly there a generation ago.

The Cao Dai Holy See - The Cao Dai religion is a 20th century Vietnamese syncretism of Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and others.  They gather for prayer every six hours, 24/7. While very colorful and accompanied by wonderful music and singing, it seems a little wrapped up in legalisms. Guess they're not alone in that. Never been challenged by temple monkeys outside any other congregations' houses of worship though...

The tunnels at Cu Chi - The (notorious or heroic) underground fighting complex served as the transfer point between the terminus of the Ho Chi Minh Highway in Cambodia and the outskirts of Saigon.  Watch your step!

Ancient Angkor at Siem Reap, Cambodia - We also visited the Bakong temple in the Rolous Group east of Siem Reap. I circumambulated each of its five levels as I ascended. Cassie went straight to the top and sat in the shade to wait for me.  There's a lesson there for somebody.

Our itinerary was a mix of cultural, historical, religious, and political.  Vietnam is nominally a communist country in which everyone owns a scooter and runs a little shop.

This is not the Southeast Asia I grew up watching every night on the CBS Evening News.  It has not been so for a long time.  

Fascinating place, fascinating people.