Catching Up – November 2010

I noticed recently that it’s been more than three months since I started this blog and much has happened. I was also looking at a calendar, thinking about what I want to blog about as the holidays and new year approach. So it seems like a good time to look back and follow up on a few of the subjects I’ve already written about.

  • Voter turnout on election day was not good. According to early statistics collected by George Mason University, fewer than half of eligible voters turned out in most states. My home state of New York had a dismal 34.1% turn-out. Sr Raimonde would not be pleased.
  • In October I wrote about using Gapminder desktop software to analyze the Human Development Index. This week the United Nations Development Programme issued a new Human Development Report, which I look forward to reading. (Another blog post in the future?)
  • My exploration of Gapminder was partly instigated by research on Chile and the remarkable mine rescue of October 13. As expected, the 33 miners and President Sebastian Piñera have become celebrities. President Piñera visited England where he received a hero’s welcome and met with Queen Elizabeth. Closer to (my) home, Edison Peña completed the New York City Marathon yesterday in five hours and 40 minutes, completing the race at a walk and favoring a sore knee–a remarkable accomplishment for a man whose chances of survival were looking slim three months ago.
  • Blog Action Day was a success. Bloggers around the world shared their perspectives on the importance of water. By their count there were 5,715 blog posts published in 143 countries and 41,265,174 people read them!
  • Liu Xiaobo did, indeed, receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Yet he remains in prison, reports say that his wife’s movements have been restricted, and it is uncertain who will accept the award on his behalf on December 10. China has issued another “warning,” this time to European governments. On a brighter note, the Nobel Prize has drawn attention to Liu and others who have had their freedom of speech restricted in China and elsewhere.
  • Election season also brought out a rash of social media misbehavior. Its bad enough when people behave badly, but some campaigns resorted to fake Twitter accounts and automated tweets generated by a “chatbot.” (This bears looking into…)

So that brings me up to date on recent developments. The weather here is getting chilly, although we’ve only had one light frost. Soon the holiday season will be upon us, then the new year. It’s a good time to look back and catch up.

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