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     Wednesday Apr 18 12:01 PM




I came across this graphic recently ("image of the day" doesn't mean I'm restricted to photos) and I found it quite interesting. Roughly speaking, it's a graph of governments killing people - including wars where people are sent to kill other people.

For one thing, it's a nice visual display of quantitative information that would make Edward R. Tufte proud. (Sorry. Only information designers know who Edward R. Tufte is; his books on displaying information graphically are considered the Strunk and White of visual design.)

It shows you this information in a way that helps you understand it. It doesn't show you everything, and it does have problems, but it gives you a fresh sense of what is going on.

For example, there are a few spikes on the graph where there was a big killing all at once. But more often, even in the case where there aren't wars, the killing begins, proceeds at the same pace for 4-5 years, and then finds a new pace.

I had no idea that the "noise level" of people being killed worldwide hasn't been below 500,000 per year since the 20s.

That there never was a peaceful time in Stalin and Mao's regimes. They took over, began killing and didn't stop until they were gone.

Also, apparently in our modern world, one dictator doesn't come in and start massive purges. Instead, they kill under their limit - not enough to get noticed, perhaps? So we have a slow escalation of smaller atrocities adding up to a pretty large number of deaths.

It's hopeful to think that we have entered a new era in the world, where communications technologies allow us to share news of atrocities and somehow cut them off. Hopeful to think that maybe the big spikes of the past are not going to happen again. That maybe history does move forward and is not cyclic. That the 21st century graph is not going to look like this. That modern war is more like desert storm than ww2, that nations won't suffer a loss of a tenth of their male population in them.

And hopeful to say that the western hemisphere seems only marginally related and that it could never happen here. But I know that I could just as easily replace the word "hopeful" with the word "naive".




  Wednesday Apr 18 08:45 PM

Re: 4/18: Killing in the 20th Century

Quote:
Originally posted by Tony Shepps
I came across this graphic recently ("image of the day" doesn't mean I'm restricted to photos) and I found it quite interesting. Roughly speaking, it's a graph of governments killing people - including wars where people are sent to kill other people. ...
The graph would have indicated something rather striking if it included massacres in Rwanda and Brueni while massacres also continued in Sudan, Ethiopia, Congo, Liberia, etc. IOW we saw massive death in Kuwait but little in Central Africa - even thought the spike on that graph should have shot over 2m after 1995.


  Wednesday Apr 18 10:24 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by Tony Shepps
For one thing, it's a nice visual display of quantitative information that would make Edward R. Tufte proud. (Sorry. Only information designers know who Edward R. Tufte is; his books on displaying information graphically are considered the Strunk and White of visual design.)
Was Tufte the person who designed the chart of the losses from the French invasion of Russia during the War of 1812 (large ribbon of French go in, small trickle come back out)?


  Thursday Apr 19 11:38 AM

In a way, and this is something I'm just throwing out there which will probably be blasted, it would seem that such events as Stalin's, Mao's, and Hitler's regimes were needed.

Now think about it. For life, there must be death. It's inevitable. It's actually required for the continued survival of the species. When man first began to walk the Earth, they didn't have many defenses. As such, they were prey to predator attacks, natural phenomena(storms, natural disasters), and relatively simple diseases.

Fast forward through several billion years of development and you come to a point in time where humanity has conquered it's three old foes mentioned above through technology to predict the storms, medicine to combat the diseases, and strong defenses against predatorial animals. But, because of the life-death rule, the storms, diseases, and predators evolved as well.

Now, we are fighting ebola, AIDS, anthrax, and other such horrors the way we once did the flu. We are scrambling to predict hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes that have been striking more and more randomly. And above all, we are fighting a new predator: ourselves.

Our instinctive desires for power, wealth, and other such things, long repressed by the necessity to work with our common man to survive, have emerged as the new threat to our continued existence. One man, with the right eqipment in the right place at the right time can kill anywhere from one hundred to one hundred million of his human bretheren.

This cycle will continue until and unless some outside intervention occurs, be it divine, extraterrestial, or whatever you feel. Because there must be death, and there must be life. One cannot exist without the other as things stand now. Any hope that we can create a utopia on our own is naive, at best. However, the fact that some people will not rest until they find a way to prove my statement wrong, gives me hope.

The core of this world isn't superhot metal. It's a paradox.

~Mike



  Thursday Apr 19 11:51 AM

Good catch Rich, that was in fact Tufte, or at least he publicized it.



  Friday Apr 20 09:18 AM

Tufte and Napoleon

I actually have that poster hanging on my wall at the moment. It isn't by Tufte, but he has used it for many years as a definitive example of excellent display of quantitative information.

The image shows the path of Napoleon's men through Russia, and it manages (IIRC) to display six or seven variables simultaneously, including their route, the temperature, the number of Napoleon's men remaining, the dates.... the list goes on.

-drin



  Monday Apr 23 01:51 PM

True the population needs to be kept in check.. but as we <b>have</b> seen, it can be achieved by (mostly) education of women. I won't go into details we all know them.. see Western Europe, parts of U.S. (immigration keeps the rise, not birthrate) and some parts of Asia.

Will we see Hitler-like situations which will lead to population reduction?.. I tend to think that we probably will. Same goes for Stalin's "approach".


Recommend reading 2nd one (url) in original Russian if possible.



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