Twister Sifter is carrying a great compilation of maps with some extra information on them. Several of them have been featured on this blog before, but not even close to all of them. I particularly like the map above, showing the most common surnames by country in Europe, and the one below, which shows where different writing systems are used around the world. For both, click to embiggen.
40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World [TwisterSifter]
A group of researchers from Oxford University has measured which articles on Wikipedia are the most controversial around the world. They based their measurement on the frequency with which authors undo each others changes compared to the total number of changes on an article. The list doesn’t really have any surprises…well, maybe one:
1. George W Bush
4. List of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. employees
5. Global Warming
7. United States
9. Race and intelligence
The 10 Most Controversial Wikipedia Topics Around the World [Gizmodo]
Ireland-based graphic designers The Project Twins have created a great set of images illustrating 26 very unusual English words, one for each letter of the alphabet. Pictured above is cacodemonomania, or the pathological belief that one is inhabited by an evil spirit. Below is the German-looking zugzwang, which is a position in which any decision or move will result in problems.
A-Z of Unusual Words [The Project Twins]
The New York Times is carrying a transcript of author George Saunders’s convocation address to the class of 2013 at Syracuse University. It’s a beautiful piece.
What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.
George Saunders’s Advice to Graduates [NYTimes]
Writing in Forbes magazine, Steve Denning discusses the origins of what he terms ‘the world’s dumbest idea’: Milton Friedman’s notion that the sole purpose of an enterprise is to make money for its shareholders.
The success of the article was not because the arguments were sound or powerful, but rather because people desperately wanted to believe. At the time, private sector firms were starting to feel the first pressures of global competition and executives were looking around for ways to increase their returns. The idea of focusing totally on making money, and forgetting about any concerns for employees, customers or society seemed like a promising avenue worth exploring, regardless of the argumentation.
In fact, the argument was so attractive that, six years later, it was dressed up in fancy mathematics to become one of the most famous and widely cited academic business articles of all time. In 1976, Finance professor Michael Jensen and Dean William Meckling of the Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester published their paper in the Journal of Financial Economics entitled “Theory of the Firm: Managerial Behavior, Agency Costs and Ownership Structure.”
Underneath impenetrable jargon and abstruse mathematics is the reality that whole intellectual edifice of the famous article rests on the same false assumption as Professor Friedman’s article, namely, that an organization is a legal fiction which doesn’t exist and that the organization’s money is owned by the stockholders.
Even better for executives, the article proposed that, to ensure that the firms would focus solely on making money for the shareholders, firms should turn the executives into major shareholders, by affording them generous compensation in the form of stock. In this way, the alleged tendency of executives to feather their own nests would be mobilized in the interests of the shareholders.
The Origin of ‘The World’s Dumbest Idea’: Milton Friedman [Forbes]
A declassified mission transcript of the Apollo 10 mission contains one section where the astronauts argue about who’s responsible for the turd floating through the capsule.
Mission Transcript [via]