Irene Damage in Vermont

Route 4 Damage in Vermont - courtesy of Mansfield Heliflight

While we lucked out with Irene where I am in the Mid-Hudson Valley, Central Vermont took it hard. If we hadn’t gotten out in advance of the storm, we’d probably only be getting out of the state now. Facebook became a makeshift disaster recovery system in a really fascinating way (someone should really study the emergence of that, it’s pretty damn impressive).

There are lots of pictures of this event, but these Helicopter Survey images are some of the most striking, as you can see the damage at scale.

Observe the Moon at Vassar Farms

Slightly over a month away, I’m starting to gear up on one of the biggest MHAA events of the year. Last year we had about 100 guests come to our Observe the Moon event at Vassar Farms, so I’m hoping we’ll top that this year.

More details on the MHAA website. Also, if you are in the area, please consider printing out a couple of fliers and sticking them up where they’ll be seen.

The Seeds of Psychohistory?

Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series was based on the idea that in the future overall societal events, like the rise and fall of governments, could be modeled mathematically.

Folks at the New England Complex Systems Institute have proposed a paper that looks at global food prices as compared to food riots and unrest, which in many cases directly preceeded much larger overthrows of governments. It’s a really interesting read.

This is not yet peer-reviewed published, so take that with the appropriate caution. The paper makes a point about the fact that many countries no longer have much of a local food system, which means they are directly impacted by global food price index. Two major statistical factors in the rise of global food prices are cited as commodity speculators and US corn ethanol policy.

I encourage interested people to read the whole paper, available on arXiv.