Pitch Interactive, a data visualization shop in Berkeley, California, has produced an interactive infographic illustrating the results of US drone attacks in Pakistan. I can't embed it, but clicking on the link will take you to a 90-seconds chronological overview. Clicking on the ATTACKS, VICTIMS, NEWS, and INFO links in the upper left corner of the infographic adds background information and sources. Less than 2% of the victims are high-profile targets. The rest are civilians, children and alleged combatants. This is the story of every known drone strike and victim in Pakistan. Since 2004, the US has been practicing in a new kind of clandestine military...

Here is the final instalment of my four posts on the NDP government’s mistakes and successes. Mistakes here and here. Successes, part one, here, part two below. Between now and election day, I’ll post a selection of reader responses, more of which are always welcome. 4. Wilderness protection Two hundred years from now, few Nova Scotians will know whether the provincial government balanced its books in 2013, or how much power rates increased between 2009 and 2013, or even who Darrell Dexter was. But they will know that a significant amount of Nova Scotia’s spectacular wilderness areas was permanently protected for the...

On Sunday, I posted a short iPhone video of an osprey nest next to an 800 kw wind turbine at River John, Nova Scotia, to make the tongue-in-cheek point that someone forgot to tell the osprey about the perils of infrasound and shadow flicker. The point was tongue-in-cheek in the sense that I have no way of knowing whether young birds successfully fledged from the nest, but serious in the sense that I think health arguments against wind turbines are largely spurious. Bruce Wark, former reporter, CBC radio producer, and King's journalism professor, thinks I overlooked the most obvious threat wind...

I enjoy Malcolm Gladwell's writing, and often feel I come away with fresh insights into the way the world works, as opposed to how it appears to work. But I will read Gladwell with more skepticism after reading a spectacular takedown in an unlikely blog called "Ask-a-Korean." If you have followed media coverage of the July 6 crash of Asiana Flight 214 at San Francisco Airport, you have doubtless heard speculation that Korea's culture of deference to authority, a culture deeply embedded in the Korean language, played a role in the crash. This theory owes much to Gladwell, who devoted a...

Patrick Smith's Ask the Pilot blog adds an astounding data point to the accident, which killed at least two people and injured many more, some very seriously. [T]his was the first multiple-fatality crash involving a major airline in North America since November, 2001. The streak has ended, but it lasted nearly twelve years, with some 20,000 commercial jetliners taking off and landing safely in this country every single day — an astonishing run. Is it perverse to suggest that Saturday’s accident, awful as it was, serves to underscore just how safe commercial flying has become? [Emphasis added] 20,000 x 365 days x...

A handful of my neighbours, falsely purporting to repesent the residents of Boularderie Island, noisely oppose a plan to put up a couple of wind turbines at Hillside, Boularderie, near Bras d'Or. Their arguments deserve scrutiny because of what they reveal about the logic underpinning the anti-wind movement. In a CBC interview this morning, a spokesperson for the NIMBYists pointed to an elderly lifelong Hillside resident who has grown distraught about the project, and worries it will render her unable to live out her years in the beautiful place she has always called home. Back in March, an Australian researcher cataloged every illness...

[Headline-related punchline at the end.] One reason behind my campaign [here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and most amusingly, here] to restore sanity to weather warnings and school cancellations is the tremendous cost these bureaucratic panic attacks impose on society. Every school cancellation begets a cascade of expensive waste: students missing school; taxpayers paying school employees not to work; parents losing work time to make last minute child-care arrangements; employers with missing or distracted workers; etc. Blogger Clark [NLN] at Popehat argues that Friday's unprecedented lockdown of commerce, transportation, and public events in Boston imposed a vastly greater cost with no...

In a prescient book published a quarter century ago, when few people had heard of the internet, Carolyn Marvin, a professor of communications at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication, catalogued the fear and loathing with which newspapers greeted the advent of the telegraph and the telephone. High on the list of perceived horrors was the inevitable moral degradation of women. Old media are still at it, constantly warning us to be very afraid of the perils lurking in the internet, computers, smart phones, cell phones, etc. The magazine Pacific Standard gamely took note of this handwringing today with an article...

How often has the US attacked targets in Pakistan with unmanned drones, and how many of those killed have been children, civilians, putative insurgents, or "high-value" military targets? The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has prepared an interactive graphic to help answer these questions, which you can try for yourself by clicking the screenshot below.   Definitely worth a look. The bureau summarizes the results: The justification for using drones to take out enemy targets is appealing because it removes the risk of losing American military, it's much cheaper than deploying soldiers, it's politically much easier to maneuver (i.e. flying a drone within Pakistan vs....

Do wind farms make some people sick? Or do false claims of a connection between wind farms and illness make people sick? The question arises because opponents of wind farms often contend they cause illness, but scientific studies have consistently found little or no evidence to support such a connection. [This report by Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health is typical.*] Now a team of public health researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia has collected every known public complaint of wind farm-induced illness in that country (those filed with the wind companies themselves, those filed with three government commissions, and those...