So, to vote or not to vote? There’s a quaint hypothesis that low turnouts mean no mandate. There are no (zero) examples of a leadership being bothered or limited by this. Sadly, there are plenty of examples of post-election attacks on those perceived to have voted disloyally. Ideally, what even a despot for life (or until the next coup) ought to do
is at least analyze the raw votes. It is an inexpensive and reasonably accurate way to see where economic policies are falling short. A voter boycott in Venezuela, for example, resulted in a Chavist legislature so that even in Capriles had been allowed to serve as President it is not obvious if he could have done anything meaningful. Even with a cooperative legislature and a fair judiciary it is very unclear whether Capriles could turn around Venezuela. The economic and social damage is so profound and widespread that most scenarios only differ slightly in how quickly the country collapses. A great pity as Venezuela should be a paradise.
The same question can be asked by a voter in Iran – does it matter who is President? It is of little or no interest who holds what cabinet post if the roads are not getting fixed, inflation is double digits and there are food shortages. In practice, the President of Iran is not really the Commander in Chief of any forces, nor does he actually set policy. What any Iranian leaders should do is take advantage of there being one hundred million cell phones by polling frequently so that problems that matter to citizens (and that can be solved) get solved. After all, if a religiously inspired country has substantial numbers of citizens who cannot pray properly because of poor health, poor education or poor infrastructure that’s hardly a success.
In any country a voter needs to have a moderate amount of confidence that his or her vote
will be counted accurately. The statistical evaluation of not only the 2009 but two previous elections should not make any Iranian voter feel positive in this regard. On the other hand, it is not obvious just how actual power to do anything the President and Legislature really have.
Iran needed and continues to need increased foodstuff production, better water, improved sewage treatment and modern communications. Then there are ports, roads and railroads to be modernized. A forward-looking government would also be aggressively pursuing an international magnetically levitated train system to move not only freight, but also pilgrims to Mecca and other shrines.
At present, Iran is not suffering from millions of internally displaced citizens as is the case in Syria and the Central African Republic. That said, problems with poverty and unemployment and substandard medical care remain formidable. While it has been historically profitable to be a crossroads for the East-West trade, an associated cost is that such a culture has to be wary of epidemics from both directions.
A lenient statistician might be less critical of a former colony with a recent history of despots ruling until the next coup. But Iran is one of the senior civilizations on the planet and should be setting an example for the rest of us. One of the reasons Cyrus was known, justly, as The Great was he understood the velocity of money: he would make more and his people would live better lives if he reinvested rather than piled up plunder.
One of the more long-standing mysteries in geology is where is the crater that accounts for the tektites and microtektites that make up the Australasian Strewn Field. So far, known craters from that time are too small and too far away. I’ll put some material on the topic in another post but for now my guess would be a crater comparable to Chesapeake in size somewhere offshore of Vietnam.
It has been hoped that studies of the North American Tektite Strewn Field would help with attempts to locate where the Australasian crater might be. There are at least two major problems: (1) Chesapeake is old – a lot has changed in 35 million years (2) there are at least two dramatically different classes of tektites. For Geogiaites (tektites found in Georgia; see below) there is even Meteorite Association of Georgia tektite webpage.
Then we have Bediasites found mostly in Texas
all diameters (numbers inside parentheses) are in miles
Ames, Iowa (9.5) – oil and gas
Avak, Alaska (7.2) – gas
Barringer, Arizona (0.7) – silica
Beyenchine-Salaatin, Russia (4.8) – pyrites
Boltysh, Ukraine (14.4) – oil shale
Carswell, Canada (23.4) – uranium
Charlevoix, Canada (34.4) – ilmenite
Crooked Creek, Missouri (4.2) – lead, zinc
Decaturville, Missouri (3.6) – lead, zinc
Ilyinets, Ukraine (2.7) – agate
Kaluga, Russia (9.0) – mineral water
Kara, Russia (39) – diamond, zinc
Logoisk, Belarus (10.2) – amber, calcium phosphate
Lonar, India (1.1) – various salts
Manicouagan, Canada (60) – prospecting underway; already used for hydroelectricity
Marquez, Texas (13.2) – oil and gas
Obolon, Ukraine (9) – oil shale
Popigai, Russia (50) – diamonds
Puchzeh-Katunki, Russia (48) – diamond, zeolite
Ragozinka, Russia (5.4) – diatomite
Red Wing Creek, North Dakota (5.4) – oil and gas
Ries, Germany (14.4) – lignite, bentonite, moldavites
Rotmistrovka, Ukraine (1.6) – oil shale
Saint Martin, Canada (24) – gypsum, anhydrite
Saltpan, South Africa (0.7) – various salts
Serpent Mound, Ohio (4.8) – lead, zinc
Siljan, Sweden (33) – lead, zinc
Slate islands, Canada (18) – gold
Steen RIver, Canada (15) – oil
Sudbury, Canada (150 – maybe more) – copper, nickel, platinum
Ternovka, Ukraine (7.2) – iron, uranium
Tookoonooka, Alaska (33) – oil
Ust’-Kara, Russia (15) – diamond
Vredefort, South Africa (180) – gold, uranium
Zapadnaya, Ukraine (2.4) – diamond
Zhamanshin, Kazakstan (8.1) – bauxite, impact glass
About half the gold ever produced has come from Vredefort mines. The mines have been productive for over 100 years. For every dollar of gold, a bonus of about 10 cents worth of uranium.
So far, Sudbury, despite questions about how exactly it formed (and was subsequently deformed), remains a world-class source for several ores. It would be reasonable to expect that the Chesapeake melt sheet would be 2500 cubic miles.