EDITORIAL III – Arbitrary Day 2012

This year I decided to take part in Arbitrary Day. This event organised as an offshoot of Reddit. It involves people all over the world sending gifts to each other for no reason what so ever.

It is organised in a similar way to a Secret Santa. You sign up and are given a person’s profile. It is your job to buy that person a gift; based on the information on their profile, whatever else you can internet stalk about them, or just something completely random. Someone else is given your profile, and they in turn send you a gift. There are set checkpoints and checks performed to ensure nobody cheats or games the system, but it is generally an awesome way to get new and unexpected booty.

My parcel arrived yesterday from Amazon and I opened it with great excitement. This excitement was not undue, as I received three books; two I knew and already had designs on buying at some point and a third, which was somewhat of a novelty item, but nevertheless awesome.

[Fig.1] The box open with packing aids removed.

[Fig.2] Here you can see Mario’s annotations to me. It was cool to see what he thought.

I think it is awesome that I helped someone else discover a new book while they were shopping for me and the fact that I also gave a gift to someone else makes it doubly worthwhile. I’d just like to re-iterate, thank you Mario Vasquez, wherever you are, you made my week for sure.

The novelty book is “The Moustache Growers Guide” by Lucien Edwards. This is a gift book featuring tips on growing, shaping and styling a multitude of pogonotrophic wonders. It will join my growing collection of books that I have received on the subject, and while Mario is not the first, the thought is still very much appreciated. As an interesting note, in the handlebar subsection, under notable wearers, one Michael “Atters” Attree was listed. How he came to the light of our author in San Francisco remains a mystery but he can be seen featuring more heavily in last week’s coverage of the Chap Olympiad, found [HERE].

[Fig.3] The unpacked loot, laid out for inspection.

The first book is “Why Nations Fail” by Daron Acemoglu (a Professor of Economics at MIT) and James A Robinson (a Professor of Government at Harvard). The book outlines and convincingly argues that it is the isolation of political and economic power by institutions at the expense of wider involvement from the demography. It uses 400 years of history and a reference list that spans a dozen pages. It has received critical acclaim and is considered recommended reading for anyone with an interest in politics or economics. The blog associated with the book, run by the authors can be found [HERE] or they can be followed on twitter (@whynationsfail).

The second book is a part of “Geography” by Strabo, translated into English in 1917-1923 by Horace Leonard Jones, reprinted by Harvard University Press. I received Volume V which contains Books X, XI & XII, in original text and English opposite. This covers Greek Islands, Russia and Central Asia, and finally Anatolia. Strabo lived for 87 years spanning 64BC to 24AD. He effectively invented geography and particularly human geography. It is the most comprehensive study of the peoples of those regions at that time period in existence. While not directly useful to me immediately, the potential for historical contextualisation means it is a must for my growing library. And although heavy, it does make fascinating reading. You can read more about Strabo [HERE] and Geographica [HERE]. The other books contain the first written discussions of both fossil formation and volcanism.

With the fun and relatively small commitment I had to make to take part, I can only urge all of you to do the same. The next major exchange takes place around Halloween. Redditgifts, the site that organise the exchanges is [HERE], the live gallery of gifts people have received is [HERE] and the upcoming exchanges can be found [HERE].

Note: Reddit is an incredible place; it is a social content hub where your fellow users can vote on the merits of either your submission or your comments. There are subreddits for literally every single thing on this earth, and if it isn’t there yet, you can always start one. Reddit can be found [HERE] and Mashable.com [HERE] have a great beginners guide, found [HERE].

If you enjoyed this you can follow me in the sidebar or on twitter (@scientificmoust) to be notified when a new post pops up. You can also comment below.



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