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What Is This Weird Balloon For

Archive for August 2010

on necessities

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He’s the most isolated man in the world:

He’s an Indian, and Brazilian officials have concluded that he’s the last survivor of an uncontacted tribe. They first became aware of his existence nearly 15 years ago and for a decade launched numerous expeditions to track him, to ensure his safety, and to try to establish peaceful contact with him. In 2007, with ranching and logging closing in quickly on all sides, government officials declared a 31-square-mile area around him off-limits to trespassing and development.
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It’s meant to be a safe zone. He’s still in there. Alone.

How does he live?

He eats mostly wild game, which he either hunts with his bow-and-arrow or traps in spiked-bottom pitfalls. He grows a few crops around his huts, including corn and manioc, and often collects honey from hives that stingless bees construct in the hollows of tree trunks. Some of the markings he makes on trees have suggested to indigenous experts that he maintains a spiritual life, which they’ve speculated might help him survive the psychological of being, to a certain extent, the last man standing in a world of one.

Meanwhile, back in America, most people think that a landline phone, a clothes dryer, and air conditioning are necessities of life.

We will not soon be stalking elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller Center.

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Written by geek

21/08/2010 at 1:32 am

Posted in interesting

mathematicians

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There are two types of mathematicians, those who like analysis and those who like algebra. How do you tell which type a given mathematician is?

Watch them eat corn on the cob.

Written by geek

21/08/2010 at 1:26 am

Posted in interesting

on progress

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In order to save money, some shipping companies have adopted “super-slow steaming”. This means travelling slower than top speed in order to save money on fuel. The result is that it takes longer for these ships to carry a load of cargo from China to the US than it did in 1850.

Things don’t always get better.

Written by geek

15/08/2010 at 7:59 pm

Posted in economy, interesting

priorities

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Paul Krugman points out the silliness of the Social Security debate.

Spending on war goes from 3% of GDP in 2001 to 4.2% today.
No big deal.

Social Security is projected to go from 4.8% of GDP today to 6% of GDP in 2030.
It’s a major crisis!

Written by geek

15/08/2010 at 5:34 pm

shark attack!

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From an infographic about shark attacks, the factoid of the day:

You are more likely to be killed by falling coconuts than by a shark attack.

There has to be a movie idea there somewhere…

Written by geek

07/08/2010 at 6:31 pm

Posted in interesting

justice in brooklyn

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Tracking down a stolen bike:

Then all of a sudden the cops got a call and dashed off, the uniformed officer making the shape of a gun with his fingers at me (!), and I sat on my front stoop for a while, and then they came back a few minutes later with even more undercover cops. And there I was, hanging with the cops on my front stoop, PLOTTING OUR STING.

Written by geek

06/08/2010 at 7:22 pm

Posted in interesting

the end of american mobility

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From the Financial Times:

Alexis de Tocqueville, the great French chronicler of early America, was once misquoted as having said: “America is the best country in the world to be poor.” That is no longer the case. Nowadays in America, you have a smaller chance of swapping your lower income bracket for a higher one than in almost any other developed economy – even Britain on some measures. To invert the classic Horatio Alger stories, in today’s America if you are born in rags, you are likelier to stay in rags than in almost any corner of old Europe.

From the Post:

Labor mobility has nearly ground to a halt in the past two years, and policymakers are increasingly worried that the slowdown is not just a symptom of the nation’s economic struggles but also a barrier to overcoming them.

With many people locked in homes by underwater mortgages, only 1.6 percent of Americans moved between states in a one-year period that ended in March 2009 — a labor stagnation not seen in half a century.

America: you can’t move up and you can’t move out.

Written by geek

01/08/2010 at 3:39 am

Posted in economy