Meet the Necessities

Food, clothing and shelter don’t really cover it anymore.  It being the necessities, those things we cannot live without.  For many people, survival has been boiled down to one thing.  Actually, it’s two things, but we take one for granted such that it is rarely mentioned.

Death and Taxes might be inevitable, but to stay in the game you’ve got to have a combo more akin to Breath and Cash.  Or, as better put in Ape Con Myth’s first blog post:

Meet The_Necessities_b

There’s the simplified version. Now let’s go the other direction with it…


That’s more like it. Okay, it’s 2010 AD. Civilization has had a few thousand years. How are we doing in fulfilling these needs?


… We’ve got some work to do.

[Yes, we do.  And now in 2012, with the Supreme Court considering the fate of one piece of this puzzle, Ape Con Myth’s live redesign is paving the way to take our study to the next level.  How do we stop wasting our time struggling and find out what happens when we really dedicate some time to living?]

Living Outside of the Box

io9 put it best when they said, “Drop whatever you’re doing and watch this.”

That’s not a movie, it’s reality.  In this case, the reality of a Solid Rocket Booster launching the Space Shuttle.  But what about our reality?  Why are the Solid Rocket Boosters having all the fun?  Ask your representative that.  Or even better, yourself.

Reality: It’s far more interesting than anyone is letting on.

We Now Pause for Station Identification


Here’s what the Ape Con Myth home page looked like back in early 2008…

It started with a list of changes, a general vow to say as little as possible until more data could be studied and ACM’s first major project focused on sketching out the big idea of it all, Reality is a Puzzle.

Two years later, ACM expanded its operations, adding a blog to execute the same process from Reality is a Puzzle, this time with the world’s data being the puzzle pieces and the chalkboards representing ACM’s various efforts to put the pieces together.

Now Ape Con Myth is on the verge of another expansion.  Not only will ACM’s headquarters be relocating this month, but a live redesign will begin next week right here in front of your eyes.

The next time you see the site it won’t look like this.

What happens next?  Stay tuned to find out…

Everyone’s Doing It

posted in: Library, Smog | 0

Google’s new privacy policy kicked in this month and who really knows what we are supposed to be doing now…

Everything above might be too much, but doing nothing probably isn’t enough.  Even if we’re still just guessing at how this is going to come back to bite us.  (Or perhaps we are all just sharing?)

The problem is these security and privacy issues require more time and thought than most people are giving to information they are actually interested in.  The risks can seem far-fetched and the benefits are…  overwhelming.  As soon as number three on the list of Six Tips to Protect Your Search Privacy encourages you not to log into Google, … it just stops making sense.  Who wants to face such a fundamental disconnect while they are trying to surf the web?!

[Joy of Tech via Pensador Louco on Diaspora]

Untitled Minimum Wage Post

Every once in a while you run into a page on Wikipedia that never quite came together.  It’s not a stub, but it’s far from complete.  ‘Economic issues in the United States‘ is one such page.  The edits still trickle in, but the page remains adrift.  The section on Cost of living is a particularly interesting read, starting off in one direction only to have the wheels fall off at the end.



Minimum wage is one of those things, but why?  Because the economy is a murky pool where it is easy to make correlations and often impossible to prove anything, especially what any one value will do to everything else when changed.  It’s perfect for humans since it allows everyone to make their point, even if no one really knows what is happening.

As for the first part, yes, paying employees more is one possible thing that might lead a business to raise prices.  But so are gas prices and food prices and prices in general.  Prices don’t wait until their year-end review to find out if they got a bump.  They go up and down as they please, but mainly up because the only measure is more.  There’s always someone raising prices and therefore always someone to point at and blame for your prices going up too.  It makes sense that wages get a turn, unless you want everyone to max out their credit and lose their home.

Now for that missing citation.  Would you say the minimum wage has not kept up with inflation over the past 30 years?

Almost, except for that first part there, the 80’s, where it didn’t at all and then the second part where it never caught up to the levels seen in the 60’s and 70’s.

The funny part though is how much drama surrounds the issue, once you start looking at the numbers.  Of the 139 million people employed in the civilian labor force in 2010, only 4.4 million (3%) were making at or below the minimum wage.  “Only 4.4M” because when the subject of minimum wage is brought up, you’d think the idea was to burn every business down.

Look closer and that 4.4M includes 2.1M workers aged 16-24 and 2.7M part-timers.  Look again and 2M work in leisure and hospitality (1.6M of that food services), 764K in retail and 425K in everyone’s favorite, education and health services.  Meanwhile, there’s all the cities and states that have set their own standards for living wages (some higher, some lower).

The federal minimum wage is a far more specific issue than it would seem and, apparently, what might be most at issue is the price of cheap, fast food.  If those kids didn’t make minimum wage, McDonald’s might cost as much as real food.  … Oh, never mind, it already costs more.  Two wrongs don’t make a right, but they can really turn out a profit.

In the end, if Wall Street can complain about their pay, everyone can.  (And perhaps they’re all right.)

“Yyouu hhave ssaidd itt!”

posted in: Maps, Smog | 1

What would it look like if you took NASA’s Earth at Night image

…and subtracted Facebook’s Friendship Map?

Artist Ian Wojtowicz has the answer with his UnFacebook World Map.  Click the image for the enlarged version, which is quite beautiful.

Suddenly the first world is covered in darkness.  Darkness from the shadows of a walled garden?  It kind of looks like The Black Thing from Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time

“But what is it? Calvin demanded.  “We know that it’s evil, but what is it?”
“Yyouu hhave ssaidd itt!” Mrs. Which’s voice rang out.  “Itt iss Eevill. Itt iss thee Ppowers of Ddarrkknesss!”
“But what’s going to happen?” Meg’s voice trembled.  “Oh, please, Mrs. Which, tell us what’s going to happen!”
“Wee wwill cconnttinnue tto ffightt!”

While that is an overly dramatic and alarmist way to look at it, it will be interesting to see what happens when Facebook goes public and their first concern becomes their new, overly excited shareholder’s expectations that a great deal of money can be made off of all these friendships.  …  No, just kidding.  Facebook isn’t monetizing friendship, just your life.

Don’t forget to Like Ape Con Myth on Facebook!

[Maps via/by Ian Wojtowicz via The Atlantic; UnFacebook World Map poster]