May 312012
 

24 hours, 70 workers, 1,440 minutes and 1,611 digit changes, all filmed in real time.

The entire 24 hour performance of Standard Time is available for purchase to run as a clock on your computer, iPhone or iPad.

Will they really make every change in time?  There’s only one way to find out.

[Artwork by Mark Formanek realized by Datenstrudel at Skulpturenpark Berlin_Zentrum]

Got Water?

 Posted by on May 29, 2012
May 292012
 

Without the water management schemes we’ve implemented, such as dams, pipelines and other means of securing water supplies, this is what the state of water security in the world would look like…

Aside from India and China, whose situation doesn’t improve much in the next example, the “natural” picture above does not look so great for the United States and much less so for Europe.  Yet below, when we look at the “managed” state of things, the U.S. and Europe are shored up while the tables are turned for the worse in Africa.

Unsurprisingly, it’s the lack of money in poorer nations perpetuating the lack of water.  (That and the notion that they should be more environmental sound about their improvements, unlike in developed countries where water security often comes at the cost of nature in general.)  There is, however, some good news for Africa.  A new study has revealed a huge reservoir of groundwater totaling over 100 times the volume of water found above ground.  The catch is it’s not a renewable source, as these aquifers were last filled over 5,000 years ago.

The key will be using these hidden resources to cover deficiencies in the short term while sustainable solutions for the future are put into place.  It doesn’t sound like the best job to give to humans, but so it goes.  To complicate matters worse, who knows what the picture will look like as climate change continues to usher us into the unknown.  If all of our efforts so far have still left 80% of the world’s population with an insecure supply of the one liquid we can’t live without, <insert smart-ass comment about priorities without using the word ‘stupid’>.

[World/Africa maps via BBC (Thanks, Paul!); Water security study from Nature, African groundwater study from IOPscience]

May 282012
 

After spending the 90’s helping the tobacco industry hide the dangers of secondhand smoke, The Heartland Institute is still around and still working the wrong side of the debate, presently functioning as “the primary American organization pushing climate change skepticism.”

This is the billboard they paid to put up in Illinois ahead of their 7th annual ‘The Climate Isn’t Changing’ Conference.  Two others included Fidel Castro and Charles Manson with the same line.  All three variations were taken down after the resulting public outcry.

This is the billboard Forecast the Facts attempted to put up in response, but failed to get Clear Channel’s approval.

This is the billboard Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project successfully replied with.

How did Heartland not suffer a fatal heart attack from its smoky past?  Because when there’s money on the wrong side of the debate, the bullshit never ends.  That’s why this time there’s an effort under way to cut off the flow of funds to this cancerous institution.  A third of their funding has already fled and you can help wise up the stragglers.

A few corporate donations shouldn’t be enough to shoot humanity in the foot.  Not if we’re paying attention and can find the time to occasionally sign a petition or make a phone call. We’re not all going to agree, but how about we move on to arguing about how we get ourselves out of this mess.

May 252012
 

Last week we looked at world trade from the angle of who and what.  This week we consider part of the how.

First, a little perspective on shipping by way of Spanish, Dutch and English routes from 1750 to 1855.  Each line represents a voyage based on the ship’s log book.

How do we roll float these days?  As you might guess, we’re not so much for the squiggly lines anymore.

[Video from Sapping Attention via kottke, Map by Bernd Blasius via Wired]

May 242012
 

“When two separate events occur simultaneously pertaining to the same object of inquiry, we must always pay strict attention.” – Special Agent Dale Cooper

Our object of inquiry in this case is Maiden, NC

The Question:  Why did “The Biggest Little Football Town in the World”, population 3,310, make the news two days in a row this week?

Item #1 came from the Huffington Post with the disturbing headline, Charles L. Worley, North Carolina Pastor: Put Gays And Lesbians In Electrified Pen To Kill Them Off, and this equally disturbing video…

Then, as if beckoned from the other end of the universe, item #2 appeared in Wired under the title, IBM Outlaws Siri, Worried She Has Loose Lips.  The story relates how IBM has banned the iPhone’s voice-activated assistant from its offices for fear their employees’ queries might be collected and, presumably, betray the company in some way. Where might such a collection exist?  At the data center in Maiden, NC where Siri sends every question you whisper in her ear.

And there you have it.  As a Bokononist would say: busy, busy, busy.  If IBM were a person, it might get called paranoid.  But you know, there are some loose lips in Maiden.

May 222012
 

Straight from the horse’s mouth:

InfraGard is an information sharing and analysis effort serving the interests and combining the knowledge base of a wide range of members. At its most basic level, InfraGard is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the private sector. InfraGard is an association of businesses, academic institutions, state and local law enforcement agencies, and other participants dedicated to sharing information and intelligence to prevent hostile acts against the United States. InfraGard Chapters are geographically linked with FBI Field Office territories.

For a little more perspective, a Google image search for InfraGard lays it out quite well.

The short of it is, there are chapters in every state

… and their memberships are growing…

August 2004 – 10,000
Feb 2008 – 23,000
Sept 2010 – 40,000
May 2011 – 50,056 (including FBI)

At issue here is the ability of the government and corporations to piece together the information they collect in the process of doing business with us into detailed personal profiles on us.  One piece of information here or there doesn’t seem like much until you see it all together…

Of course some people like to share and some people don’t.  You could likely find all of this information and more in many people’s Facebook Timeline, but it’s their business to share.  Flip to any page in a history book, if not today’s newspaper, to find examples of why others don’t leave one-pagers about themselves taped to their front door.

This is new territory for everyone.  Humanity has never been able to collect, share and analyze so much data and, in many ways, we are just getting started.  Where will the line need to be redrawn next?  It’s a continual process that requires both sides to know what’s happening.

And now you know.  …  At least about InfraGard, which turns out to be only one part of what the ACLU dubbed The Surveillance-Industrial Complex back in 2004.  So, once we read the other 32 pages of their report, we’ll only be 8 years behind in the conversation.

May 182012
 

The Observatory of Economic Complexity is a simple thing.  It’s a tool for exploring the world via countries and the products they trade.

It’s also a tool that has come a long way in a year.  Now you can embed an interactive chart of the United States’ imports anywhere…

Or go to their site and dig deeper into the specifics with bountiful options…

You can find out about who has and who wants everything from coarse animal hair to armoured fighting vehicles.  The only things missing are the whys and wherefores…

Untitled Occupy Wall Street Plug

 Posted by on May 16, 2012
May 162012
 

The Occupy movement spontaneously created something that doesn’t really exist in the country: communities of mutual support, cooperation, open spaces for discussion … just people doing things and helping each other.  –  Noam Chomsky

Perhaps what also didn’t exist was an entity of sufficient complexity to compete with the corporate and political structures at work in this country.  Compared with yesterday’s conglomerate chart, it looks like Occupy Wall Street‘s NYC General Assembly is starting to hold its own when it comes to tentacles…

(click to enlarge)

(And what is it they say about the side that isn’t getting paid?)

Wish you were in NYC?  Be there online.

[Chart by Jack Smith via Mapping the Movement]