The globe of economic complexity is a beautifully trippy interactive dot-based map of $15.3 trillion or world trade, each glowing dot encoding $100 millions worth of exports (poster). It is based on the Atlas of economic complexity by Harvard University Data Visualisation Fellow Romain Vuillemot and developed by WikiGalaxy creator Owen Cornec.
"Of all the objects I’ve worked with in my eight years as an interpretation officer at the British Museum, the Sudanese lyre is perhaps the most intriguing. Made in northern Sudan, probably in the late 19th century, it would have been played by a male musician at weddings and harvest festivals as part of a small band. ... Just as fascinating as the actual instrument are the coins, beads, shells and, as yet, unidentified objects that are attached to the lyre. In a sense, the Sudanese lyre is both a single object and an assemblage of many objects each with their own story to tell."
Wikileaks unveils the Trade In Services Agreement, covering 50 countries and with potential to affect up to 80% of the US economy. Under the agreement, governments may not be able to regulate staff to patient ratios in hospitals, or ban fracking, or tighten safety controls on airlines, or refuse accreditation to schools and universities. US regulation of Wall Street could be invalidated much the same way that public health policies against tobacco in Africa and Asia were struck down under currently existing international trade treaties. The text was to remain classified for five years AFTER being signed, and the White House is refusing to comment on "leaked negotiating documents."
Twenty Questions for Women in Construction was a series of blog posts about female construction workers in NYC which ran on Huffington Post in 2013. Kicking off the series was the article A Day in the Life of a Woman in Construction by Ana Taveras. Many of the respondents to the Twenty Questions series are graduates of Nontraditional Employment for Women. [more inside]
The Vanished Grandeur Of Accounting, in which Jacob Soll argues that it was the Dutch, and certainly not the Venetians or Florentines who are responsible for the spread of that moral and mathematical revolution: double-entry accounting. [more inside]
Students take over Taiwan's Legislature amid massive protests against a trade bill with China. Student protesters stormed Taiwan's Legislative Yuan last week, overwhelming police, and have occupied it since as protests grew outside. Last night, another group of students stormed the Executive Yuan, but were removed, sometimes violently, by riot police. The Presidential Office is surrounded by barricades and police checkpoints. The protests began after the ruling party, the Kuomintang, declared a review of a China trade pact to be concluded after months of wrangling between it and the opposition in the Legislature. The students originally wanted the review to continue, but they're now demanding that it be scrapped altogether.
Arguably the most successful UK trade union leader of our time, the tireless Bob Crow, General Secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union has passed away.
The University of Southern California's US-China Institute has a huge number of videos on YouTube regarding China, Taiwan, history, global diplomacy, etc. [more inside]
"These gargantuan Lego blocks flattened global capitalism and erased human labour from industrial history in the process; they are the perfect tool for an economic system only interested in short-term, pop-up solutions." The shipping container (previously) an innovation that both revolutionised global trade and caused mass job loss, is now being reborn as the pop-up shop.
Extra Virgin Suicides is an interactive graphic from the New York Times about the global business of counterfeit olive oil. The NYT graphic is pretty slick, too.
To a Chinese Scrap-Metal Hunter, America's Trash Is Treasure: Johnson Zeng is a Chinese trader who travels across the U.S. in search of scrap metal. By his estimate, there are at least 100 others like him driving from scrap yard to scrap yard, right now, in search of what Americans won’t or can’t be bothered to recycle. His favorite product: wires, cables, and other kinds of copper. His purchases, millions of pounds of metal worth millions of dollars, will eventually be shipped to China. [more inside]
This country (the Roman Empire) has more than four hundred smaller cities and towns. It extends several thousand li in all directions. The king has his capital (that is, the city of Rome) close to the mouth of a river (the Tiber). The outer walls of the city are made of stone. - A Third Century Chinese Account Composed between 239 and 265 CE, Quoted in zhuan 30 of the Sanguozhi. Published in 429 CE. Draft English translation
Launching my first product :
Brand, Make, Sell Sell, Make, Brand
It seems eco-friendly cargo ships are slowly on the rise. Today i learned there is a full length documentary on Vimeo about one of these sailing vessels, the Tres Hombres; a bittersweet account of a voyage to transport supplies and aid to Haiti after the devastating earthquake: How Captain Longhair saved the World (HD, 42 min.).
Dial a Trade (link to charming You Tube documentary) is an AM version of a flea market on KURM out of Rogers, Arkansas. You might be able to listen to it occasionally on this Tunein station.
NPR: "About a month ago, a farmer in eastern Oregon noticed some wheat plants growing where he didn't expect them, and they didn't die when he sprayed them with Roundup." The wheat was tested and found to be genetically engineered. "Nobody knows how this wheat got to this farm. Monsanto's last field trials in Oregon were in 2001. After all such trials, the genetically engineered crops are supposed to be completely removed. Also, nobody knows how widely this genetically engineered wheat has spread, and whether it's been in fields of wheat that were harvested for food." [more inside]
The Forces Of The Next 30 Years - SF author and Mefi's Own Charles Stross talks to students at Olin College about sci-fi, fiction, speculation, the limits of computation, thermodynamics, Moore's Law, the history of travel, employment, automation, free trade, demographics, the developing world, privacy, and climate change in trying to answer the question What Does The World Of 2043 Look Like? (Youtube 56:43)
Twenty years ago, on February 26, 1993, a truck bomb exploded in the garage of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, killing six people and an unborn child. More than 1,000 were injured. [more inside]
Networks of the Hanseatic League - The Hanseatic League was a late-medieval network of economically largely independent long-distance trade merchants which was based on trust, reputation and reciprocal relations. The informal cooperation among its members kept transactional, informational and organizational costs low, allowing the Hanse merchants to make good profits from the long-distance trade between the Baltic and the North Seas. Thanks to personal and institutional links with confederations of towns, the Hanse merchants were initially able to strengthen their international position of power. Since the late 15th century, however, the transaction costs of long-distance trade increased as a result of growing exclusivity and formalization efforts in the Hanseatic league. Moreover, changes in the European economic structure, triggered by the discovery of America, and internal conflicts ultimately led to the disintegration of the Hanseatic networks.
"Honey laundering is a complex exercise that involves several players in the honey chain from apiary to wholesaler to retailer. In the case against ALW, evidence was presented to show the use of fake country-of-origin documents for shipments, replacement of labels on Chinese containers with fraudulent ones, switching of honey containers in a third country, and even the blending of Chinese honey with glucose syrup or honey from another country."
From the mid 40s to the mid 50s Coronet Instructional Films were always ready to provide social guidance for teenagers on subjects as diverse as dating, popularity, preparing for being drafted, and shyness, as well as to children on following the law, the value of quietness in school, and appreciating our parents. They also provided education on topics such as the connection between attitudes and health, what kind of people live in America, how to keep a job, supervising women workers, the nature of capitalism, and the plantation System in Southern life. Inside is an annotated collection of all 86 of the complete Coronet films in the Prelinger Archives as well as a few more. Its not like you had work to do or anything right? [more inside]
Spanning one-ninth of the earth's circumference across three continents, the Roman Empire ruled a quarter of humanity through complex networks of political power, military domination and economic exchange. These extensive connections were sustained by premodern transportation and communication technologies that relied on energy generated by human and animal bodies, winds, and currents. Conventional maps that represent this world as it appears from space signally fail to capture the severe environmental constraints that governed the flows of people, goods and information. Cost, rather than distance, is the principal determinant of connectivity. For the first time, ORBIS allows us to express Roman communication costs in terms of both time and expense. By simulating movement along the principal routes of the Roman road network, the main navigable rivers, and hundreds of sea routes in the Mediterranean, Black Sea and coastal Atlantic, this interactive model reconstructs the duration and financial cost of travel in antiquity.
"Trade, not aid:" the interesting story of Good African Coffee. [slnyt]
We're All State Capitalists Now 'No, according to some commentators, the contest between the two Asian superpowers is also fundamentally a contest between economic models: market capitalism vs. state capitalism.' [more inside]
A unique urban ecology prompts a new look at globalization. Japanese architect Naohiko Hino visited Guangzhou's 'Africatown' after being inspired by an article in Le Monde Diplomatique* and wrote his view on the unique model of globalization he saw in the heart of China's manufacturing powerhouse. [more inside]
'To celebrate the release of the remastered Throbbing Gristle back catalogue Rough Trade are proud to announce a unique intimate Q&A evening with Chris Carter & Cosey Fanni Tutti (37 minute Soundcloud streaming audio) discussing the rich and unique history of TG.' [more inside]
The U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border agreement is wide-ranging in its impact. Indeed, Prime Minister Harper referred to it Wednesday as "the most significant step forward in Canada-U.S. co-operation since (NAFTA)". This deal promises regulatory alignment (including the food and automotive sectors), quicker border crossings for business or travel (with pre-clearance options), and "screened once, accepted twice" cargo. Perhaps the biggest concern for Canadians however are the changes this agreement could have for their privacy. [more inside]
The latest (and greatest?) New World Trade Center visualization video. Silverstein Properties recently released footage of the construction and a visualization of the finished New World Trade Center. WTC Tower 1(Freedom Tower) is slated to be finished in early 2013 and it will mark another chapter in the ever evolving Manhattan skyline.
Made in America: small businesses buck the offshoring trend - "For US manufacturing to make sense, factories must make extensive use of automation. That's getting easier, given that the cost of robots with comparable capabilities has decreased precipitously in the past two decades." [more inside]
Troy Tate and The Smiths: The Not Poor Recordings. The Smiths were first produced by Troy Tate and the bootlegs have been rather bootleggy as it were. These are one step removed from the master recordings and don't sound quite so hollow... Includes an apparently unheard version of Accept Yourself as a bonus.
Container ships are the backbone of today's globalized world. Many people seem to be unaware of the invisible but pivotal role that they and their Merchant Navy staff play in our daily lives. One reporter spends five weeks at sea, and the resulting piece is an enlightening surprise.
Hu Jintao, premier of China, is in the middle of his first state visit to the US, whose pomp and circumstance reflects China's growing economic stature and role in world affairs. Due to the linguistic and political differences between the US and China, few Americans know very much about Hu. Many of them will have had their first real look at him during an extended and surprisngly candid joint press conference held with President Obama and lasting well over an hour - something which never happens in China. Fears (or possibly hopes) of a trade war between the US and China a year ago have faded, and instead a trade deal involving $45 billion of American exports was announced, to mixed reactions. He was received less kindly by Congress, whose members expressed disquiet about everything from trade deficits to human rights and whose leaders declined to discuss matters over dinner - perhaps because they did not wish to be lost in the high-powered crowd of attendees. [more inside]
Meet the new form of prison currency: Honey buns.
The Republic of Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement is the United States' first Free Trade Agreement with a major Asian economy, and its largest trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993. It has supporters and detractors.
The once shining beacon of capitalism in the Persian Gulf has lost a lot of its luster since the global financial crisis in 2008. But is it too soon to declare Dubai dead? [more inside]
While most of the attention in the war on drugs has been focused on Mexico of late, the opium trade in Afghanistan is still alive. Though perhaps not as well this year, as Tajikistan reports far less opium crossing the border, attributed to more use within Afghanistan as well as an unexplained poppy blight. With yields dropping and prices rising, US-backed efforts to encourage farmers to grow alternate crops (previously) may be derailed, despite a trade agreement with Pakistan which promises to open the country's borders to more trade in legitimate consumer goods with India. Meanwhile, people are looking into ways to turn the poppy fields into biofuels.
""You can't forget there are people listening when you say you are going to do things, and I try not to overpromise."
This past March, former US President Bill Clinton acknowledged to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that tariff policies his administration championed in the mid-1990's helped destroy Haiti's rice production and contributed to the impoverished nation's inability to feed itself. But while most of the world has stopped paying attention to Haiti's woes, Mr. Clinton has become the de facto leader of the effort to rebuild it after the catastrophic earthquake this past January. Will his influence be enough? Reports from the UN Office of the Special Envoy to Haiti indicate that the reconstruction progress has been slow. [more inside]
On Failing To Make Bad Porn from Sex Worker Literati - Matthew Lawrence talks about being a rent boy who never shaved or worked out and his camera-obsessed client. Audio NSFW.
Yummy avocados. So delicious...so contentious...and at times...so expensive. Why have prices in the U.S., particularly California, been so high? And why have they dropped? Weather and a bad crop? Or are the causes often more insidious? A one act play sums up one perspective on the situation. [more inside]
The Seljuk Han in Anatolia has tons of information about and pictures of the caravanserai, inns for caravans, built by the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm in what is now Turkey. The Seljuk caravanserai, called hans, were a vital resource for trade from the middle ages to recent times. The website, by Katherine Branning, explains what a han is, their origins, their function in trade, what life there was like and much more. The site also features 39 individual hans, such as the Kadin Han, now a furniture store, Dibi Delik Han, which is undergoing restoration, Zazadin Han, which has been restored already, and the spectacular Sultan Han Kayseri. For an academic survey of Seljuk hans, here's Ayşıl Tükel Yavuz' The concepts that shape Anatolian Seljuq caravanserais [pdf, automatic download].
This month marks the 25th aniversary of Elite, the groundbreaking 3D space trading game. The making of Elite. More on the making of Elite from The Backroom Boys. Emulate the original BBC Micro version. The Dark Wheel.
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