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16 August 2010

Monday Reading

China becomes the worlds second largest economy (as measured by country) passing Japan. China's economy is still 1/3 the size of the US's.

Wind power manufacturing in the US is growing... fast. The cost of transporting the large components too far means that domestic manufacturing is here to stay and grow.

Portable lightweight housing that can be erected in a day with nothing but a screw driver. Here's a somewhat more established non-profit manufacturer, World Shelters, of a similar product that has humanitarian and individual sales in mind.

Roosevelt Island near New York has an island wide trash sucking system... no more garbage cans. Photos.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is slashing the Pentagon's budget which has increased unabated since late 2001 - in fact in nominal terms it has doubled in the last decade. This isn't small stuff. He's talking about almost trillion dollars over 9 years. Lots of this has already happened.

^ Speaking of a trillion only 21% of Americans knew how much a trillion dollars was relative to a million. It's a million millions. There are 1000 millions in a billion and 1000 billions in a trillion.

Greenspan calls for an end to the Bush tax cuts! But for all the wrong reasons... he thinks the deficit is too big and the (to use Krugman's coinage) the invisible bond vigilantes could strike at any time. Yet somehow bond rates hit a record low yesterday.

Best story ever? Wikileaks, after having embarrassed the military by releasing some 77,000 classified transcripts from Afghanistan, says it wants to release another 17,000. The military is coyly threatening them, so what did wikileaks do? It distributed an encrypted torrent through Piratebay.org that has a large file size. They say the classified information in the torrent is much more damaging that what is already out there. So... if the government does anything, they tweet the encrypted torrent passwords and tens of thousands of people around the world unlock their classified torrent. Brilliant.

NYT story on purple martins - the bird that eats a ton of insects and relies on humans for its housing. We had one in my backyard when I was growing up that still exists.

All sorts of old people are missing in Japan, or rather lots of them have died and their children hide their death in order to collect their pensions.

Ecosystem engineering - I'm curious to see the results of this test. If it's at all promising it could mean huge gains for the natural world.

One of the most famous daguerreotype series recently went under restoration efforts which found that they have a degree of detail that is - utterly shocking. Basically at 30x magnification the plates don't lose detail. That means the series of 8 - 6.5"x8.5" plates could be blown up to 170' by 20' without losing any detail. The irony is that photography in its early stages often produced images that are in many ways more detailed, fine, and artistic than modern cameras are capable of producing. How powerful would your digital camera need to be? Oh, 140,000 megapixels.

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