For the Global Thinker

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Dynamic Duo

Two of the most amazing comedians of are time...

Louis C.K.

HBO Special- One Night Stand

George Carlin
HBO Special-You Are All Diseased

Lastly, here is an excellent tribute to the late George Carlin by Louis...
Louis C.K. honors George Carlin

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Kim Jong-eun prepares balancing act

Downtown Pyongyang, North Korea

Insightful article on the current situation in North Korea...
Of course it won't be easy. Even though the North Korean leadership is aiming at the low-hanging fruits of authoritarian state capitalism, there are myriad obstacles in the way. Kim Jong-il bequeathed his son a rotten hand of cards: a population disillusioned by any form of government intervention in the economy, a state and party apparatus riven with corruption, and a bloated military that represents a million-man barrier to meaningful change. And that is without getting started on the industrial, legal, financial and communications infrastructure in North Korea, all of which will be highly inadequate for years to come no matter what policy is unveiled on October 1.

However, Kim Jong-eun is not yet 30 years old. What is his alternative? He clearly recognizes that grassroots marketization, increasingly uncontrollable information flows and the steadily declining power of the North Korean state mean that it would be futile to carry on with his father's politics for another half century in the implausible hope that he might get to pass on power to his own favored son.  Economic liberalization is a proactive way to break out of this doomed spiral, and even if the regime falls off the tightrope, collapse following an honest attempt at change will likely earn him and his handbag-toting young wife a softer landing than yet more full-blooded repression.

In other words, Kim Jong-eun already knows that even if you can't be a Deng Xiaoping, it's better to be a Mikhail Gorbachev than a Muammar Gaddafi. 



National Geographic: America Before Columbus

Fascinating documentary...
History books traditionally depict the pre-Columbus Americas as a pristine wilderness where small native villages lived in harmony with nature. But scientific evidence tells a very different story: When Columbus stepped ashore in 1492, millions of people were already living there.

America wasn't exactly a "New World," but a very old one whose inhabitants had built a vast infrastructure of cities, orchards, canals and causeways. But after Columbus set foot in the Americas, an endless wave of explorers, conquistadors and settlers arrived, and with each of their ships came a Noah's Ark of plants, animals—and disease. In the first 100 years of contact, entire civilizations were wiped out and the landscape was changed forever. 



Lastly, this is a great article from the Atlantic Monthly...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Weather Gone Wild

The biggest dust storm in living memory rolls into Phoenix on July 5, 2011, reducing visibility to zero. Desert thunderstorms kicked up the mile-high wall of dust and sand.

Frozen spray from Lake Geneva entombs cars, trees, and a promenade during a severe cold spell in February 2012. An unusual dip in the polar jet stream, which looped as far south as Africa, brought Arctic air and deep snows to Europe, killing several hundred people.

Is this the prelude to the coming global apocalypse on Dec. 21st, 2012?  Haha Probably not, but one thing's for sure...the weather is changing.


"There’s been a change in the weather. Extreme events like the Nashville flood—described by officials as a once-in-a-millennium occurrence—are happening more frequently than they used to. A month before Nashville, torrential downpours dumped 11 inches of rain on Rio de Janeiro in 24 hours, triggering mud slides that buried hundreds. About three months after Nashville, record rains in Pakistan caused flooding that affected more than 20 million people. In late 2011 floods in Thailand submerged hundreds of factories near Bangkok, creating a worldwide shortage of computer hard drives.

And it’s not just heavy rains that are making headlines. During the past decade we’ve also seen severe droughts in places like Texas, Australia, and Russia, as well as in East Africa, where tens of thousands have taken refuge in camps. Deadly heat waves have hit Europe, and record numbers of tornadoes have ripped across the United States. Losses from such events helped push the cost of weather disasters in 2011 to an estimated $150 billion worldwide, a roughly 25 percent jump from the previous year. In the U.S. last year a record 14 events caused a billion dollars or more of damage each, far exceeding the previous record of nine such disasters in 2008.
What’s going on? Are these extreme events signals of a dangerous, human-made shift in Earth’s climate? Or are we just going through a natural stretch of bad luck?
The short answer is: probably both. The primary forces driving recent disasters have been natural climate cycles, especially El Niño and La Niña. Scientists have learned..."



Saturday, September 1, 2012

Pop Is Sad and AC/DC Isn't Edgy

Science proves music is getting sadder...interesting read...


In the 2004 essay “Just Send Me Someone to Love,” Brad Zellar claimed all pop songs are either about love or desire, using the Hobbesian definition that they are essentially the same thing, with desire signifying absence and love signifying fulfillment. There’s nothing cheerful about not getting what you want. I brought the essay to a college class I taught to help us talk about motivation in short stories. My students, lovely bright-eyed sophomores, were skeptical. By the end of class I had convinced them that Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” is the saddest song ever recorded. I don’t teach that class anymore. It’s too depressing.
A year later I saw Katy Perry frolic onstage with two-dozen fans to Whitney’s lonely girl anthem, and it was still sad. Katy Perry’s Candyland concerts are even more depressing than Radiohead shows; instead of shuffling through a crowd of neurotic 30-somethings all wearing the same canvas shoes, you’re surrounded by 12-year-olds under such immense social and academic pressures they’re nostalgic for being 8. 

Read more here...