New estimates of per capita income in Byzantium around 1000 A.D. are $640-680 (in 1990 dollars using purchasing power parity).
A significant minority of the world today can't beat that. Making a reasonable approximation of 50% inflation over the last 15 years, we can round that range up to $1,000 in 2004. According to the World Bank Development Indicators (summarized nicely by FinFacts Ireland), the list of countries that don't make that grade starts with Guyana, Kiribati, Bolivia, Azerbaijian and Cameroon. The whole list is 58 countries, plus a handful that are doing so badly that they can't even calculate a number for per capita income.
Fortunately, the majority of people around the world live a better life than those in Guyana, or in the Byzantium of a thousand years ago. But some don't, and whatever the reason you prefer, that's criminal.
My source is "An Estimate of Average Income and Inequality in Byzantium Around Year 1000" by Branko Milanovic, which appeared in the September 2006 edition of the Review of Income and Wealth.
This guy DIY'd a virtual reality controller for his radio controlled airplane.
His eyes are covered by goggles linked to a video camera on the nose of the airplane. He controls the airplane with his head movements. The videos show the view from the plane.
This is pretty wild compared to a flight simulator. The amazing thing is that because it is so small and fast, it feels like you are flying like bird - he goes low to the ground, turns on a dime, and dodges obstacles.
Hey - remember the anthrax letters? Yeah ... those letters ... the ones that got spouses across the country to refuse to touch each others mail?
The FBI story was always that this was a highly sophisticated act, leading to a conclusion that it was a criminal act interior to the U.S.
It seems it wasn't so sophisticated after all, and now they are actively looking elsewhere - after five years.
You don't think terrorists were involved, do you? You don't think al Qaeda - whose hallmark is nearly simultaneous attacks - had anything to do with this coming up right after 9/11, do you? Just asking.
Prices were planned so deeply in the Soviet Union that they were embossed into plastic at the factory. It's one thing to say you're inflexible, it's quite another to impose inflexibility on everyone downstream (or, for that matter, to effectively prevent export).
It is reviewed in the Weekend Arts section of The New York Times in a piece entitled "What's Wrong with this Picture". Online, a thumbnail is on the left side.
It freaks me out a bit, because one of the photos - the one featured on the front of that section - is of a house I used to pass on my way to my positions at both the University of New Orleans and Tulane University.
Just a white shotgun with green trim ... and an abandoned car on the sidewalk ... both with matching parallel mud lines.
FWIW: NOMA has one of my favorite paintings: a scene of two cardinals drinking tea from Russian-style glasses and eating cookies.
If you don't believe me, then you should be able to tell me what the opposite of drought is. Can't, can you ... I think that's because there is no grant funding for an extended wet period.
And yet ... they do occur. There is one example of this for which we do have a scary name ... bwooooo-a-ha-ha-ha ... el nino. That's right. They can't stop talking about this el nino, or the last el nino, or the el nino that might be starting up because it leads to both drought in some regions and that other thing - without a cool name - in others.
They also have those other names that are oh so useful: desert and jungle. Deserts don't move around though, so it'd hard to convince the grant writing authorities of the grave importance of people going on with their lives where it doesn't rain much.
The same with jungle. Yes, there is flooding in, say, the gulf coast. But you have to remember that they get enough water sometimes to make Noah think it was all worthwhile. When I lived in NOLA, we had a storm once that dropped 18 inches in 5 hours. Where I grew up, the record for a day was just over 4. Where I live now, 18 inches is two wet years in a row. Yes, it flooded in NOLA, but it is a testament to civil engineering that they found a place for that water to go at all.
The problem is, I also lived through a drought in south Louisiana - a place that feels like the inside of shower most days. A drought in that region means that it rains all the time, rather than really, really, all the time. It's also hotter. This makes the water evaporate from the bayous quicker. So, it was hotter and stickier than usual. Yes ... a muggy drought.
On the other hand, drought means a lot out west. There's a town in eastern Utah named Monticello that actually ran out of water a few years ago. They had to truck it in. That's what the grant money is supposed to be for.
But, you know what? I actually took a vacation in the intermountain west in a non-drought year - 1995. In late May it rained just about every day, and when we crossed over into June, it snowed on us Parley's Summit. So, an abundance of moisture isn't that great. Oh ... and don't forget in the 80s how I-80 had to be closed because Great Salt Lake was washing over it ... and people were begging for a good drought.
Lastly, deep down, I think a lot of the talk about drought is pushed on local weather people by local water utilities who are prevented from peak load pricing. A drought means they lose money, and as quasi-governmental agencies, they're quite sure that has got to be our fault.
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