The Earth, and its wealth, at night

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If it were night everywhere at the same time, this is what the Earth would look like (click to enlarge). But that strange statement doesn’t explain the importance of this view. What this image shows us is a representation of global wealth. As Vox puts it:

What you see is that in rich countries, light is largely a proxy for population density. Observe the thick cluster of the US Northeastern Megalopolis and the even bigger cluster in northwestern Europe. In poorer regions, however, the map represents not just population density but also the actual availability of electrical lighting. Huge swathes of Africa are barely illuminated at night, and densely populated India looks rather dim.

But of course, if it were night everywhere, that would mean the sun would be gone and we’d all be dead. Money can’t fix that.

Cops aren’t trigger happy … in the rest of the world

A few things to consider:

1114The above is what happens in America. But are the situations the same in the rest of the world?

BvbGmKdIQAAqYSWOK. Maybe that’s an unfair comparison. How about this?

In 2012, 409 people were shot and killed by American police in what were termed justifiable shootings. In that same year, British police officers fired their weapons just once. No one was killed.

In 2013, British police officers fired their weapons all of three times. No one died. According to The Economist, “British citizens are around 100 times less likely to be shot by a police officer than Americans. Between 2010 and 2014, the police force of one small American city — Albuquerque in New Mexico — shot and killed 23 civilians; seven times more than the number of Brits killed by all of England and Wales’s 43 forces during the same period.

Think about that. In 2013, cops in the U.K. fired their guns three times. Last week, in Ferguson, Mo., a cop shot an 18-year-old twice as many times as every cop in Britain fired off a round in 2013. And the Ferguson cop got of six times as many shots in one encounter with an unarmed black teen as every cop in Britain fired in 2012.

One day, someone is going to give a racial breakdown of all of the U.S. shootings. I suspect the above German photo pretty much gives the answer on what to expect.

Flash flood watch

This is in Switzerland. Somehow, even though this flood looks like someone has it under control, but no one does. Some of us would tend to leave the area when the boulders get pushed along (via Sploid):

Witness the power of water, carrying boulders of all sizes in this impressive video filmed at the Illgraben-Bhutan Bridge, in Switzerland. The cause of this flash flood phenomenon is the massive erosion, which apparently is getting bigger every year and has become a tourist attraction. This video is from the last flash flood.

This is your life, in a chart

If you are an average American, this is how your life is broken down into little boxes (of course, you can click to enlarge):

2014-07-22-4WeeksblockLIFE1The sad part is I’m more than halfway through it and not so slowly moving from red to blue. How did that happen?

I’m reminded of a Tom Lehrer line: When Mozart was my age, he had been dead for 24 years.

“Who’s Tom Lehrer?” you ask. Yes, this is a true sign of age, because not only do millennials not know who he is, A lot of baby boomers are in the dark. Here you go:

I think he’s one of the great songwriters of the 20th century. If you get a chance, check out “Werhner von Braun” and “The Vatican Rag.”

Here’s what surprises me. Tom Lehrer is still alive! He’s 86 and living in New York CIty (where else?!). Of course, that means he’s running out of chart space.

I’ve got to get to Stockholm

Just to ride the subway:

I’ve been on Metros in New York, Washington, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Montreal, London, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Rome, Hong Kong and places I don’t even remember, and I’ve never seen anything as cool as this.

I’m ready to book a flight.

Russians can’t drive

One interesting subsection of the YouTube world is watching dash cam videos from Russia. I’m not exactly sure why every car in Russia is videotaping everything it does, but it does lead to a constant flow of car-crash footage.

Like this:

And that was pretty mild. Just go to YouTube and type in “Russian Road Rage.”

The hits keep coming.

Brussels Express: A view from a bike

As one who’s bicycled in Brussels, I found this surprising because riding a bike was pretty convenient as far as I was concerned. I regularly rode from my commune in Boisford in the southeast part of the city by the forest to work near Park Cinquintanaire, on the side away from the European Union buildings. It was pretty much straight bike path the whole way. I never dealt with much traffic, even when I took an alternate route and went down side streets.

But to hear these guys talk, Brussels is a bicyclist’s nightmare.

Obviously, they have never been to the States.

But I do agree with them in one regard. The automobile drivers in Brussels are insane. And their insanity is encouraged by the law.

They have this amazingly stupid traffic rule called “priorité à droite.” That means that if your driving straight down a road a car approaching from the right has the right of way.

Crazy, right? But that’s not the absolutely psychopathic beauty of traffic in Brussels. Not every street has a stoplight or stop signs. In any direction.

The director of the city’s traffic management agency was once asked why that was, and his response was: “traffic signs cost a lot of money!”

So, drivers from sane parts of the world were constantly driving along and getting hit on their right side because “priorité à droits.” That’s why you see so many car accidents in this video. The law encourages them.

But I drove in Brussels for 6 years and never got into a car accident. I had to move to England for that to happen. There, I was going along straight and go hit on the left. Student driver.  My car, which I bought in Brussels, took a beating in England.

And note that the video says Brussels has 4 percent bicycle traffic. Compare that to the U.S.

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Compared to the U.S., Brussels is overrun with bicyclists.