Browsing Tag: cities

    What if there was an EARTH METRO RAIL? (Geography Now!)
    Articles, Blog

    What if there was an EARTH METRO RAIL? (Geography Now!)

    September 6, 2019


    This episode is brought to you by the Great Courses plus Hey, geogrphy peeps, so I got another little topic for you guys to pontificate. I recently came across this image by Chris Gray from West Yorkshire, depicting his vision for a global metro system. It looks amazing, it has hundreds of different stations on 20 different lines, each reaching a different region of the planet – and it kind of got my gears spinning. First of all I Love trains. I love metro systems. They totally beat traffic. You know at first glance this picture You know it looks kind of fun yet a little far-fetched considering that a lot of the lines traverse what seems like impossible boundaries and the entire Pacific Ocean But what if. What would it take to make this a reality? Well first of all this map misses a few countries. Especially in oceania and the Caribbean and it doesn’t go to antarctica, but that’s okay. We can make that happen later. First of all there’s a few things you have to consider. If we were to literally connect every single continent on the planet it would take a lot of time energy and resources to an extent that the world has never seen before also It might be wise to make a lot of these trains hyper loops as to cut down the travel time with long distances which would also allow more people to travel. Now the first thing you would have to consider would be diplomacy and permission on which areas to build. If we were to connect North and South America, it’s unlikely that panama would open up the darién gap due to the indigenous tribes that refused to build on their land so we might have to build over the ocean into Colombia. That one section of land if it would just open up! Also keep in mind that unless if some kind of miracle Agreement was made it is most likely that people going to armenia would only be allowed to board a North-South train Line going through Georgia and Iran Due to the closed-off borders between turkey and Azerbaijan. Maybe North Korea would allow a train going in through either China or Vladivostok in Russia But I highly doubt there would be a simple Stopover between them and Seoul South Korea that means that if Chinese people want to visit South Korea they would either have to build a really long sea crossing line from the shandong peninsula to incheon or they would have to take a line through Taiwan and the yeah Yama and Okinawa Prefecture island up to Kyushu and then across to Busan and you get a lot of strange scenarios like that all over. I mean there’s that weird strange thing between Algeria and Morocco Ukraine and Russia Iraq and Uzbekistan are just a nightmare and unless you have the right Visa Belarus would probably just kick you out which brings us to the next part I really like the tactic that this guy had for transatlantic oceanic lines for North America He connected Canada to greenland to Iceland to scotland utilizing maximum land crossings at the shortest distance But with South America for some reason he decided to connect Belém brazil with Conakry guinea I don’t know exactly why he chose those cities for me a more reasonable route might be for Stella – maybe Dakar senegal or if You want minimal distance maybe in that tall – Freetown Sierra leone with a quick stopover in Ela Fernando? De Noronha off the coast to cross the pacific Of course Hawaii would have to be like the main central hub and then from there You could go to either kid or bus or the marshall Islands or hey? Why not both? It’s our imaginations We can do whatever we want. No rules up here. Yeah now if this map did go to antarctica I would suggest extending the purple America Line to Tierra Del Fuego Somehow traversing the Impossible Patagonia Glaciers and somehow without dying during the construction process reaching King George Island and from there It’s just a bunch of quick island hops until you hit gram land on the antarctic Peninsula and just be mindful building the train on Solid ground and not an unstable ice shelf and there you go now the big question what are all of the factors Elements and variables that would have to go into the mix to make this become a reality well the answer is Insanity now one thing we can consider to alleviate some of the cost is using some of the train lines We already have so that we don’t have to build a new one now I counted and it seems like with the exception of some train lines in North America Europe Russia China, India and Australia most of these lines actually don’t exist. So let’s assume We’re funding maybe about 75% of all these train lines That’s still a lot each line might cost differently based off of the terrain or ease of transport for material it would be a lot easier to transport materials over the flat plains of Russia rather than the middle of the ocean by Fiji also Are you passing through a row area or through a city because it costs more to build underneath the city then you have to consider? The Labor Force how many people are well equipped with the proper training to construct such a project how long would it take to invest? In the training of people who aren’t also you have to consider the hiring of people to mine the raw? Materials to bring to the factories to shape and mold into the train tracks and the trains themselves And how many people would it take and then you have to consider wages people in different countries get paid different wages and the oceanic Lines especially ones crossing the Pacific would probably cost the most they would probably have to be hyperloop due to the incredibly long Distances and they would have to be very strong and solid due to the fact that you know it’s the Pacific Ocean there’s cyclones There’s crazy things happening all the time They gotta be Solid oh and also consider that a transoceanic train has never been done before which by the way if you didn’t know there actually are Some hyperloop companies out there like hyperloop one or trans Pod that are in the alpha Stages of capital fundraising and researching It’s so cool. Look it up I did the math and factoring absolutely everything I could possibly think of into this whole equation I came around a number somewhere around either 65 to 94 Trillion dollars although it could be a lot more based off of so many factors that I missed out on in the end We live in a time in which air travel is the preferred method of long distance Journeys however Is that really the best way and is it the most efficient is it possible that ground? Transportation and hyperloop technology could bring us into a brand new era of unimaginable global possibility. What do you think it? What do you think about a global metro system? What destinations would you like to see being built I personally think a West Coast, California La to the Polynesian Islands train line would be the coolest thing ever and with that being said I have three very important announcements You’re going to want to listen to at least one of them the first thing that the great courses plus contacted us And they want to sponsor geography now again wahoo for those of you that don’t know the great courses plus is a website with over 7,000 online courses from all across the academic spectrum taught by highly accredited Professors and professionals many ivy league trains they have classes and so many different things like science weightlifting chess art There’s a really cool course called inventions that change the world by professor w bernard Carlsen I recommend it right now They are offering a free one-month trial Or if you really like it you can even sign up and join for a plan at really good rates All you have to do is go to this website here the great courses plus comm slash geography Or you can click on the link in my description. Thanks great courses plus you guys are always there for me You guys rock my next announcement Is that the heritage trip is? Completely funded and ready to go and happen in October with me and my mom thanks to Patreon Patrons I was able to buy the flight tickets and have a side budget for other things like trains and food you made it happen So thank you so much patreon patrons and finally my last Announcement as you know august is upon us which means the school year will soon begin for all students which means I want to visit your school earlier this year I got to visit the cool kids at Centennial High School in Corona, California And now it’s time to see more after the heritage trip in October I want to have a geography bee at your school as of right now I can only travel in North America as I’ll be using my own money to fund the travel cost for me Brandon and ken it’s A little outside of my budget to travel outside of the continent So maybe in the future of geography now gets bigger But right now I can only travel within North America and for sure I have to visit at least one place in Canada I promise you kentucky’s that I would visit before this year is over because I got to celebrate with your 150th anniversary I will be holding a contest and whichever schools win. I will visit details will come next week, so stay tuned in the meantime Thank you for watching this video. I hope you got something out of it subscribe if you want and a stay cool stay tuned

    James Kunstler: How bad architecture wrecked cities
    Articles, Blog

    James Kunstler: How bad architecture wrecked cities

    August 30, 2019


    The immersive ugliness of our everyday environments in America is entropy made visible. We can’t overestimate the amount of despair that we are generating with places like this. And mostly, I want to persuade you that we have to do better if we’re going to continue the project of civilization in America. By the way, this doesn’t help. Nobody’s having a better day down here because of that. There are a lot of ways you can describe this. You know, I like to call it “the national automobile slum.” You can call it suburban sprawl. I think it’s appropriate to call it the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world. You can call it a technosis externality clusterfuck. And it’s a tremendous problem for us. The outstanding — the salient problem about this for us is that these are places that are not worth caring about. We’re going to talk about that some more. A sense of place: your ability to create places that are meaningful and places of quality and character depends entirely on your ability to define space with buildings, and to employ the vocabularies, grammars, syntaxes, rhythms and patterns of architecture in order to inform us who we are. The public realm in America has two roles: it is the dwelling place of our civilization and our civic life, and it is the physical manifestation of the common good. And when you degrade the public realm, you will automatically degrade the quality of your civic life and the character of all the enactments of your public life and communal life that take place there. The public realm comes mostly in the form of the street in America because we don’t have the 1,000-year-old cathedral plazas and market squares of older cultures. And your ability to define space and to create places that are worth caring about all comes from a body of culture that we call the culture of civic design. This is a body of knowledge, method, skill and principle that we threw in the garbage after World War II and decided we don’t need that anymore; we’re not going to use it. And consequently, we can see the result all around us. The public realm has to inform us not only where we are geographically, but it has to inform us where we are in our culture. Where we’ve come from, what kind of people we are, and it needs to, by doing that, it needs to afford us a glimpse to where we’re going in order to allow us to dwell in a hopeful present. And if there is one tremendous — if there is one great catastrophe about the places that we’ve built, the human environments we’ve made for ourselves in the last 50 years, it is that it has deprived us of the ability to live in a hopeful present. The environments we are living in, more typically, are like these. You know, this happens to be the asteroid belt of architectural garbage two miles north of my town. And remember, to create a place of character and quality, you have to be able to define space. So how is that being accomplished here? If you stand on the apron of the Wal-Mart over here and try to look at the Target store over here, you can’t see it because of the curvature of the Earth. (Laughter) That’s nature’s way of telling you that you’re doing a poor job of defining space. Consequently, these will be places that nobody wants to be in. These will be places that are not worth caring about. We have about, you know, 38,000 places that are not worth caring about in the United States today. When we have enough of them, we’re going to have a nation that’s not worth defending. And I want you to think about that when you think about those young men and women who are over in places like Iraq, spilling their blood in the sand, and ask yourself, “What is their last thought of home?” I hope it’s not the curb cut between the Chuck E. Cheese and the Target store because that’s not good enough for Americans to be spilling their blood for. (Applause) We need better places in this country. Public space. This is a good public space. It’s a place worth caring about. It’s well defined. It is emphatically an outdoor public room. It has something that is terribly important — it has what’s called an active and permeable membrane around the edge. That’s a fancy way of saying it’s got shops, bars, bistros, destinations — things go in and out of it. It’s permeable. The beer goes in and out, the waitresses go in and out, and that activates the center of this place and makes it a place that people want to hang out in. You know, in these places in other cultures, people just go there voluntarily because they like them. We don’t have to have a craft fair here to get people to come here. (Laughter) You know, you don’t have to have a Kwanzaa festival. People just go because it’s pleasurable to be there. But this is how we do it in the United States. Probably the most significant public space failure in America, designed by the leading architects of the day, Harry Cobb and I.M. Pei: Boston City Hall Plaza. A public place so dismal that the winos don’t even want to go there. (Laughter) And we can’t fix it because I.M. Pei’s still alive, and every year Harvard and M.I.T. have a joint committee to repair it. And every year they fail to because they don’t want to hurt I.M. Pei’s feelings. This is the other side of the building. This was the winner of an international design award in, I think, 1966, something like that. It wasn’t Pei and Cobb, another firm designed this, but there’s not enough Prozac in the world to make people feel OK about going down this block. This is the back of Boston City Hall, the most important, you know, significant civic building in Albany — excuse me — in Boston. And what is the message that is coming, what are the vocabularies and grammars that are coming, from this building and how is it informing us about who we are? This, in fact, would be a better building if we put mosaic portraits of Josef Stalin, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, and all the other great despots of the 20th century on the side of the building, because then we’d honestly be saying what the building is really communicating to us. You know, that it’s a despotic building; it wants us to feel like termites. (Laughter) This is it on a smaller scale: the back of the civic center in my town, Saratoga Springs, New York. By the way, when I showed this slide to a group of Kiwanians in my town, they all rose in indignation from their creamed chicken, (Laughter) and they shouted at me and said, “It was raining that day when you took that picture!” Because this was perceived to be a weather problem. (Laughter) You know, this is a building designed like a DVD player. (Laughter) Audio jack, power supply — and look, you know these things are important architectural jobs for firms, right? You know, we hire firms to design these things. You can see exactly what went on, three o’clock in the morning at the design meeting. You know, eight hours before deadline, four architects trying to get this building in on time, right? And they’re sitting there at the long boardroom table with all the drawings, and the renderings, and all the Chinese food caskets are lying on the table, and — I mean, what was the conversation that was going on there? (Laughter) Because you know what the last word was, what the last sentence was of that meeting. It was: “Fuck it.” (Laughter) (Applause) That — that is the message of this form of architecture. The message is: We don’t give a fuck! We don’t give a fuck. So I went back on the nicest day of the year, just to — you know — do some reality testing, and in fact, he will not even go down there because (Laughter) it’s not interesting enough for his clients, you know, the burglars, the muggers. It’s not civically rich enough for them to go down there. OK. The pattern of Main Street USA — in fact, this pattern of building downtown blocks, all over the world, is fairly universal. It’s not that complicated: buildings more than one story high, built out to the sidewalk edge, so that people who are, you know, all kinds of people can get into the building. Other activities are allowed to occur upstairs, you know, apartments, offices, and so on. You make provision for this activity called shopping on the ground floor. They haven’t learned that in Monterey. If you go out to the corner right at the main intersection right in front of this conference center, you’ll see an intersection with four blank walls on every corner. It’s really incredible. Anyway, this is how you compose and assemble a downtown business building, and this is what happened when in Glens Falls, New York, when we tried to do it again, where it was missing, right? So the first thing they do is they pop up the retail a half a story above grade to make it sporty. OK. That completely destroys the relationship between the business and the sidewalk, where the theoretical pedestrians are. (Laughter) Of course, they’ll never be there, as long as this is in that condition. Then because the relationship between the retail is destroyed, we pop a handicapped ramp on that, and then to make ourselves feel better, we put a nature Band-Aid in front of it. And that’s how we do it. I call them “nature Band-Aids” because there’s a general idea in America that the remedy for mutilated urbanism is nature. And in fact, the remedy for wounded and mutilated urbanism is good urbanism, good buildings. Not just flower beds, not just cartoons of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. You know, that’s not good enough. We have to do good buildings. The street trees have really four jobs to do and that’s it: To spatially denote the pedestrian realm, to protect the pedestrians from the vehicles in the carriageway, to filter the sunlight onto the sidewalk, and to soften the hardscape of the buildings and to create a ceiling — a vaulted ceiling — over the street, at its best. And that’s it. Those are the four jobs of the street trees. They’re not supposed to be a cartoon of the North Woods; they’re not supposed to be a set for “The Last of the Mohicans.” You know, one of the problems with the fiasco of suburbia is that it destroyed our understanding of the distinction between the country and the town, between the urban and the rural. They’re not the same thing. And we’re not going to cure the problems of the urban by dragging the country into the city, which is what a lot of us are trying to do all the time. Here you see it on a small scale — the mothership has landed, R2-D2 and C-3PO have stepped out to test the bark mulch to see if they can inhabit this planet. (Laughter) A lot of this comes from the fact that the industrial city in America was such a trauma that we developed this tremendous aversion for the whole idea of the city, city life, and everything connected with it. And so what you see fairly early, in the mid-19th century, is this idea that we now have to have an antidote to the industrial city, which is going to be life in the country for everybody. And that starts to be delivered in the form of the railroad suburb: the country villa along the railroad line, which allows people to enjoy the amenity of the city, but to return to the countryside every night. And believe me, there were no Wal-Marts or convenience stores out there then, so it really was a form of country living. But what happens is, of course, it mutates over the next 80 years and it turns into something rather insidious. It becomes a cartoon of a country house, in a cartoon of the country. And that’s the great non-articulated agony of suburbia and one of the reasons that it lends itself to ridicule. Because it hasn’t delivered what it’s been promising for half a century now. And these are typically the kind of dwellings we find there, you know. Basically, a house with nothing on the side because this house wants to state, emphatically, “I’m a little cabin in the woods. There’s nothing on either side of me. I don’t have any eyes on the side of my head. I can’t see.” So you have this one last facade of the house, the front, which is really a cartoon of a facade of a house. Because — notice the porch here. Unless the people that live here are Munchkins, nobody’s going to be using that. This is really, in fact, a television broadcasting a show 24/7 called “We’re Normal.” We’re normal, we’re normal, we’re normal, we’re normal, we’re normal. Please respect us, we’re normal, we’re normal, we’re normal. But we know what’s going on in these houses, you know. We know that little Skippy is loading his Uzi down here, getting ready for homeroom. (Laughter) We know that Heather, his sister Heather, 14 years old, is turning tricks up here to support her drug habit. Because these places, these habitats, are inducing immense amounts of anxiety and depression in children, and they don’t have a lot of experience with medication. So they take the first one that comes along, often. These are not good enough for Americans. These are the schools we are sending them to: The Hannibal Lecter Central School, Las Vegas, Nevada. This is a real school! You know, but there’s obviously a notion that if you let the inmates of this thing out, that they would snatch a motorist off the street and eat his liver. So every effort is made to keep them within the building. Notice that nature is present. (Laughter) We’re going to have to change this behavior whether we like it or not. We are entering an epochal period of change in the world, and — certainly in America — the period that will be characterized by the end of the cheap oil era. It is going to change absolutely everything. Chris asked me not to go on too long about this, and I won’t, except to say there’s not going to be a hydrogen economy. Forget it. It’s not going to happen. We’re going to have to do something else instead. We’re going to have to down-scale, re-scale, and re-size virtually everything we do in this country and we can’t start soon enough to do it. We’re going to have — (Applause) — we’re going to have to live closer to where we work. We’re going to have to live closer to each other. We’re going have to grow more food closer to where we live. The age of the 3,000 mile Caesar salad is coming to an end. We’re going to have to — we have a railroad system that the Bulgarians would be ashamed of! We gotta do better than that! And we should have started two days before yesterday. We are fortunate that the new urbanists were there, for the last 10 years, excavating all that information that was thrown in the garbage by our parents’ generation after World War II. Because we’re going to need it if we’re going to learn how to reconstruct towns. We’re going to need to get back this body of methodology and principle and skill in order to re-learn how to compose meaningful places, places that are integral, that allow — that are living organisms in the sense that they contain all the organs of our civic life and our communal life, deployed in an integral fashion. So that, you know, the residences make sense deployed in relation to the places of business, of culture and of governance. We’re going to have to re-learn what the building blocks of these things are: the street, the block, how to compose public space that’s both large and small, the courtyard, the civic square and how to really make use of this property. We can see some of the first ideas for retro-fitting some of the catastrophic property that we have in America. The dead malls: what are we going to do with them? Well, in point of fact, most of them are not going to make it. They’re not going to be retro-fitted; they’re going to be the salvage yards of the future. Some of them we’re going to fix, though. And we’re going to fix them by imposing back on them street and block systems and returning to the building lot as the normal increment of development. And if we’re lucky, the result will be revivified town centers and neighborhood centers in our existing towns and cities. And by the way, our towns and cities are where they are, and grew where they were because they occupy all the important sites. And most of them are still going to be there, although the scale of them is probably going to be diminished. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re not going to be rescued by the hyper-car; we’re not going to be rescued by alternative fuels. No amount or combination of alternative fuels is going to allow us to continue running what we’re running, the way we’re running it. We’re going to have to do everything very differently. And America’s not prepared. We are sleepwalking into the future. We’re not ready for what’s coming at us. So I urge you all to do what you can. Life in the mid-21st century is going to be about living locally. Be prepared to be good neighbors. Be prepared to find vocations that make you useful to your neighbors and to your fellow citizens. One final thing — I’ve been very disturbed about this for years, but I think it’s particularly important for this audience. Please, please, stop referring to yourselves as “consumers.” OK? Consumers are different than citizens. Consumers do not have obligations, responsibilities and duties to their fellow human beings. And as long as you’re using that word consumer in the public discussion, you will be degrading the quality of the discussion we’re having. And we’re going to continue being clueless going into this very difficult future that we face. So thank you very much. Please go out and do what you can to make this a land full of places that are worth caring about and a nation that will be worth defending. (Applause)

    Inside The Technology Behind Facial Recognition | NBC News Now
    Articles, Blog

    Inside The Technology Behind Facial Recognition | NBC News Now

    August 29, 2019


    BIASED, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO DETECTING MINORITIES. TO DETECTING MINORITIES. WERE THE LATEST ON WHERE IT’S WERE THE LATEST ON WHERE IT’S BEEN AND HOW IT WORKS. BEEN AND HOW IT WORKS.>>RIGHT NOW WE HAVE THREE>>RIGHT NOW WE HAVE THREE REALLY GOOD EXAMPLES OF FACE REALLY GOOD EXAMPLES OF FACE RECOGNITION BEING BANNED WITH A RECOGNITION BEING BANNED WITH A SPECIFIC CITY. SPECIFIC CITY. SAN FRANCISCO IS ONE OF THEM. SAN FRANCISCO IS ONE OF THEM. ANOTHER IS OAKLAND. ANOTHER IS OAKLAND. THE THIRD IS SUMMERVILLE IN THE THIRD IS SUMMERVILLE IN MASSACHUSETTS. MASSACHUSETTS. THERE’S ALSO A BILL BEING THERE’S ALSO A BILL BEING DISCUSSED RIGHT NOW FOR THE DISCUSSED RIGHT NOW FOR THE STATE OF MICHIGAN. STATE OF MICHIGAN. THE FIRST STATEWIDE. THE FIRST STATEWIDE. WE’VE LEARNED THAT CITIES IN WE’VE LEARNED THAT CITIES IN MICHIGAN INCLUDING DETROIT HAVE MICHIGAN INCLUDING DETROIT HAVE HAD IT DEPLOYED FOR YEARS. HAD IT DEPLOYED FOR YEARS. THIS IS AN IMPORTANT MOMENT FOR THIS IS AN IMPORTANT MOMENT FOR THE U.S. THE U.S. IT IS THE FIRST TIME WE’RE IT IS THE FIRST TIME WE’RE SEEING CHALLENGES ABOUT SEEING CHALLENGES ABOUT SURVEILLANCE AND BIOMETRIC DATA SURVEILLANCE AND BIOMETRIC DATA BEING USED FOR PURPOSES OF LAW BEING USED FOR PURPOSES OF LAW ENFORCEMENT. ENFORCEMENT. BEING TRANSFERRED INTO THE BEING TRANSFERRED INTO THE COURTS. COURTS.>>TODAY WE’RE GETTING THIS ON>>TODAY WE’RE GETTING THIS ON FACIAL RECOGNITION. FACIAL RECOGNITION. WHEN AN ARTIFICIALLY WHEN AN ARTIFICIALLY INTELLIGENCE PROGRAM SEES A INTELLIGENCE PROGRAM SEES A HUMAN FACE LIKE THIS, TELL US HUMAN FACE LIKE THIS, TELL US WHAT IT’S HOOK FOR. WHAT IT’S HOOK FOR.>>WELL, THERE ARE LOTS OF>>WELL, THERE ARE LOTS OF METHODOLOGIES. METHODOLOGIES. ONE IS CALLED OPEN SPACE. ONE IS CALLED OPEN SPACE. THE FIRST IS TO FIND OUT WHETHER THE FIRST IS TO FIND OUT WHETHER THERE’S EVEN A FACE IN THE THERE’S EVEN A FACE IN THE PHOTO. PHOTO. IT DOES IT BY LOOKING FOR 58 IT DOES IT BY LOOKING FOR 58 DIFFERENT FACIAL LAND MARKS THAT DIFFERENT FACIAL LAND MARKS THAT TYPICALLY REPRESENT WHAT WE TYPICALLY REPRESENT WHAT WE WOULD THINK OF AS VISIBLY HUMAN WOULD THINK OF AS VISIBLY HUMAN FACE. FACE. WITHIN THOSE WE’RE LOOKING FOR WITHIN THOSE WE’RE LOOKING FOR EDGES. EDGES. THE EDGES REPRESENT A GROUP OF THE EDGES REPRESENT A GROUP OF PIXELS THAT ARE THE SAME COLOR PIXELS THAT ARE THE SAME COLOR OR SHIFT FROM A DARKER COLOR TO OR SHIFT FROM A DARKER COLOR TO A LIGHTER ONE. A LIGHTER ONE. IN THE OPEN FACE PAPER, THERE IS IN THE OPEN FACE PAPER, THERE IS PARTICULARLY EIGHT DIFFERENT PARTICULARLY EIGHT DIFFERENT LAND MARKS THAT REPRESENT A LAND MARKS THAT REPRESENT A HUMAN EYE AND MANY OTHERS HUMAN EYE AND MANY OTHERS COMPRISE AN EYEBROW OR A MOUTH COMPRISE AN EYEBROW OR A MOUTH OR A NOSE. OR A NOSE. THE THINGS YOU MIGHT SEE WHEN THE THINGS YOU MIGHT SEE WHEN YOU LOOK IN A MIRROR. YOU LOOK IN A MIRROR.>>NOW THAT WE KNOW WE HAVE A>>NOW THAT WE KNOW WE HAVE A HUMAN FACE, THE GOAL IS TO GET HUMAN FACE, THE GOAL IS TO GET IT INTO A FORMAT THAT’S UNIFORM. IT INTO A FORMAT THAT’S UNIFORM. WE CAN SCALE OR ROTATE OR EVEN WE CAN SCALE OR ROTATE OR EVEN ADJUST THE ANGLE OF THE ADJUST THE ANGLE OF THE INDIVIDUAL FACE. INDIVIDUAL FACE. THIS WILL HELP IT UNDERSTAND. THIS WILL HELP IT UNDERSTAND.>>WE WANT EVERY FACE WE’RE>>WE WANT EVERY FACE WE’RE WORKING ON TO BE PREDICTABLE WORKING ON TO BE PREDICTABLE ENOUGH. ENOUGH. THE CHALLENGE COMES IN WHEN YOUR THE CHALLENGE COMES IN WHEN YOUR TRAINING DATA. TRAINING DATA. YOU HAVE A REALLY SUNNY DAY, IT YOU HAVE A REALLY SUNNY DAY, IT WILL BE REALLY DIFFICULT TO WILL BE REALLY DIFFICULT TO PREDICT. PREDICT. IF IT IS SOMETHING AS IF IT IS SOMETHING AS PREDICTABLE AS A PAIR OF PREDICTABLE AS A PAIR OF SUNGLASSES. SUNGLASSES. THE NEXT STEP IS TO TRY ON THE NEXT STEP IS TO TRY ON EXTRACT INFORMATION FROM THAT EXTRACT INFORMATION FROM THAT FACE. FACE. WE DO THAT BYPASSING THE PHOTO WE DO THAT BYPASSING THE PHOTO THROUGH A NEURAL NET. THROUGH A NEURAL NET. EACH ONE WILL TRY TO EXTRACT EACH ONE WILL TRY TO EXTRACT FEATURES AND THEN REPRESENT THEM FEATURES AND THEN REPRESENT THEM IN A MATHEMATICAL FORM. IN A MATHEMATICAL FORM.>>WHERE ARE THESE PROGRAMS>>WHERE ARE THESE PROGRAMS GETTING THE DATA TO MATCH THE GETTING THE DATA TO MATCH THE FACES? FACES?>>USUALLY A FACIAL RECOGNITION>>USUALLY A FACIAL RECOGNITION SYSTEM HAS A DATABASE OF PHOTOS SYSTEM HAS A DATABASE OF PHOTOS THAT HAVE BEEN RUN THROUGH. THAT HAVE BEEN RUN THROUGH. THEY’RE ALREADY TRANSLATED INTO THEY’RE ALREADY TRANSLATED INTO MAPS. MAPS. IF I HAVE A DATABASE AND THAT I IF I HAVE A DATABASE AND THAT I KNOW THIS MATHEMATICAL KNOW THIS MATHEMATICAL REPRESENTATION LOOKS LIKE LIZ REPRESENTATION LOOKS LIKE LIZ O’SULLIVAN, I CAN TAKE THIS NEW O’SULLIVAN, I CAN TAKE THIS NEW PHOTO AND TRY TO FIGURE OUT HOW PHOTO AND TRY TO FIGURE OUT HOW CLOSE THAT VECTOR SPACE IS TO CLOSE THAT VECTOR SPACE IS TO THE RESULTING VECTOR SPACE OF MY THE RESULTING VECTOR SPACE OF MY NEW PHOTO. NEW PHOTO. IF IT IS VERY CLOSE, THEN YES. IF IT IS VERY CLOSE, THEN YES. IT MIGHT BE LIZ. IT MIGHT BE LIZ. IF THEY’RE VERY FAR APART, IT IS IF THEY’RE VERY FAR APART, IT IS LIKELY SOMEONE ELSE. LIKELY SOMEONE ELSE.>>PEOPLE ARE STARTING TO>>PEOPLE ARE STARTING TO REALIZE HOW POWERFUL THIS TOOL REALIZE HOW POWERFUL THIS TOOL IS. IS. LAW ENFORCEMENT AND FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AND FEDERAL AGENCIES HAVE BEEN USING IT. AGENCIES HAVE BEEN USING IT. IN A LOT OF CASES THEY’RE IN A LOT OF CASES THEY’RE FINDING IT DOESN’T WORK AS WELL FINDING IT DOESN’T WORK AS WELL ON PEOPLE OF COLOR OR WOMEN OR ON PEOPLE OF COLOR OR WOMEN OR NONBINARY PEOPLE. NONBINARY PEOPLE. SO THIS IS IMPORTANT FOR US TO SO THIS IS IMPORTANT FOR US TO TAKE A MOMENT TO UNDERSTAND TAKE A MOMENT TO UNDERSTAND FULLY EXACTLY WHAT WE WANT OUR

    Why Cities Are Where They Are
    Articles, Blog

    Why Cities Are Where They Are

    August 27, 2019


    This is a Wendover Productions video made
    possible by Squarespace. Make your next move with a beautiful website
    from Squarespace. The Cumberland valley is home to six towns
    lying between Hagerstown, Maryland and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania— Greencastle, Chambersburg,
    Shippensburg, Newville, Carlisle, and Mecanicsburg. What’s exceptional about these small Pennsylvania
    towns is that they’re each almost exactly 10 miles from each other. The distances deviate by no more than a mile
    from this rule. This isn’t a coincidence and this isn’t
    planned. Drawing equal sized radii around each town
    shows you their spheres of influence. Assuming each town has the exact same shops
    and services, rational people will just go to whichever town is closest to buy or sell
    goods. Towns ten miles apart mean that nobody has
    to travel more than five miles to reach a town. Each one of these towns was founded before
    the formation of the United States, so that means that, of course, nobody had cars and
    pretty much everybody walked everywhere. 10 miles, or 5 miles each way, is about the
    distance a person can comfortably walk in a day with enough time to buy or sell goods
    at a central market. Back in this era before cars, a 5 mile radius
    was essentially the largest possible commuter zone to small agricultural towns and therefore
    having towns ten miles apart was the most efficient possible use of rural land. When you get a chance, take a look at map
    of a rural area that existed before cars. You’ll see that the distance between medium-sized
    towns is almost always somewhere between about 10 to 15 miles. Because the Cumberland valley is a valley,
    towns really could only develop in a line, but in most cases towns develop in all directions. This is what the ten mile rule looks like
    going out in all directions. Each of these points is a town and the hexagon
    around it is the area from which people will go to the town. In the real world, each of these towns probably
    has a small grocery store, a pharmacy, a bank, and maybe a restaurant. Since everybody uses these services, there
    doesn’t have to be many people in a towns sphere of influence in order to sustain these
    shops. But where do you put something more specialized,
    like a mechanic. People only need to go the mechanic every
    once in a while so you need more people to sustain one mechanics shop than one grocery
    store. Well, some of these small towns develop into
    larger towns with more people that can support more specialized shops and services. Putting these larger towns with more specialized
    shops closer together would be unsustainable since there wouldn’t be enough people going
    to those shops but putting them farther apart would be inefficient since there’s land
    that people would not go to a city from. This happens once or twice more until you
    have cities. These cities have the largest spheres of influence
    and the most specialized shops. You of course still have grocery stores and
    pharmacies in cities, but you also have things like luxury car dealerships, brain surgery
    centers, and airports. The city’s sphere of influence is enormous
    because people will travel hundreds of miles to buy an expensive car or get brain surgery
    or fly from an airport. Think about it within a city. How far would you walk to buy a latte. Probably only a few blocks and that’s why
    you see Starbucks or other coffee shops on almost every block. Since almost everyone buys coffee, you only
    need a few blocks of people to sustain one coffee shop. But how far would you walk to buy a MacBook? Probably quite far since its a infrequent
    and substantial purchase. That’s why Apple stores are rather rare
    even in cities. You need an enormous amount of people to sustain
    one Apple store and we can actually figure out roughly how many. In Connecticut, the Trumbull Apple Store is
    about 20 miles away from the New Haven store to the north-east and the Stamford store to
    the south-west. In the 10 mile radius around the Trumbull
    Apple Store there are about half a million inhabitants which tells us that you need about
    half a million people to sustain one Apple store. We can compare that to the Starbucks’ of
    lower Manhattan which are spread out at an average distance of about 600 feet. Drawing a 300 foot radius around one Starbucks
    in lower Manhattan covers around 6,000 people which means that one Starbucks needs 6,000
    people to sustain it. Of course both Connecticut and New York are
    places with higher than average incomes which means less people are needed to sustain one
    Starbucks or Apple Store. The numbers would be very different in, say,
    rural Kansas, but since each store generally only builds in areas with higher-than-average
    incomes this gives a good sense of how many people Apple and Starbucks looks for in an
    area before opening up a store. So, our model shows where cities should be,
    but its not like this in reality. This is the most efficient spread of cities
    if you’re assuming that the cities are on a perfectly flat plane with no geographic
    features, no social influences, no variability of income, equal distribution of resources—essentially
    assuming the world is one homogeneous place… which its not. In reality, of course, our world has an enormous
    effect on where and why cities develop. To start out, let’s cut this down to one
    city on a flat, featureless plane for simplicity. What affects the location of cities more than
    anything is water. If we put an ocean on one side of our isotropic
    plane, our city will almost certainly locate near it. Oceans have always been and still are what
    connects the world. There’s no other means of transport that
    can move such enormous amounts of cargo for so little. Any city needs to be economically efficient
    to grow and it will cost more to bring goods to a city that’s 1000 miles inland than
    one right by the ocean. Just look at Europe. 6 of the 10 largest European cities are within
    100 miles of the coast. But oceans aren’t the only bodies of water
    to affect cities. Rivers are just as or perhaps even more influential. Milan, the 19th largest European city, is
    the largest to not be either directly on the ocean or on a river, and even then its only
    15 miles from a river and 75 miles from the ocean. Until the last century or so, cities could
    not survive without direct water access. If you need more proof, 14 of the 15 largest
    cities in the world are within a few dozen miles of the ocean. Perhaps the most obvious attractor for cities
    is resources, so going back to our isotropic plane, putting natural resources anywhere
    on this map will draw cities near it. Cities that existed before the last century
    or so generally sprung up right near the resources, much like Pittsburgh, since they acted as
    manufacturing and transportation hubs for those resources, but more recently new resource
    dependent cities don’t need to be as close to the resources themselves. New transportation technologies can bring
    the resources from their source. Just look at Dubai. Of course the UAE has enormous oil deposits,
    but they’re much closer to Abu Dhabi and the South-West than Dubai. In 1900, Dubai had 10,000 residents, less
    than half that of Carlisle, Pennsylvania—one of the farming towns we talked about at the
    beginning. That only grew to 40,000 by 1960, but today
    its known worldwide and has more than 2.5 million residents. It was able to grow at this enormous rate—even
    faster than Abu Dhabi—since it cemented itself as the economic and administrative
    hub for the oil industries of the region. Another geographic feature that we can add
    to the plane is mountains. Now, mountains don’t always have a uniform
    affect on cities. Mexico City, Bogota, and Addis Ababa are all
    enormous cities at elevations above 7,000 feet. Mountains do make transport and trade difficult,
    but they also provide protection. Many ancient cities grew in these locations
    since they were easy to protect, which left more time to focus on growing the city, but
    mountains can also hinder development. For quite a while, the United States could
    not develop west of the Appalachian mountains. They just served as an enormous barrier. In 1800, the average center of population
    for the entire United States was here even though the US had sovereignty over this entire
    area. Of course technology eventually conquered
    this barrier and moved the mean population center all the way out to Missouri today,
    but if the Appalachian mountains didn’t exist American history and geography would
    be completely different. We would have seen urban development much
    earlier in the mid-west. But mountains can have another effect. You see, coal, silver, gold, and other mineral
    deposits are all often located in mountainous regions, and, just like Dubai, cities can
    develop in less hospitable and easy places due to resources. The economic advantage of exploiting the resources
    overpowers the economic disadvantage of being in an inhospitable location. Denver, Colorado grew 650% between 1870 and
    1880 with the opening of a railroad branch connecting with the transcontinental railroad. It served as an access point to transportation
    to the gold miners in the rockies. So mountains can either push cities away or
    bring them nearer—it really just depends on the circumstance. Let’s exchange our isotropic plane for a
    world map. Where should cities be on here? Well, our world’s cities are not necessarily
    all in the most geographically efficient locations. While there is a certain level of natural
    selection that grows the efficiently placed cities and shrinks the inefficiently placed
    cities, humans are not always able to put cities in the most efficient locations. Let’s put up the 224 cities in the world
    with a population over 2 million. You can immediately see some patterns. Putting up the equator, you can see a clear
    divide. Only 32 of these cities lie in the southern
    hemisphere. One might think this is because there is so
    much more land in the northern hemisphere, but that’s not entirely true. You see, the southern hemisphere still has
    32% of the world’s land, but only has 14% of the world’s large cities. There’s clearly a higher density of cities
    in the northern hemisphere. You can pretty much trace this all back to
    Europe and Asia. The first large civilizations and empires
    were on these two continents even though the human race likely originated in Africa. There’s hundreds of different theories on
    why civilizations succeeded in some places and failed in others, but one of the more
    plausible and interesting theories is that Europe and Asia succeeded because they’re
    wide instead of tall. The very shape of the continents may have
    changed the course of human history. You see, when a continent is wide, you have
    a ton of land with roughly the same climate. Climate tends to change when you go north
    and south rather than east and west as a nature of how the earth rotates around the sun. Much of the success of early civilizations
    had to do with the domestication of plants and animals and the corresponding technology. When expanding horizontally, the climate is
    similar enough that an empire can use the same successful plants and animals, while
    expanding vertically requires the domestication of new plants and animals. If a civilization started in central-america,
    for example, there would be very little land on the continent with a similar climate and
    their expansion would be severely limited. In Europe and Asia, on the other hand, theres
    thousands upon thousands and miles of similar climate that can be reached just by traveling
    east or west. There’s evidence to back this up. Just look at the maps of the four largest
    early empires—the Qing Dynasty, the Abbasid Caliphate, the Umayyad Caliphate, and the
    Mongol empire. They were all in Eurasia and they all expanded
    horizontally. When some of the more modern empires expanded,
    they had the technology to do so overseas. The three major modern empires were the British,
    Spanish, and French empires—each of which came from relatively similar climates. A major reason why America was able to succeed
    is because all the agriculture from Europe worked there. Climatically, Europe and America are nearly
    identical. The majority of developed colonized countries
    are in the northern hemisphere just because they were closest to Europe, but formerly
    British countries like South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand are all highly developed and
    in the Southern Hemisphere. Their success over more northern countries
    in the southern hemisphere can also be partially attributed to their greater climate similarity
    to Europe. Let’s ask one more question. If our world only had one city, where would
    it logically be? Well if you take the location of every person
    in the world and average it out, you come to south-central Asia. That means that this general region is the
    optimum place to live on the planet, but where more specifically should our world city go. Well, this region is already in the Northern
    Hemisphere and in Eurasia, so we’ve already covered those two criteria. We want a place within a hundred of so miles
    of the ocean, on a navigable river, near mountains with rich mineral deposits—the single best
    place for a city on earth just might be… Dhaka, Bangladesh. Every geographic model and theory says that
    there is no better place on earth to put a city than here. There’s evidence to back this up: Dhaka
    is between the 4th and 18th largest metropolitan area on earth depending on how you define
    metropolitan area, and Bangladesh is the sixth densest country on earth—there are 161 million
    people living in an area about the size of England. History has affected geography enough that
    the largest and most advanced civilizations are not all in South-Central Asia, but if
    we started all over again, did humanity a second time, every geographic model says that
    this region could be the origin and central point of human civilization. I hope you enjoyed this Wendover Productions
    video. This video was made possible by my amazing,
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    Geography Now! LIECHTENSTEIN
    Articles, Blog

    Geography Now! LIECHTENSTEIN

    August 14, 2019


    Guys, it’s here. Some of you have been waiting for this episode for years. Sure, everybody knows about China, Brazil, Germany and Australia but how many of you know anything about little Liechtenstein! ♫ It’s time to learn Geography Now! ♫ Everybody I’m Host Barb’s. Okay, I actually had the incredible honour to not only go to this country with my mum last year And we also got passport stamps, which by the way Swiss geogra-peeps Hermann and Fabianne thank you for driving and hosting us, but I also had the incredible honour of meeting one of the incredibly rare and few native-born Liechtensteiner Geogra-peeps, Pascal. Dude, a real Liechtensteiner watches Geography Now. That’s amazing! Meeting an actual native of Liechtenstein is like finding a unicorn, in a haystack, in the Saharan desert. And the desert is made of haystacks, Sorry I’m just kind of gushing because come on we’re doing little Lichtenstein today. Let’s begin Now if you don’t know anything about Liechtenstein, the first thing you might need to know is that it is incredibly small. Like this sixth smallest country in the world. And it’s also rather difficult to get into in contrast to other European countries. First of all, Classified as a Microstate, the nation of Liechtenstein is located between Austria and Switzerland taking up only a hundred and sixty-two square kilometres, being only 25 kilometers long and and 9.4 Kilometers wide. It is also one of the only two doubly landlocked nations in the world meaning that it’s landlocked within other landlocked nations, the other one being Uzbekistan. The country is divided into 11 different municipalities with their own exclaves with the capital of Vaduz that has only about 5,200 people located in the center of the country. Vaduz is actually the second largest town in the country, the first being Schaan with about 500 more people. The country has no airports or seaports, but they do have a heliport at Balzers but that’s just like for tourist rides into the mountains. And they do have four train stations operated by an Austrian Federal Railway system and the stations are only serviced on weekday peak hours. So getting in, you’re much better off either taking a bus or car. To drive in, you can take various bridge crossings from Switzerland or you can come in from Feldkirch, Austria. There isn’t any border patrol or passport checks. It’s really easy. However if you do want a passport stamp, you can get one at the Tourism/ Post Office in Vaduz for about 3 Euros. Worth it! The main number 28 road pretty much crosses the entire country north to south as almost the entire country lives on the west side due to the high mountainous border to the east. The funny thing is: After World War 2, Liechtenstein actually had a little land dispute with what is now Czechia over the castles and forests and agricultural land plots that were hereditary lands that belonged to the former monarchs. These lands altogether made up a land area over ten times the size of the Liechtenstein. However when they brought it up, Czechia was like: “Hmm, so you want your old lands back, eh? Well, how about I give you the castles, but not the surrounding land areas.” to which Liechtenstein was like: Finally in 2009, they decided to drop the case and just let it go. But I mean whatever, they have like 7 other palaces in Austria and one in Italy. Otherwise some places of interest might include: The prince’s Castle in Vaduz Malbun, which has a ski resort The Main Square, the National Museum The Postage stamp Museum, The Schatzkammer treasure chamber The Kunstmuseum, The Landtag or “Parliament building” and Balzer’s gothic castle. All right. Now let’s take a look at those pristine Alps, shall we? For such a small country, Liechtenstein actually has a lot going on in terms of landscape. For one, the country is located on the Upper Rhine Valley in the European Alps along the longest river, the Rhine that borders with Switzerland. The entire eastern side of Liechtenstein is mountainous with the highest peak, Grauspitz located on the southern border with Switzerland as well. Just up north, the largest and pretty much only real lake in the country, Gampriner Seele can be found although it should be classified as a pond, but eh. When it comes to resources, Liechtenstein isn’t exactly top dog. I mean there’s a few cultivated fields in the south but overall, not too many things to extract. Nonetheless, they do actually have some industries like textiles, pharmaceuticals, power tools like the company “Hilti”. Other companies are in the country like “Neutrik”, “ThyssenKrupp”, “Hoval”, “Hilcona” and also Liechtenstein is the world’s largest provider of false teeth. Thanks to the company, “ivoclar vivadent” accounting for 20% of sales worldwide producing 60 million sets a year. It has something to do with the close relationship with Bollywood? Eh whatever, just look it up. It’s funny though. Because there’s actually more registered companies and jobs in Liechtenstein than there are people. Which is why over half the workforce has to travel into Liechtenstein from Switzerland or Austria. This means the country has the most exports per capita at around 122,000 dollars per person. It wasn’t always like this though. Before the 17th century, Liechtenstein was known for being “the Witch country” with boring farmers. It wasn’t until the beginning of the 20th century that Liechtenstein decided to change up fiscal policies and become a huge tax haven especially for billionaires, but it’s not like one of those blacklisted havens. It’s a good one, Okay? They do things right. St. Kitts & Nevis: “Hey, we’re just hustling, okay? Don’t act like you don’t too!” Out of all the seven-ish trillion shelter dollars worth in tax havens worldwide, Liechtenstein manages about 180 billion. In addition, They host nearly seventy four thousand ‘letterbox companies’ which don’t even really do anything but they still get paid for. So that means the system kind of keeps Liechtensteiners abundantly employed with about five million dollars and two companies to look after per citizen. Yeah, kids. If you really want to get rich, don’t seek after fame study Business and Finance with minors and accounting. Trust me. I’m a Youtuber. I know exactly what NOT to do. Oh, yeah. The national animal is the Kestrel. they even have a falconry center in Malbun. And some of the top notable dishes of Liechtenstein might include: “Käsknöpfle” which is like a variation of “Kaesespaetzle”, “Riobol”, “Sura käs”, Liechtenstein wine and those crown shaped chocolate things called… Oh geez, how do you pronounce this? “Fürstenhütchen” All right. Now, let’s move on to the ones that make those dishes. The people of this country. Once upon a time, there was this thing called the Holy Roman Empire. It was basically made up of like 1800 territories that eventually meshed and melded into what is now parts of like twelve different countries in Europe. Liechtenstein is basically the last surviving territory of the Holy Roman Empire that never really coalesced into any other state. Partially because nobody really cared about it and it was too small to bother with. BUT WHO’S LAUGHING NOW?! First of all, the country is nearly 38,000 people and is almost always ranked in the top three highest GDP per capita states in the world at nearly 180k per capita. The country is only about 1/3 Native Liechtensteiner whereas the remaining populous is made up of foreigners mostly Germans Austrians, Swiss and Italians They use the Swiss Franc as their currency, they use the type J plug outlet and they drive on the right side of the road. Which by the way, I hate the J plug outlet because half the time, the sockets are sunk into these weird hexagon shaped divots. Half the time, I couldn’t even fit my type C adapter plug when I was in Switzerland. Why? why do you guys do that? That’s like borderline statistic in Switzerland in Liechtenstein; that and your prices, for everything. Otherwise, I’d love everything else about you guys. 😀 Now here’s the thing: Liechtenstein is one of four countries in Europe that speaks German, however, they speak with their own distinct dialect very similar to the Swiss and Austrians. Obviously, it’s a little different from Hochdeutsch which is spoken up North in Germany. From what I was told, Liechtenshiners are known for saying “Hoi” for hello and “Tschau” for bye. Instead of “Kuh” for cow, they say “Buschla”. Instead of “Hügel” for Hill, they say “Böhel”. This is what you guys told me so yeah. Also I was told that this is how you can tell all the Germanic speaking countries apart. Let’s say that you gained weight. This is how a friend from each country would respond: Hmm, so how are you doing? Ahh! I see you’re enjoying your schnitzel eh? You got fat! Now like the Swiss, Liechtenstein has always kind of kept to themselves and stayed out of affairs. There’s a legend that says that when they fought in the Austro-Prussian war, they came back with negative casualties, as in, the army of 80 men came back with a friend. After that the military was disbanded and today, all military affairs are handled by the Swiss army even though they accidentally fired a shell and burned off a patch of their forest in the 80s and accidentally invaded in 2007 and Bah *I’m a sheep* You know, they laughed over it with glasses of wine. Now Liechtenstein is generally seen as being more conservative than other countries and more religious, mostly adhering to Catholicism with very strict stances on social issues like gay marriage abortion and immigration. In fact, less than 60 resident permits are issued every year for EEA citizens that work in Liechtenstein, half by lottery and half by government. Oh yeah, and the country is a monarchy, a principality to be exact. Essentially the Von Liechtenstein Family where the country gets its name from, are descended from Austrian noblemen related to the Hapsburgs. And even though they get little publicity, They are literally the richest Royals in Europe with a net worth of over 7.5 Billion dollars. The current Prince Hans-Adam II being the owner of LGT bank alone having a personal fortune of about four billion dollars. Yeah. By contrast, Queen Elizabeth has only about 500 million. The prince has four children and 15 Grandchildren. Alois being the next in line to the throne. Oh and his brother Maximilian married Angela Gisela Brown from Panama who was the first person of known African ancestry to have married into a reigning European dynasty. The royal family is actually quite popular and loved by the people. They’re very down-to-earth and they eat at cafes downtown in Vaduz regularly talking to the everyday citizens. Once a year, they even hold a party which everyone is allowed to come to the castle and share a beer. There is a bit of controversy though because today, they are the only monarchy in Europe in which the monarch has influence on every level of government. The prince can veto anything. In 2012, they held a vote which kind of went like this: The people: “We want to take away your powers of Exercising the option to veto bills.” The Royal Family: “Hmm, I mean if you really don’t want me around, I can totally just leave and let you guys handle everything.” The people: “Really??” The Royal Family: “Yeah, I’ll just take my 7.6 billion dollars corporate interest and revenue deals outside of the state, but you know, you can sell postcards to… tourists.” The people: “Wait, COME BACK!!” Annnnd, over three quarters of the population voted to let him remain with his original duties. Speaking of monarchy, History. We don’t have a lot of time to go too far into it, but the quickest way I can summarize it: Two small Holy roman empire earldoms of Vaduz and Schellenberg, 1699 this guy comes along, 1712, He purchases both Vaduz and Schellenberg hence joining the two together making the country complete, The Napoleon years but the prince is like a respected military leader so they remain independent, 19th century joins German Confederation although Austria gets left out which geographically separates Liechtenstein from Germany, World War I, breaks ties with Austria-Hungary, 1938 Prince moves back in from Vienna, World War II after Austria’s annexed, they are literally on the Nazi border But Hitler was like: “Meh, not worth it” and left them alone, They stay neutral and independent Post-World War II, economic boom, all the bank’s fiduciaries and engineers come in Czechia dispute, 1984, women are allowed to vote, the last European country to do so, 1995 they joined the EEA and here we are today. Oh and Liechtenstein has like one of the lowest crime rates in the world. Prisons are often empty and anyone with a sentence over 2 years is actually sent to Austria. It’s been said that people typically don’t even lock their front doors. For such a small population, everyone kind of knows everyone and has a close tie. Nonetheless, they still reach out and make friends abroad. Which brings us to… Now it doesn’t really matter how small your country is. If you’re able to handle your country’s overall economic output with a content populace, holding on to sovereignty is a breeze, and so is making friends. Today, They have six embassy missions abroad in Austria, Belgium, Germany Switzerland and the Vatican and the United States. However Switzerland is authorized to represent Liechtenstein in other diplomatic situations unless they decide to send their own delegates. Liechtenstein is interesting because they don’t host any embassies in their territory, but rather 32 honorary councils, surprisingly three of which are the African states of Chad, Senegal and the Central African Republic whom have reached out and made close ties for decades. They are not part of the European Union but rather part of the Schengen area, which means they have open borders and visa policies with the EU. And also as a member of the EEA, they have free movement of goods and persons and services as well, but yeah, not part of the EU. Austria and Germany have always been close friends especially the Southern Bavarian and Baden Württemberg states of Germany. These two make up some of the largest business partners and foreign population living in Liechtenstein, which is barely even much of a distinction since they are all germanic brothers to begin with. In earlier years, most of the monarchs actually chose to live in Austria rather than their own country until 1938 when Franz Joseph was like: “We’re moving back in folks!” When it comes to their best friends however, most Liechtensteiners might say the Swiss. They share everything. A customs union, a monetary union, military coverage, diplomatic delegates. They even speak relatively the same dialect and have similar mannerisms and culture cues. It’s often said that Switzerland sees Liechtenstein as its little yet surprisingly richer brother. I mean, they literally were totally cool with it when they got accidentally attacked. What more do you need to know? In conclusion, Liechtenstein is kind of like a high capacity storage microchip. Small yet absolutely flooding with abundance neatly tucked away in a small space hidden away from the public eye. Stay tuned, the second creepy Baltic twin, Lithuania, is coming up next.

    Brazil’s Geography Problem
    Articles, Blog

    Brazil’s Geography Problem

    August 14, 2019


    This video was made possible by Skillshare. Learn from 21,000 classes for free for two
    months at https://skl.sh/wendover3. There are plenty of lines you can draw on
    the globe but perhaps none is more consequential than the equator. Of the 15 wealthiest countries
    in the world as measured by GDP per capita, all are in the northern hemisphere. Only 800
    million of earth’s 7.6 billion residents live south of the equator. There is a clear
    divide between north and south but of those 800 million people a quarter of them, about
    207 million, live here in Brazil. The country is an exception to the global trend. Brazil
    is the fifth most populous country in the world and the most populous entirely within
    the southern hemisphere. Its economy has grown enormously and the country is quickly developing.
    Although, the very land it sits on stacks the odds against it. Its location gives it
    a disadvantage. Given this, the question is whether Brazil can develop into a world superpower
    by the likes of the US, Europe, Russia, India, and China or if the country is doomed to fail? Brazil, of course, looks like this but in
    reality almost 80% of the country’s population lives here—within 200 miles of the coast.
    You do see a concentration of population near the coast in any country as it provides a
    cheap and easy means of transportation by boats and a source of food through fishing
    but few countries have such a severe concentration of people by the oceans as Brazil. This small
    area, for example, is home to three of Brazil’s six largest cities. Normally this would help
    development as the area in between cities will urbanize but this map doesn’t tell
    the whole story—this one does. You see, this area of Brazil is rather mountainous.
    The major cities mostly exist in small pockets of low-altitude, flat land on the ocean. This
    is because major cities need easy water access to get goods in and out. The majority of Brazil’s
    coast is defined by steep, sheer cliffs. Petrópolis, for example, a suburb of Rio, is a mere 13
    miles from the ocean and yet it sits at almost 3,000 feet of altitude. The rare areas with
    low-altitude land on the water are where cities like Porte Alegre, Rio de Janeiro, and Recife
    are but this pattern has two consequences. First, these cities, while being on flat land
    themselves are surrounded by cliffs and mountainous regions which means their growth is limited.
    There are plenty of cities that exist in mountainous regions but the world’s largest and most
    influential cities like London and Delhi and Beijing all exist in areas with absolutely
    no geographical features limiting their growth. The fact that Brazil’s cities locate in
    rare low-altitude coastal land means that the country will likely never have a megalopolis
    by the likes of the Pearl River Delta or the US Northeast. It takes a surprising six hours
    to drive between Rio and Sao Paolo and since there’s no low-altitude coastal land in
    between them, there are really no major cities in between them too. Brazil’s cities are
    confined to the geographically convenient areas which are spread out from each other.
    This means the cities can’t collaborate easily with each other thereby limiting Brazil’s
    impact on the world stage. Like any large country, Brazil’s development
    potential is also linked to how it gets its food. This, in fact, might be Brazil’s greatest
    obstacle as it really doesn’t hav e much great farmland, at least yet. The country’s
    main agricultural region is its south which is blessed with great soil and great rivers
    that help transport crops away from their farms. Interestingly, the same elevation that
    leads to steep coastal cliffs causes rivers to run in a counterintuitive direction. The
    Tietê river, for example, starts near Sao Paolo a mere 10 miles away from the Atlantic
    ocean but then runs inland almost 500 miles where it flows into the Paraná River which
    eventually flows out into the ocean near Buenos Aires, Argentina. If a farmer wants to export
    their food abroad, it’s often cheaper to first ship it the thousands of miles by boat
    on these rivers than just hundreds of miles overland to Brazil’s coast due to their
    poor road infrastructure. This means that Argentina gets the business of packing up
    and shipping Brazil’s food to other countries. That’s just lost money for Brazil as a result
    of their geography. Brazil’s south, though, does not even have enough land to feed the
    country’s own 200 million residents. Given that, the question is where to put the rest
    of the farms. In Brazil’s north is the Amazon basin. The
    central feature of this region is, of course, the Amazon River which is navigable for boats.
    Normally this feature would lead to a significant population as navigable rivers serve as cheap
    and easy transport for crops and goods but the banks of the Amazon are a tough place
    to farm or live. Not only are they muddy and unstable which makes building difficult, but
    the Amazon also regularly floods which means that every year many of the communities on
    the banks of the Amazon can have their streets underwater for months. Building and living
    in the Amazonian cities is difficult, but what’s more difficult is building the roads
    in and out. The largest city in the Amazon, Manaus, is home to 2.6 million people, it’s
    as big as Baltimore, and yet there are only three roads connecting the city to the outside
    world. Many of the smaller towns around the Amazon have no roads going in and out as its
    just incredibly costly and difficult to build roads through the rainforest. In fact, rather
    unbelievably, there is not a single bridge spanning over the Amazon so there is no way
    to drive from the northernmost region of Brazil to the rest without taking a ferry. Overall,
    this whole area is just empty. Even if there was the infrastructure to transport crops
    to market, farming in the Amazon involves clearing huge amounts of land and even then,
    the soil is relatively infertile which leads to poor yields. Despite being Brazil’s largest
    state, Amazonas is home to just 1.8% of its population. It just costs too much to build
    the infrastructure needed to live there. To the south of the Amazon, though, is an
    area known as the Cerrado. This vast savanna used to be in the same category as the Amazon—it
    was empty. The problem was not only that there was no natural network of rivers to get crops
    out of the area but also that the soil was too acidic and lacking enough nutrients to
    easily grow large quantities of crops. Between both the Amazon and the Cerrado being off-limits
    for large-scale farming, that meant that Brazil really didn’t have much land at all for
    farming. 30 years ago, with only the south to farm, Brazil was actually a net importer
    of food—it bought more food from other countries than it sold. That was until researchers discovered
    that all you needed to do to fix the soil was add phosphorous and lime. The phosphorous
    served as a fertilizer in the place of natural nutrients and the lime worked to reduce the
    level of acidity. In the early 2000’s, the country spread more than 25 million tons of
    lime per year and so today the Cerrado accounts for 70% of Brazil’s farmland. In addition,
    Brazil has begun growing soybeans. This plant is normally grown in more temperate climates
    such as the US, northern China, or Japan, but through cross-breeding and genetic modification
    it can be modified to grow in warmer and acidic environments such as the Brazilian Cerrado.
    Thanks to the enormous amount of land Brazil has and these technological advancements the
    country has gone from producing 16% of the world’s soybean in 2005 to 31% today.
    A country’s level of development is often to linked to how good its natural transportation
    system is. That’s part of why the US developed so much so fast—it has a great system of
    navigable rivers right in its agricultural heartland that helps get goods from the fields
    to cities fast and inexpensively. The Brazilian Cerrado, though, does not have that. It doesn’t
    even have much of a preexisting network of roads since before this recent agricultural
    advancement barely anyone lived there. Therefore anyone who wants to farm in the Cerrado has
    to find land, level it, treat it with phosphate and lime, and build roads to get supplies
    in and crops out. Cerrado farms can be profitable but it takes an enormous amount of money to
    build the infrastructure needed to start a farm. It’s not like the US or France or
    China where all you need is some land. The consequence of this is that farms in Brazil
    tend to owned by corporations rather than individuals because only corporations have
    the money to build farms. That therefore increases the level of wealth disparity in Brazil. According
    to the World Bank’s Gini index, Brazil is the 11th most economically unequal country
    in the world. Lower wealth disparity and the emergence of a middle class are indicators
    of economic development so the country should want to fix this. Brazil’s government has
    recognized its infrastructure problem as a source of its wealth disparity and has therefore
    worked to build roads in the interior so that more individuals can run farms but the government
    only has so much money to spend and it’s a big country.
    Brazil does, though, understand the importance of its core. It understands that the coastal
    cities are constrained and that economic development will come from the center. It was partially
    for that reason that the country decided to move its capital from Rio de Janeiro to here—Brasília.
    The thinking was that putting the capital in the core would stimulate the economically
    underdeveloped region and, in many ways, it worked. The city simply did not exist before
    1960 yet today more than 4 million people live in its metropolitan area. Being located
    on relatively flat land unlike Rio, the city can just grow and grow and grow without hinderance.
    Brazil has potential, but its defining issue is that it’s an expensive place. It’s a
    vicious cycle. In order to make money, Brazil needs to invest in its infrastructure but
    without people making money it doesn’t have the tax money to build what it takes t o transition
    into the first world. The question of why tropical countries are less developed is an
    enormous one without a clear answer, but Brazil is one of the most likely candidates to break
    this trend. It certainly lags behind other developing countries like China, but as its
    agriculture industry develops it will become a bigger and bigger exporter which will bring
    more money in. With time, its average income will inch up. The country already does have
    major companies in other industries such as banking, manufacturing, and oil but with how
    big Brazil is, agriculture is the one that’s the world’s focus right now. Only France,
    Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States export more agricultural products per year
    which is good company to be in. Brazil may not have the explosive growth rate of some
    other less developed countries but by continuously taking what it earns and reinvesting it to
    open up more of the country to agricultural production it will continue its path to superpower
    status. One of the common questions I receive is how
    I started making these videos. The first step was learning the skills needed from writing
    to research to sound design and editing, but for each and every one of them there’s a
    course on Skillshare. Skillshare, you see, is an online learning community that has more
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    learn skills to help you make videos, to show off at parties, or even to help you get a
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    months exclusively by going to skl.sh/wendover3. Skillshare makes this show possible and its
    a great place to learn or improve your skills so please do check them out, once again, at
    skl.sh/wendover3. Thanks for watching and I’ll see you again in three weeks for another
    Wendover Productions video.