“The size of the appliances in a typical North Korean home says a lot about social standing. As such, the government uses refrigerators to reward loyal citizens, including its 2008 Olympic gold medalists. More of the country’s growing cadre of nouveau riche are buying refrigerators, and yet few outside the country’s capital are actually using the appliances to cool food. Why?
A small minority of elite officials and business people in North Korea, possibly totaling 3.5 million (p.45), are getting wealthier due to growing legal and illegal trade with China as well as other black market pursuits. And one of their first status buys tends to be a refrigerator, Andrei Lankov, a professor at Kookmin University in Seoul, tells Quartz. ”North Korea is a very poor place, but its economy has improved much throughout the last five to ten years. These semi-legal activities of the new rich are one of forces behind this partial revival.”
Based on accounts with defectors and his own research, Lankov estimates that one in 15 to 20 families, mostly in Pyongyang and northwestern parts of the country, now own a refrigerator. That’s compared to one in 100 households (p. 44) in the 1990s, an estimate also based on accounts of Korean defectors.
Many of the refrigerators are likely imported from China. North Korean trade with China has ballooned in recent years, and informal markets within the country have been allowed since the collapse of North Korea’s state distribution system after a famine in the 1990s.
But using a fancy refrigerator isn’t easy in an entirely un-fancy country. Because of the frequency of power outages, few families actually keep food in their refrigerators, unless they have managed to connect their homes to a military or industrial power grid. What do the contraptions store instead? In some cases, books.”
The Cowgirl Way
Photographs by Ilona Szwarc
“In the ranch country of the Texas Panhandle, it’s not unusual for parents to hold their babies in a saddle as soon as they’re big enough to sit up. As toddlers, they can participate in rodeos, where they ride around on toy horses made of broomsticks. When they get a little older, they move on to events like barrels, poles and goat tying. When talking about rodeoing, the girls muse about their spiritual connection to the animals and the grit the sport helps them build — rather than the fact that they’re crossing over into traditionally male territory. “I used to be scared a lot, to even get on a horse,” Riley Sessions, 12, says. “I got tougher as I got on a horse and started riding. You’ve got to be pretty brave to ride a horse.””
“Since the dawn of recorded history, we’ve been using visual depictions to map the Earth, order the heavens, make sense of time, dissect the human body, organize the natural world,perform music, and even concretize abstract concepts like consciousness and love. 100 Diagrams That Changed the World (UK; public library) by investigative journalist and documentarian Scott Christianson chronicles the history of our evolving understanding of the world through humanity’s most groundbreaking sketches, illustrations, and drawings, ranging from cave paintings to The Rosetta Stone to Moses Harris’s color wheel to Tim Berners-Lee’s flowchart for a “mesh” information management system, the original blueprint for the world wide web.
But most noteworthy of all is the way in which these diagrams bespeak an essential part of culture — the awareness that everything builds on what came before, that creativity is combinatorial, and that the most radical innovations harness the cross-pollination of disciplines. Christianson writes in the introduction:
“It appears that no great diagram is solely authored by its creator. Most of those described here were the culmination of centuries of accumulated knowledge. Most arose from collaboration (and oftentimes in competition) with others. Each was a product and a reflection of its unique cultural, historical and political environment. Each represented specific preoccupations, interests, and stake holders.
The great diagrams depicted in the book form the basis for many fields — art, astronomy, cartography, chemistry, mathematics, engineering, history, communications, particle physics, and space travel among others. More often than not, however, their creators — mostly known, but many lost to time — were polymaths who are creating new technologies or breakthroughs by drawing from a potent combination of disciplines. By applying trigonometric methods to the heavens, or by harnessing the movement of the sun and the planets to keep time, they were forging powerful new tools; their diagrams were imbued with synergy.””
Because what you’re forgetting is that your beliefs don’t make you a better person. It’s your behaviour that does.
And what you have to know: I’m here as a reminder that you’ve pushed your beliefs aside, and that you are not a good person.
“If you’ve been wondering what it would look like if the display screens of every iPhone ever purchased were somehow stitched together to create a massive, hulking monoscreen, today happens to be your lucky day. Josh Orter, the mathematical mastermind behind the new website Stupid Calculations, has taken the time (and no small amount of mental stamina) to solve this mystery just for our curious minds.
Using some basic math and a little digging into Apple’s iPhone sales data, Orter has calculated just how big this monolithic screen would be. At 5,059 feet tall and 2,846 feet wide, big is sort of an understatement. To put it in perspective: The screen would be a bit wider than Central Park and a couple hundred feet shy of a mile tall, making it nearly triple the height of new One World Trade Center building. Plant that thing in the middle of Manhattan, as the rendering above shows, and all of New York City has a front-row seat to your next Snapchat.
Orter breaks down the math on his site, but here’s the quick and dirty version: First he figured out how many iPhones have been purchased since its 2007 release until the current quarter (answer: approximately 352,292,000). Next he set about figuring out the collective surface area using the phone’s dimensions—a trickier task considering the move from a 3.5” diagonal screen to the iPhone 5’s 4″. From there the math gets a little more hairy, but suffice it to say the surface area is the equivalent of nearly 250 pro football fields (or 14.39 million sq. feet, 330.54 acres or 2.07 billion sq. inches for those of you with a rusty mental calculator).
From the looks of it, the monoscreen is just the beginning of Orter’s Stupid Calculations. Want to see a visualization of how much cash Yahoo is giving Tumblr? Or find out how long it would take you to drink the water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool? For that you’ll need to check out the Stupid Calculations website.”