Readings: Eyjafjallajökull Volcano, Dung and Coffee, Killer Quakes

Here’s the most interesting stuff I read over the weekend:

(1) “How an Icelandic Volcano Shut Down Europe’s Airspace” [Der Spiegel] – The furious Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland has erupted, and the result is the grounding of thousands of flights across Europe. Since flights are grounded, some people were forced to take more creative ways of getting to their destination:

British comedian John Cleese of Monty Python fame found himself stuck in Oslo. He hired a taxi and was able to reach Brussels for a fee of €3,800 ($5,100).

Der Spiegel does an excellent job of breaking down the story. On a related note, there were a lot of photographs being shared on the web related to the event, but I wanted to create a most representative and compelling set of photos of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption. I posted a gallery on Flickr: Eyjafjallajökull Volcano (worth a look for some incredible images).

(2) “From Dung to Coffee Brew With No Aftertaste” [New York Times] – the most expensive coffee in the world comes from a wild source. A wonderful read!

(3) “Killer Quakes on Rise With Cities on Fault Lines” [Bloomberg] – we’ve had major earthquakes in Haiti, Baja, and most recently, China so far this year. Are we experiencing more earthquakes as of late than usual? A good point by the author:

The difference between a major earthquake and a significant one is whether it occurs near a population center. Seismic events that people feel are newsworthy, those that shake fish or cows are not. Those that collapse cities are especially destructive in lives and rebuilding costs.

But perhaps the most telling line of the piece:

Never before has it been possible to kill 1 million people in a single earthquake, but cities are now big enough to make this possible.

Readings: Goldman, Tweeting Library, Mona Lisa, Jefferson County, Billionaire’s Yacht

Here’s what caught my attention over the last few days…

(1) “S.E.C. Accuses Goldman of Fraud in Housing Deal” [New York Times] – this was the biggest bombshell of the day, and it sent the markets tumbling. GS stock finished $23.57 lower than it started at the beginning of the day, a drop of nearly 13%.

(2) “How Tweet It Is! Library Acquires Entire Twitter Archive” [Library of Congress] – in what appears to be a belated April Fools’ joke, the blog of Library of Congress announced that every single public tweet since Twitter’s inception in 2006 will be archived. The announcement was posted on Twitter and the news spread like wildfire through the Twitterverse. I understand that there is a benefit to archiving public tweets, but it remains to be seen what the Library of Congress will do in order to allow filtering the tweets. Something else I’m curious about is how the Library of Congress (or whoever manages this overwhelming project) will differentiate the public vs. non-public tweets: Twitter users can set their accounts to public or private at will, so it’s unclear what will happen to those tweets which used to be private but are now public or vice versa.

(3) “Stealing Mona Lisa” [Vanity Fair] – a fascinating piece about the world’s most famous painting. Did you know that Pablo Picasso was brought in for questioning after the Mona Lisa was stolen in the early 1900s? It’s true! And in case you’ve ever wondered what it’s like seeing the world’s most famous painting, here’s what the scene looks like at the Louvre Museum.

(4) “Looting Main Street” [Rolling Stone] – a provocative piece by Matt Taibi, exploring the rise and fall of Jefferson County, Alabama. [via]

(5) “Baccarat Meets Bomb-Proof Glass on the High Seas” [Wall Street Journal] – it’s simply known as the “A,” but this $300 million yacht, owned by Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko, defies definition. It’s extravagance unparalleled.

Links of the Day (01/22/10)

Here are some of the interesting articles and blog posts I’ve read recently:

(1) “Hope” [Sergey Brin’s Blog] – Sergey Brin, one of the founders of Google, traveled to Haiti after the catastrophic earthquake struck the tiny island nation on January 12. In his blog post, he talks about what he has seen and concludes with this powerful message:

While each of us is a citizen of a particular country, we are all citizens of the world. The responsibility falls on all of us to lend a hand when a tragedy of this magnitude befalls some of us.

(2) “A Culture in Jeopardy, Too” [New York Times]- a beautiful, moving photo essay by Maggie Stebber for the New York Times Lens blog. On the resilience of the Haitian people:

Haitians are not waiting for handouts. They are rebuilding their homes and getting on with their lives, getting back to business in the markets and on the roads. They cannot afford to wait for foreigners who can’t get organized quickly enough.

(3) “Architect, or Whatever” [New York Times] – interesting to read what some people are doing in these hard economic times.

Readings: Knowledge and Predictability, AOL-Time Warner, Soyabeans

I’ve decided that in addition to posting about the books I read, I’ll also provide links to interesting articles I find across the web. I don’t see myself posting links daily, but perhaps three to five links once a week. If you think this is a worthy venture, please let me know in the comments!

Here are the articles I’ve read recently which are worth checking out:

(1) “The Degradation of Predictability and Knowledge” [Edge.org] – interesting, but perhaps overly pessimistic take on the internet, by Nassim Taleb, author of Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan (both of which I read and highly recommend).

(2) “In Retrospect: How the AOL-Time Warner Merger Went So Wrong” [New York Times] – an excellent interview with Stephen Case (co-founder of AOL), Gerald Levin (CEO of Time Warner), and Ted Turner on what went wrong with that fateful merger ten years ago.

(3) “Worth a Hill of Soyabeans” [The Economist] – how the gradual introduction of internet kiosks providing price information affected the market for soyabeans in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Interesting to discover that not only farmers’ profits increased but that the cultivation of soyabeans increased as well.

On another note, today is a palindrome day (01/11/10).