Price cuts. Cookies at open houses. Listings lasting longer than a few weeks on the MLS. The housing slow down is now officially here. Delusions usually end up on a direct path with reality. Housing is always a lagging indicator of underlying economic activity. People will fight to the bitter end to save their homes. […]
Every January, on Saint Sebastian Day, the streets of Piornal, Spain, fill with residents armed with turnips, seeking to punish the Jarramplas. The Jarramplas is a devil-like character portrayed by a man wearing a costume made from colorful strips of fabric, a frightening mask, and body armor underneath. In a centuries-old tradition, he walks the streets and beats a drum while residents throw turnips at him as a punishment for stealing cattle. The exact origin of the festival are not known, various theories exist from the mythological punishment of Caco by Hercules, to a cattle thief ridiculed and expelled by his neighbors.
Yes, yes, it is fascinating. At least when Bill Hammack, aka Engineer Guy, explains how it all works. Don't miss the bit at the end for how quietly ingenious Lego's injection molding process is. (via digg)
XKCD creator Randall Munroe has a new book out today. “Thing Explainer” uses the 1,000 most common words to provide simplified explanations of all sorts of difficult to grasp concepts. This piece in the New Yorker is a great example of the power of this idea.
The island of Taiwan, governed by the Republic of China (ROC), lies about 100 miles (161 km) east of mainland China, across the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan also administers a number of smaller islands known as the Kinmen Archipelago, or Kinmen County. Great Kinmen Island and its neighbor islets are on the other side of the strait, practically surrounded by the People's Republic of China (PRC), in a harbor just east of the port city of Xiamen—in some places barely more than a mile apart. Back in the 1950s, the islands were heavily shelled during the two Taiwan Strait Crises—military clashes between the PRC and ROC. The small islands were heavily fortified against bombardment and invasion, with barricades placed on beaches, artillery emplaced on hillsides, massive tunnels dug to shelter troops, and concrete walls of loudspeakers built to blast propaganda across the water. Reuters reports that today the island of fewer than 129,000 residents is "eyeing closer commercial ties with China, wanting to pipe water from Xiamen and has plans to build a bridge and set up a glittering free trade zone with the city," as China continues to seek unification with Taiwan under its "one country, two systems" system, like Hong Kong and Macau.