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National Geographic premieres new show – Comic Store Heroes

This is Comic Store Heroes, a wild and wacky adventure into the subculture of comic book super fans, where dreams are everything… and with a bit of faith and spandex, they really can come true.

Amid the dark and dangerous shadows of New York, the real life Gotham City, shines a bright light that lures comic fans from every corner: America’s largest comic store, Midtown Comics. While dealing with eccentric super fans, daily battles for geekdom supremacy, men dressed as bananas, and one million customers a year, boss Gerry is also preparing for the biggest day of his comic year – New York Comic Con. And it’s just six weeks away!

So he’s put his main men, Thor “The Marketeer” and Alex “The Negotiator” on the case. Thor has to track down a comic celebrity to appear at the store’s Comic Con booth, while Alex has to buy 10,000 old comics from super-collectors to then sell at the Con as well as completing a personal mission for his boss: finding Gerry’s elusive holy grail comic, “Hot Stuff, The Little Devil No.1″. This was the first comic Gerry ever read as a kid, and without it Midtown Comics wouldn’t exist. As an incentive, Gerry has offered Alex a cash bonus if he finds it. But it’s gonna be a hell of a challenge – it’s one of the rarest comics in the world!

Comic Store Heroes, premiered Friday, July 13th at 8P et/pt.

 

Source: National Geographic Blog

 

 

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California begins offering $1 trips on Greyhound from LA to SF

Profiled by a Los Angeles Times travel writer, it reminds me of the $1 DC to NYC bus ride.

One traveler finds the ghost of Jack Kerouac and more on a bus trip up California’s spine. At $1 each way, it has to be the best bargain in all of travel.

Mindful that great American road trips occur in all sorts of vessels — heck, Huck rode a rickety raft — we’re on a Greyhound bus heading up California’s flat, slender belly.

“Why?” you ask.

That’s a sensible question, but let us open our hearts and heads to this for a few seconds:

By the time we’re done, we’ll meet a vagabond grandma and a former prostitute, an impish computer genius and just maybe the ghost of Jack Kerouac, who looked at Greyhound and California’s wide-open roads as gateways to the finest American right of all: the right to wander.

So, climb aboard. No security checkpoints, no luggage fees. No pillows or drink service either, but also no charge. A few of my fellow passengers, some more hollow-eyed than even I, have prison on their faces. A few are students, but most look like the same sorts you see on commercial airlines these days.

The full storyGreyhound Express: new spin on an old-fashioned ride

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Amazon strikes another blow on publishing industry – $20 million for audiobooks

Amazon continues to upset the publishing industry, this time going around publishers to offer authors $20 million for going audio. If an author is willing to let Audible, the Amazon-owned audiobook powerhouse, sell their book then Amazon will give them $1 per book:

The Amazon-owned digital audiobooks site Audible.com is launching a new program, “Audible Author Services,” that pays audiobook authors $1 per sale through Audible.com, Audible.co.uk, and iTunes, out of a $20 million fund. The audiobook publishers do not receive any of the funds.

To sign up, authors must make their titles available as audiobooks through Audible.com. Once they enroll their books in the program, Audible says, they will:

  • Receive an honorarium of $1 per unit sold.
  • Obtain samples and links from Audible for use in social media, blogs, or on their websites.
  • Gain direct interaction with Audible marketing and merchandising teams; and
  • Obtain a free copy of their audiobook from Audible.

via Paid Content

All of this amidst a Department of Justice probe into e-book price-fixing that charged many major publishing houses and Apple, yet, conspicuously left Amazon out.

It certainly does appear that Amazon has a death wish for certain areas of the publishing industry and is largely succeeding at that.

Life on Mars is possible – for cave dwellers

A study of the biology and geology of Mars, from the Australian National University, shows there is plenty of room for life on Mars.

Granted, much of that room is in caves just below the planet’s surface, and much of that life will likely be microbes rather than little green men. But here’s the kicker — fully 3% of Mars has the right conditions to support life, the researchers say.

…if you run the same numbers on Earth, just 1% of the planet’s volume can support life.

The average surface temperature on Mars is minus 63 degrees Celsius (AFP/HO/File)

Mars’ surface is too cold and too low-pressure to support liquid water…But Lineweaver’s study looked at geological data from decades of Mars missions — and concluded that it would be warm and pressurized enough for life to live just below the surface. Warmth from the planet’s core provides the heat, and soil packed in from above creates the necessary air pressure.

So are there vast empires of microbes — or even something bigger — lurking just below that dusty red surface? We should know more next August when NASA’s Curiosity Rover arrives on Mars. This next-generation space robot comes equipped with a laser beam that can blast rocks, and a robotic arm that can examine the results.

via Mashable

 

More about Mars:

 

// Photo via AFP & thx to Amelia S.

Oil fact – 99% of U.S. electricity generation does NOT come from oil

Transportation, not electricity, is the source of oil’s importance: since the 1970s, the U.S. has weaned its power sector off of oil. Today only one percent of U.S. electricity is generated from oil and only one percent of U.S. oil demand is due to electricity generation. Thus expansion of electricity generation from solar, wind, nuclear, and other power sources will not serve to displace oil in any perceptible manner. Plug in an electric vehicle today and 99% of the electricity its battery is charged with will not be generated from oil.

via United States Energy Security Council

 

Thx to Steven Witt

 

Keep reading - California launches a statewide network of charging stations for electric vehicles

World population at 7 billion and won't peak until 9.5 billion

Sometime on Monday, October 31, 2011, a Halloween baby was born. This special tyke is the 7 billionth human being living on our planet. An incredible number that shocks, interests, awes, and scares all of us.

Here are some interesting facts about this major milestone.

  • Standing shoulder-to-shoulder all 7 billion of us would fill Los Angeles (so space is not the problem).
  • Today there are 5 births for every 2 deaths.
  • We speak 7,000 languages.
  • And, we live in 194 countries.

Now, get ready for this. We are not going to stop at 7 billion, with many experts predicting that we will peak at around 9.5 billion sometime in the middle of this century (~2050).

Which brings up a whole slew of questions. First, food, where agriculturists expect “supplying food for nine to ten billion people will not be an issue.” Though, distribution will undoubtedly continue to be a problem.

Second, how are all of these people going to live. The trend is a massive urbanization of the world’s population. Our cities have grown to titanic sizes with the current unit of measurement being 10 million or more residents, called a megacity.

Keep in mind that up until the industrial revolution in the early 1800s, no city in the world ever had more than a million and change. As the revolution took hold, cities like London and New York quickly sprouted up to 10 million and beyond.

Today, there are 26 megacities with the 10 largest having populations beyond 20 million. Before this growth is complete another 25 will join the ranks.

Imagine that, a world with 50 megacities. Should make for some exciting travel opportunities. Here is how they will likely be spread out:

  • 8 in China
  • 6 in the US
  • 6 in India
  • 6 in Latin America
  • 4 in Africa
  • 3 in Japan
  • 3 in Europe

Though, as the world matures we might see some drastic changes. For example, if Africa gets on the right track it could quickly become the new growth zone.

Which brings up the third topic: growth areas. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that most of Europe isn’t growing. The majority of its country’s have reached their ideal population size, with growth rates steady or even slightly shrinking.

Now compare that to the fastest growing countries who will be doubling their population in the next 15-20 years: Liberia, Burundi, Afghanistan, Western Sahara, and East Timor.

The demographers have noticed this too and concluded the following. First world economies have already reached their peak population, the fast-risers like India and Brazil are booming, and the third-world countries have yet to experience their growth.

Modern medicine, sanitation, and capitalism have yet to reach certain areas of the world.

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World population at 7 billion and won’t peak until 9.5 billion

Sometime on Monday, October 31, 2011, a Halloween baby was born. This special tyke is the 7 billionth human being living on our planet. An incredible number that shocks, interests, awes, and scares all of us.

Here are some interesting facts about this major milestone.

  • Standing shoulder-to-shoulder all 7 billion of us would fill Los Angeles (so space is not the problem).
  • Today there are 5 births for every 2 deaths.
  • We speak 7,000 languages.
  • And, we live in 194 countries.

Now, get ready for this. We are not going to stop at 7 billion, with many experts predicting that we will peak at around 9.5 billion sometime in the middle of this century (~2050).

Which brings up a whole slew of questions. First, food, where agriculturists expect “supplying food for nine to ten billion people will not be an issue.” Though, distribution will undoubtedly continue to be a problem.

Second, how are all of these people going to live. The trend is a massive urbanization of the world’s population. Our cities have grown to titanic sizes with the current unit of measurement being 10 million or more residents, called a megacity.

Keep in mind that up until the industrial revolution in the early 1800s, no city in the world ever had more than a million and change. As the revolution took hold, cities like London and New York quickly sprouted up to 10 million and beyond.

Today, there are 26 megacities with the 10 largest having populations beyond 20 million. Before this growth is complete another 25 will join the ranks.

Imagine that, a world with 50 megacities. Should make for some exciting travel opportunities. Here is how they will likely be spread out:

  • 8 in China
  • 6 in the US
  • 6 in India
  • 6 in Latin America
  • 4 in Africa
  • 3 in Japan
  • 3 in Europe

Though, as the world matures we might see some drastic changes. For example, if Africa gets on the right track it could quickly become the new growth zone.

Which brings up the third topic: growth areas. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that most of Europe isn’t growing. The majority of its country’s have reached their ideal population size, with growth rates steady or even slightly shrinking.

Now compare that to the fastest growing countries who will be doubling their population in the next 15-20 years: Liberia, Burundi, Afghanistan, Western Sahara, and East Timor.

The demographers have noticed this too and concluded the following. First world economies have already reached their peak population, the fast-risers like India and Brazil are booming, and the third-world countries have yet to experience their growth.

Modern medicine, sanitation, and capitalism have yet to reach certain areas of the world.

Here is a graph from Google’s Public Data Explorer which highlights this trend.

The United States is still booming (0.97%) despite being a first-world economy, and China is not with a growth rate (0.48%) half that of the United States and very close to the European rates.

The overall world growth rate is 1.17%.

Some of the growth rates around the world:

  • Japan: -0.02%
  • Germany: -0.07%
  • Russia: -0.051%
  • Italy: 0.12%
  • Sweden, France, UK, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium: less than 0.48%

Countries with the world’s largest populations:

  1. China – 1.34 billion
  2. India – 1.21
  3. United States – 0.31
  4. Indonesia – 0.24
  5. Brazil – 0.19

And, their growth rates:

  1. China – 0.48%
  2. India – 1.46%
  3. United States – 0.97%
  4. Indonesia – 1.16%
  5. Brazil – 1.26%

Fourth, and final point involves the sustainability of all these people. We can barely keep this planet functional with 7 billion people, so imagine how much worse everything will get with 2.5 billion more people.

The good news is that many places in the world are working hard to create sustainable cities in tune with nature and civilization. The place where I live, Huntington Beach, is one such example.

They have created a space for endangered birds and marine life which also serves as a stormwater run-off cleanser. The result is a booming wildlife population alongside a burgeoning surburban population, both living sustainably together.

Even more these moves are saving the city money and reducing the taxpayer burden, through a combination of community involvement and non-profit management.

As we move forward and another billion children are born, there will be a growing need for more of these win-win sustainable solutions.