Tag Archives | Amazon

Inside Henry Ford’s Failed Planned-City Jungle Utopia

fordistanDamn Interesting on the forgotten history of Henry Ford’s surreal Fordlandia, a rubber-plantation-slash-corporate-city in the Amazon where workers would have American values stamped into them, and which was ultimately abandoned at a loss equivalent to $200 million today:

By the late 1920s, automobile tycoon Henry Ford’s hundreds of thousands of new cars needed millions of tires, which were very expensive to produce when buying raw materials from the established rubber lords. To that end, he established Fordlandia, a tiny piece of America which was transplanted into the Amazon rain forest for a single purpose: to create the largest rubber plantation on the planet.

In 1929, Ford purchased a 25,000 square kilometer tract of land along the Amazon river, and immediately began to develop the area.

Scores of Ford employees were relocated to the site, and an American-as-apple-pie community sprung up from what was once a jungle wilderness. It included a power plant, a hospital, a library, a golf course, and rows of white clapboard houses.

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1984 All Over Again

1984In the wake of the NSA/Snowden revelations, and the general sense of paranoia that has taken grip of the news cycle and the internet, a few pundits have assumed the roles of cultural watchdogs, taking the pulse of public taste to measure the effect of the spooky news on the hearts and minds of the people.

A number of journalists and commentators have noted that one possible side effect of the recently-revealed government snooping on personal communications has been a spike in the sales of the George Orwell classic 1984 on the mega-book-selling-site, Amazon. But, how big is the sales spike and how much of it can be attributed to Snowden’s bravery in the face of the NSA’s dubious doings? This article at Slate offers a measured interpretation:

Sales of one particular edition of George Orwell’s dystopian classic are up some 5,000 percent on Amazon.com in the past 24 hours, according to the site’s list of “movers and shakers.” The figure was as high as 7,000 earlier today.Read the rest

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Amazon Patents Strange New Lightweight, Transparent Kindle

Picture: Leonard Low (CC) (For illustration purposes only)

Amazon’s just filed a patent describing a new form of lightweight, transparent Kindle technology that can be embedded in your eyeglasses or your car windshield and never needs to be recharged.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is listed on the patent as a co-inventor of the technology, which converts the handheld Kindle devices into simplified display mechanisms receiving data and electricity from a larger, more powerful central station. This would allow Amazon to create much lighter and cheaper devices, notes one Kindle blog, speculating that Kindles could become not just lighter than paper, but disappear altogether into other devices, “leaving nothing behind but the words from your ebooks.”

 

 

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The Adventure Of Randomized Shopping

Craving the excitement that consumerism arouses, Darius Kazemi designed the Amazon Random Shopper, which buys random object each month, and documents the results. Could this randomized consumption prove more rewarding than shopping according to our supposed needs, desires, and tastes?

Recently I’ve been making a bunch of weird stuff that randomly generates things. The first iteration of this was going to be a program that bought me stuff that I probably would like. But then I decided that was too boring.

How about I build something that buys me things completely at random? Something that just… fills my life with crap? How would these purchases make me feel? Would they actually be any less meaningful than the crap I buy myself on a regular basis anyway?

So I built Amazon Random Shopper. It grabs a random word from the Wordnik API, then runs an Amazon search based on that word and buys the first thing that’s under budget.

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Amazon Uses Neo-Nazi Guards To Control Immigrant Workers In Its German Warehouses

Has fascism been privatized? The Independent writes:

Amazon is at the center of a deepening scandal in Germany as the online shopping giant faced claims that it employed security guards with neo-Nazi connections to intimidate its foreign workers.

Germany’s ARD television channel made the allegations about Amazon’s treatment of more than 5,000 temporary staff from across Europe working at its German packing and distribution centers. ARD’s film showed omnipresent guards from a company named HESS Security wearing black uniforms and boots with military haircuts. They were employed to keep order at hostels and budget hotels where foreign workers stayed. “Many of the workers are afraid,” the program-makers said.

ARD said Amazon’s temporary staff worked eight-hour shifts packing goods at the company’s logistics centers in Bad Hersfeld, Konstanz and Augsburg. Many walked up to 17 kilometers per shift and all those taken on could be fired at will. On arrival in Germany, most were told their pay had been cut to below the rate promised when they applied for jobs at Amazon.

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Exclusive: ‘Spirit Power and the Cave’ by Michael Harner

Please enjoy “Spirit Power and the Cave”, an exclusive excerpt from Michael Harner’s Cave and Cosmos: Shamanic Encounters with Another Reality.

Power

In February 1957, a small band of Shuar (Jívaro) men and I became lost after trekking for weeks through mountainous Upper Amazon rainforest. Tired, disoriented, and hungry, we finally ran into a friendly group of Shuar hunters who told us that we had been going in exactly the wrong direction. They shared a bit of their provisions and pointed the way toward the Shuar neighborhood we sought.

Leaving the hunters, we soon came to a small but raging river, fed by recent rainstorms in the Andes to the west. This was an obstacle to our further progress, so we waited for several days for the waters to go down, without luck. My companions waited quietly and seemed unperturbed by the situation while I became increasingly impatient, for I knew it was possible to construct rafts of balsa logs and to get across using makeshift guadua bamboo paddles.… Read the rest

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What Jennifer Aniston May Not Know About Ayahuasca

JenniferAnistonHWoFFeb2012It’s the evening of January 25, 2007, and I’m hosting my first Ayahuasca Monologues storytelling event to a packed room at Eyebeam Atelier in New York City. On stage, Breaking Open the Head author Daniel Pinchbeck, who semi-popularized the hallucinogenic tea ayahuasca within the spiritual counterculture, brushes aside his disheveled hair, asking in a voice barely audible from laryngitis, “How many of you here have tried ayahuasca?” Out of 220 people, only nine hands lift in the air, and they are mostly the featured storytellers (including myself) that I’ve directed for the show that night.

Cut to February 2012, and the mega-celebrity, Jennifer Aniston, best known for playing perky girl-next-door Rachel in Friends, is tipping a bowl of ayahuasca to her lips in Universal’s newest romantic comedy Wanderlust. In just a few years, the once secret “shamans brew” of the Amazon has snaked its way into the popular consciousness, including the entertainment industry with cameos in the TV shows Weeds and Nip/Tuck and now the movie Wanderlust.… Read the rest

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Murder Of Indigenous Child Provokes Strong Reaction

Índia da etnia TerenaA follow up to this story, via the Boundary Sentinel:

The murder of an eight year old child from the Awa-Gwajá indigenous community, allegedly burnt alive by loggers in the state of Maranhão, Brazil, has caused outrage throughout the Internet, as well as disbelief by many in the face of such cruelty.

The Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) confirmed that “suspicions indicate that an attack has occurred between September and October against the camp of isolated indigenous” of the Araribóia reserve, and added more information:

The charred body was found in October 2011 in a camp abandoned by the isolated Awá, about 20 km from the Patizal village of the Tenetehara people, a region located in the municipality of Arame (Maranhão). The National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) was informed of the incident in November and no investigation of the case is ongoing.

According to Rosimeire Diniz, CIMI’s coordinator in Maranhão state, “the situation has been reported for a long time.

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Loggers Allegedly Burn 8-Year-Old Amazon Tribe Girl Alive

File:Brazilian_indians_000Hey, they need their jobs!  Raf Sanchez reports in the Telegraph:

The child was said to have wandered away from her village, where around 60 members of the Awá tribe live in complete isolation from the modern world, and fallen into the hands of the loggers.

Luis Carlos Guajajaras, a local leader from a separate tribe, told a Brazilian news website that they tied to her a tree and set her alight as a warning to other natives, who live in a protected reserve in the north-eastern state of Maranhão .

“She was from another tribe, they live deep in the jungle, and have no contact with the outside world. It would have been the first time she had ever seen white men. We heard that they laughed as they burned her to death,” he said.

Reports of the killing, which was said to have happened in October or November last year, were seconded by the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI), a Catholic group which said it had seen footage of her charred remains…

[continues in the Telegraph]

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eBook Readers Live in a Different Universe of Books

Bezos Kindle TouchAmazon’s released their list of 2011’s best-selling books, revealing that 40% of the best-selling ebooks didn’t even make it onto their list of the best-selling print books!

The #1 and #2 best-selling ebooks of the year weren’t even available in print editions, while four of the top 10 best-selling print books didn’t make it into the top 100 best-selling ebooks. “It couldn’t be more clear that Kindle owners are choosing their material from an entirely different universe of books,” notes one Kindle site, which points out that five of the best-selling ebooks came from two million-selling ebook authors — Amanda Hocking and John Locke — who are still awaiting the release of their books in print. And five of Amazon’s best-selling ebooks were Kindle-only “Singles,” including a Stephen King short story which actually outsold another King novel that he’d released in both ebook and print formats. And Neal Stephenson’s “Reamde” was Amazon’s #99 best-selling print book of 2011, though it didn’t even make it onto their list of the 100 best-selling ebooks of the year.… Read the rest

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