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Secular humanist, freethinker, progressive, and bibliophile. I enjoy love, knowledge, and life itself.

The World’s Billionaire Cities

Right off the heel of my last post about the world’s poorest denizens, comes sobering article from PolicyMic that highlights the stark reality of global wealth inequality. It identifies the world’s most popular cities for billionaires, based on a recent report from Forbes.

Moscow remains the billionaire capital of the world, with 84 of the world’s richest people, together worth a total of over…

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The Top 10 Places to Be an Artist

It’s not easy being an artist. Most of those who try to make a living from their creative pursuits either never pull it off, or just barely squeak by (ultimately requiring supplemental income from a different job altogether). But depending on where you live, you might have an easier time dedicating yourself fully to your craft without sacrificing your standard of living. Consider the following te…

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This is going to be the first of many posts that highlight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, cultural and natural landmarks that are identified for their incredible value for humanity. 

The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras — which span five sites — was the first property to be included in the cultural landscape category of the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1995.
Built 2,000 years ago and passed on from generation to generation, the Ifugao Rice Terraces are a marvel of engineering, built on steeper slopes and reaching a higher altitude than most other terraces. The terrace pond fields were created using stone or mud walls, and were carved carefully to follow the natural contours of the hills and mountains. They’re irrigated through an intricate system that harvests water from the forests of the mountain tops. The rice terraces are incorporated almost seamlessly into nature.

The maintenance of these living rice terraces require a cooperative approach among the entire community. They rely on detailed knowledge of the rich diversity of biological resources existing in the Ifugao ecosystem, a finely tuned annual system respecting lunar cycles, meticulous zoning and planning, extensive soil conservation, and mastery of a complex pest control based on the careful processing of a variety of herbs, all accompanied by religious rituals.

Archaeological evidence reveals that these techniques have been used in the region virtually unchanged for 2,000 years. Because they illustrate the persistence of cultural traditions and remarkable continuity and endurance, they were included in a list reserved for sites of profound global importance to humanity — rightfully so, in my opinion.

The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras This is going to be the first of many posts that highlight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, cultural and natural landmarks that are identified for their incredible value for humanity. 

Map: All the Love in the World

Map: All the Love in the World

It goes without saying that love is complicated no matter you go. But the degree to which it is difficult to find or feel love varies from country to country, as the following map from The Atlantic shows:

The map represents one of the most comprehensive assessments on love ever compiled thus far. Here’s more on it:

In 2006 and 2007, Gallup asked people in 136 countries whether they had…

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Emergency Shelters Made From Paper

Emergency Shelters Made From Paper

As I was editing Wikipedia, I came across an update on the news section of its homepage: Shigeru Ban, a Japanese architect, just won the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the most prestigious award in the field. I’ve heard of the prize before, but never its newest recipient. After looking him up, I came across an excellent TED Talk he gave about creating emergency structures out of sustainable and…

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Ten Places You Wouldn’t Believe Are in Russia

Ten Places You Wouldn’t Believe Are in Russia

This looks like something you would see in Tibet or China, right?

Well, this is the Ivolginsky Datsan, located in Buryatia, Russia. A datsan is a Buddhist university in the Tibetan tradition that is typically divided into a philosophical and medical department. This particular one was opened in 1945 and remained the only Buddhist spiritual center in the USSR. It hosts unique samples of old…

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Mexico’s Unknown African Heritage

Mexico’s Unknown African Legacy

The first known successful and self-governing black community in the Americas was the town of San Lorenzo de los Negros de Cerralvo, which was established in Mexico in the 17th century by Gaspar Yanga, a leader of a slave rebellion. A former member of the royal family of Gabon, he successfully led a band of revolting slaves near Veracruz around 1570, fleeing to the difficult terrain of the…

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Beyond Sochi: Photos of Russians, By Russians

Beyond Sochi: Photos of Russians, By Russians

Russia has always had an image problem in the West, even before it adopted communism and became a perennial rival during the Cold War. The Winter Olympics at Sochi have only confirmed or added to the existing biases of Russia as an austere, corrupt, and dour place. And while it’s true that the country is rife with political and social problems, like any society, there is more to them than we…

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When Mega-Cities Rule the WorldThe United States has always stood out among developed nations for its sheer size, in terms of…View Post

When Mega-Cities Rule the World

The United States has always stood out among developed nations for its sheer size, in terms of…

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Looking to Get Healthy? Try an Indigenous Diet

While there’s much that can be learned from indigenous peoples — particularly when it comes to herbal medicine and safeguarding the environment — nutrition was never something I had personally considered, until I came across this article from The…

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Tunisia: A Beacon of Hope in the Arab World?

Yesterday, the North African nation of Tunisia, which overthrew its autocratic ruler in 2011 and served as a catalyst for the Arab Spring, passed one of the most progressive constitutions in the world, with only 12 out of its 216 legislators voting…

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Historic Photos of Iran

Click here to see an amazing collection of historic photos of Iran, courtesy of the Denver Post. The gallery vividly conveys Iran’s recent tumultuous history, displaying a side of the country that’s woefully unknown or misunderstood (as to this day).

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The Russian Response to “How Are You?”

It’s remarkable how cultures can differ in the most seemingly mundane things, and how such distinctions can actually be quite profound in their implications. Take the question “how are you?”, which for most Anglophones (especially Americans) is in essence…

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The World’s Biggest Coffee DrinkersAccording to a report from The Atlantic,the world’s biggest coffee drinkers can be found in…View Post

The World’s Biggest Coffee Drinkers

According to a report from The Atlantic,the world’s biggest coffee drinkers can be found in…

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