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How Would You Spend 10k? - Transience Divine
January 10th, 2012
09:02 am

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How Would You Spend 10k?
An interesting question came up in class last semester, with a few different forms. Answer any you choose.

  • As a researcher, how would you spend $10,000 in the pursuit of your questions?

  • In the interest of sustainable development, how would you spend $10 million?

  • In the interest of sustainable development, how would you spend $10 billion?


How many of the richest people in the US have a combined wealth equal to that of the 120 million people in the bottom 40% of the US? Two.

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From:little_e_
Date:January 10th, 2012 08:00 pm (UTC)
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1. My current big interests are in diet, nutrition, lifestyle, and links to health. If I were actually a researcher in these fields, I'd have a lot better knowledge of a lot of the existing research (I hope), but there are a lot of interesting studies I have read about which I would love to follow up on--for example, in a comparative study of car-crash victims in the US and Uganda (I think it was), the Americans showed significant levels of heart-disease-in-progress, while the Ugandans showed almost none. What are they doing right?

2. Birth control.

3. Birth control, education (in a culturally sensitive and relevant way), and clean water (and fighting parasites folks have already got if I have any left over.)

The last two I have obviously not thought about as much, but I think these are pretty necessary prerequisites to any kind of good life.
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From:little_e_
Date:January 11th, 2012 07:31 pm (UTC)
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I suppose I should add that I'm not necessarily keen on the "development" part of sustainable development. I mean, I want everyone to have access to food, water, health care, etc. But I don't think there's anything inherently better about my life than, say, a hunter-gatherer's life. The history of "civilized" folks bringing the wonderful gifts of civilization to the rest of the world is checkered at best.
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From:jrising
Date:January 12th, 2012 02:38 pm (UTC)
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I'm also fairly skeptical about the development side of SD, but we've effectively made many traditional lifestyles unsustainable and I think we need to be involved in putting Humpty back together again.

I don't know your car-crash study, but it doesn't seem surprising that the Uganda victims would have a lower heart disease rate: In the US, it's our #1 cause of death. In Uganda, there are 7 other causes that kill more people per year.

I would probably focus on education and (marine?) conservation areas for the $10 mil and $10 bil sums, but as a modeling researcher, I really can't imagine what to do with $10 thousand. Maybe I would purchase data and computing resources.
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From:little_e_
Date:January 12th, 2012 07:09 pm (UTC)
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Yes, but it's easy to imagine that those other causes are why we're not seeing 3rd world deaths from things like Alzheimer's, heart disease, etc., EG, "No one dies of heart attacks in Uganda because everyone is dying too young from AIDS to even get heart disease." The truth is, even if those people hadn't died, they *still* wouldn't have gotten heart disease.

And it's clearly not genetics--immigrant studies show that these effects wear off within a generation or two of moving to a westernized country. Blacks in the US have much higher rates of Alzheimer's than black folks in Africa.

There's something they're doing right and we're doing wrong.

With so much $$ being spent on genetic and pharmaceutical research for these diseases, it seems a crime to ignore the fact that they have some sort of clear environmental factor which people could easily affect if they only knew what it was. I also think it's dangerous to start messing with other people's lives when we don't know what that will do to them. Obviously things like access to clean water and non-polluted air and the resources to go about daily life are important, but what about electricity? Perhaps we'd be better off as a planet (and as people) if we used less electricity, not more.

Education is important, but unfortunately a lot of girls drop out of school when they get pregnant. And on a certain level, reading just feels like a lower priority when there are more mouths than food around.
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