22 October 2014
21 October 2014
19 October 2014
13 October 2014
Julian Robinson in the DailyMail spots SURE's Endless City...
"A giant skyscraper as tall as The Shard in London, built with its own complete ecosystem featuring offices, shops and 'huge' parks. London is the proposed city for the mixed-use tower, which would include interlinking ramps connecting different sections of the structure to create a 'vertical city' housing thousands. [...] different areas of the building would be linked by a series of bridges and walkways helping to 'increase exchanges, communications and interactions. It would include a raft of public spaces, entertainment zones and shopping areas to create a 'vertical city'. Residents would be able to walk up a series of interlinked ramps through vibrant streets, plazas, technological spaces and 'huge' parks in a 'complex and rich system like a real city'."
Joanna Symons from the Telegraph spotlights 50 Years of the Bullet Train in Japan!
"Fifty years ago this October [...] Japan’s first Shinkansen, or bullet train, slid out of Tokyo station and gathered speeds of up to 130mph en route for Osaka, heralding a new age of high-speed rail. The Japanese were well ahead of the game. It was 13 years before Italy followed suit, then France with the TGV. But although high-speed trains now glide across hills and plains from Spain to China, Japan’s futuristic-looking bullet train retains an aura that our grime-caked intercity expresses can never capture. [...] Unlike Concorde, the trains have an almost unblemished safety record. Despite Japan’s vulnerability to typhoons and earthquakes, not one of the 10 billion passengers who have used the service since its launch has died as a result of a derailment or collision. [...] Thank you to the bullet train pioneers. They may have been motivated by a need to link Japan’s cities, just as the champions of HS2 are now. But they should be given an award for tourism: these great train routes provide the best possible way to explore this extraordinary country."
It's fantastic to see the efficiency and scale of chicken-related agribusiness, from hatching to slaughtering, egg sorting through consumption. First, an overview of industrial farming in the German context, including the perspective of both producer and protestor... Hatching Chicks... Processing Eggs... The amazing "Long Egg" process!-) Slaughtering Chickens... Processing Chickens... Serving it up at KFC... Next, check out this piece from Westgate Integrity in Kenya showing how that market is beginning the process of modernizing towards the global state-of-the-art in chicken care and egg production... Finally, be aware that there's a counter-movement to all this efficiency-orientation. Generously speaking, the "free-ranger" assert greater quality of overall product and spin the benefits of so-called "organic" production. And it's certainly believable that factors such as stress and feed indeed make a difference to ultimate meat-taste, so there's room for improvement in the factory approach. On the other end of the spectrum, however, we have criminal "animal liberators" run amok as revealed in this Australian 60 Minutes piece...
12 October 2014
Craig Welch of the Seattle Times writes of the Sea Change in the lucrative King Crab industry...
"New research earlier this year shows that Bristol Bay red king crab -- the supersized monster that has come to symbolize the fortunes of Alaska’s crab fleet -- could fall victim to the changing chemistry of the oceans. [...] There’s no evidence that souring seas have yet altered wild populations -- the most corrosive seas now occur at times when red king crab aren’t as susceptible. But Alaska’s crab industry has followed the science closely."
Peruvian economist and founder of ILD Hernando de Soto writes in the WSJournal about The Capitalist Cure for Terrorism...
"Military might alone won’t defeat Islamic State and its ilk. The U.S. needs to promote economic empowerment. [...] Today we hear the same economic and cultural pessimism about the Arab world that we did about Peru in the 1980s. But we know better. Just as Shining Path was beaten in Peru, so can terrorists be defeated by reforms that create an unstoppable constituency for rising living standards in the Middle East and North Africa. To make this agenda a reality, the only requirements are a little imagination, a hefty dose of capital (injected from the bottom up) and government leadership to build, streamline and fortify the laws and structures that let capitalism flourish. As anyone who’s walked the streets of Lima, Tunis and Cairo knows, capital isn’t the problem -- it is the solution. [...] The people of the “Arab street” want to find a place in the modern capitalist economy. But hundreds of millions of them have been unable to do so because of legal constraints to which both local leaders and Western elites are often blind. They have ended up as economic refugees in their own countries. To survive, they have cobbled together hundreds of discrete, anarchic arrangements, often called the “informal economy.” Unfortunately, that sector is viewed with contempt by many Arabs and by Western development experts, who prefer well-intended charity projects [...] All too often, the way that Westerners think about the world’s poor closes their eyes to reality on the ground. In the Middle East and North Africa, it turns out, legions of aspiring entrepreneurs are doing everything they can, against long odds, to claw their way into the middle class. And that is true across all of the world’s regions, peoples and faiths. Economic aspirations trump the overhyped “cultural gaps” so often invoked to rationalize inaction."
08 October 2014
Thanks to gCaptain's Mike Schuler for spotting Mega-Block Construction at Meyer Werft using innovative shipbuilding techniques as seen in this Royal Caribbean semi-timelapse video...
01 October 2014
30 September 2014
Dr Ken Murray, Clinical Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at USC, writes at Zocalo Public Square about How Doctors Die...
"Doctors die, too. And they don’t die like the rest of us. What’s unusual about them is not how much treatment they get compared to most Americans, but how little. For all the time they spend fending off the deaths of others, they tend to be fairly serene when faced with death themselves. They know exactly what is going to happen, they know the choices, and they generally have access to any sort of medical care they could want. But they go gently. Of course, doctors don’t want to die; they want to live. But they know enough about modern medicine to know its limits. [...] Almost all medical professionals have seen what we call “futile care” being performed on people. [Instead, doctors want] a life of quality, not just quantity. Don’t most of us? If there is a state of the art of end-of-life care, it is this: death with dignity."Listen also to Dr Diana Hsieh's Philosophy In Action radio show interview with UChicago Medical School geriatrician Dr William Dale speaking about End-Of-Life Medical Choices.
Given how Mao's minions are oppressing HK and a billion Chinese, and Stalin's intellectual heir Putin is screwing Russians and Ukranians (and Georgians and others), and Hitler's religulous clones continue contesting the land of Canaan, here's The Great Dictator's final speech -- Charlie Chaplin's oratory alternative!
29 September 2014
Markhor craftsourced quality men's shoes from Pakistan is Kickstarting now! I had the pleasure of meeting one of the team, Asim Janjua, earlier today. He met the founders Waqas Ali and crew through their Acumen Fellowship connection in Pakistan and they're now dialing things up with this crowdfunding effort. I'm particularly keen on the idea of building a Asian quality-craftsourced brand and this is a great step towards that dream!
Business Insider's Richard Feloni spotlights (and deconstructs) Sri Lankan human resources consultant Dananjaya Hettiarachchi's World Championship Toastmasters speech...
28 September 2014
The Atlantic CityLab posts Michael Mehaffy's 5 Key Themes Emerging From the 'New Science of Cities' ~ In the most innovative incubators of urban research, the lessons of Jane Jacobs are more vital than ever...
"Researchers at cutting-edge hubs of urban theory like the University College London and the Santa Fe Institute have been homing in on some key properties of urban systems -- and contradicting much of today's orthodoxy. [...] In one sense, these lessons are not so new. Legendary urbanist Jane Jacobs was famous for her prescient insights about the emerging sciences of “organized complexity” and what they offered for a more effective approach to urban planning -- insights she published all the way back in 1961. [...] Jacobs was also famous for excoriating the backward-looking “pseudo-science” of that era's planning and architecture, which she said seemed “almost neurotic in its determination to imitate empiric failure and ignore empiric success.” She urged city-makers to understand the real “kind of problem a city is” -- not a conventional problem of top-down mechanical or visual order, but a complex problem of interacting factors that are “interrelated into an organic whole.” She urged planners and architects to show greater respect for the intrinsic order of cities, and to apply the best insights of the new sciences, coupled with the most pragmatic methods. [...] The new findings confirm and extend Jacobs' original insights. Here are five of the most significant:Here CityLab spots Physicists Geoffrey West and Luis Bettencourt of the Santa Fe Institute describing What Is A City?
These examples illustrate that cities are complex, adaptive systems with their own characteristic dynamics, and -- if they are going to perform well from a human point of view -- they need to be dealt with as such. In that light we must re-assess our current systems of planning, building and managing cities -- the laws, codes, standards, models, incentives, and disincentives that effectively make up the “operating system” for urban growth. To make better cities, we need to shift to an evidence-based approach, able to draw on the best lessons of science and history about the making of good cities, from a human point of view. But this is far from conventional urban practice, which too often features an art-dominated approach to architecture that values novel visual imagery over enduring human city-making."
- Cities generate economic growth through networks of proximity, casual encounters and “economic spillovers."
- Cities generate a remarkably large “green dividend."
- Cities perform best economically and environmentally when they feature pervasive human-scale connectivity.
- Cities perform best when they adapt to human psychological dynamics and patterns of activity.
- Cities perform best when they offer some control of spatial structure to residents.
One of my favorite Barron's columns is The Long View by historian and author John Steele Gordon. This week he spotlights Michael Faraday: Working-Class Hero...
"Faraday would be the first great man of science to have a working-class background. Because the family had little money, Faraday received only the most rudimentary formal education. Indeed, he never mastered mathematics beyond simple algebra, an astonishing fact for someone who would become one of the world's greatest physicists. But if he had little formal education, he was a voracious autodidact. [The Danish scientist] Ørsted discovered that an electric current running through a wire induces a magnetic field around the wire. This was the first indication that electricity and magnetism, long thought to be completely different forces, must have a connection. [To explore this, Faraday] hung a copper wire, able to rotate freely, from a metal support. The wire reached into a vessel below containing a magnet in a pool of mercury. When he attached a battery to the support, the copper wire began to rotate around the magnet, following the lines of the magnetic field (a term Faraday coined) in the mercury. Faraday had converted electrical energy into mechanical, work-doing energy. In other words, he had invented an electric motor [...] One of the attributes of great scientists is a knack for asking the right question. And Faraday wondered, since an electric current could induce a magnetic field, whether a magnetic field could induce an electric current. [...] in 1829, Faraday found the answer to his question. He wrapped two copper coils on opposite sides of an iron ring. He found that when he attached a battery to one coil, there was a momentary electric current generated in the other coil. And when he disconnected the battery, there was a second momentary current. He soon found that it was changes in the magnetic field that induced the current. By simply keeping the magnetic field in continuous motion, he was able to generate a steady current. Faraday had invented the generator, a device that turns mechanical energy into electrical energy -- the opposite of the electric motor. It was the means of providing a bottomless supply of electric power, and the modern world could be born."Truly one of the heroes of progress and civilization! See more in this Great Moments in Science and Technology video...
27 September 2014
Seventy years ago this past week was one of the boldest and yet most disastrous battles of WWII in Europe when the Allies attempted to bypass German defenses by punching through the Netherlands in Operation Market Garden. Alas it was to become infamously known as A Bridge Too Far when bad weather, logistical hurdles, and under-anticipated Nazi resistance prevented capture of Arnhem, the last essential crossing. My own Dad and his family was caught in the cross-fire, which meant they lost almost everything, but at the same time this was understood by us Dutch as a tangible step towards ultimate liberation. That's why Robert Hardman's piece in the DailyMail is right: Seventy years on, Arnhem has never forgotten its debt to the thousands of British and Polish soldiers who gave their lives in ill-fated Allied plan to deliver final blow to Hitler...
"When it comes to commemorating those who made the ultimate sacrifice, there is nowhere quite like Arnhem. This historic Dutch town has never forgotten its debt to the 10,000 British and Polish soldiers who came from the sky in one of the great heroic failures of the Second World War. In September 1944, 70 years ago, with Paris liberated the Allies hatched a new plan -- codenamed Operation Market Garden -- to thrust north through Holland and on into Germany to deliver the final blow. Airborne troops would land by parachute and glider to capture a series of Dutch bridges and then cling on until a vast armoured column could arrive by road and reinforce them. The last bridge straddled the Rhine at Arnhem. But, in the end, the cavalry couldn’t get there in time. Through a combination of poor planning and bad luck -- the Germans had just parked a crack SS unit in the area -- the lightly-armed Allied troops ended up surrounded by overwhelming enemy forces. Of the 10,000 men who landed at Arnhem, just under 2,400 would make it out again after a vicious nine-day battle. The rest were killed or taken prisoner. [...] All the veterans were bowled over by the way they were received when they returned after the war. ‘It was a defeat and the Dutch lost everything yet they could not have done more for us,’ Colonel John Waddy, 94, the senior surviving veteran of Arnhem, told me at his Somerset home. ‘But then it was a unique battle because we were fighting alongside them in their own houses. And afterwards, they helped hundreds of us escape.’ [...] The true legacy of Arnhem is [...] a new organisation called the Arnhem Fellowship. Run on a shoestring by Dutch and British volunteers, it seeks to ensure that this precious bond of friendship continues after the last of the veterans have gone. [...] There is a magic about Arnhem. Perhaps it explains why, all these years later, so many veterans have made one last wish. ‘They often ask if they can have their ashes buried here, next to their comrades,’ says Gerrit Pijpers, a retired Dutch air force officer who has helped to organise ceremonies here for years. ‘They were only here for nine days, but they feel that this is home.’ It certainly is."