30 January 2011

MIT Imaging Ventures ~ Tue 6-8p Spring 2011

MIT Imaging Ventures ~ Cameras, Displays, and Visual Computing is a Spring 2011 Action Lab on the opportunities and challenges for businesses based on emergent imaging innovations. We study the landscape of imaging developments, plan business strategies and brainstorm towards a startup, business unit, non-profit or citizen sector organization. To bring imaging research to the real world, the students will be encouraged to build teams and craft a business plan. The class will include live case studies of established and emerging businesses, through talks by invited business speakers, as well as surveys of commercialization and the innovation landscape in every arena of imaging including Mobile Camera Phones, Cameras in Developing Counties, Image-Search, Scientific Imaging, Medical Devices, Online Photo Sharing, Portable Displays, Large format visual interfaces, Computational Photography. Please spread the word to those you think might be interested. First class Tue night February 1st, 2011 in Media Lab E14-525.

Snow Trapped ~ Incompetent Cleanup Services...

While I'm personally pretty disgusted by the gross incompetence with which snow cleanup happens in Boston-Cambridge, my beef pales in comparison with that of the elderly, the infirm, and especially the classically disabled whose passage is literally blocked by the underperforming "service providers" who can't even clean up and un-block a crosswalk with any degree of competence. Billy Baker points this out in his Globe piece today Trapped by walls of white. I've witnessed this happening a dozen times in just this season. And it's not as if Massachusetts has never been hit by snow before and preparation is impossible and "best practices" are unknowable. No, we really are talking about massive civic stupidity.

29 January 2011

Amsterdam Time Travel ~ Streetlife & Transit...

Thanks to 24Oranges for spotting this pair of videos featuring the streetlife of Amsterdam, both past and present! First, Mark Wagenbuur's Cyclists in Amsterdam (1900-1930)...Next, Rob Guinness's Amsterdam Tram 5 2007...

African Transitions ~ On Demography & Poverty...

Thanks to Lisa Wade at Sociological Images for spotting Demographic Transitions and Ending Poverty in Africa featuring Columbia's Jeffrey Sachs speaking with Dalton Conley...

R.I.P. Daniel Bell ~ On Post-Industrial Society...

Sad to hear Daniel Bell has passed away. Writes Mark Feeney in the Globe obit...
"Dr. Bell’s futurist bent took its most notable form in “The Coming of Post-Industrial Society’’ (1973). That book’s vision of an information-based, knowledge-driven economy has become a commonplace of educated opinion."

Boston as Birthplace ~ Negroponte MITX Chat...

MIT Media Lab and OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte at MITX Fireside Chat with Larry Weber last week weighing in on why Boston-Cambridge is such a great place... (It's the last segment)

Intelligent Cities ~ Well Beyond "Smart Growth"

Haya El Nasser asks in the USAToday Will 'intelligent cities' put an end to suburban sprawl?
"When the economy was roaring and housing booming, reining in suburban sprawl dominated the development debate under the name of "smart growth." Now that the economy and housing have tanked, prompting more people to stay put, growth is taking a back seat. But smarts still matter. The new buzzwords: "intelligent cities." "There's a 15- to 20-year cycle on urban planning terms," says Robert Lang, urban sociologist at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. "Remember 'urban renewal'? Smart growth is near the end of its shelf life." [...] "Intelligent cities," the new darling lingo of planners, reflects the times. It captures the essence of 21st-century technology that can help track when and how many people cross a street, water and energy consumption and peak hours at every transit stop. It also will soon allow bidding on a parking space via cellphone (the space goes to the highest bidder). The "cities" portion of the term may signal a renewed emphasis on improving the urban anchors of a region rather than just slowing growth in far-flung suburbs."
Very compelling! But which cities are the most intelligent already? Dubai?

Overseas Japanese? ~ Rising Beyond Depression

I thought this Sanctuary manga storyline about Wo Kiu or Overseas Japanese was just a fictional plot element... But no. In the latest NYTimes, Martin Fackler writes In Japan, Young Face Generational Roadblocks and spotlights Kenichi Horie...
"...a promising auto engineer, exactly the sort of youthful talent Japan needs to maintain its edge over hungry Korean and Chinese rivals. [...] But like many young Japanese, he was a so-called irregular worker, kept on a temporary staff contract with little of the job security and half the salary of the “regular” employees, most of them workers in their late 40s or older. After more than a decade of trying to gain regular status, Mr. Horie finally quit -- not just the temporary jobs, but Japan altogether. He moved to Taiwan two years ago to study Chinese. “Japanese companies are wasting the young generations to protect older workers,” said Mr. Horie, now 36. “In Japan, they closed the doors on me. In Taiwan, they tell me I have a perfect résumé.”
Where else might the Wo Kiu go?

P.S. For alternative far-more-skeptical perspective, see this Backward Glances piece.

28 January 2011

Elephant Underpass ~ Kenyan Wildlife Corridor!

Illustrating how helpful wildlife crossings are, the DailyMail trumpets It's a trunk road! Elephants use underpass that links two wildernesses for the first time...
"When is a tunnel not a tunnel? When it's a trunk road. This tunnel, which connects two wilderness areas in Kenya, has just opened and here for the first time elephants have been spotted using it. It was 6.47pm when the set of gleaming set of white tusks poked out of the underpass. There then followed another pair and then another as three young males moved cautiously through before climbing a bank of dirt, made a sharp left turn and crashed into the forest. The $250,000 tunnel is heralded as a breakthrough in human-animal relations. It was built with donor funds with the aim of uniting two distinct elephant populations separated for years by a road. [...] It was lined with hay and elephant dung to entice the animals through. The elephants successfully crossed a major road without putting themselves or motorists in danger, and without damaging crops or scaring residents in a nearby village."

Evading Censorship ~ Searching For Channels...

Everyone knows the Great Firewall of China blocks everyday access to the Web and censors communications. And now the most fearful and ruthless regimes of the Arab League are putting their own oppressive burqa on the bitstream... But as Jeremy Kirk with IDG News writes, With Wired Internet Locked, Egypt Looks to the Sky...
"Foreign media posted in Cairo published dramatic photos on Friday of protestors battling police firing tear gas and using water cannons to disperse crowds. But absent Internet or mobile phone access, it's much more difficult for most Egyptians to self-publish, an act that has become an increasingly important component of breaking news coverage. Satellite Internet services aren't cheap, however, compared to wired Internet access. Al-Najjar said a satellite-capable phone could cost around US$1,300 in Egypt. [...] Satellite services are not dependent on local carriers for connectivity. So someone in Egypt, for example, could snap a photo of the protests and upload it to a computer connected to a BGAN satellite modem. As long as the person has aimed the portable modem properly at the satellite, the person should have broadband Internet access, said a sales representative based in South Africa for GlobalCom, which sells portable Internet access for Iridium, Thuraya, Inmarsat and Globalstar Satellite."
Fighting the power, one tyranny at a time. P.S. Here's practical tips from Patrick Miller, David Daw at PCWorld, Get Internet Access When Your Government Shuts It Down.
P.P.S. This is excellent to see again via Feedjit as of Sat 5 Feb 2011...

Challenger Disaster ~ "A Major Malfunction"...

R.I.P. Challenger Crew. This space shuttle engineering and risk analysis disaster happened 25 years ago today, traumatizing children and adults alike, and stalling humanity's shift to the stars by at least a decade. The Big Picture helps us remember... In the incident investigation, MIT alumnus and Nobelist physicist Richard Feymann made some key observations... One memorable aspect of my undergrad MIT experience was an IAP ethics class session with Morton Thiokol solid rockets engineer Roger Boisjoly who warned of the 0-ring cold-temperature risk before hand and blew the whistle on management perfidy afterwards.

2StageBikes ~ Dual Airshock Kiwi Systems...

Just heard from MIT's Romi Kadri about New Zealand-based 2StageBikes -- a.k.a. getoffyourlazyarseandride.com -- and their dual airshock-enabled bikes. Check out their 2Stage shock simulation to see how it works...

27 January 2011

Ganga Catapult ~ Mexican Pot Smugglers Go DIY

Mexican Authorities Seize Homemade Marijuana-Hurling Catapult At The Border writes Clay Dillow in PopSci!

FanVan! ~ MIT's Guan Designs Bigger Blower!

Since FanKart really blew, why not FanVan?! And be sure to see how Boston blows too!

Not Just Talk ~ Mobiles in Developing Countries

The Economist writes that mobile services in poor countries are Not Just Talk...
"[Anti-counterfeiting using mobiles and scratch-codes] is just one of many such services mushrooming in poor countries, using mobile-phone technology that once carried only humble voice and text messages. Rohan Samarajiva, the boss of LIRNEasia, a think-tank in Sri Lanka, calls it “more than mobile”. Jussi Hinkkanen, Nokia’s head of policy in Africa, says the mobile revolution is moving “from ear to hand”. [...] Classifying mobile services in poor countries is not an exact science. Richard Heeks, director of the Centre of Development Informatics at the University of Manchester, sorts them by their impact on development. One category is services that “connect the excluded” [which includes market pricing, trading platforms, educational services, SME services...] A second category of services includes those that cut out the middleman, or at least keep tabs on him. This is especially helpful in using government services [which includes deeds, mobile money, branchless banking...] A third, perhaps even more promising category is “crowdvoicing” [including civic engagement, health logistics, jobsourcing...] A fourth and last category hardly exists yet, but could prove the most important, says Mr Heeks: platforms that allow the world’s poor to “appropriate the technology and start applying it in new ways” [for cheap or free messaging, simple signaling, and other apps we can't yet dream of...]"
Extra shout out to the MIT alum entrepreneurial ventures mentioned in the article CellBazaar and txtEagle!

Cool Promo ~ Areva's Story of Energy Ads...

Normally I don't post promo, but this continuous history anime from French nuclear power superfirm Areva is quite cool... And it turns out they have a track record of educational promo...

26 January 2011

Innovation at MIT ~ Elemental Economic Impact

Thanks to MIT Global Challenge champion Lars Torres for spotting the Innovation at MIT video from MIT150's Elemental MIT series...MIT Tech TV

Shahid Azim ~ Lantos Tech for Hearing Aids, plus

Excellent to interview MIT alumnus entrepreneur Shahid Azim on MaximizingProgress.tv tonight. After starting and selling a offshore services business in Pakistan, Shahid came to the MIT Sloan Fellows program for an entrepreneurial sabbatical and connected with his latest venture! Together with MIT engineering professor Douglas Hart and other colleagues, Shahid co-founded Lantos Technologies to work on 3D imaging of the human ear canal to develop better-fitting hearing aids and related devices. Hart is perhaps best known for co-founding Brontes, the digital dental imaging company sold for a pile of coin to 3M. Now Lantos seeks to repeat this success in the arena of the aural. With MIT Deshpande Center support of $50K for primary research back in 2009, plus some market validation via the MIT i-Teams class, they proved enough to catalyze starting the company. Most recently they closed $1.6 million in Series A financing from Catalyst Health Ventures together with Excel Venture Management and Mass Medical Angels. I'm personally convinced they're on a pathway towards enabling radical transformation of the human-computer experience by enhancing our audio and acoustic environment. Sounds great!

P.S. As a blast from the past, check out this CNN story on Shahid's prior venture outshoring to Pakistan...

Voith Schneider Propeller ~ Interactive Demo!

Thanks to Murray Crawford and his Mercy Ship Adventure for spotting the Voith Schneider Propeller on a new Transnet tug being built at Southern African Shipyards... Especially click on and check out this interactive dynamic simulator of the Voith Schneider Propeller system! (Update: Voith has apparently killed the online simulator. The current site has this video and downloadable apps (called iVSP), but it's not quite the same! Sorry...)

On Population ~ DRB Interviews NatGeo's Kunzig

Thanks to Dark Roasted Blend for interviewing Robert Kunzig, Senior Environment Editor of my favorite monthly magazine, National Geographic, about their 7 Billion article (with beautiful January cover and other photos by Randy Olson) and the year-long series on human population. Among the nuggets...
  • On Consumption -- "The point is not to reduce consumption per se, because consumption is not evil per se -- it's important not to get moralistic about these issues, if only because moralism is self-defeating. The point is to reduce the damage that certain kinds of consumption cause. If we can find a cheap way to tap limitless solar energy, would it matter if our energy consumption continued to rise? Not so much, except in deserts covered by solar panels."
  • On Sprawl -- "It already is happening differently -- baby boomers are getting old and realizing they don't want to be trapped in the suburbs, and their children, now grown, aren't having as many babies and finding they like the city, etc etc. One of the biggest challenges we face these days is overcoming our built legacy of car-centered sprawl. And one of the big challenges for Asia will be to try to avoid the worst excesses of a particular time and place that they don't have to make their own."
  • On Education -- "She was clear about one thing -- if her son didn't get a scholarship to go to engineering college, she and her husband were going to find the money to pay for it. Around the corner, in another tiny living room, I met a father who had the same ambition for his two teen-age girls. Indians spend a huge portion of their budget on education. And kids on average are much more educated than their parents. There is way too much poverty and hunger in India. Things would be much easier if there weren't so many people. But it is a country with a lot of hope."
  • Hero's Aeolipile ~ Ancient Greek Steam Engine!

    Thanks to io9 for spotlighting Hero -- The Greek engineer who invented the steam engine 2,000 years ago -- the aeolipile...

    Anime News ~ Hilarious Chinese Simulations!

    Thanks to Cynical-C for spotting these Next Media Animations of newsworthy events...

    CATO Responds ~ Dissecting Obama's Speech...

    CATO responds to President Obama's State of the Union with penetrating dissections...

    25 January 2011

    MIT Entrepreneurs Panel ~ Tue 1/25 6p...

    I moderated the MIT Entrepreneurs Panel on Tuesday, 25 January 2011 in the Stata Center as part of 15.975 The Nuts and Bolts of Business Plans! Participants included...
    • Dr. Conor Walsh -- MIT MechE PhD alumnus, instructor of Harvard Medical Device Design class, co-founder of Robopsy, MIT $100K Grand Prize Winner 2007
    • Satayan Mahajan -- MIT Materials SB alumnus, co-founder & CEO of Motus Games
    • Owen Johnson -- MIT EECS SB alumnus, co-founder of Betaspring startup incubator, plus co-founder of other ventures including Interdimensions and Investment Instruments and social ventures including MakingProgress and ConnectProvidence
    • Prof Michael Cima -- MIT Materials faculty, co-founder of TARIS Biomedical, plus co-founder of other ventures including MicroCHIPS, T2, and Entra.
    It was excellent!

    Pearl City ~ China's 42M+ Metropolitan Merger

    Thanks to Aftermath News for spotting Malcolm Moore and Peter Foster's piece in the Telegraph that China to create largest mega city in the world with 42 million people...
    "City planners in south China have laid out an ambitious plan to merge together the nine cities that lie around the Pearl River Delta. The "Turn The Pearl River Delta Into One" scheme will create a 16,000 sq mile urban area that is 26 times larger geographically than Greater London, or twice the size of Wales. The new mega-city will cover a large part of China's manufacturing heartland, stretching from Guangzhou to Shenzhen and including Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Zhuhai, Jiangmen, Huizhou and Zhaoqing. Together, they account for nearly a tenth of the Chinese economy. Over the next six years, around 150 major infrastructure projects will mesh the transport, energy, water and telecommunications networks of the nine cities together, at a cost of some 2 trillion yuan (£190 billion). An express rail line will also connect the hub with nearby Hong Kong."
    Yes, yet one more amazing thing here is that neither Hong Kong nor Macao are (yet) formally part of the plan! And to give you a sense of the scale here, this Pearl supercity is the same size in surface area as the entire Netherlands!

    Global Risks ~ Davos on the World Economy...

    The World Economic Forum has released their Global Risks 2011 report identifying over three-dozen challenges. They also have some compelling ways of visualizing their scale and interconnections...

    Extreme Neurorehab ~ Shot Down, Now Back Up

    Shot in the Head, but Getting Back on His Feet and on With His Life writes James McKinley Jr in the NYTimes about the extreme neurorehabilitation facing cranial gunshot wound victims...
    "Few people understand what Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona faces as she begins her rehabilitation at the Memorial Hermann hospital complex in Houston, but Mark Steinhubl, a 20-year-old college student, is one of them. Two years ago, he suffered a similar ordeal as Ms. Giffords -- a bullet damaging half the brain, the deadly buildup of spinal fluid, the removal of a piece of his skull by surgeons to relieve pressure. He also went through the same program at the medical center’s rehab hospital -- TIRR Memorial Hermann -- that Ms. Giffords is expected to do. “She needs to realize that it won’t be instantaneous,” Mr. Steinhubl said in an interview. “She needs to set these small goals for herself.” [...] Days at the institute can be grueling for patients, Mr. Steinhubl said. Every morning patients are asked to write out their goals for that morning -- to stand a few more minutes, to tie their shoes, to dress themselves. Many of the fine-motor exercises seem simple, but they can be extremely difficult for someone with a brain injury."
    The ongoing challenges and many obstacles are monumental. And yet this is also where the virtues of persistence and resilience manifest. And a crucial kind of unsung heroism. I wish much strength to Steinhubl and Giffords and their courageous peers as they fight for their future health and happiness.

    Habitat Highway ~ Animal-Friendly Crosswalk...

    Thanks to Matthew Wald for spotlighting in the NYTimes, For Wildlife, a Safe Highway Crossing...
    "On Sunday, a nonprofit group announced the winner of a competition to design such a crossing: Michael Van Valkenburgh & Associates, a landscape architecture firm with offices in New York City and Cambridge, Mass. The design team, associated with the national construction firm HNTB, submitted a proposal for a bridge made of lightweight precast concrete panels that are snapped into place and covered with foliage. The bridge is broad enough to allow for strips -- lanes, actually -- that resemble forests, shrubs and meadows, with the aim of satisfying the tastes of any of the animals in the area. Miles of fences on either side of the highway would funnel animals to the bridge."

    Carchitecture ~ Stunning Space in the Vital City!?

    Hilarious to see Michael Barbaro's piece in the NYTimes, A Miami Beach Event Space. Parking Space, Too about carchitecture...
    "...here in Miami Beach, whose aesthetic is equal parts bulging biceps and fluorescent pink, bridal couples, bar mitzvah boys and charity-event hosts are flocking to what seems like the unimaginable marriage of high-end architecture and car storage: a $65 million parking garage in the center of the city. They are clamoring to use it for wine tastings, dinner parties and even yoga classes. Or taking self-guided tours, snapping photographs and, at times, just gawking. Created by a colorful Miami developer and a world-renowned architecture firm, it appears to be an entirely new form: a piece of carchitecture that resembles a gigantic loft apartment, with exaggerated ceiling heights, wide-open 360-degree views and no exterior walls."
    Aesthetic or artrocity? You decide;-)

    Religion Meets Science ~ Biocultural Studies...

    Thanks to Karen Weintraub for her Globe interview Religion Meets Science with Patrick McNamara, BU associate professor and co-founder of the Institute for the Biocultural Study of Religion. Among the tasty discussion morsels...
    "Q. What do you think science can learn from religion?
    A. If we can uncover the essential nature and functions of religiousness, we’re going to learn something really deep and interesting about human nature.
    Q. Is this a feedback loop -- does religion offer anything to the brain?
    A. I think one of the things that religion does when it’s working properly is it strengthens the prefrontal lobes. All those practices that the religious people tell their adherents to do -- like prayer, ritual, abstaining from alcohol, controlling your impulses -- strengthen the ability of frontal lobes to control primitive impulses.
    Q. Does that help explain why religion has had such staying power?
    A. If you’ve got a cultural system that produces people who are reliable, who cooperate, who are relatively honest and trustworthy, who can control their impulses, who are good parents, who abstain from ingesting addictive substances -- if a cultural system does that on a consistent basis over the centuries, that’s a pretty valuable system."
    Fascinating stuff!

    24 January 2011

    At.mosphere ~ Haute Cuisine @ Burj Khalifa!

    Thanks to Oliver Pickup at the DailyMail for spotting this 'Haute Cuisine': World's highest restaurant opens in Dubai a dizzying 1,350ft from the ground -- At.mosphere!

    Paisraelistine Papers ~ SneakyLeaks Via Al-Jaz...

    Al-Jazeera tries to boost ratings with this incendiary SneakyLeaks "scoop" revelation of The Palestine Papers including these "napkin maps" of prospective deals... Compare and contrast with other recent proposals.

    CONNECTED ~ The Power of Six Degrees...

    The Center for Complex Network Research's Professor Albert-László Barabási and Dr Baruch Barzel will soon host a documentary showing of CONNECTED ~ The Power of Six Degrees, revealing the many...
    "...applications of network theory in our everyday lives. In the film, Barabási and other scientists suggest that computer viruses, infectious diseases, proteins in the cell, and human social groups are all governed by the same fundamental concepts. By applying of these fundamental concepts to the military, to technology, and modern medicine, "network theory" scientists develop strong guides in research that may help us to control AIDS, break-up terrorist networks, and yes, perhaps even cure cancer."
    Here's a sneak peak at the trailer...

    23 January 2011

    Mapping Paisraelistine? ~ Gordian Naughtiness...

    Mark Landler writes in the NYTimes, Trying to Break Logjam, Scholar Floats an Idea for a Palestinian Map...
    "David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, wanted to show, in concrete terms, how negotiators could create a new Palestinian state in the West Bank, using the pre-1967 boundaries of Israel as a baseline, while taking into account the roughly 300,000 Jewish settlers who now live there. The goal, Mr. Makovsky said, is to “demystify” the territorial hurdles that divide Israelis and Palestinians, and to debunk the notion that there is no way to reconcile the Palestinian demand for sovereignty over the West Bank with the Israeli demand for control over a majority of the settlers. “In my view, it is definitely possible to deal with each other’s core demands,” he said. “There are land swaps that would offset whatever settlements Israel would retain. The impossible is attainable.” To be sure, Mr. Makovsky’s maps are an academic exercise..."

    The Few ~ Elites with Brains, Money, or Influence

    The Economist surveys The Few, the power of those elite global leaders with brains, money, or influence...
    "Societies have always had elites. For most of history and in most countries, power was seized by force of arms and passed down from father to son. Fear and heredity still play a role. China’s ruling party remains in charge because it jails and occasionally kills those who threaten it. America elected two presidents named George Bush and came close to electing two Clintons. The big change over the past century is that elites are increasingly meritocratic and global. The richest people in advanced countries are not aristocrats but entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates. The most influential are those whose inventions change lives in many countries (think of Facebook) or whose ideas are persuasive (think of Amnesty International). This special report will examine how influence is wielded. It will look at the minds that shape politics, business and technology, and it will describe the gatherings where influential people swap ideas..."

    Snowzilla! ~ One Hell Of A Blow Job in Boston...

    Boston's Snowzilla really blows...

    Ethnic Mosaic ~ New York's Shifting Society...

    Ford Fessenden and Sam Roberts write in the NYTimes about Then as Now: New York’s Shifting Ethnic Mosaic...
    "American Community Survey data released last month revealed a striking metamorphosis during the last decade. Traditional ethnic enclaves sprawled amoeba-like into adjacent communities. Once monolithic tracts of white and black and native-born residents have become bespeckled with newcomers."

    Help Planet, Hurt Poor? ~ Singer vs Lomborg...

    The WSJournal asks Does Helping the Planet Hurt the Poor? Yes, if We Listen to Green Extremists writes Bjørn Lomborg...
    "We are perfectly capable today of tackling the problems of both poverty and environmental pollution. But to do so, we must think clearly and rationally, and we must carefully weigh the costs and benefits of the approaches available to us."
    No, if the West Makes Sacrifices writes Peter Singer...
    "All of us living comfortably in industrialized nations should use more energy from sources other than fossil fuels, use less air-conditioning and less heat, fly and drive less, and eat less meat. And we ought to start doing these things now, for our own sake, for the sake of the global poor and for the sake of future generations everywhere."

    Longterm FDI Dynamics ~ Signature of Empire?

    The Economist Daily Chart spots Cometh The Dragon...
    "China's share of the world's foreign direct investment (FDI) has risen from 1% in 1991 to just under 6% in 2009. FDI flows tend to go hand in hand with economic clout. Britain was a big exporter of capital in the mid-19th century. America played this role for part of the 20th century..."

    STUD Prez Rides RazEr ~ Guan's rEVolution!

    Überhackster Charles Z Guan answers What is a Singapore?
    "...the slightly confused illegitimate offspring of a British noble with a Malaysian mistress, who grew up in the care of a Chinese nanny."
    Snap! He's back from visiting Singapore's new tech uni, STUD -- still misspelled SUTD by the powers that be -- where no less than STUD President Tom "Fearless" Magnanti rode the RazEr rEVolution!And here's a closer look at them wheels...

    22 January 2011

    Under Paris ~ Cataphiles Exploring Catacombs!

    My favorite monthly magazine, National Geographic, has a lovely article by Neil Shea with photos by Stephen Alvarez about cataphiles exploring catacombs Under Paris, including this and other visuals...

    20 January 2011

    Daughters for Life ~ Gaza Doctor Abuelaish...

    Fascinating to learn more about Palestinian Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish whose niece and three daughters were slaughtered by Israeli arms during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-9. The world knows of him because Israeli Channel 10 presenter Shlomi Eldar had him on live speakerphone grieving for those just slain. The remarkable thing is Dr Abuelaish's response has been to say "I Shall Not Hate". He's both written a book about this and founded the Daughters for Life foundation...
    "His personal doctrine is that hate is not a response to war. Rather open communication, understanding and compassion are the tools to bridge the divide between Israeli and Palestinian interests. “All can live in harmony,” he says. “And all can reach their full potentials spiritually, emotionally, physically and intellectually.”
    Also be sure to see this ABC Australia documentary Gaza Doctor distributed by Journeyman Pictures...

    Hospital in a Box ~ Dr Seyi Oyesola @ TEDGlobal

    See here Dr Seyi Oyesola speaking at TED about health care in emerging market countries, the incentives for the talent diaspora, and his practical action project, the Hospital in a Box,...
    "...common, survivable ailments and injuries -- burns, trauma, heart attacks -- kill thousands of Africans each year because basic medical care can be so hard to get. To help bring surgical care to every region of the continent, Oyesola co-developed CompactOR, or the "Hospital in a Box": a portable medical system that contains anesthetic and surgical equipment. The operating suite is light enough to be dropped into inaccessible zones by helicopter, and can be powered by solar panels."

    How (Not) to Write About Africa ~ By Wainaina;-)

    Nice to see again this bitingly ironic and satirical commentary on How (Not) to Write About Africa by Binyavanga Wainaina! Originally published in Granta 92, here read by Djimon Hounsou... Thanks to Lisa Wade at Sociological Images for reminding me of this!

    19 January 2011

    HK Tram Nightimelapse ~ A Moving Perspective!

    No words needed! A lovely nighttime moving perspective on Hong Kong tram transit (to complement the daytime views)...

    DJ DiDonna ~ Entrepreneurial Finance Lab...

    Wonderful to have our past MIT Development Ventures student and HBS alumnus DJ DiDonna join me on MaximizingProgress.tv tonight! DJ's now running African operations for a Harvard Kennedy School spinoff company, EFL or Entrepreneurial Finance Lab. EFL's purpose is to identify high-potential entrepreneurs in developing countries and, in particular, people worthy of risky loans and equity investments. In other words, they are a kind of credit-risk analytic service in countries where there aren't yet credit ratings and other forms of independent assessment. Born out of academic research in the Center for International Development at the Entrepreneurial Finance Lab Research Initiative, the EFL addresses the crucial "Missing Middle" of small & medium-size enterprises (SME) firms in developing countries...
    "...time and time again, access to finance is held up as the major problem. Firms in this segment consistently rate access to finance as the top barrier to growth."
    EFL and their lead African client, the South African financial services giant, Standard Bank, seek to address this starting in the Kenyan and East African markets. Very exciting initiative indeed!