30 August 2012

Resource Conflict 2.0? ~ Corporate Grab for Africa

AlJaz OpEd piece by OpenOil founder Johnny West spots The corporate scramble for Africa, arguing that...
"If it continues to be business as usual in Africa, it could set the stage for Resource Conflict 2.0. [...] the struggle we are witnessing -- workers and local communities against corporate giants and in some cases their own governments -- is not just unfolding in South Africa. There is a new corporate scramble for Africa's natural resources. [...] Conflict exists at two levels. Across the continent governments are stirring, feeling that now is the time to increase their take. [...] But it's the community level where the conflict is more explosive. [...] Local communities are more assertive and more connected -- mobile phone penetration is expected to top 70 per cent across the continent by the end of the year, and even casual visitors cannot but be struck by their ubiquity. The companies have noticed this too. Surveys consistently show resource nationalism is their biggest concern, and their literature now makes much of obtaining a "social license to operate" and the need to get the message of all their community activities out there. But the typical big extractive company's view of corporate citizenship is about as evolved as a Victorian gentlewoman's programme of good works. For many, corporate social responsibility departments are window dressing and, deeper in the bowels of the company, closer to its real power centres, the view persists that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, and the more they can fly under the radar the better. [...] Three things are needed: levelling up the playing field when African governments negotiate with Big Oil or Big Mining so that agreements are fairer; commitment by the companies to radical growth of the local skills base; and by governments to radical transparency, of a kind not seen before."
Read the whole thing, please.

27 August 2012

Epic Arnie ~ Making of Top Schwarzenfilms !-)

And T2 too!

Getting Better ~ Kenny Writes In Praise of Slums

Getting Better author Charles Kenny writes in the latest Foreign Policy Cities issue In Praise of Slums, that...
"...slums are better than the alternative. Most people who've experienced both rural and urban poverty choose to stay in slums rather than move back to the countryside. That includes hundreds of millions of people in the developing world over the past few decades -- and 130 million migrant workers in China alone. They follow a well-trodden path of seeking a better life in the bright lights of the city [...] Moving to cities makes economic sense -- rich countries are urbanized countries, and rich people are predominantly town and city dwellers. [...] all things considered, slum growth is a force for good. It could be an even stronger driver of development if leaders stopped treating slums as a problem to be cleared and started treating them as a population to be serviced, providing access to reliable land titles, security, paved roads, water and sewer lines, schools, and clinics. As Harvard University economist Edward Glaeser puts it, slums don't make people poor -- they attract poor people who want to be rich. So let's help them help themselves."
That's centrally why we have MIT Media Lab City Science Initiative.

NYC Skyline ~ UrbanPeek on 1876-2013 Change

DailyMail spots NYC Skyline changes from 1876-2013 on UrbanPeek!

Ultimate Propagandist ~ Bernays, Father of PR...

Thanks to Karl Smallwood, Jack Hall, Sara Ohlms for their piece in Cracked on The 7 Sneakiest Ways Corporations Manipulated Human Behavior. They spotlight...
"Edward Bernays, aka the godfather of spin and the forefather of modern PR"

26 August 2012

Scenic Rails ~ Palmerston, NZ's Esplanade RR!

I love specialty rail systems, for example, the boutique mini-train Palmerston North Esplanade Scenic Railway in New Zealand! Here's timelapse first run of the day to set up crossing signs... And examples of normal tourist use!

Big Dig ~ Boston's Translogistics Gigaproject

People complained while it was under construction -- and it certainly had its share of accidents, overruns, delays, and disasters -- but when you look at the ginormous nature of Boston's Big Dig gigaproject, you realize just how remarkable an engineering feat it has been!

25 August 2012

R.I.P. Neil Armstrong ~ The First Man on Moon...

Sad word just arrived and his family shares that 82 year old Neil Armstrong has passed away. He was commander of the Apollo 11 lunar mission and the first human to walk on the Moon's surface on July 20, 1969. In Armstrong's own immortal words...
"That's one small step for man,
one giant leap for mankind."
Watch the "giant leap" as it happened (thanks Andrew Revkin)...
Iconic newsman Walter Cronkite reported the landing... And here's historic retrospective on this epic human achievement...
"With computer alarms sounding and fuel running low, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed their lunar module Eagle in the Sea of Tranquility as millions around the world watched. Six hours later, Armstrong made his "giant leap for mankind", stepping onto the surface of the moon. He was soon joined by Buzz Aldrin, who described the scene as "magnificent desolation". They explored the surface for two and a half hours, collection samples and taking photographs. After their historic moonwalk, they successfully docked with the command module Columbia, reuniting with crewmate Michael Collins."

The Armstrong family says...
"For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”
Indeed, left behind on the Moon is the ultimate epitaph...

24 August 2012

Insane in the Membrane ~ BBrains Cephalo-iPod!

Kottke spots hilarious Backyard Brains Cephalo-iPod...
"[They] hooked an iPod up to a squid in such a way that when the music played, it was converted into electrical impulses that triggered color changes on the squid's skin, thereby creating the world's first cephalo-iPod. Here's a video of the squid's skin pulsing along to Insane in the Membrane by Cypress Hill"
More details...
"During experiments on the axons of the Woods Hole squid (loligo pealei), we tested our cockroach leg stimulus protocol on the squid's chromatophores. [...] The video is a view through an 8x microscope zoomed in on the dorsal side of the caudal fin of the squid. We used a suction electrode to stimulate the fin nerve. Chromatophores are pigmeted cells that come in 3 colors: Brown, Red, and Yellow. Each chromatophore is lined with up to 16 muscles that contract to reveal their color."
Lovely scientific and experimental beauty!-)

21 August 2012

More Natural Beauty ~ Lovely Animal Images!

Lovely animal images-of-the-day...
See also DailyMail's mini-me animal photogallery!

Upper Limits? ~ Exploring Skyscraper Constraints

Paul at GeekPress spots Atlantic piece by Nick Berg asking Is There a Limit to How Tall Buildings Can Get?
"The responses [...] tend to focus on the pragmatic technicalities of dealing with funding and the real estate market or the lack of natural light in wide-based buildings. "The predominant problem is in the elevator and transportation system," says Adrian Smith, the architect behind the current tallest building in the world and the one that will soon outrank it, the kilometer-tall Kingdom Tower in Jeddah. [Structural engineer William Baker says] "We could easily do a kilometer. We could easily do a mile," he says. "We could do at least a mile and probably quite a bit more."

Flocksourcing ~ User-Driven Bus Nets in Dhaka

Newly done MIT alum Albert Ching shares his Flocksourcing thesis!

20 August 2012

Old Ironsides ~ Constitution Sails Again on 200th!

CNN spots the USS Constitution sailing again in Boston Harbor...
"...to commemorate the 200th anniversary of her victory over a British frigate during the War of 1812. The battle earned Constitution her "Old Ironsides" nickname."

17 August 2012

Perfectly Round ~ Sun Natural Sphere sez BBC

Gripping revelation from the BBC's CBBC -- The sun is the most perfect natural sphere, study shows!
"Scientists measuring the sun were shocked to find it's the most perfectly round natural object in the universe."

16 August 2012

Fresh Impact ~ Young Martian Crater Imagery!

Discover's Bad Astronomy spotlights A Fresh Martian Impact...
"The image (highly color enhanced) shows a crater seen by a camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2011. We can tell it’s young because it’s still surrounded by the ejecta blanket; material that blasted out of the crater and settled around it. That stuff tends to erode away (or get covered in dust and sand by Martian winds) relatively quickly. But in this case, we know just how young it is: it wasn’t seen in images taken of the same spot by a camera on board the Odyssey Mars probe… in 2009! In other words, this crater is less than three years old!"

14 August 2012

Invisible Bike Helmet ~ Killer Design Challenge!-)

Abbas at 3QuarksDaily spots Invisible Bicycle Helmet short!
"Design students Anna and Terese took on a giant challenge as an exam project. Something no one had done before. If they could swing it, it would for sure be revolutionary. The bicycle is a tool to change the world. If we use bikes AND travel safe: Life will be better for all."

Chinese Investment In Africa ~ Mapping Maoismo

MapPorn spotlights Chinese Investment in Africa...
See also Heritage Foundation's China Global Investment Tracker Interactive Map.

More Greenroofs ~ Inspiring Arboria Upstairs!

Lots of great inspirations for growing urban greenroofs!

Beautiful Sunset ~ gCaptain Spots Ship, Surf++

gCaptain's always on the lookout for great sea and ship shots!

13 August 2012

Android Dreams ~ Cockedey's Tokyo Timelapse...

Neatorama spots Cockedey's Tokyo timelapse Android Dreams...
"A tribute to Ridley Scott and Vangelis, whose atmospheric work on Blade Runner has been a huge source of inspiration in my shooting time lapses, as well as for entire generations of filmmakers. I hope this will make many of you want to revisit (or discover if you haven't yet) this genre-defining movie."

X-Ray Junky ~ Nick Veasey's Incredible Photoart!

Paul at GeekPress spots this lovely piece on Nick Veasey, self-described "X-Ray Junky" who makes beautiful portraits of object interiors with extra-radiation, clever imaging, and visual arts techniques! Here Nick describes his approach and pieces, including creating the cover for the Focus on Imaging 2010 catalogue... And here's Nick's interview with the German DW...

Social Insecurity ~ Planet's Biggest Ponzi Scheme

Instead of investing mandatory "Social Security" tax money in some kind of income producing and productive investment, the US is in the middle of the biggest Ponzi scheme on the planet (exacerbated by the fact that everyone's forced to participate, so strictly speaking it's not a Ponzi, but let's not quibble). It's not much of a laughing matter and yet sometimes you just have to laugh at the grotesque incompetence of politicians as skewered in these killer cartoons spotted by International Liberty's Dan Mitchell...

Welcome to Life ~ Dystopian Corporatism Spoof

Tom Scott posts at IEET on Uploading Ruined by Capitalism...
"If capitalism, intellectual property and other trends continue unchecked this could be the kind of user agreement we’d be offered upon upload."
I'm not sure this is centrally about capitalism or rather the currently backwards and broken state of contract law, IP law, personal data rights, and more, plus the still lagging inadequacies of opensource alternatives. Nevertheless, I think this spoof of dystopian corporatism is hilarious;-) PS As a bonus, check out Tom's Journalism Warning Labels!

Gotham Superprime ~ NYC's Top Penthouse...

CNN Money on NYC's most expensive apartment...

12 August 2012

Dutch Trains ~ Examples of Competent Infralinks

Just a few video examples of the densely woven and (mostly) well-run Netherlands railway system! First, a two-hour compilation of almost every piece of rolling stock possible in many locations! Probably best to click-skip through it... The main NL transit hub, Utrecht Centraal... And here's Schiphol airport with trainstation underneath! Finally, a cabride view-from-the-front of the Schiphol-to-Amsterdam Centraal train! PS Here's a bonus, a cabride in the tram between Delft (home of the Dutch MIT, TUDelft) and the seaside resort town of Schevenigen (the name you ask people to pronounce to prove they're really Dutch;-)...

Robot & Frank ~ Embracing the Future, Bot by Bot

Trailer for Robot & Frank movie...

10 August 2012

Flipping Cat ~ Smarter Every Day's Slo-Mo Pussy!

Cynical-C spots Flipping Cat slo-mo from Smarter Every Day...

Arnold Maersk ~ Viewing Big Ship from Above!

gCaptain's Rob Almeida spots video by Jeff Bird of the 6,600 TUE 352m long Arnold Maersk slipping underneath the Bayonne Bridge to dock at the Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal! Ginormous! But as Rob points out, she's just a third of the size of the 18,000 TUE Triple-E ships to come...

Stellar Ripple ~ NASA Spots Cartwheel Galaxy!

Lovely NASA Image of the Day, the Cartwheel Galaxy...
"This false-color composite image shows the Cartwheel galaxy as seen by the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX), the Hubble Space Telescope (green); the Spitzer Space Telescope (red); and the Chandra X-ray Observatory (purple). Although astronomers have not identified exactly which galaxy collided with the Cartwheel, two of three candidate galaxies can be seen in this image to the bottom left of the ring, one as a neon blob and the other as a green spiral."

09 August 2012

Sexy Cocktails ~ Beyond Screaming Orgasms!

The Globe reports that cocktails are inherently amusing and worthy of a writeup in X-rated cocktails show the saucier side of getting sauced!
"Kirsten Amann, herself a cocktail nerd, hasn’t lost track of the fun. Her new book, “The Screaming Orgasm, 69 X-Rated Cocktails” (Running Press), is a trip through an array of sexy tipples. You may not see them ordered regularly in Boston’s craft cocktail bars, but their names, and easily-drinkable recipes, make them well-suited to romance. [...] Amann’s selections range from old classics like the Hanky Panky to “less respectable” cocktails like Sex on the Beach. The recipes are divvied up into five stages of the courting process, from Flirting, to Hooking Up, Hot and Heavy, All the Way, One-Night Stand, and the inevitable follow-up, The Walk of Shame."

Stone Spray ~ Additive Manufacturing In Sand ;-)

ML crony Birago Jones spots Stone Spray!

Mighty Ships ~ Smithsonian on Marine Marvels!

Cool to see the Smithsonian Channel series on Mighty Ships! Episodes cover over a dozen vessels, including the hospital ship Africa Mercy, pipelayer MV Solitaire, dredger Cristobal Colon, dive supporter Skandi Arctic, and super-cruiseliner Oasis of the Seas! Here's the Oasis trailer... (See Full Episode!)

STG Lesotho ~ Orosz & Mueller Harness Sun...

MIT's David Chandler spotlights the great work of newly minted PhD alums Matt Orosz and Amy Mueller and STG International colleagues in Bringing power to the people -- and heat as well...
"The technology they developed uses a mirrored parabolic trough to capture sunlight, heating fluid in a pipe along the mirror’s centerline. This fluid then powers a sort of air conditioner in reverse: Instead of using electricity to pump out cold air on one side and hot air on the other, it uses the hot fluid and cold air to generate electricity. At the same time, the hot fluid can be used to provide heat and hot water -- or, by adding a separate chiller stage, to produce cooling as well. A prototype of the system has been installed at a small clinic in the southern African nation of Lesotho; next year, the MIT team plans to have five fully operational systems installed in isolated clinics and schools there for field-testing."