29 November 2012

True US Debt ~ $87T = 550% GDP = $8T/Yr Tax

Bipartisan commissioners on entitlement and tax reform, Chris Cox and Bill Archer, shock us with facts in their WSJ OpEd piece Why $16 Trillion Only Hints at the True U.S. Debt...
"For years, the government has gotten by without having to produce the kind of financial statements that are required of most significant for-profit and nonprofit enterprises [...] it does not include the unfunded liabilities of Medicare, Social Security and other outsized and very real obligations. [...] We most often hear about the alarming $15.96 trillion national debt (more than 100% of GDP), and the 2012 budget deficit of $1.1 trillion (6.97% of GDP). As dangerous as those numbers are, they do not begin to tell the story of the federal government's true liabilities. The actual liabilities of the federal government -- including Social Security, Medicare, and federal employees' future retirement benefits -- already exceed $86.8 trillion, or 550% of GDP. [...] When the accrued expenses of the government's entitlement programs are counted, it becomes clear that to collect enough tax revenue just to avoid going deeper into debt would require over $8 trillion in tax collections annually. [But] if the government confiscated the entire adjusted gross income of these American taxpayers, plus all of the corporate taxable income in the year before the recession, it wouldn't be nearly enough [...] to fund the growth of U.S. liabilities."
This means political malfeasance and governmental incompetence of titanic proportions. We need a new generation of leaders in DC to steer the ship of state, which means electing more reality-minded and ethical people like MIT alumnus Representative Tom Massie!

Gorilla Gym ~ Brilliant-Simple Doorway Exerciser

Great to see Kiril Alexandrov -- good friend and MIT $100K winning alumco co-founder and Big Skinny pocketpreneur -- together with business partner Peter and their families revealing the Gorilla Gym -- a brilliant-simple doorway-retrofit exercise system -- and launching it via Indiegogo!
"Install Gorilla Gym on your doorway without tools or drilling. Our patent-pending Vise Grips add stability to allow you to perform a wider variety of exercises with a larger range of motions, such as pull-ups, chin-ups, swinging arms, abs, and shoulder exercises. Add multiple attachments for additional exercises for men, women, and children, including boxing, yoga, and swinging."

28 November 2012

Cheetah Slo-Mo ~ Wilson Captures Fast Cat!

MissC spots Greg Wilson's Cheetah slo-mo for NatGeo!

Fall Timelapse ~ NYC's Central Park Seasons!

io9 spots Jamie Scott's Fall ultimate seasonal timelapse!
"One of the most striking things about New York City is the fall colors and there's no better place to view this then Central Park. I chose 15 locations in the park and revisited them 2 days a week for six months, recording all camera positions and lens information to create consistency in the images. All shots were taken just after sunrise."

Accelerate ~ MIT $100K Contest Deadline 2day!

Tonight, Wednesday 28 November 2012, a minute before midnight is deadline for the MIT $100K Accelerate Contest!
"The contest is all about building stuff -- it's about execution. Up to 30 teams with the most potential will be selected by the judges to go through to the Accelerate phase during IAP. These teams will receive $1,000 each to spend on their ideas, and we'll pair them up with rockstar mentors and designers. We’ll also help them secure work space."
As former lead organizer of the MIT $100K, I'm especially excited to see the latest class of compelling ventures blossom!

26 November 2012

Chicago Forward ~ Gabe Klein on Friendly Cities

I'm now sitting at Media Lab listening to DUSP guest speaker Gabe Klein, the Chicago DOT Commissioner speak on Chicago Forward: Building a User-Friendly City. The soft-start to the talk is this lovely Cities for Cycling Streetfilm... Chicago's an amazing transit hub with four Class One railroads, a dual-hub airport, bike net -- but it's also "bottleneck city" with congestion, safety issues, and lots of fat people and kids. Klein was previously a bike business manager, then with Zipcar, then food truck business, and then DC's transport guy (including helping roll out Capital Bikeshare). Very interesting transitions!  In DC, he helped steer bikelanes down the center of Pennsylvania Avenue!
Among the compelling trends he spotlights are the share economy, digital public ways, robust multimodal hubs, far more public/private combinations, and more. Chicago Forward is his city's action agenda embracing Safe Transit (including the issue of automatic traffic enforcement, safety zones, and the unbelievable "freedom-to-kill" drivers currently have today over pedestrians and bicyclists), Rebuilding & Renewing, Layers of Options, Complete Streets, and more.

Mapping Cape Town ~ Spotlight on SA Supercity

Cape Town, South Africa in maps...

PICA ~ 2nd Language Learning on Kickstarter...

Video game entrepreneur Vicky Wu Davis shares the word of her PICA project on Kickstarter!
"PICA is a 2nd language learning tool for 3-6 year olds, teaching Chinese, French, Spanish and ESL through immersive play."

24 November 2012

The President ~ NatGeo Spotlights Giant Sequoia!

NatGeo spotlights this Snow Tree giant sequoia!
"Cloaked in the snows of California’s Sierra Nevada, the 3,200-year-old giant sequoia called The President rises 247 feet. Two other sequoias have wider trunks, but none has a larger crown, say the scientists who climbed it. The figure at top seems taller than the other climbers because he’s standing forward on one of the great limbs."

Stellar Cathedral ~ NASA Spots NGC 6357...

NASA APOD spots Stellar Cathedral!

23 November 2012

Picturing SF ~ Essential Sci Fi Visuals & Images!

Charlie Jane Anders at io9 shares top 21 Pictures that Sum Up the Whole History of Science Fiction...
"Every era in science fiction's history has shown us a new vision of the strange and futuristic, and one image can spawn a million reflections in your mind's eye."
Here's just a sampling of my favorites, in chronological order...

Culture of Bribery ~ China's Societal Sickness...

Dan Levin reveals a corrupt and despicable culture of bribery in his NYTimes piece A Chinese Education, for a Price...
"For Chinese children and their devoted parents, education has long been seen as the key to getting ahead in a highly competitive society. But just as money and power grease business deals and civil servant promotions, the academic race here is increasingly rigged in favor of the wealthy and well connected, who pay large sums and use connections to give their children an edge at government-run schools. Nearly everything has a price, parents and educators say, from school admissions and placement in top classes to leadership positions in Communist youth groups. [...] Corruption is pervasive in every part of Chinese society, and education is no exception."

Autom ~ Crowdfunding Robocoach via Indiegogo!

MIT Media Lab spinoff Intuitive Automata's Autom robocoach seeks your support via Indiegogo!
"Autom is a health coach. She talks to people about diet and exercise and gives customized, tailored feedback and advice to each person about how to be healthier. She started her life as a weight loss coach and that's where she still excels, helping people to stick with a diet more effectively than other programs out there."

Pirate Fishing ~ AlJaz's P&P Catches Criminals

AlJazeera's People & Power investigates illegal fishing by international criminals in Sierra Leone's exclusive zone...

19 November 2012

Within Two Worlds ~ Goldpaint's Timelapse Arc!

Neatorama spots Brad Goldpaint's Within Two Worlds timelapse!

King's Cross Inferno ~ Learning From Disaster...

It was 25 years ago that the King's Cross Inferno killed 31 and maimed dozens more in the most deadly subway event in London Tube history. The most badly burned survivor is Kwasi Afari Minta who shares his painful story in the Daily Mail / Sunday Mirror...
"He has endured 30 operations in 25 years, procedures that have caused him immense suffering. With his 'claw-like' hands and debilitating pain every time he closes his eyes, he cannot cope with anymore operations. But despite his torment, he still regards himself as 'one of the lucky ones'. He told the Sunday Mirror: 'When I meet people I knew from before the fire, that's when the problems start, if they react badly and sympathise. I don't want tears or sympathy. But I'm still here. I have my son. Most of the time I feel lucky."
Here's short contemporary investigation report... Full docu from NatGeo's Seconds From Disaster... Finally, here's a Firetactics review and "trench effect" lessons.

18 November 2012

Erupting Prominence ~ NASA on Giant Sun Burst

NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) spots giant eruption!

Iconic Bottle ~ Coca-Cola's Enduring Contours...

CBS Sunday Morning spotlights the emergence of Coca-Cola as a business and most especially their iconic contour bottle design!
"Everyone, from Pop artist Andy Warhol to American football great “Mean Joe” Greene, has been mesmerized by its memorable, hourglass figure. We’re talking about the Coca-Cola Company’s legendary glass contour bottle, which debuted in 1916. The iconic vessel was the brainchild of designers at the Root Glass Company in Terre Haute, Ind., who were tasked with creating a beverage container that could be easily identified by shape alone. Their inspiration for the now legendary 6.5-ounce Coke bottle: the gourd-shaped cocoa pod."

17 November 2012

How to Rob Africa ~ AlJaz's P&P Investigation...

AlJazeera's People & Power shares How to Rob Africa, an expose investigation asking...
"Why does the Western world feed Africa with one hand while taking from it with the other? [...] International money laundering regulations are supposed to stop the proceeds of corruption being moved around the world in this way, but it seems the developed world's financial system is far more tempted by the prospect of large cash injections than it should be. Indeed the West even provides the getaway vehicles for this theft, in the shape of anonymous off-shore companies and investment entities, whose disguised ownership makes it too easy for the corrupt and dishonest to squirrel away stolen funds in bank accounts overseas. This makes them nigh on impossible for investigators to trace, let alone recover. [...] The continent is rich is natural resources that are being exploited for big profits, but the money is rarely used for the benefit of the people. Instead it goes to line the pockets of corrupt officials who then often smuggle it out to be deposited in secret offshore bank accounts in the developed world. So who facilitates these transactions? And how and why does the developed world make it so easy to launder this dirty cash? In this revealing investigation for People & Power, [Zimbabwean journalist Stanley] Kwenda and the Ghanaian undercover journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas, set off to find out."

Megacities ~ Guardian Interactive Global Map

The Guardian spotlights growing Megacities via interactographic...

Dust to Dust ~ Burning Man 2011 Timelapse!

Lovely Burning Man timelapse Dust to Dust shared by our MIT Neuroventures guest speaker Todd Huffman! See also Todd's work on the aerial GigaPan...

DJ Focus ~ Sierra Leone's Kelvin Doe @ MIT!

DJ Focus -- i.e. teenager Kelvin Doe from Sierra Leone -- is the youngest person ever invited to the "Visiting Practitioner's Program" at MIT. Why? He is...
"...an engineering whiz living in Sierra Leone who scours the trash bins for spare parts, which he uses to build batteries, generators and transmitters. Completely self-taught, [now 15 year old] Kelvin has created his own radio station where he broadcasts news and plays music."
Plus check this CNN What's Next piece DIY Africa: Empowering a new Sierra Leone by MIT Media Lab's David Sengeh on Innovate Salone...
"The youth of Sierra Leone are ready and capable of transforming their country. By providing them with resources and creative freedom, we can spark the joy of discovery that results in innovation and ultimately, national development."
Help support Innovate Salone's escalation.

11 November 2012

Qumquat Killed ~ Poachers Slaughter Elephants

NYTimes DotEarthling Andrew Revkin shares the sad news that Africa’s Ivory-Driven Elephant Slaughter Continues -- A Family Falls...
"Qumquat, one of the best-known matriarchs in the elephant population of the Amboseli ecosystem on the Kenya-Tanzania border, was photographed with her family on October 27 by Nick Brandt. Just 24 hours later, the old female and most of the others were gunned down by poachers."

Preserving our Freedoms ~ Why Veterans Day...

Both Memorial and today -- Veterans Day -- are seasonal complements to the more celebratory Fourth of July and Thanksgiving. It's worth remembering why we observe them, and for this let's read President Eisenhower's proclamation about November 11th...
"Let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain."
This honors all vets of all wars, including those avoided.

MITHenge ~ Photonic Fireworks Tonight-Now!

MITHenge right now! Here's last year's photo'd by Tech's Dahe...
P.S. Alas it sucks watching it with a thousand others, including too many rude f'tards who either hog spots or block the view;-(

10 November 2012

Hangover Heaven ~ Doc Cures Overindulgence!

Brilliant service Hangover Heaven in Las Vegas is the subject of Der Spiegel piece Curing the Symptoms of Overindulgence in Las Vegas by Astrid Langer...
"The hangover truck is the brainchild of Jason Burke, a 42-year-old anesthesiologist who worked in Las Vegas hospitals for seven years before going out on his own and starting up his "Hangover Heaven" practice. Since then, he's been driving his massive, converted bus up and down the Strip treating people who've drunk themselves senseless. [...] Burke came up with the hangover bus idea because he and his wife are themselves wine and grappa lovers and enjoy going to wine tastings on the weekend. After one of these outings, it occurred to him that, after being anesthetized, many patients exhibit the same symptoms as people with hangovers. "I thought to myself that maybe the same medications would work on hangovers too," he says. So he tried the treatments out on his friends -- with stunning results. He then created a business plan, bought a bus and turned it into a mobile sick ward with leather seats and huge televisions. The state of Nevada's health department was a bit taken aback by the idea, Burke says, but it still approved it. Now he can simultaneously treat some 20 patients at a time in the bus."

IDIN & CITE ~ USAID Funds MIT D-Lab + DUSP

Exciting news that USAID supports MIT and global partners with up to $25 Million over five years for a tag-team effort, the D-Lab-run IDIN -- the International Development Innovation Network...
"A consortium of universities around the world to establish and nurture a global network of local innovators using technology to address issues facing people living in poverty."
And the DUSP-run CITE -- the Comprehensive Initiative on Technology Evaluation...
"MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning will lead the CITE effort in developing a rigorous methodology for evaluating technological solutions to challenges in the developing world; this methodology will help donors and policy-makers identify and invest in the best of these solutions."

05 November 2012

hue ~ Philips Digital Lighting & Apps System...

Inhabitat spots the new Philips hue digital lights... Well, this is incredibly f'ing lame -- Philips erased their video. I hope they actually want to sell product because as far as I'm concerned they can just go bankrupt. Losers.

Protecting NYC ~ Engineering For Resiliency...

Alan Feuer in NYTimes writes Protecting the City, Before Next Time...
"What is the way forward? Does the city continue to build ever-sturdier and ever-higher sea walls? Or does it accept the uncomfortable idea that parts of New York will occasionally flood and that the smarter method is to make the local infrastructure more elastic and better able to recover? [...] some experts in the field who have thought deeply about how to protect New York from huge storms like Hurricane Sandy -- and especially from the coastal surges they produce -- suggested that less intrusive forms of so-called soft infrastructure might prove more effective in sheltering the city than mammoth Venetian sea walls. [...] According to the experts -- architects, environmentalists and civil engineers -- large-scale projects like underwater gates are expensive, cumbersome and difficult to build. More important, they say, such undertakings are binary projects that work just fine until the moment they do not."
See the article for three fairly bold proposals.  And see Reuters infographic...

Scariest Flights ~ Fasten Your Seatbelt Films!

MissC spots Film's Scariest Flights (which is enough to make you never want to fly again!-)

01 November 2012

Tunnel Plug ~ Avoiding or Minimizing Flooding...

In addition to the supreme lack-wisdom that lead NYC hospital designers to place emergency generators in basements (e.g. NYU Langone), other examples include tunnel owner-operators neglecting to deploy emergency closure mechanisms at a compelling scale. So check out the Tunnel Plug that Mike Ahlers spotlights in his CNN piece Huge plugs could have spared subways from flooding...
"Huge inflatable plugs -- now being developed by the federal government to protect subway tunnels from terrorist attacks -- likely could have saved some of New York's subway tunnels from storm-related flooding, according to plug developers, some of whom are wistful that development wasn't completed in time for Hurricane Sandy. [...] The plug -- simple in theory, but sophisticated in design -- inflates like a balloon to fit the contours of a tunnel, and can reduce leakage to amounts manageable by pumps. Placed on either end of some of the tunnels under New York's East River, the plugs could have prevented flooding, team members told CNN. But plugs would not have prevented water from infiltrating porous underground subway stations and other infrastructure, they said."