30 September 2014

How Doctors Die ~ Desiring Quality Over Quantity

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.

The Great Dictator ~ Chaplin One-Ups Idiots...

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 ~ Craftsourcing Men's Quality Shoes!

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!

I See Something ~ Hettiarachchi's Champ Speech

Business Insider's Richard Feloni spotlights (and deconstructs) Sri Lankan human resources consultant Dananjaya Hettiarachchi's World Championship Toastmasters speech...

28 September 2014

Top Urban Themes ~ CityLab on New Science...

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:
  1. Cities generate economic growth through networks of proximity, casual encounters and “economic spillovers."
  2. Cities generate a remarkably large “green dividend."
  3. Cities perform best economically and environmentally when they feature pervasive human-scale connectivity.
  4. Cities perform best when they adapt to human psychological dynamics and patterns of activity.
  5. Cities perform best when they offer some control of spatial structure to residents.
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."
Here CityLab spots Physicists Geoffrey West and Luis Bettencourt of the Santa Fe Institute describing What Is A City?

Faraday ~ Working-Class Scientist-Inventor!

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

A Bridge Too Far ~ WWII's Market-Garden @ 70

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2771728/Seventy-years-Arnhem-never-forgotten-debt-thousands-British-Polish-soldiers-gave-lives-ill-fated-Allied-plan-deliver-final-blow-Hitler.htmlSeventy 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."

Habitat ’67 ~ Safdie Reinvents Apartment Building

Moshe Safdie at TED speaks about reinventing the apartment building and his iconic, modular, livable Habitat '67...

22 September 2014

Earth at Equinox ~ Russian Elektro-L Timelapse!

NASA APOD spots Earth at Equinox...

Startup Ecosystem ~ Five Fostering Ingredients...

Brad Feld spotlights UP Global's new white paper Fostering a Startup and Innovation Ecosystem...
"This white paper underscores the five critical ingredients that support flourishing entrepreneurial ecosystems: talent, density, culture, capital, and regulatory environment."

21 September 2014

Survivor Tree ~ Resilience, Survival, Rebirth...

The Survivor Tree thrives beyond near-death and destruction...
"A callery pear tree became known as the "Survivor Tree" after enduring the September 11, 2001 terror attacks at the World Trade Center. In October 2001, the tree was discovered at Ground Zero severely damaged, with snapped roots and burned and broken branches. The tree was removed from the rubble and placed in the care of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. After its recovery and rehabilitation, the tree was returned to the Memorial in 2010. New, smooth limbs extended from the gnarled stumps, creating a visible demarcation between the tree’s past and present. Today, the tree stands as a living reminder of resilience, survival and rebirth."
Kuriositas spots The 9/11 Survivor Tree’s Story Voiced by Whoopi Goldberg: A True Metaphor for the Human Spirit...
"This beautiful animation, with the tree given voice by Whoopi Goldberg, forms the centerpiece of a campaign to encourage people to visit the 9/11 Memorial & Museum outside of which the tree stands proud and tall, welcoming visitors. Survivor Tree was animated by Elastic, through the BBDO Agency. As a metaphor for the human spirit and testament to the healing power of caring, it takes some beating."

20 September 2014

Breastpump Hackathon ~ MomTech @ Media Lab!

Today's Day 1 of Breastpump Hackathon here at the MIT Media Lab has explored a wide range of prospective new, better, and alternative approaches to improved connections between babies and busy moms!
"The health benefits of breastfeeding (both to mother and baby!) are numerous and include the reductions of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, obesity, female cancers, heart disease and osteoporosis. Despite the overwhelming data and worldwide endorsement of breastfeeding for at least two years, many women do not breastfeed at all or wean after several months. In particular, low-income, working women are rarely able to take extended maternity leave, to afford the cost of a pump, or to pump breastmilk at their workplace. In emerging economies around the world, women who go back to work wean their babies rather than using a breast pump."
There's lots of room for improvement and creative re-imagination of the current and prospective enabling technologies! Here's just a few of the key people -- Media Lab students, alums, and and friends, including many Moms and Dads -- who are making this goodness happen... http://breastpump.media.mit.edu/

Inside Our Skin ~ Lupita Nyong’o on True Beauty

The Kid Should See This spotlights Lupita Nyong’o with Elmo on Sesame Street talking about their lovely skins... Joseph Lamour on Upworthy shares another moment with Lupita Nyong’o where she spoke again about skin at the Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon hosted by Essence... And, for good measure, here's Lupita's role model Alek Wek on Tyra's show... It's truly stunning how much superficial aesthetics play a role in peoples lives planet-wide. One of the most shocking illustrations of this for me -- beyond the experiences of Lupita, Alek, and Tyra's lovely guest Nya -- remains the Black Dolls & "Girls Like Me" stories.

Moments of Science 2014 ~ Our IgNobel Acts!

Harvard Chemistry lecture demogod Daniel Rosenberg of In Demo Veritas fame and I performed our latest Moments of Science at the 2014 IgNobel Prize Ceremony yesterday! First, Alginate Gelatenous Snakes at 19:32... http://www.improbable.com/ig/2014/#webcast And then Comparing Apple and Oranges at 01:11:40... http://www.improbable.com/ig/2014/#webcast P.S. Here's one of my favorite of our Moments, Big Bang Trash Can!

16 September 2014

R.I.P. Kay Stratton ~ MIT's Gracious First Lady

https://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/catherine-kay-stratton-obituary-0916The lovely and kind Catherine “Kay” Stratton, wife of MIT’s 11th President and a wonderfully gracious first lady, has alas passed away at age 100. I met her during my grad studies when she shared how she and her husband connected both newly arrived and senior faculty and linked interesting people with one another through regular dinner gatherings at the President's house. Mrs Stratton stayed very active well beyond her formal duties. Indeed, as MIT's News Office reports...
"In 1988, Stratton created the “Aging Successfully” lecture series at MIT to explore health topics of concern especially -- but not exclusively -- to an aging population. MIT created a Lecture on Critical Issues series in her honor in 1994, which has included such varied topics as Internet security, population growth, control of nuclear weapons, and microfinance."
She remains an inspiration for those of us seeking to make MIT a welcoming and gloriously creative place.

Slum Urbanism ~ UCT's Edgar Pieterse on Africa

Thanks to Emeka Okafor at Africa Unchained for spotting UCT Professor Edgar Pieterse, head of the African Centre for Cities, exploring the reality of Slum Urbanism and future of Africa's cities...

R.I.P. Narendra Patni ~ Father of IT Outsourcing

I'm very sad to discover today that MIT Sloan alumnus Narendra Patni passed away this past June.  Together with his wife Poonam and brothers, Narendra founded Patni Computer Systems, the first of the Indian IT outsourcing firms and an inspiration to many including Narayana Murthy who worked for Patni before leaving with his software team to start Infosys. The Globe's Robert Weisman first wrote in 2004 of the Patni's offshoring revolution starting in a Central Square apartment in 1972 and beginnings of operations in Pune, India in 1973. Overall, it's a epic saga and his passing is a real loss for us all.

14 September 2014

Who Is John Galt? ~ Atlas Shrugged, Part 3!

Atlas Shrugged, Part 3, Who is John Galt? showing now! Trailer... See more videos, etc, in their gallery. It's an epic story -- i.e. productive people finally going on strike, stopping the motor of the world -- but one which infuriates nearly everyone on the spectrum of stupidity, from tax'n'spend left-wingnuts to faith freak right-wingnuts, basically parasites and statists of all stripes. Plus, it's an ambitious project to put to film, even in three parts, especially on a lean budget with the antagonism of Hollywood, DC, and related establishments. So, here's a salute to John Aglialoro and his fellow producers and colleagues who got this trilogy done!

Amsterdam in Motion ~ Jack Fisher's Hyperlapse!

Kuriositas spots Amsterdam in Motion, Jack Fisher's hyperlapse!

12 September 2014

Math In Your Feet ~ Learning #'s by Dancing!

Thanks to MIT friend Birago Jones for spotting Math in your Feet...
"An integration of two separate but highly complementary paths of inquiry. Percussive dance is a sophisticated, precise, and physical expression of time and space using foot-based dance patterns. Mathematics has been called the ‘science of patterns’ initially developed to understand, describe, and manipulate the physical world. Math in Your Feet leads students through the problem solving process of creating their own dance patterns. Along the way, they increase their understanding of mathematical topics."

11 September 2014

Mission Continues ~ Avenge 9/11, Cauterize Evil

http://www.crownandcaliber.com/blog/remembering-911/Evil religious swine slaughtered thousands on 9/11 including my classmate David Berray. Alas, in the interim years, we have yet to fully extirpate irrationally-faithful and incorrigibly-violent ideological-cancer carriers from civilized humanity. Whether it's the messianic wingnuts occupying the land of Canaan, or the desertine usurpers of the Hejaz, or the pestilential-pretender neo-caliphate in today's fertile crescent, or other mad maniacs ruling west asia and beyond, humanity is still infested with verminous cretins believing in fundamentally bad ideas and executing mystical mandates for supposed higher powers. We must do our best to avenge the assassinated and sterilize the faithful stupidity that continues to plague civilized peoples.

09 September 2014

The Top ~ Urban Luxury Lifestyle Constructions...

New Midtown ~ NYC's Penn Station, MSG++

H3 reimagines NYC's Midtown by moving Madison Square Garden, rebuilding Penn Station, and enabling up-densing of the neighborhood!

Moto 360 ~ WSJ Reviews Wearable Wallclock

WSJ's Joanna Stern reviews the Moto 360 wearable wallclock...
"The round display isn't perfect. The bottom of the circle is frustratingly chopped off. Motorola explains that it's where the engineers had to put the display driver and ambient light sensor. All I know is every time I looked at it I was reminded of making construction-paper squircles in kindergarten. And the problem for women like me, with thin wrists, is that the watch may sound small -- 1.8 inches in diameter and just a half-inch thick -- but it almost looks like I grabbed a clock off the wall and strapped it to my arm."

01 September 2014

Understanding MIT ~ Crafting Our Creative Place

My DUSP Campus Planning colleague Bob Simha and I are hosting our Understanding MIT seminar again this Fall 2014 every Tuesday afternoon 4-6pm starting next week September 9th to survey research universities and how they work, with the Institute as our live-case study. Each week, we invite a different senior academic, administrative, or trustee leader of MIT to share with us what they do to help the Institute stay vital in the short, medium, and long term -- and ask what we can do to be pro-active in improving MIT as well. This is part of my larger action-research agenda on understanding creative places and innovation ecosystems and is sister-class to our MIT Cities Initiative design workshop on Changing Cities.

Neurotechnology Ventures ~ Minds, Money, MIT

My MIT Media Lab colleague Ed Boyden and I are again co-hosting our Neurotechnology Ventures class this Fall 2014 at the Media Lab starting this Thursday afternoon September 4th from 2-4pm. This course is all about envisioning, planning, and building ventures -- both entrepreneurial startups and intrapreneurial product-lines or business units -- to bring neuroengineering innovations to the world. Compelling venture themes include Neuroimaging, Neuromarketing, Neurology/Psychiatry Screening & Diagnosis, Mood & Behavioral Influencing, Rehabilitation, Neurosurgery, Neuropharmacology, Brain Stimulation, Prosthetics, Sensory and Motor Augmentation, Regenerative Neuromedicine, Learning, Memory & Cognitive Influencing, and more.

Development Ventures ~ Solving Global Problems

My MIT colleague Alex (Sandy) Pentland and I are again hosting our Development Ventures action lab class this Fall 2014 at the Media Lab starting this Thursday September 4th from 10a-12noon, with special focus on frugal, DIY, and ultraffordable technologies as well as exponential innovations including mobiles, big data, and analytics. As always, we look forward to the latest new venture concepts our students propose -- in domains ranging from Health & Wellness, Energy & Sustainability, Education & Creativity, Commerce & Financial Services, Civic Engagement and beyond -- and we try to help the most motivated teams and promising ideas actually start and thrive!

Changing Cities ~ Prototype New Urban Systems

http://changingcities.orgI'm leading a module this Fall 2014 in the Changing Cities course taught by my MIT Media Lab colleagues Kent Larson and Ryan Chin, starting Wednesday, 3 September at 2pm, as part of our MIT Cities Initiative. We seek to move beyond so-called “Smart City” solutions that have focused on optimization rather than vital re-invention. This course will focus on how to design and prototype new urban systems to address the challenges of mobility, food, living & working, planning, and more through five “How to” modules:
  1. How to prototype autonomous, shared, electric mobility systems 
  2. How to prototype hyper-efficient, transformable spaces (robotic architecture) 
  3. How to prototype controlled environment urban food systems 
  4. How to realize computational urbanism using augmented tangible models 
  5. How to quantify innovation, entrepreneurship, and creative vitality in cities
Together with colleagues Daan Archer, Jennifer Saura, and Dan Harple, we're keen on #5 -- Our overarching goal is to seek better indices (or rankings or scores) and analyses of vitality in the city by tapping into novel datasets and new analytic approaches. Ultimately we aspire to compare and contrast not only cities and neighborhoods, as they exist today, but simulate how they might become as new urban systems and solutions are deployed.

Terra Incognita ~ Larsen's Epic Adventure Painting

Artist Bryan Larsen was commissioned to paint Terra Incognita, an epic adventure weaving youthful imagination and historic figures into a Martian future! Quent Cordair, purveyor of fine artworks, has kept everyone appraised of the painting in progress...
"The painting features famous inventors and discoverers such as Alan Turing, Rosalind Franklin, Galileo Galilei, Nicolaus Copernicus and John Harrison. [And, of course, the] two little astronauts!"
Click through to see the full imagery (and also buy limited edition print) and read Larsen's progress reports! http://cordair.com/wordpress/inprogress?utm_source=Copy+of+Quent+Cordair+Fine+Art++-+Post+Earthquake&utm_campaign=Cordair&utm_medium=email