Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Iceland; fixing their economy their own way

"Yet if Iceland got it all wrong in the lead-up to the October 2008 banking collapse, the country (which still has its own currency) has since done much that is interesting and positive, ignoring or going against the counsel of orthodox economists:
  • Iceland nationalised the domestic parts of its banks, and allowed the non-domestic parts to go bankrupt
  • Iceland looked after its own citizens first, and refused to be bullied by the UK and the Netherlands demanding preferential treatment for non-existent ‘loans’ at usurious rates of interest
  • Iceland’s President responded to popular dissatisfaction with proposed deals with the UK and the Netherlands, by allowing a democratic vote – which confirmed overwhelming opposition
  • Iceland imposed capital controls to stop hot money flows into or out of the country.
  • It gave special protection to home-owners threatened by banks foreclosing.

    Wow, they put their own people ahead of corporations?  I thought corporations WERE people?  See?  It pays to keep an eye on Iceland's economy.


Collective intelligence and poverty

"Information and Communication Technologies potentially offer a powerful means of connecting global knowledge, expertise and resources to deal with problems of poverty. Community mapping of slum environments can then allow architects and urban planners from around the world to collaborate on plans to improve the physical spaces that constitute slums, in active dialogue with local residents. A good example is the case of that helped connect 70 architects from around the world to make competitive submissions for redeveloping an abandoned school area in Somerville Massachusetts. The local residents selected the best design. Platforms like ArcBazar could provide a low-cost alternative for obtaining architectural design services, and helping poor communities to rapidly develop and improve their physical environments. I recently spoke with ArcBazar’s CEO Dr.Imdat As, who is keen to see how architects could also collaborate, rather than merely compete, to deal with the spatial dimensions of urban poverty and decay. "

An interesting article on how working together is being accomplished over the Internet.  This type of crowdsourcing was not possible before.  I do disagree, though, that " Leadership is the most important ingredient of success."  I believe that this new method of working together does not require much leadership.  See my other blog,

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

So, collaborative learning might not be the way to go

"In learning contexts, students do report experiencing a range of emotions, and frustration is one of the negative emotions they deal with (Do & Schallert, 2004; Pekrun, Goetz, Titz, & Perry, 2002). Despite the advantages reported in literature about collaborative learning methodologies in terms of social and psychological benefits (Panitz, 2001; Roberts, 2005), students engaged in collaborative learning activities can feel a high level of frustration."

I like the idea of learning how to work in a collaborative way, but not also while your own grades are dependent on it.  You can't control how much others put into a project, yet you get graded for the group effort.  Not the way to go.

Friday, April 13, 2012

US drought map

"A mostly dry, mild winter has put nearly 61% of the lower 48 states in "abnormally dry" or drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a weekly federal tracking of drought. That's the highest percentage of dry or drought conditions since September 2007, when 61.5% of the country was listed in those categories."

The Dust Bowl days are an important reminder that we cannot rely on Mother Nature to give us consistent water supplies.  And the global warming changes usual weather patterns as well.  We need to plan ahead for what to do when the needed moisture is no longer reliable.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Privatization is often not a good idea

"There is nothing inherently wrong with private-public partnerships. And there's certainly nothing wrong with turning a profit.
But there is something seriously wrong with turning over core services to companies that do not always have the public's best interests in mind."

This is a good opinion piece on why it is often not wise to transfer some job that government is doing and turning it over to for-profit companies.The profit motive can produce cost-cutting and risk-taking in order to build the profit for investors. In the case in the article, that meant that students were drained of a better education so capitalists could garner more money for themselves.  A word to the wise.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Electric bikes, electric motorcycles

"The bicycles are powered with a 250-watt motor and a 36V10Ah lithium battery, which can offer up to 40 miles on a single charge. Since we’re going to be covering about 80 miles per day on average, we also are each taking a spare battery to extend our range.
All of the gear and equipment is transported on two cargo trailers provided by Burley. They offer excellent capacity and are very easy and simple to tow with an electric bicycle.",0,7364322.story

"Electric motorcycles, though still a rarity on the nation's byways, have been available for years. But with new models coming out that can go freeway speeds and travel more than 100 miles on a single charge, electric motorcycles could be poised to move beyond novelty status.

Also helping to boost their prospects — the high cost of gasoline."

If you could afford it, the motorcycle is the way to go.  You can go anywhere within its range and leave your gas-guzzling car or truck at home.  I'm going to the Sturgis Rally this year and see how many electric motorcycles are running around.  I've been disappointed that the diesel motorcycle has not been produced for the public yet.  It gets 100 mpg.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The 99% Spring

"From April 9-15 we will gather across America, 100,000 strong, in homes, places of worship, campuses and the streets to join together in the work of reclaiming our country. We will organize trainings to:
  1. Tell the story of our economy: how we got here, who’s responsible, what a different future could look like, and what we can do about it
  2. Learn the history of non-violent direct action, and
  3. Get into action on our own campaigns to win change.
This spring we rise! We will reshape our country with our own hands and feet, bodies and hearts. We will take non-violent action in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi to forge a new destiny one block, one neighborhood, one city, one state at a time."

Don Tapscott; the collaborative world has arrived

"But don’t count on governments or most of our current business and institutional leaders to be the architects of change. Leaders of old paradigms have the greatest difficulty embracing the new. And vested interests will fight against change. It’s up to us.
The stakes are very high. As Anthony D. Williams and I describe in Macrowikinomics, people everywhere have nothing less than an historic choice: empower ourselves to achieve change and collaborate to find new solutions for our connected planet; or risk economic and social paralysis or even collapse. It’s a question of stagnation versus renewal. Atrophy versus renaissance. Peril versus promise.
Fortunately, for the first time in history, people everywhere can participate fully in creating a sustainable future. We are now building the collective intelligence to rethink many industries and sectors of society around the principles of collaboration."

 I like Don Tapscott.  But he missed Anonymous going after Scientology, well before Tunisia...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Saudi desert turning green, at least for a while

"The green fields that dot the desert draw on water that in part was trapped during the last Ice Age. In addition to rainwater that fell over several hundred thousand years, this fossil water filled aquifers that are now buried deep under the desert's shifting sands.

Saudi Arabia reaches these underground rivers and lakes by drilling through the desert floor, directly irrigating the fields with a circular sprinkler system. This technique is called center-pivot irrigation.

Because rainfall in this area is now only a few centimeters (about one inch) each year, water here is a non-renewable resource. Although no one knows how much water is beneath the desert, hydrologists estimate it will only be economical to pump water for about 50 years."

I'm not so sure this is a good idea considering the whole project will fizzle once the water supply shrivels.  Is this the best use of that water?

Monday, April 2, 2012

One person changing the landscape

"A little over 30 years ago, a teenager named Jadav "Molai" Payeng began burying seeds along a barren sandbar near his birthplace in northern India's Assam region to grow a refuge for wildlife. Not long after, he decided to dedicate his life to this endeavor, so he moved to the site where he could work full-time creating a lush new forest ecosystem. Incredibly, the spot today hosts a sprawling 1,360 acre of jungle that Payeng planted single-handedly."

One person can make a difference.