Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Is free public transportation the way to go?


"Estonians in the capital city of Talinn are soon to benefit from the arrival of free public transport.
It is the first EU capital to make the shift and is part of a green platform adopted by Talinn's mayor, Edgar Savisaar.
However, not everyone thinks the move will get cars off the road. The opposition fume that the idea is less about a clean environment and more about political opportunism."

Generally public transportation is pretty cheap anyway.  Here in Rapid City it's $30 a month for an unlimited-ride pass.  I doubt that many more people would ride it because it's any cheaper than that.  But it could save a little on administrating the passes I guess.  File me as unconvinced so far.

I see also that Montreal gives you a year of free public transportation if you turn in an old car.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Meal worms; the other white meat


"Researchers in the Netherlands used three factors -- land usage, energy needs and greenhouse gas emissions -- to compare the environmental impact of mealworm farms to chicken, pork, beef or milk farms.
Compared to the other types of farming, mealworm farming produced more edible protein using the same amount of land and less energy, according to the study in the journal PLoS One.
The same team of researchers previously found that mealworms produce less greenhouse gases than other meat-producing animals."

Sounds good to me. You can grind them up and make them seem like turkey burger or something. If the taste is ok, I'm fine with this.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Is work necessary?


"Eighty-two years later, with the economy again faltering, it doesn’t feel like the economic problem is close to being solved. But—in spite of another world war and a growing world population—Keynes’ prediction is still roughly on target. The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that the U.S. economy is about 15 times larger in real terms today than it was in 1930. Per capita income is about about 6 times larger, and is on pace to be nearly 8 times larger in 2030. Nevertheless, as Mike Beggs has remarked, we still don’t have robot butlers to do our work for us and are still not close to the 15-hour work week Keynes envisioned. If we’re really so much richer, why don’t we feel that way?
Part of the answer has to do with how our wealth is divided up. As Lawrence Mishel points out, until the early 1970s hourly real compensation in the U.S. roughly kept pace with gains in productivity. That hasn't been true since then. Although productivity more than doubled over the last 40 years, what workers make in wages and other compensation has barely grown at all. Real weekly wages actually peaked in 1972 and real median household income has grown just 7% since then."

 With so many things changing nowadays, I do wonder how people will "make a living" in the future. Journalism, factory work, many other previously plentiful jobs are dying due to technological changes. When I was growing up, it was assumed that this meant people would just work less and still maintain their lifestyle. But that hasn't happened.  Now that many types of jobs are going missing, it adds more strain to our common notion of work.  Add to that the many jobs now that are done by collective action for free, just because people want to do it. Wikipedia, for example, while it has many problems, is still the astonishing result of free labor.  People do things not because they'll get paid but just because they want to contribute. But none of this gets renumerated.  Why not?  

What will be the future marker for recompensing labor? 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

gravity light!


"The designers developed the project in their spare time over four years, while working at London-based design firm Therefore. They're expecting the light to cost less than $5 to manufacture at scale. Once a family purchases the light, they'll be able to keep it running at no additional expense."

Man this is cool. and so simple!  Bye bye kerosene!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Steven Johnson, someone worth reading


"One of my great frustrations about the digital age is how poor our language is to explain and understand what is happening in our midst. At the outset of Future Perfect, Johnson offers us a new word to describe an emerging political consciousness: peer progressive. It is an apt term, well-coined. Peer progressives believe in the progress of humanity – that we are on a path of continual improvement, and that the exciting technological innovations of the digital age offer new and compelling ways forward. While embracing a progressive worldview, peer progressives believe in the power of peer-to-peer networks, not institutions. They are 'wary of centralized control, but they [are] not free-market libertarians…they [are] equally suspicious of big government and big corporations.' (page xxxvi)
In many ways, Future Perfect follows directly from Johnson’s earlier books on the impact of technology on our culture. Here, he describes what it means to be a peer progressive, including provide a historical context that suggests there is a long tradition of the decentralized anti-institutional progressive point of view. He goes on to look at the impact of a peer progressive point of view on our politics, our government, our media, and our corporations. A key framework of the book is the difference between the Legrand Star and the Baran network. The Legrand Star is the French railway plan where all roads lead to Paris, the 'star' at the heart of the rail system. Johnson uses 'Legrand Star' as vocabulary to describe how the priorities of a large institution can deliver a centralized solution with significant constraints. On the other end, Paul Baran is one of the founders of the digital era. His primary insight about how to harness the power of networks led to packet switching, a technology upon which the entire internet, from email to TCP/IP, is built. A Baran Web has no center, and consequently is enormously flexible in responding to a wide range of challenges. Johnson looks at different examples in the spheres of politics, government, policy, and corporate strategy: is this a Legrand Star solution or a Baran Web solution?"

I look forward to Steven's posts.

Friday, December 7, 2012

New solar cells you can wear!


"Moving forward, the potential for flexible, woven solar cells is enormous. On the most basic, immediate level, you can imagine a baseball cap or t-shirt that can recharge your smartphone. As we move towards bionic implants and other biomedical devices, though, there is a very pressing need to develop a wearable power source — and fiber-optic solar cells could certainly be it.
These fibers also have two other intriguing properties that still need to be investigated. Due to their three-dimensional cross-section, they can absorb sunlight from any direction — unlike their conventional, 2D siblings that lose much of their efficiency when the sun sinks below a certain angle. Further, according to Pier Sazio, another member of the research team, they used the same silicon injection method to embed photodetectors inside the fiber. Sazio doesn’t extrapolate on what this might lead to, but it’s fun to speculate: A wearable computer with built-in solar charging and high-speed networking? Neat."

I think we're moving toward sustainable energy whether The Man wants it or not.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

urine powered generator!


"The generator was unveiled at last week's Maker Faire in Lagos, Nigeria, by the four teens Duro-Aina Adebola, Akindele Abiola, and Faleke Oluwatoyin, all age 14, and Bello Eniola, 15.
So how exactly does the urine-powered generator work?
  • Urine is put into an electrolytic cell, which separates out the hydrogen.
  • The hydrogen goes into a water filter for purification, which then gets pushed into the gas cylinder.
  • The gas cylinder pushes hydrogen into a cylinder of liquid borax, which is used to remove the moisture from the hydrogen gas.
  • This purified hydrogen gas is pushed into the generator.
And as for delivering the fuel itself? Well, we'll leave that up to the consumer.
The Maker Faire is a popular event across the African continent, drawing thousands of participants who travel to Lagos to show their inventions and other practical creations."

well hey, there's plenty of that fuel around!