With so many college students, and especially so many blacks and women, majoring in fake, useless, worthless subjects that will leave them with nothing but huge amounts of debt that they will never be able to pay back from the low wages they will get from working at coffee shops and fast food restaurants after they graduate from college, here’s a wonderful story about someone who chose to study something that is actually useful in the real world. More people should follow Jasmine Burton’s lead and study STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects:
This plastic toilet could save lives
Jasmine Burton helped design an inexpensive, portable plastic toilet to address the lack of basic sanitation around the world.
January 22, 2016
Everybody poops. But not everyone has access to a toilet.
“It’s shocking that this basic necessity is unavailable to nearly half of the world,” said Jasmine Burton, founder and president of Atlanta-based Wish for WASH.
Burton, 23, was a freshman at Georgia Institute of Technology when she learned that as many as 2.5 billion people don’t have access to a toilet.
It bothered her even more that this sanitation problem disproportionately affects women and young girls.
“Young girls in the developing world frequently drop out of school because there isn’t a toilet,” she said. “It angered me as a woman in higher education and as a product designer.”
Just 18 at the time, Burton channeled her feelings into a mission: She would design a toilet.
While at Georgia Tech, she collaborated with three other students to invent an inexpensive, eco-friendly mobile toilet that could convert waste into renewable energy. They called their sanitation system SafiChoo Toilet.
Made of plastic, the toilet is designed for sitting or squatting, which is a common practice in some countries. It can be placed directly on the ground, or it can be elevated by adding an attachable base. It can also function with or without water.
The system features a waste collection unit (that can go above or below ground), which separates the waste into liquids and solids. There’s also a manually-operated bidet that can be attached.
Burton said these features are intended to help curb contamination and the spread of diseases.
The SafiChoo toilet costs about $50. “That’s the highest price point we want it to be,” she said.
In 2014, Burton and her team won first place and $25,000 at the Georgia Tech InVention competition, the nation’s largest undergraduate invention competition.
“We didn’t think we’d win because products at the contest were always high-tech with super sexy designs,” she said. “Ours was a simple toilet.”
The win enabled Burton to pilot SafiChoo (which means clean toilet in Kiswahili) at a Kenyan refugee camp. She also launched Wish for WASH, the parent company of SafiChoo.
John Zegers, director at Georgia Center of Innovation for Manufacturing, contacted Burton after her InVention competition win. “We thought it was a great product that needed a little bit more development,” he said.
The Center gave a grant to Georgia Tech to develop a SafiChoo prototype and helped Burton’s team find an Atlanta-based manufacturer.
Zegers said he hopes that Wish for WASH is able to keep the toilet a Made in America product.
Burton is currently living in Lusaka, Zambia, as she tests the toilet there. The company is also running an Indiegogo campaign to support the Zambia pilot.
She hopes to begin selling the toilet to U.S.-based customers and to NGOs in 2017.
“It’s amazing when you see how many people have never used a toilet before and what [the SafiChoo Toilet] could mean for them,” she said.
If this is true and it can be used on a large scale, it’s fantastic news.
Plastic-Munching Bacteria Can Make Trash Biodegradable
March 10, 2016
A durable plastic called PET is considered a major environmental hazard because it’s highly resistant to breakdown. But researchers have found a potential new match for this hardy plastic: a newly discovered microbe that is astonishingly good at eating it.
An estimated 342 million tons (311 metric tons) of plastic are produced annually worldwide, and currently, only about 14 percent is collected for recycling, according to the World Economic Forum.
Most plastic degrades extraordinarily slowly, but PET — short for poly(ethylene terephthalate) — is especially durable, and about 61 million tons (56 metric tons) of the colorless plastic was produced worldwide in 2013 alone, according to the researchers.
Previously, the only species found to break down PET were rare fungi. Now, scientists in Japan have discovered bacteria that can biodegrade this hardy plastic.
“The bacterium is the first strain having a potential to degrade PET completely into carbon dioxide and water,” said study co-author Kohei Oda, an applied microbiologist at the Kyoto Institute of Technology in Japan.
The researchers collected 250 samples of PET debris from soil and wastewater from a plastic-bottle-recycling site. They scanned these samples for bacteria that could eat PET.
The scientists identified a new species of bacteria, which they named Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6, that could almost completely break down a thin film of PET after six weeks at a temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius). Appendages from the cells might have secreted compounds that helped to dissolve the plastic, the researchers said.
Genetic and biochemical analyses identified two key enzymes involved in the breakdown of PET. One enzyme worked with water to break down the plastic into an intermediate substance, which the other enzyme broke down into PET’s basic building blocks, the scientists said.
These findings could have a wide range of real-world applications, because bacteria should be easier to incorporate into devices to break down PET than fungi is. “We hope that we can develop a technology to handle such a lot of wasted PET,” Oda said.
In the future, the researchers would like to “improve the ability of the microorganisms to degrade,” Oda said.
It’s not known how these enzymes evolved, Oda said, and both enzymes bear little resemblance to the enzymes most closely related to them.
The scientists detailed their findings online today (March 10) in the journal Science.
Scientists say the possibility is very remote, but they may have found evidence of an artificial structure surrounding a star 1,481 light-years away from Earth. The Washington Post reports:
The strange star that has serious scientists talking about an alien megastructure
October 15, 2015
“It was kind of unbelievable that it was real data,” said Yale University astronomer Tabetha Boyajian. “We were scratching our heads. For any idea that came up there was always something that would argue against it.”
She was talking to the New Scientist about KIC 8462852, a distant star with a very unusual flickering habit. Something was making the star dim drastically every few years, and she wasn’t sure what….
… “When [Boyajian] showed me the data, I was fascinated by how crazy it looked,” Wright said. “Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build.”
To be sure, both Boyajian and Wright believe the possibility of alien megastructures around KIC 8462852 is very, very remote. It’s worthy of hypothesis, Wright told Slate, “but we should also approach it skeptically.”
Yet compared to the vast majority of supposed sightings of signs of extraterrestrial life, this one has some credibility….
… Volunteers marked it out as unusual in 2011, right after the program started: a star whose light curves seemed to dip tremendously at irregular intervals. At one point, about 800 days into the survey, the star’s brightness dropped by 15 percent. Later, around day 1,500, it dropped by a shocking 22 percent. Whatever was causing the dips, it could not have been a planet — even a Jupiter-sized planet, the biggest in our solar system, would only dim this star by 1 percent as it transited across…
… Scientists — at least, the ones who like to theorize about these things — have long said that an advanced alien civilization would be marked by its ability to harness the energy from its sun (rather than scrabbling over its planet’s resources like us puny earthlings). They envision something like a Dyson Sphere, a hypothetical megastructure first proposed by physicist Freeman Dyson that would orbit or even encompass a star, capturing its power and putting it to use.
Obviously, a Dyson sphere has never been spotted in real life, though they’re all over science fiction. But if one were to exist, it wouldn’t look like a metal ball around the sun — it would probably comprise a chain of smaller satellites or space habitats, something that would block its star’s light as weirdly and irregularly as the light of KIC 8462852 has been blocked. That’s why researchers who are interested in finding alien life are so excited about the finding.
Boyajian, Wright and Andrew Siemion, the director of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, are now working on getting access to the massive radio dishes they can point at the star in search of the kinds of radio waves usually emitted by technology.
If they find them — well, that would be very big and very, very unlikely news.
Of course, the star in question is about 1,481 light-years away from Earth…
Even before adopting net neutrality, here are 26 actions by which the Obama administration has already proven itself to be incompetent when it comes to the internet
The fact that Obama refuses to allow the public to see his 332 page net neutrality plan until after its implementation is voted on is, by itself, reason enough for me to oppose the plan.
I would think that even the biggest supporters of net neutrality would be curious as to why Obama won’t let people see his plan until after it is implemented.
However, in addition to that, here are 26 examples of actions by the Obama administration which prove that it is incompetent when it comes to the internet. (more…)
Yale students cancel protest against fossil fuels so they can stay inside and be kept warm by fossil fuels
An organization of Yale students called “Fossil Free Yale” was formed to urge the university’s endowment to divest from coal, oil, and natural gas.
They were planning a protest against fossil fuels, but they canceled it due to cold weather.
So instead of protesting against fossil fuels, they are staying inside and being kept warm by the very same fossil fuels that they claim to be against.
If they want to make a credible case for opposing fossil fuels, I suggest they offer a realistic alternative. Specifically, I suggest they build a house that is powered entirely by whatever sources of energy they think are preferable to fossil fuels, and then spend eight hours each and every night for the entire winter sleeping in that house.
The “most transparent administration in history” says it won’t let the public see its 332 page net neutrality plan until after the FCC votes on its implementation
Which reminds me of this Nancy Pelosi gem regarding Obamacare:
Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Paisaid has seen the proposal. Paisaid said Obama’s net neutrality plan was 332 pages long, and that:
“It gives the FCC the power to micromanage virtually every aspect of how the Internet works…”
“The plan explicitly opens the door to billions of dollars in new taxes on broadband… These new taxes will mean higher prices for consumers and more hidden fees that they have to pay.”
“The plan saddles small, independent businesses and entrepreneurs with heavy-handed regulations that will push them out of the market… As a result, Americans will have fewer broadband choices. This is no accident. Title II was designed to regulate a monopoly. If we impose that model on a vibrant broadband marketplace, a highly regulated monopoly is what we’ll get.”
The Daily Caller reported:
In his initial cursory overview of the plan, the commissioner said it would hinder broadband investment, slow network speed and expansion, limit outgrowth to rural areas of the country and reduce Internet service provider (ISP) competition.
I don’t know if Paisaid’s comments about the proposal are true or not. But I do know the public should get to see the plan before it’s implemented, and I wonder why Obama is so afraid to let that happen.
The “sexist” shirt worn by rocket scientist Matt Taylor was actually made by a female friend who gave it to him for his birthday
So this rocket scientist named Matt Taylor lands a spacecraft on a comet – the first time that this has ever been done – and a bunch of people claiming to be “feminists” accuse him of “sexism” because he was wearing a shirt which depicts scantily clad women holding guns.
My first reaction to reading about this was that if these women are holding guns, they are not victims – they are empowered.
Then, when I looked at the shirt, I immediately saw that this was a richly detailed, beautiful, colorful piece of art. I know the difference between art and porn, and this is definitely not porn. It is art.
The shirt was handmade by a woman named Elly Prizeman, who is friends with Taylor, and who gave it to him for his birthday.
The people who falsely claimed the shirt was “sexist” bullied Taylor to the point that he cried on international television.
Prizeman said of this:
Dr. Matt Taylor is an amazing, kind, loving and sensitive person.
I never expected him to wear my gift to him for such a big event and was surprised and deeply moved that he did.
I made that shirt for his birthday last month as I make clothes just as a hobby and he asked if I would make him one.
He is a close and very loved friend so made sure I did this for his birthday present.
I appreciate that everyone is entitled to their opinion and having worked with people and events for a long time I have certainly learnt that you are never going to please everyone….
I am so proud of Matt and his achievements and the fact he is an interesting and very brave person to do what he did with the very sweet gesture he made towards my gift and to wear his individuality with pride.
It has certainly made history more exciting and bold.
The clothing industry has expressed interest in mass producing Prizeman’s shirt.
Here’s Taylor wearing the shirt. Click on the image to see a larger version. Image used under fair use and copied from http://www.theverge.com/2014/11/13/7213819/your-bowling-shirt-is-holding-back-progress
Why do they refer to a missile defense system as “Star Wars” when it’s actually a lot more like “Missile Command”?
This is Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system. Turn your volume control pretty low for this:
And this is the video game “Missile Command” on the Atari 2600:
Anyway, I think all those liberals who mocked Ronald Reagan for proposing something like this owe him a huge apology.
I’m Jewish by birth, agnostic by choice, and I have a strong interest in Jediism and Greek Mythology.
President Obama recently referred to
“… the many achievements and contributions of Muslim Americans to building the very fabric of our nation…”
Well, message boards and article comment sections all over the internet are flying with all sorts of criticism of Obama’s claim. Sadly, many of these people are claiming that Muslims have contributed nothing whatsoever to this great country of ours.
But the fact is that Obama does have a valid point.
Fracking in Williston, North Dakota, drives unemployment rate to less than 1%, so Wal-Mart offers $17.40 an hour
A Wal-Mart in Williston, North Dakota is offering starting salaries of $17.40 per hour.
The reason that this particular Wal-Mart is offering $17.40 an hour has nothing to do with unions, social justice, compassion, or any other such thing.
Instead, it’s simple supply and demand.
In particular, the article says that fracking has made it possible to access oil which had previously been unobtainable. This has driven the unemployment rate to less than 1% in the city where this Wal-Mart is located.
This presents an interesting situation for anyone who favors higher wages while simultaneously opposing fracking, i.e, a large percentage of people on the political left. Tradeoffs are a common part of life, and I am interested in hearing what other people think of this situation.
The Daily Signal reports:
Why One Walmart in North Dakota Is Paying $17.40 an Hour
A Walmart store in Williston, N.D., is offering to pay entry-level workers as much as $17.40 per hour…
… the historic oil boom in North Dakota has provided real, sustained growth in wages and lowered unemployment in North Dakota to 2.6 percent—the lowest statewide rate in the nation—and to less than 1 percent in Williston, which is near the oil fields in the western part of the state.
Those jobs are safe for the foreseeable future, too. Last year, a study conducted by the United States Geological Service estimated conservatively that 7.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil sit beneath North Dakota. Scientists have long known about these oil reserves, but two miles of solid rock precluded development. Recent advances in hydraulic fracturing and smart drilling technology have made production possible and triggered the present economic boom.
Israel has made the choice to turn its water shortages into surpluses by building lots of desalination plants. Desalination costs less than 40 cents per cubic meter, which is less than 1/6 penny per gallon. It’s so cheap that in addition to using desalinized water for residential uses, Israel also uses it for agriculture.
Meanwhile, California has chosen to have water shortages instead of building enough desalination plants.
Why did California make this choice?
drudgereport.com is run by Matt Drudge, who runs the website in his pajamas from his apartment. I’ve visited his website just about every day since the late 20th century. It runs very well. His website has gotten as many as 45 million hits per day.
On the first day of the Obamacare website, it had 5 million visitors. It could not handle that amount of traffic.
IT experts who had analyzed the data going to and from the Obamacare website said the reason that people could not use it was because it was launching the equivalent of a “denial of service attack” against itself. They said the website was sending and receiving massive amounts of unnecessary data back and forth between itself and users’ computers. The IT experts attributed this to bad programming, and said that adding more servers would not fix the problem.
When it comes to successful American internet companies such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook, the French government wants the European Union to “level the playing field,” and thinks that government regulation is needed to “allow the emergence of alternatives in Europe to U.S. Web giants.”
American internet companies did not become successful due to an “uneven playing field,” or because of U.S. regulations that “allowed the emergence” of successful internet companies. Instead, American internet companies became successful because they created great websites that gave their customers what the customers wanted.
All the regulations in the world won’t give France a single successful internet company. Successful internet companies are created by entrepreneurs and programmers, not by government bureaucrats.
France calls for EU to regulate Web giants to counter dominance
France is pushing for the European Union to regulate global internet companies like Google, Amazon.com, and Facebook more aggressively, to counter their growing dominance over online commerce and services.
In an interview published by Liberation newspaper on Thursday, France’s minister for the digital economy, Fleur Pellerin, said Europe needed new regulatory powers to intervene much earlier, to level the playing field in the internet economy and allow the emergence of alternatives in Europe to U.S. Web giants.
She said Europe needed to be able to act quickly, as soon as problems are identified, rather than getting tied up in lengthy and costly disputes that did nothing to help consumers.
“The current tools of competition law are totally unsuited to the fast-changing world of the Internet,” Pellerin said in the interview conducted in French. “To get out of this impasse, Europe needs a regulatory authority to act on an ex-ante basis, as soon as conflicts and abuse emerge on the part of internet platforms.”
I’m not going to give away any plot spoilers in this post, although I will approve spoiler comments for the comment section.
What I will say in this post is that this move is very cerebral and highly thought provoking. It’s slow paced, calm, and quiet. There is plenty of breathing room for contemplation. The character development is exceptionally well done, and some of the scenes are genuinely heartbreaking and moving. And then when I watched it a second time, I loved it even more.
You can watch the movie in its entirely at this link. I use the Firefox browser, and did not have any problems when I watched it as this link. I did get a few pop ups before the movie started, which I was easily able to close without any problems. Do not click on anything that has the words “play” or “download” because those buttons are not what they claim to be – they are actually links to ads. However, the arrow that’s on the middle of the film image, and the arrow that’s directly at the bottom left of the film image, do work, and will make the movie play.
Movie review: “Elysium” is implausible, because it’s based on a medical device manufacturer that does not employ any salespeople
Elysium has too many loud, noisy action scenes, and not enough calm, quiet, reflective scenes of thoughtful contemplation. It didn’t have any lines of dialogue that I can see myself wanting to quote in the future. None of the characters were particularly interesting. And if I was a child, I couldn’t see myself wanting to buy any of the action figures that might be based on this movie.
The machine that instantly cures cancer seems perfectly plausible. However, in the entire movie, we never find out the name of the corporation that manufactures this machine. And apparently, there is no team of trained salespeople traveling all over the world trying to sell this machine to hospitals in big cities. And that brings up the most unrealistic thing about this movie: Since when has there ever been a medical device manufacturer that did not employ any salespeople?
In this movie, there is no Bill Gates-type character who donates huge amounts of his own money to help the poor get medical care. In this movie, there are no rich people who massage their supersized egos by having entire hospital wings named in honor of their massive donations.
While it’s easy for me to imagine that a bunch of rich people would want to live in their own private space station, there’s no way that every rich person would want to live there – there would always be some holdouts who preferred to remain on earth. But in this movie, there are no holdouts.
If they wanted to make a point about poor people not being able to afford health care, the following would have been a lot more realistic: a poor person gets cancer. They go to the hospital, where one of these machines instantly cures their cancer. Then they get a ridiculously large bill that they could never possibly afford to pay. They lose their house. Their life savings is wiped out. They declare bankruptcy. That would be realistic.
But the idea that on the entire earth, there wouldn’t be even one hospital that had one of these machines, is completely ridiculous.
The Telegraph reports:
Fridges could be switched off without owner’s consent to reduce strain on power stations
Fridges, washing machines and other electrical goods could be switched off automatically in British homes without the owners’ consent under EU proposals to help power stations meet demand for electricity.
White goods such as electric ovens would be affected by the proposals to fit all new appliances with sensors that could shut them down when the UK’s generators struggle to meet demand for power.
The measures proposed by the UK’s National Grid, along with its counterparts in 34 European countries, to install the controversial devices are backed by one of the European Union’s most influential energy bodies.
They are pushing for the move because green energy sources such as wind farms are less predictable than traditional power stations, increasing the risk of blackouts
The EU has set a target that 20 per cent of all electricity will be generated from green sources by 2012, but these are unreliable, making the task more difficult.
This would be a huge step backwards. The existence of electric refrigerators is one of the things that separates a first world country from a third world country. Nuclear power works even when the wind isn’t blowing, and is my personal preference for electricity generation. Giving the government the ability to turn people’s refrigerators off at will would be giving the government too much intrusion into people’s lives. It could also lead to spoilage and food poisoning.
ABC News reports:
“Japanese scientists say ‘abnormalities’ detected in the country’s butterflies may be a result of radioactive fallout from the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year.”
It’s not just our imagination – pop music really has been getting worse and worse. And now we have a scientific study that proves it.