Media Mining Digest 20 – Mar 30, 2012: Demon Coal, Health Care Reform Act, Why Nations Fail, Greek Geeks, Pine Bark Beetle, Gaming for Science, O’Reilly Radar, Aural Exciter, and Task Rabbit

Thirteen links to podcasts from this digest are found in two formats here and here.

Demon Coal 54 mins x 2 – Coal is dirty, toxic, abundant and cheap. Mining it disfigures the earth. Using it for fuel or electricity generation is unsustainable. Burning it emits deadly pollutants and greenhouse gases, and is the major cause of global warming. Right? In this two part series Max Allen talks with environmentalists and energy scientists about why much conventional wisdom about coal in the 21st century is just plain wrong. Cap and trade fraud, counterfeit carbon credits and regulatory success are described. Listen online and access related links here, or download by going here and right click, then “Save Link As…”for ideas_20120319_71387.mp3 (Part 2) and ideas_20120312_32070.mp3(Part 1). The references provided at the online link were selected by the series producer from a huge list found online and are listed as a group here and here or individually as follows:

Health Care Reform Act: The Affordable Care Act Cases arguments before The Supreme Court in four parts. Each includes a rolling transcript that accompanies the online audio playback, as well as a download link for the audio.

1. The Anti-injunction Act 89 mins.

2. The Individual Mandate 120 mins.

3. Severability 91 mins.

4. The Medicaid Expansion 85 mins.

Why Nations Fail 56 mins – Daron Acemoglu of MIT and author (with James Robinson) of Why Nations Fail talks about why some nations fail and others succeed, some grow over time and sustain that growth, while others grow and then stagnate. Acemoglu draws on an exceptionally rich set of examples over space and time to argue that differences in institutions–political governance and the inclusiveness of the political and economic system–explain the differences in economics success across nations and over time. His 500 page book is full of examples such as North vs South Korea and Nogales conditions in the USA vs Mexico. He explains that despots oppose a bigger pie with greater returns because a bigger economic pie causes changes that threaten existing political power. Black Death plague type events cause an increased demand for labor due to fewer people that make labor groups more powerful and effective, but just in cities. A comparable book, Guns, Germs and Steel, by Jared Diamond, is the same length with equal detail about why some societies have advanced and are more productive than others, but a podcast isn’t available.

Greek Geeks 6 mins – The first six minutes of World Technology Podcast episode 360 concerns Vassilios Makios, the General Director of Corallia, a high-tech incubator on the outskirts of Athens and concept of clustering new businesses. Makios and Corallia are spear-heading an effort to foster technology start-ups in Greece.The universities provide the talented young engineers with great ideas, and Corallia tries to give them the tools they need to turn those ideas into successful global products. Clustering is a concept of gathering startups in one building where they learn from one another created by Michael Porter of MIT and has been applied in the Bay Area, London and Singapore. The Greek effort began with microelectronics, but is being considered for wine growing, gaming, aerospace and biotech. Constelex is one of the companies in the Corallia Cluster.

Pine Bark Beetle 28 mins – Tree-killing pine bark beetles used to breed once a year. Warming annual temperatures now allow them to breed twice resulting in 60 times more offspring. Hungry, tree-eating offspring are killing pine forests from Mexico to Canada. University of Colorado biologists Jeff Mitton and Scott Ferrenberg have just published their findings that the doubled-up breeding season explains why the recent pine bark beetle epidemic has killed so many trees. And it’s not over yet.

Gaming for Science 28 mins – As director for the Center for Game Science at the University of Washington, Zoran Popović helped create (with David Baker and Seth Cooper) Foldit – a popular online game that teaches protein folding and ultimately allows scientists to discover protein structures through crowd sourcing and community collaboration. Zoran talks to us about Foldit and using games to help solve problems facing humanity. Refraction is one such game that helps users understand fractions. A future goal is a synthetic biology game where even middle school students can build nano machines from molecules as a learning exercise. Games are an aid, but they don’t provide important hands-on experience or do what a good teacher does who can watch a student to identify learning problems and knows how to resolve them.

O’Reilly Radar: Insight, analysis, and research about emerging technologies. 58 mins – The speaker, Alex Howard, runs the Radar site and talks about a number of developments that have evolved from the internet, but fails to provide a link to any of them, so the talk lacks the content one would expect from a site with lofty technological goals. Here are the subjects mentioned for which links could be identified:

Things that I couldn’t find included the “Pop codes”; the smart ware project where intelligence agencies were contributing patches; the program that matched defibrillator locations with heart attack victims and emergency medical personnel;  the program where abuse occurred when people reported cars they wanted moved as abandoned. Also mentioned were videos on YouTube for O’Reilley Technology: they are similar to Howard’s podcast and illustrate his complaint about the Government providing data as PDF rather than in a machine readable form that’s useable.

Aural Exciter 65 mins – This Week in Radio Tech 121 explores the use of the APHEX Aural Exciter($200 from Amazon), the Big Bottom (seems to only come in combination with an Aural Exciter, but as low as $60 used) and APHEX Compellor ($300 from eBay) which are staples of audio production and make audio more pleasing.

Task Rabbit 52 mins – Leah Busque is the founder and chief product officer of TaskRabbit, an online marketplace where you can outsource small jobs and tasks to others in your own community. She is a programmer who started this project in September 2008. It took her four months of full-time work to create the initial kernel and 3.5 years later she has service available in nine large cities. Some 4000 task rabbits are used with 2000 more pending acceptance with hundreds of thousands of tasks having been completed. She discusses all the details related to starting this type of business, the importance of mentors and her emphasis on team, product and people. An early task was a mom in San Francisco who needed someone to look in daily on her son undergoing cancer treatment in Boston. Another mom accepted the task and called San Francisco each day with the status. Our aging population can surely make great use of such a service.

The 110 feeds used to prepare this weekly blog are gathered using Feedreader3 and are available as an opm file at Google Docs.

Thanks for visiting.

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About virginiajim

Retired knowledge nut.
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