As germ theory became accepted at the end of the 19th century, the bathroom became a hospital room, with fixtures of porcelain and lined with tile or marble. These materials are expensive; as the bathroom became mainstream and accessible to all classes, it got smaller. The plumbers lined everything up in a row to use less pipe. By about 1910 the bathroom is pretty much indistinguishable from the ones built today.
Nobody seriously paused to think about the different functions and their needs; they just took the position that if water comes in and water goes out, it is all pretty much the same and should be in the same room. Nobody thought about how the water from a shower or bathtub (greywater) is different from the water from a toilet (blackwater); it all just went down the same drain which connected to the same sewer pipe that gathered the rainwater from the streets, and carried it away to be dumped in the river or lake.
It is hard to find something that we actually got right in the modern bathroom. The toilet is too high (our bodies were designed to squat), the sink is too low and almost useless; the shower is a deathtrap (an American dies every day from bath or shower accidents). We fill this tiny, inadequately ventilated room with toxic chemicals ranging from nail polish to tile cleaners. We flush the toilet and send bacteria into the air, with our toothbrush in a cup a few feet away. We take millions of gallons of fresh water and contaminate it with toxic chemicals, human waste, antibiotics and birth control hormones in quantities large enough to change the gender of fish.
We mix up all our bodily functions in a machine designed by engineers on the basis of the plumbing system, not human needs. The result is a toxic output of contaminated water, questionable air quality and incredible waste. We just can’t afford to do it this way any more.
f we are going to do something about the incredible waste of water that is the modern bathroom, radical changes may be required. A lot of Britons are proud of going net-zero or off-grid with their electricity and energy supply; it’s time to consider going off-pipe too. According to the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (Post): “Over 10bn litres of sewage are produced every day in England and Wales. It takes approximately 6.34 GW hours of energy to treat this volume of sewage, almost 1% of the average daily electricity consumption of England and Wales.” You’re not net-zero if you are flushing your waste into the sewer.
Composting toilets are not yet flush-and-forget like a conventional loo, but they are getting close. There are vacuum toilets that suck it all away to the composter using almost no water; there are foam flush toilets that are almost indistinguishable from conventional bowls. Companies such as Clivus Multrum supply not only the toilet and the composter, but also a service of emptying it, just like the night soil men did 200 years ago.
The key is not individuals’ car use, but the way we sort into communities based on our reliance on cars.
For one, the geography of car use tracks with income and wealth: Car-dependent places are considerably less affluent. Metros in which a higher share of people depend on their cars to get to work are poorer, and those where more people use transit or bike or walk to work are considerably more affluent. The share of commuters who drive to work alone is negatively correlated with both wages and income. Conversely, in more affluent metros, a higher proportion of commuters use transit, walk, or bike.
America’s geography of car dependence also reflects differences in the kinds of work we do. Car dependence is a feature of working-class metros, while metros with higher concentrations of knowledge workers and the creative class have much higher shares of people who use transit or walk or bike to work.
We see the same basic pattern where we look at metros that are knowledge and tech hubs. Driving to work alone is negatively associated with the innovativeness of metros (measured as patents per capita), whereas the share of commuters who use transit or bike or walk to work is positively associated with innovation.
America is an increasingly polarized and politically divided nation, and the car both reflects and reinforces those divisions.
The car and car-dominated infrastructure propelled suburbanization and white flight. They split our society into white, affluent suburbs and poor black and minority cities. The car shaped the rise of what Richard Nixon identified as a “silent majority” of suburban whites back in the late 1960s, and is a precursor to the suburban and rural backlash that lifted Donald Trump to victory in 2016.
Transportation infrastructure has been a necessary condition of large-scale suburban growth and partisan change, facilitating migration into rural areas that were previously unoccupied and inaccessible to metropolitan commuters and workers.” In other words, the car and the infrastructure that enables it had a huge influence on the disparities that vex us today.
Tuttavia, per quel che serve, sento che non è più il momento di starsene zitti in un angolo a rimuginare. Alla fine, da qualche parte bisognerà pure cominciare a contarsi. Marcare una differenza, dichiarare «comunque non in mio nome», tracciare una linea, prendersi delle responsabilità. Tocca farlo su facebook, e dispiace, ma la battaglia si combatte lì, se non altro perché in faccia nessuno ti chiamerebbe mai «radical shit» e «buonista del cazzo». Ma con una tastiera fra le mani, ah, com’è facile, sguazzare felici nella marea di odio che ci sta sommergendo. Che cosa lascerà dietro di sé quando poi si ritirerà, è facile immaginarlo, visto che ci siamo già passati: incredulità, sgomento, indignazione … sentimenti scontati, dopo.
l’incompetenza è una specie di orrido buco nero: se in un esperimento fai vedere ai somari i compiti fatti dai più bravi, i somari continuano a pensare di essere meno somari di quel che sono, perché non riescono a comprendere la differenza tra compiti fatti bene e fatti male.
Questa ricerca è illuminante e preoccupante nello stesso tempo: se non riesci ad allenare i somari, questi resteranno tali, perché continueranno a pensare di essere dei geni, o quasi.
Dentro l’effetto di Dunning e Kruger c’è anche lo spazio per la vita faticosamente invidiosa di Antonio Salieri: se sei bravo ma non un genio, capisci con tremenda precisione chi è il Mozart davanti a te, senza essere salvato dalla nebbia incosciente della stupidità.
Research results confirm the unique properties of emerging gradient nano-cluster nickel films. Radio-isotope power sources with thermo-electric conversion have almost unlimited applications. Tiny nuclear batteries could be used for micro-electromechanical and nano-electromechanical systems, pacemakers, miniature glucose sensors and arterial blood pressure monitoring systems, and for controlling remote objects and micro-robots, as well as self-contained systems that can operate for a long time in deep space, beneath the sea and in the extreme north.
Digital technology can transform Africa’s food system in three ways. First, it can expand farmers’ access to capital and resources. With the touch of a button on their phone, farmers can now rent machines—like tractors—that require significant capital to buy. Digital technology can also disrupt value chains through economies of scale, allowing smaller players to be integrated into the value chain. For example, e-commerce platforms can link producers directly to consumers, relaxing the constraint that producers need to be a certain size to reach customers. Finally, digital technology can disrupt the management of natural resources through precision tools, helping to boost food production sustainably. Digital technologies can make information on land, soils and other resources more widely available, allowing farmers to apply inputs like fertilizer and water in a more precise manner.
So, if you’re making software, you are actively reshaping power dynamics between citizens, consumers, companies, and governments. Shifting power relationships is politics. If you are in software, you are in politics. I don’t think we as citizens and consumers have yet properly understood the power technology gives us. However, we’re lucky to be part of the digital revolution, because unlike most generations we’re able to shape and build our future.
he North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was sold to the people of all three countries with grand promises. Mexicans were promised NAFTA would raise their wages and bring Mexicans’ standards of living closer to the United States and Canada. Instead, after 24 years, real wages in Mexico are down from already low pre-NAFTA wages, two million Mexicans engaged in farming lost their livelihoods and lands, tens of thousands of small businesses have gone bankrupt as American big-box retailers moved in, and poverty remains widespread. And, Mexican taxpayers have paid foreign investors more than $204 million in compensation following Investor-State Dispute Settlement attacks.
Prior to NAFTA, 21.4 percent of Mexico’s population earned less than the minimum income needed for food, a share that has barely budged in the 24 years since NAFTA’s implementation.
Today, over half of the Mexican population and over 60 percent of the rural population still fall below the poverty line, contrary to the promises made by NAFTA’s proponents. On the 10-year anniversary of NAFTA, the Washington Post
reported: “19 million more Mexicans are living in poverty
than 20 years ago, according to the Mexican government and international organizations.”
Before NAFTA, Mexico only imported corn and other basic food commodities if local production did not meet domestic needs. NAFTA eliminated Mexican tariffs on corn and other commodities. NAFTA terms also required revocation of programs supporting small farmers. But NAFTA did not discipline U.S. subsidies on agriculture. The result was disastrous for millions of people in the Mexican countryside whose livelihoods relied on agriculture. Amid a NAFTA-spurred influx of cheap U.S. corn, the price paid to Mexican farmers for the corn that they grew fell by 66 percent, forcing many to abandon farming.
From 1991 to 2007, about 2 million Mexicans engaged in farming and related work lost their livelihoods. Mexico’s participation in NAFTA was conditioned on changing its revolutionary-era Constitution’s land reforms, undoing
provisions that guaranteed small plots (“ejidos”) to millions of Mexicans living in rural villages. As corn prices plummeted, indebted farmers lost their land, which newly could be acquired by foreign firms that consolidated prime acres into large plantations.
According to a New Republic exposé: “as cheap American foodstuffs flooded Mexico’s markets and as U.S. agribusiness moved in, 1.1 million small farmers –
and 1.4 million other Mexicans dependent upon the farm sector – were driven out of work between 1993 and 2005.
Wages dropped so precipitously that today the income of a farm laborer is one-third that of what it was before NAFTA.”
The exposé noted that, as jobs and wages fell, many rural Mexicans joined the ranks of the 12 million undocumented
immigrants competing for low-wage jobs in the United States.
Though the price paid to Mexican farmers plummeted after NAFTA, the newly deregulated retail price of tortillas –
Mexico’s staple food – shot up 279 percent in the pact’s first 10 years. This contradicts free trade theory, which predicts that gains from liberalization come on the import side as all consumers enjoy lower prices, while injury only occurs to those in sectors directly displaced by imports.
But, NAFTA included service sector and investment rules that facilitated consolidation of grain trading, milling, baking
and retail. So in short order the relatively few remaining large firms dominating these activities were able to raise the prices paid by Mexican consumers and reap extra profits as corn costs simultaneously declined. This problem is ongoing;
Recent reports show that U.S. exports of corn, wheat, oybeans and rice are all sold below production costs, devastating Mexico’s agricultural sector.
After NAFTA, Mexican Wages Shrank, Poorly Paid Temporary
Employment Grew Wages in Mexico have fallen below pre
Boeing NeXt is to work in partnership with outside companies as it looks to build unmanned vehicles, resolve air traffic control and help model infrastructure on the ground.
Speaking at the Farnborough International Airshow Tuesday, Boeing’s Chief Technology Officer Greg Hyslop said Boeing had the expertise to safely and efficiently shape the new technology.
“The development of these flying vehicles is going to arrive in the next few years. Transportation has to be multi-modal,” said Hyslop.
“The idea is that there is an emerging autonomous market out there and that is why we are creating Boeing NeXt to solve the problems in developing that.”
The aerospace giant also announced that it has embarked on a new partnership with artificial intelligence (AI) company SparkCognition.
Boeing said the collaboration will use blockchain technology and AI to develop an air traffic management system that can track an unmanned vehicle as it flies. The system would also allocate traffic routes and corridors.
Amir Husain, founder and CEO of SparkCognition, said in a statement that urban aerial transport had been estimated as a $3 trillion market which represented the “largest new market in our lifetimes.”
Looking and listening to the news through these lenses is sobering. How much reporting goes on that is outside these frames? How firmly are these “super memes” embedded in our institutions? How much of their increasing virility is being fueled by our social system becoming truly overwhelmed? Even more cynically, how much of the complexity, overwhelm, and confusion that seems to be growing is being purposely fostered to drive people to beliefs over facts? (Or am I now personifying blame?)
A BASIC income (BI) is defined as a modest, regular payment to every legal resident in the community, paid unconditionally as a right, regardless of income, employment or relationship status.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the case for BI does not rest on the assumption that robots and artificial intelligence will cause mass unemployment or that it would be a more efficient way of relieving poverty than present welfare systems (although it would). The main arguments are ethical and relate to social justice, individual freedom and the need for basic security.
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First, a BI is a matter of social justice. The wealth and income of all of us has far more to do with the efforts and achievements of our collective forebears than with anything we do for ourselves. If we accept private inheritance, we should accept social inheritance, regarding a BI as a “social dividend” on our collective wealth. In an era of rentier capitalism, in which more and more income is being channelled to the owners of assets—physical, financial and intellectual—and in which wages will continue to stagnate, a BI would provide an anchor for a fairer income-distribution system. And it would compensate the growing “precariat”, hit by labour flexibility, technological disruption and economic uncertainty.
In an era of rentier capitalism… [a basic income] would provide an anchor for a fairer income-distribution system
Second, a BI would enhance freedom. The political right preaches freedom but fails to recognise that financial insecurity constrains the ability to make rational choices. People must be able to say “no” to oppressive or exploitative relationships, as women know only too well. Some on the right understand that and support a BI. Meanwhile, the left has ignored freedom in its paternalistic social policies. Welfare recipients are treated as subjects of charity or pity, subject to arbitrary and intrusive controls to prove themselves “deserving”.
BI would enhance “republican freedom” from potential as well as actual domination by figures of unaccountable power. As argued elsewhere, a BI is the only welfare policy for which the “emancipatory value” is greater than the monetary value.
Third, a BI would give people basic (not total) security in an era of chronic economic insecurity. Basic security is a natural public good. Your having it does not deprive me from having it; indeed we gain from others having basic security. Psychologists have shown that insecurity lowers IQ and “mental bandwidth”, diminishing the ability to make rational decisions, causing stress and mental illness. Moreover, people with basic security tend to be more altruistic and empathetic, solidaristic and engaged in the community.
People with basic security tend to be more altruistic and empathetic, solidaristic and engaged in the community
Now to respond to the two most frequent objections to basic income. The first is that BI is unaffordable. Many of the sums bandied about are just back-of-the-envelope calculations that assume a certain level of basic income multiplied by the population. Such gross figures ignore clawback through the tax system, savings in other areas of public spending and dynamic effects. Studies in the UK and elsewhere have shown that BI is affordable even with existing tax/benefit systems.
That said, my preference would be a “social dividend” route, creating a national wealth fund built from rolling back the vast regressive subsidies and tax breaks governments now give out, as well as from ecological taxes and levies on all forms of rentier income, including that flowing to Big Tech from use of our personal data and metadata. The fund could pay a small basic income initially that would rise as it grows. As BI pilots and experiments have shown, even a small basic income can have a big impact on nutrition, health, schooling, economic activity and social solidarity.
Even a small basic income can have a big impact on nutrition, health, schooling, economic activity and social solidarity
The second objection is that a BI would induce laziness, undermining the work ethic. This is not borne out by the evidence, especially if all forms of work and not just paid labour are taken into account. Besides giving people more energy, confidence and ability to take risks, a BI would remove the poverty and precarity traps embedded in existing means-tested systems that are major disincentives to taking low-paid insecure jobs.
Since the status quo is untenable and inequitable, opponents of BI should show what alternative they propose that would provide basic security while enhancing freedom and serving social justice. I have not seen any such proposal.
the Internet of Things will require augmenting today’s 4G technology with 5G technology, thus “massively increasing” the general population’s exposure to radiation, according to a petition signed by 236 scientists worldwide who have published more than 2,000 peer-reviewed studies and represent “a significant portion of the credentialled scientists in the radiation research field”, according to Joel Moskowitz, the director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the University of California, Berkeley, who helped circulate the petition. Nevertheless, like mobiles, 5G technology is on the verge of being introduced without pre-market safety testing.
Lack of definitive proof that a technology is harmful does not mean the technology is safe, yet the wireless industry has succeeded in selling this logical fallacy to the world. The upshot is that, over the past 30 years, billions of people around the world have been subjected to a public-health experiment: use a mobile phone today, find out later if it causes genetic damage or cancer. Meanwhile, the industry has obstructed a full understanding of the science and news organisations have failed to inform the public about what scientists really think. In other words, this public health experiment has been conducted without the informed consent of its subjects, even as the industry keeps its thumb on the scale.
They’re empaths, peacemakers, negotiators — and an endangered species
Da una parte un derivato dal petrolio, la plastica, che è sempre più diffuso: nell’ultimo mezzo secolo l’uso è aumentato di 20 volte, ne consumiamo ogni anno l’equivalente di 900 Empire State Building. Dall’altra una fame di energia crescente che deve convivere con la necessità di utilizzare meno combustibili fossili per abbattere drasticamente le emissioni di gas serra che stanno facendo saltare l’equilibrio climatico. Due problemi. E’ possibile sommarli ottenendo una soluzione?
«E’ il nostro obiettivo», risponde Luca Dal Fabbro, amministratore delegato di Grt Group, una società svizzera specializzata in energie rinnovabili, e vicepresidente del Circular Economy Network, l’osservatorio sull’economia circolare creato dalla Fondazione per lo sviluppo sostenibile e da 13 aziende. «Il prossimo anno costruiremo in Italia impianti poco ingombranti, sono grandi come un campo da tennis, e a zero emissioni dirette perché utilizzano la pirolisi. In questi impianti entreranno le bottiglie e i sacchetti di cui cerchiamo disperatamente di disfarci e uscirà carburante: 900 litri di combustibile simile al cherosene e al diesel per ogni tonnellata di plastica».
La pirolisi è un processo che determina la rottura delle catene molecolari che rendono la plastica rigida. Il tutto in assenza di ossigeno, cioè senza combustione e ossidazione e dunque senza emissioni. E’ dagli anni Settanta che s’insegue il sogno di trasformare la plastica in combustibile. Ma solo recentemente c’è stato il salto tecnologico necessario. Attualmente in Europa, Stati Uniti, America Latina e Asia una decina di aziende sta studiando la pirolisi con impianti dimostrativi o commerciali: quelli che si apriranno nel 2019 saranno i primi a livello industriale in Italia. Funzionerà? Secondo le previsioni di Grt i conti tornano: ogni impianto sarà in grado di fornire combustibile al costo di 25 dollari al barile equivalente, meno della metà del prezzo del barile di petrolio. Ma mentre il petrolio, una volta estratto, deve essere trasportato e raffinato, aggiungendo costi economici e ambientali, la plastica viene prelevata in un raggio di poco più di un centinaio di chilometri dall’impianto: in questo modo si abbatte il 70 per cento del totale delle emissioni di CO2 necessarie alla produzione di energia. Inoltre i pannelli solari che copriranno la struttura migliorano ulteriormente le perfomance energetiche.
In pratica, sulle pensioni inferiori a 700 euro lordi si potrebbe applicare un balzello dello 0,5% che comporterebbe un taglio di 3,5 euro al mese, “poco più di tre caffè”, come scrisse a suo tempo Brambilla in un articolo sul Corriere della Sera. Poi, man mano che aumenta l’importo della rendita, cresce anche l’entità della decurtazione prevista, fino ad arrivare a oltre l’8% sulle pensioni più alte.
Con questa misura, quattro anni fa Brambilla calcolò un potenziale introito per lo Stato di ben 6 miliardi di euro, che potrebbero essere destinati alla riduzione del debito pubblico o a incentivare l’occupazione giovanile. Altro che i 160milioni di euro ricavati con i tagli ipotizzati da Di Maio alle pensioni d’oro, spesso ingiuste ma troppo rare per fare cassa.
This particular detail has not gone down well with pro-Brexit MPs. Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said this proposal would subject the UK to the "greatest vassalage" seen in over 800 years.
The Bill and Melinda Gates' foundation has invested $4.6 million in the Massachusetts-based startup behind the device, MicroCHIPS.
"The ability to turn the device on and off provides a certain convenience factor for those who are planning their family," Dr. Robert Farra, president and Chief Operating Officer of MicroCHIPS, told the BBC this week.
As philanthropists and impact investors pour money into social and environmentally focused businesses and projects, a nagging question often hovers over their efforts: Is the capital actually ending up where it is intended, and is it delivering impact in a measurable, tangible manner?
The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), an industry group, says that investors committed $22.1 billion to projects that deliver both financial and social and/or environmental purpose in 2016. Philanthropies increasingly believe that putting money into social businesses rather than issuing grants to nonprofits brings bigger, more sustainable, returns. And a wide array of mainstream funders, including pension and sovereign wealth funds, have recently entered the impact investing field. One prominent example from 2017: the $2 billion Rise Fund backed by TPG, a private equity firm, and a host of celebrity investors including Richard Branson and Bono.
Let’s take just two straightforward ones; areas of simple contradiction that stand out and betray this government’s wishful thinking and attempt to semantically satisfy both the referendum result and the commitments Theresa May made in the manifesto that saw her majority wiped out.
One: The “common rule book”. This idea is being portrayed as a partnership between the EU and the UK, defining regulations and standards to enable the free flow of trade in goods, and give us the potential to strike trade deals of our own.
Its promise is a lie. The truth is that under this arrangement, Britain will, as Norway does today, be hovering outside the room where the rules are made, lobbying those with an actual seat at the table. And the rules agreed at that EU table, at which we have no chair, will define the rules we must abide by in any new agreement with another country. Lose lose.
And then the Irish border. This White Paper we are told guarantees no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. By their own admission, the solution is based on technologies that don’t yet exist, and promises the free movement of people between the border.
Today, in his shambolic intro to the Commons as Minister For Exiting The EU, Dominic Raab said the White Paper meant we would be taking control of our borders and freedom of movement would stop and there would be extra security and checks at our border.
Except at the Irish border, where there will be absolutely no checks, creating an open back door to the UK.
The anti-straw movement took off in 2015, after a video of a sea turtle with a straw stuck in its nose went viral. Campaigns soon followed, with activists often citing studies of the growing ocean plastics problem. Intense media interest in the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch -- a floating, France-sized gyre of oceanic plastic -- only heightened the concern.
But this well-intentioned campaign assumes that single-use plastics, such as straws and coffee stirrers, have much to do with ocean pollution. And that assumption is based on some highly dubious data. Activists and news media often claim that Americans use 500 million plastic straws per day, for example, which sounds awful. But the source of this figure turns out to be a survey conducted by a nine-year-old. Similarly, two Australian scientists estimate that there are up to 8.3 billion plastic straws scattered on global coastlines. Yet even if all those straws were suddenly washed into the sea, they'd account for about .03 percent of the 8 million metric tons of plastics estimated to enter the oceans in a given year.
In other words, skipping a plastic straw in your next Bahama Mama may feel conscientious, but it won't make a dent in the garbage patch. So what will?
A recent survey by scientists affiliated with Ocean Cleanup, a group developing technologies to reduce ocean plastic, offers one answer. Using surface samples and aerial surveys, the group determined that at least 46 percent of the plastic in the garbage patch by weight comes from a single product: fishing nets. Other fishing gear makes up a good chunk of the rest.
The impact of this junk goes well beyond pollution. Ghost gear, as it's sometimes called, goes on fishing long after it's been abandoned, to the great detriment of marine habitats. In 2013, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science estimated that lost and abandoned crab pots take in 1.25 million blue crabs each year.
This is a complicated problem. But since the early 1990s, there's been widespread agreement on at least one solution: a system to mark commercial fishing gear, so that the person or company that bought it can be held accountable when it’s abandoned. Combined with better onshore facilities to dispose of such gear -- ideally by recycling -- and penalties for dumping at sea, such a system could go a long way toward reducing marine waste. Countries belonging to the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization have even agreed on guidelines for the process.
But while rich countries should be able to meet such standards with ease, in the developing world -- where waste management is largely informal -- the problem is much harder. In Indonesia, for example, one study concluded that fishermen have little incentive to bring someone else's net to a disposal point unless they're getting paid to do so.