Great photos from EyeTime 2014

From Om Malik’s personal blog

Click to enlarge

A few months ago, Jeff Kenoff got in touch, wondering if I would judge at the EyeTime 2014, a Student Photography Competition in NYC. Unfortunately, due to prior commitments and time constraint I couldn’t do the judging for the event. Some of my friends like John Biggs of Techcrunch, Mark Kawano and Cole Rise, however ended up being judges on the competition.

The talent at the competition was staggering. Just look at some of the photos that are in the winner’s circle and you will know what I mean. EyeTime 2014 is a contest to publicly promote the research, exploration and investigation currently happening amongst today’s emerging talent. For my money, Architecture in Limbo by Ben Tynegate is hauntingly beautiful!

Click this link to wander over to Om’s blog and view his selections

Top winners in the Royal Horticultural Society’s photo competition

This image of an olive tree and tulips has won the Royal Horticultural Society’s annual photographic competition. It was snapped by Josie Elias, from Sherborne, Dorset, who said she stumbled on the garden in Marnes, Spain, by chance.

John Cocks’s leaping mouse was commended in the Wildlife in the Garden category.

Delightful. Reflective, almost pensive beauty – and an athletic rodent. Bravo!

Audi sweeps podium at LeMans — Claims first hybrid victory

Audi drove to its 11th overall victory in the world’s greatest endurance race with a 1-2-3 sweep, the German automaker re-wrote the history books at the same time in becoming the first manufacturer to win Le Mans with hybrid technology.

Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler took their No. 1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro to the monumental win following a frantic duel with the sister hybrid entry of Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Dindo Capello in the closing stages.

However, the turning point came with less than three hours to go when McNish spun to avoid a slow Ferrari and nosed his car into the barriers at the Porsche Curves while in the lead.

What looked to be a potentially race-ending accident turned into a quick five-minute repair job by the Audi Sport mechanics, which got the rapid Scot out only one lap behind Treluyer’s R18 e-tron quattro, aided by a safety car period.

Nonetheless, it virtually ensured repeat victory for the No. 1 crew, with Andre Lotterer cruising to a one-lap victory over the No. 2 Audi of McNish, Kristensen and Capello in second.

The defending Le Mans winners held the upper hand through the night, virtually leading from the pole…

The No. 4 Audi R18 ultra of Mike Rockenfeller, Oliver Jarvis and Marco Bonanomi finished three laps back in third, completing a rather quiet and trouble-free race for the conventional-powered machine.

Advanced technology and essentially trouble-free racing – as far as technology was concerned – brings the sport into focus as a leading provider of new tech for production automobiles.

Diesel power provided Audi’s previous victories. E-Tron tech is diesel power paired with hybrid electric technology. Like most advancements of this type, you can focus on power or economy. For a race like this, obviously power and speed is the goal. But, just like the addition of turbo-supercharging, you can aim for fuel efficiency and low consumption. Audi will probably try for the flexibility of both in their passenger cars.

S-O-M wins master plan competition for Beijing redevelopment

Architectural practice SOM’s 17.6-sq km master plan for Beijing Bohai Innovation City has won an international design competition for the redevelopment of the region. The design is focused on a redevelopment corridor along the high-speed rail connection between Beijing, and the port of Tianjin. Though incorporating existing infrastructure, the scheme constitutes an ambitious planned city, and one which, if fully realized, may set a new standard for environmentally-conscious urban planning.

Half of the allocated site will be green in the literal sense – devoted to natural and other open areas. But perhaps the plan’s greatest claim to environmental soundness is its commitment to greener modes of transport – high speed rail for getting in and out of the city, but with a focus on foot traffic within the urban center itself…

But the plan by no means relies on pedestrians. A rapid transit bus system and electric car fleet are envisaged. Streets are designed to be cycling-friendly, and SOM hopes that combined, the bus system, walking and cycling will account for 80% of private inner city journeys.

SOM (short for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP) additionally claims that its scheme sets “aggressive goals for water, energy, waste, renewable energy and building design efficiency”, incorporates a wetland park habitat, and incorporates a storm water filtration and cleaning system to return uncontaminated water to the region’s rivers…

The competition was entitled “Beijing Bohai Rim Advanced Business Park“, held by Beijing Tongzhou District Taihu High End Headquarters Construction Management Committee and Beijing Xinghu Investment and Development Co. Ltd. In winning it, SOM have further cemented their reputation as leaders in the field of Chinese development, having carried out numerous projects in Tianjin, and submitting an award-winning master plan for the the expansion of Beijing’s central business district.


Aargh! – Pirates win almost 9% in Berlin regional vote

With laptops open like shields against the encroaching cameramen, the young men resembled Peter Pan’s Lost Boys more than Captain Hook’s buccaneers when they were introduced Monday as Berlin’s newest legislators: They are the members of the Pirate Party.

Asked if they were just some chaotic troop of troublemakers, Christopher Lauer, newly voted in as a state lawmaker for the district of Pankow, replied with no lack of confidence, “You ought to wait for the first session in the house of representatives.”

By winning 8.9 percent of the vote in Sunday’s election in this city-state, these political pirates surpassed — blew away, really — every expectation for what was supposed to be a fringe, one-issue party promoting Internet freedom. The Pirates so outstripped expectations that all 15 candidates on their list won seats…

These men in their 20s and 30s, who turned up at the imposing former Prussian state parliament building, some wearing hooded sweatshirts, and one a T-shirt of the comic book hero Captain America, were no longer merely madcap campaigners and gadflies. They had become the people’s elected representatives…

They are absolutely not a joke party,” said Christoph Bieber, a professor of political science at the University of Duisburg-Essen. While there was certainly an element of protest in the unexpectedly large share of the votes the Pirates won, they were filling a real need for voters outside the political mainstream who felt unrepresented. “In the Internet, they have really found an underexploited theme that the other political parties are not dealing with,” Mr. Bieber said.

The state election in Berlin on Sunday was full of surprising results. The pro-business Free Democrats, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition partners in the federal Parliament, crashed and burned, again, receiving less than 2 percent of the vote. That is well below the 5 percent needed to remain in the statehouse. The Green Party continued to build on its recent successes and may well become one of the governing parties in Berlin.

While issues like online privacy and data protection may seem incredibly narrow, even irrelevant, to older voters, for young people who often spend half their waking hours online, much of it on social networking sites where they share their most intimate moments, it is anything but a small issue. And the Pirates’ call for complete transparency in politics resonates powerfully with a generation disillusioned by the American case for war in Iraq and galvanized by WikiLeaks’ promise to put an end to secrecy.

The Pirates’ surprisingly strong showing came as further evidence of voter dissatisfaction in Germany with the established parties, and what many see as their inability to look beyond self-interest and focus instead on the needs of their constituents…

The effort made to build a sustainable Germany after World War 2 included a reliance on democracy long ago subverted in the United States. In almost every state, the deck is thoroughly stacked against a minor party getting on the ballot. And the 2-Party private club owns all the people who administer and regulate the process. Still, these folks are an inspiration.

Of course, the number of articles appearing on radio and TV, in mass media newspapers across the USA – relating the tale of this minority miracle – is less than coverage of the average NFL quarterback developing a hangnail on his throwing hand.

Google’s first science fair is won by girls, girls, girls

Lauren Hodge, Shree Bose and Naomi Shah

If Google’s first science fair is any indication, the top scientists of the future will be women. Google has announced the fair’s winners, and they are all young women.

Shree Bose, age 17, from Fort Worth, Tex., won the grand prize for developing a way to improve ovarian cancer treatment for patients who have developed a resistance to chemotherapy. Naomi Shah, 16, from Portland, Ore., found ways to improve indoor air quality and decrease people’s reliance on asthma medications. And Lauren Hodge, 14, from Dallastown, Pa., researched the effects of different marinades on potential carcinogens in grilled chicken.

“As a girl, to see that my gender actually is going to come into this field that’s been so dominated by men is exciting to me, and to be a part of that is even more exciting,” Ms. Bose said in an interview.

Surprisingly for Google, a computer science company, the winners each did bioscience projects. But the entries were wide-ranging, as was the science fair. Teenagers from all over the world could enter the fair in areas from computer science to space exploration. Unlike other science fairs, like those of Intel and Siemens, students entered online instead of presenting their projects in a school gymnasium.

Ten thousand students from 91 countries entered 7,500 projects in the science fair, including transforming recycled cans into solar ovens, building robotic prosthetic limbs and developing 3-D indoor navigation for blind people. For a clue about what tomorrow’s scientists care most about, the most popular category was earth and environmental sciences.

Google invited 15 finalists to its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters this week. The winners received scholarships, internships at Google, CERN and Lego, and for Ms. Bose, a trip to the Galapagos Islands with National Geographic Explorer.

Bravo! You have to wonder if anyone from Congress was watching?

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Lose your bid for re-election? Canada may provide severance pay!

Don’t worry – I’ll be OK!
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation today released its calculations of estimated pension and severance payments paid to the 113 MPs who were either defeated or did not seek re-election in the May 2, 2011 general election. Defeated and retiring MPs will collect $4.9 million in pension payments in their first year, reaching a cumulative total of $111.5 million by age 80. In addition, another $4.3 million in severance cheques will be issued to former MPs…

While many MPs went down to defeat last night, most are still big winners,” said CTF National Research Director Derek Fildebrandt. “Even though losing an election can be hard, MPs should find a nice soft landing with their ‘golden parachute…’”

Defeated or retiring MPs are eligible to collect a fully-indexed pension at age 55 if they have served at least 6 years in the House of Commons. MPs who have not served the minimum years and receive no pension collect a severance equal to 50 per cent of their total salary. Former MPs who are eligible for a pension but have not reached the age of 55 are entitled to both a severance and pension. If a member turns 55 years old within six months of being eligible for a pension, a reduced severance cheque is paid to them. Lump sum severance payments range from a low of $78,866 to a high of $116,624 – a figure paid out to defeated Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and several ministers.

Defeated Labrador MP Todd Russell was less than once month short of qualifying for his pension, being elected in a May 24, 2005 by-election. Fildebrandt noted, “By keeping Mr. Todd out of Parliament, the voters of Labrador saved Canadian taxpayers almost $600,000 in pension payouts.”

Why must so many nations consider loving lifetime care for politicians a national priority? Here in the GOUSA, we provide Congress with a healthcare plan the rest of us can only dream of.

The payback from Beltway politicians? “Screw you” – I’ve got mine. Find an insurance company to take your money.