Over the last couple of years I have been receiving information from Wal Mart workers in the USA about their conditions and terms of employment and salary. They have a very intensive campaign which continues their push for improved wages so they have a fair deal and can afford to pay their bills. So my ears pricked up here – naturally enough – when the plight of the takeaway workers became apparent with their employers over zero-hour contracts. At this time, let’s give some credit for the role of the trade unions doing the right thing by the above mentioned workers. Trade unions support workers, they want to see people getting a fair go and being able to feed their children and not left at the bottom of the pecking order. Trade unions are a compass to show the direction to better things. And even if you are not a member of a union you can still applaud their pro-activity for attempting to make life better for others. If we measure the take away worker on a low income as against, say, a tradesman the salary is miles apart. The take away worker is still productive, however, and through their efforts allows their employer to add to the nation’s GDP. Maybe less skilled but still a valued member of society, of a community and contributing in domestic and business environments. New Zealand is a high tech country. However, not all of our citizens are into hi-tech working at Fisher & Paykel or the Reserve Bank. We are all, though, the sum of parts that make up this country and contribute to our going forward. All countries are categorised as having blue and white collar workers. The colour of your collar is not what makes you a better person, is it? […]
Air Shepherd, a new initiative of the Lindbergh Foundation, is using sophisticated technology to protect the environment. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) or drones, are successfully stopping the poaching of elephants and rhinos in Africa. They are deployed with advanced infrared surveillance systems and supercomputer-based predictive analytic technology developed at the University of Maryland. • This innovative combination of algorithms and aviation predicts where poaching is likely to happen with 93% accuracy, apprehending poachers before they can kill. Tested on private reserves in southern Africa for two years, in over 650 missions, no animals were killed while Air Shepherd drones were in flight. • SANParks (South African National Parks) announced Thursday that these UAV solutions are an integral part of the current strategy to combat rhino poaching in the Kruger National Park, and that SANParks is in process of evaluating the program over the next year. • There is an alarming increase in animal poaching. In the past year poachers killed nearly 40,000 elephants and over 1,200 rhinos. At this rate both will be extinct within 10 years. Throughout Africa, an estimated 100,000 elephants were killed between 2010-2013 alone. Now, Air Shepherd, has a proven and effective solution to end poaching. Air Shepherd aims to raise $500,000 via crowdfunding to fully implement the program for one year at Kruger National Park with expansion planned over the next year to seven additional African countries. For decades, The Lindbergh Foundation has been a leader in encouraging the use of technology to protect the environment.
Researchers in Singapore are developing a microclimatic modelling tool to prevent further deterioration of the country’s urban heat island phenomenon. Mapping elements like wind flow patterns helps planners build better cities. Copyright: Chensiyuan An urban heat island (UHI) is an urban area that is warmer than the surrounding rural areas due to human economic development. A UHI is also characterised by increased air pollution and decreased relative humidity. In Singapore, where dense urban structures result in the UHI phenomenon, rapid population growth and the expansion of city development are expected to further worsen the quality of urban life. Led by Dr Poh Hee Joo, researchers at the A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research) Institute of High Performance Computing are developing an urban microclimatic modelling tool specifically designed for Singapore’s urban landscapes to help city developers draw up UHI countermeasures. The tool provides mapping data for temperature, wind, solar irradiation and shading. It aims to hinder any further rises in temperature and ambient noise, thus improving the liveability of Singapore. “Our multi-physics urban microclimatic modelling tool is considered a pioneer work in the building and urban physics research field. It has great potential for breakthrough and innovation,” says Dr Poh Hee Joo. Three steps were involved in the development of the microclimatic modelling tool. First, the team used computational fluid dynamics (CFD), a fluid flow analysis and simulation method, to produce an urban wind flow and temperature map. Second, they produced a solar irradiance and shading map with daylight simulation. The team then combined the two maps to obtain more accurate urban microclimatic information. As a result, the new tool is capable of providing numeric values to Singapore’s urban microclimatic data. It can also produce high resolution and accurate wind and thermal distribution predictions to an actual urban built-up district, using […]
How Effective Altruism Is Changing Ideas About Living Ethically Peter Singer’s books and ideas have been disturbing our complacency ever since the appearance of Animal Liberation. Now he directs our attention to a new movement in which his own ideas have played a crucial role: effective altruism. Effective altruism is built upon the simple but profound idea that living a fully ethical life involves doing the “most good you can do.” Such a life requires an unsentimental view of charitable giving: to be a worthy recipient of our support, an organisation must be able to demonstrate that it will do more good with our money or our time than other options open to us. Singer introduces us to an array of remarkable people who are restructuring their lives in accordance with these ideas, and shows how living altruistically often leads to greater personal fulfillment than living for oneself. The Most Good You Can Do develops the challenges Singer has made, in the New York Times and Washington Post, to those who donate to the arts, and to charities focused on helping our fellow citizens, rather than those for whom we can do the most good. Effective altruists are extending our knowledge of the possibilities of living less selfishly, and of allowing reason, rather than emotion, to determine how we live. The Most Good You Can Do offers new hope for our ability to tackle the world’s most pressing problems. *Peter Singer is Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University, and Laureate Professor, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne. The most prominent ethicist of our time, he is the author of more than twenty books including Animal Liberation, Practical Ethics, and The Life You Can Save. He divides his time between New York City and Melbourne, Australia.
Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt is a non-fiction book by the American writer Michael Lewis published by W. W. Norton & Company on March 31, 2014. The book focuses on the rise of high-frequency trading (HFT) in the US equity market. Lewis states that “The market is rigged” by HFT traders who front run orders placed by investors. The book remained on the first place of The New York Times Best Seller list for four consecutive weeks. The book centers on several people, including Sergey Aleynikov, a one-time programmer for Goldman Sachs, and Bradley Katsuyama, the founder of IEX, the Investors’ Exchange. Flash Boys starts out describing the new construction of Spread Networks’ secretive 827-mile cable running through mountains and under rivers from Chicago to New Jersey that would reduce the journey of data from 17 to 13 milliseconds. The speed of data becomes a major theme in the book; the faster the data travels, the better the price of the trade. Lewis claims access to this fiber optic cable, as well as other technologies, presents an opportunity for the market to be controlled even more by the big Wall Street banks. To counter this disadvantage to investors, Katsuyama bands together a team that sets out to develop a new exchange, called IEX, to make the playing field for trading fairer. The book takes a look at how electronic trading replaced the trading floor of screaming brokers, slamming telephones and hysteria-inducing ticker tape, and how that change impacted the market. The book concludes by observing that there is now a conventional (microwave) link between Chicago and New Jersey, which follows an even straighter route than the Spread Networks’ 827-mile cable (as microwaves always follow a direct path, whereas cables, by their very nature, must, at least occasionally, detour around […]
Revival of traditional rainwater harvesting has transformed the driest state in India, and could be used to combat the effects of climate change across the world. School textbooks in India have been telling children for generations that Rajasthan is an inhospitable state in the northwest of the country, constrained by the hot, hostile sands of the Thar Desert. But the driest state in India has a softer, humane face as well – that of Rajendra Singh, known as the “Water Man of India”, whose untiring efforts in water conservation in arid Rajasthan have led to him being awarded the Stockholm Water Prize, commonly referred to as the Nobel Prize for Water. Singh did not attempt to design a new technology to address Rajasthan’s water problems. He began simply by de-silting several traditional surface level rainwater storage facilities – called “johads” in the local Hindi language − that fell out of use during British colonial rule. And, in doing so, he has quenched the thirst of villages that were dying. Thousands of villages followed his example, and so much water was captured and soaked into aquifers that dry rivers have begun to flow again. Water wars Singh believes that water conservation is vital to combat the effects of climate change and to avoid “water wars” in the future. And such is his reputation on water issues that he received a call from Prince Charles, heir to the UK throne, seeking advice on how to handle the devastating summer floods in England in 2007. In an interview with Climate News Network, Singh recalled how he began making water flow again in perennially dry Rajasthan by inculcating do-it-yourself initiatives in the villagers. He explained: “I imbibed Gandhian ideals during my school days that emphasised working for empowerment of villages. “As an Ayurvedic (traditional […]
But productivity remains key to escaping the clutches of the financial crisis, says PwC report. Almost seven years on from the global financial crisis and a broad based global rebound remains elusive. But one of the most damning and tangible metrics of the crisis – the huge upturn in unemployment in the G7 – is moving decisively in the right direction in most economies. In simple terms, and at an aggregate level, there are more jobs in the G7 and E7 now than there were before the crisis. There are now around 4.5 million more jobs, in net terms, across the G7 than there were at the end of 2007. This figure takes into account the overall number of jobs created and lost during the period. Canada has led the way with the biggest percentage increase in employment, as its economy was the first of the G7 to regain its pre-crisis GDP level. And in absolute terms, Germany and the US have created over 4 million jobs between them. The financial crisis didn’t have the same impact on the labour market in the E7, as around 90 million jobs have been created over the same period. But in the last year the pace of job creation has decelerated in some of these economies. For example, in the past year the economies of Mexico, Turkey and Brazil combined created around 300,000 jobs, compared to around 2.7 million a year on average between 2007 Q4 and 2013 Q4. And when it comes to job creation, a key factor is the type of jobs created. In the US and across Europe the trend has been rising part-time employment, with part-time job creation outperforming full-time employment gains in most of the economies in the sample. Only the UK and Germany have posted growth in […]