Saturday, September 21, 2013

During this Weekend of Peace Let’s Stop the Violence in our Cities

   Good Day World!

On this Peace Day Weekend (see Learnist board to the right) I thought I’d point out how violent our world is in the United States. The rest of the world is also embroiled in wars and crimes continue to take a deadly toll.

This week Chicago earned the title of being the nation's murder capital in 2012, according to the FBI. Chicago had more than 500 homicides in 2012, according to FBI data, more than any other American city. Chicago's total exceeded that of New York City, which recorded 419, and Los Angeles, which saw 299. Both cities have populations greater than that of Chicago.

The murder rate in Chicago in 2012 was still higher than the murder rate in 1929, the year of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, when Al Capone was the city’s crime kingpin and the streets were awash in blood as gangsters battled over illegal liquor sales during Prohibition.

The 1920s saddled Chicago with international image for murder and violence that we still haven’t shaken off. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre was so shocking it led the nation to reconsider whether Prohibition was worth the gang warfare it caused.

Today Chicago has more than just a bad image – it’s sliding into a sinkhole of crime and poverty with no end in sight. the really scary thing is, there’s numerous other cities that are only slightly better!

The city of Chicago registered more homicides than any city in the nation in 2012, surpassing even New York — despite the fact that the Second City has only one third as many residents as the Big Apple.

But residents of Chicago and New York were much less likely to be victims of a homicide than residents of Flint, Mich. Sixty-three murders occurred in 2012 in Flint, a city of 101,632, meaning one in every 1,613 city residents were homicide victims. Detroit, which experienced 386 homicides in 2012, was almost as unsafe; that’s enough murders to account for one in every 1,832 residents.

Fifteen cities reported more than 100 murders in 2012. Alongside Chicago, New York and Detroit, Philadelphia (331), Los Angeles (299), Baltimore (219), Houston (217), New Orleans (193), Dallas (154), Memphis (133), Oakland (126), Phoenix (124), St. Louis (113), Kansas City (105) and Indianapolis (101) had the busiest homicide departments.

Washington, D.C., which once suffered some of the worst crime rates in the nation, reported 88 murders in 2012. If we could see some gun bills passed in Congress these numbers may start going down – or at the very least stabilize. But that, sadly enough, is as unlucky as the Democrats and Republicans making peace and working for the people of this country instead of their parties!


Time for me to walk on down the road…

Friday, September 20, 2013

TV Zombie: Are you lost in the TV Viewing Hole?

Aaron Paul (left) and Bryan Cranston in the binge-worthy "Breaking Bad."

          Good Day World!

 I recently got Dish TV. It comes with a thousand channels. At least it seems that way. I haven’t counted them yet.

 They threw in a 90 day FREE premium channels preview, and now there’s even more choices for me to make. Help…

  I’ve been hooked up for two weeks and have used  maybe six channels. I’ll never use all of them. I’ve tried surfing through them, but after awhile my eyes blurred along with my brain cells. I keep asking myself if it’s possible people actually use all those channels?

Apparently it is. More and more TV viewers are escaping into those channels…never to be the same again. They turn into TV zombies. Reports of people disappearing down the rabbit hole of made-for-TV-movies keep coming in.

This following article proves my assertion: 

"Breaking Bad" didn't turn us into binge-watching TV addicts, and neither did mobile devices, or even the Internet. Just ask anyone who bought the Special Edition "Twin Peaks" Box Set on VHS in 1993. Many a lost weekend were spent in the Dark Lodge, absorbing all 29 episodes, when David Lynch's six-tape set of noir surrealism hit the Blockbuster shelves.

Yet as with many things, advances in technology have only made it easier to crawl inside the TV viewing hole, allowing us to spend more time in an alternate universe of someone else's fiction.

Videotapes gave way to DVDs, and DVDs gave way to video on demand. Cable television forced us to chose whether we'll spend Memorial Day watching ABC Family's "Special Harry Potter Event" or TNT's "Law & Order: A Very Elliot Stabler Weekend."

And Netflix is in the business of building buzz-worthy original shows and making the entire seasons available via streaming right at the premiere. We're left with little choice but to lose whole days to "House of Cards," "Arrested Development," and "Orange is the New Black," lest we see spoilers in the Twittersphere. Whole story here

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Learnist Brings Its “Pinterest For Learning” To Android

My wife was really pleased with the brand new Android app for Learnist that she downloaded today.

She said it had great graphics!  It’s available to everyone at Goggle apps. As a consultant for Learnist, I’m thrilled to see that my boards are going out to a wider audience now!

It was a big leap when Learnist came up with it’s first IPAD app. Now, with the launch of this new Android app Learnist is reaching out to the rest of the world…

VIA TechCrunch

When Grockit first emerged back in 2008, it had set its sights on building a full-service, social learning service that would give students a better way to study for standardized tests, among other things. It enabled students to study solo or in groups by connecting with live instructors or perusing its library of video content.

Yet, five years later, Grockit found itself in survival mode, never quite finding the explosive adoption that could justify the $25 million in capital had raised over the years from big-name investors like Mark Pincus and Reid Hoffman. Last year, the team began to experiment with new tools, chief of which was Learnist, a digital clipboard that was later dubbed its “Pinterest for education.”

Over the next six months, Learnist took off and, eager to ride the wave, Grockit put all of its efforts behind the new product, selling off the Grockit name, test prep business, technology and platform to Kaplan in July.

Today, as it looks to expand its international reach and support the fastest-growing mobile platform, the team is bringing its learning network to Android. With the launch of its new Android app, users will be able to find multimedia learning experiences and expert knowledge in areas that interest them, collaborate with like-minded learners, and connect and share content across social networks.

Backed by a fresh $20 million from Discovery, Summit, Atlas, Benchmark and others, Learnist is eager to ride the growing adoption of mobile learning tools both in and outside of the classroom and bring its network to a wider audience.

Learnist was initially developed for K-12 teachers and students, allowing users to create “learn boards” for everything from reading assignments to Common Core-supported Math lessons, but the founders have since expanded that scope in an effort to attract a wider set of life-long and casual learners. In much the same vein as Coursera, Learnist is looking to create a network that applies to both formal and continuing education and can be used alongside classroom tools like Schoology and Edmodo to create a more holistic classroom learning experience, for example, while giving casual learners a place to store and view their various learning projects.

Since launching its iPhone and iPad apps last year, the knowledge-sharing network has attracted more than 1 million users who are now using the platform to aggregate and share their projects across a range of topics. Grockit/Learnist co-founder Farb Nivi says that, long-term, he wants Learnist to become a “smart RSS feed for learning,” allowing anyone and everyone to share pieces of content and discover topics and lessons that are relevant to them. The goal, he says, is to build a library of quality crowdsourced content, surfacing content that matches users’ browsing patterns and areas of interest.

In the day or so that Learnist has been on Google Play, China has quickly become the largest source of downloads (outside of the U.S.) for the app. It’s this kind of international reach that Learnist hopes to tap into, adding to the 40 countries that its users represent today. Nivi believes that Learnist is now well-suited to provide a solution in regions where the demand for online learning is being pushed forward by growth in digital publishing and distribution tools and the rapid adoption of smart mobile technology.

With its new Android app, Learnist users can embed 40 different types of media in their learn boards, and with the recent launch of “Learnist SmartRSS,” users can now tap into content uploaded from the hundreds of media companies that have created profiles and are now publishing to Learnist. Looking ahead, users can expect Learnist to continue to hone its search and discovery tools, as it quietly becomes yet another entrant (see Noodle, for example) into the race to build a better search and discovery engine — with, in Learnist’s case, a digital clipboard in tow.

New start-up? Limited funds? Get more Bang for you Buck with Ads on Porn Sites!

                 Good Day Word!

It’s a porn… porn… porn world these days! You can’t escape the word – picture porn, marijuana porn, nature porn, and so on.

The word porn once simply meant pornography. Dirty photos. Nasty stuff. Naked people having sex in a whole myriad of ways. It had a bad rap. No one wanted to admit they read porn but it’s been around since…well forever!

Egyptians poked fun at penis sizes and dirty old men have sold it in dingy alleys since cities sprang up across the planet.

Porn now enjoys a prominent place in our economy. It’s presence on the internet is powerful. So powerful, that someone finally got around to exploring how to incorporate porn sites in advertising for their business – which by the way was food!

So here you have it…the X-rated truth: 

When you're a self-funded start-up, you have to be creative … and perhaps a little less straight-laced when it comes to advertising.

A food delivery business called Eat24 is boasting that it has gotten a lot of bang for its buck by placing ads on porn sites. According to ExtremeTech, "It's probably not unrealistic to say that porn makes up 30 percent of the total data transferred across the internet."

Eat24 management reports in a blog called "How to Advertise on a Porn Website" that, "When it comes to spreading our brand message, we usually take the road less traveled." Since the company claims it has taken absolutely no money from outside investors, it was trying to find ways to spread its message on a big scale for little money. "The Solution: Porn, the Internet's Unicorn."

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Story of Taylor Camp: A Hippie Tree House Village Community

                                        Good Day World!

First off, thanks to my good friend Carl from the friendly City of Fortuna, California, for sending me the link to the following article. It’s about this hippie community in Hawaii who explored the world of free living. The documentary describes hippies, surfers and troubled Vietnam vets who flocked to join and built a clothing-optional, pot-friendly tree house village on Kauai’s North Shore.

Through the late sixties and seventies, Taylor Camp was the epitome of the hippie dream; free love, nudism, sex, drugs and rock & roll in an idyllic tropical setting.

Interestingly enough, when my wife and I went to Kauai in 2008, there were no signs of this little community or it’s inhabitants. They just faded away with time and age…and now you can get a feeling for what it was like back in “the day!”


“Taylor Camp“ is a feature-length documentary, set on Kauai in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The film follows the exploits of famous Taylor Camp, the Hawaiian hippie commune founded by Elizabeth Taylor’s brother, Howard, in the late sixties.
In 1969, Howard Taylor bailed out a band of 13 young Mainlanders jailed on Kauai for vagrancy and invited this rag-tag tribe of men, women and children to camp on his oceanfront land, forming an hippie tree house village that lasted until 1977.
 The whole story here

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bitter News for Chocolate Lovers, & Racist Comments for a Beauty Queen

Good Day World!

The crowning of the latest Miss America has stirred up the ugly side of social media.

Miss New York, Syracuse native Nina Davuluri, won the crown recently, and as soon as she did, Twitter lit up with comments suggesting she was an Arab, a foreigner, and a terrorist with ties to Al Qaeda.

Why the hate?

Davuluri, who aspires to be a doctor like her father, is the first Miss America whose family comes from India. Her win also happens to be the second consecutive victory for New York, but that got lost in tweets by people who couldn't look past her skin-deep beauty.

“Congratulations Al-Qaeda. Our Miss America is one of you,” tweeted "De La Rutherford," or @Blayne_MkltRain, who has since pulled down the full Twitter profile.

I think it’s really embarrassing how some Americans are so racist that they can’t see beyond their narrow noses and notions! What have we become that we vilify people because of their nationality? America is a melting pot remember? Everybody, with the exception of real Native Americans -  came from somewhere else.

It wouldn’t hurt for a lot of people to remember that fact. Moving on…

 I don’t want to cause alarm, but the price of chocolate is going up soon.

 Chocoholics may have to dig deeper to pay for their favorite treat this festive season as sweet makers face sky-high prices for cocoa butter, the special ingredient that gives chocolate its melt-in-the-mouth texture.

Major sweet makers contacted by Reuters declined to comment on whether the butter price hike would lead them to raise the retail price for their chocolate bars, although Nestle said any increase in price is always the last resort.

But some smaller chocolate makers have already pushed up prices.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Monday, September 16, 2013

Yikes! Robo maggots for brain surgery!


Good Day World!

What better way to start your Monday talking about maggots! Before you get too repelled by the subject, try keeping an open mind.

First off, maggots have been used since antiquity as a wound treatment. The interesting thing is maggots have been reintroduced into the medical field.

Here we are in the 21st century, and maggots are once again playing a vital roll in fighting infections. Their ability to eat away dead tissue is the prime reason they’re enjoying this renaissance in the medical field. They’ve been approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration since 2004.

So what do you say? Let’s hear it for the lowly maggot, which my basic training DI called me and other trainees back in the day. We should start a maggot fan club. What do you think? Twitter trendy? 

Creepy, crawly maggots might be making their way into people's brains. Robot maggots, that is. Inspired by a TV show where plastic surgeons use maggots to eat away dead tissue, neurosurgeon J. Marc Simard of the University of Maryland School of Medicine has been developing a prototype for a larvae-esque robot that could get eat away at a brain tumor from the inside.

Initial Prototype

The bendy maggot-bot can zap tumors with an electrocautery tool, then suction out the dead tissue. It can be controlled remotely, making it possible for the surgeon to monitor the tumor and direct the robot to certain tissue while the patient is undergoing an MRI.

During brain surgery, it's often hard for surgeons to distinguish between the boundaries of healthy tissue and tumor tissue without the help of an MRI, and you can't exactly do a full brain surgery on someone when they're locked away in a cramped MRI scanner. Full story here

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Second Sunday: Getting Confortable in Our New Home

20130914_151023  Good Day World!

 It’s been two weeks since Shirley and I moved to Medford, Oregon, and it’s starting to feel like home.

 My Office/Den/”Laker Shrine” is complete. I painted all the walls a bright white and put up my memorabilia. It took me two weeks to do it.

My office stuff is on the opposite side of the room shown in the photo. Interestingly enough, it’s the only room finished in the house! But there’s good reason for that.

Since I’m an independent contractor working for a website (Learnist) and a freelance writer, I convinced my dear wife that it was a must for me to be comfortable so I could be creative in my man cave.

Meanwhile, I’m painting the living room ceiling today. It’s massive, and all I e20130914_162050xpect to complete on the painting front today. Did I mention that I don’t like cathedral ceilings when I have to paint them? Shirley will be spotting me on the ladder.

The walls will come on subsequent weekends, one at a time, until the makeover is complete. I hate to put a timeline on when that will be accomplished.

Keeping up our yard hasn’t been too hard. The vegetable garden is self-sufficient (drip system) and prolific…turning out ripe tomatoes daily. I mow, and Shirley tends all the plants, trees, and shrubs.

Perhaps the biggest challenge has been getting used to the climate. It’s been real hot – as in the 100s and the 90s. Where we came from in northern California, sun was seldom seen and most days were cloudy or foggy, or both! It practically never got hotter than in the 70s. The average temperatures were in the mid 60s. So it’s been a shock.

We have managed to go out and get our new driver’s licenses and plates for our SUV. Even registered to vote. We’re now official Oregonians! I’ll report back in the near future, and let you know how it’s going in our new home.

Time for me to walk on down the road… 


Blog Break Until Presidential Election is Over

I finally hit the wall today. I can't think of what to say about all of the madness going on in this country right now. I'm a writer...