Commuters in Moscow are being offered free tickets for the subway in exchange for 30 ‘Olympic-standard’ squats. The scheme is aiming to ‘bring sport to the people’ with the up and coming winter Olympics in February 2014.
Squats when done properly will build core strength, burn calories and work the entire body. As a fundamental exercise for all, Metro users are being encouraged to use special squat sensors in the Vystavochaya station which will issue a free ticket if the commuter is able to complete 30 squats in 2 minutes. The squat to ride machine will be operating until December 3rd 2013 providing an excellent way to get a little exercise into your day.
Composting is a good way to make use of organic material that otherwise might end up in landfill and there are plenty of opportunities for consumers to benefit from collecting their food waste, such as New York City’s Hello Compost scheme, which provides fresh food to low income families in return for their compostable goods. Operating on a similar basis, the temporary BIOMAT restaurant in Austria has enabled diners to exchange their biodegradable waste for a meal.
The Mexican senate has just approved an 8% tax on fatty foods and sugary drinks. The tax was approved 72-2 in the senate after being proposed by new president Enrique Peña Nieto. At 32.8% Mexico has the highest obesity levels in North America or Europe, causing more deaths than homicide and drug violence.
In 2011 Denmark imposed a similar tax, only to abolish it a year later. The Danish tax ministry explains the reasons for abolishing: “[The tax] has been criticized for increasing prices for consumers, increasing companies' administrative costs and putting Danish jobs at risk.” It was also suggested that Danes were traveling to neighbouring countries, such as Germany, to make their purchases.
Lethal injection in the USA is the current favoured method of execution of the federal government and the 32 states advocating the death penalty. However, a recent shortage of anaesthetic drugs is putting pressure on the system.
Under pressure from public scrutiny and legislation in the EU, pharmaceutical companies have been withdrawing key anaesthetic drugs from prisons that are commonly used in execution. In 2011 the supply of pentobarbital to the USA was disrupted and now similar problems are being encountered with propofol. Whilst many states are finding new ways to obtain pharmaceuticals, it is not the first time that the anti-death-penalty stance of the EU has interfered and an increasing number of pharmaceutical companies are becoming less willing to be associated with the lethal injection.
An award-winning architectural concept created for the city of Cassablanca, Morocco, features a leaf-like pavilion that will store and recycle rainwater for use in public toilets.
Created by Tom David architects, the design consists of enormous petal-shaped structures that collect rainwater and channel it into underground tanks for future use. In addition to providing water the structure will provide infrastructure for markets operating in the neighbouring streets.
Openspending is a mobile and web-based application that allows citizens in participating cities to examine where their taxes are being spent through interactive visuals. Citizens can preview their personal share of public works, examine local impacts of public spending and monitor the progress of projects that are or are not underway.
Tax contributions can be broken down to the language of personal daily expenses and, via the mobile app, project data can be reviewed in real time. By providing citizens an easy to understand overview of publicly funded projects, and their personal funding share, local governments are held more accountable to waste, duplication, inefficiency and corruption.
Eyestop is a bus stop that has been partially covered with touch-sensitive e-ink and digital screens to deliver a wide range of information. Developed by MIT’s SENSEable City Lab, the concept provides bus passengers in Fukoka, Mexico City and Rome with a range of interactive information. Passengers and passers-by will be able to post ads and community announcements to a moderated bulletin board on the bus stop. Ads can be displayed, and the solar-powered bus shelter also collects data about the local environment for scientific use. The concept aims to enrich the city with state of the art sensing technologies, interactive services, community information and entertainment.
Researchers at MIT have developed a new type of robot that has no external moving parts, but can combine together to form new shapes and structures.
The modular cubes, known as M-Blocks, contain a small but powerful flywheel that can reach speeds of 20,000 revolutions per minute. This not only enables the robots to roll along the ground but also jump to the top of a stack or structure. Eight magnets on the corners of the cubes hold the robots together, allowing any face of any cube to connect with another.
The robots currently respond to individual commands sent wirelessly allowing a person to build anything from a stack, chair or desk, piece by piece. But the researchers plan to leave the construction up the robots, sending a command and letting the M-Blocks to decide the best way to coalesce as a group.
There is one big problem with most digital communication....a complete lack of emotional content. How often have you got the wrong idea from an email or misunderstood the sentiment in a phone conversation? Imagine if an additional layer of data could provide more meaning and context.
Well with all the data our phones can now collect about us it is only a matter of time before emotional content is incorporated into your communications - now your email has a red tinge which shows how angry you were when you wrote it.
There have been apps like Mappiness where you have to 'map' your happiness but this required your input. Now there is an Android App called Emotionsense which takes it a bit further and lets you explore how your mood relates to the data that your smartphone can invisibly capture as you carry it throughout the day.
Given all the sensors that measure heart rate etc it should be fairly easy for an application to build up a sense of when you are stressed and when you are relaxed.
Good news! A temporary ruling that claimed Airbnb was in violation of NYC occupancy laws has been reversed...under the condition that one of the renters on the lease must be home.
The author of this Atlantic Cities article suggests that Airbnb's business model may need to change and that the shared economy will inevitably have to start paying taxes. She says "the sharing economy is entering a new phase that's less about the novelty of all these crazy new business models, and more about the gritty work of turning them into indisputably legal enterprises."
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