Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Kiva’s Secret Project To Let You Give Peer-To-Peer Loans

That’s what you thought Kiva did already? Not quite. But the new Kiva Zip lets you lend directly to a real person, with a higher chance it won’t get paid back. It’s a vast experiment in online trust and it could change the face of microfinance.

Microlending website Kiva’s original proposition was simple: Make an interest-free loan to someone who no bank will touch. The site, which launched in 2005, became wildly popular, as people gleefully gave a few dollars to struggling businesspeople in the developing world, and then saw that business grow and had their money repaid.

But many lenders assumed--not surprisingly, given Kiva’s marketing and web design--that the smiling face on the other end of the PayPal transaction got the exact cash they lent out. A minor kerfuffle ensued in 2009 when a blogger broadcast the fine print of Kiva’s website, revealing the nuance that a donation actually goes to take on the risk of a loan already made to that person by a microfinance institution. In other words, the person you chose to fund already had his loan. You just make it possible, retroactively. Read More

The Coming Crisis has reached 25,000 posts! (New posts appear below)

We've reached the 25,000 post mark! 25,000 pieces of researched news have now spread out into the Internet and world, hopefully enlightening people about things they didn't previously know, and to foster further discussion about those things they did.

We'd like to thank all our readers for visiting us daily, and for taking part in the growing truth movement.

To celebrate, we're adding a new category called, "Happy Timeout". This is basically a place where we're not necessarily going to post crisis news, but rather items of interest that allow you to take a break and reflect upon the things that are good and worth saving in our world. After all, for a fight to be successful we need to know exactly what we're fighting for.

Take care and stay safe everyone!

-- Matt & Lynsey

Funhouse Chute Offers A Gumball For Each New Twitter Follower

Sweet Tweet offers a playful way to celebrate growing popularity on Twitter while raising questions about the future of interaction design.

Whenever someone follows brand communications agency Uniform's Twitter account, a toy train inside a cuckoo clock shoves a gumball out the door onto a circuitous track. When the gumball comes to rest, it’s available for studio members to consume. After that’s all done, their Twitter account automatically @replies the new follower with a link to a video of the thing in action.

The contraption is called Sweet Tweet and it’s an experimental "physical app" created by Uniform’s research platform, called ULAB. Read More

AbleBanking Aims To Attract Deposits By Giving Big To Charity

Big banks might say that they give back, but while the dollar amounts are high, their donations amount to a rounding error on their books. New bank AbleBanking plans to be the bank for people who care about philanthropy.

Although major banks, like Bank of America, are big donors to charitable causes, their generosity is relative. Compared to their assets, even a few hundred million dollars is comparative small potatoes, and it’s really customers who are paying that in the end, in the shape of fees and other charges.

Moreover, argues Heather Campion, chief administrator of a new charity-focused bank, customers have to swallow enormous marketing and advertising spending, and pay for services they don’t necessarily need--like physical branches. Read More

Modai, A Smartphone Concept With Replaceable Brains

Smartphones are the epitome of planned obsolescence. If you don’t upgrade your phone every two years, you’re likely to be left out in the cold as software outpaces its capabilities. But all you really need to do is upgrade the phone’s brain, not its whole body.

What if there were a smartphone whose body was designed to let this kind of modular upgrading happen? Julius Tarng has created one called Modai. It’s only a concept design, not a working prototype or a shipping product, but I wish it were.

Tarng has devised a boatload of intriguing user-interface conventions for Modai, some familiar (separate "paradigms" for work and play, much like Divide), some more surprising (a flexible "peelstand" on the back of the phone lets it flex in your pocket to silently signal incoming messages, or stand up on edge when an alarm goes off).

But Modai’s coolest idea is its modular design to encourage users to extend the device’s lifespan. Removing the "peelstand" also lets you access Modai’s "internal pack," which you can swap out and attach a new, better CPU unit, RAM cache, or battery to, just like snapping Legos together. Read More

“Thinking Big” on Efficiency Could Cut U.S. Energy Costs up to $16 Trillion, Create up to 1.9 Million Net Jobs by 2050

America is thinking too small when it comes to energy efficiency … according to a major new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

The new report outlines three scenarios under which the U.S. could either continue on its current path or cut energy consumption by the year 2050 almost 60 percent, add nearly two million net jobs in 2050, and save energy consumers as much as $400 billion per year (the equivalent of $2600 per household annually).

According to ACEEE, the secret to major economic gains from energy efficiency is a more productive investment pattern of increased investments in energy efficiency, which would allow lower investments in power plants and other supply infrastructure, thereby substantially lowering overall energy expenditures on an economy-wide basis in the residential, commercial, industrial, transportation, and electric power sectors.

“The evidence suggests that without a greater emphasis on the more efficient use of energy resources, there may be as many as three jokers in the deck that will threaten the robustness of our nation’s future economy,” explains John A. “Skip” Laitner, ACEEE’s director of economic and social analysis. Read More

Whatever Happened to Ted Williams, the ‘Golden-Voiced’ Homeless Man?

Mystery of the moving Antarctic lakes

RIVERS and mountains can move given enough time, but they don't normally move half a kilometre every year. Yet that is exactly what is happening to a bizarre group of Antarctic lakes. And the lakes seem to be moving far faster than the ice shelf on which they sit.

The 11 lakes are on the edge of the George VI ice shelf, a banana-shaped sheet of floating ice sandwiched between the Antarctic Peninsula and Alexander Island. They were first spotted in the 1970s but it was only last year that their wanderlust was identified.

Douglas MacAyeal at the University of Chicago gave undergraduate interns the "boring" job of digitising a series of satellite photographs of Antarctic lakes. One student, Claire LaBarbera, noticed that the lakes moved, relative to features on land, from year to year. "I thought, what a nice curiosity," MacAyeal says. Then he took a closer look and realised that the lakes were moving five to 10 times faster than the ice shelf, and in a different direction. Read More

Cooperation, the secret weapon of our species

Mark Pagel, professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Reading

In his thoughtful Together: The rituals, pleasures and politics of co-operation, Richard Sennett argues there are ways to overcome ingrained tribalism

RICHARD SENNETT'S Together is the second in a planned trilogy of books about "the skills people need to sustain everyday life". The first instalment, The Craftsman, proposed and explored the notion of an innate human impulse to do things well. Together is about the craftsmanship of cooperation.

Sennett, a sociologist, worries that humans suffer from a deeply ingrained tribalism that "couples solidarity with others like yourself to aggression against those who differ". He is alarmed by the way societies develop tribalism within their ranks. The US has become "an intensely tribal society", he says, noting that "tribalism, in the form of nationalism, destroyed Europe during the first half of the twentieth century". Today, he warns, the once inclusive Netherlands "has its version of American talk radio, where the mere mention of the word 'Muslim' triggers a Wagnerian onslaught of complaints". Read More

5 Secrets of Making Reality TV They Don't Want You to Know: Why do we let ourselves fall victim to this trash?

Making a reality show isn't as simple as pointing a camera at a person and hoping he or she is horrible. There are a lot of tricks and manipulations that producers use to make douchebags and handbag design more compelling.

There's an argument to be made that no one should think about reality shows-- either turn off your brain and enjoy them or brag about how you don't own a TV. Fair enough, but thinking too much about stupid shit is kind of my thing. I also like drinking with people who make reality shows and asking them questions about their job, so this article is much closer to journalism than the sarcastic philosophizing and absurdism you might be used to. Also, be warned: After you know about these techniques, you're going to see them everywhere.

I know some of you are already in the comments section saying, "Everything on reality shows is fake!" That's because you're an idiot and you figure the only way to hide that is to declare how difficult you are to trick. Well, not only do we know, idiot, but you got tricked anyway. Reality shows are mostly real, and the parts that are fake aren't scripted so much as they are set up to happen. Read More

Meet the Invincible, Invisible Soldiers of 2001

Today’s soldiers are invisible. They can’t be harmed by bullets or chemical weapons. They can see through walls and distinguish enemy from civilian with a simple glance.

At least, that was the vision outlined in a 2001 Pentagon-funded report, “Objective Force Warrior: Another Look,” (.pdf) written by a smattering of military officers, academics, magazine editors … and the original Man Who Stared at Goats.

At the dawn of the War on Terror, the 68-person panel convened over six days at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Their assignment: Come up with a report that’d outline what the soldier of 2011 should look like.

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Jim Channon drew up the artwork that accompanies the report. His name should sound familiar: Channon is the singular mind behind 1979′s “First Earth Battalion,” the project that helped inspire The Men Who Stare at Goats. Read More

The Skin Gun

Hollywood Murder: Body Parts Found Near Severed Head

Police have discovered two hands and feet close to where a pair of dog walkers discovered a severed head on a trail leading up to the iconic Hollywood sign.

The first hand was found after police sealed off the area following the discovery of the head on Tuesday, reported to be that of a male in his 40s.

The second hand and feet were found later on Wednesday afternoon.

Detectives believe the victim was killed elsewhere and his body parts dumped on the trail, which leads up through a canyon to the Hollywood sign.

Two female dog walkers made the gruesome find on Tuesday afternoon after noticing two of their dogs playing with an object.

Police said the remains appeared to be relatively fresh. Read More

Warning Of 'Uncontrollable' Riots In UK Jails

Overcrowding in Britain's prisons is reaching crisis point and could lead to widespread riots - with staff struggling to regain control.

The warning has come from the Prison Officers Association (POA) which says the Government is ignoring its concerns.

POA national chairman Peter McParlin told Sky News: "Effectively prisons are full now. Eighty-three out of 134 prisons now are officially regarded as overcrowded.

"They're expecting two private prisons to open in the Spring but I anticipate with the increase in prisoners that they will be full soon and I would imagine certainly by the middle of the year we will be reaching a crisis point."

Mr McParlin went on: "How Government decide to deal with that crisis is going to be extremely interesting. We've been in conversations with them in which we've asked them to reopen mothballed prisons - prisons that were at the cutting edge of the rehabilitation revolution - but they are refusing to do that. Read More

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake SANTA CRUZ ISLANDS - 19th Jan 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck the Santa Cruz Islands at a depth of 42.8 km (26.6 miles), the quake hit at 04:06:41 UTC Thursday 19th January 2012
The epicenter was 51 km (31.6 miles) Southwest of Lata, Santa Cruz Islands, Solomon Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake GUATEMALA - 19th Jan 2012

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck Guatemala at a depth of 95.2 km (59.2 miles), the quake hit at 03:47:44 UTC Thursday 19th January 2012
The epicenter was 41 km (26 miles) SSE from Escuintla, Escuintla, Guatemala
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

3.0 Magnitude Earthquake NORTHERN CALIFORNIA - 19th Jan 2012

A magnitude 3.0 earthquake has struck Northern California at a depth of just 2.1 km (1.3 miles), the quake hit at 00:57:59 UTC Thursday 19th January 2012
The epicenter was 4 km (2.4 miles) ESE from the Geysers, California
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.