Tag Archives: washington

Coursera adds 12 more prestigious universities – free online education grows

As we wrote back in April, there’s no doubt that the Internet is revolutionizing education, as more and more companies continue to emerge and alter the way we learn. We’ve kept a close eye on edX, Khan Academy, Academic Earth, P2PU, Skillshare and Codecademy, and rounding out that list is Coursera, one of the youngest of the bunch, which recently raised $16 million to launch with 37 undergraduate and graduate-level courses.

Now, since starting off with the likes of Princeton and Stanford, Coursera is announcing 12 new university partnerships, $3.7M in equity investments from Caltech, Penn and existing investors, and a total of 1.5M student users from 190 different countries.

More specifically, here’s a list of the company’s 12 new partnering universities, following Coursera’s original four launch partners (Stanford, Princeton, University of Michigan and University of Pennsylvania):

  • Georgia Tech
  • Duke University
  • University of Washington
  • Caltech
  • Rice University
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Toronto
  • EPFL – Lausanne (Switzerland)
  • Johns Hopkins University (School of Public Health)
  • UCSF
  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Virginia

 

If you’re interested, these courses are free and here’s a list of all the new classes available:

The Next Web - Education startup Coursera partners with 12 new universities, raises $3.7M and hits 1.6M enrollments

 

 

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HBO posts first episode of new show, Veep, on YouTube until May 21

HBO is continuing their YouTube experiment after posting Girls online, they are also hosting Veep. The show, which will only be available online until May 21, stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a former senator who’s been asked to be Vice President of the United States

The full bio from HBO:

Former Senator Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) has accepted the call to serve as Vice President of the United States. The job is nothing like she imagined and everything she was warned about. ‘Veep’ follows Meyer and her staff as they attempt to make their mark and leave a lasting legacy, without getting tripped up in the day-to-day political games that define Washington.

Created by Armando Iannucci (The Thick of It, In the Loop), a Scottish comedian, director, and writer famous for his satires about British politics.

 

Watch the full pilot episode – Fundraiser

 

Clip – “I’m the body man”

For delivery only – photos/video of Space Shuttle being attached to Boeing 747

At the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, initial mating of space shuttle Discovery and the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft is complete in the mate-demate device. The device, known as the MDD, is a large gantry-like steel structure used to hoist a shuttle off the ground and position it onto the back of the aircraft, or SCA.

Initial mating of space shuttle Discovery and the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.
Space shuttle Discovery is lowered onto the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft in the mate-demate device during mating operations.

The SCA is a Boeing 747 jet, originally manufactured for commercial use, which was modified by NASA to transport the shuttles between destinations on Earth. This SCA, designated NASA 905, is assigned to the remaining ferry missions, delivering the shuttles to their permanent public display sites.

NASA 905 is scheduled to ferry Discovery to the Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia on April 17, after which the shuttle will be placed on display in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

Mating device (front) attaching the ships together.
Mating device (dual rear) attaching the ships together.

Following delivery of Discovery, NASA 905 will ferry Enterprise from Udvar-Hazy to the Intrepid Museum in New York City. Endeavour is scheduled to be similarly moved to the California Science Center in Los Angeles later this year.

Learn more on the video from This Week in NASA:

A ton more picture are available at NASA Media Gallery

“You’ve Been Trumped” Kicks Off The Environmental Film Festival

Last night, I attended the D.C. Environmental Film Festival Premiere kick-off film, You’ve Been Trumped.

As someone who has experienced Scotland’s breathtaking beauty and decadent history, the Scottish government’s decision to overturn its own environmental policy to allow Donald Trump to build a golf course on Europe’s most environmentally sensitive stretches of coast, described by one leading scientist as Scotland’s Amazon rain forest, is certainly intriguing. After all, this is a fiercely nationalistic country with a Freedom to Roam policy and a strong record for preserving its environmental landscape and natural heritage.

But tough economic times call for tough economic decisions.

Trump’s development proposal “to build the world’s greatest golf course” was initially rejected in 2007 by a local subcommittee of elected members; however, in 2008, John Swinney, the Scottish cabinet secretary for finance and sustainable growth, overturned the council’s decision by announcing permission for the development, as Trump promised to create over 6,000 jobs:

With latest official statistics showing unemployment in Scotland has risen to 7.6 percent, the move has been welcomed by the country’s government who are anxious to bring investment to the area.

A spokesman for the ruling Scottish Nationalist Party told CNN: “Ministers agreed with the public inquiry conclusion that there was significant economic and social benefit to be gained from the application by Trump International Golf Links Scotland to develop a golf resort at Balmedie.” (via CNN)

Many economists, nonetheless, have been challenging Trump on his economic estimates:

Paul Cheshire, professor emeritus of economic geography at London School of Economics and Political Science, carried out his own assessment of the economic case for the development of the Menie Estate. He was surprised to find that the Scottish government had not commissioned its own independent analysis of the likely benefits – instead, the government relied on an economic impact assessment carried out for TIGL by Strathclyde University.

Professor Cheshire describes that assessment as “wildly optimistic” because of its assumptions about the creation of new jobs for local people. He points out that constructing a golf course is not like building houses because very few specialist companies are capable of doing it. As it turns out, an Irish company is managing the construction of the resort, using mainly its own labour. (via The Guardian)

Trump also promised to leave the dunes in better shape and condition than they were before. Evidence, thus far, however, has proven otherwise as documented by local residents and You’ve Been Trumped filmmaker, Anthony Baxter:

In an interesting twist, Trump is now embroiled in a fight to prevent the building of an offshore windfarm near his luxury golf resort which he deems will be “an eyesore.”

Whatever the outcome, You’ve Been Trumped (funded via @IndieGoGo) was a tremendous start to the festival. I’m looking forward to checking out more films in the coming two weeks (March 13-25): http://www.dcenvironmentalfilmfest.org/

Leading into the Future: Why the U.S. will look to Japan, not China

On Wednesday night, ~75 futurists gathered for an engaging meet-up at Public Bar in Washington, DC. Patrick Tucker (@TheYear2030), senior editor of THE FUTURIST magazine, spoke briefly, as I had invited him to share a little about his experiences while on assignment in Japan during the past six months.

In an email response to Shashi Bellamkonda (who snapped some fun photos of the evening) on why he ventured to Japan, Patrick wrote:

…in searching for a picture of what the United States will look like in 2050, don’t look to China.  The story of the emerging superpower is one we’ve already lived.  China will industrialize, build factories, grow its middle class, and assert its interests on the international stage.  For all the menace that Washington projects onto the government in Beijing, too often we forget that China ’s ascent is the story of  America’s rise a century ago.  A more accurate picture of our later 21st Century might be found in Japan, a nation grappling with enormous national debt, insufficient natural resources, waning geopolitical influence, and the oldest population in the Industrialized world; 22% of the country is older than 65.

Japan is still the future. But the future is not what it was.

Japan’s aging and shrinking population is a lethal combination for economic growth according to many outside observers. Older populations draw down savings rather than reinvest, and they strain public services and government budgets, a particular worry in Japan where the debt to GDP ratio is above 200%.

Japan, however, is also a world leader in green product design, hardware design, and personal robotics.  In the coming decade, Japan will leverage its technology and design strengths in an attempt overcome its economic and demographic challenges.  Japan’s success or failure in this effort will be instructive for other developed economies with aging populations.

As someone who follows technology and innovation closely, Japan is exceptionally interesting – for its cultural tradition, discipline and honor, for its love of nature in its reverence for trees and seasons, and for its exuberant development of robots. Now, in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that disabled the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, I’m even more interested in how this country will lead the way in energy innovation (for example, read  how one Japanese company is pursuing a plan to harvest solar energy from the moon). And more importantly, how the United States will partner in these endeavors.

 

What I Learned From A Fashion Show…For The Dogs

Ok, I’ll admit it. Of all the charitable causes I could give money to, supporting a philanthropy that involves dogs walking a catwalk first seemed a little silly. There’s poverty and homelessness, domestic violence, educational gaps, hunger problems, all under our noses just here in Washington, DC alone. I haven’t even mentioned hard-hitting catastrophes like the ones that have devastated Japan, Haiti or New Orleans.

But then I had a conversation with @robotchampion that changed my mind. He rescued a dog from a shelter that most likely had been abused or at the very least, neglected. People who meet Jesse fall in love instantly. She’s one of the sweetest, most loving, well-mannered and fiercely dedicated and protective dogs I’ve met. Jesse has been one of Steve’s most trusted and loyal companions for most of his adult life – driving cross-country four times with him, protecting him from stray dogs and of-questionable-intent humans when walking alone in the city at night, guarding the homestead when he’s been away. Not growing up in a “dog house” I was fairly uneducated on canine matters; what I learned from Steve and what I went on to discover further on my own, is that humans and canines evolved over time together. Our four-legged friends are actually descendants of wolves and this transformation from wild animal to domesticated partner proved revolutionary to man. Dogs became our hunting partners, protectors of our settlements and livestocks, and our own personal mobile alert systems.

It seems we owe a lot to man’s best friend. Which is why I wanted to support the Washington Human Society in their annual benefit, the Fashion for Paws Runway Show. On it’s fifth year, this event proved to be, in a word, spectacular. And a lesson to any non-profit and business. If you build something incredible and novel, they will come. Last night, ~1,700 Washingtonians turned out (and donated ~$500,000) for a truly exquisite experience held at the National Building Museum. The catwalk, lit up like a Lewis Carroll wonderland, was MC’d by Entertainment Tonight’s Lawrence Zarian and the always elegant Pamela Sorensen. With sixty local DC models rocking the runway, the true stars were the dogs. It was miraculous how composed each little (and non-so-little) woofer stayed while marching out into a stadium-like setting with techno-beats blaring in surround-sound and photogs flashing away.

Fashion for Paws is an exemplar, a true purple cow. In a world of competing resources, it’s not enough to simply be a good cause or a good product. You must be remarkable – you must give people something remarkable. Fashion for Paws does just that. In a city where the most fashionable color is beige or black, and dogs are viewed as household companions and not Paris Hilton-style portable accessories, F4P blends the sophistication, style and glamour of New York and LA in one star-studded, stand out event – and all for a great cause. So thank you to the Fashion for Paws organizers, drivers, and supporters for a remarkable experience. It was a pleasure to see the runway go to the dogs.

DC Art and Inspiration

Yesterday, I purchased the first piece of art that will belong to the “1×57 collection” – art dedicated to the precepts of 1×57: innovation, inspiration and social value creation. It’s a whimsical creation by Maggie O’Neill, who I consider one of the most talented artists in the DC area. I discovered her through, wait for it, Facebook. She’s a friend of friends and as soon as I saw her work, I friended her. I quickly discovered she’s the mastermind of some of the most stylishly decorated and designed restaurants in DC, from Oya to SEI to the soon-to-be opened Lincoln.

Steve and I made a visit to her studio in Kensington, MD and Maggie’s talent is unmistakeable. She paints and creates with such a vision for life, light, color and texture, it was easy to fall in love with the painting that’s now hanging over our office work table. It’s a rendering of the Capitol building and when I look at it, I see the ideals and energy of liberty, of people and values as varied, mixed and diverse as a painter’s color palette, but with an overlaying foundation of democracy that unites and elevates us all. There’s also a fun secret hidden within the painting which compelled me to name the piece, “The Cover-up.”

Capitol Cover-up

More important than it’s pure aesthetic appeal, the piece is reminder of my most favorite period of art history, the shift from a formal, non-secular, constrained style of painting (the Renaissance, Baroque, and Neoclassical periods) to Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and Expressionism, which completely turned the world on it’s head. When the group of artists now known as Impressionists came onto the Paris art scene, they were viewed as seditious, crude and a threat to the very existence of traditional art.

A fraction of the group were deemed “Intrasigents” – an expression that borrowed it’s name from the radical political party that attempted to overthrow the constitutional monarchy in Spain. Now these revolutionaries – Monet, Degas, Renoir, Van Gogh, Picasso – are known as some of the most talented, revered and brilliant artists in the world.

So a big thanks to Maggie for making DC such a beautiful place to live and a bigger thanks to all the artists, creators and visionaries of the world for challenging the status quo and inspiring the unimaginable.