Latest Posts from RyanJones


100 Improvements to the New York Subway

I am quite the zealot when it comes to encouraging mass transit growth in the U.S. The best cities around the world have impressive infrastructures, and with the exception of a few cities in America, mass transit seems to be on the decline here. That does not make for a better world.

That is why this tumblr caught my attention. Randy Gregory, a design student, spent the last 100 days brainstorming ways to improve the New York City subway system and I thought there were a lot of great ideas to be had here.

100 Improvements to the New York Subway

89. “Showtime!” Cars
The Yamanote Halloween Train is a one day event that occurs in Japan on the Tokyo circling Yamanote line, where revelers show up in costume, and take over the train with loud music, food, and generally breaking most of the rules and etiquette of the train system.

Here in New York, we have hundreds of talented performers, many of whom ride the subways, performing for change. Why not take a chance, and devote a one evening event to the performers of the underground? Special lighting, music…the MTA could even charge for this kind of event, and since it would happen once a year, it could be used as a celebration of the system and the talented riders within.

[…]

88. Air Piston Cooling
As the trains move in and out of stations, an “air piston” effect happens. What if the MTA figured out how to harness that air and use it to cool stations utilizing a unique ventilation system?

[…]

72. Transparency
Another thing I noticed on BART was that certain trains were marked off with placards displaying how they were paid for. In NYC, there is a constant debate about where the money for the MTA goes. This is a way to show where that money goes.

[…]

63. Station Colors
There is a certain industrial feel to the subway stations. Some stations, like Union Square, are completely gorgeous in their layout and design, and the new stations, like Fulton Center, are incredible in their scale & move towards a friendlier environment.

However, many stations could benefit from some color, namely the color of the lines they represent. BDFM could be painted in brilliant Pantone 165, and the 7 line could have swirls of purple throughout the line, adorning walls and columns alike.

[…]

36. Neighborhood Guides
What kind of things are in a neighborhood? Where are they? Interactive kiosks in tourist heavy areas could answer these questions, and display helpful videos about important New York landmarks, like the World Trade Center. Users could use the interactive map to find restaurants & other local businesses. A camera attached to each kiosk helps dissuade vandalism.

[…]

25. Train Positions
“Ahh crap, I just missed the R train…where’s the next one? Oh, 28th street! Awesome!”

[…]

23. Designated Directions on Stairs
At first glance, this could be seen as a hopeless gesture. But in countries like Japan, this works. People see the arrows, and follow accordingly, minus rush hour.

A man can dream, right?

[…]

19. Directional Lines
Throughout the system, we’re directed to trains via a system of signs. These signs can be confusing in certain stations, like Union Square or Grand Central, where there are multiple signs for the same station in different locations. Perhaps a series of guidelines on the floor can help guide users throughout the underground.

Check them all out. They’re quite a good start.


The Progress of the Human Mind

The Progress of the Human Mind

Thomas Jefferson to H. Tompkinson (AKA Samuel Kercheval):

I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.


✁ Obama “Too Little, Too Late” On Veteran Affairs

A friend of mine mentioned something this morning that I really took offense to, since it shows just how effective rhetoric is in today’s world, despite the overwhelming evidence suggesting otherwise. This friend responded to a comment of mine, suggesting that actions are more important than words and that President Obama has done too little, too late.

Ignoring for a moment the ramifications of a candidate speaking for a half hour to accept the nomination for president of the United States, without even a mention of our veterans or troops once, as happened in Tampa last week, let’s examine the truth of her response.

What has President Obama done for Veterans/Our Troops over the course of his first term in office? Does Obama really not care about our veterans?

Well, as Veteran Affairs Secretary, Eric Shinseki, stated this week,

No president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has done more for veterans.

Who is this Eric Shinseki, you might ask? He must be some Democratic Shill, looking for political gain by speaking Obama’s praises…. actually no… General Shinseki is a decorated four-star general, who served as Chief of Staff of the Army under both President Clinton and President Bush. His record is astonishing, and presumably, as a high-ranking veteran officer in the forces, avoids partisanship altogether.

Okay, so Secretary Shinseki said this, so what? How can he make such claims? What supports such a record?

Let’s review some of Obama’s policies over the last four years that affect our men and women who are serving or have served this county.

These are just some examples of the efforts the Obama administration has made to support our troops. I don’t even begin to explore theoretical reductions in casualties due to the end of the Iraq War and the slow wind-down of the Afghanistan mission.

The ridiculousness of the claim that Obama (and more centrally, every Democrat) does not care about the needs of our men and women in uniform is a Cold-War era holdover that no longer has much merit. Unfortunately, the stubborn myth will not die. The humor sadness in all of this is that the current administration has corrected the course of the prior administration, which had a very tenuous relationship with veteran affairs. Ironically, he was praised as a fine Commander-in-Chief, used rhetorically to create a beacon of light in an otherwise abysmal domestic presidency.

Long story short, before you make a very serious, offensive claim that Obama doesn’t care about our troops, have some facts to back it up.


✁ In re Medicare

Social Security is 77 today. In 1965, President Johnson enacted Medicare under Title XVIII of the Social Security to provide healthcare to those older than 65 years of age.

Earlier this year, Paul Ryan introduced the “Path to Prosperity”, his blueprint for America, which fundamentally changes the way a host of government programs would be budgeted, including, most notably, Medicare. While Romney and Ryan seem to deny claims that their ideas would significantly change these social programs, the CBO concludes otherwise.

Up until last week, Medicare was an idea that received bipartisan support among our electorate. Sure, some will point out that we have a funding problem on our hands with Medicare. Fewer will point out that this problem doesn’t actually emerge until 2024. But, upon selecting Ryan as Romney’s running mate, Republicans, for the first time, officially became opponents of Medicare. It’s sad, shocking, and should have people livid that a majority party is proposing such an idea.

There’s a tremendous amount to be said about healthcare in the United States. Those words can be saved for someone else. But some very basic concepts need to be pointed out about Medicare and Ryan’s voucher plan.

Since 1965, Medicare has transformed society for the elderly. Prior to Medicare’s passage, most of the elderly could not afford adequate healthcare. Medicare changed this. As a result, the life expectancy increased in the US and the percentage of elders living in poverty decreased. The benefits are self-evident. Medicare has improved the lives of millions and transformed the United States to an empathetic, healthy, responsible nation.

Healthcare is a tricky industry to wrap one’s head around, mostly because everyone needs it, and no one thinks they need it until they actually do. The finances are even more difficult to grasp, since most of the fiscal issues related to Medicare are a result of the baby boomers aging, leaving fewer non seniors to pay for the benefits of their elders.

The Ryan Plan wants to phase out Medicare by providing vouchers ($6,500 credit to buy private healthcare) to future seniors that are currently younger than 55. Sure, such a plan gets the fiscal responsibility off the government’s shoulders, but it also serves to theoretically cut benefits to elders in a variety of ways. To begin, buying individual insurance plans are expensive, because the individual lacks the ability to buy in bulk to drive prices down.

It’s not difficult to see that $6,500 will not cover an individual as thoroughly as Medicare would (after Medicare’s $140 premium, 80% of approved costs are covered under Medicare Part B). Considering the average price of healthcare today is over $5,000, how much will a plan cost for a senior (the age at which one becomes the greatest consumer of healthcare)? Surely it has to be significantly higher than the average.

And what if you’re sick? Since every person is now responsible for purchasing healthcare individually, the sick (as greater risks to insurance companies) will pay even higher prices. Unless additional measures are put into place, it should come as no surprise that a certain percentage of our seniors will no longer be able to afford healthcare, even with these vouchers. Can a sick senior afford $12,000 annual healthcare plans? And what about the costs passed on to the rest of society for these newly uninsured’s trips to the emergency room?

There are serious conversations we need to be having regarding healthcare, Medicare, and Medicaid. Going back to an era where our seniors cannot afford to be cared for with dignity during their most sensitive years is not a matter we should even be discussing.


A Brief History of Money

James Surowiecki on the, abstraction of money:

Kublai Khan was ahead of his time: He recognized that what matters about money is not what it looks like, or even what it’s backed by, but whether people believe in it enough to use it. Today, that concept is the foundation of all modern monetary systems, which are built on nothing more than governments’ support of and people’s faith in them. Money is, in other words, a complete abstraction—one that we are all intimately familiar with but whose growing complexity defies our comprehension.


Putting On their US Olympic Uniforms and Wearing Them Too

US Olympics uniforms and the responsibility of ownership

Olivier Blanchard from The Brand Builder Blog:

And right there and then, I realized something that, in my initial disgusted outrage, I had missed completely that the U.S. Olympic Team is privately funded. Ah. Well, that changes everything.

Here’s an idea: if you want American-made uniforms (which is totally understandable, we all want that) then write your congressman and demand that the Olympic program receive adequate funding from the federal government. Then, as owners of the US Olympic program, we the people can legitimately have a say as to where the uniforms are made (hopefully right here in the US).

Naturally, Policitians from both sides voiced their outrage over the news that US outfits would be manufactured in China. Yet no one, acknowledge the fact that American Taxpayers aren’t footing the bill anymore. In today’s tax-adverse-let’s-privatize-everything era, we have to learn to accept the consequences of that choice.

If you want to have your say, then fund the program. Own it. Nurture it. Grow it.


A Random Website Idea

An all in one search engine for Trade Names/Business Names so startups can search state business registers, trademark database, domain registrar, etc. all in one place


fox@fury on the apps missing from iPad.

Do the iPad’s missing apps point to a multitasking dashboard?

Far more interesting though are the simple apps that are missing from the promotional materials: Stocks, Weather, Voice Memo, Clock, and Calculator. With the exception of Voice Memo these are all basic apps that have been staples from the very beginning, and it makes no sense that they wouldn’t be on the iPad, so why are they absent? I see two options, one of which is far, far more interesting than the other.

It’s a good read, and I agree in Fox’s view that these apps are too obvious to be left out. However, I don’t quite think he’s found the solution. It doesn’ keep computing simplistic enough, as I see as iPad’s MO.


✁ Thoughts on iPad I haven’t heard elsewhere

Seems like everyone and there niece has their initial impressions of iPad, so I’ll make this quick. I’m not going to rehash things said before, only ideas that seemed obvious to me, but haven’t really been talking points on the web since Wednesday.


November 19th Chrome Launch

The same could be said of iPad.