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In this episode, the society of smarts tackles crowd-funding. Specifically, Kickstarter’s recent decision to protect “backers’” investments by requiring more planning and disclosure of “risks and challenges” by those seeking funds. Dean comes down hard against backing someone’s “Good time.” Ben raw-dogs the smart suggestion segment (as he does many things it seems). Jordan once again suggests an artist no one has ever heard of in a feeble attempt to up his indie cred. Finally, Ed tries to revert to a zen lifestyle but his calm is broken by a surprise guest appearance from his cat - “Captain Pancakes.”
Main Segment: Kickstarter
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I have a confession to make. Despite my love of science and my atheism I wasn’t an organ donor until a couple of years ago when my girlfriend figuratively slapped me in the face with my hypocrisy.
Despite how useful I think organ donation is and the fact I know I won’t need any of my organs or tissues when I have ceased to exist, something about the whole enterprise freaks me out. I also don’t give blood but that’s for a separate reason (see Trypanophobia; seriously, I’ll pass out every time).
Still, I made the switch. I went to the secretary of state (the Michigan equivalent of the DMV) and filled out the form. A few weeks later they gave me a little heart sticker with “Donor” to slap on the front of my driver’s license. This has led to some interesting situations like the time the guy I was buying a tripod from at Radio Shack asked for my license to verify my credit card info and as I handed him my license said “Thank you. And thanks for being a donor!”
It’s no joke that organs are a serious need in our country. Many people waiting for a transplant — perhaps as high as 18% — die waiting. Countries like the U.S. rely on the good-naturedness of people to populate the organ donation registry. That is, people have to “opt-in.” Other countries, like Spain, have an “opt-out” policy. Until recently, I thought that those were the only possible options.
Israel has recently enacted a third option and I am sure that many countries will watch its effects closely to determine whether or not to enact a similar policy themselves. In Israel’s new system, people who have agreed to be organ donors are given priority over non-donors in the event that they are in need of an organ.
It seems that initially, this law has been very successful as the number of donors has skyrocketed. Of course, this sort of system requires that a certain portion of the population still reject organ donation in order for the people who have opted-in to feel they have gotten something for their dollar…er, organ (if everyone signs up priority means nothing).
I’m assuming I am not alone in my (previous) reservations against donation and I assume that this is also true in Israel, if not more common — many people have interpreted Jewish law proscribing desecration of one’s corpse as also incorporating organ donation. So, I suspect that a small opposition does and will continue to exist. Time will tell though.
A recent study (yay for free downloads of scientific papers!) finds that piracy has a larger effect on box office revenues for Hollywood movies shown internationally than for those same movies shown domestically.
The researchers looked at data prior to and post the 2003 of BitTorrent, a popular method for pirating films and other media. They found that the longer the time period between the point where the film becomes available somewhere in the world and the point where it becomes available in the potential-pirate’s backyard, the more likely it is to be pirated and lose money. Believe it or not, this is also true for television shows like Britain’s Downton Abbey (first released in Britain and then some time later in the U.S.).
Long story short, people get excited about the product (movie or TV show) and will resort to less-than-legal means to get it if the studios take too long to bring it to them legally. Obviously there are still people out there who pirate films even when they are playing in their local cinema, but this study’s results suggest that those people probably weren’t ponying up the dough prior to BitTorrent anyway.
If you will permit me, I will stand on my soapbox a bit. On this day, it is hard to be happy and excited about my own personal relationship when I know that for a large portion of the population a day like today is bittersweet. As a heterosexual American I can marry the person I love legally and be afforded certain rights that are denied to millions of Americans who no doubt love their partners just as much as I do. That is wrong. Today’s talk, although not a typical TED talk, is no less important (though, if it matters, I did find it through the TED website). It is an impassioned speech on the importance of this issue from New York state senator Diane J. Savino just prior to a vote that ultimately defeated a same sex equality bill in December of 2009. The words are as true now as they were then.